Navigating the world of wool rugs can be incredibly difficult.
I have 5 easy ways to tell if the rug you are looking at is a quality rug.
The most important being where the wool comes from...
Indian wool is some of the worst wool in the world
The sheep are starved and horribly mistreated
Once the wool is shaved, the wool must be highly processed to remove the blood from the wool that arises from careless shaving.
This chemical process leaves the wool brittle and weak
Sorta like your hair after you shampoo it but before you condition it
Unlike your hair,
This wool does not get conditioned
Rather it is taken through a machine to be spun into yarn
Machine spinning cuts down on cost and time but results in a tough yarn
By processing the wool and machine spinning the yarn,
The yarn swells twice it's size.
This is a trick to make the wool heavier and wider to create the illusion of luxury and charge more
4.New Zealand Wool
Wool from New Zealand is cruelty free
Extra care and attention goes into the shearing process to first, and most importantly, secure the safety and well being of the sheep
Because no harm is done to the sheep,
The wool is not chemically processed and it is sold in its raw, natural state.
The New Zealand wool is expensive and,
Only used in high end rugs.
Using Indian wool is a pretty standard type of wool in hand knotted rugs.
Sorta like how a radio is standard in any car or truck on the road.
New Zealand wool is an upgrade
Like a built in navigation system or keyless entry.
3. All Knots are NOT Created Equal
But not all knots are as good as others.
There are 3 main types of knots in a hand knotted rug.
Persian Knot (Senneh Knot)
The Persian knot is asymmetrical and open to one side
This not does not leave gaps and is less bulky than Turkish knots
This means, more knots per square inch
Persian knots are used to create more intricate curvilinear or floral patterns
Iran and Pakistan are known for this knot
Turkish Knot (Ghiordes Knot)
The Turkish knot is symmetrical and can be identified by two small bumps within one knot on the back of the rug
This looks like a double knot
Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and northern Iran are known for this type of knot
This type of knot is deceptive
It creates more bulk making the rug look like it has a higher knot count
The final knot is known as a Jufti knot
Jufti knots are also known as false knots
Instead of being tied around two warp threads, the weaver ties the knot around four
With this short cut
The weaver spends less time on the rug resulting in a lower value and quality
This is what you have to watch out for in Indian made rugs.
The knots in Indian rugs are not as tight AND
They are counted differently and rug knots in Pakistan and Iran
In certain areas of India, oriental rugs are measured using two numbers
"5/40", "9/60" or "13/65".
These numbers are called the bis and bhutan.
The first number (bis) is the number of knots in 9/10ths of an inch across the horizontal plane - so 9 would be 10 knots across (9/0.9=10).
The second number (bhutan) is the number of knots vertically in 4 1/2 inches.
Therefore 60 bhutan is the equivalent of around 13 knots per vertical inch.
A "9/60" rug would therefore be around 130 KPSI (10x13=130).
A quick method of calculating the Indian measurement is to multiply the two numbers and divide them by 4.05 (9x60=540... 540/4.05=133)
As you can see, this is incredibly confusing and deceptive.
You will have to look out for this when you are buying a hand knotted rug made in India
Rugs made in Pakistan and Iran,
You don't have to worry.
All you do is take a ruler and count how many knots the rug has per square inch
What is the difference between Persian and Pakistani (Oriental) rugs? Learn more here
2. How to Tell When a Wool Rug is Fake
It's fairly easy
The easiest way being paying close attention to the knots
Flip the rug over and if you can see knots,
You mostly likely have an authentic rug.
The pattern should be an exact mirror image as the from and you should be able to count each individual knot
If you see a piece of canvas or fabric,
The rug is fake
This means is is a tufted rug and the fabric backing in addition to latex glue are holding the rug together.
There are a few more ways to tell..
Find out more here
1.Machine Spun Wool vs Hand Spun Wool
Just like your grandma's apple pie,
Hand made is better.
And due to its hand made nature,
Some parts of the wool are spun more tightly and some parts are spun more loosely
When the wool is dyed,
Some parts take lighter and some parts take darker
You know how that grocery store bought cake is beautiful on the outside with perfect rosting facade...
But then you sink your teeth into the dry and brittle sponge and you immediatley regret the calories?
It's like that.
Machine made rugs are perfect because machines are programed to be perfect.
But the real beauty and charm lies with the small imperfections that result from the rugs hand-made nature.
Machine spun wool is swollen.
"Volumizing" hair products swells the hair and make it frizzy so it looks thicker...
That is exactly what machine spun wool does.
It swells the wool
to look more thick so the rug seems more plush!