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May 30

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Of Fibers, Weaves, and Looms

Fabric, the final frontier.

These are the voyages of the star ship Loom. It’s thousand year mission to explore strange new weaves, to seek out new textiles and new fibers, to boldly go where not weaver has gone before.

Once the wool fiber is all grown up, We must decide on what journey into its final frontier the fiber would like to take. This is where the wool fiber is competing against may other types of fibers for the same position. Other types of fibers that can be used to create different weaves on different types of looms. Ultimately it is the job the fiber was destined for that will determine how it is made into fabric.

Woman weaving on a loom

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The fiber of being

There are many different type of fibers that can be used to weave with. Some of the more popular are polyester, wool, and linen. Polyester is a synthetic fiber that was discovered in 1953. Wool is an animal fiber from such animals as angora rabbits, sheep, or goats. and Linen is made from the flax plant and is probably the oldest of the fibers to weave with. The choice of fibers will depend on what you want the fabric for, if you are making a shirt for someone in the south where it is hot, linen is best because it can breath. If that same person is in the north they might want wool because it is warmer. If you want something that is strong and takes dyes well then polyester would be a better choice/

What a tangled web we weave

A lot of people get fabric and weaves mistaken. The weave is how a fiber is woven together to make a piece of fabric. By altering the warp (thread running up and down) and weft (Thread running left and right) threads you can create weaves such as twill weave, satin weave, and even a plain weave. A twill weave has the weft thread going over 2 warp threads then under two warp threads, this give the twill its unique diagonal pattern. Satin has the weft thread covering 4 warp threads before going under the threads then going under 4 more warp thread. A plain weave just has the warp and weft threads crossing over every other thread, this adds strength to the fabric.

Trouble looming on the horizon

Looms are used to weave the fiber into fabric.There are many different types of loom and they all deserve their own page. Some of the more notable looms are the tapestry loom which is a big upright frame and you use a needle to weave in the weft thread. A floor loom, which is very large and can create very complex weaves, these are the big looms that you see in the museums.. Last is a rigid heddle loom, these looms are pretty small and can have 1 or 2 heddles to make a few different patterns.

Tying it all together

There are many different types of fibers that can be used to create many different types of weaves. These weaves can be made on different types of looms. Each one serves its own job and has its own benefits, This is where the journey of most fibers end. Over time they will complete their use and be discarded. Sometimes some fibers escape and are saved, but that is another story