Weaving Velvet (part three)

Looking at the Threads on the Loom

All looms do two basic things:

  1. A loom must hold the warp threads under tension. The warp threads are the ones put on the loom. (The weft threads are the ones that go over and under the warp threads during weaving. A shuttle holds the supply of weft thread.)
  2. A loom must have a mechanism to raise and lower threads to form the openings through which the shuttle will pass with the weft thread. This opening is called the shed.

Velvet 3 - 1
Photo #1 shows another loom. Notice the gold threads coming from the back of the loom. These are the warp threads for the foundation or ground cloth. You can see the threads are under tension: not loose or sagging.  [click photos to enlarge]

Below the warp threads, notice the spool rack holding the warp threads for the pile.

Notice the cards with holes hanging from the top of the loom midway between the front and back of the loom. These are part of the mechanism to raise and lower threads and will be the subject of another post.

Photo #2 shows a close up of a single spool,Velvet 3 - 2 one of many that are on the spool rack that holds the warp threads for the pile.

Photo #3 is a closer view of the foundation threads wound on the beam at the back of the loom. You can see that the tiny threads need to be very orderly and on tension or you would have spaghetti at the back of the loom—a huge mess that would prevent any weaving at all.
Velvet 3 - 3
Photo #4 shows both sets of warp threads comingling and going into the center of the loom. This is the area where the mechanism raises and lowers threads for weaving. More about this in another post. The foundation warp threads in this case are black with white threads at the edge and the pile warp threads are a mixture of colors.
Velvet 3 - 4
Photo #5 shows another loom with a white foundation warp with a green edge. Notice that some of the white threads are up and some are down. This forms the opening where the shuttle with the weft will go which is called the shed. If you look carefully you can see that the gold pile warps are in the bottom of the shed. The sheds need to be clean so the shuttle can be thrown into the space—another reason that the warp threads are on tension.
Velvet 3 - 5

6 thoughts on “Weaving Velvet (part three)

  1. Are the pile threads under tension? Some of the photos seem to indicate this and some do not. I’m unclear about how you could manage them if they are not under tension, but then again, they seem to be coming directly off the spools. Can you explain the tensioning device for the pile threads if there is one?

    • Yes, the pile threads are under tension. That’s a detail I forgot to look at closely. We were told that most were tensioned by a weight and a counter weight on each spool. One place they had special spools with an area for a cord with just a weight on it. The photo in the blog came from a brochure I think. Maybe someone who was on the trip can explain where the weights and counterweights were located exactly. I’ll ask in the blog.

  2. Peggy, this series of posts on velvet weaving is just fabulous! I’ve been loving all your wonderfully illustrated travel journals all along, but I am totally blown away by these!

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