Glossary of terms used on this site

Worshipful Company of Weavers

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Term Main definition
tablet weaving

One of the simplest methods of weaving a narrow fabric by hand. Instead of a loom the warp is manipulated by small square cards, approximately 60mm x 60mm, with a small hole at each corner. Each hole takes one warp end (four warp ends per card). A series of cards can be rotated to lift the warp and create a shed through which the weft is inserted.


A narrow woven fabric, traditionally of cotton or linen single ply yarns. Zipper tapes and Rufflet a tapes are in this category. See narrow fabric or inkle.


There are three interpretations of the term tapestry:

  1. A handwoven picture using a ribbed plain weave structure. The warp is traditionally of wool, cotton or linen. The weft, which is used to form the picture and covers the warp, is traditionally of wool.
  2. A type of hand embroidery using a needle, threaded with wool or cotton thread, to sew into an open mesh, base canvas. Often referred to as cross-stitch embroidery, with variations called needlepoint, gros point or point de croix.
  3. A Jacquard woven figured upholstery cloth. Constructed to produce a well defined, flat closely woven pattern.

The word tapestry is derived from the French word tapis meaning carpet or covering (for a table).

tappet loom

A loom with tappets or cambs which raise or lower the shafts to weave simple fabrics. Positive tappets raise and lower the shafts. Negative tappets move the shafts in one direction and require springs to return them.


A metal strip, attached to a silk reeling charaka, pierced with four small holes through which the silk passes during reeling. The strip of metal is parallel to the floor above the vessel containing the cocoons and hot water.


Traditional, authentic tartan cloths are usually made of wool in a twill weave. It is, however, possible to weave tartan, with any textile fibre provided that the sett (number of threads per colour in each warp and each weft stripe) is accurate and accredited by The Scottish Tartan Society and recorded in the Register of All Publicly Known Tartans. The Falkirk sett, the earliest known tartan woven from the undyed brown and natural white wool of the Soay sheep, dates back to the 3rd century AD. There are three types of tartan pattern:

  • Symmetrical setts
  • Asymmetrical setts
  • Equal check

Although tartans were woven and used earlier than the 18th century, clan tartans had not yet emerged. Sometimes the term tartan is confused with the term plaid. The word tartan is derived from the French word tiretaine meaning linsey-woolsey. See plaid and linsey-woolsey.


The Italian method of crossing and twining several silk filaments as they pass between the thread guide to the silk reeling swift. Known as the tavelette croissure. See chambon


The dried seed head of the species of Dipsacus, especially D. fullonum. Its head with hooked bracts are traditionally used in raising a nap on cloth. In many woollen mills teasel raising has been replaced by using rotating wire brushes. Spelt also teazle or teazel.


The unit of the tex count system. This is a direct fixed-length count system which is used often in Britain. See count.


The process which links the production of raw silk with weaving. Individual filaments of de-gummed silk are so fine that they become separated if not twisted or thrown. Throwing will strengthen silk for weaving, particularly in the preparation of warp yarn, and also increase the diameter and denier of a silk yarn, depending on the type and weight of fabric to be woven. Throwing consists of four operations, each requiring special machinery:

  • Bobbin winder
  • Uptwister
  • Ring doubler
  • Hank winder

A resist-dyeing process which is done by knotting, binding, folding or sewing parts of a cloth, or yarn, so that the dye cannot penetrate those areas. See ikat, patola and shbori.


The French term used for woven fabric. Tissue is, however, commonly used to describe lightweight woven cloths.


During the scutching process, which is done to produce fibre long enough and straight enough to be carded and combed, short flax and hemp fibres are removed. The short fibres are the used to produce thicker rougher yarns. The short flax or hemp fibres are referred to as tow.


Towelling is used for drying and appropriately should be made from absorbent fibres, such as short to medium staple cotton. However, towelling is also made with linen and other natural, absorbent fibres. Can be woven or knitted with Jacquard patterns or simply in plain weave with the loops as extra warp. There are several types of towelling, which include: terry cloth or towelling, turkish towelling, huckerback towelling, honeycomb towelling, crash or knitted towelling also terry velvet. Terry, which is synonymous with turkish towelling usually to means an uncut loop, warp-pile fabric. The loops are created by applying a high tension to the ground warp and varying the tension of the pile warp, which is wound on a second backbeam. The pile is created by varying the position of the fell of the cloth with the position of the reed. The word towel comes from the High German word dwahan, meaning to wash, from which the modern German word zwehle comes.


Tram is medium twisted thread formed by twisting 2 to 3 silk yarns together with low twists of l00 to l50 tpm (twists per metre). It is moderately strong, soft and has a good handle (feel) and is mostly used as weft.