FAQ: Weaving Terms

Note: This FAQ has just been added recently and is a work in progress. If have have suggestions for material to add, drop us a line!

What are warp and weft?

  • The warp is the first set of parallel loops you lay down on the loom. 
  • The weft is the second set of loops which are woven through the warp.  
  • Traditionally the warp is shown in the vertical direction, with the weft running horizontally through it, but you can turn the loom at any angle that’s comfortable for you to weave.

What is meant by over and under?

  • At each point where a weft loop crosses a warp loop, the weft loop can pass over (in front of) or under (behind) the warp loop.

What is meant by tabby or plain weave?

  • Tabby and plain weave are two different names for the simplest type of weaving, where each weft loop passes over one warp, under one warp, over one, under one, all the way across the fabric. In the next weft row, you alternate — under one, over one — so that the finished product looks like a tiny checkerboard.

What is a float?

  • A float is a place where the weft or warp passes over or under more than one crossing. 
  • Lots of patterns have “over two” or “under two” floats, and perhaps a couple of “three floats;” lengths of four or more are less common.
  • A potholder with lots of floats will tend to be thicker but not as wide as one that’s all tabby weave.
  • A potholder with lots of disorganized long floats might have open gaps in the weave, or might have loose loops on its surface that can catch on things during use — however, there are also weaves with lots of organized, balanced floats that turn out wonderfully. Usually the results are clear from photos or a description that accompanies a chart, but occasionally you’ll have to weave an example and see how it turns out when taken off the loom to be sure.

What is “clasped” weaving?

In a clasped weave, instead of lying straight across the loom from one side to the other, your warp or weft strands “bend back” or “twist” around another coming from the opposite direction. This allows you to separate colors into blocks or triangles rather than extending across the full width or height of your weaving.

For comparison, you can read about clasped weft or clasped warp techniques used in traditional weaving.