What is Weaving?
What is a Warp-Weighted Loom?
λεπτὸν καί περίμετρον·
Setting up in the palace a great histon, she wove
a fine and very wide (histon)
The word histon in the first line must be translated ‘loom’. In the second line, where it is understood as the object of huphaine (‘she wove’) and modified by lepton (‘fine’) and perimetron (‘very wide’) it must mean ‘weaving’ in the sense of ‘fabric’.
In other words, weaving by beating the weft upward seemed to Herodotus the normal way to it. Beating against gravity requires extra effort and is tolerable only if gravity is doing some other important work for the weaver, such as tensioning the warps. The weft is beaten upward only on the vertical warp-weighted loom, the type of loom that was familiar to Herodotus.Compounding the perversion of the Egyptians, from the Greek point of view, the weavers there were men:
φύσιν κατεικασθέντε καὶ βίου τροφάς·
ἐκεῖ γὰρ οἱ μὲν ἄρσενες κατὰ στέγας
θακοῦσιν ἱστουργοῦντες, αἱ δὲ σύννομοι
τἄξω βίου τροφεῖα πορσυνουσ’ἀεί.
While there is evidence of male weavers in Greek antiquity, the Homeric weaver under discussion here, the archetypal user of the warp-weighted loom, is certainly female. 
Operation of the Ancient Greek Warp-Weighted Loom
The Heading Band
The Frame of the Loom and Loom Mechanics
στήθεὸς ἐστι κανών, ὅν τ’ εὖ μάλα χερσὶ τανύσσῃ
πηνίον ἐξέλκουσα παρὲκ μίτον, ἀγχόθι δ’ ἴσχει
What the weaving rod (kanōn) might be and how it might be used will be considered for each of the four models.
What is a Kerkis and How is it Used?
Not a Shuttle
In another context, Barber says, “Among the Greeks, the kerkis seems at least sometimes to have carried the weft on it…” but gives no evidence.  If the kerkis did have weft wrapped around it, then it functioned partly as a shuttle, but it was not a shuttle that could be thrown across the warp.  A shuttle used on a horizontal, treadle-operated loom generally has a smooth, flat bottom and may be shaped like a boat which holds a bobbin that rotates as the weft is drawn off it. Or it may be shaped like a ski with a kind of pedestal on top of it around which the yarn is wrapped. The shuttle is ‘thrown’ (more accurately, slid) from one side of the web to the other. Shuttles of this type are useless with a warp-weighted loom (see Figure 34).
The Characteristic Tool of the Weaver
In the Ion of Euripides, Kreusa describes as an ἐκδίδαγμα κερκίδος (ekdidagma kerkidos ‘a sampler from the pin beater’) the cloth which identifies Ion as her child.  Similarly in Theocritus Helen is praised for weaving with her pin beater finer cloth than anyone.  Most poignantly, Andromache, as she weaves a robe, bids her maids to prepare a bath for Hector.
χερσὶν Ἀχιλλῆος δάμασε γλαυκῶπις Ἀθήνη.
κωκυτοῦ δ’ ἤκουσε καὶ οἰμωγῆς ἀπὸ πύργου·
τῆς δ’ ἐλελίχθη γυῖα, χαμαὶ δέ οἱ ἔκπεσε κερκίς.
Andromache is marked in this passage by the word νηπίη (nēpiē), as not just unwitting, but doomed, just as Patroklos is marked as doomed when he asks Achilles permission to go into battle:
οἷ αὐτῷ θάνατόν τε κακὸν καὶ κῆρα λιτέσθαι.
As her kerkis falls to the floor, Andromache’s life as the mistress of her own workshop is over. She may weave again, but as a slave. 
What the Kerkis Does
σπάθης τε πληγὰς ἠδὲ θήρειον γραφήν.
Look at this piece of weaving, the work of your hand,
at the strokes of the weaving sword, and the picture of the beasts upon it! 
The beating in of the weft is a mark of the weaver’s hand, a sign of her skill or perhaps even a signature to the knowing eye. For the initial beating in, the pin beater must be smooth and pointed. To do the work of the sword, it is best if flattened and perhaps somewhat curved.
The Education of Weavers and Formulaic Narration
ὃς κάλλιστος ἔην ποικίλμασιν ἠδὲ μέγιστος,
ἁστὴρ δ’ ὣς ἀπέλαμπεν· ἔκειτο δὲ νείατος ἄλλων.
In a bow to a great weaving tradition, the poem mentions that Hecabe’s most precious textiles were made by Sidonian women. Textiles are among the valuable gifts given to Odysseus in his travels, especially the gifts from the Phaeacians. While we can only imagine these superb textiles, it is just possible that some of them survived into the Archaic Greek period in which the Homeric poems were taking the shape in which we know them.  At any rate, the high Homeric valuation of textiles reflects historical reality in the eastern Mediterranean in the Bronze Age.  In Minoan and Mycenaean times, textile production was highly organized and controlled. This was a textile tradition not unlike that of highlands of South America in pre-Columbian times. Many more textiles survive to us from that tradition, offering some points of comparison. Many pre-Columbian textiles are fine beyond belief, as if indeed made by gods or heroes (if one measures the limit of skill for humans by that of humans living today). Although the palace organization and wealth are long gone, there are weavers even now in the high Andes who have inherited remnants of that weaving skill and sophistication.
