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Weaving and Common Weaves Information

The art of textile weaving has transformed human society, allowing early civilizations the protection from the elements necessary to hunt, forage and develop cities and cultures. Strands of fibers or yarns woven together create the full range of fabrics, from lightweight cotton to flowing silks to warm wool. Weaving as an art form has also flourished throughout the millennia, with countless artisans crafting intricate and colorful tapestries and carpets.

Weaving involves two separate threads, the warp and the weft. The warp threads lay vertically and are interlaced with the horizontal weft threads. A loom is a device that dates back thousands of years and is used to hold the threads in place while the weaver constructs the fabric. The warp threads are held in place by several harnesses on the loom, and can be raised or lowered to create a space, or shed, in which the weft threads will be introduced. The weft threads are wound onto spools known as bobbins, which are subsequently placed in a shuttle which carried the weft through the shed. While most commercial weaving is done by computer-controlled Jacquard looms these days, handweaving and manual looms remain immensely popular as hobbies.

There are three basic types of weaves: plain, satin and twill. The plain weave is the most basic of the three, and involves a simple pattern of weft threads crossing the warp threads in an over then under repetition. Examples of plain weave fabrics include chiffon and taffeta, and the finished fabric has a very consistent checkerboard pattern.

A satin weave fabric is easily identifiable by its shiny or silky outer face. This sheen is created by weaving four or more weft yarns over a warp yarn, or four or more warp yarns floating over the weft. The result is a finish that has fewer loops and tucks, and therefore reflects light more evenly.

The final type of basic weave is the twill weave, which has distinctive parallel ribbings, known as wales. The weft thread is passed over one or more warp threads and then under the previous number plus one, the offset creating the diagonal pattern. The side of the twill weave fabric with the more pronounced wale is regarded as the front, and the ribs make twill fabrics less prone to printed designs. Examples of twill weaves include classic tweed, gabardine and denim.

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