WHAT IS A RUG?
Every part of the rug making process is considered an art from the care of the sheep to the final stage of washing and finishing the carpet. First, the finest wool is sheared from the sheep, it is then washed to free it of excess lanolin, and carded, to straighten the wool before it is spun. Next the wool is dyed by a dye-master up to twenty times in boiling vats and then hung to dry. A superior quality handmade rug cannot be made in a sweatshop as the quality can only come from a master craftsman who has a vast depth of weaving knowledge. Some master weavers use a rug script which dictates different traditional rug designs, but many weavers weave from the collective memory of their ancestors.
When beginning a new rug the weaver begins again the process of re-recording the history, using new thoughts and innovations in the thousands of knots that make up their art. One rug will take the weaver months, if not years to complete, returning day after day to their wooden loom.
THE FINISHING TOUCHES
Warp threads, which are usually made of cotton or wool yarns (unless it is a silk rug, then the warp is silk), are tightly stretched along the length of the loom. In a pile rug, pieces of different colored yarn are deftly knotted around each pair of warp threads. As each row of weft threads is completed, the weft threads are inserted across the width of the loom, beaten with a metal comb and a new row is begun. The weft and warp make up the hidden foundation of the rug, while the knotted pile creates the plush design. When the weaving process is finished the carpet must then be trimmed to make the surface of the rug have an even appearance. The warp is also cut and finished, using one of a number of styles of fringe design. The rug is then washed, or seasoned before it is shipped to the western market because of the brightness of the dyes. A bright red rug can be washed to a light pink or even a brown! The washing process if done in the country of origin is most often washed in a stream or lake, if the washing is done in the west, a chemical process is often used. The carpet is also sheared one last time before it is put into market.