Our carpets are hand-knotted. That is simply the best way to make a carpet. Not surprisingly it is also the hardest, and by far the most time consuming. Knotting is a craft that is almost impossible to comprehend from the viewpoint of our frantic and impatient world. A 9'x12' foot Tufenkian carpet is composed of up to 1.5 million individually hand-tied knots. Who has that kind of patience, let alone? I have tried hand-knotting on many occasions and after each clumsy attempt find it more difficult to even imagine what it would take to perform that exercise a million times. By comparison, hand-tufting and other semi-handmade productions are fast and easy. No comparison at all, really.
It sometimes startles me when I am reminded that the complex design of a rug I am admiring is actually the accumulation of so many tiny, hand-tied points of color. Like approaching a pointillist painting and being amazed to discover that its perfectly detailed and coherent image is actually composed from so many meaningless dots so artfully assembled.
Our yarn requires a high degree of skill and an enormous amount of human labor to hand card, and hand spin. While most carpet production in the world begins with machine-spun yarn - simple, fast, and consistent - we choose to expend almost as much labor in carding and spinning the yarn by hand as is required to weave it into a carpet. After spinning it is dyed in small pots by hand. While the design maps followed by our weavers are produced by computer, washing, shearing, and detailing of the carpets are still performed by hand.
Altogether more than 1500 hours of artisanal workmanship is required to make each of our carpets perfectly imperfect, charmingly individual, and to create the almost magical connection between the finished carpet and those who share their lives with it. It is much more difficult, time-consuming, and costly to make our carpets this way. We choose to do it because it matters.
As important as craftsmanship are the materials we employ. While we love our silk and other natural fibers, wool is still the premier material for luxury carpets, and our fiber of choice. I used to say that “none of our sheep speak English.” Whether from the mountains of Tibet, Afghanistan, Iran, or Armenia, they also aren’t bathed, or selectively bred for desirable characteristics. Our sheep are unruly, living in harsh environments pretty much the way they have for millennia, producing the wools that gave the historic carpets of each region their distinctive character. Not uniform in color or texture. Un-scoured and retaining their natural lanolin, they are the foundation for making rugs of outstanding integrity. Very different than their distant relatives — well-groomed and genetically engineered — living-large in the manicured pens of New Zealand and Australia. In the same way our carpets are a world apart from their more machine-made competitors and are famous among carpet-care professionals for cleaning beautifully and reliably, and for maturing elegantly with age.