Notes from the Fell: Savvy Selvedges for Boundweave

Getting tidy selvedges when weaving boundweave can be tricky, but with a little know-how you can keep them clean. In his Notes from the Fell from the March/Apri 2017 issue of Handwoven Tom Knisely shares his tips for getting the best boundweave selvedges. ~Christina

Whenever I teach a class on boundweave or krokbragd (a Scandinavian boundweave pattern), there are a few students who struggle with the technique—not because it’s difficult to understand or to weave but because these weft -faced weaves tend to produce an untidy-looking selvedge. Weavers who pride themselves on perfect selvedges will start to crumble at the way these edges look, but it’s not a matter of weaverly skill. Boundweave selvedges require a totally different mindset and an acquired level of acceptance. “Relax and breathe. Become one with your rug,” I tell my students.

Let me explain the challenge. Boundweave patterns, including krokbragd, are weft -faced twills. With many twill patterns, the weft thread sometime catches at the edge and sometimes not. I am sure all of you experienced this when you first learned to weave. Then you discovered floating selvedges, so your weft threads would always catch at the edges, and all was well with the world. And so it is with boundweave and krokbragd. I like using floating selvedges sleyed in the dents to either side of my warp. I weight them separately and have them hang off the back of the loom under tension. If you prefer to beam the floating selvedges with the rest of the warp, you can simply put an S-hook on those threads, slide the hook over the back beam, and hang a heavy weight from the hook. With this method, you don’t need to remember to readjust the weights as you advance the warp, but either system works fine.

Tom Knisely

Tom’s shuttles lined up in color order on the weaving bench and ready for the next pattern row. Photo by Tom Knisely

The other complication with boundweave is that it takes multiple weft picks to weave a complete row. The pattern is created by picks of different weft colors covering different warp threads in each row until they are all covered. For instance, in the pattern shown in the photos here, I’m using picks of three different colors of weft yarn to complete each weft row. I start all the colors on the right, so I have three different shuttles chasing each other as I weave. I start by treadling 1-2 and weaving color A, then I treadle 2-3 with color B, and I finish with color C while treadling 3-4. As I enter the shed, my shuttles pass over the floating selvedge thread on the right and pass under the floating selvedge on the left side of the warp. As I beat each weft pick, it packs down tightly against the fell. As I continue with the twill sequence, my next pick will be on 4-1. I weave color A coming in from the left and, as before, I enter the shed going over the floating selvedge, and beat after the pass. Next comes color B on the 1-2 treadling, beat, and then color C on the 2-3 treadling, and beat. Three colors woven in a four-pick twill sequence need twelve picks to get back to the starting point of the color sequence.

This article is not meant to be a lesson on boundweave, but you need to understand the sequence to visualize all those chunky rug yarns converging around those floating selvedges. When you weave with a fine weft thread and a single shuttle, it’s relatively easy to produce a good-looking edge, but it’s a lot harder with these rug techniques.

—Tom Knisely

To read more of Tom’s tips for getting great selvedges when weaving boundweave, make sure to check out the March/April 2017 issue of Handwoven.

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