Weaving a Project with Many Weft Color Changes

Hi Madelyn,

There is a project that I’m interested in that has lots of weft color changes. I’m worried that my edges will build up more than the rest of my weaving because won’t I be increasing the picks per inch at the selvedges if I overlap the weft tails there?

Thanks for your help,


Hi Mollie!

I have a confession to make about this. When I have frequent weft color changes, I find it disrupts the rhythm of weaving to weave in all those tails. So what I REALLY do is leave them hanging out, about a 2″ length, from the selvedges. Then, while other guild members are knitting at meetings (or wherever I am forced to sit and listen), I darn in those tails, sliding them up or down the selvedges under weft floats or weaving them in along a weft row or wherever else they may show the least. Since the cloth’s density is fully set by having already been woven, no buildup occurs, and I can easily judge how to make sure the weft tails show least.

If I were a more…normal? patient? perfect?…weaver, I would start and end the different colors with as little overlap as possible. That is, I would take the tail of the ending weft into the next shed around the selvedge thread for about a half inch. I would then overlap the tail of the starting thread so that it comes almost to the selvedge warp thread but not around it. That way, the buildup is only two threads thick for that half inch instead of four threads thick (as it would be if you take both tails around the edge warp thread). There isn’t really any danger of the weft ends working their way out of the cloth. I would also stagger the sides for the weft changes, first on one side, then on the other. This method, of course, would only work for relatively fine weft threads in a relatively firm balanced weave. (For weft color changes in weft-faced weaves with either fine or heavy wefts, I’d do as above, sliding the tails up or down the selvedges under weft floats.)

The staggering of the sides from which to start and end the weft threads (to avoid buildup on one side) often means a disruption of my treadling: that is, in all cases where two treadles alternate, I use the leftmost treadle when the shuttle is on the left and the rightmost treadle when the shuttle is on the right. For this reason, I really like my usual method of leaving the tails out and enjoying the weaving process. This fits my MO generally: pleasure now (joyful weaving), pain later (sewing in tails). And sewing them in is really not so bad, especially if you can’t knit.


If you have a weaving question please email Madelyn! Featured Image: Summer Lace Placemats and Mug Rugs by Suzie Liles Handwoven May/June 2017. View related & recent “Ask Madelyn” posts! Updated 8/10/17.

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