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How are rugs made?


Understanding the manufacture of Persian rugs, Indian rugs and Oriental rugs

We believe that to truly appreciate your rug, it is important that you understand where the rug has come from, and how it is made. This section aims to give you a feeling for how each of the rugs are made, and how this might be different from each area. The rug is broadly made up of two elements, the pile and the foundation. The pile of rugs or carpets which is determined by the thickness of the material that is used to weave a rug can be made up of single or multiple types of material - wool, wool and silk, silk, and acrylic.

The foundation for rugs or carpets, which is the initial threads that make up the core fibres of the rug are normally made up of cotton, wool, and silk. The pile and the foundation varies by region, with some regions sticking specifically to certain pile types and certain foundations. The final element that makes up a rug is the density, and this is normally measured in knots per square inch. This measure is sometimes confusing as different areas tend to measure knots per square inch differently. This is explained in more detail in the Rug Feel Guide. Machine made rugs generally use more of the non-natural fibres like acrylic, and the design and creative processes differ signficantly from handmade rugs.


Handmade rugs

Somene who makes rugs will not necessarily design the rugs themselves. Very much like musicians might often build a 'back catalogue', designers will learn their trade at University and build an entire catalogue of rug designs that can be offered out to any manufacturers that are interested. These designs will normally make up about a 5th of the overall cost of creating the rug. Some rugmakers won't buy designs but create the intricate patterns in their own head. Once they have a design they will then look to buy the materials. As a rugmaker it is important they choose the right materials. Rugmakers across the world will have favourite materials that are either easily available in the region or give the right colours for the designs.

Once they have the foundation material this is then placed in a loom that is threaded up. The distance between the threads is always the same, as it is the density of the knots that defines the quaility of the rug. A painstaking process then follows. Normally rugmakers will work in pairs. One will call out the knot pattern from the design, the other will then start to put the knots into the foundation of the pile, which is done on a line by line basis. In some cases the pile might be made up of two different materials, in which case one line of knots is done in one material, and then next line of knots the other material. 

This process continues until the rug and the pattern has been completed. The timing for this depends on the knot density, the size of the rug, and the materials used. You can tell a handmade rug as this process makes that pattern as clear on the underside of the rug as the top of the rug.


Machine Made Rugs

Machines were introduced into the rug making process no more than 50 years ago. The first machine made rugs were actually made in Luxembourg and Belgium, but this process has been adopted globally. We believe that the rugs made in this process are not even close to the quality of craftsmenship and durability of the original process outlined above. This is why, on only a few occassions have we stocked these, and this will be clearly marked at the product level.

The machine-making process is simple. The designs are normally outputed from a computer and this is fed into the automatic looms that then begin to throw the 'bobbin' across the rug with the relevant colours within the bobbin. It is not knotted like in the handmade process, but the sheer speed when this is done means that for a simple design, a machine can make up to 200 metres of rug a day.