Ask Madelyn: Securing Threads at the Selvedge

I have been weaving plain-weave scarves with many changes to the color in the weft. The warp and weft are feltable wool and viscose. The viscose yarn is over-twisted and extremely slippery. I have been taking the shuttle back through the shed for 3 or 4 threads to secure the weft tails. I wet-finish the scarves and trim the tails, of which there are many, but the yarn still seems to slip out. I have been using FrayCheck to keep them in place, but I would rather use a weaving technique than glue! The only alternative I can think of is carrying the colors up the edge, but there are three weft colors. I would be glad of any ideas you may have.


Hi Wendy!

It sounds as though you are using the three colors/yarns in a more or less regular way throughout the weaving of the scarf. Whenever I am using several colors that way, I do not cut the ends at weft color changes; I carry them up the selvedges. To do that, I treat the inactive weft threads as though they are floating selvedges, taking the shuttle into each shed over them, coming out of the shed under them (I learned this technique from a student in a workshop), thereby enclosing them completely.

The looms I use have side uprights on the beater that are raised over the height of the beater. I can loop the inactive wefts around them so that they are positioned beside the edge of the warp, making it easier to treat them as a floating selvedge than if you had to pull them into place with the hand that is catching the shuttle. Even if you have to do that, however, it takes less time to do than cutting, starting, and ending weft threads at each color change.


Position of the inactive weft


Active weft exits under inactive weft


Active weft enters over inactive weft

I’ve found that I get very used to weaving with those extra threads dangling there and am able to weave without thinking about them. I’m including photos of the process (although in the weaving in the photos, I am not really carrying up inactive wefts, the photos are intended to show the positions of threads and shuttles only).

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