To tuft or knot?

To tuft or knot?

“It is hard to ignore that I have been experimenting more in the world of hand knotted rugs of late. First was Jardin de Chinois, in Sapphire Blue wool and Harvest Gold details in silk, and then Renaissance (which is still in the making), with its neutral wool base and the most beautiful colours in silk. And, well, it’s fair to say I have been thoroughly enjoying myself!

Jardin de Chinois

Jardin de Chinois detail

Renaissance sample

This is not to say that I have fallen out of love with tufted rugs, by no means…the hand tufting process was the first experience I had with rugs and I immediately fell in love with the process because of the opportunities for a designer. There are no restrictions with the hand tufting process. Imagine a blank canvas and then just draw whatever you like with no restrictions. The canvas can even be cut to whatever shape you like. Then add yarn, beautiful yarn. Naturally I chose the finest wool to absorb the most intense colours. I could also mix this fine wool! Not content with one shade of red I could mix another 14 shades in there too (not to the delight of the dyer I might add but it was all so possible!) Not only is this method of hand tufting extremely flexible in terms of design, it is also less labour intensive. The yarn is tufted into the canvas with a hand held gun, a ‘katchi’, and once complete the back of the canvas is latexed to secure the loops, followed by a woven backing, which in turn makes this product much less expensive to produce. Yes, sure they’re hitting the £1000 mark but what you get for that is worth every penny. They are extremely densely constructed in the finest of wool – these beasts weigh 30kilos for 2m x 3m rug – and feel absolutely beautiful underfoot.

The hand tufting process

The detail possible with the hand tufting process.

Singing the praises of hand tufting is all well and good but after some time exploring what India has to offer I realised I had only touched the surface. On my latest visit to India I was very much drawn to the hand knotting process. The initial draw was the drape. Some might say the drape of a rug is not important, it only lies on the floor after all, but having only worked with very dense tufting with its hard backing, I immediately noticed the immense difference. The underside of the rug can be almost as beautiful as the front. Hand knotting is extremely labour intensive however. Each knot is created by hand and when we are talking 150 knots per inch, to achieve impeccable detail, we are talking a hell of a lot of knots in an 8ft x 11ft rug! Of course this makes for a rather special rug. One that will last and last. An heirloom in this throw-away society, and it is this idea that I feel connected to and am working towards. Although the hand tufted rugs will last approximately 10 to 15 years, a knotted rug will last much, much longer. This rug can be enjoyed for a long, long time and hopefully by many people and itself will have a lot of its own stories to tell.

The underside of a rug shows the hand knotting.

Jardin de Chinois in situ

An heirloom piece.

When I was first introduced to world of rugs I was excited at the possibility of creating an alternative to what was on offer at the local rug store but more affordable than the beautiful pieces the designer stores had to offer and tufting was perfect for this. Now I feel I am growing as a rug designer, I am making the decision to focus on exploring this world of rug making further. And, in turn, my rug collection will grow too….”

Wendy x

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