People are often surprised to learn that handspun wool yarn is still used in rug making today. With modern technology, it’s easy to wonder why this seemingly tedious ancient method still holds weight.
We’re here to shed some light on how wool is spun by hand and why it brings beauty to a rug in a way that machine-made wool simply can’t.
What Is Handspun Wool Yarn?
Achieved on a traditional spinning wheel, the ancient art of hand spinning yarn dates back thousands of years. This simple tool requires a skilled operator who draws the carded wool by pulling it against a spindle. Their job is to create tension to help twist the wool into a spool of yarn. Furthermore, hand spinning is an involved process that produces less than 5 pounds of yarn per person, per day.
Finally, the yarn is separated from the spindles and placed in bundles for weighing and dyeing. Accordingly, the dyes color the yarn unevenly; less color in the tighter places and more in loosely spun areas. It’s often at this early stage where the desired look of the finished carpet starts to take shape.
The Benefits of Handspun Wool
In the world of rug making, the use of hand-carded wool and handspun yarn determine the look and feel of the finished product. Despite the efficiency and uniformity of machine-spun yarn, the beautiful imperfections found in handspun materials give each rug it’s own unique character. Moreover, the human handiwork involved provides the yarn with an uneven texture that’s tighter in some places and looser in others. Consequently, when dyed, the fibers absorb a multitude of color variations called abrash. The varied hues offer a painterly quality while also adding depth and nuance to the rug.
When we say our rugs are handcrafted, we’re talking from start to finish. Even before a hand-knotted rug is woven, the wool is first sheared, carded and then twisted into yarn. Thus, it’s the craftsmanship involved that brings the artisan’s story to life.