Hand Tufted vs Hand Knotted

We get asked all the time: what is the difference between hand tufted and hand knotted? Why are hand knotted rugs more expensive? Is hand knotted actually made by hand? And so on… Don’t worry, it does get confusing! That is why we have this detailed insight of each weave type, the process, what makes them unique and why there is a difference in pricing.

Hand Tufted

Behind every rug made, there is a skilled artisan, who has honed their skill to perfection. The whole process of the hand tufted rug begins with the artisan transferring the design onto a large piece of cloth known as the backing material which is then set up on a loom. They then thread the yarn through a hand tufting gun, punching through the backing material, and forming a loop. Lines are made along with the printed pattern on the backing material. Then these loops are cut to form the pile. Once the entire rug has been tufted, it is removed from the loom and another backing is added, which helps keep the tufts secure. Now the tufts are sheared to a uniform height or varying pile heights depending on the custom requirements.

At Rug Artisan we ensure our employees, that includes our weavers since they are the backbone of our company, are all taken care of which is why we have partnered with Goodweave. For more information on our partnership, click here.

Now this may seem like a relatively easy process but it takes skill and measure to ensure each rug has the best quality and feel to it. It is because of these skills that with the right care, a good hand tufted rug can last for years. The reason why they are cheaper than hand knotted is not due to lack of quality, rather it is because they are relatively easier to make, nor do they take as long. Hand tufting is a more recently developed method as compared to the age old hand knotting and with the help of the hand operated tool, it makes the process all the more efficient. The pile height (the individual fibres you can see on the surface) of your rug can vary with higher pile heights increasing the comfort and value.

There are a couple of features to look out for to see if your rug is hand tufted. Firstly, the back of the rug will have a canvas which is used to keep all the tufts secure. Secondly the fringe on a hand tufted rug will be sewn down or glued onto the edges.

Hand Knotted

A much more ancient and developed method than hand tufting, hand knotted rugs require a considerable amount of effort since there is no use of machinery. The process is completed entirely by hand. Hand-knotted rugs are made on wooden looms which are set up by creating a network of threads (the vertical threads are known as warp and the horizontal threads are known as weft). Individual strands of the yarn are tied into a knot around the warp with the weft holding the rug together. The fringe of the rug is made by leaving the ends of the warp loose. The entire rug is created in such a way by tying every knot manually. The speed and skill of the weaver determine how many knots he or she can tie in a minute.

This hand knotting process requires a longer amount of time than a hand tufted rug, with the skill of the weaver taken into consideration as well as the size and design of the rug. The amount of knots created in the rug can be calculated by checking how many knots there are per square inch (KPSI). These can range from 100-200 knots (in some cases there are even thousands of knots per square inch!). These rugs tend to hold their value for years to come, what we call legacy pieces, some can even outlast whole generations, which just adds to their value. They can be great investment for the future if they are cared for correctly (to check out our care guide click here)

There are different features to check if your rug is hand knotted or not. The knots at the back of the rug will reflect the design on the front. This is because there is no backing used as the rug did not start from a canvas, unlike hand tufted rugs which need a canvas into which the yarn is shot into with the gun. There is also no glue or adhesive used on hand knotted rugs for the fringe as the weaver tends to leave the warp loose at the end.

So the differences between the two can be summed up here: hand knotted rugs are entirely made by hand, the process is much more complex, takes a longer amount of time depending on the size and design of the rug and has a significantly longer lifetime. Hand tufted rugs on the other hand are created with the use of a gun, has a backing, has a relatively quicker and more efficient process, varies in pile height, and can last several years. These are all the factors in determining the value of hand knotted and hand tufted rugs.