There are many ways to make a rug by hand and many materials to choose from. Different yarns display different properties of strength, softness and lustre. Some are smooth and cool to the touch while others are sumptuously soft and warm. Beyond the more obvious charms of wool, silk and cotton we have explored the merits of such diverse fibres as bamboo, banana leaf, mohair, merino and alpaca. We have remained faithful to the natural materials, carefully preserving their inherent properties. Once a yarn is chosen there are myriad ways in which it can be knotted and woven, twisted and looped to produce a handmade rug. These differing techniques produce a range of textural surfaces, from fine and flat to chunky and shaggy. Whilst the precise detail of weaving techniques is the stuff of academia, here follows a brief introduction to the basics.
Sheep’s wool has been prized for thousands of years for its softness, beauty, strength and warmth. It repels moisture and flame and when spun into yarn provides the perfect material for rug making. Wool is collected without harming the sheep, by shearing the fleece once or twice a year. In Nepal we use Tibetan wool that is carded and spun by hand. Tibetan sheep live at high altitudes of up to 17,000 feet, and are renowned for their fleece that is exceptionally rich in lanolin. This affords natural stain resistance and keeps it soft and supple, while imparting a wonderful texture. Long unbroken fibres provide excellent durability. We believe it is the very best wool in the world.
No other fibre rivals silk for decadent softness and luxurious shine. Silk has delighted the senses since it was first brought from China thousands of years ago. The spectacular lustre comes from the prism-like structure of the surface of each fibre and is unique to silk. As well as reflecting light, this lustre also amplifies colours sto a jewel-like intensity. Silk is tremendously strong, and in very old antique carpets it will often outlast wool, though it is considered rather more technical to clean. The finest silk is still thought to be that from China, and we use this to give the ultimate shine and softness. For a more natural feel we use handspun Indian silk with a more ‘slubby’ and uneven finish.
Mohair or Angora wool is the yarn spun from the fleece of the Angora goat. It is one of the most ancient textile fibres in use and is favoured for its softness and durability. Mohair has a beautiful lustre that adds richness and intensity to colours and is generally woven into plain rugs where the tactile quality of the fibre comes into its own.
The Merino sheep, whose rams have long spiralling horns, originate from 12th Century Spain. They grow the most opulent and soft fleece, that is famed for its fineness and delightful touch. The Rug Company produces densely knotted and luxuriously deep pile merino wool rugs, into which you can sink your toes.
The fibres of the noble bamboo plant are very long and strong. With special treatment they can be spun into a yarn that is lustrous like silk yet cool to the touch. Bamboo yarn is uneven in colour and texture and the result is a rustic finish that exhibits interesting fluctuations in tone for a natural look.
From a decadently deep shaggy rug to the finest velvety silk, a cut pile gives the softest touch.
The pile can be intricate trimmed to different heights to add a three-dimensional quality to the design.
A type of pile where the knots around the rod are left uncut forming loops, which achieves an interesting loose flatweave texture.
Yarns are knotted directly onto the warp and weft and left uncut, creating a less soft but delightful texture, for when a thinner, more tactile finish is desired.
The rug is composed of many thousands of individual knots, each one created by hand as the yarn is tightly knotted around the warp and weft of the rug and around a metal rod. The size of the knot determines the quality of the rug, with the smallest knots allowing the finest detail of pattern. The result is a rug of extraordinary quality and durability.
Our handloom rugs are made in Nepal by the same skilled weavers as our handknotted rugs, using the same fine materials. These rugs are handmade on a loom with the use of the shuttle. Like handknotted rugs, a rod can be used, creating many textural possibilities. This technique lends itself well to plain rugs, small scale patterns and interesting textures achieved in single tones of colour.
A flatweave rug that is similar to a kilim, but generally thicker, simpler and more rustic. Dhurries are generally handwoven from cotton.
A traditional embroidery craft, where delicate patterns are created by stitching wool or silk through a natural canvas. A range of scales is possible, from simple to exquisitely fine.
An age old type of hand embroidery using the chain stitch technique, which has been loved for centuries for its ability to form organic shapes and sinuous designs.
An ancient technique of flatweaving that is formed of weft threads woven under and over the warp threads and tightly packed so that the warps are hidden. Kilims are often reversible.
The technique of aubusson or tapestry weaving produces the finest handmade rugs and wallhangings. Originating in 16th Century French and Flemish workshops, such artworks have long graced the opulent chateaux of Europe. The wool and silk weft threads are woven under and over the cotton warps and tightly packed to produce intricate patterns. The Rug Company has reinvigorated this traditional technique to create contemporary designs of dazzling detail. Aubusson weavings are very durable and equally suited to use as floor coverings or wallhangings.