The warp threads of wool, silk or other cellulose fibres are laid side by side on a drum located at the back of the loom. It is the number of teeth on the reed (kangi) used to distribute the threads on the drum that determines how tightly they are held together. A quality kangi 10 (5 threads per inch) is less tight than kangi 12 (6 threads per inch).
A shuttle containing the weft thread is propelled from one side of the rug to the other while the yards (metal rods as long as the width of the rug) determine the height of the pile. Similar to the round rods used in the Nepalese knotting technique.
If not cut, it stays in the form of loops.
The reed and the heddle bars, which lift the warp threads alternately, are operated by foot and hand.
To strengthen the rug, warp threads of the backing are split. This process is called “double back”.
To ensure a better tightness of the wool yarns, wefts are doubled and this is called “double cotton”. In this case, if a pile yarn is removed, it will have a “W” shape instead of a “V”.
An intermediate, cost-effective alternative may be to use a fine cotton thread, usually black and add it to the weft thread to strengthen the structure. This quality is called “laachi”.
What can be done with handloom?
The production process is directly inspired from industrial looms, but is entirely operated manually. This work is physically demanding but fast and therefore inexpensive.
Rugs are usually plain or decorated with simple borders.
Some looms now allow for repetitive or lined patterns. Appropriate dyeing of warp yarns must be done to give the pile a very beautiful random gradient effect that accentuates the handmade aspect of the product
Patterns can also be reproduced on handloom rugs. Those are “tufted”, from the backing, onto a previously woven plain carpet.
The handloom technique is suitable for large carpets and rugs. The looms we use are 6.50 metres in width and they can reach a length of 20 metres.
Random shades (abbrashes) can be applied to the pile on request. They give a handmade character to high-quality rugs that will be used in luxury hotels.
To create beautiful repeating patterns that add a modern touch to carpet designs we can alternate piles and loops, pile heights and mix fibres (excluding hemp and jute).
Handloom rugs are faster to make and less expensive than knotted rugs. They are growing steadily among rugs and carpets manufacturers in India.