Category Archives: Rugs 101 - Page 2

Oriental Rug Sprouting

Have you noticed some small pulls, or loose threads sticking out of the pile of your oriental rug?  Don’t panic.  It is likely caused by oriental rug sprouting.  Watch our video above or keep reading to learn more about oriental rugs sprouting, what causes it, and how you can remedy this issue.

While oriental rug sprouting may sound like a vegetable garden is growing in your living room, it is a real and common issue with most hand-spun wool rugs.  Hand-spun wool has become very popular in new production oriental rugs alongside the resurgence of natural dyes.  It’s nubby texture indicates and handmade look and goes well with antique reproduction patterns and styles.  It looks old because it is the old way of spinning wool into yarn

Wool can be spun into yarn either by hand or by machine.  Raw wool is twisted to connect fibers and then pulled into a thread before it is spun onto a collection wheel.  A machine is capable of twisting thread many times more than the human hand and makes a very uniform, nearly perfect thread.  Hand-spun wool, by comparison is thicker, nubbier, and is imperfect.  Machine spun wool is great for use in high-knot count patterns, with the fine gauge yarn allowing for smaller knots.

Hand-spun wool rugs are designed with a nubby texture in mind.  During the normal “break-in” process, these rugs may experience sprouting.  This is due to inconsistently spun wool relaxing within the pile and popping up higher than the normal pile level.  It will often look like loose threads pulling out of the rug.  If you gently pull them, they will still be tied into the foundation and will not pull loose from the pile.

If you see oriental rug sprouting occurring in your home, don’t panic.  Your rug is not falling apart.  Simply use a sharp pair of scissors or knapping shears and clip the loose fiber even with the level of the pile.  Then simply vacuum up the loose threads.  Once your rug is fully broken in, occurrences of sprouting will dissipate.

If you have questions regarding your oriental rug, contact your local rugs expert or give us a call.  We will be happy to give you more information.  You can see more at Thanks to all of our awesome customers! #orientalrugrepair #sproutingnotjustforvegetables

Oriental Rug Tune-Up

Here is a video of the “Oriental Rug Tune-Up.” These are things you can do at home to keep your rug strong and beautiful through a lifetime of use. Thanks to all of our awesome customers! #orientalrug #orientalrugcleaning

Coordinating Rugs Made Easy!

karastan ashara agra coordinating rugsStruggling to find two or more oriental rugs that work together in your home? Many of our manufacturers make collections of rugs with coordinating color palettes and designs to make your life a bit easier! Take the Karastan Ashara Agra collection, for example. These three beautiful rugs contain the same pattern and the exact same colors- just used in different ways. Plus, these rugs come in a variety of sizes… making it easy to coordinate multiple space and sizes PERFECTLY. It’s just one more way we are working to find solutions for making your home beautiful EVERY DAY! See more of the Ashara Collection here: #orientalrugs #karastanashara #orientalrugslexington #orientalrugskentucky #orientalrugslouisville

Can I clean my oriental rug myself?

We get the following question often.  “Can I clean my oriental rug myself without taking it to a professional cleaner?”  The answer is yes.  But it also begs a bigger question- should you do it yourself?

Before attempting to clean your rug, you need to know a few things.

First- Does your rug need to be cleaned at all?  While the standard industry answer is that wool rugs should be professionally cleaned every 3-4 years, there are many rugs that simply do not warrant professional cleaning at that point.  Put simply, if it isn’t dirty, don’t clean it.  The test for deciding if your rug needs cleaning is easy.  Is it visually dirty?  If your rug looks dingy, the colors are muted, or if there are noticeable spots or stains… it needs to be cleaned.  You can also grab a corner of the rug and shake if vigorously.  If you see lots of dirt and dust coming out of the pile, it’s time to clean the rug.  Have your pets used your rug as a potty too many time?  Definitely time to clean your rug!

