CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

DIY Floating Selvedge Keeper

I’ve always been an enthusiastic buyer of clever gadgets and tools and probably own at least one of every knitting gadget invented in the last two decades, and as a fairly new weaver,  I’m quickly building up a number of helpful weaving tools now, too.
A while back I noticed on Ravelry’s Weavers Marketplace forum a set of something that the seller called a “floating Sue” – a clever idea that used a small square piece of wood with a dowel in the center and small hooks on each end that you could wind a length of selvedge thread on, then hook the thread onto the end of the dowel to secure it.

I knew my meager woodworking skills were not up to the task of making even a simple item like this, but the idea kept surfacing in my mind. I’ve never been a big fan of using old prescription containers weighted with pennies – the containers would often crack over time, and I always feared that screwing down the top of the container would abrade the thread and I’d end up having to repair it when it would break.  One day, while rummaging through my collection of knitting gadgets the answer presented itself: Flexible plastic yarn bobbins, or what some people know as Kumihimo bobbins.

Bobbins in hand I went to Home Depot and found a wood dowel that would fit snugly inside the center of the bobbin along with a set of small cup-hooks. The dowel was a bit on the rough side, so I gave it a light sanding and then a coat of Minwax Floor Paste. Using a miter saw and a fine saw blade I cut the dowel into 3” lengths and gently sanded the top and bottom. I barely tapped a finishing nail into the center of the dowel top and bottom to start a hole, then screwed in the cup hooks by hand.

loom weight

loom weight

loom weights on the floating selvages

loom weights on the floating selvages

 

 

 

 

 

 

I pressed the bobbin onto the dowel, and voila: a floating selvedge keeper!  I also can add fishing weights on the bottom hook when extra weight is needed to keep the tension even with the rest of the warp.

If you have a set of needle-nosed pliers you can also bend the bottom hook into a more rounded shape to keep the weights from falling off easily.

There was a small problem that my friend, Patricia, noticed however – the selvedge keeper would often twist, sometimes a lot, and this would cause the selvedge thread to break.  Her clever fix: add a length of string to the bottom hook, one long enough to reach the floor when the keeper was near the top of the back beam; this effectively prevents the keeper from spinning freely and weakening the thread.

To build your selvedge keeper you’ll need:
* One 3/4” wood dowel
* One package 2 ½” bobbins
* One package cup hooks (5/8” or 1/2”)
* Miter or cutoff saw
* Fine grit sandpaper

Assemble as described above.

To use: Begin by pulling the rounded side of the bobbin up to snap it open. Wind the length of floating selvedge inside the bobbin and snap shut.  Position the bobbin so the flat side is up.  Pull the desired length of thread out and wrap several times around the top hook to secure the thread.  Add a stabilizing length of string and any weight as desired to the bottom hook.

About me: A lifelong avid knitter, I always wanted to learn to weave but with children and work the time never seemed right. After seeing weaving on a rigid heddle demonstration at Stitches West in 2010 I was more intrigued than ever, obsessively haunting Craig’s List until I found my first rigid heddle loom. Three floor looms later, with my daughter’s former bedroom crammed with looms and yarn and gadgets, I still feel like I’ve just barely begun to dip my toes in into all that can be learned about weaving and look forward to retirement when I can spend my days happily exploring weaving.

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