Weaving on the Edge

Is there anything so lovely or so satisfying as a perfect selvedge? Here's Jane Patrick, weaver, teacher, author, and Handwoven editor emerita, to tell you some simple steps for weaving perfect selvedges on inkle bands. ––Anita

Nonweavers will have no idea what I’m talking about, but weavers know that there’s nothing like a beautiful selvedge that makes the heart soar. This is especially true if the weaving happens to be a narrow band where any evenness—or lack thereof—is evident at a glance to other weavers who know.

  Inkle band on the loom
  It takes practice (and the occassional unweaving) to
get perfect selvedges.  

An inkle band is really two selvedges with a little weaving in between. When the edges are not moving along in a perfectly straight line, you frown at the little bubble where the weft wasn’t pulled tight enough and you frown again at a side divot where the weft was pulled too tightly. But you know as well as I do that when the selvedges are smooth and even, you just can’t help but grin.

When I teach beginning inkle weaving, students bemoan the fact that their selvedges are not perfect the first minute they start to weave. I try to be encouraging. Like anything, learning a new technique, such as weaving bands on an inkle loom, takes time. As my mom always said about our piano playing, “practice makes perfect.” And this is exactly what it takes to weave beautiful, even selvedges. Mastering this is completely satisfying, which may sound silly, but I know it’s true.

Here’s how to weave perfect inkle edges:

  1. Open the shed.
  2. Pass the shuttle through, leaving a little loop at the edge.
  3. Change sheds and beat.
  4. Pull the loop snug against the selvedge.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4.

I keep a little ruler by my loom when I’m weaving bands. I check the width often to be sure that it is remaining constant. If my band is drawing in or spreading out, I take out the weaving back to the point where the width started to change and adjust my weaving. If you’re one of those who “never ever unweave," let me just say that doing so to get it right is worth it every time.

Creating inkle bands is a joyful kind of weaving, and minding those edges for exquisite smoothness is part of the thrill. If you're wanting to start inkle weaving but don't know where to begin, check out Interweave's new Inkle Weaving Kit. It has everything you need to get started—including the loom!

—Jane Patrick

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