Materials Used in Rug and Weaving
Sheep Wool: The quality of wool varies according to the climate, the breed of sheep, and the time of year of the shearing. Wool from sheep that live in warm and arid regions is normally dry and brittle, and since it breaks so easily, it ends up being short and feels lifeless. Good quality wool comes from healthy and well-fed sheep found in cold regions or at high elevations with good grazing lands and lots of water. In the colder regions, sheep grow a full fleece to keep warm and their bodies store fat which then translates to a high lanolin content within the fiber which reaches lengths of 10 cm. and more. The wool so obtained feels silky smooth and yet springy. Wool from the higher elevations (cooler also) and from the spring shearing is considered to be the highest quality.
Wool is hand-spun by using primitive utensils called kirmen (drop spindle) and by spinning wheels. Women usually spin the wool during idle moments and the street while spinning. In hand-spun wool, the original length of the fiber stays the same through the spinning process - a fibre tahat measured 7 cm. before spinning will still measure the same after spinning. Wool can also industrially spun, but the hard twisting of the fibres by the spinning machines tends to break some of the fibres. Although the broken bits and shorter fibres can be made to adhere together through the use of oils during the spinning process, the fibre will have lost some of its strength, which, in turn, will shorten the life spun of the rugs to be woven.
Cotton: In rug and kilim weaving, cotton is used mostly for the warp threads, as well as for the wefts. Compared to wool, cotton is generally considered to be a more resident fibre and it is less elastic. So, tighter knots can be tied on cotton warps as opposed to wool. If very tight knot is tied to a wool warp, the fiber will break much more frequently than if the warps were of cotton. Consequently, woolen pile rugs with high knotting density counts will normally have cotton warps, for example, in Hereke, Ladik, and Kaiser Bunyan carpets.
Goat Hair: Goat hair occasionally found in Oriental rugs in the side bindings (selvedge), but is more frequently found in saddle bags, cushions, various types of stacks, etc.
Floss Silk: Floss silk, or art silk as it is some times called, is actually mercerized cotton and is used in certain rugs that are woven in Kaiser. Although not identical to silk, a somewhat similar look is obtained by mixing cypress tree fibres with cotton that has been washed in citric acid. Floss silk rugs are woven with natural cotton warp and weft threads.
Pure Silk: The silk used in Turkish carpet comes from silk cocoons in Bursa. It has a very high tensile strength and can be twisted very finely, plus it is quite resistant. The finest silk comes from the first part of the amazingly long single thread with witch silk warm spins its cocoons. When unrolled, the thread from one silk cocoon can stretch up to 25,000 meters. The best and the finest hand-woven rugs in the wold are Hereke silk rugs. A normal quality silk Hereke should have 1,000,000 knots per square meter. To day with tremendous care, attention and density, some exceptional Hereke silk rugs are woven with 3,240,000 knots per square meter; that is 18 knots vertically on 1 cm. And 18 knots horizontally on 1 cm. This indicates how finely the silk can be twisted and woven, as well as how strong and resident these piles can be.