Step 1: Turn Wool into Yarn
The process of making a wool rug begins when unprocessed wool arrives at the factory in large bales. The wool is then separated by hand to remove sticks and break up clumps. Next, the wool is fed into a machine that separates and pulls the wool into individual strands. The wool is then spun into yarn. The yarn spinning process occurs over many types of machines until the yarn becomes twisted and strong enough.
Step 2: Wash Yarn
Before the yarn is dyed, it is first cleaned. Yarn is submerged into a detergent bath, and then wrung out several times before moving to the next phase of washing. The yarn is washed again in clean water to remove all remnants of detergent.
Step 3: Dye Yarn
Dyes are created using a very precise combination of colors to produce the exact desired hue. Yarn is hung onto a large rack and submerged into the dye. The dye is heated to a near-boiling temperature for a predetermined amount of time. The amount of time is based on the color, the type of dye and darkness desired. Once dyed, the yarn is placed outside into the sunlight until it is completely dry.
Step 4: Weave Rug
There are two primary ways to weave a handmade rug: hand knotting and hand tufting. When hand knotting rugs, the weaver knots a continuous strand of yarn onto itself. When hand tufting rugs, the weaver uses a tool to push the yarn back and forth through a rug backing. For both types of rugs, a rug map, cartoon or talim is used to follow the design and color scheme of the rug. Typically, two weavers will work on one rug together and use a scaffolding system to raise and lower themselves along the entire length of the rug.
Step 5: Wash Rug
Again, the entire rug is washed to remove all remaining detergent, dirt and yarn particles. The rug is laid flat on the ground, then fresh water is poured over it. The rug washers then use a wood plank, sharpened on one edge, to force the water through the rug pile. This removes impurities picked up during the creation process. The rug then lies in the sunlight until it is completely dry.
Step 6: Shave and Level Rug
A special machine is used to shave and level the rug across its entire width and length. This process also brings out the details of the weave and bold colors. Next, the design of the rug is defined using a steel spike to separate the pattern and colors. Lastly, the rug is rolled, packaged and shipped for sale.