Glossary of terms used on this site

Worshipful Company of Weavers

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Two or more yarns folded together. A cable twist can be a cord or rope constructed in which each successive twist is in the opposite direction to the preceding twist.  This type of cable is defined as S-Z-S or Z-S-Z.


A single cylindrical package of yarn not supported by an internal tube or bobbin (3½in (9cm) high, 6in (15cm) external diameter, 4in (10cm) internal diameter), normally of continuous-filament yarn produced in the viscose spinning industry.


A process used to flatten cloth by passing the cloth through alternate smooth metal and softer cloth-wrapped or paper-wrapped rollers. Works very much like a domestic iron. The machine is called a calender. A friction calender is used to give a glazed (as in glazing chintz), moiré or watermarked finish to certain fabrics which have been soaked in starch, wax or resin.  Also used for coating fabrics with rubber or plastics. See ciré.


The term calico, which is still used today, was introduced into Britain in the 17th century and was used to describe a plain weave cotton cloth made from carded unbleached cotton which had retained the small dark flecks (leaves or other vegetable matter) normally taken out in further spinning processes and bleaching. The name calico was given to all types of cotton cloth coming from the small town of Kozhikode (from Kolikodu meaning Cock Fortress), known as Calicut, on the Malabar coast  of south west India.  An act was introduced in 1720 by King George to encourage the manufacture of silk and woollen fabrics in Britain, to effect the employment of poor people, by prohibiting the use and wearing of calico.


A plain weave soft cotton or linen fabric calendered to give a slight lustre on the face of the fabric.  Originally a linen fabric woven in Cambrai in northern France. Also refers to a calendered fine bleached cotton muslin. Cambric grass is another name given to the ramie plant.  See also chambray.

camel hair

A luxury textile fibre which comes from the two-hump Bactrian camel or the single-hump dromedary found in parts of Asia from Turkey to China and as far north as Siberia. The main hair is coarse and strong ranging in length from 13 to 15cm. The soft underwool, used in the production of fabrics for clothing, is between 4 to 5cm long.


Thick, soft condenser yarns, of about 1s cotton count, twisted, plaited or braided together to make a much thicker soft yarn, commonly used for wicks in candles or in oil lamps. The term is also used to describe a fabric, often used as bedspreads, where the surface of the fabric is covered with tufts of cotton yarn which have been introduced into the fabric by a needle or hand operated tool.


Sometimes known as tjanting, is the name given to the Javanese instrument used to draw a design in wax on cotton cloth to resist the dye and becomes a batik.  There are two types of canting.  The Rengrengan canting with a single spout, used for drawing the outline figure of a design, and the Isen canting with two or more spouts, used for filling in the main areas of the motif and the background to the design.  See tjanting.


Canvas has become the generic term to describe many heavy, closely-woven cotton, linen, jute or hemp cloth.  The use of man-made fibres has now superseded cotton and linen in the manufacture of sail or tent canvas. Some commonly know types of canvas include: prelate canvas, manufactured for sails which can be treated with tar, oil or varnish, artist\'s canvas, cotton or linen canvas stretched onto wooden frames, sometimes referred to as kit-cat canvas, and a wide range of embroidery canvases for needlework and embroidery.  Some popular embroidery canvases include:  Berlin canvas, Java canvas, bincarette or ada canvas - a basket weave cloth, hardanger, panama canvas - a hopsack or matt weave, penelope canvas - a loosely woven stiff fabric in 2-and-1 weave. The word canvas comes from the Early English word canevas which derives from the Latin for hemp: cannabis. See duck.

cap spinning

A spinning system in which the spindle supports a stationary cap the lower edge of which guides the yarn onto the revolving spinning package.  See spinning.

carbon fibre

A modified form of acrylic (polyacrylonitrile) fibre. As strong as glass fibre and five times as stiff.  Developed at Farnborough, United Kingdom, between 1936 and 1964. Each fibre is finer than a human hair often about 7 microns in diameter. Is light in weight and is ideal for use in reinforced plastics. 


A chemical process of eliminating cellulosic matter from animal fibre. Cloth is treated with either hydrochloric acid gas (dry process) or sulphuric acid solution (wet process) followed by a heating.


A process of opening, disentangling, cleaning, separating and making parallel fibres, on a machine called a card, to produce a thin web which is then condensed into a single continuous strand and in turn, after further drawing, is spun into a yarn. The fibres which produce carded yarn have not been combed. Combing is the additional process by which a superior quality smooth cotton yarn is produced. See bump yarn, combed yarn, condenser yarn, cotton carding and cotton combing.


Cards used in conjunction with a machine invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard (1752 1834) between 1801 and 1810, for weaving, complex and elaborate patterns. A Jacquard mechanism, similar to the simpler dobby system, operated by punched holes in card. Each hole in each card allows for selection of a single warp thread. Each card represents one pick in the weft.  The most common sizes of cards have space for 200, 400 or 600 holes in each.  Further developments of the Jacquard mechanism have been made, some of which are used in knitting machines.  Modern Jacquard looms are operated electronically with computers determining the patterns. See Jacquard.


The term cards is often used when referring to hand or mechanical carding devices for pre-processing any fibrous material before spinning. See carding and spinning.