The Big Rug Guide 2013

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We begin our Blog in 2013 with our ‘Big Rug Guide’ – everything you need to know about different qualities, materials, styles and manufacturing techniques.

Hand-loomed Rugs
Hand-loomed rugs are typically flat-woven and can be used on both sides; one-sided piled pieces are however also available on the market, nowadays especially hand-loomed shaggy rugs from India. Unlike classic flatweaves or machine-woven rugs, they are produced on semi-mechanic weaving looms. The weaver incorporates the weft threads manually, as with an oriental Kelim. The rug is then tightend mechanically. The warp yarn of typical hand-loomed rugs is usually made from jute or synthetic fibres. The weft yarn is usually made from wool, but other raw materials such as cotton are also used. The wool is generally dyed before spinning. For mixed yarn, different coloured flocks of wool are spun together. In order that the wool is stable enough, it is spun around a wick. This wick may be made from jute or cotton. Hand-woven rugs are produced in countries such as Morocco, Hungary, Greece, Tunisia and India. Austria also has a hand-woven rug industry.

Hand-tufted Rugs
The production of hand-tufted rugs differs significantly from all other production methods. The rug is not woven or knotted, but rather the pile yarn is incorporated by hand into a backing fabric using a tufting gun. There are two kinds of tufting guns: electric or purely manual ones. If the pile is cut open in the process, a velour surface emerges. In order to retain a loop structure, the pile yarn is not cut. As soon as the pile is completed, the pile threads have to be fixed because they are only loosely incorporated into the backing fabric and can be pulled out easily. The entire back of the rug is therefore bonded, generally with latex. The back of the rug is then covered using a cotton fabric for a clean look. Subsequently contours are often carved out. Unlike with knotted rugs, whose patterns are created row by row from the bottom to the top, all pattern details in one colour or type of yarn can be produced before moving onto the next. Curves can also be created easily. The pile is usually made from polyacrylic fibre, polyester or wool. Hand-tufting is a fast process, which makes the rugs thus produced very inexpensive. The main countries of production are China and India. Particularly high-quality pieces are also produced in Europe.

Hand-Knotted Rugs
A rug is said to be knotted when the pile yarn is incorporated into its basic weave by means of a knot. The basic weave, that is warp and weft, is usually made from wool or cotton, the knotted pile is usually made from wool. A knot has to fully enclose at least one warp yarn. Today, the most significant knots are the Turkish knot, the Persian knot, the Tibetan knot and the Berber knot. The manufacturing process of a knotted rug
starts with stretching the warp across the loom, also called beaming. The tension of the warp is important for the quality of the rug. Rows of weft yarn are then woven in at right angles into the stretched warp. The resulting so-called Kelim band or plain weave band provides stability. Now, row by row, the pile is knotted around the warp. Each knot runs over a pair of warp threads. Each knot is incorporated individually, which allows for different colours and patterns to emerge. The knotting is done either from memory or according to a pattern, so-called vaghires, point paper designs or talims. The knots are always pulled downwards, which produces the pile bias, or the grain. It always leans towards where the rug was started to be knotted. After each completed row of knots, the knotter then puts in one or several wefts. Finally, he beats the wefts and knots down using a heavy, comb-like tool called beater. It is important that the impact always has the same force to ensure that the final appearance is uniform. If the impact is lower in one part, for instance in order to save time, the rug will be looser and the patterns will no longer be in proportion. As soon as the knotting is completed, the rug is washed, which makes the pile shiny and removes excess dirt and wool. The pile is then trimmed to its final length. The finer the knotting, the lower the pile, or the pattern blurs.

Oriental Hand Knotted Rugs
Two types of knots are generally used for the production of classic oriental rugs: the Persian and the Turkish knot. Despite their names, these types of knot are not bound to a particular region, since both types are used in Turkey and in Iran. The Persian knot is knotted asymmetrically over a pair of adjacent warp threads; the pile yarn fully encloses one pile yarn, and half of the other. Other names for this type of knot are: farsi baff, Senneh knot and asymmetric knot.  The Turkish knot is knotted symmetrically over an adjacent pair of warp threads; both threads are fully enclosed by the pile yarn. Other names for this type of knot are: Turk baff, Ghiordes knot and symmetric knot. So-called looped rugs represent a special category. Here, the pile is incorporated into the basic weave using W or V loops. But there is no knot that truly encloses the warp thread. Nevertheless, experts consider rugs thus produced to be knotted rugs. The pile of such looped rugs is less durable.

