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Area Rug Terms
Age: Refers to how old a handmade rug is. All handmade rugs are placed within these three categories: Antique (60-plus years), Semi-Antique (25 to 20 years) and Contemporary (less than 25 years).
Antique: A rug that is at least 60 years old.
Braid: The three or more stands of material, such as wool or strips of rag, that are laid over each other in a diagonal overlapping pattern before being sewn into a rug.
Chrome Dyes: Synthetic, colorfast products created between the First and Second World Wars for dyeing weaving yarns.
Cotton: The natural material from the cotton plant. In handmade rugs, it can be used for warp and occasionally for woof.
Curvilinear: Literally curved lines. It refers to patterns with swirls, arcs and bows.
Dye: The process of coloring both natural materials, such as wool, silk and cotton, and man-made fibers. May be natural — made from plants, animals or minerals — or synthetic.
Flat Weave: The weft strands are passed over and under the warp strands. No knots are used.
Geometric: Patterns based on simple geometric shapes such as, lines, triangles, squares and rectangles.
Hand-knotted: A short piece of yarn is tied around two neighboring warp strands creating a knot on the surface of a rug.
Hand-Tufted: Created without tying knots. Instead, tufts or loops of yarn are pushed through a primary backing.
Loom: Structure that holds warp strands taut for weaving and knotting. Comes in various configurations: vertical, horizontal, fixed or mobile.
Nap: The direction of the pile. Run you hand one way and the pile lies down. Run your hand the other way and it stands up.
Natural Dyes: Coloring agents extracted from plants, animals and minerals.
Pattern: The arrangement of the yarns within the backing. The handmade rug industry recognizes three classes of patterns: Pictorial, Geometric and Curvilinear.
Pictorial: Refers to patterns that portray people, animals and scenes.
Pile: The material (fiber) used for weaving handmade and machine made rugs. Cotton, silk, and wools are used in most handmade rugs. Machine made rugs might use nylon or polypropylene / olefin pile.
Pile Weave: A short piece of yarn is tied around two neighboring warp strands, creating a knot on the surface of the rug. All pile rugs are woven with knots, but different weaving groups use different knots.
Runner: A long and narrow rug designed for use in hallways, stairways and entrances. Also called a corridor rug.
Silk: An expensive fiber made from the cocoon of silkworms. Due to its high price, it is not as popular as wool.
Synthetic Dyes: Chemically derived beginning in the mid-nineteenth century for coloring rug yarns.
Textile: Simply a woven or knit cloth.
Warp: Lengthwise yarns (the ones typically attached to the loom) that form the foundation of the rug.
Weave: To make rugs on a loom by interlacing warp and weft yarns. There are three classic techniques: Pile Weave, Flat Weave and Hand Tufted.
Weft: The crosswise or horizontal yarns that are manipulated by the weaver.
Wool: Fine, soft, curly hair that forms the fleece of sheep, in particular. The most common pile material.
Yarn: A continuous strand of twisted threads of natural or synthetic material.