Can you pass the rug test?

Our last post discussed how to trim or hide the fringe on your hand-knotted rug.  We also briefly discussed removing the fringe from machine-made or hand-tufted rugs.  As it turns out, some of you are having a hard time determining what type of rug you own.  We just assumed that all of you had spent 20 or more years studying rugs like we have…

Here is how you can determine what type of rug you have: 

(We are only focusing on hand-knotted, machine-made, and tufted rugs for now.)

A hand-knotted rug can be recognized by a three part test.  First, the fringe must be physical part of the rug.  It cannot be sewed on, glued on, or tacked on.  This fringe is an extension of the warp/weft and is the foundation upon which the rug is knotted.  Think of the fringe as the “skeleton” of the rug.  (Yes, there are some cases where a false fringe has been added to a damaged rug, or the fringe has been bound.)

Second, you must be able to see the knots on the back of the rug.  If you cannot see the pattern and the bare knots, there is a problem.  If the back of the rug is covered by anything such as a canvas or cotton backing, rubber, anything… consider this part of the test failed.

Third, and this one is a little tricky, fold back an edge of the rug to expose the base of the pile.  You should be able to see tiny little knot-heads at the base of every fiber.  If you do not see these knots-heads, but just find the fibers coming through a screen, this is definitely not a hand-knotted rug.

Tufted rugs are easier to recognize.  They usually have a full, thick pile, and will have a canvas backing.  They may or may not have fringe.  (Fringe is exclusively for styling with this type of rug, and is not a part of the foundation.) 

Machine-made or power-loomed rugs can be a little tougher to distinguish from hand-knotted rugs.  The higher-end rug manufacturers, such as Karastan, have done an excellent job manufacturing rugs that look, feel, and wear just like a hand-knotted rug.

You will use the three part test mentioned earlier for the hand-knotted rugs, but your results will be different.  If you look closely, you will find that the fringe is either sewn or glued on, or both.  The back of the rugs will show the pattern and will even look like knots, but when you perform part three of the test you will not find knots at the base of the fiber.  You will only find that the fibers are injected through a screen or hooked around a base string and pressed together with other strings.

Want more?  You can learn more about these three types of rugs here:

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