Hand knotted is the most labor-intensive of rug construction. In the hands of master weavers, this technique can produce works of art unparalleled in detail and beauty. In a knotted rug, tiny threads are tied onto the warp, creating the pattern or design. The weft threads anchor and align the rows of knots. When the knots are later cut, they stand away from the warp/weft backing to create the velvety pile of the finished piece. The density of the pile is determined by how tightly the knots are packed together. There are a variety of actual knots styles, among which are Persian, Turkish, and Tibetan knots.
In Tibet, native weavers developed a distinctive method long ago of weaving woven on a vertical loom. A Tibetan knot is made when a metal rid is inserted into the cotton foundation (warp and weft threads) during the knotting process. The two warp threads are at different positions around the weaving rod, and the threads are knotted from left to right.
When the row of knotting is completed, the knots are cut off the metal rod. This creates a surface texture in the pile with the signature horizontal striations that identify “Tibetan weave” to connoisseurs all world over. The most common Tibetan knotted rugs are in 60, 80, or 100 knots per square inch. The higher the knot count, the thinner the carpet. This type of weaving is indicative of tribal and modern designs.
Hand-tufted rugs and hand-hooked rugs are produced with a tufting gun. Working much like an oversized sewing needle, the gun pushes and pulls threads of yard through a scrim – a pre-woven grid foundation. With a hooked rug, the loops of yarn are left intact to form a characteristically “knobby” pile. In a tufted rug, the rips of loops are sheared to expose the thread ends for a softer and plusher pile.
A flat-weave rug is constructed without a pile. Here, colored weft yarns are woven through the warps to create the pattern. There are numerous varieties of flat weaves: kilims, dhurries, and soumaks, to name a few.
A split-weave kilim is constructed when colored weft yarns are woven through the warps to create the pattern and the thread is pulled through the warps only as far as the pattern and color dictate. Then the thread is turned back on itself to go the direction in which it came, finishing the same side on which it started. Different colored threads meet but do not join, creating the design.
Loom-woven rugs are made on state-of-the-art looms, which have been customized to weave exceptional quality products with a feel and suppleness that rivals handmade rugs. These loom-woven pieces are to accentuate the beauty of each individual rug. Loom-woven rugs have the texture, look, and feel of a high-quality handmade piece without the high cost associated with handmade rugs.
Early powerlooms enabled rug makers to produce floor coverings at a much faster rate than anything woven by hand. Though these early machine made rugs were by no means as detailed as those done by an artisan’s hands, they brought affordability and accessibility to a much larger market. Since the initial development of the powerloom, manufacturers have strived to re-create the look of a fine handmade carpet with varying degrees of success. When purchasing a powerloom rug, remember, it’s not just about price!
Most important is that your rug is constructed of quality materials, like wool, natural fibers, or lasting synthetics dense enough to ensure – not only that the products lasts – but that it wears beautifully. Hand finishing or carving are sure signs of quality. A finely powerloomed rug is superior in detail and durability to one that is poorly made.