Weaving, like any other craft, has a vocabulary all its own, but it’s not difficult to learn weaving language.
Terms for woven fabric #
In woven fabric, warp ends (or threads) and weft picks interlace with each other. The loom holds the warp under tension. The weaver winds weft around a shuttle. The shuttle goes under and over warp ends in a particular pattern, then the weaver beats the pick into place. The fell line is the last pick woven.
Weavers describe a handwoven fabric by its
- sett or ends per inch (EPI)—how closely the warp ends are spaced
- picks per inch (PPI)—how closely the weft picks are spaced
- weave structure—the pattern in which weft goes under and over warp
In plain weave (also called tabby), the weft goes over 1 warp, then under 1 warp, all the way across. Each pick alternates: you weave one pick over-under-over-under, then the next pick under-over-under-over. In a balanced plain weave, EPI and PPI are the same. Weavers can choose to spread out the warp ends and beat in the weft closely, creating a weft-faced weave (most commonly for tapestry weaving). Or they can space the warp closely and widen the space between weft picks, creating a warp-faced weave (often seen in bands made on an inkle loom or with weaving cards).
There are many other weave structures besides plain weave, like twill, satin, and block weaves. Here the weaver might use more than one warp or weft, or the interlacement pattern will include floats, where the weft crosses more than 1 warp.
Loom Vocabulary #
All looms perform the same basic task of holding warp under tension. On the simplest looms, the weaver manipulates a needle threaded with weft yarn under and over the warp ends. When the loom is complex enough to handle a shuttle, the weaver can use various tools to create a shed—a space between raised and lowered warp ends that the shuttle passes through.
General Types of Looms #
- Weaving cards and inkle looms make warp-faced bands for guitar straps, camera straps, decorative edgings. Holes in the weaving cards hold the warp ends. For inkle weaving, the weaver can use string heddles or Texsolv heddles to create a shed.
- Frame looms make squares or rectangles up to a fixed size. You can weave something smaller than the loom’s dimensions, but you cannot weave something larger. The weaver can make a shed with a shed stick, a weaving stick, or a pick-up stick turned on edge.
- Tapestry looms make weft-faced rectangles up to a fixed size, generally decorative tapestries. They may include a shedding device.
- Rigid heddle looms make lengths of fabric, up to but not exceeding the loom’s weaving width.* The rigid heddle, threaded with warp ends in its slots and holes make and change the sheds.
- Shaft looms such as table looms and floor looms make lengths of fabric, up to but not exceeding the loom’s weaving width.* Shafts (also called harnesses) raise warp ends to make the shed. On lever looms such as table looms or the Cricket Quartet, the weaver flips levers to raise the shafts. On treadle looms, the weaver presses treadles. Schacht currently sells two types of shaft looms: the jack loom (Standard Floor Loom, Wolf looms) and the countermarche loom (Schacht Cranbrook). In the past, we also made a counterbalance loom and a computer-operated dobby loom.
*unless the weaver uses a doubleweave weave structure