How to Weave a Kilim Rug

After learning the rug-weaving process, here’s a look at a different variation known as a Kilim.

A Kilim is a type of hand-made rug which does not have any knots and therefore no pile. It is flat-woven and typically looks identical from the back and the front. Before the introduction of knots, Kilims were part of the early fabrics woven. Note: steps in building a foundation are essentially the same for both a flat-woven and a piled rug.
It’s important to note that “kilim” is being used in two contexts: One is an adverb that describes the weaving technique, and the other is a noun used to identify the foundation of each rug.

The first part of weaving a kilim, or a flat-woven rug, is identical to beginning a hand-knotted rug.
We will pick up with this process assuming we have already woven a series of wefts to build the kilim as shown earlier, which is part of the foundation of the rug.

Note: For demonstration purposes, in some pictures I will use white and blue colored warp yarns to represent the right and the left warps, respectively.
The picture below shows the completed process of building the foundation and the completed kilim (the noun, or foundation):

At this point when weaving a knotted rug, we would begin to tie knots. However, in a kilim, we apply the wool as though we were running wefts across. In the picture below, we begin by running the wool across under the right (white) warps. Alternatively, it could have begun under the left (blue) warps.

After the weft is run across, we secure it by beating it down with the comb (Refer to Adding Wefts lesson for more details).

The next row of weft is run by moving the shed, which runs under the left (blue) warp.
After the weft has been run across, we secure it by beating it down with the comb again.

This process of layering rows (wefts) of wool may be repeated several times as needed to fulfill the intended design. At some point, however, the design will require us to add more colors. In the pictures below, note the gaps that have been left in anticipation of the next colors (green, in this case) to be added.

Here is a series of pictures depicting the progression of the piece.

Inevitably, the weaver will run out of wool and will need to add more. This is accomplished by overlapping pieces of wool as shown below. The extra pieces are snipped off later as part of the finishing of the rug.

This process of layering rows (wefts) of wool continues until the kilim is completed. In the same way as a hand-knotted rug, a final cotton kilim is woven, followed by two rows of double knots. Note that the front and the back of a kilim weave look identical.
As is the nature of this type of weave, the surface remains fuzzy due to the wool fiber itself. The extra fuzz is burned off once the piece is complete.
Note the difference below, as the right section has been burned and finished.

Here is the final piece:

If you are curious to learn more, my eBook The Art of Oriental Rugs – A Weaver’s Perspective shows you: 1) how to identify a weave** and how different techniques produce “recognizable” variations in different regions, 2) maps with geographical views of where rugs are woven in the country of Iran and how the regional weaves influence each other, and 3) 750+ close-up pictures of weaves from 170+ rug-weaving regions in Iran and around the globe. This, I humbly hope, will be seen as an indispensable addition to any library.

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How to Weave a Kilim Rug

After learning the rug-weaving process, here’s a look at a different variation known as a Kilim.

A Kilim is a type of hand-made rug which does not have any knots and therefore no pile. It is flat-woven and typically looks identical from the back and the front. Before the introduction of knots, Kilims were part of the early fabrics woven. Note: steps in building a foundation are essentially the same for both a flat-woven and a piled rug.
It’s important to note that “kilim” is being used in two contexts: One is an adverb that describes the weaving technique, and the other is a noun used to identify the foundation of each rug.

The first part of weaving a kilim, or a flat-woven rug, is identical to beginning a hand-knotted rug.
We will pick up with this process assuming we have already woven a series of wefts to build the kilim as shown earlier, which is part of the foundation of the rug.

Note: For demonstration purposes, in some pictures I will use white and blue colored warp yarns to represent the right and the left warps, respectively.
The picture below shows the completed process of building the foundation and the completed kilim (the noun, or foundation):

At this point when weaving a knotted rug, we would begin to tie knots. However, in a kilim, we apply the wool as though we were running wefts across. In the picture below, we begin by running the wool across under the right (white) warps. Alternatively, it could have begun under the left (blue) warps.

After the weft is run across, we secure it by beating it down with the comb (Refer to Adding Wefts lesson for more details).

The next row of weft is run by moving the shed, which runs under the left (blue) warp.
After the weft has been run across, we secure it by beating it down with the comb again.

This process of layering rows (wefts) of wool may be repeated several times as needed to fulfill the intended design. At some point, however, the design will require us to add more colors. In the pictures below, note the gaps that have been left in anticipation of the next colors (green, in this case) to be added.

Here is a series of pictures depicting the progression of the piece.

Inevitably, the weaver will run out of wool and will need to add more. This is accomplished by overlapping pieces of wool as shown below. The extra pieces are snipped off later as part of the finishing of the rug.

This process of layering rows (wefts) of wool continues until the kilim is completed. In the same way as a hand-knotted rug, a final cotton kilim is woven, followed by two rows of double knots. Note that the front and the back of a kilim weave look identical.
As is the nature of this type of weave, the surface remains fuzzy due to the wool fiber itself. The extra fuzz is burned off once the piece is complete.
Note the difference below, as the right section has been burned and finished.

Here is the final piece:

If you are curious to learn more, my eBook The Art of Oriental Rugs – A Weaver’s Perspective shows you: 1) how to identify a weave** and how different techniques produce “recognizable” variations in different regions, 2) maps with geographical views of where rugs are woven in the country of Iran and how the regional weaves influence each other, and 3) 750+ close-up pictures of weaves from 170+ rug-weaving regions in Iran and around the globe. This, I humbly hope, will be seen as an indispensable addition to any library.

< previous
Back to lessons
next >