Weaving often uses terms that can be confusing if you are unfamiliar with the craft. We've collected together some of these and defined them for you. Use this page as a quick reference for these terms are and what they mean.
A loom is the tool we use to weave. There are many different types of looms. They range from simple square frames to hyper-complex mechanisms known as jack looms. The basic function of any loom is to hold in place strands of thread while they are woven into fabric.
Warp refers to the lengthwise strands of yarn in a weave. Held under tension, it is the warp that attaches to the loom during the process of weaving.
Warping is a term for setting up a loom. It is the process of attaching the warp to the loom. The warp is held under tension and rolled onto the back beam of the loom, ready for weaving.
This is the most important step in setting up a weave. Uneven tension during warping will affect the end quality of the weave.
Weft refers to the strands of yarn in a weave that cross the warp. The weft and warp are always perpendicular to each other.
Fringe describes the lose ends of warp strands at either end of a weave.
There are many different designs for finishing a fringe. The purpose of finishing is to secure the weave and prevent it from unraveling.
Shed refers to an opening between warp strands through which you pass the weft.
A reed is used to keep threads on a loom evenly spaced. It holds every thread in a slot to maintain the tension, while still allowing them to move. They come in different sizes based on epc or dpi measurements, as well as the width of the loom.
epc and dpi Measurements
Epc or dpi values on reeds are a measurement for the spacing of threads. The smaller the value, the wider the spacing and the thicker the thread you should use. Epc is metric and stands for “ends per centimetre”, while dpi is imperial and stands for “dents per inch”. Both measurements provide a thread count that refers only to the warp. Epc is written as “x/10”, reading “x ends per 10 centimetres”. The value usually appears without the acronym “epc”. Values given for dpi are written “xdpi”, reading “x dents per inch”.
A heddle is a loop or hole that holds select strands of the warp. Moving the heddle up or down brings with it these strands and creates the shed. The pattern of strands held by the heddle creates the texture and pattern of the weave.
Beating the Weft
“Beating the weft” means packing the weft strands together. The tighter packed the weft, the stiffer the weave. Loose weaves are more delicate while tighter weaves hold together better as fabric. On most looms, you use the reed to beat the weft.
Rigid Heddle Loom
A rigid heddle loom features reeds with rigid heddles. Each heddle is a bar on the reed with a small hole in the centre of it. Setting up the loom requires pulling a thread through every slot and heddle. The strands in the slots are allowed to move freely, while those in the heddle move up or down to create the shed.