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The Whats of Weave

April 28, 2010 2 min read

Handmade Rugs 101 Series: The Whats of Weave 

Skilled weavers create handmade rugs, not machines. And, as we mentioned in earlier articles, it’s a complicated process. With this post, we wanted to give you a peek at the weavers’ loom lives and try to briefly explain the different ways a rug can be woven.   But before we dive into the topic, there are a few bits of rug lingo you may need to know:   Pile: The visible surface of a rug. It’s also known as the “face” or “nap.”   Tuft: The projections of yarn that create the pile of a “tufted” rug.   Warp and weft: Warp refers to the parallel yarn strands that run vertically on a loom. Warp threads that extend beyond the edge of a rug create stylistic fringe. Weft refers to the yarns that are woven horizontally through the warps to form the face of the rug.   We’ve pasted some handy diagrams below to help better explain, too.  

Pile Weave

Rugs woven in a pile weave are the most time-consuming and difficult for weavers to produce. Pile weave is also called knotted weave because of the thousands of knots created during the process. One pile-woven rug can take even extremely skilled weavers hundreds of hours to produce. These rugs are constructed by using yarn that is knotted to a warp and weft backing and then sheared to create a pile. 

Flat Weave

Flat weave rugs are called such because their surface appears flat. No knots are used to create the rug, but they still require a great amount of skill and craftsmanship to produce. Flat-woven rugs are created by weaving yarn through the warps to create a pattern.


Hand-tufted rugs are produced by pushing wool or acrylic through a canvas backing, adding a secondary backing with latex to hold the tufts firmly in place, and finishing with a cloth cover to protect the floor. While not as labor intensive to produce as other types of handmade rugs, there is still a significant level of skill needed to create them.

Be on the lookout for future posts with more information about these types of handmade rugs. This post is part of our “Handmade Rugs 101” series. To see all posts in the series, CLICK HERE.

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