Backing off- operation performed on completion of a draw in jenny or mule spinning in which the spindles are reversed to unwind the yarn form the spindle tips.
Barragon- a light corded cotton for summer wear.
Beam- a cylinder or roller on to which a sheet of yarn or fabric is wound, e.g. warp beam or cloth beam.
Blowing- process where cotton fibres are cleaned and smoothed in preparation for carding.
Broadcloth- best plain-woven and dressed woollen cloth woven on a double width.
Camblet- originally camel or goat hair textile. Later of wool and hair, silk and hair, plain or twilled.
Calico- cotton cloth with patterns printed in one or more colours; the name comes from Calicut, a port on the west coast of Malabar, south of Madras.
Card- machine for disentangling and ranging cotton fibres.
Carding- the reduction of an entangled mass of fibres to a thin filmy web by working them between two closely spaced surfaces clothed with wire.
Carding Cylinder- the large cylinder on a carding engine, which carries out the carding of an entangled mass of fibres.
Chintz- printed or painted calico.
Cop- the conical ball of cotton or any yarn wound on the spinning frame.
Corduroy- an English word, although supposedly of French origin, for fustian with a corded pile.
Count- the measure of yarn by length and weight, stating how many hanks of a given length will weigh a pound. The higher the count the finer the yarn.
Coutil- a French species of jean but lighter in weight; a twilled cloth.
Denim- originally a wool serge, later a twilled cotton used for work clothes.
Diaper- a linen, cotton or mixed fabric woven with a small raised diamond pattern.
Dimity- a stout white cotton fabric, plain or twilled with a raised pattern on one side, sometimes printed.
Doffing Cylinder- the smaller cylinder on the front of a carding engine, which removes the carded fibre from the carding cylinder.
Dowlas- a coarse, strong calico.
Drabbet- a drab, whitey-brown twilled linen or fustian, particularly used for smocks.
Drafting- reducing the thickness of slivers, rovings etc. by increasing the weight per unit weight.
Draw- the part of the mule cycle of operations during which the spindles move away from the rollers and the fibres are drafted.
Drawing- blending slivers and drafting them to form rovings.
Drugget- a coarse, woollen fabric, often with a linen or cotton warp, much used for floor and table coverings.
Duck- a strong, untwilled linen or cotton, lighter or finer than canvas, used for small sails and men’s outerwear.
Dyeing- impregnating cloth with colouring substances.
Finishing- a collective noun used to describe the processes carried out to make woven cloth acceptable to the customer.
Fustian- a coarse, stout cotton, originally linen and by the eighteenth century a cotton/linen mixture.
Finishing- a series of operations (including bleaching, dyeing and printing).
Gingham- a stout cloth with a woven chequered pattern, originally linen but later cotton.
Grey cloth- unbleached cotton or linen cloth.
Grinding- giving new points to the teeth of the carding wires by grinding with an emery board or wheel.
Heald or Heddle- a steel wire or strip with an eye in the centre, or a similar device through which a warp yarn is threaded. During weaving the yarn’s movement can then be controlled.
Herringbone- a fustian with a woven pattern like the bone of a herring, that is in crossed parallel lines.
Jacquard loom- loom fitted with harness consisting of cards, card cylinder, needles, hooks and cords, which control the warp in weaving.
Jean- a twilled cotton fustian, thick and strong, later a twilled sateen.
Jenny- name given to Hargreaves’ spinning machine- a corruption of the word ‘engine’.
Lap- a thick sheet of fibres wrapped round a core, e.g. sheets of fibres wound on rollers after opening arid cleaning.
Linsey-woolsey- a coarse mixture of wool and linen.
Moleskin- a strong, soft, fine-piled cotton fustian, the surface of which is ‘shaved’ before dyeing.
Mule- cotton spinning machine invented by Samuel Compton, so named because it combines the roller-drawing principle of Arkwright’s water frame with the carriage-drawing of Hargreaves’ jenny.
Muslin- a fine, thin, semi-transparent cotton. Originally any cloth made from superfine cotton yarns.
Nankeen- a plain, closely woven cotton, yellowish or buff colour.
Outwork- (or putting out system). System of organising production where merchant manufacturers employ people to produce work at home.
Piece Goods- fabrics sold by the piece (definite length).
Piecer- the operative who mends the broken ends of thread in the spinning process.
Pick- a weft thread.
Picking- passing the weft through the warp shed during weaving.
Pillow- a plain fustian with a four-leaved twill.
Printing- applying patterns to cloth using a block, roller or screen.
Rayon- this name was chosen in 1924 by the National Retail Dry Goods Association of America for the new manmade fabric from regenerated cellulose, also known as artificial silk.
Reed- a comb consisting of a number of closely set wires used to separate the warp threads; also used to beat each weft into the cloth.
Ring Frame- spinning machine on which the spindle revolves within a ring.
Rolag- the loosely formed roll of carded fibre removed from hand cards.
Roving- a thin rope of lightly twisted parallel fibres from which the yarn is spun.
Sateen- a cotton textile with a satin face.
Scutching- See blowing.
Self-acting Mule- the mule frame that automatically performs drawing, twisting, winding on and copping motions.
Serge- a hard-wearing twilled material of worsted, or with the warp of worsted, the weft of linen.
Shed- the space between raised and lowered warp threads through which the shuttle passes during weaving.
Shirting- common grey-cloth, woven 36-45 inches long and cut into piece lengths 36 yards long.
Shuttle- a boat shaped object, which carries the weft package across the loom.
Size- a gelatinous substance applied to warps prior to weaving. The purpose of the size is to provide a protective coating and prevent damage to the yarns during weaving.
Sliver- a thick, soft untwisted rope of fibre, which is the result of the carding process.
Spinning- a term used to cover the process of drafting and twisting fibres to produce a yarn. The complete operation involves drawing out the roving, inserting the twist, and winding the spun yarn.
Stripping- clearing cards of matted fibres.
Thickset- a stout, twilled cotton fustian with a short, very close nap.
Ticking- a strong, hard, linen or cotton canvas from which bed ticks were made.
Throstle- a bobbin and fly spinning machine.
Velveteen- imitation silk velvet, with a cotton fustian twill-weave backing and a cotton or silk pile.
Union- a stout material, being a mixture of linen and cotton, much dressed and stiffened.
Warp- the lengthways threads in a woven fabric which are usually more tightly twisted and stronger than weft threads.
Warping- Winding warp onto the beam.
Water frame- Arkwright’s spinning invention.
Weaving- interlacing the warp and weft threads to provide a woven fabric.
Web- a wide, thin film of fibres produced by a carding engine.
Weft- the widthways threads in a woven fabric, which are usually softer and weaker than warp threads.
Winding- Making bobbins of yarn.
Yarn- A spun thread.
This glossary was compiled with the assistance of Helmshore Textile Museum and uses terms taken with permission from ‘The Lancashire Cotton Industry, A History since 1700’, ed. Mary B. Rose, Lancashire County Books, 1996.