Handknotted Nylon? Part One/Five - The creation of a novel handknotted carpet made of ECONYL® regenerated nylon by Aquafil, Sarawagi Rugs, and Isobel Morris. | Photograph by The Ruggist.

Handknotted Nylon? | Part One

A collaborative project exploring the novel use of regenerated ECONYL® brand nylon in a handknotted carpet.

In collaboration with Aquafil, makers of ECONYL® regenerated nylon yarns; Sarawagi Rugs, makers of fine Nepali-Tibetan carpets; and Isobel Morris, designer of textiles and carpets, The Ruggist is contributing expertise – such that it is – as well as documenting the making of the first handknotted carpet to be made of ECONYL® regenerated nylon​. This is the first of a five part series of articles documenting the prototype production of a novel handknotted carpet made of ECONYL® regenerated nylon. Without further ado, this is the backstory and a peek at the beginnings of the process.

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Advertising Perspective

What is being sold isn't always what you're buying.

Have you ever taken a really close look at advertising, and in the process asked yourself: ‘What is the company trying to convey?’ Me too… , me too… . But this is not that per se, rather this is a conceptualization – of my own doing – which illustrates the point that advertising should sell you the product, not a fantasy world full of aspiration and faux reality. Shown here is one of my favourite things, the Picnic Lounge by Fatboy. This first photo – while striking and attention grabbing – is worth a thousand words about how the person or persons soon to eat lunch here (Disclosure: It was me and my fiancé.) is an idiot with no regard for personal safety nor comfort.

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Shibori Style | An Exploration

A discussion of the aesthetic and technique as it relates to handknotted rugs and carpets.

From Nathan Tucker of Lapchi’s Rug Design Studio in Chicago, Illinois: ‘I guess when it comes to reïnterpreting a certain medium or artistry into handknotted carpets, there’s always going to be a challenge, depending on how close of an analogue to the original inspiration you’re trying to achieve. In shibori’s case, the general patterning is something that’s pretty easy to recreate with a graphed knot. Specifically, the itajime technique of shibori is something you see a lot of; the more geometric style of block/resist dying.’

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It's Not the Knots... Sort of. 'Mameluka V A' by Rica Basagoiti. The Ruggist.

It’s Not the Knots. Sort of…!

The knot count of a handmade rug is an indicator of quality, but (k)not the only one.

Of all the technical details one could discuss regarding the craft of handknotted rug and carpet making, one stands apart as perhaps the most easily misconstrued, misrepresented, and misunderstood: knot count. This confusion arises for a variety of reasons too numerous to list, but suffice it to say knot count has tended  – rightly, wrongly, or otherwise – to be used as an indicator of rug quality due to its easily discernible and quantifiable value: the number of knots per square unit of measure. As such there is an expedience in saying a higher number of knots equates to a ‘better’ quality rug. Hmmm…. Yes, but that is not the full story.

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Materials Matter, Bailed hanks of undyed wool at Khantze & Co. in Kathmandu await dying and then knotting into fine handmade Nepali-Tibetan carpets. | Photograph by The Ruggist.

Materials Matter | Wool, et alia.

Aesthetics aside, a well crafted carpet is only as 'good' as what it is made from.

For rug and carpet traditionalists, hmm, fundamentalists, umm, aficionados, umm… …for those who adhere to the use of time honoured materials, there can be but only one material – perhaps we should say fibre – that stands proud: wool. However, as illustrated herein by the photograph of bailed hanks of undyed wool yarn awaiting processing, the crafting of carpet does start as a plain amorphous white-ish hued mass of materials; not all of which are created equal. This is true for wool – the types numerous – just as it is for the myriad fibres utilized in rug making, each with their own unique properties providing features – and the associated benefits – appropriate to equally varied uses and situations. When purchasing a rug or carpet endeavour to understand the fibres utilized and moreover whether they are appropriate or not for the intended use of the rug, be it hardworking at the front door or precious in a dressing room. 

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