Second- Does your rug need an intensive, professional cleaning, or does it just need a little “tune-up?”  Regular maintenance of your rug will keep it looking great for decades, and tuning up your rug every now and then is really easy.  First, give you rug a quick look-over.  You need to be looking for any bald spots from wear and tear, spots and stains, and fringe damage.  Be sure to check the bound edges of the rug (selvedge) for any breaks or fraying.  Also, be sure that you check any areas that may be hidden under furniture (this is where bugs like to hide.)  If you find any areas that need to be repaired- contact your rug professional immediately.  Taking care of small repairs early insure the long life of your investment and won’t turn into major repair expenses in the future.  Second, give your rug a thorough vacuuming.  Sounds easy, we know, but there is a distinct method that we use to get the maximum effectiveness out of vacuuming.  Start by moving any furniture off of the rug- you may need a little room to work here.  Next, vacuum that top (piled) side of the rug moving parallel to the fringe and perpendicular to the selvedges.  This makes sure that you are not moving against the nap of the rug which may actually push dirt and dust deeper into the pile.  Now (this is the hard part), flip your rug over and vacuum the back side (knotted) of the rug.  The beater bar will “massage” out dirt and dust that may still be trapped in the pile.  When you are done, flip your rug back over, being careful to avoid any dirt and dust that may have collected on the floor.  Finally, vacuum the front of the rug again using the same method as before.  If you found any spots or stains during the initial look-over, try to remove them using water or club soda.  Saturate the spots with either water or clear club soda.  (Club soda sometimes work better than water because the bubbles help break up stains.)  Once saturated, use a clean towel to blot away as much of the moisture as possible.  Repeat until the stain is gone.  Allow the rug to dry; it can also be handy to place a clean paper towel underneath the rug between the rug and your floors to expedite drying time.  If you are unable to get the stain out using these methods, contact your rug professional, they will tell you what to do.  If you haven’t rotated your rug in the last year, now is the time.  By periodically rotating your rug, you ensure even wear and tear and traffic patterns.

If you have looked at your rug and decided it needs an intensive cleaning, there is also a list of actions not to do.  Do not steam clean your rug.  Do not dry clean it.  No shampoos, no chemical spot cleaners, no enzymes, no Oxyclean.  If you cannot remove the stain with water, call your rug professional first before trying anything else.  (These methods can cause damage to your rug or induce color bleed.) 

There are a few other warnings that we would like to make you aware of before you attempt to clean your rug by yourself.  First, once your rug is wet, it is going to be HEAVY.  You will need help moving the rug not only to protect yourself, but also to prevent damaging the rug with its added water weight.  Second, you will need to test your rug for colorfastness before getting it wet.  The last thing you will want is for the color to bleed and cause permanent damage.  Third, you MUST get any cleaning agent out of the rug completely before drying.  Any residual soap will actually cause dirt and dust to adhere to the wool fibers, changing the texture and causing the rug to discolor quickly.  Finally, assuming everything has been easy so far, the rug must be dried very quickly.  This does not mean leaving the rug in the sun hung over a fence.  This method would take days for your rug to dry.  If your rug is not dried completely within 24 hours, mold and mildew will begin to set into the pile.  Once the mold and mildew reaches the foundation of your rug, the damage cannot be undone.

We cannot stress how important it is that oriental rugs be cleaned using the correct method.  Any deviation could not only leave your rug looking and feeling strange, but it can cause permanent damage to your rug.  If you are not in Kentucky (that’s where we are) contact your local reputable rug dealer for cleaning.  Of course, if you are near Lexington, bring it to us! 

For more information on how to maintain and ensure the long life of your oriental rug investment, check out some of the great information on our website at

Oriental Rug Repair

One of the best properties of oriental rugs is their lasting durability and ability to be repaired.   Some repairs are much more common than others, and most proficient rug dealers can complete a simple repair within a few days. 

