Rug repairs can range from the simple over-casting of the ends or sides of a rug, to the complicated, time consuming rebuilding and repiling of whole sections of the rug. Regardless of the level of repair required the exact same principles apply for each repair. The repairer must study the structure of the rug they are repairing, they must match the materials (yarns) as closely as possible to the original materials, and finally the repairer must make the repair appear as integrated with the original rug as possible - altogether the result should be a nearly invisible repair.
Rugs are made entirely with yarn, it is one of the most important element to consider when repairing a rug. A good repair starts and ends with the right yarn choice. There are several factors to consider when choosing the appropriate yarn: color, structure, fineness, and origin.
Color: Yarns can be dyed any number of ways, but there are two major categories of colors - those created with natural dyes and those created with synthetic dyes. There are many arguments for and against each dye process, but we will not discuss that here (you can read more about it on our blog Natural vs. Synthetic Dyes), the results from dying with natural materials and those from dying with man made chemical formulations vary greatly. When repairing rugs not only must you find the right color match to your original piece (which can be very challenging) but you must make note whether the original color was achieved with natural or synthetic dyes so that the yarn you choose for the repair blends with tone and shade of the original piece.
Structure: Yarn is made of multiple fibers spun together, then to create a stronger yarn these single ply yarns are spun together to create a multi-ply yarn. The direction in which the fibers are spun, the direction in which the plys are spun together, and the number of plys used are all important to note so that when repairing the rug you can chose (or create) a yarn that replicates those in the original piece.
Fineness: As mentioned above yarn can be single ply, or multi-ply, but even within those specifications there is great variability. A chunky, single ply yarn could be coarser or thicker than a very fine 3 ply yarn. You must match the fineness of the original yarns or choose a slightly finer yarn to make sure the repair does not stand out.
Origin: It may be impossible to replicate a yarn's origin, but understanding what kind of sheep the wool came from and where it was raised can be invaluable in making your yarn decision. There are many different breeds of sheep with varying types of wool, differences in length, crimp, fineness, and color will make a difference in the appearance of the yarn. The closest you can come to replicating those qualities of the wool in your repair yarns to those of the yarn used in the original piece the better and more invisible the repair.
The visual appearance of the yarn is drastically different when looking at the side of the yarn (the fibers running side to side in the same direction) as you do in a flat-woven rug, versus when you look at the ends of multiple cut strands of yarn (the cross section of the yarn - ends point towards you) as you do with a hand knotted or hand tufted rug.
Finding the right yarn to do a repair means making many small but important choices. If you have a rug your are interested in having repaired please contact us or stop by our gallery at 297 Forest Ave. in Portland, ME.