The spinning process turns prepared fiber into yarn or thread. The spinner controls the thickness and amount of twist to give the finished yarn the desired qualities. Usually yarn is plied, multiple strands twisted together, to give the final product more strength. The yarn is stored on a spindle or bobbin as it is spun.
Once the spindle or bobbin is full the yarn is wound on to a skein winder. There are various types of skein winder, but they all perform the same purpose: they allow the length of the yarn to be determined and keep the yarn in organized, untangled loops, ready to be turned into fabric.
One way the yarn could be used is on a loom to weave fabric or rugs. Warp threads are those that run the length of the fabric. The warp is wound on to a beam at the back of the loom. Each strand of warp is then passed through a harness and a reed. The harness moves up and down to create the woven pattern. A simple loom will have just two harnesses which makes a plain weave. Looms with four, eight, or sixteen harnesses allow for more complicated patterns. In a floor loom, like the rug loom at the museum, the harnesses are controlled by treadles. When a treadle is stepped on a system of chains and pulleys raise one harness and lower the other. This creates a space for the shuttle containing the weft, the horizontal strands, to pass from one side to the other.
The other treadle is then pressed, causing the harnesses reversethe position of the warp, and the shuttle is passed back across the loom. Between each pass of the shuttle the reed is pulled forward to press the weft tightly in to place. As the fabric grows it is wound onto a beam at the front of the loom.