The most common types of damage that we see involve the fringe and the selvedge of the rug.  The selvedge is the overcast edge of the rug.  It makes a clean division between your floor and the pile of the rug.  This selvedge is usually constructed of multiple heavy gauge cotton threads that are then overcast with dyed wool.  The base fiber may also be wool or silk, but in most cases cotton is used because of its tensile strength and relatively low cost.

Check out this old Serapi damaged after many years in a high-traffic entrance of a law office.  Repeated wear and tear over the years with no proper maintenance has caused the selvedge to completely separate from the pile of the rug.  Because of the basic construction of hand-knotted rugs, we were able to re-construct the damaged warp and weft that the selvedge attaches to and re-connected the selvedge to the pile.  A few extra stitches here and there, and a little extra wool yarn to fill in the gaps in the selvedge and… Voila!  Good as new for a few more years.

How Oriental Rug Designs are Created

Have you ever wondered how complex and detailed oriental rug designs are created?  In a world controlled by technology and computers, you would think that it would be a simple and easy task that involves just a few clicks of a mouse… but in the oriental rug world, this is not the case.

When it comes to the ancient process of designing oriental rug patterns, the same techniques have been used by skilled artisans for centuries.  In areas using simpler, more geometric patterns or within tribal groups, weavers often work from memory, with the pattern tradition being passed from mother to daughter.  For more intricate and detailed curvilinear designs, patterns must be carefully planned and recorded before weaving can begin.

For this process a “cartoon” is created.  Not the cartoon that you would find in the funnies section of your Sunday newspaper, but a hand-drawn or painted rendition of the rug to be woven.  These patterns are carefully drawn and painted to scale by master artists on graph paper.  Each square on the graph paper will represent a single knot in the correct color.  By using this cartoon as a “roadmap” for the master weaver, very complex and intricate designs can be accurately translated into woven rugs.

In major rug-producing areas, the masters designer is a highly-skilled worker that is constantly in high demand.  Some designers have even been coveted by Shahs and Sultans throughout history as powerful figures attempted to make their court the most decorated and celebrated of all.

A complete oriental rug pattern may consist of mulitple cartoons, with each cartoon only representing a portion of the rug to be woven.  As each portion of the rug is woven, the corresponding cartoon is attached to the loom upon which the rug is being made.  In some cases a master weaver will direct the work of many weavers woking at one time by calling out the type of knot, placement, and color to be used in a chant or song.

If you would like to learn more about how oriental rugs are made, visit our showroom and speak with one of our oriental rug experts, or simply visit our website at Thanks for reading!


Prayer Rugs

Symbolism is an important part in any culture, and often these symbols not only explain the values behind a culture, but are the basis of these values.  Oriental rugs are just another medium upon which artisans have been placing their cultural symbols for over 3000 years.  The difficulty in this symbolism is in the interpretation of the meaning.

Prayer rugs are one particular type of symbolism that many rug collectors go crazy over.  And here is where the issue gets a little more complicated.  A prayer rug is typically used by Muslims, and can be any piece of fabric that a worshipper may kneel upon during prayer.  The most basic function of this is to keep the worshipper clean during the various positions of prayer.  Muslims must perform wudu, or a cleansing
before prayer and must pray in a clean place. Most of the fabrics or rugs that are used have a design with a niche at one end that is to be pointed in the direction of Mecca when praying.

In most cases, the rug, mat, or cloth has no pattern and only a simple indicator of direction.  This lack of artistic value does not take away from the symbolic importance of the piece.  The prayer rug has very strong meaning and is traditionally taken care of in a holy manner.

The art of the hand-knotted prayer rug that many collectors chase after is a different textile altogether.
While it is difficult to determine when the earliest prayer rugs were made, most of the oldest surviving rugs or fragments come from the 16th century Ottoman court.  While these pieces exist today, there are examples of prayer rugs in Islamic art dating back to the 14th century.  As with many of the rugs that
are influenced by this time period and ruling party, the designs found in prayer rugs at this time have essentially kept the same elements ever since.

