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Practicing Selvedges

I had a hard time learning to make even selvedges, and started with cotton threads. I still don’t feel very confident about selvedges, but realized early on that the only way to learn how they feel, and how to produce them well, was to practice, practice, practice.

Wool, and wool-like, fibers, are a lot more forgiving, but practicing with the far more unyielding cotton was invaluable!

As a result of the sage insistence of Mr. Woofenwarp, I bought as many cones of cotton thread, mostly 8/4 cotton carpet warp, in as many colors as I could. I was appalled at the financial outlay, but Mr. W was not — he insisted that I had to have as much thread on hand as possible so that I would feel free to experiment, not only with weaving, but with color — and so that I would allow myself to discard failures.

Mr. W. is of an inherently more optimistic nature than am I. And less frugal.

I took his advice, though, and if it’s at all possible, I recommend that beginner weavers follow those general principles. As you can afford it, give yourself enough stock for real experimentation and practice, and then be willing to do both. Even three cones of consonant colors allows for a lot of play, and three cones of cotton will produce an impressive amount of yardage!

These little towels were warped for the full width of my Cricket loom, and woven not quite twice as long as they are wide. After finishing, I hemmed them narrowly on a sewing machine, and added ribbon hangers.

While learning, I tried to match colors to the preferences of family members, and everyone got handwoven towels as a holiday gift the first year I had my Cricket. I made enough so that we kept some, too, and I’ve been amazed at how well they’ve held up — both in terms of durability and in colorfastness.

If I hadn’t completely mastered selvedges by the time I’d woven them all, I was at least getting closer — and, ooohhh, were those colors fun!

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