What is a genuine flokati-rug? Well, it is a shaggy rug that is made from one hundred percent sheep wool (including the backing from which the tapering shaggy yarn emerges from) which is then spun into yarn and woven to create long loops, that are then cut by hand to create the basic pile.
Also the rug must have no less than 1800 grams of pure wool for every square meter. Another specification is that after the wool has been spun into yarn it has to be then put through the water friction procedure. Which consist traditionally of soaking the yarn in a fast flowing water fall, stream, or river: this procedure will unravel the yarn and the yarn will then fluff out to create a soft and luxurious pile. Those specifications were laid down by the Greek Government in 1966, to classify what makes a genuine flokati rug. (These rugs are still handmade today in the Greek mountains.) Because of the popularity of Flokati rugs, a lot of manufactures in Greece now use 100% pure wool from New Zealand sheep to make their rugs in the traditional way because of the lack of local sheep.
The normal colour of Flokati-rugs is just off white, but of course the rug can be dyed various colours. These rugs have gradually developed over some time to become the soft, luxurious rugs that have become very popular in many American homes.
Remember a lot of the so called Flokati-Rugs that are sold by outlet such as Ikea and a lot of other suppliers have not generally been made by this procedure, and might have artificial backings or materials.
They are mass produced in factories and in certain cases, there is no wool used at all for the shaggy pile: synthetic fibres are used to make the pile comprising of polypropylene. Purists think of all so called Flokati-rugs that are not crafted from wool to be imposters and of low-grade quality.
Some Flokati-Rug History
Flokati was possibly discovered by accident, either by the Vlachs society in Greece or perhaps maybe by the Macedonians at the time of Alexander the Great. Well, anyway these shaggy handmade rugs have experienced a rich past of over 2000 years or so, for which historians are quite certain of.
Greek history has always been venerated and studied for hundreds of years. Homer in The Odyssey gives references to Greek weavers. Also, Alexander the Great probably made use of flokati in his clothing and tents throughout the long winters as he conquered his way through most of the known world at that time, in 331 BC.
The word “Flokati” was unquestionably given by the Vlachs and is Latin in origin and is centred on the term “Flock” and the word ending “ati” which was a slang for “Like a: hence, the term, “Flokati” at first, signified: “like a flock of sheep”.
The documented history of Flokatis goes back to 1500 AD to the Vlach villages in the northern Pindus mountainous areas of Greece. (The Pindus mountain range runs from the Greek-Albanian border).
The Vlach shepherds reared and then sheared their sheep in these highland areas, and the women would then weave the wool by hand into stunning rugs. The skill of flokati weaving progressed naturally out of the Vlach shepherds’ practice of cleaning new sheepskins in the Pindos fast flowing river water. The shepherds must have noticed how the water made the backing tighter, while making the pile become as fluffy and soft, like the sheep themselves.
The Vlachs were people that had been culturally and administratively united into the Roman way of life. They safeguarded one of Romes’ most important roads, the Egnatia way, linking Rome, and Byzantium which is now Istanbul. (The Egnatia way was built by the Romans in 200 B.C., for administrative and military and purposes.)
The Vlach spoke in a Latin dialect to detach themselves from other tribal groups and also later from the Turks. Their main trade was dairy produce made from goats, and also sheep wool which they weaved to make material to produce textile products and clothing.
During the winter months the Vlachan merchants would go on lengthy trips to markets all over the county to trade their numerous merchandises, including woven goods, like Flokati-Rugs, blankets and their dairy foodstuffs.
Flokati superiority was determined by the total weight and density of the rug. Manufacturers took great satisfaction in possessing the most luxurious and weighty Flokati.
Historians know that before the vlachans discovered sheep shearing that they used sheepskin with the wool still attached to the skin, for protection against the rain and the cold, (the temperature up in the Pindus mountain range is often hovering around the freezing point mark).
The wool without the skin was not as good at keeping out the rain and the cold as the wool on the skin, so to make the wool more effective in these conditions, the Vlach weavers would use a method called flocking, a process of piling up many fibre fragments (called flock) onto the sheep wool. Using this practical process allowed the Vlach community to enjoy the positive qualities of sheepskin without having to kill and skin the sheep, which of course would, evidently, end its useful life of producing more wool.
This wool, after its discovery, was utilized all over Greece to make material for bedding, blankets, rugs and clothes. Although the Greeks and Macedonians were knowledgeable about this luxurious wool, it was many hundreds of years before the rest of the planet found out about it.
