Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pray Tell: What is a Frieze Carpet?

You're considering carpet styles, and someone tells you about 'friezes' [pronouncing it 'fre-zays' as opposed to 'freezes' from ancient roman architecture]. What comes to mind?

I had never heard of the term until I joined the Wear-Dated carpet fiber group. I had to have someone [actually a couple of someones] show me what it meant.

For this post, I asked our Wear-Dated group for perspective on the carpet style [which Elizabeth refers to in The Carpetology Guide to Buying Carpet: Step 2 - Options & Decisions] itself as well as an explanation for the name.

The best story - and the one I'm sticking with - comes from Greer Leisz, our Regional Manager in the Central Region who says:

"The story I've heard about is that the term Frieze comes from the dog breed Bichon Frise (being a dog lover, I love this explanation). The idea is that frieze carpet looks like the curly coat of a Bichon Frise dog (see attached photo). "

[Now, I have not yet run to ground how the 'frise' in Bichon Frise became 'frieze.' Maybe just for phonetics? I'll let you know if I come across anything credible.]

Friezes belong to a sub-category of textures that you might call 'Twists' which includes Shags and Cables. Shags and Cables being extreme versions [i.e., longer] of a Frieze. I'll show examples of those in a future post.

Our official description of a Frieze [from the Wear-Dated website] is as follows:

Highly twisted yarns give frieze carpets a contemporary look and make them a smart choice for any active part of your home. Best of all, they're less likely to show vacuum marks or footprints than other cut pile styles.

What we've found is that what some people call a Frieze, others might call something else [e.g., a tight twist texture, a casual texture or even a cable/shag, a California cable or a short shag].

Rick Jose, our Middle America Regional Manager, considers a true Frieze to be "a thin yarn system with a tight twist and a kink at the end of the yarn stalk that looks squiggly." [Okay, maybe not the most fashiony image, but we're trying to establish a consistency of vision here for a Frieze. Can you 'see' what he means?]

Tom Menzel, our Western Regional Manager, describes Frieze as "a carpet with such a tight twist that the yarn is curling over; you walk on the sides instead of the tips of the yarn."

Frieze styled carpet is popular around the country. In addition to being more contemporary in feel, it's considered a practical choice for active households. Especially if the specific style includes berber flecks or barber pole accent yarns [i.e., two different colors of yarn twisted together like a barber pole] which can help mask or camouflage stains.

Frieze is really hot in the West and less so in the NorthEast - which prefers a more traditional looking textured carpet. [Interestingly, the Northern New Jersey carpet store I visited carried quite a few Friezes or casual textures and they looked good!] The Midwest and Central regions are closer in enthusiasm level to the West.

Greer explains that in the Central Region, "Friezes are evolving away from the real tightly curled (spaghetti) looking friezes and towards something not so tightly twisted." To me, that sounds more texture-like. [As soon as I get photos, I'll share them with you in a separate post.]

In case you are interested in colors, the Regional Managers say that currently in the West, neutrals, greens, golds and bronzes are strong. In the NorthEast, it's mostly muted tones without any kind of luster or shine and lots of beiges [Don't go by my atypical NorthEastern choices; I've either replaced my beiges with distinct colors or covered over any remaining beige with colorful area rugs!].

In terms of specific Wear-Dated Frieze products that are currently available in retail stores, check out:

+ Horizon's Granita
+ Karastan's Cabarita
+ Gulistan's Currydale
+ Tuftex's Sweet Emotion [which features a complementary barber pole accent yarn]

So, now you know as much as I do about Friezes!

As new Friezes or casual textures become available [and I get photos], I will feature them here - up close and personal!

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Anonymous said...


I believe the French word frisé translates to curly or curled.

Ed C.

CB Whittemore said...

Ed, you are absolutely right. Any ideas on how 'frise' became 'frieze'? Thanks for visiting and commenting.

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