This term is normally used when referring to a quantity of yarn which has been wound onto a cardboard, wooden or plastic cylindrical tube or support. Yarn packages include: tubes, cheeses, pirns, cones, perforated cones for dyeing, spools, bobbins or beams. If there is no support or centre the package is referred to as a cake. Sometimes a hank or skein is referred to as a package. 

Between 1805 and the early 1870s, shawls were handwoven in Paisley, a town near Glasgow, Scotland, with designs based on what was known as the pine motif. The pine motif, which became synonymous with the paisley pattern, came from Kashmir, India, where for centuries was the design source for all the shawls so elaborately handwoven from pashmina wool.  It is believed that the pine motif, which sometimes looks like a cypress tree, originated in Persia and travelled east to Kashmir.  In India it is more identifiable as the cashew fruit and seed pod, which has been the symbol of fertility for thousands of years.  Kashmir shawls or jamawars were highly valued as far back as Roman times.  These highly decorative shawls were introduced into France and then into England by way of Napoleon's officers returning from Egypt.  The fashion for Kashmir shawls swept Europe and cheaper reproductions were produced in Lyon, Norwich and Edinburgh, but it didn't take long for the expertise of the weavers of Paisley took over the sole production of the shawls in Britain.  The paisley pattern has now become a classic design motif.

Also palempore.  A chinz bedcover hand painted traditionally in Masulipatam and Satras, South India.  A hybrid of the Hindi and Persian word palang-posh.

A Persian word meaning woollen or like wool. Short fine, soft wool sometimes referred to as cashmere grown under the long, hard guard hair of goat (capra hirus laniger) found at 4000 metres in Central Asia. While the female goat produces about 200 gms annually, a male produces 400 gms.  See also cashmere.

A French word to describe trimmings, braids, cords, gimps, beads or tinsel.  See narrow fabrics.

A fine smooth cotton, plain weave fabric.  Ideal cloth for the manufacture of bedsheets and lightweight summer clothing.  The term originates from the Persian word pargalah.

A silk, double ikat fabric produced in Patan, India. The silk warp and weft are prepared and tied and dyed according to a graph design. Sometimes there are four colours so each time a new colour is dyed the whole process of untying and re-tying and dyeing is repeated. the weft is placed carefully across the warp and intricate images and patterns emerge. Traditionally the process of patola is used in the production of very expensive saris. Because it is a very time consuming process, a sari will take months to prepare and complete. See ikat

A machine or wooden frame over which a fabric is inspected for faults, illuminated from behind by natural or artificial light.

A highly decorative embroidery.  The term is used in northern India, particularly in the Punjab, for a piece of cotton about 80cm x 160cm embroidered, to cover the complete surface of the cotton cloth, in silk by village women, particularly Jats.

A weft thread in a fabric. Sometimes referred to as a shot. When weaving, to pick is process of passing the weft through the warp shed.

Sometimes called a linen prover or counting-glass. See counting glass.


  1. A simple device, known as the John Boyd Picker, invented and patented in 1872 by John Boyd of Castle Cary, Somerset, England, to select a single length of horse hair at a time, picked up by a rapier, instead of a shuttle, and introduced into the warp shed during the manufacture of horse hair fabric.  Until the Education Act of 1870 the selection of each horse hair had been done by hand by children. 
  2. Also a part of the picking mechanism of a loom that strikes the shuttle to propel it through the warp shed during the weaving process. See pick.
  3. Also a machine used in cleaning and processing cotton fibre before spinning. See spinning.​

Any fabric sold by the piece (or length). 

Dyeing a piece or length of fabric, rather than dyeing the yarn first before it is woven or knitted.

The extra yarn or fibre which projects from the main structure and surface of the fabric.  Pile can be cut, as in velvet, corduroy and carpets or uncut as in moquette and terry towelling.  The word is derived from the Latin pilus meaning hair. See velvet.

Ananas comosus L. Fibre can be extracted from the sword-shaped leaves of the pineapple to produce fine yarns or twine.  Pineapple is grown in the Phiippines, Taiwan, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the West Indies.  Of the four most common varieties grown in the Philippines the Spanish Red and native varieties are grown solely for fibre, which are used to produce a sheer fabric called pina and made into shirts, while the Queen and Smooth Cayenne varieties are grown for the fruit.  

Usually a fine cotton woven with a special weave structure to give a three-dimensional, quilted effect.  A pin wale piqué is a very fine, corded cloth while a waffle piqué is made in a small honeycomb pattern. Used in the manufacture of dresses, sports clothes and men's traditional dress shirts.  The term piqué comes from the French verb piquer meaning to quilt.

pit loom
This type of loom is constructed above a pit in order to economize with construction materials.  The weaver sits on the edge of the pit to control the peddles in the pit.

A piece of tartan woollen cloth approximately 1800mm wide by 3600mm to 5400mm long, and used as part of the older form of Scottish Highland dress.  The plaid was pleated so that the width was adjusted to the girth of the wearer.  Secured by a leather belt and pinned on the left shoulder with a large brooch, it was known as the belted plaid.  Conveniently it could also be used as a blanket.  The Scottish kilt, measuring 760mm wide and between 6000mm and 7000mm long, unpleated, is a development of the belted plaid. In the United States of America tartan is often referred to as plaid.  See tartan.

