Guest Author - Iris ten Holder
Separate articles deal with the design and patterns in Oriental rugs for the various areas - the border, the field, and the corners.
Oriental rugs can be made on a loom, or knotted on background material, either canvas or burlap. In oriental rugs the knots are made over two strands.
There are two kinds of knots, the Persian knot and the Turkish knot. While both are suitable for a woven rug, I have found the Turkish knot more practical and perhaps stronger for the canvas rug. (See link below)
On burlap or canvas the knots are made with a needle, leaving loops that will be cut afterwards to expose the ends of the wool and create the pile. The thread is tightened around two strands while the ends come up together in between the strands. Special rug making canvas can makes this job easier, as the horizontal and vertical strands are already paired. The vertical threads are used for the knots while two horizontal strands separate the rows.
This is how to make a Turkish knot:
Working from left to right push the needle down the middle of two vertical threads.
Pull the yarn through, leaving about half an inch of yarn at the front.
// From the back go one thread to the left and push the needle up, on the top go over the pair of threads to the right and push the needle down again; then from the back go one thread to the left and push the needle up behind the knot.
This completes the knot.
To continue push the needle down again in the center of the next two threads, leaving a half inch loop for the pile, and repeat from //.
Making the rows
When working on canvas, finish about four rows before cutting the loops. It will take several rows before the work will lie flat and show some result.
Working from left to right, you may do partial rows in order to complete a design and then move to the right for the next design or couple of designs. . Once the border pattern has been completed, follow with a couple of full rows, as these will mostly consist of one color.
Once you have finished the border, you will have established your own working pattern. Either straight rows or design by design. It depends on your temperament, curiosity and the ability to see the designs as they evolve. Check your work often by looking at the back of the rug, where the design will be more visible. That way shifts can be avoided. Small mistakes may not need to be corrected. The rug need not be perfect. The pattern may vary slightly; colors may be changed as you go along. Undoing stitches can be cumbersome and should only be a last resort
One note about the large field areas in red or blue: In Oriental rugs there are often variances in these colors, which are caused by the use of wool from different die lots or with a difference in color absorption. The yarns were hand made; the wools may have differed as well as the dye lots. It was considered acceptable. These slight differences enhance the appearance of the rug.
Feel free to experiment with various tones of red or blue by doing several rows in one tone, then one or two in another, and then going back to the first one. Rather than start at the beginning of a row, start halfway and stop at the end or partway through. It should be random as if you ran out of one tone and picked up another.
Burlap or special tapestry canvas, tapestry wool, cotton fringe, tapestry needle, fine pointed scissors.
Choose hardy wool that has warm reds and blues. Australian wool is an excellent for this purpose. Choose darker yellows, and off-white. Avoid harsh colors. The main colors to use are red; blue, off-white, yellow, green, lilac and black, with lilac being more rare and used for a few special designs. Black is used to outline the designs.
A cotton fringe is the natural finish as oriental rugs were always woven with cotton, while the knots consisted of wool.
A rug made on canvas or burlap needs finishing edges at the sides and fringes on both ends. Buy good quality cotton fringe, hem the rug and sew the cotton fringe on top. The sides of the rug are bound with wrapping stitches in the border color. Making the stitches wide enough will allow the rug to lie flat.
If the rugs are going to be used on a wooden floor, put anti-slip material underneath.
Brush and shake clean. Vacuum gently.