But, as prosperity grew in the late Victorian years and many people could travel to hotter climates, such as Greece, to avoid the damp cold winters at home, many of these travellers would come across these rugs and take them back home. And by the beginning of the 20th century, these shaggy rugs had begun to make their way into the homes of Americans as well.
At the time when shaggy rugs were at their most popular in the 1960s and early 70s, the plush Flokati-rug found its self in great demand: because it offered the style and vibrancy of the time, not to mention durability and comfort. Every home decorator who now wants that retro look is going back to the Flokati Rug to help put some richness back into their home.
A Bridal Flokati-Rug
Dowries are not in fashion anymore in most countries, but throughout history, up until not so long ago women had to bring something of considerable worth with them into a marriage, if they wanted to make a good match.
For most cultures, that meant a large sum of money for others, a collection of costly household objects. In the Vlach Pindos villages in Greece, it was a flokati rug. The Vlachs, took great pride in their Bridal Flokati Rugs. These bridal flokatis were of one solid colour. The traditional colours were different from village to village that was because a vegetable dye was used, and so the subsequent colour reflected the kind of vegetables available in the vicinity.
In those days all marriages were pre-arranged by the parents who would look a suitable groom or bride from a nearby village. On the day of the wedding, the Bridal flokati Rug would be used as a saddle blanket over the horse that the bride would then ride to her future husband’s village. The bride would be escorted by a vast pageant, which would comprise of the inhabitants of her whole village. The colour of the “Bridal Flokati would indicate to everyone from which village the bride came from. The Bridal flokati would be later placed on the marital Bed. A Bride’s wealth was measured by the amount of quality Flokati rugs she owned.
Why Buy a Flokati-rug?
These rugs come in many sizes and colours. They come in various weights. The weight is calculated in grams of wool for every square meter. The greater the weight, the more Pricey, thick, fluffy and plush the rug is going to be.
They are extremely adaptable because you can put them almost anywhere in your home even in the bathroom. These rugs are exceptionally nice-looking on hardwood flooring, and, of course, the bedroom: just stepping on to natural soft wool first thing in the morning is enough to set you up for the day.
Some people use these rugs as additional blankets, throws for the lounger or even as decorative wall hangings. They are temperature regulating, with their dense pile, they will help maintain the warmth in your home on cold winter nights.
They are quite straightforward to maintain: requiring no special upkeep. They will stay in perfect condition for many years to come, if taken care of properly.
They are extremely durable: these rugs can endure a fair bit of domestic foot traffic flow with no sign of wearing out. Each of these rugs has individuality because they are handmade, and so will make a great addition to your home.
A genuine Flokati-Rug is great for repelling stains and dirt. Apparently, this is also one of the attribute that made it so popular with the Vlach shepherds of long ago. Also the pile inclines to continue to look new and fresh for a lot longer than various other shaggy pile rug varieties that are produced with artificial materials such as polypropylene – which is often used to make synthetic rugs.
They are biodegradable and eco-friendly. They are totally washable. Some more facts on natural wool: natural wool is flame-resistant, odour resistant.
They do not stain easily: real sheep’s wool is protected by a subtle coating of lanolin, which is an oily substance, which is produced naturally in the wool. And can prevent any staining if the stain is taken care of quickly enough. But most of all, the greatest benefit of having a natural wool Flokati-Rug is to your well-being.
Wool rugs are hygienic: being a natural material, wool can draw in and neutralize pollutants in the air such as noxious oxides. Because of the absence of moisture in the wool, these rugs can also naturally repel the growth of microbes, mildew and dust mites: which are a big problem for people with allergies.
A rug made of natural wool traps allergens, dirt and bacteria inside the rug and away from your breathing area. So if you have children with allergies or asthma, wool rugs are particularly good choice to have in the house because they will naturally keep the air clean.
They are fire resistant: as long as there is no flammable liquid involved. When exposed to flames or sparks, wool will just smoulder and extinguish itself. That is why fire fighters’ uniforms are made of wool. Also wool will not melt, that means that if there is a fire a natural wool rug will not give off any poisonous fumes.
Some Tips to Look After Your Flokati-Rug
If you get your Flokati-rug delivered to you by mail, a good idea is, once it is out of its wrapping is to really give it a vigorous shake before putting it on the floor. Do this often because the more you shake these rugs, the softer and fluffier they get!
