The typical family of Bible times had its own looms and some family members who were skilled at the art of weaving (Prov 31:13). At its most fundamental level, weaving involved the interlocking of threads at right angles to one another in order to create a piece of cloth that could function as a garment, tent curtain, or even carrying sack. The threads were derived from wool, flax, or goat hair that could be left in their original, subtle tone or be dyed radiant colors.

Two types of looms were used to create cloth from such threads: the horizontal loom (or ground loom) and the vertical loom. Both types allowed the weaver to tie a series of threads in tension and parallel to one another so that another set of threads could be interlaced between them at a ninety-degree angle. The threads held in tension are called the warp and those interlaced are the woof (or weft). The earliest form of the loom was the horizontal or ground loom. The weaver made this loom from two branches to which the wrap threads were tied.

The weaver separated the branches and then staked them to the ground to hold the warp in tension so the loom lay parallel to the ground before the weaver. The simplicity and portability of this loom made it the loom of choice for those on the move. All one hand to do was pull up the stakes and roll up the uncompleted cloth.

Alternatively, some weavers constructed vertical looms. This loom consisted of three branches-one horizontal and two vertical-that allowed this loom to stand upright in an inverted U shaped when leaning against a wall. The weaver tied the threads of the warp to the horizontal branch and used clay loom weights to created tension on those threads.

The process of weaving required the weaver to methodically separate the threads of the warp from one another so that the woof threads could be woven over and under them consecutively. Innovations were used to speed up the process. For example, a flat heddle rod was woven between the threads of the warp.

It could be turned one direction and then another in order to separate alternate threads of the warp. The weaver could then use a shuttle-a narrow wooden stick with a leather leash at attached-to quickly shoot the thread of the woof through the shed opened in the warp.

Once through, the weaver changed the position of the heddle rod, creating a new pathway through the wrap. Using the leather leash of the shuttle, the weaver could quickly return the thread through the new passageway. END OF PART 1

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