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Making Rugs

The art of rug weaving is millennia’s old. A foundation is created on a loom where the weaver weaves yarn, most commonly wool, in a series of knots. The color of the wool varies depending on the design that the weaver is accomplishing. It is the style of knot, the type of weave, the color, and the patterns in the design that defines the region and by which tribe the carpet was made. Traditionally, older and antique rugs are made from wool yarn dyed with natural dyes found in the vegetation in the tribes surrounding region. In the more modern rugs it is common that the colors are created with synthetic dyes. The weaving process for a completed a rug may take anywhere from 1-12 years. Customarily, the whole tribe works together in the rug production process from raising and sheering the sheep, spinning the wool, dying the yarn, and weaving the rug.

Warps & Wefts

The warps and wefts make up the foundation of the carpet. It is the base where the knots are created and secured to create a carpet. Traditionally the warps and wefts are made from cotton, wool, or silk.

Warps: The warps are placed on the loom vertically. These strands are what the weaver ties their knots to, creating the pile and patterns on the rug. It is crucial that the warps are strung on the loom at equal tautness to prevent wrinkles in the completed carpet. The fringe at each end of the carpets is actually the remains of the warps strands. The knots on the fringe prevent the carpet from unraveling.

Wefts: The wefts are strands are woven horizontally through the warp strands. The knots of yarn that makes the pile of the rug are secured between the weft strands that are woven before and after the row of knots have been made.

Knots

The knots are what make up the pile of the rug. Yarn is knotted on the warp strands and secured in place by the wefts. The fineness of the rug is usually measured by how many knots there are found in a 1-inch by 1-inch area. Meaning, when looking at the back of a rug how many knots there can be counted in a 1-inch by 1-inch square. Rugs can have anywhere from 25 knots per square inch to 1000 knots per square inch. Many rugs made in a workshop have a higher knot density (100-1000 knots/ sq. inch) than nomadic or small village made rugs (25-100 knots/sq. inch) due to better resources and accessibility of modern tools. However, the discrepancy in knot density does not affect the value between the nomadic/village and workshop made rugs. Many nomadic/village made rugs are made with natural dyes found in the vegetation around them. The designs and patterns displayed in the carpet tend to be more individualized as they are made from memory and not a pattern. Whether a rug is made in a workshop or by nomads or villagers, all handmade rugs knots are tied by hand. The style of knot that is created varies depending on the region in which the rug is being weaved. There are four main types of knots that are used: symmetrical, asymmetrical, Tibetan, and Jufti.

Symmetrical also known as the Ghiorde or Turkish Knot: The symmetrical knot is most commonly used in carpets from Turkey, the Caucasus and some regions in Iran by Turkish and Kurdish tribes. Some European rugs also utilize this form of knot. To form this knot, yarn is passed over two side-by-side warp strands. Each end of the yarn is then wrapped underneath one warp and brought back to the surface through the middle of the two warps.
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Asymmetrical also known as the Persian or Senneh Knot: This knot is most commonly used throughout Iran, India, Turkey, Egypt, and China. This knot is created by wrapping one end of a piece of yarn around one warp strand while the other end of the yarn is wrapped underneath the neighboring warp strand.
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Tibetan Knot: The Tibetan knot is very distinct to this style of carpet. To create this knot a temporary rod is used. The knot is constructed by one piece of yarn that runs the width of the carpet. The yarn is looped around two warp strands and then is wrapped around the rod. When the row is completed the weaver removes the rod and cuts the loops making the knots.
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Jufti Knot: The Jufti knot does not present a new formation of knot. It can be created using the symmetrical or the asymmetrical style knot the difference being that it is wrapped around four warps instead of two. The jufti knot creates a very loose pile, almost shag in nature, as a result is produces a very low knot density.
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Weaves

Pile Weave: A pile weave is the most common weave among rugs. The pile is created when a knot is created around a warp strand and the ends of the knots are exposed at the surface. A weft strand secures the knot and the pile in place in the weave. Although the pile weave is easily identifiable, depending on the region and the weaver, the way that the knots are created may vary.

Flat Weave: A flat weave is just that; this weave is created without knots and a pile. The technique uses the warp strands as the foundation of the rug while the weft strands are woven into the warp creating the pattern and it simultaneously helps to reinforce the foundation. Carpets such as Kelims, Soumaks and Brocades are done in this flat-weave process.

Tufted: Tufted rugs are also created without knots. A ‘tuft’ is made when yarn is pushed rather than knotted into a primary foundation. The yarn is secured in place using latex glue on the backing of the rug. The glued back is then covered by cloth and the loops on the top of the rug are sheared to create the pile; completing the production of the rug.