From time to time, to preserve the fluffiness of the wool you can, lightly rake the fibers across the rug from top to bottom, with an ordinary garden rake (a plastic or wooden one). You can also use a plastic hairbrush (wide-toothed). Brush the rug from its centre and outward until you cover the edges on all sides. You will get some sheds of wool coming off but this will not damage your rug, and it will stop happening after a while. From time to time you can turn your flokati-rug around, so that it will wear out evenly.
To Clean the Flokati-Rug
First look at the tag at the back of the rug before you do anything else. To see if the manufacturer has specified any particular cleaning method for your rug, if there is then follow instructions to the letter.
One of the best ways to preserve the freshness of your rug and to get rid of any loose food crumbs, or dust is to take it outside on a very dry day, and give it a good shake. Then leave it there for a couple hours in order to eradicate any everyday odours. If your rug has been dyed try then not to put it in direct sunlight because the sun’s rays can fade the dye.
If your cat or dog has been making use of your rug as a sleeping place, hanging your rug outside for an hour or two should be enough time to eradicate any smell. Pet hairs can be simply removed by a gentle brushing with a plastic hair brush.
Although a Flokati-rug does not easily stain, they will stain if the stain is left for too long so it sets into the wool. The thing about wool is that it holds colours well, so that means your Flokati-rug will look lovely for as long as you are quick to remove any stain. The longer you leave it the harder it will be to eradicate.
Be careful what you use on your rug to remove stains. Bleach will dissolve wool. Any ordinary household cleaning product that has bleach in it can damage wool fibres rapidly and leave large bald patches on the rug. There are lots of organic cleaners that you can use to remove stains without using bleach.
If the staining is not bad, you can then use a mixture of water and vinegar to eradicate it fairly quickly. Work as quickly as you can so as not to let the stain to dry. Now dab on the vinegar solution making sure not to soak the stained area too much. Now, blot the stain from its edge and towards its centre with a white cloth or a white paper towel. Try not to rub the stain or you will make it steep even more into the rug pile. If it is a solid spill, you can use a spoon to try and scoop up as much as you can. Then follow the above procedure. Then let your rug air, once dry you can then give the pile a light brush to restore its fluffiness.
How to Wash Your Small Flokati-Rug:
Your Flokati-rug will occasionally need washing. How often you do this is up to you and how much daily foot traffic your rug gets.The great thing is the more you wash a Flokati-rug the more beautiful and fluffier it becomes.
For a small rug the easiest and quickest way to clean your Flokati-rug is to stick it in the washing machine on a hand wash cycle using a gentle organic soap intended for woollens. Remember never use bleach or any harsh detergent, and do not leave the rug for too long in the washing machine after the spin cycle has finished. Hang your Flokati-rug outside to dry.
Kookaburra Wash (a natural plant base substitute for the usual washing detergents), is a great solution for machine washing and hand washing your Flokati-rug.
How to Hand Wash Your Large Flokati-Rug
Put the rug in the bath, with lukewarm water, (do not use hot water as it may cause the rug to shrink) and some mild organic soap that is suitable for woollens. Submerge the rug face down and gently agitate the rug by hand to get rid of any dirt. Then rinse in cool water until all the soap has been removed. Hang the rug up to dry. Shake the rug while still damp this will fluff up the wool fibres.
- Do not vacuum clean a Flokati-rug, because its long fibres will get caught which will damage most vacuum cleaners, but you can spot-vacuum the rug with the upholstery attachment.
- Remember to store your wool Flokati-rug with a moth repellent.
- Remember a machine made Flokati-rug is not genuine Flokati-rug.
Today, there are some manufacturers who have taken the rug production method one step further. What they do is they tuft the pile by machine in a pre-woven polypropylene backing. And from these sizeable fabrics they can then cut to the required sizes wanted by their clients.
These manufacturers are free to produce any kind of rug they want, but the thing is they have no right to label these creations as being a genuine Flokati-rug. This is not only deceptive, but it is also illegal.
Flokati-rug making has been a part of Greek the institution for centuries. The ultimate Flokati-rug exists and is obtainable to the shopper through numerous quality merchants and online. Unhappily, today we are seeing certain mass suppliers systematically deceiving consumers by labelling these substandard tufted imitation flokati type rugs as an authentic Flokati-rug made in the traditional way.
A Flokati Rug can really do miracles and make any room come alive. The look it gives to a room is so unique and fun. And remember that it is 100% organic and eco-friendly which is a great added bonus!
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