09 PM | 08 Jun

The care and feeding of Karastan rugs.

Karastan has always been known as a provider of high-quality machine woven wool rugs that replicate many classic Persian oriental rug designs.

Woven in America, made of high quality materials and construction. I’ve seen Karastans from the 1930’s still in very good condition.  In fact, we had an older one come through our shop a few weeks ago, and it had an interesting – and outdated – care tag on the back.  Right here:

Karastan rug care tag - be careful!

Karastan rug care tag - be careful!

Here’s a blog I wrote over on our San Diego Rug Cleaning Company rug repair blog – with a point by point blow of the tag in question.

As Karastan has begun importing product from China, you can no longer say that it represents high quality in machine made product. For some unknown reason they have decided to create some blended rugs with wool and viscose, and as all frequent readers of The Rug Chick blog know – viscose is the worst rug fiber to ever choose for your home.

When you read the label description, let me know, was there anything in it that you were also surprised to see in print as “recommended instructions”? Am I the only one surprised?

– Lisa

P.S.  Heads up – rug cleaning workshop upcoming on August 6-7 – get your seat before it SELLS OUT!

09 PM | 25 May

Do you hate rug fringe? Do not cut it off.

An interesting photo sent to me today – take a look:

Yep – it’s tape. Tape used to hold the fringe tassels in place so you don’t have to keep straightening them.

Pros and cons of this. One – it does keep the fringe tassels, especially hefty fringe like on this Karastan rug, in place.

Cons – you can’t reuse the tape, it leaves residue (and a clean spot) where the adhesive was, and if the fringe tassels are weak with age or past bleaching, the tape will easily tear away those tassels.

On a machine woven rug like this one (you can see the machine work on the edges, and that this fringe is clearly added on after the fact) – torn away tassels are not a big deal. In fact, on this rug you can pull off the fringe entirely with your hands (no scissors required).

But on a hand woven rug – torn away tassels will lead to the rug unraveling and losing its value. This will need to be repaired quickly when this happens. Read about getting rug ends repaired right on this prior post.

So, if you HATE your fringe – do NOT cut the tassels off of an oriental rug. Just say no.

But, no worries, because you can hide the fringe. 

The poor-boy route is to simply use masking tape and tape the tassels under the rug. I choose masking tape because it has the least amount of adhesive, so you do not create a huge mess to clean up versus using packing tape or duct tape.

It’s not the ideal choice, but it’s an option that is much better than cutting off the tassels.

The other option is to hide the fringe professionally, with something that does not damage the tassels with adhesive, and keeps them clean in case you decide you suddenly LOVE fringe again.

We use at our rug shop a burlap material to do this. We sew it by hand at the base of the rug, and fold the tassels underneath the rug safely. Take a look on this Tibetan woven rug:

Customer wants the white fringe hidden from view.

Customer wants the white fringe hidden from view.

Ready to fold the tassels under the rug, and sew to secure.

Ready to fold the tassels under the rug, and sew to secure.

Abracadabra! The fringe has VANISHED!

Abracadabra! The fringe has VANISHED!

Rug friends don’t let friends cut their rug fringe off… ever. Spread the word!

– Lisa

03 AM | 14 Jun

Attack of the MACHINES!

Now more than ever, you are seeing MACHINE made rugs coming through your doors.

It used to be that these were still WOOL rugs, but today a number of olefin, polyester, and other synthetic fibers come your way. And they have “traditional” hand woven rug designs, so to an untrained eye and hand, you can easily mistake them for a “real” oriental rug.

(By the way – when I use the term “oriental rug” I am referring to a rug that has been hand WOVEN. I use the term “area rug” to refer to tufted, custom, and machine woven rugs.)

Q. Do you need to know if a rug is machine made or hand made to clean it?

A. NO.

Q. What do you need to know to clean a rug?

A. Fiber type. Dye stability. Construction type. Pre-existing conditions.

(People who claim you must know where a rug is from to clean it are being silly. 98% of the rugs that have come through our rug plant have all been washed with the same process, just differences in solutions, time-frame, and technique NOT because of where it’s from, but because of fiber, dye, or construction concerns.)

