Wool is a fantastic fibre. It is pliant, durable, easy to dye, resistant to dirt and moisture, easy to clean, flame retardant, and it insulates against heat as well as cold. Wool fibre is also porous and, thanks to its ability to absorb humidity, it does not easily attract static electricity. These anti-static qualities also mean that wool does not attract dirt. The porosity allows the fibre to absorb dye completely. In principle, a wool rug retains its colour and lustre for its entire life. In contrast to other fibres, wool’s high nitrogen content gives it a natural flame retardant. Wool does not ignite if you happen to drop a cigarette or a glowing ember from an open fire. If the pile of the rug does singe, you can easily brush that away without leaving any ugly burn marks. Wool fibres have a natural pliancy that makes them resilient, springing back into place after pressure. That is why you rarely see any trace of footsteps or furniture in a wool rug. Marks from heavier furniture disappear after brushing up the pile. The ability of wool fibre to resist dirt is one reason for a wool rug’s lasting quality and long life. It is much easier to clean a wool rug than a synthetic rug.
Cotton has been cultivated in India on a large scale for more than 5,000 years. It is a popular, frequently used natural fibre that crops up in all kinds of home furnishings. Its inner spiral formation makes cotton fibre extremely strong. Its levels of stretchability and elasticity are low, but higher than for linen. It is highly resistant both to heat and light. We use cotton warp in our Kelim rugs that have many colour shifts in the weft row, and when stretchability is needed for weaving wool pile into the rug on our woven “flossa” rugs.
Linen is used both as yarn and as warp in the weaving of the majority of Kateha’s rugs. Linen shrinks during the first wash only, done before warp setting and weaving, why it keeps its shape as finished rug.. Preparing the flax plant for the production of linen yarn is a long process: from harvest, retting, breaking, scutching and heckling to spinning. The durability of linen as a commodity and from an environmental standpoint means that it is a fibre of the future – and one that retains its beauty. Linen warp is in a class of its own. A rug woven on linen warp guarantees a superior form stability. It is, however, more difficult to work with, demanding special skills both in setting up and in weaving. A craft requiring experience as well as expertise.
Viscose is a fibre based on cellulose from trees or plants. The names art silk and rayon can also be used, but are not so common nowadays. The American trade name ’rayon’ was registered at the beginning of the last century, when the fibre replaced silk in the manufacture of stockings – thus the name art silk. Viscose fibre is common in blends with cotton, wool or linen. Viscose has a shiny surface so it produces attractive effects when mixed with more matt fibres.