Flatweave rugs differentiate themselves by being woven on horizontal looms using a simpler knotting technique.
The flatweave is notable for its lower knot count, broad patterns and rougher texture.
After the loom/finishing
When a rug is finally cut off the loom it is by no means finished.
The raw rug is extremely dense and the pile is uneven.
It is often skewed or crooked, because removing tension on the rug also allows the knots to “space” or separate slightly; a condition which requires correction. With universal appeal and an increase in popularity, flatweaves produce a viable and economical alternative to hand-knotted pile rugs.
Again, and not for the last time, the rug is placed under tension, this time horizontally.
The giant, adjustable hooks at each end maintain rigidity, which in turn allows a better access to the pile. A fine pointed instrument is inserted between the rows and the loose knots are tapped or guided down the warp. As you can see, the interwoven weft from the row above is actually the contact point, not the knots directly below. Every knot must be repositioned and re-aligned in order to maintain a high standard.
The greater part of all rug production in India today requires that the rug’s edges are woven with a little excess width.
This enables the sides to be trimmed off and then finished in such a way as to allow the carpet to lay straight on the floor. Known as the “selvage binding”, it is usually finished with appropriately matching yarn.
Although taking a blow torch to a fine hand knotted rug may seem somewhat extreme, it is common practice to singe he reverse side of the carpet in order to remove loose fibers and any excess wool.
The movement of the flame is constant, in order to prevent damage to the rug.
Washing a newly woven rug involves compressing the soaking wet pile with wooden paddles. The scraping action, often done in unison is similar to using a shammy leather cloth. The soapy water is removed along with dust, dirt and debris.
The synchronous action of the washer men is symbolic, the movement breathing life into the rug.
The process is repeated, sometimes using a conditioner that helps untangle handspun wool fibers, sometimes using clean water to remove unused soap.
Yet again the sun’s natural drying capability is employed, larger rugs sometimes taking several days to dry.
Next week: Opening and Clipping the Pile