That said – it IS cool to be able to know when a rug is machine made or hand made – and it impresses your clients.

Here’s two quick shots of machine woven rugs. The first an easy one, the next not so easy.

Belgian Machine Woven Wool

First thing you notice is you see WAY MORE foundation thread peeking out at you than a handwoven rug. And the fringe sewing stitches, and the stitching on the side overcast wrapping – it looks machine made.

How about this one?

Karastan Machine Woven Wool

There is still some machine thread stitching along the base of the fringe, and along the side, but this is a VERY well woven wool rug… done in the good ol’ USA by machine.  Karastan rugs are good quality, and can often be mistaken by their owners as “real” oriental rugs from overseas.

This also shows you the easiest way to identify a rug… which is to flip over the corner and read the TAG! 🙂

With these two rugs in particular, you can easily discern that one is of a higher quality than the other from just these simple pictures. If a manufacturer is going to take the care to create a tightly woven rug by machine, they are likely not going to be cutting corners on the other factors – the dyes and the fibers.

Conversely, if someone does cut a corner on the construction side by making it a mediocre quality weave by machine, you’d expect that they would not be investing in top quality fibers or dyes either. Usually if you see a corner cut in one area, there will be some “cuts” in other areas as well.

In fact, with these rugs, it is the “lesser” quality Belgian rug that has the dye stability issue (it will bleed if left wet too long) while the Karastan in question has very strong dye stability. I’ve also seen Karastans from the forties still with full wool pile, so the quality of the wool also can be very high.

I don’t prefer machine woven rugs to hand woven (I love hand crafted rugs, they are a piece of someone’s life and their spirit) … but for certain situations, for example, needing a rug in a high traffic entryway or in the room with pets – I’d grab a machine woven rug over a rug I want to keep to pass on after I’m gone. And if I chose a machine woven rug, I’d choose a Karastan.

But, if your budget dictates a cheaper option, there are plenty of alternatives today.

And, if you are a CLEANER, those cheaper options are the rugs you need to keep a sharp eye out for. Test the fibers, the dyes, the construction quality, and catch those pre-existing conditions BEFORE you clean.

– Lisa Wagner

05 AM | 29 May

Tough To Dry Tuft!

Basically you have two major groups of rugs – woven and tufted. The easiest way to identify one from the other is that on woven (whether by hand or by machine) you can see the design on the back side. Tufted you don’t.

Okay – that’s not an absolute truth, but pretty close. When I get a frantic “save my butt” call from a cleaner across the US asking me to help them with a rug that’s gone bad on them, and I can’t see it, I need to know first – is it woven or tufted?

It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s from Turkey, China, Morocco, or Toledo – most times they can’t tell me that anyway – but it does matter to me what kind of CONSTRUCTION the rug is. Especially with tufted, because this is a rug where the face fibers are glued in place. Actually, latex adhesive is used. That’s why the back looks like this – mesh with latex.

Typical Tufted Rug

Quite a number of times you will see a material covering the back of these rugs. This is for several reasons – 1) because the latex looks ugly; 2) because some latex is poorer quality than others and can crumble and make a mess; and 3) because the latex can cause problems (yellowing) to items underneath it (like the living room carpeting you are putting the rug on top of).

There may be other reasons for this… but that’s my list, and this is my blog. 🙂

A big problem with some of the heavier tufted rugs after you’ve given them a bath is – DRY time. If you do not have a climate-controlled drying room, or a wringer to remove the excess water before the dry time even begins, then you are looking at a long dry time. Days in fact, especially in humid conditions.

But one tool we tested recently in our rug plant helped dry time ENORMOUSLY – the Dri-eaz Airpath.

Side by side testing, same construction types, one rug took just under two days (regular air movers used) and the other rug took under half a day.  If you have a small operation, and are looking to boost your productivity, but cannot afford a drying room or wringer – then I would highly recommend you grab several of these.  In fact, if you are a Piranha Member you can get the best purchasing deal in the industry through our Buyers Group (just log onto Piranha Central for details).

Dri-eaz Airpath: Rug Chick tested! Rug Chick approved! (My team LOVES this air mover.)

Studebaker Airpath by Dri-Eaz

Studebaker Airpath by Dri-Eaz