Weaving is the art or craft of turning yarn into fabric. The most important of the weaving tools is the loom, of which there are a few different types, including traditional and modern looms. Other weaving tools are mostly accessories to the loom, and they make the handling of threads or yarns more convenient for the weaver.
Joining yarns by hand to create an interwoven fabric is possible, but traditional methods of weaving developed weaving tools that allow the weaver to create larger and more functional fabrics in much less time. These are looms, and one of the most common solutions was the backstrap loom. With the backstrap loom, the weaver wears a belt attached to the warp, or lengthwise array of threads, while the other ends are attached to a permanent anchor such as a tree. The weaver can control the warp's tension by leaning forward or backward. The threads of the weft, or crosswise array, are carried through the warp by means of a shuttle, a simple device that not only holds the weft but makes the resulting fabric hold fast.
Other looms operate on much the same principles. These weaving tools include the relatively simple table loom, so called because of its small size, which allows the warp to be manipulated by hand and the shuttle to be drawn through the space that is opened, called the shed. On a foot loom, the warp is raised by foot pedals, freeing the hands of the weaver for using the shuttle and beater, a device that packs the threads of the weft against warp. Counterbalance, jack-type and countermarch looms are all types of foot looms. The upright loom associated with the Navajo Indians holds the warp in a vertical frame and can be inexpensively constructed at home.
There are other weaving tools associated with the loom. Many of these are used to hold yarns or thread in one way or another. The shuttle is an important accessory that comes in forms including the flat stick shuttle, rug shuttle and boat shuttle. The boat shuttle is one of the more common weaving tools and contains a bobbin, around which thread is wound. The bobbin is then placed on a spindle in the hollow of the shuttle, which looks like a boat.
Weaving tools such as the bobbin winder make handling thread easier, in this case winding them onto the bobbin that will be placed in the shuttle. Upright skein winders make the winding process faster. Spools or cones can keep much longer lengths of thread organized. A spool rack is useful for holding wound threads and is essential for transferring the warp to a loom.