This glossary is not meant to be all-inclusive, or the ultimate authority on definitions. It was developed from a few submitted glossaries and includes primarily words that refer directly to tapestry weaving.
However, the glossary is meant to be useful. So with that objective, we would like to experiment with a “Wikipedia” style glossary. You can:
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add to, or modify the definition of one of the words already in the glossary.
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Abrash – Slight variations in the weft color due to different dye lots, or to differences in dye absorption in the same dye lot.
Arrondiment – (French) Soumak.
Aubusson – (French) A city in France in which many commercial, low warp ateliers are located. The word is often used to refer, in a generic way, to low warp weaving.
Awl – A pointed, metal instrument used for piercing small holes in leather, wood, etc. Weavers use awls to loosen, or pick apart, the densely packed weft and to manipulate the surface of the woven fabric.
Battage– (French) A woven technique used for shading and transparencies in which the number of full passes of two or more colors changes in a proportional manner.
Beams – Rollers on a loom, the warp beam holds the extra warp and the cloth beam holds the finished cloth.
Beat – To force down the weft, usually with a beater, or the point of a bobbin.
Beater– Heavy tool with teeth used to compress the weft into the bed of cloth, usually applied with some force, also known as a comb.
Block – A finishing procedure used to flatten and square a completed tapestry. The tapestry is fixed onto a surface and gently steamed.
Bobbin– Tool on which the weft is wound in an orderly fashion and which is passed between the sheds of the warp. A pointed bobbin is traditionally used in high-warp weaving. A bobbin with two blunt ends is traditionally used in low warp weaving.
Wool weft yarn, high warp bobbins and beater
Photo credit: Mary Lane
Broche – (French) Bobbin (high warp) with one pointed end.
Butterfly – A small hank of weft yarn wound around the little finger and thumb, and tied with a knot.
Fil plein – (French) Full thread, also known as a hill, or a high thread.
Fil creux – (French) Hollow thread, also known as a valley, or a low thread.
Fils de croisure (French) – High warp term for the set of threads whose shed is made by a shed stick.
Fils de lice (French) – High warp term for the set of threads whose shed is made by pulling the heddles.
Finishing – The process of blocking and securing warp ends after the tapestry has been cut off the loom.
Float – Weft thread that misses one or more warps and floats on the surface.
Flute – (French) Low warp bobbin.
Full warp– Warp thread that is covered by the preceding half-pass. Also called a hill, or high. A full warp is next to a hollow warp, also known as a valley, or low warp.
Flying Shuttle – A supplementary weft thread or threads that describes a line/lines in any direction, which lies on the surface of the tapestry but is, at the same time, integrated with the main weave as the tapestry is woven.
Gobelin– (French) Officially, 'Manufacture Nationale des Gobelins', established in 1662. A French, state supported manufactory for, among other things, tapestry weaving. The name, Gobelin, was the name of a family of dyers who originally inhabited the location of the manufactory. The term is used to refer, in a generic way, to high warp weaving.
Lazy lines – A tradition in Kilims and Navajo rugs in which a large area of a single color is broken into smaller areas for weaving. Very faint diagonal lines can be seen at the joins between the separately woven shapes.
Leash – A loop of cotton twine through which the warp end is passed. Also known as a heddle.
Lice Rod– The rod to which the lices are attached.
Lice shed– The shed, which is made by pulling the far warps (which run through the lices) toward the weaver.
Lices – (French) The string heddles attached to alternate warp threads.
Low warp– A loom, which stretches the warp horizontally (parallel to the floor).
Scaffold weaving – A warping method in which the warp for the tapestry is connected to a secondary warp that attaches to the two beams of the loom. This warping technique is used to create four-selvedge weaving. The secondary warp allows the weaver to maintain a shed opening to the top of the warp.
Selvedge – Outside edge where the weft turns around the last warp.
Sett – Number of warp threads per inch or centimeter.
Shed – The opening in the warp through which the weft passes.
Shed rod, shed stick– The rod that separates alternating warps to form one of the two sheds, the open shed.
Shuttle – A tool for carrying and passing the weft through the shed.
Single weft interlock– An interlock technique in which wefts from adjoining shapes wrap around each other in one shed.
Slit – Opening created when two separately woven areas of weft meet along adjacent warps and do not interlock.
Soumak – Weft wrapping that goes over two warps and back under one (or over four and under two). The technique creates a raised surface that can be made to appear on the front, or the back of the weaving. Often used by tapestry weavers for outlining.
Stitch– The portion of a weft that covers one warp.
Support rod– The rod to which the lice rod is attached.
Sword – Flat stick used to separate warp threads and press down weft.