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Terms to Know

Following are some of the terms that most often confuse new weavers. Some of them are general weaving terms and some are specific to the rigid heddle loom. If you come across terms that confound you mail us at and we will add them to the list.

Beat The act of pressing the yarn into place with the rigid heddle.

Cross The indirect method of warping uses a warping board on which you wind the warp first before tranfering it to the loom. To keep the yarns organized a cross is formed at one or both ends of the warp.

Chart A graphic representation of a weave structure also known as a drawdown or drawup.

Dent This is a single space in a reed (see reed). You may hear some weavers refer to a rigid-heddle as an “8-dent rigid heddle”. This means that it has 8 spaces in an inch.

Draft A graph that contains shorthand instruction on how to thread your loom and weave your fabric. Rigid-heddle weavers typically use written instructions instead of drafts.

Draw The sequencing of the warp set up in the rigid heddle as determined by a heddle or heddles, a pick-up stick or sticks, and/or a heddle rod or a combinations of these shedding devises.

Effective Sett The number of warp ends in an inch vs the number of slots and holes in an inch. The effective sett is changed by cramming or spacing the warp ends.

Ends per inch (epi) The number of yarns in an inch of warp

Fell Where the last laid weft pick is pressed into place. The fell line advances as the weaving advances.

Float A warp or weft yarn that travels over more than one warp end or weft pick

Header Waste yarn that is woven at the beginning of a project to spread the warp to its full width and to provide a firm even surface to start your weaving.

Heddle The molded plastic piece in the rigid-heddle that forms the holes between the slots. On a shaft loom these are made of metal or string and move freely on a frame shaft. The rigid heddle loom gets its name from the fact that the heddles are held rigidly in place.

Hue A color’s pure form.

Picks per inch (ppi) The number of weft yarns in an inch of weaving

Reed This is a shaft loom term. It refers to a piece that is similar to the rigid heddle except there are no holes. It determines the sett of the cloth, maintains the warp width, and presses the yarn into place. It cannot create a shed like the rigid heddle. You may hear some weavers refer to the rigid heddle as the “reed” from time to time because they serve similar functions.

Rigid heddle A piece of the loom comprised of molded plastic forms held rigid by two wooden supports, forming a slot/hole configuration.

Selvedge The edge of woven cloth.

Sett The spacings of the warp yarns in the rigid-heddle.

Shade A hue mixed with black.

Shed The open space created when the rigid-heddle is lifted or lowered. Think of it as the place that shelters the weft. A shed can be altered by the threading of the heddle or heddle(s) or by using a pick-up stick.

Shot One pass of the weft

Shuttle Used to store weft yarn and designed to easily pass through a shed. There are many different types of shuttles. Stick shuttles are the most common shuttles used in rigid-heddle weaving, but there are also boat, belt, tapestry, rag, end-delivery, and rug shuttles.

Singles A single strand of spun fiber.

Structure A interlacement of warp and weft to form cloth. Some of the most common weave structures are plain weave, pick-up lace, doubleweave, twill, overshot, etc.

Take-up There are two actions that cause take-up. One is the fact that weft doesn’t travel in a stright line, it bends over and under the warp. The second is that when woven cloth is removed from the tension of the loom it rebounds. Because of these two phenomena you have to factor in extra weft yardage and warp length to ensure that you have enough yarn and that your final project ends up being the size you wish it to be.

Threading The way the warp ends are set up in the rigid heddle(s).

Tint A hue mixed with white.

Tone A hue mixed with gray.

Value Contrast The relative lightness or darkness in a hue compared to a grayscale. A good way to test for value contrast between two yarns is to take a photo, then tap the edit button and then desaturate it using the saturation feature by moving the dial to -100.

Warp The yarns held taut on the loom.

Weft The yarn you weave with.

Warp Density The number of warp yarns in an inch vs the actual warp ends threaded. For instance an 8-dent rigid heddle threaded with one end in each slot and hole is at 100% density, while an 8-dent rigid heddle threaded with two ends in each slot and hole is at 200% density.

Liz Gipson Widgets
terms to know