Did you know you could weave your very own silk or wool carpet?
All it takes is decades of training, access to the right materials, and about 9 months of full-time labor.
The sheer amount of labor required to make a single carpet is the reason why hand-woven carpets are few in number and incredibly expensive to buy. A woman will sit at her loom every day and knot fibers from dawn to dusk. She will complete an average of two rows of knots per day until she is finished, as much as six years after she starts.
The “Turkish” carpet is considered among the most expensive and highest quality, according to our guide. Their use of a double knot in the weaving process is unique to the country. It takes longer to weave, but can last for hundreds of years before wearing out. Indeed, the carpets we tested today were extremely comfortable and well made.
How does the weaver follow intricate patterns and designs? Next time you walk on a carpet, turn it over. On the underside, you’ll see what appears to be a grid, like the screen of your computer, with every knot equaling one pixel. The weaver uses another carpet, or a printed pattern to guide her design. After some time, however, she memorizes it, speeding up the production. As I watched one weaver, she barely glanced at it, and how she managed to knot each color correctly was a mystery (the threads were so close together!)
A single carpet can have hundreds of thousands of knots per square yard. With silk, that number can climb past one million. It takes extreme patience and finesse to hand weave a carpet, and yet for a long time this was a woman’s source of income, and a way to pass time during long winter months. The skill of carpet weaving has been passed down for generations, mother to daughter, a tradition that continues today but is dying as the youth moves to the big cities. Those who remain are proud of their traditions and craft, something we saw as one seller laid out dozens of carpets for our inspection, ready for markets and eventually, lucky people’s homes.
So how much does the massive six-year carpet cost? $52,000, thanks to Turkey’s low exchange rate. The most beautiful, however, can sell for millions.