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How Hand Knotted Rugs Are Made

Craftsmanship requires time, patience and expertise. Deirdre Dyson bespoke hand knotted rugs and carpets are manufactured using the finest natural materials – pure Tibetan wool and Chinese silk, by Nepalese craftspeople using age old techniques and traditional skills unchanged over the centuries.

From concept to finishing no part of this process is rushed. The end result is something entirely unique and of the highest quality, works of art for the floor, designed to last a lifetime.

“Every design starts as a drawing – from there it can become anything the client wants it to be.  We offer a fully bespoke service – almost everything can be altered: size, shape, colours, pile height, knot count, even the design itself” Deirdre Dyson.

 

The process of threading wool into a loom

The History of Hand Knotted Rugs

Carpet making is an ancient skill, believed to have originated several thousand years ago in the planes of Central Asia where nomadic shepherds weaved raw wool into easily transportable textiles necessary for warmth.

Over the centuries these skills developed and spread.  Techniques, unique styles and decorative elements became particular to certain areas such as Persia, Turkey and China.

These hand-woven carpets became highly valued artefacts long before the advent of machine production.

All Deirdre Dyson carpets are manufactured in Nepal using the Tibetan style of carpet making.  Our hand weavers’ skills, passed down from generation to generation, originated from Tibetan refugees who settled in Nepal and used their craft as a source of income.

How are Hand Knotted Rugs Crafted?

From raw material to finished piece; the process of crafting a Deirdre Dyson rug takes 14-16 weeks. Skilled craftsman use the following process.

1. Raw Materials

Over the years Deirdre has experimented with other fibres but nothing compares to the purity and softness of 100% wool juxtaposed with the lustre and sumptuousness of silk.  These natural materials have remained Deirdre’s preference for all her hand knotted designs.  No man-made fibres create as lush and dense a pile or the luxurious feel of wool and silk underfoot.

Silk

All the silk used in Deirdre Dyson carpets is Chinese, produced using a process that is over 2,000 years old, resulting in the purest of lustrous yarns.

Wool

Tibetan wool is of the highest quality. This robust, natural material, full of the naturally occurring wax Lanolin, provides the perfect soft but strong yarn, which takes dyes beautifully and is naturally stain resistant.

The naturally occurring subtle variations in the shade of wool add to the unique character of a custom rug.

Wool goes through various manual processes before it is woven into yarn.

coloured-wool-drying-on-line

2.  Preparation of the Wool

Carding:

Shorn raw wool is carefully detangled, cleaned and teased into individual strands by hand using a pair of carders, flat paddles with tiny teeth which pull the wool in different directions, separating the fibres and aligning them in the same direction ready for spinning.

Spinning:

The raw wool fibres are then carefully spun into continuous lengths of yarn, using a spinning wheel.  The ply of the yarn is determined at this point.  The experienced spinner uses their fingers to manipulate the wool and combine it into robust strands of the correct size for the knot number required.

The yarn is then thoroughly washed and dried.

Dying:

Dying is one of the key elements in the production of a carpet.  Accurate colour matching is essential to the success of a finished design.

The Dye Master carefully matches Deirdre’s colour selection by eye and mixes pigments to absolute precision.  The number of dyes depends on the complexity of the design and each dye can take up to a day to mix.

The now pristine raw wool or silk yarn is immersed in huge vats submerged over and over until the required shade is achieved using a manually turned wheel.

The dyed yarn is then left to dry naturally in the Nepalese sunshine, the heat of the sun fixing the colours.

Once dried it is balled ready for weaving.

The process of dying wool purple

3. Mapping The Creation

Meanwhile the 21st Century intervenes in this age-old process – the digital version of Deirdre’s original carpet design which Nichola painstakingly replicates here in London, is mapped out to scale on graph paper to knot precision – this colour coded guide hangs on the loom for the weavers to follow – specifying the exact location and colour of each and every knot.

4. The Weaving Process

The Loom:

Tibetan carpets are made on a wooden loom on cotton vertical (warp) threads with horizontal wool or silk (weft) threads interwoven using a wooden shuttle.

Depending on the size of the carpet up to eight weavers can work on one carpet, working in unison to create the design knot by knot.

The Knot:

The Tibetan method uses a distinctive knot which differs from those used in Persian or Turkish carpets.

The higher the knot count the finer the rug.  All Deirdre Dyson carpets use a minimum of 100 knots per square inch (the area of a postage stamp) allowing for accuracy and intricacy in the finished design.

Moving from left to right the yarn is looped around both the previous warp and the next to make one knot and then over a short metal rod temporarily attached to the front of the loom.   The thickness of this rod known as a ‘Gyipshi’, determines the pile height.

This is done a line at a time before the finished section is tamped down with a special hammer-like tool known as  ‘Thowa’. The metal bar is released and moved on to the next section to be worked on. When a row is finished, a sharp blade or ‘Churi’ is passed along a groove in the gauge rod, cutting the loops of yarn forming a pile.

craftswoman weaving the wool

5. Final Touches

Washing:

The finished carpet is removed from the loom and submerged in water for extensive washing by hand.  Large wooden paddles known as ‘Pharwa’ are used to push the water through the pile to tighten the fibres and make the carpet colour fast.

The carpets are then dried on the rooftops of Kathmandu, this sun drying is done on a stretcher which tightens the weave and stretches the carpet to the correct dimensions.

Trimming:

Once dry, the carpet is carefully trimmed to a uniform pile height using large flat bladed-shears known as a ‘Kainchi”

Carving:

Then the highly skilled task of carefully ‘carving’ out specific design elements begins.  This fine trimming of the design highlights and lightly defines areas where wool meets silk and or the areas specified by Deirdre.

Finishing:

The fringe of warp threads is knotted, trimmed and the finished carpet is bound around the edges by hand to secure and finish it, ready for inspection, packing and shipment to our gallery in London.

Deirdre Dyson carpet being trimmed by a craftsman

final trimming of the rug

Contact us to begin the process of creating your perfect hand knotted rug.