The most recognizable design element of a prayer rug design is the “mihrab.”  This mihrab is an arch
in the pattern at one end of the rug that creates the prayer niche and orients the direction that the rug should be placed in respect to Mecca.  This mihrab is often very ornate and is allegedly adapted from mosque architecture.  Prayer rugs may also regularly feature pillars or hanging pendants from
mosque architecture and may also have artistically woven writing from religious text.

These finely hand-woven pieces are not nearly as common due to the relative amount of wealth It took in the old world to acquire such work.  Add to the subject that many of the finest pieces feature very detailed design work and can be woven with silk or even gold or silver thread.  It’s no wonder why so many collectors spend copious amounts of both time and money in acquiring these pieces.  While any prayer
rug should be treated with respect, the finest hand-knotted pieces should be held as a work of art and treated carefully.

Crushed insects- not just for your coffee anymore.

If you have been keeping up with the news lately, you may have seen a headline stating that the monster coffee giant Starbucks will be discontinuing use of a red dye made from crushed insects… and many of you may be shuddering at the thought of that in your Strawberry Frappuccino at this very moment. Don’t spit out your delicious drink just yet, insect dyes may be more prominent (and promising) than you know.

Specifically, the coffee giant said in a blog post that it would discontinue use of cochineal extract as a red food dye after complaints from vegetarian groups and PETA. In defense of the company, they had switched to the ingredient in response to customers demanding more natural ingredients. Cochineal red dye is more common than you may think. It is often found in juices, yogurts… and rugs.

While red color can be extracted from several insects, the most important of the insect dyes has proven to be cochineal. The cochineal insect produces an acid that acts as a deterrent to predators, which, when combined with aluminum or calcium salts makes carmine dye. These dyes have been prized throughout history for the bluish-red shade that they create, but have gradually diminished with the creation of synthetic dyes. More recent health fears over the use of artificial food additives have increased demand and cultivation, leading to an increase of the dye found in oriental rugs.

Still, the abundance of synthetic dyes and the added cost of acquiring enough dye for a rug limits the use to mainly highlight colors.

While insect dyes may add to the “Yuck Factor” in your drinks, they have a long and rich history in textiles and oriental rugs that are not only safe, but also beautiful. Frankly, we enjoy our strawberry and crème frappucinos too much to worry about it anyway. For more interesting oriental rug facts and stories, check out our website at or our facebook page at

Shopping for an oriental rug soon? Use this checklist to prepare.

Finding the perfect oriental rug can be a daunting challenge.  Trust us, we know.  We’ve been helping people find the perfect rugs and furniture since 1960.  We not only specialize in making your home beautiful, but we also share your experiences when we work on our own homes.  These experiences over time have allowed us to develop a method that simplifies the search process. 

With so many rugs out there, the search is almost as much of a process of elimination as it is a journey to find a rug that knocks you off your feet.  Our professional staff is trained in the art of asking questions.  Lots of ‘em.  We use the answers to these questions to narrow down our extensive inventory to only the rugs that fit you needs and wants.  So we have created a checklist that will help both you and us find the perfect rug for your home.

The first thing we need to know is what type of room the rug will be going in.  Living rooms, dining rooms, kitchens, and baths all have different requirements as far as size and durability, so let us know the specific type of room you are shopping for.  For example, a kitchen or bathroom rug needs to be durable and should be dense enough to be able to handle getting damp fairly often.  Dining room rugs need to be large enough to accommodate chairs as they are pushed back from the table and should be durable enough to withstand the legs from the chairs constantly being moved across the pile.

The second thing we need to know is an approximate size that you need.  Not all rugs come in different sizes, and most dealers have their inventory grouped by size.   Some rough dimensions of the room and a rough estimate of the area that you wish to cover are helpful.  You may also want to bring photos of the room to help us visualize the space if they are available.  Knowing a general size range will narrow down a large inventory dramatically.

