Silk Carpet Weaving Process


Tools which are used to produce handmade carpets are not completely the same in the various producing areas. The most commonly used tools are listed below:

Before weaving a carpet, the weavers will first have a colored drawing of it, which will guide them in both designs and colors. The picture is drawn on squared paper and usually by famous artists and designers. The weaver must follow every intricate detail.

A loom is a wooden frame which holds the carpet while it is being woven. There are two major kinds. One is the vertical loom and the other is the horizontal loom.
A vertical loom consists of four bars. Two are horizontal - one at the top and one at the bottom. The other two go vertically from side to side so that it looks like a standing frame. The warp yarns are fixed between the top and bottom bars. A horizontal loom is simpler in structure. It is framed by four bars, looking like a quadrangle lying on the ground. The length of a carpet is determined by the distance between the top and bottom bars and the width by the two side bars and carpets woven on it are general smaller. Like on a vertical loom, the warp yarns are fixed between the top and bottom bars, too.

After the completion of a row of knots and one or several weft yarns, a special comb is used to press the weft and knots tightly together to make the carpet even and durable and to secure knots in place.

Other commonly used tools are scissors and knives, both used to cut piles and strands. At times you may see spindles which are used to spin fibers into strands, playing the same role as a spinning wheel.


Carpets are made in two different ways. The knotted weave and the flat weave.

Knotted weave is the more widely used method. As its name suggests, in this technique, knots are created. A strand is tied around two adjoining warp yarns, creating a knot. After a row of knots is completed, one or several weft yarns are woven through the warp yarns. Then a special comb is used to beat the knots and weft yarns tightly together. The weaving process begins at the bottom of a loom and as the knots and weft yarns are added, the carpet moves upward until it is finnished. Different groups use different kinds of knots. Some are symmetric; some are asymmetric while others are more complex.

To form a symmetric knot, a piece of strand is wrapped over two adjoining warp yarns and both ends of the strand are then pulled back together to surface between the two warp yarns, forming a cut. To form an asymmetric knot, a piece of strand is wrapped around one warp yarn and then passed under its adjoining warp yarn. The two ends are brought to surface separately, creating better-look designs.

Each knot is tied by hand. A carpet may be made up of 25 to over 1,000 knots per square inch (about 4 to 155 knots per square cm). A skillful weaver is able to tie a knot in about ten seconds, meaning 360 knots per hour. That means it would take a skillful weaver 6,480 hours to make a 9X12-foot (2.7X3.7-meter) carpet with a density of 150 knots per square inch (23 knots per square cm). If we divide this number by 8 hours it would take one weaver 810 days to finish a carpet of this size. A carpet as large as a 9X12-foot is usually woven by two or three weavers, so the above time can be reduced by half or third.

Flat weave is a weaving without the use of knots. The warp yarns are used as the foundation and the weft yarns are used as both part of foundation and in creating the designs and patterns as they are woven through the warp yarns. This form weaving way is seldom used and is more often found in countries like Mexico.

Weaving Handmade Carpets Step by Step

As you are aware, a carpet is consists of two parts: one is foundation, which is formed by warp and weft yarns and the other is the "pile" which forms the designs and patterns and in effect is the 'working surface' of the completed carpet. The pile is the upright end of strands, formed by knots, that may be cut or looped.

Various fibers are used as foundation materials for different carpets, such as cotton, wool or silk. Cotton and wool are spun into yarns on spinning wheels or modern machines. Processing silk is a little more complex. The silkworm forms the raw silk as it forms its cocoon. While the insect is still in the pupae stage the cocoon has to be plunged into boiling water to release the fibre. Workers plunge their hands into the hot water and pluck fibers from seven or eight cocoons and feed them onto a reeling machine to form a piece of single thread. Alternatively, the fibres can be spun by hand to make the silk threads.

These fibers must be carefully selected, classified, combed and all impurities removed before they are spun into thread. The threads used for the warp and the weft are used undyed but those which will form the pile are dyed to match the colours required in the design of the carpet. These colours as well as the design will have been drawn by the designer and produced as a colour picture for the weaver to follow. Great care is taken to ensure that the threads match the precise colours stipulated by the designer and that the final carpet is a true representation of his or her artwork.

After all these preparations, the process of weaving begins.

First, the warp yarns are fixed on the loom and starting from the bottom, the weaving gets under way. The weaver takes a piece of carefully selected fiber, such as wool or silk to form a knot on two warps corresponding with the designs and colors in the picture. The surplus fiber is cut off with a knife. After a row of knotting is completed, the weaver passes one or several weft yarns in between the front and back warps. Then he will use a special comb to beat forcefully on the row of knots and weft, in order to keep them tight and make the carpet even. As the work progresses he uses a knife or a pair of scissors to shear away unwanted fibers. These processes continue untill the carpet is completed. Finally, the carpet is bathed in a special solution. After being dried, the carpet will appear elegant, splendid, and full of lustre. A pure silk carpet has properties which act as sound insulation and has the advantage of being fire resistant.

- Last updated on May. 28, 2019 -
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