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Rug Speak: Freckles

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Ever wonder what those little white (or sometimes blue) spots that appear on the front of your hand knotted rug are? We call them rug freckles. Not all hand knotted rugs have visible freckles, but for those that do it's important to know that freckles are completely normal and do not indicate any kind of problem with your rug!

To understand what freckles are we need to understand how a hand knotted rug is made.

Hand knotted rugs are made up essentially of three elements, the warp (A - the vertical fibers), the weft (B - the horizontal fibers) and the knots (C - which create the pile).

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Sometimes the warps or wefts, as a result of the constant packing of the knots into place with metal weaving tools, can break during the weaving process. When this happens, two ends are tied together so that the weaving can continue. This means that there are quite a number of foundation fiber knots in every single hand woven rug.
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Above you can see five women working on a vertical loom. The warp fibers (threads) run up and down and the weft fibers run side to side. After each row of knots is tied around two warp fibers a weft fiber is woven through the warps and then packed down onto the knots to hold them in place. You can also see the tool they use to do the packing in the photo.

 

There are two major reasons that freckles will appear in rugs, the first is wear, the second is a good rug cleaning.

A good rug will last for decades, and wear over time is a normal thing. As the rug is lived on it's pile will slowly wear down, exposing the freckles that had previously been shorter than the wool pile surrounding them.

It is common that prior to a good washing the dirt accumulated on the surface of the rug obscures the whiteness of the freckles. Once the rug is washed and the dirt gets removed the freckles can become whiter (cleaner) and more visible. The freckles were always there, they just become more apparent after the washing.

What can be done about freckles? Some people just leave them as they are knowing that they are evidence of the rug's hand made nature. If you do want to lessen the appearance of your freckles, you can use textile dye or ink to cosmetically hide them (perhaps best done by a professional). Just remember when you have your rug washed you may have to re-dye the freckles after the washing. It is important to recognize that freckles are NOT a defect in your rug, they are indicators of the hand made quality of your rug.

 

We love vintage and antique rugs, these are the types of rugs that are most prone to having visible rug freckles. Hopefully helping you, our customers, understand how rugs are made and understand what things are common with age can help you better appreciate your old rugs. If you have any questions about your rugs, we are always happy to help! 

Feel free to stop by our showroom (M-S 9am-5pm - Closed Sunday) or contact us anytime!

 

Thanks to www.rugchick.com for photo and content contributions.