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is a rod onto which weft
In weaving, weft or woof is the yarn which is drawn through the warp yarns to create cloth. In North America, it is sometimes referred to as the "fill" or the "filling yarn"....
thread is wound for use in weaving
Weaving is a method of fabric production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. The other methods are knitting, lace making and felting. The longitudinal threads are called the warp and the lateral threads are the weft or filling...
. Unlike a bobbin
A bobbin is a spindle or cylinder, with or without flanges, on which wire, yarn, thread or film is wound. Bobbins are typically found in sewing machines, cameras, and within electronic equipment....
, it is fixed in place, and the thread is delivered off the end of the pirn rather than from the center. A typical pirn is made of wood or plastic and is slightly tapered for most of its length, flaring out more sharply at the base, which fits over a pin in the shuttle. Pirns are wound from the base forward in order to ensure snag-free delivery of the thread, unlike bobbins, which are wound evenly from end to end.
Pirns became important with the development of the flying shuttle
The flying shuttle was one of the key developments in weaving that helped fuel the Industrial Revolution. It was patented by John Kay in 1733. Only one weaver was needed to control its lever-driven motion. Before the shuttle, a single weaver could not weave a fabric wider than arms length. Beyond...
, though they are also used with other end delivery shuttles. Power looms which use pirns generally have automatic changing mechanisms which removes the spent pirn from the shuttle and replaces it with a fresh one, thus allowing for uninterrupted weaving.