Ask Madelyn: Strong Selvedges For a Baby Blanket
I am planning to weave a plain-weave baby blanket in 8/2 cotton. I want the selvedges to be very strong, stronger than mine usually are, so that the blanket can endure all the wear and tear it might experience in use and frequent laundering. What is the best way to do this? Double the selvedge threads? Use a different (stronger?) yarn on the edges? Sley the threads closer at the selvedges? Commercial fabrics often have selvedges that show crowded threads on the edge. I’m thinking they are that way on purpose, not as a result of “draw-in.”
I’m not sure that your selvedges wouldn’t be strong enough just using the same yarns on the selvedges (sleyed at the same density in the reed as the rest of the blanket) as long as the weft turns firmly at the edges. To do that, I’d use a temple and make sure that the weft tugs against the edge thread as it enters the shed and forms a sufficient angle in the shed to prevent draw-in. Sometimes, even with plain weave, adding a floating selvedge can help make the weft turn firmer. (The floating selvedge must be weighted. You would also want to check to see that the path of the shuttle—under/over or over/under the floating selvedge—does not cause the adjacent warp thread to weave with the floating selvedge, essentially doubling it. A doubled thread on the edge usually shows and does not make as smooth an edge as if all threads are the same thickness.)
If you tried this and the edge did not seem strong enough, remember that anything different you do with the edges will look different from the rest of the blanket (if you crowd the edge threads or use a different yarn there, for example). In that case, I’d try to make the difference a part of the design and have an edge stripe, using these yarns/colors on all four sides of the blanket to “frame” it. I wouldn’t use a different fiber since it might shrink differently from the 8/2 cotton. You could try 16/2 unmercerized cotton doubled on the edges for a stronger yarn of the same fiber and thickness that would shrink/finish similarly to the 8/2. You could also experiment with setting these edge threads slightly closer (if you sett the 8/2 at 20 ends per inch, you could try 22 or 24 for the doubled 16/2, for example). It would be easy to test this with a sample and resley if it doesn’t work.
Let me know how it goes!
Posted February 20, 2014. Updated July 9, 2018. If you have a weaving question please email Madelyn! Featured Image: Photo by George Boe. View related & recent “Ask Madelyn” posts!
Explore these weaving resources in our shop!