Nepal Hand Knotted Rugs
For Nepal rugs, Indian imitations and Chinese Tibetan rugs, the Tibetan knot is used. This knot is wound around a rod. Once one row of knot loops in one colour is completed the loops around the rod are cut to fan out the pile. This produces the typical striped knot appearance. The knot that is cut open resembles the Persian knot

Berber Hand Knotted Rugs
The Berber knot is used for Moroccan rugs of the same name. The main versions are simple and double. These French names indicate whether the knotting thread is placed individually or doubly parallel to one other and are then knotted that way. Triply placed pile yarns are also occasionally used.

simple: knot with a simple wool thread, producing 2 pile ends per knot. double: knot with a double wool thread, producing 4 pile ends per knot.
demi double: the knotting is done in two different sets: one row with simple and the next row with double knotting thread. The alternation of one simple and one double knotting thread is also possible. This technique is not, however, very common. Here, the pile ends alternate between having two and four ends.
triple: knot with triple wool thread, producing 6 pile ends per knot.

In Berber rugs, a knotting yarn may consist of twisted pile yarns. This knotting yarn is called torsadé and produces a granular pile effect. The advantage is that this type of yarn is less likely to become felted. one knot in the direction of the weft – it also saves material – per row of knots, only half the pile yarn is needed. The pile knotted using the Jufti knot is only half as thick making the rug noticeably thinner and thus of a lower quality. When the asymmetric knot is used, the jufti knotting can be recognized, by bending open the pile. If the jufti knot is used, you can see two warps of the basic weave per knot. If the symetric knot is used, run your thumb firmly over the pile in the opposite direction – if possible while directly comparing it with a similar rug of which it is known that a normal knotting technique was used. Open back / Closed back In China a distinction is being made between so called “open back“ and “closed back“ knottings. The two terms are motivated with regard to the wefts: the wefts are visible from the backside of the rug in open back rugs. In closed back rugs they are invisible. Both types of rugs are made with double warps and asymetric knots. In open back rugs the loop of the knot wraps around the warp closer to the pile. In closed back rugs it wraps around the other warp, the one closer to the backside. Closed back rugs can be produced faster, but they are less durable.

Flatweave Rugs
Flatweaves are rugs without pile. The design emerges exclusively from the warp and weft, unless embroidery and other appliqué is applied subsequently.

Kilim Rugs
The Kelim is probably the most famous and popular oriental flatwoven rug. It receives its patterns through different coloured wefts. Each area of colour in the pattern is woven using a separate thread.

Machine-produced Rugs
In the middle of the 19th century, the first machine-produced oriental rugs were made, thus making this coveted and luxury product accessible to a wider audience. To this day, these rugs are considered an inexpensive alternative to the knotted rug. The quality of such machine-produced rugs is not necessarily lower than that of handmade pieces. Most machine-produced area rugs are woven; however, rugs made from tufted wall to wall rugs are also produced. Relatively new on the market are machine woven rugs, that have a contour carved out, like it can be found in hand tufted rugs. Woven area rugs are usually produced using the Axminster technique or the wire technique. The basic weave is formed by the weft, connecting warp, which incorporates the weft, and filling warp, which gives the rug additional stability. The warp that forms the pile is called the frame. The number of frames is the same as the number of colours in the finished product. To produce a pattered rug, a Jacquard loom is needed. It is able to guide the relevant warp (that is, pile) threads so as to produce the desired pattern.

The pile material in woven rugs is either wool or polypropylene. The quality of a woven rug is given in points or naps per m2 and not in knots per m2, because the pile is not knotted.

Wilton Rugs
Weaving over wires is the oldest technique for the production of mechanical woven rugs. In this process, the frames are guided over steel wires that are inserted during the weaving process. This produces, depending on the height of the wire, pile loops of a specified height. In the case of velour rugs, the wires are linked at the end using a blade. When pulling out the wire, the loop is cut and the pile fans open. Loop-pile goods are woven over wires without a blade. The Wilton rug is a patterned velour wire loom rug. The pattern is produced by lifting or lowering the frame: The thread of the desired colour is guided over the wire. The other pile warps, the so-called dead frames, go to the back of the rug, where they can be seen as coloured stripes.

Axminster Rugs
When producing Axminster rugs, pile threads of a certain size and colour are placed into the loom and taken to grippers via a yarn carrier. The grippers pick up the yarn and guide it into the basic weave. Here, the thread, whose ends form the naps of the pile, is fixed using an additional weft thread. The Axminster technique can be used to produce very elaborate patterns, the speed of production is relatively slow.

Double Rugs
A very efficient manufacturing process is the weaving of so-called double rugs. This involves weaving two rugs at the same time as one work process. The warp, which will later form the pile, is woven in between the two backs: one on top and one on the bottom. Then the resulting fabric is separated in the middle using a blade, producing two rugs with mirrored patterns.

