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There are two plants and three types of webs that can be turned into thread. Thread can then be spun into cloth, which then can be used to create a variety of textile products such as bags, clothing, rope or crafts. (For a full discussion of the process and possibilities, see clothing industry.)
A dwarf with the thresher labor enabled can process plants (either rope reeds or pig tails) into thread at a farmer's workshop with the "Process Plants" job order. With a loom, any dwarf with the weaver labor enabled will automatically collect any spider* silk webs that are on the ground, turning them into thread. These 5 sub-types of thread, both the plant threads and silk, remain distinct and can be stockpiled separately.
- (* cave, phantom and giant spiders. Note that collecting giant cave spider silk can be very dangerous - read up on them if you see their webs, and consider turning the auto-collect off until you are ready for that particular level of fun.
Auto-collection of webs can be toggled off/on with o, W, w - in the orders menu, under Workshops, auto-collect webs.
Thread has no quality modifier, but a higher skill in will result in faster production of plant threads.
Cloth is made from any thread - rope reed thread will make rope reed cloth, phantom cave spider thread will make phantom cave spider cloth, etc. All cloth is made at a loom and, by default*, any available thread is woven into cloth by an available weaver automatically. Cloth and thread may be dyed at a dyer's shop, but finished goods and clothing cannot be dyed.
- (* This can be toggled off/on with o, W, l - in the orders menu, under Workshops, auto-loom on/off.)
Unlike most intermediate materials, cloth has quality values. Higher ranks in the weaver skill increases value of the cloth produced, and also any items produced from that cloth.
The "sew cloth image" command at a clothier's shop can be used to decorate a clothing object with thread.
Foreign merchants, particularly elves, tend to sell decent amounts of both dyed and un-dyed thread and cloth, though always of base quality.