|The style of weaving has a very large impact on the price of the area rug. Typically, area rugs fall into a two main categories: Handmade or Machine made.|
|There are two basic classifications of hand weaving: flat and knotted-pile. The earliest rugs, made many centuries before the Christian era, were flat-surfaced weaves. These include tapestries, embroidery, brocading, soumaks and kilims. The fundamentals of flat weaving and hand-knotting have changed very little since the 11th Century, with some knot styles remaining indigenous to certain geographic areas.
The oldest of the flatweaves is probably tapestry, which was practiced in ancient Greece and is still in use today. Soumak weaving originated in the Middle East as early as the 7th Century and is still practiced in Caucasia today. Brocading and embroidery are usually done on looms similar to those used for tapestry, and techniques may be combined.
The characteristic feature of knotted-pile rugs is the knotting and fastening of extra strands of yarn into a foundation weave to form a dense layer of loops that completely cover the foundation on one side. The foundation of a rug is a grid of parallel yarns called “warp” (lengthwise) and “weft’ (crosswise), creating a rectangle on a loom frame. A row of knots is tied to pairs of the warp and the weft is passed through alternating sides of the warp, then tightly compressed against the knots and another row is formed. The number of knots per square inch is a determinant of rug quality. The fineness of the weave depends upon the thickness of the warps and their proximity to one another. Although wool is often used for warp, cotton is more common because of its smooth surface and its resistance to stretching.
Among knotted rugs, there are distinctions made between horizontal and vertical looms. The horizontal types are generally used by nomadic families and for smaller rugs. They are made by driving stakes in the ground to hold the warp and weft, and non-rectangular rugs often result from the frequent moves and uneven tension of yarn. All large rugs are made on vertical looms and all mechanical weaving is done on vertical looms with steel frames.
|Wool - Wool is the traditional standard of the industry. It wears very well and is available in many colors. Advantages include fiber fineness, fiber length and natural color. Wool has high bulk and is noted for its softness and handsome finishes. Short fiber wool is “carded” (rough combed) and is called Woolen. Longer-fiber yarn is fine combed and called Worsted.
Cotton - The use of cotton in the foundation of pile rugs is a very old practice. Often chosen for its softness and good wearing performance, cotton is also used for backing because of its resistance to stretching. Cotton is available in many colors and is used in both hand-made and machine-made rugs.
Silk - Silk is the royalty material for rugs. It is used in the pile and foundation of some of the most costly area rugs in the world. Its strength, sheen, brilliant colors and softness have been treasured for centuries in luxury rugs. Silk is sometimes used in combination with wool to impart highlights and luster with great effect.
Grasses - Many types of sea, field and mountain grasses are woven into “natural” rugs. Wear properties vary, but are generally somewhat less than with other fiber types. The range of available colors also tends to be limited. Costs for these materials range from modest to medium-high.
Wood fibers - Most common wood fibers include flax, hemp and jute. Bamboo and other wood types are also woven into many types of rug applications.
Animal hair - In some regions, goat hair, camel hair, horse hair and yak hair are also used in rug making.
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