How are rugs made? - Rug weaving techniques

Weaving a rug is an incredibly time consuming task, there are various traditional and historical techniques involved which are still used in the creation of modern rugs today.

All rugs start off as a warp; the warp is the yarn that sits vertically on a loom and what eventually becomes the rugs fringe. It is wound on at a tension and forms the basic structure of the rug. The weft is the yarn that is woven through the warp horizontally, there are many different techniques that can be used in the weft that create different textures and patterns. For example, hand knotting, tufting and weaving.

Hand knotting is a historical weaving process and is the most time-consuming technique as the weaver will individually tie each knot. In between rows of knotting are two rows of plain weave, this binds together the warp threads and secures the knots in place creating a very solid and durable fabric. The tight knots make this type of rug good for lots of traffic and footfall. For example, hallways and staircases. It can take around 20 years before a hand knotted rug sees signs of ageing. Hand knotted rugs are valued as pieces of art which often end up as family heirlooms.   

Hand tufted rugs from the front can look a lot like hand knotted rugs. Instead they are made with a tufting gun. The gun pushes loops of yarn from the back and into the front of the rug. This is a much quicker method than hand knotting. Once the tufting is in place the loops can be left or cut to create a traditional pile. 

Arris, by Wedgwood is a handtufted design

Arris, by Wedgwood is a handtufted design

Hand Carving is a technique that can be used on a hand tufted or knotted pile. The weaver cuts into the pile sculpting it into a shape which will usually emphasise a pattern and add depth to the design.     

Hand Woven rugs are known as kelims or flatweaves. They are different to the previous two rugs I have discussed as they do not have a pile. This technique can be done by hand or by a power loom and are usually reversible designs.

Mattia is a fine example of a flatweave/kelim

Mattia is a fine example of a flatweave/kelim