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The Importance of Knots in Carpets

September 30 2010

If you love hand-woven carpets, you’ll want to buy the finest quality you can afford. Knowing about knots is one of the best ways to get the most for your money.

The finest, most durable carpeting is made from hand-knotted pile.  The more knots there are per square inch, the stronger the carpet will be and the longer it will last.

Knot density is known as KPSI, which is shorthand for knots per square inch.  A good gauge is to look for 330 or more KPSI for a carpet that is a very fine piece.  More affordable carpets are 330 to 120 KPSI, which is considered a medium to good grade.  Less than 80 KPSI indicates poor quality.

The most common types of knots found in carpets are Persian and Turkish.  Persian knots are a single asymmetrical knot where the thread forms one loop around one of two warps.  Turkish knots are a symmetrical double knot where the thread loops around two warps and both ends of the thread stick up.

In a hand-knotted carpet, the designs should be very crisp and clean.  When you view the carpet underside, the design should be very nearly as discernable as the right side of the carpet. 

The carpet will also appear lighter or darker, depending upon the direction that you view it. The reason is due to the way the knots are tied, which results in the pile leaning one direction or another. The same weaver will weave the knots all facing the same direction, which you can see and feel with your hand. If the ends of the pile face you, or the nap is toward you, the carpet will appear richer and more vibrant in color. If the nap faces away from you, you’re seeing more of the sides of the carpet, and the color will be less vibrant.
Be sure to view the carpet from both directions to make certain the color will appear as you wish.  Turning the carpet around will change the color considerably.

Manufactured carpets are not hand-knotted, but instead are produced by tufting, knitting, weaving, flocking or needle-punching.  Most manufactured carpets depend upon adhesive backing to hold artificial fibers in place. 

The most common carpet is tufted because it is the most inexpensive and quickest way to manufacture a carpet.  If you’ve vacuumed up tufts of carpeting, you know this is not the quality you want for your home.   

While hand-knotted carpets will produce a small amount of lint, you will never lose tufts of carpet as you do with manufactured products.  The hand-knotting keeps the carpet strong and the carpet can withstand wear for many years. The older a hand-knotted carpet, the more beautiful it becomes and they are valued accordingly.  

When choosing a hand knotted carpet, ask the salesperson to demonstrate the quality to you. Run your hand across the nap, and ask how many knots there are per square inch. You’ll be buying an investment, not just a carpet, so it pays to choose wisely and buy the best possible quality you can afford.