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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.

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 chart that instructs the weaver on how to thread the heddles, tie-up shafts, and treadle a pattern, typically used for a floor or table loom. A few drafts can be translated to the rigid-heddle loom by using pick-up sticks. Any pattern may be picked-up in front of the rigid-heddle.

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 at 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 to 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 gets its name from the fact that the heddles are held rigidly in place.

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

Plain weave A weave structure where the weft travels over and under the warp without skipping any ends. Plain weave can be warp emphasis where you see more warp than weft or weft emphasis where you see more weft than warp. If you see nothing but warp such as in belt or strap fabric this is called warp dominant. If you see nothing but weft as with tapestry then the fabric is weft dominant. All of these fabrics are still plain weave as long as there are no floats. You can intermix plain weave with other structure that do have floats.

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.

Shed The open space created when the rigid-heddle is lifted or lowered. Think of it as the place that shelters the weft.

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.

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.

Warp The yarns held taunt on the loom.

Liz Gipson Widgets
terms to know