Are These Flaws in My Hand-Knotted Rug?
March 02, 2018
Posted by D. A. Burns
Some purchase hand-made rugs specifically because they look hand-crafted. Having something that’s truly one-of-a-kind can be exhilarating for a designer or collector. But for others, those hand-crafted imperfections can be puzzling.
Many who find the hand-knotted or Oriental rug of their dreams take a closer look once they get home and see things that didn’t at first stand out. For example: One rug may display crooked edges, white knots or even
t contain areas of abrash. These conditions aren’t necessarily “flaws,” and in some cases, they could be distinctions that make the rug special.
Here, we examine a few common conditions in hand-knotted rugs:
Abrash is a common occurrence in hand-knotted rugs caused by differences in wool or dye batches used in the weaving of the rug. The color variation extends across the rug, left to right, following a weft yarn.
Rather than view the abrash as a flaw, many rug collectors value this condition as an artful hallmark of a hand-woven piece. In some cases, machine-made rug designs intentionally emulate this same effect to give the appearance of hand-knotted authenticity.
With many Oriental rugs, owners will notice small white or off-white “spots” that appear at random over time. These “spots” are simply knots from the rug’s foundation yarns that have worked their way up to the surface and sandwiched between the pile fibers.
So … how does this happen?
When the rugs are woven, cotton or wool yarns are put under tension on a weaving loom. Inevitably, during the weaving process, some of those yarns break and need to be spliced back together by tying a knot.
When a rug is new, these knots can be obscured by the full length of the rug pile surrounding them. These knots are bulkier than the surrounding face fibers, and ordinary foot traffic will force them to the surface as the pile fibers wear down. Since they’re a different material and color than the face fibers, they become more noticeable. Ultimately, their appearance in Oriental rugs is normal.
Immediately following completion of the rug weaving – or during distribution and retailing – the more obvious knots may be re-colored with a slight tint or dye marker. As the rug is used, the knots will darken and become obscured with surface soiling. Following a thorough professional cleaning, the soil and the tint are removed, which make the knots more prominent. This is neither a defect in the rug nor a problem with the cleaning process, but rather a normal result from the use of the rug. An added service, if desired, can be provided to re-color these white knots and make them less conspicuous. They can also be removed from the finished rug and repaired with re-weaving, but that process can be tedious (and expensive).
Most owners accept the knots as part of the hand-made appeal of their rug; those who don’t may choose to visit an art supply store and perform a less-intensive touch-up on their own.
End-to-End Differences in Appearance
Each rug has a “light” side and a “dark” side, depending on whether one looks into the nap or with the nap. As a result, the color intensity you see from one end of the rug may vastly differ from what you see on the opposite end. This is simply a result of the weaving process.
Once the rug is home, the owner can examine it closely from both ends and decide whether or not to turn it 180-degrees to achieve the desired effect.
Section or Lazy Lines
Most larger rugs are woven by several weavers, sitting side by side. They all work at the same rate and the weaving progresses across the full width of the rug, one row at a time. If one weaver works on a larger rug, he/she may build several rows in one area rather than shifting his/her position to complete a row across the entire width of a rug. The weaver will tie a knot on each row at the end of their reach, shift position and repeat the procedure. This results in a diagonal line of knots between each section of weaving.
Whether it’s considered a normal part of rug weaving is open to debate. Those that feel this style of weaving is appropriate call these “section lines.” Others, who think the weaver should complete a full row, call them “lazy lines.”
Each of the rug distinctions we’ve examined can be viewed as an enhancement, or an imperfection, depending on your perspective. Of course, the answer truly lies in the eye of the beholder. If you’re still unsure about a flaw or colorful characteristic in your hand-knotted rug, come and see us! Our trained professionals will be able to help you determine if it’s something that needs fixing, or if your rug is just one-of-a-kind. To schedule an appointment, contact us or call us at 206.782.2268.
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