Last year, when Laura and I were in Macclesfield, England, we saw a small piece of cloth described as "double-sided damask", also said to be "the same technique as used for cloth of gold". I had never heard of "double-sided damask" - to my mind, the nature of damask is to be double-sided. Jean gave me a tip: Murphy's "A Treatise on the Art of Weaving" (1824), but it is too complicated for me to understand. (Yes, I *have* tried several times :-) So I just dropped the problem, after all we have all seen strange labels in museums, yes?
However, yesterday someone posted a link to an article in NYT (or something), I went on from there and landed on the site of Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen - and they have a definition of "double damask" (link goes to the definition of "ordinary" damask, but both come up on the same screen).
I'm copying some of the text, and want discussion:
Linen damask is a figured fabric made from one warp and one weft in which, generally, warp-satin and weft-sateen weaves interchange. Twill or binding weaves are sometimes introduced.
I have no problems with this - sounds like "ordinary" damask, which incidentally is double-sided, or maybe I mean reversible.
What is the difference between Linen Damask and Linen Double Damask?
Double damask is different from ordinary damask in that it has a lower warp thread count than weft thread count; this allows a dense high thread count fabric to be produced, as the weft yarns are beat up tight in the fabric. However, it is a much more expensive way of weaving because it takes longer to weave a given length of fabric. Also, to allow this dense packing of yarn a looser twill weave is used than in ordinary damask.
(there is some more text, but this will have to do for now. You can always use the link above)
So: ordinary damask is a warp-faced structure contrasted with the same structure, only weft-face, regardless of "thread count" or "balance" (same # of ends and picks) - but double damask is UN-balanced? And therefore better, because it has more picks than ends? And it is (always?) woven in twill? Because twill is a "looser weave" than satin? Huh?
Further down, they mention that they use finer yarns for the double damask, which gives better pattern definition. I am OK with that, of course finer yarn give better definition, but...
As stated earlier, to allow the dense packing of yarn, a looser twill weave is used when weaving double damask than in ordinary damask. This requires a high thread count to stabilise the fabric. With a low thread count this was not the case.
These poorly made fabrics were sub standard, and normal damask was in many instances a better buy. This forced the hand of the Irish Linen Guild and they brought in a minimum thread count for double damask.
(Unfortunately, the Irish Linen Guild does not tell what kind of counts they used for their definitions - at least I can't find them.)
Conclusion: still confused, perhaps more than before (when I could still blame the museum label).
Or: can it be another of these different culture, different language things again?
I sometimes discuss fabrics with my neighbour, the cloth merchant: he is a textile engineer, trained in industry. We can usually (but not always) agree on plain weave, but in industry there are (apparently) so many more parameters in
Sometimes they (he) use a structure name when they mean to include a lot more information: fibre content, weight...
And sometimes they use a structure name for something quite different: "cord" comes to mind. At least here I Sweden a "cord" in a fabric shop is what we weavers usually call "corduroy".
In the UK, a "corded silk" (at least in conjunction with academic dress) is typically a warp rep, very seldom woven of silk. (Yes, I have analysed a piece, and burnt it.)