The third part of the checklist is color.  Color is one of the most challenging parts of the search process.  They key here is to let us know what colors you have that are not going to change in the room.  Wall and paint colors, fabric colors, accents… all of these can be very useful, especially if you can bring photos!  Just remember to keep an open mind when it comes to color.  Our staff consists of trained, professional interior designers.  It is often that we have a client that tells us that they do not want a specific color in a rugs and are then delighted to find the perfect rug that is dominantly that color!  Most rug dealers will allow you to take a rug on trial anyway, so keep an open mind and be willing to try something new.

Part five is pattern.  Pattern is one of the main reasons that we employ a staff of interior designers.  Many of our clients are afraid of mixing and matching patterns… and rightfully so.  It is very easy to marry patterns that overwhelm the eyes and make visitors to the room beg for mercy.  The trick is to vary the sizes and shapes of the motifs within the pattern and to break up the space with textures or areas with no pattern.  Again, bringing pictures or samples of your patterns will help our designers find exactly what you are searching for.

Part six is perhaps the toughest, because generally, we will not ask you about it: Price Range.  Do some research before coming in to get an idea of a price range that you are comfortable with.  Our store offers no hassle everyday low pricing.  We do not haggle or play games with our prices and every rug is clearly marked with all information including the current pricing.  Having a realistic idea of your comfortable price can help us narrow down the inventory; otherwise, we will show you all rugs that meet your other wants and needs.  You can use our website to get a good idea of our price ranges for different sizes, constructions, and styles.

You may have noticed that there are a few points that we have not touched on such as antique rugs, or construction types.  If you are looking for a very specific type of rug, or are a collector, let us know.  Otherwise, simply keep an open mind and focus on finding a selection of rugs that you love, and then narrow them down by their individual merits.

Have you already found a few that may be the “one?”  Take them home and try them first.  Nearly all reputable oriental rug dealers have a trial period.  If they do not… walk away.  Oriental rugs have a tendency to look different in varying light and decors, so make sure that you get a chance to look at a rug in your own home before making a purchasing decision.

Famous Carpets- The Pazyryk

Ever wonder what you might have in common with people that walked the earth over 2500 years ago?  Chances are that it wouldn’t be much.  One thing that you would have in common… cold feet.  As it turns out, ancient peoples disliked cold floors just as much as you do.  How did they remedy this terrible problem?  Just like you, with oriental rugs!

Some of these ancient rugs have amazingly managed to survive thousands of years to be placed in museums around the world today.  Most of these are reduced to fragments, teasing at the amazing textile art that they used to be.  But one famous carpet, the Pazyryk, has managed to survive in a nearly-intact remarkably well preserved state.

The finding of the Pazyryk Carpet essentially re-wrote many of the textbooks about textile manufacturing of the ancient world.  The fragments that existed just didn’t have enough structure to explain the techniques and technologies that were used.  In 1949, Soviet archaeologists excavated a Scythian burial site in Pazyryk, and the entire oriental rug world changed instantly.

The tombs in the area dated back as far as the 4th or 5th Century BCE and because the tombs were dug deep into the permafrost and then covered in layers of timber and stone, the mummified bodies and contents within the tomb were well preserved.  These tombs were often reserved for nobility and therefore contained items that would be considered treasures including many finely woven carpet and kilim fragments.

The Pazyryk Carpet is so special because it is nearly completely intact and allows the study of the construction, materials, weave, design, and dyes.  The design is sophisticated, showing five elaborate border stripes, with one stripe depicting horsemen, and another depicting deer.  The central field shows a repeating pattern of a carved tile that has been found throughout the eastern world.  The size is 5’11”x6’6” and is finely knotted with approximately 277 KPSI. 

While the rug was found in Pazyryk, its actual origins are debated.  The pattern and knotting technique suggest that the rug trade thrived at the time and that this rug had travelled to the area from Armenia.

The Pazyryk Carpet currently resides in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.