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Carrying Weft Up the Selvedge in Color-and-Weave

Beautiful weaving can be crafted by incorporating multiple colors in the weft. Techniques like Log Cabin and Houndstooth demonstrate that alternating between two or three yarns in both the warp and weft can yield unique patterns. Rotating yarns within the weft is possible on any loom and with any weaving structure, however, it is particularly effective with Plain Weave because adding color depth to projects creates the illusion of complexity. 

When weaving multiple picks with a single yarn before switching to another, many weavers opt to cut the weft yarn before transitioning. But when the yarns change with each pick or at small intervals, it is more practical to maintain continuity by keeping all the weft yarns connected to the weaving. In this approach, the inactive weft yarns get carried up the selvedge, ensuring a seamless transition between colors. Catching the inactive yarn(s) with the active shuttle each time you insert a new weft pick creates even selvedges. 

In this article, I share tips for successfully carrying two and three yarns up the selvedge in a way that creates structurally sound, beautiful selvedges. 

Weaving With Two Yarns

When weaving with two yarns, sometimes you will want to alternate colors with each pick, and other times you will want to weave several picks of one color before switching to the other color. Regardless of the pattern you are creating with your colors, the technique for carrying your weft threads up the side of the selvedge is the same.

Begin your weaving by starting Yarn A on the right side of the loom and Yarn B on the left side.

When you weave with two yarns, for every other pick, as your shuttle exits the shed, it will encounter the unused weft yarn. When this occurs, check to see if the shuttle is passing over or under the final warp thread.

If the shuttle passes over the final warp thread place the shuttle under the previous weft yarn as it exits the loom. Then, change the shed and throw the next pick. This creates a loop at the selvedge allowing the inactive weft yarn to travel up the side of the warp.


Travelling Weft Demo Photo
Traveling Weft Demo Photo
In Images A and B, the previous weft yarn is Mallo Clay.

If the shuttle passes under the final warp thread, place the shuttle over the previous weft yarn as it exits the loom. Then, change the shed and weave the next row. Again, the inactive weft thread will travel up the selvedge.

Travelling Weft Demo Photo
Traveling Weft Demo Photo
The previous weft yarn in Images C and D is also Mallo Clay.

If you have woven on a shaft loom and used a floating selvedge before, you will notice similarities between it and this technique. In essence, you are creating a floating selvedge with the inactive weft yarn.

By following these easy steps, you will quickly develop a rhythm, allowing you to efficiently weave Log Cabin and other projects that rotate between two yarns.

Weaving With Three Yarns

Weaving with three yarns requires a bit more shuttle juggling than weaving with two yarns; however, with a bit of practice, you will get comfortable with alternating between three yarns and will be well on your way to creating beautiful Color-and-Weave projects.

To begin, start Yarn A on the right side of the loom. Next, insert Yarn B on the left side. Finally, begin Yarn C from the right side. Staggering the starting side for each weft color reduces bulk at one edge.

Alternating shuttles with each pick:

If you alternate between colors with each pick (e.g., ABCABC), two yarns will always be on one side of the loom and one will be on the other; therefore, the active shuttle will always encounter one inactive yarn as it exits the shed.

Treating the inactive weft yarn as a floating selvedge allows you to easily carry the yarn up the selvedge. For example, if the currentshuttle passes under the final warp thread, it should go over the inactive weft yarn(s).


Traveling Weft Demo Photo

In Image E,  the active yarn is Duet Currant. Since it goes under the final warp, it goes over the Duet Apricot before the Duet Apricot is inserted into the shed for the new pick.


Traveling Weft Demo Photo

In Image F, the active yarn is Duet Pearl. Since it goes under the final warp, it goes over the Duet Currant before the Currant Duet is inserted into the shed for the new pick.

Weaving more than one pick with the same yarn:

Some patterns, like Houndstooth, require more than one pick of the same yarn before rotating colors.

Sometimes there will be one inactive weft yarn at the selvedge as your shuttle approaches, but other times, there will be two. Regardless of how many inactive weft yarns there are, treat them like a floating selvedge and carry them up the selvedge as you weave.

If the shuttle passes under the final warp thread, place the shuttle over the inactive weft yarn(s) before throwing the next pick.

Travelling Weft Demo Photo

Similarly, if the shuttle passes over the final warp thread, place it under the inactive weft yarn(s) before throwing the next pick.

Travelling Weft Demo Photo
Traveling Weft Demo Photo


Final Thoughts on Selvedges

Being able to create attractive selvedges is a critical skill for weavers. That process requires a bit more attention when weaving Color-and-Weave patterns.

Treating the inactive weft threads as a floating selvedge captures the inactive weft yarns so they hug the selvedge closely and travel up the warp as you weave. From time to time, a small loop of weft yarn might get left in the selvedge; to avoid this, be sure to pull all the weft through the shed. At the same time, avoid pulling the weft yarn too tightly. While the selvedges may appear slightly uneven or “ripply” on the loom compared to selvedges created with just one yarn, these slight ripples should disappear during wet-finishing.

If you want to add a creative flair to your selvedges, you can ignore the previous tips and choose to not catch the inactive yarn(s) up the selvedge when you throw new picks. The result will be a project with beautiful, scalloped selvedges

travelling weft demo image

Incorporating multiple colors in weaving opens up a world of creative possibilities, allowing you to craft stunning pieces that showcase your skills and artistic vision. By mastering the techniques of carrying the weft up the selvedge with two or three yarns, you'll not only be able to achieve structurally sound and beautiful edges but also to unleash your creativity by exploring a myriad of color and weave patterns.

As you experiment with different color combinations and weaving techniques, don't be afraid to embrace the learning process and enjoy the journey of discovery. With dedication and patience, you'll soon find yourself weaving intricate and breathtaking designs.

Now that you know how to carry weft up the selvedge when you are weaving with two or three yarns, you might like to try one of these Color-and-Weave projects.

color and weave placemats
houndtooth scarf
Confetti Runner


About Carolyn Heacock

When Carolyn Heacock was in elementary school, she wove a small basket in art class. That project planted the weaving seed in her, which wasn’t watered until January 2020, when she took her first weaving class. She’s never looked back. Since then, she has acquired a rigid heddle loom, two-floor looms, and small tapestry looms her husband made. She loves to weave utilitarian items, including hand towels, placemats, table runners, rugs, scarves, bookmarks, and coasters. In addition to weaving, she enjoys quilting, hiking, bike riding, and spending time with her family.

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