The Making Of A Hand Knotted Rug
At Bazaar Velvet, we are immensely proud of the natural material & quality that many of our rugs are created from. Of course, we are talking about the wonderful durability and practicality of wool, an incredible material that has kept nomadic tribes people warm and has also adorned the floors of dwellings from around the world. The quality properties of wool can make rugs last generations, with this tradition going back as early as the 5th century BC, an example of wool rugs dating back to this period is the famous Pazyryk carpet.
What Is The Best Wool For A Hand Knotted Rug?
There are many different types of wool, and each is as unique as the animal it is gathered from. Many factors go into determining the quality of wool used in each rug, from the sheep’s breed, age and diet, to the way its wool has been taken care of and sheared. There are many types of wool suitable for making rugs the best are from the following Ghazni wool from the mountains of Afghanistan, Tibetan wool from the Himalayas or Bikaner wool from Rajasthan, Turkish wool & Persian wool and the Moroccan wools form the Atlas mountains.
At Bazaar Velvet, we use many of these in our designer rugs, they are all naturally rich in lanolin; this gives them a silky luxurious pile.
There are many types of wool such as mohair, cashmere, angora, pashmina and alpaca all with different properties but a wonderful material full of character in which to make rugs from.
How Is A Hand Knotted Rug Made?
Once the wool has been gathered and organised by colour, it is carded and spun by hand: although both these processes are time-consuming and costly, this is what ultimately gives hand knotted rugs true character and makes every individual rug unique with a story to tell.
Carding is the process whereby the fibres are separated and detangled, then assembled into a loose strand in preparation for the hand spinning process. Carding wool is a skilled process that takes practice, first the carder will take hold of two carding combs and load one with wool fibres. The person will then take hold of the loaded comb and place it underneath the empty comb, where they will start lightly ‘combing’ the wool fibres. This back and forth motion is continued until the wool has been completely transferred to the overhead carding comb.
The process will then be reversed until the wool feels light and airy with no tangles, before the wool is put into a rolag and ready for spinning. The beauty of hand carding is it creates character in our rugs.
Hand spinning is carried out on a traditional spinning wheel and turned by pressing a pedal, which breaks down fewer fibres in comparison to a machine, making the wool stronger as a result. The actual process is seen as ancient art of twisting fibres into yarn and has been practiced for thousands of years. Hand spinning also produces slightly different thicknesses of the yarn, which gives the rug a more interesting texture.
Just as a strong house needs strong foundations and careful construction, a sustainable rug needs the best quality wool as well as care and attention going into the material. Thanks to this, we are confident our Bazaar Velvet rugs will last you a lifetime.
Dyeing Of Wool
Dyeing the wool is a crucial step in the rug making process as colour is a key feature of any luxury rug. The dye master will create the required colour and place the yarn into dye vats of hot water. The dye vat has a motor which constantly submerges the wool until the right colour is achieved. The water is heated to allow the dye to work its way into the yarn, the longer the time the darker the hue.
Drying Of Wool
After the dying process, the yarn is left to naturally dry under the hot Nepalese sun. The sunlight allows the colours to dry and sets them into the wool.
Rug Weaving Process
Once the wool is dry it is usually hand spun for a second time then the loom is set up and the rug weaving process can begin. A full size drawing is created of the rug design and colours on graph paper and sits above the loom so the weavers can follow the graph as each square would represent a knot on the rug.
‘Weft’ threads (wool or silk) begin to be woven through horizontally by hand: knot by knot to start forming the design of each rug. There are various different knotting techniques that can be used, at Bazaar Velvet our rugs are usually made from either Persian knot and Tibetan knot.
This extremely popular knot type gets its name from its country of origin as it was traditionally made with wool from Tibetan highland sheep.
This process sees yarn knotted around the vertical warp and a temporary horizontal metal rod. The yarn is looped around both the previous and next warp to create a knot, every knot continues on from the previous one. This process speeds up the weaving time and this is the type of most hand knotted custom rugs.
Tibetan knot is known for producing the finest quality rugs with many rugs in our showroom being made with Tibetan Knot.
This knot technique is often used in rugs from India, Pakistan and Iran. One half of the yarn is tied tightly around a warp whilst the other half is loose, meaning only one warp is completely encircled. This process allows knots to be packed together tightly, making it the perfect knot for rugs with a high knot density and detailed patterns. Persian knot is also great for finer rugs with high knot counts.
Rug Washing Process
Once the weaving process has been carried out, the now rugs will need to undertake a washing process removing dirt, detergent and yarn particles in order to prepare it for finishing. The rug will be cleaned on both sides with dust or dirt being washed out with a wooden paddle known as a ‘Pharwa’, this forces water through the pile and softens the wool.
Once washing is complete the rugs are stretched out to dry in the sun so they keep their shape.
Rug Trimming and Finishing
Each rug is laid out flat and trimmed down to the correct pile height using large flat bladed-shears called ‘Kainchi’. This process can take many weavers up to 14 days even on a small rug, this is essential as it brings the rug to life.
This highly skilled process comes at the end of the rugs journey as it defines and highlights where wool meets silk, creating a smooth, luxurious transition.
GoodWeave – Ethically Made Rugs
Bazaar Velvet are a pioneer member of the GoodWeave organisation, which use producers who are subject to their conditions and scrutiny. For more than two decades, GoodWeave have been working tirelessly to end child labour and enforce fair conditions in the carpet industry.
GoodWeave take a holistic approach to their work, harnessing market forces to clean up supply chains, promote education and improve conditions for all workers. Handmade rugs are gorgeous for a reason: they have been painstakingly designed and made by talented artisans.
For more information about this amazing charity see GoodWeave.
The rug making process takes time and uses so many skilled workers. Hand knotted bespoke rugs can take 18 weeks or more to make, but the process behind making a rug in this traditional method is truly magical. The making of each piece tells a story and possibly fifty hands have touched your rug before you roll it out on your floor.