Oriental Rug Freckles.
Okay, the technical term is not “rug freckles” but that’s what I call them. (My blog, my vocab!)
They are white knots.
Sometimes a handful, like this:
Sometimes HUNDREDS like this one:
These exist with ALL hand woven rugs. Here’s what happens.
Remember that rug loom I showed you a few posts back? Notice on the loom how the warps are strung vertically on it (these are the white cotton strands running bottom to top of the loom).
The wool knots are tied (actually twisted) from side to side, one row at a time, around those warp strands, and with a new cotton weft thread(s) inserted in between the rows of knots to hold them in place.
(I say white cotton here because the majority of rugs you will see come through your cleaning facility will be woven on a cotton foundation. The foundation threads – the “skeleton” of the rug – can be wool or silk, but these are in the minority as foundation fibers.)
So… the weaver is twisting the wool knots around the white cotton warp threads, back and forth, and then back and forth, and in between is using a metal/wood comb (or other device) to POUND down the knots evenly in place, and then SNAP!!! a strand breaks!
It’s impossible at that point to replace the warp strand – rugs can take months and sometimes years to weave by hand, so there are no “do overs.” You have to work with what you have. And in this case, that means taking the two broken ends, and tying them together into a knot. Just like you’d do with a broken shoelace if you had no other option but to fix it and keep running.
These white knots then end up as part of the resulting rug. After the rug is completed, the weavers usually trim down the tied ends so that they are hidden underneath the fuzzy wool fibers. But as rugs are used, and face fibers are worn down with age and foot traffic, these knots can reemerge.
When the rug is dirty, you may not see them because they are grayed out. But if you are cleaning the rug WATCH OUT – you may have a very clean rug full of freckles that shocks the rug’s owner because she didn’t remember them being there.
Unfortunately, the better you are at cleaning, the whiter these freckles can become.
If you can identify these BEFORE the cleaning, and explain why they are there to the rug’s owner, you can avoid an unhappy client.
When you point things out BEFORE cleaning is it EDUCATON … when you point it out AFTER the cleaning it is an EXCUSE.
ALL hand woven rugs have white knots, the question is to what extent. A handful or a truckload?
You can see them on the front and the back. So make finding them part of your pre-inspection routine. Freckles aren’t bad – they are what they are. Characteristics. Something that makes the rug unique.
Most rug owners don’t mind them at all, while others always seem to want their rug freckles removed. They can’t be removed, but you can – with some patience and some good dyes – blend them away so they are less noticeable. Rug makeup! 🙂
Just make sure you don’t put it on too heavy, or the neighbors will make fun of you.