Ever stood on the seashore and felt like the ocean is pulling you back to the shores when you are actually just standing in the water? It's an amazing feeling isn't it? This experience stirs emotions in you, makes you feel delighted. Not unlike the emotion a hands carpets inspires. Our craftsmen, artists, designers, weavers and all those involved in the making of a carpet, make a covenant when they first begin to design one. With every effort they put in, they give life to the carpet and make it look piquant and beautiful. When it's ready, this carpet touches million hearts and finally reaches someone's home. And there it is, a piece of art, placed in your abode, so breathtaking, it stirs your soul.
Thought and innovation
The journey of a carpet begins much more prior to a thread, it begins with an idea. The designers reflect on a concept and finalise the design that needs to go into the next carpet. They have the liberty to vary the colour of the design to whatever they wish; it takes a certain experience to know just how the colour will reproduce with different types of yarn under different kinds of light. A carpet with the same design is made into three or more versions with variants in colour. Each shade is set against a pom for reference. The artists transform the ideas from a hand-drawn sketch to a computer-aided drawing which requires precision of hand. It is drawn on graph paper and each square represents one knot. Outlines are filled in with paint to represent the detail in shades. The final sketch helps the weaver identify the pattern of the rug, and which colour each knot should be in. An expert weaver will rarely refer to the sketch. Printed designs are traced and marked to the minutest detail. Colours, ratios, number of knots, and techniques are described to communicate to a group of weavers the desired effect. Now, the designs are ready for weaving.
|Crafting the design of the carpet|
Journey from wool to yarn
The finest cotton, silk and wool which is imported from New Zealand is used in the making of a hand knotted rug. Wool being the commonly used material for carpets goes through several processes to get the desired yarn. Silk is used primarily for accent because it is not as strong and is more expensive. Cotton is sometimes used in the foundation, but is not seen in the pile. The combination of these materials makes for an extremely strong carpet. First, the wool is carefully sorted and cleaned shedding unwanted particles like dust and grease. After which it is washed thoroughly and dried under the sun. The wool is then spun by hand which is a time-consuming task but essential to get the perfect quality yarn. Besides, there are modern methods of feeding the wool into a machine or say spinning wheel that separates the wool and pulls it into different strands. This way the wool is spun into yarn. The yarn spinning process is repeated until the yarn becomes twisted and strong enough. Some prefer washing the yarn again in clean water to remove all remnants of dust and waste. Once dried, the required amount of yarn is delivered to our factory in Bhadohi. The thickness of the yarn depends on the quality of the carpet.
Dyeing the yarn
Dyeing the yarn is the next step which involves stretching the yarn across the poles which are laid on the edges of a large round vessel. This is a traditional method and the yarn is repeatedly submerged into the dye to ensure the colour is even. Hands uses the natural dyeing method and our palette covers deep, vivid and luminous natural reds, yellows, blues and browns to the innumerable hues of synthetic dyes. A step up from there is the wheeling of the yarn into hot tubs. The dye is heated to a near-boiling temperature for a predetermined amount of time based on the colour, the type of dye and darkness required. If there are large volumes of yarns then the electrical vat serves as a time-saving purpose to dye larger volumes in shorter periods of time. Once it’s dyed, the yarns are steamed, washed and dried in the sunlight.
Yarn is ready
The yarn is then rolled up into large balls and sent to the weavers. Before the weaving begins, the weavers are given the carpet’s full design sketch on a graph paper for reference. Each square on the paper represents a knot in the carpet.
The hand-knotting process is spellbinding. One cannot take their eyes off of the rhythmic movement of the weaver’s fingers. Once the loom is set up, the vertical threads are tied on to the loom which are called warp. Warps are usually made of cotton, providing an ideal surface for a flat, straight rug. These threads eventually become the fringe of the rug. The weaver secures the warps by arranging horizontal rows called wefts and intertwines the warp to create the foundation of the rug. The weft is ordinarily made of cotton, wool or silk. The weft also creates the edges of the rug, which holds the rug together. This way knot by knot, inch by inch, the weaver works meticulously till the pattern is complete. A colour change in the pattern means a new thread, a new starting point.
|Setting the loom|
Depending on how extensive the carpet size, design and pattern is, a fine hand-knotted carpet can take months to complete. The finest cotton, silk and wool are used in the making of a hand knotted rug. The weaver uses a hooked knife to cut the knot, and then ties the knot with his or her hands, and finishes the process by securing and tightening the rows of knots together with a comb-like tool. A scissors is also used to clip the threads evenly on the back of the rug. An experienced weaver can tie one thousand knots per hour and one knot every two seconds. This speed is picked up over a span of time. A carpet can be knotted by a single person or in a group on a vertical loom depending on the size of the carpet. There are different kinds of knots that are used to construct a hand-knotted rug. The type of knot used depends largely on the region and how the tradition was passed through the generations. Most countries weave rugs using the Persian knot. There are various kinds of knots, to name a few: Ghiordes, senneh, Tibetan and jufti. The knots are beaten down to ensure the carpet pile is compact. Hand-knotting is the most intricate and labour-intensive carpet weaving process in use today. It requires good hand eye coordination, dexterity of hand, a steady temperament and most of all, a little soul. There is a distinct artistic harmony to this skill, which seems to bind the soul of the weaver to the rug. This is why each rug holds an individuality that is difficult to reproduce ever again. Now you know why a knotted rug takes much longer to create and are more expensive than other types of rugs.
The finished carpet is taken off from the loom and the designs and patterns are trimmed using scissors. The carpet is checked for dimensions and against colour, pile quality and detail. After which it is cut to the desired size and polished which is called shearing. This is controlled by a machine and prepares the carpet for the finer aspects of finishing.
Carpets are finished in many ways, depending on the design. Boundaries between patterns are trimmed and cleared up and pile lines are sorted by hand. Embossing helps lift the pattern off the surface which is seen in our sculpted carpet collection. It is a process of shearing areas of the rug pile to create a three-dimensional look. Typically, sculpting accentuates the design in the rug. This process is very difficult and is performed only by highly skilled artisans. This way there are different kinds of finishes like textured, Saxony, cut pile, loop pile. All of these add depth and distinction to the carpet. Surging of the carpet defines its finished size. A craftsman loops yarn around the edges effectively marking the final steps in the making of a Hands carpet.
|Trimming the carpets|
Lastly, the carpet is washed by soaking it in water and then the water is squeezed out which removes the dirt and any surplus dye. This way the carpet is washed several times until all the dust, detergent, dirt and yarn particles are removed. The carpet is then laid flat on the ground, and is cleaned by fresh water by forcing the water on the carpet with the hose. 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 to stabilise the colours. Meanwhile, the colours fade slightly, giving the carpet its beautiful hue.
|The last touch|
Before the carpet is sold, it is checked thoroughly and then rolled and packed. You will find a Hands label on every carpet.
|Hands labels are stitched on the finished carpets|
Your handmade carpet is ready
This is the story of the handmade carpet and all this happens in-house and seamlessly integrated in a tucked away place called Bhadohi. The carpet not only displays a perfect craftsmanship but also is a collective reflection of passion, time and dedication of the people involved in all stages of a handmade carpet. Only a person with a keen eye for detail and an art lover will acknowledge and understand the ardour and rigorous work that has gone into making each carpet. If you desire to have one, you can get it customized to your taste and enjoy what the graceful plush carpet that Hands has to offer.