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A problem that sometimes occurs with older rugs is the appearance of white tufts or flecks or small 1/8″ round, hard, white nubs in an area on the face of the rug. This problem only occurs in rugs woven on cotton warp.
The white flecks that show on the face of the rug are actually the untrimed ends of knots in the warp strings. Weavers don’t always use continuous lengths of cotton string as the warps–sometimes they tie together shorter lengths to make a warp long enough to string from loom beam to loom beam. Often the weaver doesn’t trim the ends of the knot in the warp string closely, relying instead on the eventual thickness of the rug’s pile to hide the knot and the ends of the knot. When the pile of the rug wears (to perhaps half its original thickness or less), the end of the knot in the warp becomes visible as a white tuft on the face of the rug.
Sometimes the pile of the rug has worn so low that even the ends of the warp knots have worn away, and the actual knot in the cotton warp is exposed. The warp knots appear as small round, hard white nubbins sprinkled in an area of the design where the pile is quite thin.
There are two ways to take care of this problem:
- There is an easy (though time consuming) fix for this problem. Using a small, sharp sissors, you can open the nap of the rug at the white fleck and clip off the end of the knot in the cotton warp as close to the base of the rug as possible. This doesn’t damage or weaken the structure of the rug, it just gets rid of the unsightly white flecks in the design. The downside is the time it takes to clip all of these flecks, especially in a carpet-sized rug. This can be an expensive undertaking if you have a rug dealer do the work, as it can take hours and hours to clean a large rug of white knots.
- Liquid dye is painted on the foundation of the rug in areas where the color has faded due to age and wear. Liquid dye is longer lasting than the some other products that are used to color rugs like permanent markers, because liquid dye penetrates more deeply into the wool.