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Pile Rugs and Knotted Carpets

Hand Knotted Pile Rugs and Carpets

How Rugs and Carpets are Made

What to Consider When Buying Knotted Pile Rugs

Hand knotted pile rugs are prized around the world for their durability, intricate designs and incomparable level of detail. No technological advance can successfully replicate the beauty or quality of hand knotted rugs.

These stunning pieces require countless hours of tedious work to produce intricate patterns from yarns that are carefully knotted around a sturdy woven foundation. Many designs employ hairline details that are a single knot wide.

Hand knotted rugs include traditional Persian rugs, silk rugs and primitive wool mats that represent many styles and cultures. The knot count is one specification that shoppers rely on, but that alone cannot determine a rug’s quality. The number of knots per square inch is affected by the foundation material, fiber gauge and knotting techniques. Regardless of the origin or style, hand knotted rugs are the paradigm of this highly evolved handcraft.

Antique Persian Mohtashem Kashan Pile Rugs - Nazmiyal Antique Rugs in NYC

Antique Persian Mohtashem Kashan Pile Rugs

Hand Knotted Pile Carpets – The knotted pile carpet is certainly the most familiar type of rug to western consumers. It is also the most luxurious or tactile form of rug, providing a cushion or insulation as well as decorative floor covering.

The term knotting, however, is a misnomer for the most part. Most types of knotted rugs are produced by looping short lengths of yarn around successive pairs of warps in horizontal rows, and letting the excess wool hang downward in a shaggy mass.

These loops may be done in a few different configurations. The rows of knots are followed by several passes of wefts which pass through the warps as a foundation, binding the rug together, and which also space out the rows of knots to keep them from becoming too dense.

Antique Persian Heriz Pile Rugs - Nazmiyal Antique Rugs in NYC

Antique Persian Heriz Pile Rugs

The shaggy ends of the knots may be trimmed as the carpet is being woven, or after it has been completed. This trimming creates the surface of the pile. If left long, the pile is shaggy and fur-like. If clipped low, it is velvety in texture. Low pile is better for intricate designs since changes in color appear sharper and crisper. High or long pile has a fuzzier texture and visual effect that works better for bolder, simpler large-scale designs.

Pile Rugs: How Are They Made?

Pile rugs are soft and luxurious to walk on, and they come in a wealth of magnificent patterns, colors and styles. The tradition of making pile rugs is not a new invention. The process goes back thousands of years and is found throughout many ancient cultures. If you have ever wondered how they are made, read on.

Basic Pile Rug Weaving Terms

Before we delve into how the pile is created, let us first build an understanding of some common weaving terms. First, let’s start with the warp. The warp refers to the threads that are strung tightly on the loom. They serve as a foundation for the working threads, or weft.

Antique Persian Kerman Rug Pile - Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

Antique Persian Kerman Rug Pile

The warp threads are placed vertically on the loom. The weaver sits in front of them and works the pattern on the warp. You can think of the warp as the artist’s canvas. When the piece is finished, you will not actually see the warp. It will be hidden by the weft that creates the design. To be used as warp, the threads must be strong, durable and not likely to fuzz or fray as the pattern is woven onto them and beaten down.

Next, let’s talk about the weft. If the warp is the canvas, then the weft is the paint. It is the part that we see when we look at a carpet. The weaver is much like a painter in that they apply the various colors to the warp to create the beautiful and highly intricate patterns that we see. There are many different ways to apply the weft to the warp, each of which gives a different effect and adds a different texture to the piece. Let’s explore some of these techniques for creating weft patterns.

Pile Rugs vs. Kilims

In the world of oriental rugs, you will often hear the terms pile rugs and kilims. To understand pile rug, let us first start with the kilim. Kilims are also known as flat weave rugs. It is created by weaving the weft threads in an over and under pattern on the warp. In the next row of weaving, the threads that were passed over in the previous row will be passed under in the next one, and vice versa.

