Hand knotted vs tufted vs flat weave: what's the difference?

How a rug is made or woven significantly effects the functionality, look and feel, and longevity of the rug. We create rugs using a variety of techniques - hand knotted weaving, hand tufting and hand loom weaving. We work with skilled artisan producers who are expert craftspeople in their field. Using this range of rug making techniques allows us to create a versatile collection of rugs for indoor and outdoor use. In this article we explore these different styles of rug construction in use by the ateliers we work with and their characteristics.

Hand Knotted Rugs

Knotting is an ancient and highly specialised rug weaving skill requiring remarkable precision, patience and fine craftsmanship. Hand knotted rugs have thousands upon thousands of knots, each one hand tied around individual warp threads, on specially designed looms. This meticulous artisan process creates rugs of heirloom quality of which every one is unique.

Claire Gaudion rug making

The intricately knotted construction allows for complex patterns and use of colour as shown in our Fontenelle Rug.

Claire Gaudion hand knotted rugs

To add textural contrasts and enrich designs, the knots may be cut to create a pile, or uncut, making a loop pile finish as seen in our Portinfer Rug.

Our knotted rugs are predominantly woven in New Zealand wool, a luxurious yarn with beautiful natural characteristics for rugs. You can read more about the benefits of wool for rugs on our blog. Combining different yarns in the design is another way to accentuate pattern details, such as the inclusion of viscose which has a silk-like sheen and contrasts beautifully with wool. This technique is used in our Jerbourg Rug and Grand Havre Rug.

Following the knotting stage, the rug is taken off the loom and washed in the open air with clean water, and dried in the sun. This process allows the wool to develop it’s natural lustre and a wonderful depth of colour. The finishing stages then include combing - to produce a smooth and lustrous look and feel - and wrapping, or binding - where the edges are neatly hand-sewn in matching yarn.

A knotted rug is the product of fine craftsmanship and designed to last a lifetime.

View our Hand Knotted Rugs

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Hand Tufted Rugs

Hand tufting is a newer technique, that has been developed to combine the ancient craft of weaving with modern day technology.  Tufted rugs are made by using a hand-held tool that insert yarns through a backing cloth while on a frame. Once the tufting has been completed an adhesive layer is applied to stabilise the back of the rug and secure the yarn pile.

Claire Gaudion Handmade Tufted Rugs

Claire Gaudion Stripe Rug 

Tufted rugs can be made in a variety of designs, colours and shapes, but with less complexity and intricacy of design and colouration than knotted rugs. The rugs are hand finished using techniques such as sheering and carving, where the pile is trimmed to define areas of the design.

Claire Gaudion Rugs being made

Due to the faster weaving process, tufted rugs are a more affordable alternative to knotted rugs. Tufted rugs are not made to last a lifetime like knotted rugs, but will last a number of years. 

View our Hand Tufted Rugs

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Flat Weave Rugs

Our flat weave rugs are handwoven on traditional shuttle looms where the yarns are interlaced across the warp and weft (down and across) of the rug. Weaving on shuttle looms can create intricate weave structures (instead of a cut pile surface). 

Handmade flat weave rugs by Claire Gaudion

By weaving on horizontal looms the yarns are interlaced through the front and back of the rug, making them reversible and useable on both sides.

Shop our handwoven flat weaves rugs.

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Buy with confidence

Our rugs are made by skilled craftspeople using a variety of traditional artisan techniques such as hand knotting and flat weaving. Provenance and fair trade are fundamental to our company relationships and our suppliers are proudly endorsed by Care & Fair. Our comprehensive Rug Care Guide tells you everything you need to know about how to look after your rug and keep it in tip top condition and looking beautiful in your home.

Alongside our signature collection we also offer a design your own rug service helping solve design dilemmas by allowing you to create rugs to the exact colour and size specifications that will suit your room. We often work alongside interior designers and homeowners looking to create the perfect rug design to suit their home.


 Review by Joanna H...

 "I really enjoyed my experience buying a rug from Claire... once the designs were complete claire kept me in touch with process of making them india sending pictures on loom as they made. and when made delivery was simple quick easy. i would recommend gaudion without hesitation. Thanks Claire!"

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