Glossary of terms used on this site

Worshipful Company of Weavers

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This term is normally used when referring to a quantity of yarn which has been wound onto a cardboard, wooden or plastic cylindrical tube or support. Yarn packages include: tubes, cheeses, pirns, cones, perforated cones for dyeing, spools, bobbins or beams. If there is no support or centre the package is referred to as a cake. Sometimes a hank or skein is referred to as a package. 


Between 1805 and the early 1870s, shawls were handwoven in Paisley, a town near Glasgow, Scotland, with designs based on what was known as the pine motif. The pine motif, which became synonymous with the paisley pattern, came from Kashmir, India, where for centuries was the design source for all the shawls so elaborately handwoven from pashmina wool.  It is believed that the pine motif, which sometimes looks like a cypress tree, originated in Persia and travelled east to Kashmir.  In India it is more identifiable as the cashew fruit and seed pod, which has been the symbol of fertility for thousands of years.  Kashmir shawls or jamawars were highly valued as far back as Roman times.  These highly decorative shawls were introduced into France and then into England by way of Napoleon\'s officers returning from Egypt.  The fashion for Kashmir shawls swept Europe and cheaper reproductions were produced in Lyon, Norwich and Edinburgh, but it didn\'t take long for the expertise of the weavers of Paisley took over the sole production of the shawls in Britain.  The paisley pattern has now become a classic design motif.


Also palempore.  A chinz bedcover hand painted traditionally in Masulipatam and Satras, South India.  A hybrid of the Hindi and Persian word palang-posh.


A Persian word meaning woollen or like wool. Short fine, soft wool sometimes referred to as cashmere grown under the long, hard guard hair of goat (capra hirus laniger) found at 4000 metres in Central Asia. While the female goat produces about 200 gms annually, a male produces 400 gms.  See also cashmere.


A French word to describe trimmings, braids, cords, gimps, beads or tinsel.  See narrow fabrics.


A silk, double ikat fabric produced in Patan, India. The silk warp and weft are prepared and tied and dyed according to a graph design. Sometimes there are four colours so each time a new colour is dyed the whole process of untying and re-tying and dyeing is repeated. the weft is placed carefully across the warp and intricate images and patterns emerge. Traditionally the process of patola is used in the production of very expensive saris. Because it is a very time consuming process, a sari will take months to prepare and complete. See ikat


A fine smooth cotton, plain weave fabric.  Ideal cloth for the manufacture of bedsheets and lightweight summer clothing.  The term originates from the Persian word pargalah.


A machine or wooden frame over which a fabric is inspected for faults, illuminated from behind by natural or artificial light.


A highly decorative embroidery.  The term is used in northern India, particularly in the Punjab, for a piece of cotton about 80cm x 160cm embroidered, to cover the complete surface of the cotton cloth, in silk by village women, particularly Jats.


A weft thread in a fabric. Sometimes referred to as a shot. When weaving, to pick is process of passing the weft through the warp shed.


Sometimes called a linen prover or counting-glass. See counting glass.


  1. A simple device, known as the John Boyd Picker, invented and patented in 1872 by John Boyd of Castle Cary, Somerset, England, to select a single length of horse hair at a time, picked up by a rapier, instead of a shuttle, and introduced into the warp shed during the manufacture of horse hair fabric.  Until the Education Act of 1870 the selection of each horse hair had been done by hand by children. 
  2. Also a part of the picking mechanism of a loom that strikes the shuttle to propel it through the warp shed during the weaving process. See pick.
  3. Also a machine used in cleaning and processing cotton fibre before spinning. See spinning.

Dyeing a piece or length of fabric, rather than dyeing the yarn first before it is woven or knitted.


Any fabric sold by the piece (or length). 


The extra yarn or fibre which projects from the main structure and surface of the fabricPile can be cut, as in velvet, corduroy and carpets or uncut as in moquette and terry towelling.  The word is derived from the Latin pilus meaning hair. See velvet.