Oriental Rug Sprouting (it’s not just for vegetables)

Does your rug appear to have loose threads or undone knots?  It could be what the rug industry calls “sprouting” and is usually not a major reason for concern.

Many hand-knotted rugs are constructed using hand-spun or hard-twisted wool.  Both of these methods of spinning wool produce a “nubby” texture that is very popular right now with the demand for antique reproduction rugs.

Hand-spun wool has an inconsistent number of twists among the strand in comparison to machine spun wool which has an exacting number of twists.  Just imagine spinning your own wool into yarn, which involves twisting wool fibers together with one hand and spinning it into yarn on a wheel with the other.  Getting it perfectly even and consistent is a real challenge.  Hard-twisted yarn involves a machine-spun process that is designed to mimic the nubby texture of hand-spun wool.

Regardless of the process, the relatively loose and inconsistent number of twists among the thread can produce sprouting.   Sprouting usually becomes more apparent after the rug has been cleaned, vacuumed, or has had regular use.  Basically, some of the loose fibers unravel and stand up out of the pile.  The knot is still intact, but the fibers that create the pile are longer than usual.

Fixing the problem is easy.  Just get a small pair of scissor and clip the excess pile material off even with the rest of the pile.  Do not attempt to pull the fiber out (this would remove the entire knot.)  Clipping the “sprout” is all you need to do.  The rug won’t unravel.  It is not damaged.  This is just a normal part of the “break-in” process for this type of rug.  Once you have clipped a few sprouts, (there will probably be more than one) sprouting usually stops.

There are some cases where sprouting symbolizes a problem with the construction of the rug.  Excess sprouting, or sprouting from a tufted or machine-made rug can be evidence of poor construction.  Consult with your local reputable rug dealer for more information in these situations.

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