Pile (textile)

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The yellow yarn is the pile and the horizontal and vertical yarns are the warp and the woof

In textiles, pile is the raised surface or nap of a fabric, which is made of upright loops or strands of yarn.[1] Examples of pile textiles are carpets, corduroy, velvet, plush, and Turkish towels.[2] The word is derived from Latin pilus for "hair"[3]

The surface and the yarn in these fabrics are also called "pile". In particular "pile length" or "pile depth" refer to the length of the yarn strands (half-length of the loops). Pile length affects and is affected by knot density: "The greater the knot density, the thinner the weft and warp yarns and the more weakly are they twisted; the smaller the density, the coarser are the foundation yarns,"[4] and designs and motifs are also affected and affect pile depth: "A carpet design with a high knot density is better adapted to intricate and curvilinear designs, which of necessity must have a shorter pile length to avoid looking blurry. A carpet with a lesser knot density is better adapted to bold, geometric designs and can utilize a long pile for softer, more reflective surface that appeals to the sense of touch."[5]

The types of pile include:

  • loop pile
  • uncut pile
  • cut pile
  • knotted pile
  • tufted pile
  • woven pile
  • cord pile
  • twist pile

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pile." The Oxford English Dictionay. 2nd ed. 1989.
  2. ^ "pile", Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. Retrieved 10 September 2007.
  3. ^ "Pile," Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. retrieved from dictionary.com 10 September 2007.
  4. ^ Tzareva, Elena (1984). Rugs & carpets from Central Asia: the Russian collections, p.12-3. Penguin. ISBN 9780140063691.
  5. ^ Denny, Walter B. (2014). How to Read Islamic Carpets, p.43 & 61. Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 9780300208092.