After shearing, wool would be washed in hot water to get out the dirt and grease (lanolin), then carded, at which point it would be ready for spinning into yarn.
A card is a set of two brushes rubbed against each other with the fiber in the middle. The process of carding lines up all the fibers in the same direction, making the wool or cotton ready for spinning.
Cotton was harvested from little stalks. The cotton boll is white, roughly spherical and fluffy. Its seeds had to be removed before carding, a difficult and time-consuming process. ( later a "cotton gin" was invented which took a lot of the work out of seed removal.) After carding it would be ready for spinning.
Linen is made from flax fiber. To prepare flax for weaving, the stalks would be beaten with a scutching tool to crush them, and then pulled through a heckling comb to get it ready for spinning. A scutching tool looks like a paper cutter but instead of having a big knife it has a blunt arm. A heckling comb is like a brush with metal bristles that you pull flax stalks through.
After they spun the yarn, it would be dyed with berries, bark, flowers, herbs or weeds, often gathered by children.
With the yarn made, they would prepare the loom. The strings on a loom run in two directions. The yarn that is attached to the loom is called the warp, and the woof or weft is woven through it. The woof is wrapped around the shuttle, and woven alternately over and under the warp strings.
A plain weave was what most people liked in Colonial times. Almost everything was plain woven then. Sometimes designs were woven into the fabric but mostly designs were added after weaving. The colonists would usually add designs by using either wood block prints or embroidering.
The text below was originally at "Weavers weaving" and is to be integrated with this the above.
This entry incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897, with some modernization.
Weavers Weaving - Weaving was an art practised in very early times (Ex. 35:35). The Egyptians were specially skilled in it (Isa. 19:9; Ezek. 27:7), and some have regarded them as its inventors.
In the wilderness, the Hebrews practised it (Ex. 26:1, 8; 28:4, 39; Lev. 13:47). It is referred to in subsequent times as specially the women's work (2 Kings 23:7; Prov. 31:13, 24). No mention of the loom is found in Scripture, but we read of the "shuttle" (Job 7:6), "the pin" of the beam (Judg. 16:14), "the web" (13, 14), and "the beam" (1 Sam. 17:7; 2 Sam. 21:19). The rendering, "with pining sickness," in Isa. 38:12 (A.V.) should be, as in the Revised Version, "from the loom," or, as in the margin, "from the thrum." We read also of the "warp" and "woof" (Lev. 13:48, 49, 51-53, 58, 59), but the Revised Version margin has, instead of "warp," "woven or knitted stuff."
Learn more about fabric.
Learn about knit fabrics.
Learn about woven fabrics.