This can be done by using a tapestry weaving technique where the weaver passes the threads over and under each thread individually, or by tying every other warp thread to something called a heddle rod. This rod can be pulled forward to lift the threads of one row above the other warp threads so that the yarns or weaving shuttle can be passed through more easily. The heddle rod is then lowered, either by hand or mechanically, to raise the opposite row of warp threads. This is continued over and over until the piece is finished.

Antique Persian Senneh Kilim Flat Weave Rug Pile - Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

Antique Persian Senneh Kilim Flat Weave Rug Pile

This process creates a flat weave rug called a kilim. The designs are created by changing colors of threads at the right places to create the pattern. This type of weaving creates the familiar waffle-weave pattern. In a kilim, the warp threads are hidden by using a weft thread or yarn that is a larger diameter than the warp threads. This allows the pattern to stand out. If the same size warp and weft threads were used, it would just be a piece of plain weave fabric instead of a rug. You must understand the basics of kilim weaving to grasp how a pile rug is made because the plain weaving used in the kilim is the foundation of the pile rug.

Creating the Rug Pile

In a pile rug, the weaving starts out like a kilim. From now on, we will refer the over and under rows used to create the kilim as plain weave. A pile rug typically starts out with a few header rows of plain weave that you can see at the ends of the carpet. It will also end with a few rows of plain weave too. The number of rows used differs among various weavers and throughout different regions. The purpose of these rows is to secure the pile and to add stability.

After the header rows, the weaver will create one or two rows of plain weave. Now, the magic happens. Before doing the next row, the weaver will hand tie a row of knots, changing colors according to a chart. The chart is called a cartoon and tells the weaver where the different colors are placed to create the pattern.

According to the region or tribe, the knots can be either an asymmetrical knot, symmetrical knot or other knots that are found in specific regions of the world. The two most common knots are the Senneh rug knot, also known as the asymmetrical knot, and the symmetrical or Ghiordes rug knot. They are also known as the Persian and Turkish rug knots, as well as by other names.

Turkish Antique Silk Rug Pile - Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

Turkish Antique Silk Rug Pile

To create the pile, a knot is hand tied around each individual warp thread as the weaver goes across the row. It may be noted that in some pile styles the knots are tied around two warp threads, or sets of warp threads, but in most places each knot is tied around one warp thread. The weaver then uses a tiny knife to cut the thread before tying the next one. The knife has a hook on the end to assist in tying the knot.

At this point, the threads are left long. The weaver finishes tying the knots across the row using different colors according to the pattern. After a row of knots is finished, the rug weaver will then do one, two or three rows of plain weave to secure the knots that create the pile. The number of rows used between each pile row is a distinguishing characteristic of different rugs from various regions.

Once the weaver has completed a row or two of plain weaving, they will then begin tying another row of pile knots. This process will continue until the rug is complete.Between each set of pile and plain weave rows, the weaver will use a special comb to beat down the rows and pack them tightly. This makes the rug strong and durable. Often, a thicker, stronger thread or several rows of warp, will be used on the sides of the rug to create a strong edge too.

Finishing the Rug Pile

As the rows of pile and plain weave are completed and beaten down, the plain weave rows disappear underneath the longer pile. Every couple of row sets, the weaver will trim the pile to the proper length. The length of the pile is determined by the size of the warp and weft threads that are used and the intricacy of the design. The more intricate the design, the shorter the pile is trimmed to make the design stand out. Sometimes, this is just a rough cut, and when the rug is finished, it will be trimmed further to even it up.

Vintage German Shag Rug Pile - Nazmiyal Antique Rugs

Vintage German Shag Rug Pile

Once the rug is complete it is laid flat and washed several times. It is then allowed to dry in the sun and given a final inspection. The result of this process is a soft, plush pile rug that is absolutely irresistible for its texture and breathtaking design.

Now that you understand the process that goes into making a pile rug, you will be able to appreciate its beauty even more. Making a pile rug can take anywhere from several months for a small rug to several years for a larger, more intricate design. You now have a better understanding of the love and work that went into each of our masterpieces. Enjoy your look around our store as you explore our collection of fine, antique pile rugs for your home.

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