GO FISH! Reduce Broken Selvage Threads.

Bump Scarf Red Hat Colorway
Bump Scarf Red Hat Colorway

Broken selvage threads can be a frustration to any weaver.  Especially when you are using soft yarns in the warp to make scarves, or other fabrics. Yarns like Jaggerspun Superfine Merino wool yarn are fabulously soft against your skin, but the fine, soft yarns take a lot of abuse during the weaving process and can break at the selvages.

Scarves That Go Bump Kit, Fiesta Colorway
Scarves That Go Bump Kit, Fiesta Colorway

To reduce frustration that comes with broken selvage threads and provide a stable selvage for the weaving process, add a strand of fishing line as a floating selvage. You can add this after beaming and threading the loom. Measure out a generous amount of fishing line (more than the length of the project), put most of it in an empty film canister (with digital cameras these are going to be a hard to find item!) or empty medicine bottle (not so hard to find) and hang this over the back beam. Run the loose end through the reed and tie it in with your outside warp bundle as you tie on to the front apron rod.  The fishing line acts just like your selvage thread, and gets woven into the project just like those outside yarns.  The strength of the fishing line will dramatically reduce breakage of your selvage threads.

Then once you have cut the project from the loom, gently remove the fishing line from the project before washing or tying fringe.  You may have to pull it out in sections if you have a long scarf or a long piece of yardage.  However, the slipperiness of the fishing line makes it easy to remove.  You don’t want to leave it in even though it is invisible because it doesn’t shrink like the rest of the fabric.

2 thoughts on “GO FISH! Reduce Broken Selvage Threads.”

  1. I used a floating selvedge once on turned Ms and Os. The f.s. was not threaded through a heddle. I didn’t especially like having to maneuver my shuttle over and under the f.s. I wonder if there would be any reason NOT to thread the fishing line through the heddle as well as the reed for a plain weave project in 10/2 tencel. (I had the problem of the selvedge thread of the 10/2 tencel untwisting on one side of the warp and falling apart. VERY annoying. Someone also suggested using 2 threads sort of semi-plied around each other. The fishing line sounds better)..


    1. You certainly could put the fishing line through the heddle with the outermost thread in a plainweave fabric. It would provide extra strength to the selvage edge. Then when you are finished weaving, you can remove the fishing line from the fabric.

      One other suggestion would be to watch your draw in, especially if you have issues on one side more than the other. We all have one side that our selvage is better on than the other. When I am weaving, I have found that my dominant hand (my right) is more skilled at pulling the weft yarn at a consistent tension when catching the shuttle, so the opposite selvage (left) is better than the other side. So I keep an eye on my right selvage to make sure I am putting in enough weft and pulling up the tension at the right amount when my left hand is in charge of the shuttle.

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