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Weaving


Terminology

  • Warp: the threads strung upon a loom that are shifted to change the pattern of a weave. The weft is woven through and around them. Each single piece is called a warp end.
  • Weft (or woof): the thread that is woven through the warp to make cloth. Unlike the warp, it is usually one piece, unless color changes occur to create a pattern.
  • Heddle: the support that changes which warp threads go up and down to create a shed through which the weft is woven.

Warp Weighted Looms

The most ancient type of loom. The frame is vertical, and warp threads hang down from a top beam, their ends weighted.


Vertical Looms

Later looms attached the ends of warp threads to another stiff bar, which was attached to the frame of the loom itself, and off which more warp thread could be unrolled. Heddles could be more easily used, speeding the weaving process.


Horizontal Looms

Looms in which warp threads were stretched horizontally to the floor appeared in Medieval Europe during the 11th century, and were probably influenced by silk-weaving looms from China. By the 12th century they were mechanized, with foot treadles to raise and lower harnesses which controlled different warp threads. Instead of weaving a heddle bar through the warp for every layer of weft, or weaving a shuttle through, one only had to press a lever or two and the shed would be in place.


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