Museum of Ancient Inventions: Woven Cloth

Woven Cloth, Worldwide, 7000 BCE

The warp-weighted loom has been used since about 7000 BCE . It is not a specialized loom and can be used to weave many things, including blankets and clothing. The most commonly used materials for weaving on a warp-weighted loom are wool, linen and hemp.

The earliest woolen cloths found in Scandinavia are quite rough and irregular, but cloths dating from the Roman Ages are much finer and closely woven. The more regular cloth has a plain twill weave, or a variation of twill, the broken lozenge pattern. However, the warp-weighted loom can be used to weave intricate designs of stripes, diamonds, and even animals. It is very versatile in its uses.

These two pieces have woolen warp and weft. The starting borders are card-woven, and one has card-woven selvages. (The card-woven selvage provides for a neater edge than that done freehand)

Method of Construction

Constructed by: Evangeline M Heiliger ’00

This was an intense project. It took about three hours to set up the loom the first time I tried. After that, the weaving was easy. I started by designing a pattern for the starter, for which the weft of the starter would become the warp of the warp- woven piece. After card weaving the starter, I sewed it to the top beam, and separated the threads into front and back threads. This is the natural shed. I then tied the thread to weights (Some were clay, others were rocks I found outside). At this point, the back weights needed to be tied to the heddle rod to create the counter-shed. When thread is woven through the shed, it is beaten into place with a thin board or stick, called a “sword beater”. Then the shed is lowered, and the process repeated. The ends of the weaving were often woven into a finishing band, and the remaining ands knotted and fringed for good measure.


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