Ask Madelyn: Weaving Terminology

Weaving has its own language, and there are a couple of terms that I still don’t quite understand. Would you please define the following: “pick-and-pick” and “on opposites.” I have run across these casually used in instructions as if they are something every weaver is born understanding!

Thank you,

Hi Linda!

Ah, weaving terminology! As weavers, we are immersed in a field that has never had any kind of standardized terminology. The words we use come from industry, from the art world, and most of all from individual weavers across many cultures and times—it’s all one big hodgepodge.

I am not sure of the derivation of either of the terms you mention. “On opposites” is most often used to identify overshot threaded (or treadled) “on opposites,” that is, a block on shafts 1-2 alternating with a block on shafts 3-4. Monk’s Belt is an overshot threaded and treadled “on opposites.” Individual motifs can also be threaded on opposites in 4-block overshot, one motif alternating blocks A (1-2) and C (3-4), the other alternating blocks B (2-3) and D (1-4).

On opposites is also used to describe two pattern wefts in a weft-faced weave such as taqueté, where one weft that creates pattern in one block (or set of blocks) alternates with a weft that creates pattern in the opposite block (or set of blocks).

Pick-and-pick is used to identify a similar situation, a weft of one color alternating with a weft of another color (I notice in Fairchild’s Dictionary of Textiles on page 453 that pick-and-pick can also be used to describe more than two colors used in regular succession).

I don’t see either of these terms listed in our main sources for terminology (except for the one Fairchild’s reference):

Irene Emery: the Primary Structures of Fabrics
DorothyK. Burnham: Warp and Weft
Isabel B. Wingate: Fairchild’s Dictionary of Textiles
Linda Ligon, Marilyn Murphy, eds., The Weaver’s Companion

Hopefully, when these terms are used in weaving instructions, enough other information is included so that you can deduce what they mean for you to do. (Another difficulty with our terminology is that not everyone uses the same terms in the same way.)


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