Common Weaving Terms You Must Know

weaving terms you must know to start smoothlyDo you feel lost when it comes to weaving?

Many guides, tutorials and online weaving courses use special weaving terminology that you might not be familiar with.

This of course makes it more difficult to start learning than necessary.

That’s why we composed some of the most important weaving terms that you need to know.

Weaving Loom Terminology

Dent

The holes in a rigid-heddle that the warp threads should pass through are referred to as dents. Sometimes rigid-heddle looms can be labeled by the number of dents they have. For example, a “16-dent rigid-heddle” contains 16 dents per inch.

Heddle

The heddle is a component that can be found in some looms to shed the warp threads more easily. Each warp thread will need to go through a separate slot in the heddle before you start weaving. This makes setting up a rigid-heddle loom a little more tricky and time-consuming than a frame loom.

The heddle can consist of either a rotating stick with groves or a rigid-heddle.

Inkle Loom

Depending on the type of loom you have, you will be able to weave different things. The inkle loom is often used to weave narrow strips and bands that can be used to make shoelaces, belts, hair ties, straps, etc.

Also read our in-depth article on inkle looms.

Loom

simple loom frameA loom is a supporting structure that is used to weave on. It will hold the warp threads for you while you are weaving. If the weave is finished, it can be removed from the loom and support itself without falling apart.

There are many different types of looms out there. But the most common is the frame loom, which has a rectangular shape and is often made out of wood. It’s popularity mainly comes from the fact that it is the most affordable model and best to learn the basics of loom weaving.

Other models you might come across are the rigid-heddle loom, lap loom, and inkle loom.

Reed

The reed is a piece of equipment used in a shaft loom. It looks similar to a rigid-heddle without any holes. It is used to keep a steady width between the warp threads and for beating the weft. But due to the absence of dents, it can’t shed the warp threads.

Sometimes the words “reed” and “rigid-heddle” are used interchangeably because the serve some similar functions.

Rigid-Heddle Loom

This is a type of loom that uses a plastic rigid-heddle to make the shed. Additionally, the rigid-heddle can be used to spread the warp threads evenly and beat the weft as well. Depending on how big the loom is, it can either be placed on a special stand or lean against a table.

Also, read our article on looms for beginners to learn more.

Warp Thread

The warp thread functions as the skeleton of your weave and holds the tension while you are weaving. It is normally strung vertically over the loom.

Normally the warp thread won’t be visible in the final product and cotton is used as the preferred type of yarn. But sometimes thicker threads are used on purpose to create a pattern where it is visible.

Weft Thread

The weft thread is used to weave between the warp threads horizontally. By using different weaving techniques and yarns of varying color and thickness, a decorative pattern can be created.

Normally only the weft thread is visible in the final design.

best loom for beginners(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Terms Used During The Weaving Process

Beating

After every row you weave, you want to beat the weft. This means you push the weft threads orderly into place. This way you make sure to get a symmetric design and even tension throughout your weave.

Although there are some weaving accessories that more advanced users may use for this, a cheaper option is just to use your fingers or a fork. If you are working with a rigid-heddle loom, you can often use the rigid-heddle to beat.

Header

The header is the yarn that can be found at the beginning of a weave. The header is used to spread the warp and provides the weaver with an even surface to work on. When removing the weave from the loom, the header is normally removed and thrown away.

Shed

While weaving, the warp threads are alternatingly separated in two different sets; the upper set and the lower set. If you separate these two sets you can pass the weft thread through the warp in one go. This considerably speeds up the process and makes weaving much easier. The separation between the upper and lower warp threads is called the shed.

If you are using a basic frame loom a shed stick can be used to create a shed manually. Whereas a rigid-heddle loom uses the heddle to automate this process.

Shuttle

the weaving shuttle is a necessary toolsThe shuttle is a standard piece of equipment when it comes to weaving. It is normally a wooden device which can come in many different shapes that is used to hold the weft thread while weaving.

When hand weaving, the shuttle is passed through the shed, rather than the ball or skein of yarn, to prevent the threads from becoming tangled up.

Some examples are the boat shuttles, stick shuttles, ski shuttles, inkle shuttles, and band loom shuttles.

Weaving Techniques

Plain Weave

This is the simplest weaving technique that everyone starts out with when they learn to weave for the first time. To create this pattern, the weft thread needs to alternatively go over and under the warp thread without skipping any threads.

Sometimes the plain weave is also referred to as tabby or linen weave. It creates a sturdy and long-lasting fabric.

Tabby1asm.pngBy JauncourtOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Twill Weave

The twill weave is well known because it creates distinct diagonal lines through the weave. To pull off this effect, the weft thread needs to go over two warp thread and then under two warp threads. On the next row, you then offset the pattern by one thread to create the diagonal lines.

The twill weave is often used for cotton. You can see is almost everywhere because it’s the weave used to make Denim jeans.

31twillsm.pngBy JauncourtOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Weaver’s Knot

The weaver’s knot is the smallest knot that you can make to connect two threads together. This is useful to repair broken warp ends or to connect two weft threads when you run out of thread or want to change color. This knot is relatively flat, so it requires minimal attention.