Weaving Glossary

by Susie Martinez

New weavers can often be intimidated by all of the new terminology. From treadles to heddles, there’s so much to learn. Fear not, dear weaver! We’ve put together a glossary of common weaving and loom terms for you to reference when you need it.

Boat Shuttle:  A tool for passing yarn through the shed, utilizing an inserted bobbin wound with weft yarn.

Bobbin:  A tube that holds weft yarn in boat shuttles.

Counterbalance Loom:  Also called a sinking shed loom, counterbalance looms operate by using pulleys and gravity - when you press a treadle, the shafts attached to the treadle fall, and the opposite harnesses rise.

Dent:  The spaces in a reed (slots and holes in rigid heddle reeds, slots in multi-shaft loom reeds) that yarn passes through to create the warp.

Dents Per Inch (DPI):  The number of spaces per 1” in a reed. Often corresponds to how many warp ends per inch are specified in a pattern or draft. For example, if a pattern calls for 10 EPI (ends per inch), then you would use a 10 dent reed. 

EPI:  Ends per inch, the number of warp threads in one inch of woven fabric. It is often used interchangeably with Sett. EPI is determined by the size of the yarn, the pattern, the end use of your fabric and how much drape you would like it to have.

Harness:  See Shaft.

Heddle:  In multi-shaft weaving, heddles are wire strands or Texsolv cords with an eye at the midpoint for threading warp yarn. In rigid heddle weaving, the heddle and reed are contained in the same frame, called a rigid heddle or just “heddle.” In rigid heddle weaving, the reed also serves as the beater, and when raised and lowered creates the shed to allow for weaving.

Heddle Rod:  Most often a dowel that supports string heddles. Used when multiple pattern sheds are required in rigid heddle weaving. 

Jack Loom:  A multi-shaft loom where the shafts rise to create a shed (also called a rising shed loom).

Pick-Up Stick:  A long slender stick used in front of or behind a rigid heddle; warp threads are “picked up” onto the stick and create a pattern shed when the stick is slid forward to the reed or turned on its side at the front or back of the reed. Can also be used in multi-shaft weaving to create patterns in doubleweave. 

PPI:  Picks per inch. The number of weft threads per inch of woven fabric. This will vary based on the size of yarn you are using, the end use of the fabric and desired drape.

Reed:  A frame with evenly spaced dents (or slots and holes in rigid heddle reeds) that warp yarn is threaded through. In multi-shaft weaving the reed also serves as the beater to pack the weft yarn against the warp yarn. In rigid heddle weaving, the reed is also called the rigid heddle, or heddle; it also serves as the beater, and when raised and lowered creates the sheds to allow for weaving. 

Rigid Heddle Loom:  A loom where both the heddles and reed are contained in one rigid frame, the lifting and lowering of which creates sheds. See also: A Beginner's Guide to Rigid Heddle Weaving.

Selvedge:  The edges of the woven cloth where the weft passes around the outer edges of the warp. See also: How to Weave Great Selvedges

Sett:  Often used interchangeably with EPI, refers to the number of warp ends per inch, and determines the drape and density of the woven fabric. See also: What is WPI, EPI, PPI, & Sett?

Shaft (also called Harness):  A frame containing heddles that rise or lower in multi-shaft weaving to create sheds. 

Shed:  The open space between warp threads created when the reed (in rigid heddle weaving) or shaft (in multi-shaft weaving) is raised up or lowered to allow a shuttle to pass through. 

Sley/Sleying:  To draw warp threads through the reed with a sley hook.

Sley hook:  A tool used for threading/sleying the warp yarn through the reed.

Stick Shuttle:  A tool that weft yarn is wound onto and passed through the shed.

Tie-up:  The way the treadles on a floor loom are tied to the shafts. If following a pattern, the tie-up is usually found in the top right corner of the draft.

Treadles:  Pedals on a floor loom or levers on a table loom that raise or lower the shafts to create sheds.

Warp:  The yarn that you wind onto the loom and thread through the reed before starting to weave. See also: What Yarn Makes a Good Warp for Weaving?

Warping Board or Frame:  A wooden frame with pegs used to measure and wind a warp.

Weft:  The yarn that is woven over and under the warp yarn; it is passed through the shed on a shuttle.

WPI:  Wraps per inch. This is calculated by wrapping your yarn around one inch of a ruler, snugly but without overlapping. The number of wraps you have is your wraps per inch, which is used to calculate EPI. Because everyone wraps a bit differently/more or less snugly, there can be some variation in how different weaver’s calculate WPI for the same yarn. See also: What is WPI, EPI, PPI, & Sett?

YPP:  The number of yards per pound of yarn. Within a specific fiber, the higher the number, the thinner the yarn. Of course, some fiber is lighter than others so this isn’t a good measure of telling the difference in diameter between fibers.


For more weaving help, visit Popular Weaving Resources. Still have questions? We love helping new weavers! Feel free to  contact us.


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