HAND-KNOTTED RUG MANUFACTURE
The manufacturing of our rugs is a very complex and time-consuming process. Each rug that is woven is a labour of love and takes several months to complete depending on the complexity of the design and the size of the piece.
Stage 1: The Artist's Designs
Unquestionably the rugs start with the design by the artist. Each artist is briefed about how the rugs are made and what the limitations are in relation to weaving on the looms. We tend not to give the artists a design brief , but instead let them decide how they feel their style can be incorporated into the production of a bespoke rug.
Once this design is complete we personally review the drawing and then send it to the mill in Cairo. If, however, the design is not quite suitable for the weaving process , we work again with the artist to modify the drawing so that it becomes possible to use.
Stage 2: Colour Picking
Once the design has been signed off we select the colour palette. We have a huge range of swatches amounting to approximately 400 different colours. These have been selected by us and created at the mill to enable us to exactly choose colours that correspond to those used in the artist's designs. The swatches are woven as "mini rugs", enabling us to see how the colours look once they've been woven. If we can't match the colours within our existing palette we have alternative wool colour swatches to marry up the colours so that the wool hanks can be sent off to be specifically dyed.
Stage 3: Translating the design to point paper
After the colours have been chosen the final designs are sent to Cairo where they are translated by hand onto point paper. These drawings are the blueprint for the weavers to follow. Once these drawings are finished we travel to Cairo to check that they match the designs from our artists. We also check the wool, the colours and any new dyeing that has been done.
We have to make these checks to ensure that the closest possible match to the original design is made so that it is translated well onto the rugs. Bad translation = bad rug.
Stage 4: Spinning and dyeing
Once we have signed off the drawing and the colours it's now time to spin the cotton and the wool. All of the materials used are natural and also come from Egypt. We only use natural and local products to keep our carbon footprint as low as possible and also because we believe that the production and the materials should come from the same area.
Stage 5: Weaving
Now the weaving can begin...
The weaving is done entirely by hand, carried out by teams of highly skilled craftsmen and women. Each team has a head weaver who translates the drawings on the point paper to the knots on the carpet.
Most of the head weavers have been working at the mill since they were young and are now in their late 50s and early 60s, with the majority of the head weavers having worked at the mill for over 35 years. The newer and younger weavers come through the mill's vocational training programme. This ensures a vast amount of weaving experience in the production, as the knowledge is directly handed down from generation to generation.
The time that each rug spends on the loom is on average from 3-6 months this is defined by the complexity, size and knot count of the design.
Stage 6: Finish
Once the weaving is finished then the carpet will be "cut" from the loom. It will then be washed to remove loose fibres. The pile on the carpet is then cut to the required height. Depending on design and style, this can be left quite long or cut almost to the foundation. Whilst this does not damage or reduce the life of the carpet it does provide the beautiful and natural finish that you would find with these types of carpet.