Ιων ποῖόν τι; πολλὰ παρθένων ὑφάσματα.
Κρ. οὐ τέλεον, οἷον δ’ ἐκδίδαγμα κερκίδος.
Ιων μορφὴν ἔχον τίν’; ὥς με μὴ ταύτῃ λάβῃς.
Κρ. Γοργὼν μὲν ἐν μέσοισιν ἠτρίοις πέπλων.
Ιων ὧ Ζεῦ, τίς ἡμᾶς ἐκκυνηγετεῖ πότμος;
Κρ. κεκρασπέδωται δ’ ὄφεσιν αἰγίδος τρόπον.
τόδ’ ἔσθ’ ὕφασμα †θέσφαθ’ ὡς εὑρίσκομεν†
Κρ. ὧ χρόνιον ἱστῶν παρθένευμα τῶν ἐμῶν.
Kr. Look for a piece of weaving which I did while just a child
Ion What sort of weaving? Young girls do lots of weaving.
Kr. It is incomplete, like a sampler from the pin-beater.
Ion What figure does it have on it? I ask so you don’t take me in with this.
Kr. There is a Gorgon in the center threads of the material.
Ion O Zeus, what destiny seeks me out like a hunter?
Kr. It is edged with snakes in the manner of the aegis.
Ion Look! Here is the piece of weaving †how we discover oracles!†
Kr. Ah, girlish work of my loom seen after so long.
Kreousa notes that she did this weaving when she was a child, and that it was “like a sampler from the pin beater.” In this sampler, she was practicing the weaving of a gorgon, filling out the edges with snakes—in other words, one of a number of traditional figures for a weaver. Presumably, she would have woven others in the same way. Once the traditional formulaic elements are learned, they can be combined within traditional frameworks. A look at how traditional weavers in highland Bolivia learn their craft may help in understanding the Homeric weaver.
Some but not all of the women in the community eventually become master weavers, who are respected as community leaders. Urton describes their skill:
In explaining this ‘automatic movement’, Urton compares the unconscious movements of a skilled typist.
By analogy, we can say that Homeric weavers—Penelope, Helen, Andromache, Arete, as well as their divine counterparts Calypso and Circe—were master weavers by virtue of extensive training, long experience, keen intellect, and fine taste. Like Athene herself, they were embodiments of a kind of skill that was synonymous with intelligence. When Menelaos and Odysseus came to Troy on an embassy to retrieve Helen, they began to “weave a web of words and stratagems” to get her back.  The metaphor does not mean that their plans are like a web in which something can be caught. Rather, they had an outcome in mind and sought to create an intricate set of conditions from which it would follow if skillful steps were taken.
List of Figures
Figure 1: Three Examples of Plain Weave
Figure 2: Tapestry Weave
Figure 3: Supplementary Weft
Figure 4: Shedding Basics (1)
Figure 5: Shedding Basics (2)
Figure 6: Example and Diagram of 2/2 Straight Twill
Figure 7: The Cypriot Loom
Figure 8: The Corinthian Looms
Figure 9: The Metropolitan Museum Loom
Figure 10: The Chiusi Loom
Figure 11: The Pisticci Loom
Figure 12: The Attic Loom
Figure 13: The British Museum Loom
Figure 14: The Sackler Museum Loom
Figure 15: The Mississippi Loom
Figure 16: The Ashmolean Loom
Figure 17: The Thessalian Loom
Figure 18: A Rigid Heddle Shedding Device
Figure 19: A Heading Band under Construction
Figure 20: Detail of a Heading Band
Figure 21: The Northern European and the Ancient Greek Warp-Weighted Looms
Figure 22: Comparative Diagrams of the Warp-Weighted Loom
Figure 23: Northern European Model (Loom Set-up)
Figure 24: Northern European Model (Shedding)
Figure 25: High-Warp Tapestry Loom
Figure 26: High-Warp Tapestry Loom (Detail)
Figure 27: Stationary Heddle Bar (Natural Shed)
Figure 28: Stationary Heddle Bar (Counter Shed)
Figure 29: An Inkle Loom with Stationary Heddles
Figure 30: Inkle-type Shedding on a Warp-Weighted Loom
Figure 31: Alternately Looped Heddles
Figure 32: Shedding with Alternately Looped Heddles
Figure 33: Spinner from the Metropolitan Museum Loom Vase Painting
Figure 34: Shuttle on a Modern Horizontal Loom
Figure 35: Reed and Beater on a Modern Horizontal Loom
Figure 36: Actions of the Pin Beater
Figure 37: Action of Pin Beater or Sword
Figure 38: Pattern Weaving on a Warp-Weighted Loom (1)
Figure 39: Tapestry Sample Woven on a Warp-Weighted Loom
Figure 40: Pattern Weaving on a Warp-Weighted Loom (2)
Figure 41: A Supplementary Weft Sampler Woven on a Warp-Weighted Loom
Figure 42: A Heading Band and Double-Weave Sampler Woven on a Warp-Weighted Loom
Figure 43: Andean Tunic