In order to produce a handmade carpet it takes a lot of extensive work and the use of different tools. The classical carpet producing regions were Turkey (Anatolia), Persia (Iran), Caucasus, Afghanistan with their surrounding countries and the western parts of China. From these regions the most exclusive carpets were exported, while the more simple village and nomad carpets stayed in the domestic market.
Towards the end of the 19th century the demand for carpets increased in the West and new manufacturing countries were added. The increased production lead to a changing level of the quality both in designs as in materials and the coloring of the wool.
When the yarn for a carpet is spun, the next phase is to color it. This is a complicated process which demands knowledge and accuracy to achieve good results. For the more exclusive carpets, the yarns used are solely colored with natural dyes. The simpler carpets often contains a mixture of natural and synthetic dyes. Some natural dyes can be produced fairly easy by collecting shells, from walnuts or pomegranate for example, and make a decoction from these. Other colors are easier to produce in a synthetic way. The coloring can be made in the home or by leaving the yarn to a dye-house.
A skilled weaver can accomplish. 8000-12000 knots on an eight-hour working day. Between the rows with knots one or more wefts are placed to secure the knots. To aid their work the weavers have some simple tools such as a knife with a hook, a pair of scissors and a heavy comb, made of wood and metal. With the help of all these tools the rows with the knots and weft are beaten together. The knot density is of great importance to the carpets durability, but the conditions vary. A nomad carpet woven by thick, handspun yarn is not so close, while an Isfahan or a Nain has to be close to meet its expectations. When the weaving is finished the carpet is cut down from the loom. Later on the pile is trimmed with a pair of scissors, the fringes are secured and the sides are made stable. Afterwards, the post treatment take place with polishing, washing, drying and eventual repairs.
The knot density is the number of knots per square meter. It is obtained by counting the knots on the backside of the carpet - 10 cm in the direction of the warp and 10 cm in the direction of the weft. Multiply the number of knots in each direction with each other and then multiply the result with 100. The number given is the number of knots per square meter.
Knot density is not the most important factor with regard to the quality of hand-knotted carpets, despite what many people think. What is actually more important here is the quality of the yarn used in the manufacture of the carpet. If a thicker yarn is used, there will be fewer knots in the carpet and a finer yarn will produce more knots. The yarn used is determined by the person knotting the carpet. This also means that the same type of carpets may have a larger volume in terms of the number of knots in them.
The finer the wool used, the better the quality of the carpet as the knot density is actually not the most important factor for determining the quality of a hand-knotted carpet. For example, a Persian Gabbeh, which does not have a particularly high knot density, is a high-quality carpet because of the fine wool used. A carpet that feels tight does not necessarily have a lot of knots, but this comes about due to how tightly compressed the knots are in the carpet.
When the carpet is woven there are four more steps before it is put up for sale. These four steps are not as time-consuming as the weaving but nevertheless as important in order to get a good result.
The pile is cut to the intended length. During the manufacturing of a carpet the weaver cuts the yarn a little bit longer than intended for the final product. When the carpet is woven the yarn in the pile has a different length and the carpet gives a fluffy and fuzzy impression. In order to give the carpet an even nice surface and to get a clear sharp pattern, polishing of the carpet is needed.
The carpet is washed thoroughly in order to remove textile dust from the polishing and to remove loose colors and also for the colors to be fixed. The mode of procedure for this step is to lay out the carpets next to each other on a plain surface and then rinse them with large amounts of cold water (hot water can make the colors to run). After the carpets are soaked, all the water is then pressed out again from the carpet, with the help of a rubber rake, and sometimes a machine is used to simplify this work.
The last and finally stage before the carpet can be put up for sale is to let it sun-dry thoroughly. The carpets are laid out on great areas and are dried slowly in the sun. The reason the carpets are laid out in the sun instead of being put in a heated room is that the colors are to be stabilized. Since natural colors have been used during the manufacturing this best takes place in the sun. All the carpets must be dried evenly so as not to risk losing its shape.
Control & repairing
After the polishing, washing and drying the carpet is inspected very carefully to see that no holes or other damages have occurred during the treatments.