Flat-Woven Rugs
The simplest form of a machine-woven rug is the flat-woven rug. It only consists of warp and weft threads. The patterning emerges as a result of the colours of the yarn and the type of weaving. The simplest form of weaving is the plain weave where each warp thread is carried over and under a weft in turn. More elaborate patterns, as with woven rugs with pile, can be produced using a Jacquard loom, which carries the necessary pile thread to the rug surface and weaves the rest into the basic weave.

Flat-woven rugs are amongst the least expensive woven rugs. They are almost exclusively made from polypropylene. Flat-woven natural fibre rugs form a separate group.

Natural fibre Rugs
The trend towards natural products means that flat-woven natural fibre rugs now form a special group within the market. Even though wool is a natural fibre, only rugs made from plant-based fibres are called natural fibre rugs. The raw materials used most frequently include sisal, sea grass and coconut. The patterning is determined by the type of weaving. The most well-known are rib weave, panama weave and fishbone weave.

The majority of natural fibre rugs are sold as border rugs, where the natural fibre is framed using fabric, leather or artificial leather in a matching colour.

Even though, from a production point of view, hides are not rugs, they do fulfil the same function: They are designed to make a room more homely.

Sheep hides have a long tradition. They usually enter the market undyed, i.e. off-white. Cow hides enjoy some popularity. They are offered in all kinds of designs: undyed, dyed, printed, e.g. with a zebra or tiger fur pattern, or embossed and printed with metal effect dye. In addition to the more common sheep and cow hides, more unusual hides are also
traded, such as reindeer and springbok. Both full hides as well as patchwork rugs made from hide parts are marketed.


Wool (WV – pure new wool; WO – wool)
– Most important yarn in rug manufacture
– Especially as pile material
– Used in knotted rugs, hand-tufted rugs, hand-loomed rugs, machine woven rugs
– In the case of nomad rugs and rural rugs also in the basic weave
Types of wool
– Virgin wool is wool sheared from living sheep
– Dead wool is obtained from dead animals and is of a lower quality
– Highland wool is high-quality, hard-wearing wool from sheep living in the mountains;
almost always wool from the country of origin of the rug
– Lowland wool is the soft wool from sheep that live on large plains; almost always imported wool, for instance from New Zealand
– The greater the staple length of the wool fibres, the better the quality of the wool yarn.
– Wool absorbs up to 36% of its own weight in steam, which means that it regulates
– The surface repels drops of water and does not attract dirt easily
– Good heat insulation
– Pleasant feel
– Elastic, individual fibres bounce back easily
– Good image, as it is a natural product, renewable raw material
– Easily absorbs steam, which means that it can rot in rooms that are always moist

Silk (SE)
– Finest yarn in rug manufacture
– In the pile usually in outlines, very high-quality rugs are made entirely from silk
– For very fine rugs also as basic weave
– Used in knotted rugs and very high-quality hand-tufted rugs
– Feels extremely soft
– Shimmery, fine appearance
– Silk fibres are very tear-resistant
– Good image through its reputation as the most valuable natural fibre
– Very fine fibre
– Sensitive to moisture
– Very expensive due to time-consuming production process
– Silk pile is less robust than wool pile

Cotton (CO)
– Second most important yarn after wool for knotted rug production
– Often used as basic weave for knotted rugs
– Almost never used as pile material in knotted rugs. If anything, it is used for details in pure white.
– Used in hand-woven rugs
– Has directional stability and tensile strength
– Natural product with a good image
– Easily absorbs steam, which means that it can rot in rooms that are always moist
– Not very resilient as pile material, tends to become felted
– Attracts dirt easily

Viscose (CV)
– Artificial fibre based on cellulose
– Popular as silk replacement in the pile
– Cheaper than silk
– Pleasant feel
– Looks similar to silk
– Wood is basic raw material
– Much less hard-wearing than silk
– Less hard-wearing than mercerised cotton, wears out fast
– Not very elastic
– Bad heat insulation

Polypropylene / Heatsetgarne (PP)
– Used as pile material in machine woven rugs
– Not moisture-sensitive
– Light weight
– Good heat insulation
– Very hard-wearing
– Much less expensive than wool
– Does not absorb any moisture, does not regulate temperature
– Unrefined, it does not feel good
– Artificial fibre with a bad image

Polyacrylics (PAN)
– Used as pile material especially for hand-tufted rugs
– Cheaper than wool
– Soft to touch
– Does not absorb dirt easily, can be cleaned
– Good heat insulation
– Absorbs little moisture, does not regulate temperature
– Artificial fibre with a bad image

January 3rd, 2013|Our Rugs|