My standard advice for managing selvedges is, whenever possible, place selvedges in a slot. This puts less strain on the selvedge threads and allows you more freedom to pick them up with your shuttle. If necessary, you can weight them using an S-hook or similar object.
By placing the ends in a slot, you are creating similar conditions to a floating selvedge. This is a term that comes from the shaft loom world. A floating selvedge is threaded through the reed, but not in a heddle hole (the reed and heddles are two different parts on a shaft loom, but they are integrated on a rigid-heddle loom).
Floating Selvedges on a Shaft Loom
It is tied on the front beam with the other ends, but can either be packed on the warp beam or weighted independently from the rest of the warp and left hanging off the back, just like you would do so when fixing a broken warp end. This setup causes the selvedge to rise above the other warp ends when the heddles aren’t engaged or appear to “float”, making it is easy to scoop with your heddle in a different order from the established shed.
Side View of a Floating Selvedge on a Shaft Loom
This free-form end is essentially baked into the rigid-heddle loom with our superpower slots. However, because of the nature of the slot/hole construction, the selvedge won’t sit in the middle of the shed, it will either align with the top or bottom layer of the shed.
Side View of a Slotted Selvedge on a Rigid Heddle Loom
Threading a Slotted Selvedge
Sometimes a threading ends or begins in a slot and it is only necessary to add a single additional selvedge. If you make these slotted selvedges the same color or value as my weft, which will help mask any wonkiness at the edges. When working with multiple heddles, it is helpful for the selvedge to be threaded in its own slot in the front heddle. It doesn’t matter if the hole next to it is threaded. Because these ends don’t float in the middle of the shed, this bit of extra space will make it easier to manipulate them. As the yarn travels to from the rigid-heddle to the cloth beam, the gap won’t be noticeable.
Here is an example of a two-heddle standard threading with slotted selvedges.
Tips for Managing Slotted Selvedges
- I prefer to pack the slotted selvedge onto the beam so it is tensioned with the rest of the warp and will advance with the warp as I weave. The selvedges can be weighted if needed. The case for not beaming them is that they are easier to replace if the selvedge breaks, but in this set up the friction on them is so minimal, I’ve found the cons outweigh the pros.
- If you are using a pick-up stick, slide over the selvedges so they aren’t engaged with the stick.
- When weaving, a general rule of thumb is to go over the entering selvedge and under the exiting selvedge. This offsets the interlacement at each edge, although how you manage the selvedges can be structure dependent.