Design Your Own Custom Hand-knotted Rug

Harry Chittenden's picture

In spite of the availability of tens of thousands of hand-knotted rugs, designers and their clients sometimes require a custom designed rug. The reasons are varied. They might favor an area of color that is not big enough in any available rug. They might want to take advantage of a room's particular lighting by utilizing the special look and feel that silk imparts. Probably, they need to accommodate a room with an unsual shape or size.

The process of creating a custom-made rug is very similar to designing and manufacturing a production rug. We thought our readers would like to see how it's done.

Cartoons

Cartoons serve both as a "rough draft" of the design and as a pattern. In a rare nod to modernity many rug designs are rendered by computer rather than being hand-painted. This speeds up the process. The super vibrant colors are for high contrast to provide guidance to the weavers and only suggest the colors in the rug.

Cartoon Detail
  
Here you can see the actual warp and weft (vertical and horizontal strands of the rug's foundation) of the loom so that the weaver knows precisely what color yarn needs to be where.

Poms

Poms are small bouquets of wool or silk or wool/silk dyed a certain color. The designer can use these get some idea of how the color is going to look in the room. Is it going to be a perfect match? Probably not. Natural vegetable dyes can vary with the seasons, the dye master, and/or the material being dyed. But poms are be best we've got. At Addison/Dicus we have pom samples from rug makers in India and Nepal whom we know and trust.

Cartoons and Poms

When the design is ready for production, the appropriate pom is affixed to a patch of the appropriate color so that the weaver can pick his or her yarn accordingly. You can see that in the lower right corner of this picture.

Weaving

These weavers use the cartoon behind them to knot the portion of the rug assigned to them. A large rug may require eight or more weavers working for months to finish a rug.

In general, once the designer settles on the design and colors the rug can go on the loom. From there to the client's floor can take approximately three to nine months.

In our little demonstration here we have shown you a traditional pattern being designed and made. Of course, designers can custom design any style, traditional, transitional or contemporary. One popular example is designing rugs from favored paintings - art on the floor!