Weaving machines are used to make products such as upholstery fabric, silk and ornate carpets. They can be divided into three types: shuttle, circular, and narrow fabric. Most of these machines are for commercial use and require a certain amount of training and mechanical knowledge to use. For arts and crafts weaving, handheld knitting is still the best way to weave at home.
A shuttle weaving machine usually is controlled electronically, and it weaves a tight warp and weft pattern. The warp pattern is the vertical threads in the fabric, while the weft pattern is the horizontal threads in the fabric. The shuttle, a narrow piece of wood or plastic with notches on the end to hold the yarn, is automatically moved back and forth between the vertical warp threads in order to weave through the horizontal weft threads.
These machines are used mainly in industrial operations to create a tight-weave fabric. Silk fabric is woven through this method, as are many commercial textiles and linens. There are hand-operated machines as well, but most non-electric ones tend to be used by trained professionals for artisanal weaving.
A circular weaving machine also is controlled electronically. It has two or more shuttles moving simultaneously in a circle to weave the weft threads in a section of the warp thread at a time. This type of machine is used with thicker yarn and materials and can be used to weave cotton. Handbags and heavy drapery usually are woven using circular machines.
The narrow fabric variety, also known as a jacquard loom, uses an electronically controlled thread carrier or eye point needle instead of a shuttle. The needle tightly weaves the threads to create the fabric. This type of weaving machine has been used to create the narrow and tight weaved wicks of candles and oil lamps.
These machines also are used to create frame webbing that is used in the automotive industry. This material typically is soaked in oil and placed between conjoined parts of the car to prevent squeaking. Jacquard fabric, which has an intricately woven pattern and is used to make upholstery and drapes, is also made on this type of machine.