Comparing selvedges

As I posted while ago, the one thing I wasn’t happy with in my turned summer and winter experiments was the selvedges. I’m not brilliant at selvedges, which is one reason I like wool so much: it is a very forgiving yarn! But alpaca is not, and I do seem to be making a habit of weaving with alpaca… so before warping up with it again, I thought I would compare a couple of alternatives on the leftover bit of cotton warp I happen to have sitting on a loom.

In fact, my freeform samples on the cotton warp had rather ropey edges too: the process of changing the shed several times for a single pick means that the yarn has less freedom of movement when you are beating, and I think that is a contributing factor.

My immediate thought was to add double weave selvedges, like this:

(I have left out the patterned area to focus on the edges.)

But thinking about double woven selvedges reminded me of an article we published in the Journal for WS&D a number of years ago, in which Satu Hovi described how she wove a Viking-style cloak using an adaptation of their tubular selvedge method. Why not try that too?

Satu’s adaptation was for a twill cloth woven on a four-shaft loom, but I had four spare shafts to use so I set mine up like this:

Essentially you are weaving a plain weave cloth in one direction only, and on the return trip folding that cloth over to make a tube at the edge of the fabric.

Here are the three different edges after finishing. From the top: no special edge, double woven edge, Viking tubular edge.

The straightforward double weave is certainly the most regular, isn’t it?

The tubular edge wasn’t bad, but tended to be lumpy on the same side as my ordinary selvedge. It was slightly alarming to beat, as the weft wasn’t really happy until it had done its U-turn and headed back into the cloth. On the whole though, I think it is an improvement on the plain edge and I daresay I would get better with practice.

Another option would be to go for an extra-dense sett at the selvedge, but I must admit to not getting on very well with that approach… and with the fuzzy nature of the alpaca, I am already conjuring vivid images of future struggles.

However, this was cotton, so the alpaca remains to be experimented upon. I think double weave to start.

Comparing selvedges” was posted by Cally on 14 Oct 2017 at

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8 Responses

  1. Stephanie S
    | Reply

    When I have trouble with selvages I try two things:
    1. opening the sett – making it less dense.
    2. Using an end feed shuttle.

    Stephanie S

    • Cally
      | Reply

      I do those things too, but in this case an end feed shuttle isn’t realistic since I need the low profile shuttle for the freeform aspect of the weaving.

  2. Dianne Dudfield
    | Reply

    Thanks for a great tutorial. Will be trying these. :))

    • Cally
      | Reply

      You’re welcome, Dianne 🙂 I hope you’ll share how you get on!

    • Jane
      | Reply

      I’ve never seen doubleweave selvedges before. Does it simply roll on itself or dou you have to manipulate it somehow?

      • Cally
        | Reply

        They pretty much take care of themselves, Jane. They are not as tight as the weave in the centre of the fabric, since each layer only contains half the picks, so they do need separate tensioning (I just weight mine off the back beam) but that’s about it. It gives a lovely edge – looks a little bit like a knitted I-cord.

  3. yellowdonsu
    | Reply

    I note that it is your right hand selvedge that is more wiggly – as it is in my case. My theory is that it is something to do with the way one throws the shuttle. After al we mostly give preference to one hand. One thing to look forward to is that after 30 years, one’s selvedges definitely improve – all by themselves. No idea why.

    • Cally
      | Reply

      Well that’s definitely something to look forward to!

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