Save your selvedges!

It isn’t unusual to hear a weaver say “My selvedge(s) keep fraying and breaking!”

This is an issue that often is caused by a combination of yarn/weave/threading that results in the outermost thread on one side of the warp slowly unplying, while the twin thread on the other side of the warp is slowly plying itself tighter and tighter.

You can easily see if this is going to be an issue on your current project by closely watching the selvedge threads over the first meter/yard of weaving.

If you notice that this is happening to your threads, a simple solution is to change the direction that you are weaving. 

Here is how I do it:

(NOTE: I am using different colours of weft in order to make things easier to see in the photos. Most of the time, this is done with a single weft colour, unless you happen to have stripes conveniently placed at the point that you decide to switch directions)

When I get to the point that my selvedge is unplying significantly, I need to switch directions. I try to do this when the selvedge is visibly less plied than the other warp ends, but not quite at the point where the two plies are laying beside each other, completely unplied.

I throw my last weft shot in the original direction of weave. In this case, I am throwing the yellow weft from right to left, in the shed created by Treadle 1. (The treadle that I start the change on can be any treadle in your treadling repeat, the significant point is that you need to use two consecutive treadles within your treadling. I like to use the first and second treadles of the repeat, because I find it easier to remember where I am in the sequence.)

I then open the next shed, (Treadle 2), and place the weft in the first part of the shed. I beat this shot into place to secure it, then cut the weft.

Next, I open the PREVIOUS shed, (Treadle 1), and insert the shuttle on the OPPOSITE side of the warp, in the opposite direction of the weft shot that was previously placed in that shed.

That is to say, my last full shot in the Treadle 1 shed was thrown from right to left. I am now placing the weft in the same shed, but I am going from left to right.

I leave a tail out to trim after finishing, and beat this partial shot in to secure it.

Now I can use Treadle 2 to open a shed, and throw the next shot. Notice that when I placed the tail of the yellow weft in this shed earlier, I was throwing it from left to right. I am now throwing the orange weft in the SAME shed, but going from right to left.

I have now changed the direction that I am weaving, and can continue weaving.  

You do need to continue to keep an eye on your selvedges, as most often when the selvedges are unplying in this way, changing the direction will reply one side, and the OTHER side will start to unply.  When you notice this happening, simply change directions again.  I have found that when I am using this technique, I generally need to switch directions every meter/yard or two.

I hope this helps keep your selvedges (and patience!) from fraying!