Glossary of terms used on this site

Worshipful Company of Weavers

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The threads(ends) which run the length (of the fabric) on the loom and interlaced with weft (picks) to form the fabric. See end.


The preparation of a number of threads (ends) which are arranged in order, number and width, parallel to each other and wound on the back beam on the loom. There are several methods of warping by hand: frame warping, stick warping using a hand-held creel, horizontal warping, sectional warping and warping on an upright warping mill. Commercial warping is always done on a horizontal warping mill.

water frame

At the time when spinning cotton was going through a period of rapid development with the invention of the jenny by James Hargreaves, Richard Arkwright invented the water frame. In his search for a constant, reliable source of power Richard Arkwright developed the jenny and set up his first water-powered mill in Cromford, Derbyshire, England, in 1771. The water-frame inaugurated the factory system and was able to produce a consistently even yarn which was more suitable for the expanding Nottingham knitting industry. See jenny.


The term weave is used normally to describe the structure of a woven fabric or the process of weaving which is usually carried out on a loom. Woven fabrics are constructed with two sets of interlacing warp and weft yarns. The warp yarns, or ends, are usually wound lengthwise on the loom, while the weft yarns, or picks, interlace the warp at right angles to produce the fabric.

There is a wide variety of weave constructions of which tabby is the most common. The main reason for changing the structure of a cloth, by the use of a particular weave, is to achieve the best combination of weight and cover for the eventual weight of the fabric.

The following weaves are the most widely used:

  • brighton - honeycomb structure
  • crow - one and three twill
  • double plain -  two interchanging plain cloths making a single cloth
  • herringbone - chevron or zig-zag pattern
  • honeycomb - three-dimensional cellular structure sometimes known as waffle weave
  • hopsack - 2 up and 2 down or 3 up and 3 down structure also known as matt or basket weave
  • leno - open, stable structure often used for cellular fabrics
  • satin - warp faced structure often with warp yarn thinner than the weft mock-leno like leno but simpler and less stable
  • plain or tabby - the simplest weave structure sateen weft faced structure often with weft yarn thicker than the warp
  • twill - 2 up and 2 down diagonal weft and warp floats sometimes known as common twill
weaver\'s knot

The smallest knot allowing a weaver to repair a broken warp end or two pieces of weft thread. This type of knot lies flat on of the surface of the finished cloth and requires minimal attention from the mender.


A narrow fabric usually using two ply yarns. Typically used for upholstery, luggage, conveyor belts and seat belts. See narrow fabrics.


The threads which are passed across and through the warp by a shuttle, air jet, rapier or water jet to form a woven fabric.


The quality of dyed and printed fabrics is usually indicated by the fastness of the fabric. In the case of a fabric being wet-fast, it means that there must be a resistance to the disappearance, no matter how small, of the dye or print during washing and afterwards, when wet.


A corded fabric of the same family as cavalry twill, elastique, tricotine or gabardine. The twill is slightly steeper that cavalry twill and the yarn is usually bulkier that in the other cords. A rugged, hard wearing fabric usually made of 100% wool. (illustration whipcord and cavalry twill weaves)

wild silk

Sometime confused with, although the same as tussah silk.


Also known as wincey, made with cotton or linen warp and wool weft in a plain weave. Often made with 100% cotton yarns, the fabric is raised or brushed to create a soft handle. The word winceyette is a play on words which comes from another cloth called linsey-woolsey.


The name given to a woven blanket made from fine quality wool and heavily raised to give a thickness to the fabric and improve its insulation quality. Traditionally made in the town of Witney, Oxfordshire, England.


The word wool comes from the old English word wull. The Latin word for wool was lana which is also the origin of the word for wool in several other European languages. Wool is the hair of the sheep.

  • wool - English
  • laine - French
  • wolle - German
  • lenos - Greek
  • lana - Italian
  • lá - Portugese
  • lînã - Romanian
  • lana - Spanish

Of the many breeds of sheep throughout the world, a different type of wool is produced by each. There are five main types:

  1. Coarse long and medium wool from hill or mountain sheep.
  2. Lustrous and semi-lustrous long wool from pure-bred sheep.
  3. Short and medium Down wools from pure-bred sheep.
  4. Fine soft wool from pure-bred sheep.
  5. Crossbred wools from crossbred or halfbred sheep.

Tropical and desert sheep produce short coarse wools.

Other animals grow wool and hair which is collectively referred to as wool which are also widely used in the manufacture of textiles. These are sometimes called luxury fibres as they are usually more expensive to grow and process than sheep\'s wool: angora goat (mohair), angora rabbit, llama, alpaca, pashmina or cashmere goat and vicuna. The hair from these animals is generally much softer than sheeps wool and much warmer to wear.


The Woolmark symbol signifies that a cloth or garment is made only of pure new, sheep\'s wool.


A cloth woven from fine yarn which has been spun from combed wool, to remove the short fibres producing a smooth, lightweight and often lustrous fabric. Requires highly specialized finishing to create the soft, crease resistant handle which identifies a superior quality worsted suiting. Often man-made fibres are blended with wool to make lighter, less-expensive worsted cloths.