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Hand Knotted Rugs - A Guide to the Ultimate Luxury Rug Quality

In our modern day lives we are constantly overwhelmed by the mass produced products available in the market place. Low priced, low quality products that only provide a short term solution to our problems. Bad for the environment, bad for our conscience and a poor use of our time and money. Then isn’t it refreshing when we find something that is made to last? The traditional craftsmanship involved in creating a beautiful one-off product takes love and care, and this is reflected in our response as a consumer. Hand knotted rugs are the perfect example of such and item. The traditional technique of hand knotting has been used for centuries, and a hand knotted rug can be passed down from one generation to the next. There are many different types of hand knotted rugs on the market, but here we tell you more about the very finest, most exquisitely beautiful luxury rugs the market has to offer. 

How is a Hand Knotted Rug Created?

Many do not realise the full extent of the work and craftsmanship that is necessary to create a hand knotted rug. It is a process that takes several months, with dozens of different people contributing their time, talent and expert skills; using methods that remain largely unchanged over the last few centuries. Each rug is part of a rich history that celebrates the culture and artistry of the area in which it is made.

Below we share a video of the incredible process of creating the luxury rugs of our premium Thibault Van Renne range.

How Does a Hand Knotted Rug Compare to those made by other Techniques?

So what is the alternative? Many stores, even supposedly premium ones, are selling products with high price tags without the quality to match. Hand loomed, hand tufted, machine made… they may look acceptable from a distance but when compared to a hand knotted rug they are artificial and boring. They contain no bumps and ridges or subtle colour variation, looking more like pieces pressed from the same mould. And the problems go deeper. After a handful of years or less, there will be visible wear, corners may start to curl, backings may start to crack. With a hand knotted rug, one that has been made with premium natural materials, there will be none of these problems. After all, they will have been made in the same way as any vintage rug that may be going to auction for several thousand pounds after decades of life. A quality hand knotted rug is an investment, and can be freely used and enjoyed without the worry of irreparable stains or damage. They are beautiful products; extremely serviceable, full of character, and a joy to own. 

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Thibault Van Renne for Bazaar Velvet

What Makes one Hand Knotted Rug Quality Different from Another?

Even within the hand knotted rug family, the quality and intricacy of a rug can vary, giving a very wide price range of £2000-£20,000 plus for an 8x10 ft hand knotted rug. The materials a hand knotted rug is created from will have the largest impact on it's quality, including both the source of the material and how it is processed into a yarn suitable for hand knotting. The density and complexity of the knotting will also have an impact, as well as the finishing processes are used to complete the rug. Here is a summary of the features that make the most premium of luxury rugs stand out from the rest.

Materials

The most luxurious, and most expensive, of hand knotted rugs will be created either entirely or predominantly from genuine Chinese Silk. This fiber is a natural product created by a silk worm and has amazing properties such as a glittering sheen and softness to the touch. When woven into a rug in combination with wool, it provides a contrast in texture and the mat and sheen finishes can be an amazing way to highlight the most interesting features of a rug design.

Lower quality hand knotted rugs are often made from artificial silks rather than the genuine article. Whether it is named bamboo silk, banana silk, art silk or viscose, this material is not the produce of a silk worm, but of plant cellulose which is heavily processed to give a similar feel and appearance to silk. This is a much cheaper material, and its properties are far inferior, leading to problems with staining and easily crushed pile.

Wool also varies in its quality. Generally, wools containing high levels of natural oils, such as lanolin, are considered much more suited to rug making than dryer wools. This is because it makes the wool much softer to the touch and acts as a natural barrier against stains. Himalayan Wool and Bikaner Wools are considered the highest quality and are often used in premium wool rugs as they are soft, strong and high in lanolin. New Zealand Wool for example is a much drier wool, and although it is popular for its bright white colour, it is not as practical or as luxurious.   

Material Treatment

There are many different processes freshly sheared wool has to go through before it can be knotted into a rug. Most of these processes can be completed either by machine or by hand. Traditional handmade methods are favored among quality rug makers as they add character to the finished rug. For example, spinning the wool by hand gives a yarn of slightly irregular thicknesses. When woven into a rug, this will add texture to its surface. Similarly, with other processes, such as the carding and the dying, the attraction is in the imperfection that helps make each rug special. 

Knot Density 

A high knot density, or fine weave, is a sign of a high quality luxury rug. This will be measured differently depending on the rugs origin. For example, a Nepalese rug will be measured in knots per linear foot. The more complex the design, the finer the knot count needs to be. A knot count of 100 is a good quality for a most designs, but to achieve a very high level of detail a rug may feature up to 150 knots per inch. For Indian rugs, knots are measured per square inch. A fine Indian rug will have a quality of 11/11 or more.

Hand Carving

This rug finishing method gives extra texture to a hand knotted rug. When the rug is first taken off the loom, its pile will be shaggy. It is then trimmed to an even pile height. For some luxury rugs, the process will go a stage further. The details of the rug design are trimmed around, or carved out, to leave them at a higher pile height. A popular method is to leave the silk elements of the design raised, as this further accentuates the details of the rug and the beautiful properties of the material. On premium hand knotted rugs, designs can be extremely intricate, and hand carving requires a high level of skill. 

 

Find our finest luxury rugs, including the masterpieces from Thibault Van Renne, in our Mystique Master Weave Collection.

To find our more about rug quality, read our definitive guide, or contact us with you questions

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