We visited an Oriental carpet business in Yonezawa where we saw pile carpets being made and a studio with amazing carpets and historical photos. They make hand knotted and not-hand-knotted carpets. This was our first view when entering the factory. It is a hand knotted carpet on the loom. Notice all the cones of dyed yarns for the many shades and colors needed for this carpet.
On the left beside the loom are the current colors of yarn needed for this area being knotted and the skeins so each yarn can be pulled out when the end is pulled to the loom to make a knot.
To make the knots each yarn is composed of several yarns.
Here is the color card with all the colors needed for this small carpet.
Six workers are hand knotting a huge carpet. All are working on the same row of knots. Then the one on the left will begin weaving in a weft thread and by the time that weft reaches the right-hand weaver she will have completed her section of knots and is ready to finish the row of plain weave (over one warp thread and under the next.) There will be one or two of these over one, under one weft threads woven in between each row of knots.
To make one knot, the weaver pulls the end of the group of threads from the ball above her, makes the knot, then cuts the yarn with the knife in her right hand. Later, these pile yarns will be cut so all the pile is even (or perhaps sculpted).
Color cards show that the exact color of a pile yarn will be that of the cut ends of the yarns, not the color of the length of the yarn itself.
You can tell if a carpet is hand knotted by looking at the back side. You can see the back sides of the individual knots.
The knots themselves are not actually what we think of as knots. There are two types of knots used for pile carpets. This is probably the knot used. It’s called the Symmetrical knot. Notice the 2 rows of plain weave between the rows of knots. I had a student once who forgot these rows and all the knots fell apart when she was finished!
This is called the Asymmetrical knot. It is used to my knowledge for finer knots so they can be closer together.
The carpet will be trimmed so it is flat or even encised.
Other pile carpets made at this factory are not hand knotted. A person holds a piece of equipment like a hand drill that pokes the yarns from the back through to the front side. The person works row by row holding the equipment perpendicular to the warp.
The back of the not-hand-knotted carpet needs a glued-on mesh to keep the yarns stable so they don’t come out since no knos are made and no rows of weaveing between the knots.