Are you bemused at the different methods and techniques of rug production? We have written this article to give you a better understanding of the methods of manufacture involved in producing both hand made and machine made rugs. Loom woven rugs, regardless of the weaving technique always have in common a warp and a weft usually made from jute and / or cotton. The warp is the vertical running strings that make up the length of the rug and the weft is the interwoven thread that runs across the width holding the structure of the rug together, while providing a firm anchor base for the visible pile on the surface of the rug.
Machine made rugs:
By far the most popular weaving method for rugs in Europe and America is the Wilton weave. The modern Wilton loom is fed by thousands of creels of yarn usually in up to eight different colours. The old punch jacquards that fed the pattern information to the loom in much the same way as music box plays it’s tune have been replaced by computerised jacquards. The new high speed Wilton looms produce the rugs faster because they use a face to face weaving technique. It weaves two backing with a single pile sandwiched between them, once woven the patterned or plain surface is split to create an identical mirror images of the other. All in all the technique not only allows faster production, with the computerised jacquards it gives a vast diversity of design and rug sizes. Inevitably giving us lower prices on the high street.
Efficiency is the key to mass production and to that end the fibre favored by Wilton rug producers is generally polypropylenes. While there are a few manufacturers that will produce in wool or viscose, polypropylene dominates the market because it can be made in house, it is relatively cheap, stain resistant, it bulks well and more importantly is more efficient to weave with.
Why is polypropylene more efficient in a Wilton loom? Polypropylene is a BCF (Bulk Continuous Filament) fibre, in plain English it is extruded and twisted in one continuous length. In comparison, wool is cut from a sheep then the short yarn filaments are spun together to create a single length of yarn. If you pick up a ball of wool and stretch the length of yarn between your hands, adding tension will cause it to snap fairly easily, if you repeat the same exercise with a BCF yarn polypropylene or nylon you are likely to cut your hands before the yarn snaps. The yarn in the loom is constantly under tension and wool will snap before polypropylene, and all manufacturers want to avoid expensive downtime.
Manufacturers who do produce Wilton rugs in wool will usually use better quality wools with longer staple lengths and produce at slower speeds to avoid downtime. They will often go for New Zealand wool which is a more expensive option but is softer to the touch and has superior dying properties. So while Wilton woven rugs in wool may look expensive compared to their handwoven counterparts, you can usually rest assured that the yarn woven using the very best wools.
Hand made rugs:
The majority of handmade rugs are produced where labour is cheap, India, China, Pakistan and the Middle East. Handmade rugs are produced in both modern and traditional designs and use two main techniques, hand weaving and hand tufting.
Hand Tufted Rugs: Hand tufting is the fastest method of making a rug by hand, it is used for both modern, contemporary and traditional designs. with handtufting there isn’t conventional warp and weft. A pattern is simply drawn onto a woven canvas backing. Then the artisan takes a hand held tufting gun and injects the different coloured yarns into the drawn sections of the backing, much like painting by numbers. The artisan can create a vast degree of different textures, pile heights and colorations. Once the rug is tufted is backed with a secondary jute material using a latex adhesive to ensure the rug tufts stay in place, then cropped and carved to give added texture and dimension to the design before packing.
While wool is often the norm for hand tufted rugs there are many other fibres used including acrylic, viscose (art silk) , jute and polyester. As wool is a naturally dull fibre some combinations of wool and viscose are often used to liven the pile surface.
Please Click to view a short Hand Tufting Video.
The main production centres for hand-tufted rugs are India and China. Although hand tufted rugs can be produced with literally any fibre because of the local resources we primarily see production of wool and viscose rugs from India and production of brighter acrylic and viscose fibres from China.
Hand Loomed Rugs: Normally produced in India and parts of Asia. This method manufacture uses a loom that is powered by the hands and feet of the weaver.
Kilim Rugs: Are flat woven blanket like rugs often woven in wool on either a handloom or modern electronic looms.
Hand Knotted: Hand knotting: A hand knotted rug is a thing of beauty and can sell for a few hundred pounds to a few hundred thousand pounds, is by far the slowest and most expensive way to produce a rug. Hand knotted rugs origins date back over two thousand years to Persia. Today Persian rugs are most sort after and still use the same ancient technique of weaving. Mainly woven by simple village folk or nomadic tribesman using hand spun and hand vegetable dyed yarns these rugs are painstakingly woven over months and even years. Hand knotted rugs are not unique to Iran (Persia), they are also produced in Turkey, India, Pakistan, China, Morocco, Afghanistan, Tibet and other Asian and Middle eastern regions.
The rugs have a standard warp and weft, but the yarn is literally knotted to the warp of the rugs before the weft is put into place. There are two main knotting styles, the Persian Senneh knot which is an asymmetrical knot and less likely to leave gaps in the pile, and the Turkish Ghiordes knot. Hand knotted rugs are produced by true artisans, usually woven in the finest wool or silk and is some cases a combination of both. The styling of the design is usually indigenous to the region it has been produced.
Videos from youtube.com
We have also included a selection of video clips from Youtube.com, while the narration and styles are American the technique of rug production is universal.
Video 1: Looks at Making the Rug
Video 2: Looks at the Wool Preparation
Video 3: Looks at Rug Production Methods
Video 4: Looks at Designs and Origins