In Uttaranchal, woolen pile carpets are produced by Tibetan settlers, the Bhotiyas, and at certain weaving, centers set up by the government. Carpet weaving is a source of income for the Bhotiya Community. The foundation of the carpet weaving is done with cotton thread. They spin and weave the locally available wool. The wool is cleaned using a wild fruit Pangar, as a natural detergent. Before the wool was dyed with extracts from tree bark and fruit, as for today colourful industrial dyes are preferred. In some places of Uttarakhand such as Timala Bagar, even today organic carpets are woven from sheep wool dyed in natural colours.
In this process, raw wool is opened and separated so that each fiber is set in a straight or parallel position. Carding is done to ensure that no fiber is entangled with each other, sand or dirt is left in the yarn and short fibers are separated off. The effective carding allows fibers to flow smoothly while spinning and helps in better blending while knotting the wool. Many producers prefer the hand carding method to maintain the originality of the pure hand-knotting method, though the introduction of some mechanical carding has been made recently.
Dyeing and Balling:
Yarn dyeing is done after the hand spinning process. The colours are extracted from tree bark and fruit, natural herbal plants like indigo, mulberry, saffron, turmeric, walnut, camellia tea and many more. However, in the present day, a wide range of industrial colours is preferred. Wools are dyed in many colours. At present modern machines are used to match colours exactly. The dyed yarn is dried in mild sun, or in a shaded area to protect it from fading. Then it is rolled into balls manually, in order to facilitate the actual weaving and knotting.
The carded wool is spun into yarn in many ways. The count of yarn depends upon the quality of the carpet requested by the customer. However generally a 3-ply yarn is used and the 5-7 twists per inch are regarded as an ideal standard, with an average fiber length of 4 to 6 inches.
The rugs and carpet are woven by knotting the threads. It is woven on a vertical loom. Cotton warp acts as the foundation of the carpet. The threads are knotted as piles on this warp and once one row is fully knotted it is beaten to settle the piles. The weaver then cuts the seemingly uneven piles with the help of a big pair of scissors to make them levelled. The skilled hands of the weaver follow the graph to ensure the accurate position of the colours, shape and size of the design of the carpet.
After the weaving process is complete, the rug is taken off the loom for the trimming process. First, the unnecessary fibers are removed and knots that appear at the back of the carpet are hidden for a smooth finish. Now, the carpet is brought to a levelled surface and specially designed long pointed scissors are used to start the trimming process. The protruding woolen threads are trimmed and levelled converting into a smooth surface. This process enhances the clarity and originality of the design. All the patterns and colours made are distinct and clear, in accordance with the design.
Washing and Drying:
The rug is washed in normal water with natural washing materials (e.g. soapnut). Some natural herbs are also used for washing which leaves the rug clean and soft, enhancing beauty and colour. It takes nearly four to five days for drying the carpet.
The carpet is stretched on all sides and is tied over a metal frame for about a day to ensure its proper shape and size. When completely dry, the rug is thoroughly checked against the precise measurement and given a finishing touch and re-trimming is done to make it look elegant. The carpets are finished by shearing and sometimes contouring along the design to produce a bevelled effect. The finished rug is now ready for packing. The rug is rolled with center support of foam or plastic pipe to avoid wrinkles. Finally, The rug is packed by wrapping it in plastic followed by an outer, tougher layer of jute sacking.