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Geeking Out: Wonky Edges

How to maintain straight selvedges is the number two pain point for weavers. It comes second only to warping. There are three things you can do if you want to maintain tidy edges and prevent draw in.


Whenever possible I put my selvedges in a slot and weight them. Weighting your selvedges gives them an extra bit of tension making it easier to maintain crisp edges. My favorite way to do this is to slip an S-hook around each selvedge and let it hang off the back beam. This is also a nifty trick if you have a loose thread in the middle of your warp. If you don’t have weights, threading selvedges in a hole will offer a tighter tension, however, since these yarns are fixed it can cause more abrasion to the warp ends. For this reason, I prefer to have my selvedges in a slot and weight them.


Weighted selvedges

Weft Angle

The weft yarn doesn’t travel in a straight line from selvedge to selvedge. It has to bend over and under the warp yarns. To allow enough length for the weft to do its thing, you need to lay it in at an angle before pressing it into place. How much of an angle depends on the width of the fabric and structure.


weft Angle

Your angle is too low if your selvedge begins to draw in, crowding the other threads.


The angle is too steep if loops appear at the edges.


Advance Often

Advance the warp after weaving 2-3 inches of cloth. The closer the cloth is to the rigid heddle, the greater the tension placed on the selvedge threads. Notice here how on an open shed, the selvedge threads that are closest to the rigid heddle are being pulled apart.


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Heddles Up!


How to maintain straight selvedges is the number two pain point for weavers. It comes second only to warping. There are three things you must do if you want to maintain tidy edges and prevent draw in.


13 thoughts on “Geeking Out: Wonky Edges”

  1. My selvedges are the bane of my existence, and they do both of those things – they draw in AND they have loops. So I never know what to do…

    • You are in good company! Try tightening your tension overall. I find that a lot of weavers weave with their warp under moderate tension and that can cause some of the problems you are seeing. I also find weaving a header can help, too. It is hard to say without seeing the issue. You can share a pick over on the Yarnworker Ravelry group or Facebook page if you hang out on those sites.

  2. I’ve learned to clean up my edges – except when I’m changing weft yarn colors – tartans are a nightmare for this. I weave the new color into the last couple of warp threads of a shed and carry the old color through the first couple of warp threads of the new shed. It makes the edges a bit thicker but if I’m weaving wool and do a wet finish, the general fuzziness of the wool covers the lumps. However, I find it difficult to get the right tension on these changeovers – there tends to be a ‘loop’ on the edges when the yarn colors change.

    I could simply not loop the old color back – let 1/2 inch or so stick out, then trim off later, but I worry it would draw back into the fabric as the item was used.

    • Have you tried ply splitting to transition color? What you do is bring the yarn out of the shed a few inches from the selvedge and undo the plys by un-twisting the yarn. Then you lay half the yarn back in the shed allowing half of it to exit the shed. Then bring the working half of the yarn back into the same shed so that you catch the selvedge. Bring it a few picks past the end that has excited the shed so there is a bit of overlap. This makes for a tidy transition when starting one color and adding another and it decreases bulk. Decreasing bulk at your joins via ply splitting.

  3. Hello Liz,

    I am a newbie weaver (Ashford Knitter’s Loom) and this post is so helpful. Thank you for the clear photos! My selvedges are a bit on the loose side, but I’m hoping they will improve in the finishing – I’m using non-superwash wool.

    One thing I am confused about is how to carry the yarn when using two colours for the weft. I’m doing a basic houndstooth.

    Sarah in Australia

    • So glad you found this helpful. When using two colors you want to treat your nonworking yarn as you do your selvedge thread. So if the selvedge is up you go under the nonworking yarn. If the selvedge is down you go over the nonworking yarn. Liz

  4. I feel really dumb, but what is an S hook? Will a paperclip work? ALso, I can’t see the pictures, so does the hook weight the selvedge thread between the back beam and the rigid heddle? I.e. you tie on and beam the warp normally, then put a hook on each selvedge thread and let it hang there for the project?

    • There are no dumb questions! I’m not sure if you can’t see my photos, or you can’t see photos in general. Here is a link to the s-hooks I use. I slip one end of the “s” over each selvedge and then yes, let them hang off the back for the duration of the project. You do need to be mindful that the selvedges are weighted when you advance the warp. Either slip off the weight or keep your hand on the break so that the threads aren’t pulled backwards. I do the latter.

  5. Hello Liz,
    You mentioned to Ray in March 2016 to consider plying when he changed colour..yes, I know, It is the Australian way to spell colour..back to plying. I learnt, some time ago, Russian plying, for when I am knitting Estonian or Orenburg lace in superfine yarn and need to join. I found this method of joining yarn tremendously strong ( one can pull hard on the join and it will not separate.) and I would like to read your opinion of it as a method of joining. For use with weaving ..I use it when weaving with 4 ply cotton ..must fly… back to my problem with honeycomb pattern and warp my Kromski to create an acceptable is a mathematical issue..but not unsolvable.
    Katz M

    • Russian joins work well when you run out of weft and need add more of the same color. They can decrease bulk and offer a seamless transition. I’m partial to ply splitting. If the yarn is a 2-ply you can split the plus and lay in one ply from the old yarn and one ply from the new yarn and also create a seamless join. Good luck with the honeycomb. May the math be with you.

  6. Does it ever make sense to warp 2 ends on each side for sturdier salvedges?

    Also, if your loom is on a table and there’s no way for the S hook to hang can you loop a thread around the loose thread then hang it over the edge with the S hook attached to it?

    • Doubled selvedges are a personal preference. I don’t use them, but some find them helpful.

      That is a great solution to the one the table problem! Any way you can get weight on the yarn works.

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