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Where a thread in the warp crosses a thread of the same colour in the weft they produce a solid colour on the tartan, while a thread crossing another of a different colour produces an equal mixture of the two colours.
Thus, a set of two base colours produces three different colours including one mixture.
The shades of colour in tartan can be altered to produce variations of the same tartan.
This forms visible diagonal lines where different colours cross, which give the appearance of new colours blended from the original ones.
Though thread counts are indeed quite specific, they can be modified in certain circumstances, depending on the desired size of the tartan.
For example, the sett of a tartan (about 6 inches) may be too large to fit upon the face of a necktie.
Today tartan is no longer limited to textiles, but is used on non-woven mediums, such as paper, plastics, packaging, and wall coverings. Today "tartan" usually refers to coloured patterns, though originally a tartan did not have to be made up of any pattern at all.
As late as the 1830s tartan was sometimes described as "plain coloured ... Each thread in the warp crosses each thread in the weft at right angles.