Rug weaving techniques
There are quite a few different weaving techniques that can be used to manufacture a rug. The length of time it takes to make a rug has a direct effect on the cost of the finished product. The faster the rug can be produced the lower to overall cost of the rug.
In this post we will run through some of the techniques used to produced what are loosely described as Hand Made rugs.
As the name implies hand made rugs are manually produced with a craftsperson using varying techniques to form a rug from the various component parts.
This form of rug manufacture entails the raw material of the rug being “braided” into a rope like length and then these braids are stitched together to stabilize the rug and hold its shape.
Various material can be used with this technique, but recycled cloth materials are common for a home made rug. For mass production Jute is very popular due to its aesthetic appeal and being enviro friendly.
A Pit Loomed rug is created by weaving the pile material through a pre woven backing material. This backing material is generally made from cotton and woven in such a way that will allow the pile material to be pushed through and back again to hold it in place. This technique is used quite widely in India to create coarser style rugs such as Shaggy rugs. These are generally quite a coarse density and therefore reasonably priced products can be manufactured using this technique.
Technically the pile is applied manually but through the use of a tufting “gun”. The gun pierces a backing material, generally cotton. Once the pile has been place it is fixed by applying glue to the backing material. This is then covered by another sheet of material to provide a smooth back face to the rug. The pile is then trimmed to uniform length to finish the pile off. This method can produce rugs fairly quickly and therefore cost of production is quite low. This method can use both synthetic as well as natural fibres for the pile.
This is the technique that has been used for centuries in the manufacture of floor rugs. Generally a loom is required to hold the foundation in place. The loom holds the vertical or longitudinal threads (warp) and the horizontal (weft) is threaded through the warp using a shuttle or other method. Once the foundation has been mounted on the loom the craftsperson then ties a “knot” using different coloured yarns onto the foundation.
By changing the colours used to form the knots a design becomes apparent in the pile of the rug much like the pixels on a monitor create an image we can understand. For older , more simple tribal designs a lot of weavers work from memory which makes each rug unique. Small differences in both the materials used in each rug as well as the dyes and patterning make the choice of such rugs individual preferences.
The traditional “city” rugs that are usually inferred by the term “Persian” have more complicated and intricate designs and can be much larger pieces. To ensure consistency throughout the rug “Cartoons” are used for reference so the weaver can produce what the rug designer conceived for the rug. For very large rugs there may be several weavers working side by side to produce the rug in a more timely manner.
Another factor that comes into play is the density of the knots in the rug. Unlike to other types of rugs mentioned above, hand knotted rugs can have a huge variation in the number of knots per square inch (KPSI). A traditional tribal rug may have 80/100 KPSI whereas a very fine Silk rug may have 500 or more. A simple rule of thumb – each knot takes time so the higher the KPSI the higher the cost per square inch. This does not make allowance for the actual cost of the pile material. The finer the weave the finer the weaving material and generally at a higher cost.
Materials used for the pile of hand knotted rugs are generally wool, they are also made from silk for the premium priced market. Some are also made from “Art Silk” (viscose) that provide a silk like look at a fraction of the cost of a real silk rug.