New Zealand has become the largest producer of wool in the world and is second only to Australia in wool exports, so it is not at all surprising that a lot of wool animal print rug are made with New Zealand wool. Much of the wool found in exotic carpets, even Persian rugs, Chinese rugs and carpets from many other countries, get their wool from New Zealand due to it’s renowned high quality.
Many contemporary wool animal print rug manufacturers, and Persian rug dealers, advertise this fact because people are aware of the rigorous inspection and grading system used in New Zealand as well as the high standard of how sheep are cared for, the climate, the abundant vegetation, the manner sheered, the length of the hair and many other factors that wool associations like New Zealand Wool monitor.
However, since this wool is of such high quality and so well tested and controlled, it is naturally the most expensive and therefore commercial wool area rug and carpet companies, as well as the small hand knotted area rug makers and weavers will often use a blend of their own local wool and give it strength and softness and added quality with a percentage of the better New Zealand wool yarn.
Note: If you are searching online for 100 % wool, you may see a lot of companies advertise 100 wool animal print rug. This simply means 100 % and does not refer to the knot count, the quality of the wool or it’s price. Blends of wool from different places are still wool, and may be accurately labeled 100 % even if only a portion is from New Zealand.
It’s hard to imagine when you look at large wool carpets, but individual sheep’s hair is assessed, measured, selected or rejected based on the length of the hair and the place on the sheep’s body from where it is cut before it has been selected for use in a rug.
For example, sheep have fine, long and very soft hair on their necks, bellies and underarms and shorter or coarser hair in other areas. This hair is called qurk or kork Wool and is considered to be the finest wool which is used for weaving and also found in Isfahan and Nain Persian rugs. However, wool, when used to label clothing, weaving, tapestries, rugs and carpets may be labeled WOOL and you might naturally think of sheep, but it can also mean goat (like the Mohair from the Angora Goat) or camel hair (most commonly used in Serab rugs).
It is still wool, however New Zealand wool will be exclusively sheared sheep wool unless otherwise stated. If you are buying your accent rug from a modern area rug distributor that is well known in your region or if you are purchasing products through a reputable online dealer you can ask about what wool and what quality was used and where it came from and expect an honest answer. However if you are buying in a market or from an independent trader or importer who has select pieces that interest you, you may need to perform some simple tests to check quality before buying.
Testing Wool and Things to Check for when Buying Wool Animal print rug
Just to make sure wool is wool and not a synthetic imitation, burn a little piece. If it smells like burnt hair it’s natural, if it smells like an acrid chemical it’s not.
When testing your oriental carpets, give mohair rugs an extra look because sometimes the dyes used on this wool will de uneven or may have run one color into another. Small area wool rugs will look cheap if the dyes have run, especially after they have been walked on a while and begin to show their imperfections. They may also present a problem at the time of cleaning.
When looking for the exclusive handmade Gabbeh rugs, check that there are not white cotton fringes that will be a clue to their being copies and not true gabbeh from the women of the Zagros region.
Beware of Dead Wool Rugs
Not all pure wool is good wool. For instance in cheap or discount wool animal print rug, and many wholesale oriental animal print rug distributors that deal in bulk, know it is common for the makers to use the hair that is left over after the long stapled hair is selected.
They may be made into hand tufted wool animal print rug in unique designs, yet the second rate hair (that is short and of poor quality) used in making such inexpensive carpets and animal print rug will not last.
They may look as nice in a showroom as other more expensive pieces, but in fact will shed quickly and wear poorly. In the industry, wool that remains after the long hair has been removed, is termed Dead Wool.
Read More on Part 2