Currently viable crafts




The making of a textile by interlacing (weaving) warps and wefts at right angles on a hand loom. See the separate entries for carpet and rug weaving and tapestry weaving.


Status Currently viable
Craft category Textiles
Historic area of significance UK, especially the North West
Area currently practised UK
Origin in the UK Bronze Age
Current no. of professionals (main craft)
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main craft)
Current no. of trainees
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers
Minimum no. of craftspeople required



Weights used to secure the warp on an upright loom have been found in Britain dating from the Bronze Age.

In the Middle Ages weaving was a major source of employment, especially for women; men became involved once it was commercialised. Settlers from the Low Countries introduced the weaving of fustians, cloth with a weft of cotton and warp of linen, into East Anglia in the sixteenth century, spreading to Lancashire by 1600.

Weaving was mechanised in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, although the high-power loom was not adopted until the 1830s and 1840s in the Lancashire cotton trade. The woollen and worsted industry in the West Riding of Yorkshire typically used smaller mills and shifted to weaving machines some decades later than the cotton weavers of Lancashire.

There is an increasing interest in hand woven textiles at the moment, both from practitioners and the general public.



The great majority of cloth used in our lives is ‘plain weave’, where the pattern of interlacement in both directions is a simple ‘over one, under one’, though great richness of pattern can be achieved in plain weave through the use of coloured or textured yarns.

For loom weaving, a set of warp threads is held taught on the loom, each one passing through the eye of a heddle. Groups of heddles are supported on a number of shafts which can be raised or lowered by hand levers or foot pedals. In this way, particular warp threads will be either raised or lowered according to how the loom is threaded and how combinations of shafts are raised or lowered creating a space between them called the shed. To produce a fabric, a shuttle, carrying a weft thread passes through the shed. The raising/lowering sequence of warp threads gives rise to many possible weave structures from the simplest plain weave, through twills and satins to even more complex interlacings.


Local forms




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