Synonymous with a braid. The intersection of the strands of a braid.

The Indonesian word for rainbow. A dyeing process to produce a variegated effect of different colours.  See bandhana.

plied yarn
An alternative expression for folded yarn, as in 2-ply or 2-fold yarn, meaning two yarns lightly twisted together.  The term doubled yarn means two yarns plied together.

A plain weave cotton cloth with wrinkled, crinkled or pleated effects produced by printing a solution of caustic soda in stripes or patterns to shrink the treated areas.  The effect is permanent and the effect cannot be ironed out. Often confused with seersucker, a similar effect being produced by the construction of the cloth using special yarns in the warp. Used for dresses, shirts and bedspreads.

An exaggerated velvet with a deep dense pile.  Traditionally woven from wool or mohair, it can be woven from cotton, silk or man-made fibres.  Used in the manufacture of coats and furnishing fabrics, it is extensively used in the making soft toys like teddy bears.  Plush can also be knitted.  The word plush comes from the French peluche meaning shaggy or hairy.

When two or more threads or yarns are plied or twisted together.  The industrial term for ply is fold.

point paper
The same as graph paper used for drawing weave patterns. Used particularly in designing Jacquard fabrics.

A man-made fibre usually referred to as nylon.

A large molecule built up from a combination of many smaller units of different chemicals.

A strong, thermoplastic, man-made fibre produced from petrochemicals (petroleum-chemicals). Used in filament form, by itself or blended in staple form with other fibres.  A wide range of uses in apparel, furnishings and industrial fabrics.

A plastic material which in one form, can be produced as a foam sheet for laminating to other fabrics. As a textile fibre its more commonly known as a synthetic elastomer fibre or by the generic term elastine or by one of it's trade names, Lycra. Used extensively in the apparel and furnishing fabric industries.

polyvinyl chloride
Commonly known as PVC. In sheet form is used extensively for domestic and industrial uses. Also can be used to coat woven or knitted fabrics as a waterproof finish.

The Chinese word  pen-chi means hand woven or woven at home.  Other types of pongee are:  shantung, hohan, antung and ninghai.  The warp is finer than the weft which is usually a dupion yarn often mistaken for so called wild silk because of its creamy colour.

The term poplin comes from the French word popeline, which is a fabric used for church vestments originally made in the papal city of Avignon in southern France.  Poplin is a lightweight, closely woven cotton fabric with very fine ribs across the width of the cloth.  The ribs are created by using a fine mercerized yarn in the warp and a thicker one in the weft.  Although traditionally made in 100% fine, high lustre cotton, poplin is now woven with cotton and staple polyester fibre blends.  There are many weights and types of poplin the most common of which are used for shirts or pyjamas.  Historically poplin was originally woven with silk in the warp and a fine worsted weft.  Sometimes referred to, even now, as popeline or Irish poplin.

The method of transferring a pattern onto another surface by dusting fine charcoal through a perforated paper, skin or metallic foil stencil.

There are several basic methods or techniques used in printing textiles:

Hand methods

  • Block. Usually the blocks are made of wood, engraved by hand, or imbedded with wire nails or metal strips, or pieces of rubber to form a design. Used extensively in India.
  • Screen. A wooden or metal frame on which a fine even silk or polyester fabric is stretched and blocked in predetermined areas by a variety of processes to allow a dye-gum to be pressed through the open areas with a squeegee.  The blocked areas act as a stencil. Practised in Japan since the eighth century.  Known as Table printing in the United States of America.​

Mechanical methods


  • Screen. Similar to the hand method but more automated with the squeegee  being mechanically passed from one side of the screen to the other.
  • Rotary screen. While the squeegee is static, unlike the flat screen method, the engraved cylindrical metal screen rotates as the cloth is moved.  Sometimes as many as 12 to 14 cylinders, each printing a seperate colour, can be used on the same print table.
  • Roller. The design is engraved by line into the surface of a metal roller, the engrave line being filled with the dye and then transferred to the cloth under slight pressure.
  • Duplex. Printing by rollers on both sides of the fabric at the same time so that the design coincides and produces a reversible fabric.
  • Sublistatic. Printing a fabric, usually polyester, from a pre-printed (with dye) patterned paper.  Sometimes referred to as transfer or heat transfer printing. ​

pure silk 
Any silk yarn or fabric which contains no metallic or other weighting agents except those essential ones used in dyeing.

pure dye silk 
Similar to pure silk.  No weighting of any kind is used even during dyeing.

A piece of homespun woollen fabric originally made from the hair of the Kabul goat. Originating in the Himalayas a derivation of the puttu became known as puttee (approximately 150mm wide and 3600mm long) when adopted by the army to spiral round their legs for protection.  The Hindi word puttu has other local spellings: puttoo, pattoo, pati - meaning bandage. Shawls and blankets are given local names in India: puttu chet, pattu pashmini,  pattu abshar - a striped cloth, and pattu kundrang - a fine blanket made with camel hair and then embroidered.