Known for their strength and beauty, flat weave rugs and carpets do not have knots and are woven on a loom. They are also called flat woven carpets because they use weft strands and warp to create patterns in the foundation. The fibers are stoutly compressed to form a smooth, long lasting surface. They are characteristically thinner because of the knot absence which makes them lower insulators. The most common fabrics in flat weave rugs are wool, goat hair, hemp, floss silk, silk, acrylic and cotton. Wool is the preferred fabric due to its workability but it depends on the sheep breed, origin and time of the year. Wool that is raised in warmer areas tends to be brittle and dry. Whereas wool reared from sheep in colder climes at higher elevations is silkier and softer. Wool has a tendency to wear fast, giving it a short lifetime. Cotton ranks second in popularity for its added elasticity; it can be woven tighter on the wefts and warp threads. Cotton generally lasts longer than wool.
Styles, Designs and Themes
Stylistic themes many include floral patterns, geometrical designs, and historical and cultural examples. There is no limit to the number of colors or color combinations that can be used. The compactness of the weave keeps dirt and debris from entering into the pile which makes them light on maintenance and cuts down on the constant need of vacuuming. Some flat weave area rug styles include needlepoint, kilims, Aubussons, plain, brocade and tapestry. Virtually any store that carries area rugs, carpets and throws will have one or all of these styles. They can also be ordered from catalogs. Many nations sponsor rug cooperatives, who enlist the finest artisans to preserve and carry on the traditional weaving craft. Rugs that are over a hundred years old are coveted by antique collectors. Sometimes artisans are sought out for their signature brands which can be quite high in the competitive carpet and rug industry.
Some of the best flat weave examples are found in the Middle Eastern countries where the best of the traditional styles are still crafted by hand. Afghanistan is one example. These artisans use patterns and designs that have been steeped in hundreds of years of history. The versatility in the lighter flat weave design has seen them used as saddle pads, wall hangings, throws, area rugs and prayer rugs. Many rug manufacturers have relied on the current manufacturing methods which utilize the machine loom. Mechanized weaving has two advantages: it ups the production and makes the rugs more affordable, and it is very fast which streamlines the process. Regardless of the weaving method, great care is exercised during spinning to make sure the fibers do not break, which may negatively affect the durability of the rug.