Raising the Height of Floating Selvedges

Good Morning Madelyn,

How do I get my floating selvedges to rise up higher? I have them weighted with S-hooks off the back of my loom, but they only rise about a half-inch from the rest of the warp so it’s hard to take the shuttle out from under them.

Thanks, Nancy

Hi Nancy!

On jack looms, to open a shed, shafts rise. In theory, you should see the floating selvedge in the middle of the shed; the shafts that are left down should pull the warp threads as far down out of center as the rising shafts pull them up. But how far down the threads are held is a function of shaft weight. Loom makers usually don’t make the shafts heavy enough to pull the threads that far down because the weaver would have to lift all that weight when treadling. So they try to make the shafts only as heavy as needed to provide enough tension on the “down” threads. (If warp threads go up much more than the distance they are being held down, tension on the threads held down will be much looser than on the raised threads. There’s a delicate balance between keeping the shafts light enough to treadle but not so light that the warp threads left down are too loose to support the shuttle.)

Floating Selvedges: Left: a. The loop (at the back of the shafts); Right: b. The floating selvedge (blue) from the front

Left: a. The loop (at the back of the shafts); Right: b. The floating selvedge (blue) from the front

All this is to say that on most jack looms, the floating selvedge, as it passes from front beam to back beam, is closer to the threads left down than the threads that are raised. In most cases, in spite of this, they are high enough to be distinguished and used successfully. A half inch would be a pretty minimal height. To weave with it at that height, you need to find it with the index finger of the hand that is catching the shuttle and lift it to allow the shuttle to come out of the shed under it. Entering the shuttle over a floating selvedge that far down is actually easier than if the floating selvedge were in the middle of the shed. But if it’s too hard to find with your catching hand, you can tie the floating selvedge into a higher position. In order to do this, the loom must have some kind of framework that the shafts sit in (you can’t tie the floating selvedge to a shaft). Tie a loop around the floating selvedge and around a crosspiece in this framework to place the floating selvedge in the middle of an open shed. See Photos a and b.

—Madelyn


If you have a weaving question we would love to hear from you! Please email Madelyn! Pictured: Starry Sky Placemats by Judit Ozoray Handwoven Sept/Oct 2016


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