A Perfect End: Finishing Your Scarf With a Twisted Fringe

For a smart finish to your handwoven scarf, it is hard to beat a twisted fringe. There are so many variations and embellishments that you could explore them for a lifetime, but the basic principle is very straightforward and effective.

handwoven fringed scarves by Cally Booker


The essentials are a cutting mat, a metal edge and a rotary cutter. These will enable you to get a crisp, clean end to your scarf, whatever kind of fringe you make.

equipment for twisting fringes

Other items you may want to use:

  • A wide-toothed comb to help straighten out the ends of the warp
  • A pair of small, sharp scissors for snipping out any waste yarn
  • A fringe-twisting gadget – mine is a simple mechanical one made by Leclerc, but electric hair braiders are also popular tools for this purpose
  • A heavy book to hold your scarf down while you work on it!

Before you begin

I usually leave about 7: of unwoven warp at either end of a scarf: This allows me to make a fringe up to 4” long without ever feeling that there isn’t enough yarn for me to hold onto. This is something you should build into your warp planning, especially if you are proposing to weave several scarves from a single warp.

You might like to hem-stitch the ends of your scarves. I usually do, but it isn’t essential for a successful fringe. If you do use hem-stitching, think ahead to your fringe and how thick you want each bundle to be. For a fringe with eight ends in each bundle, I would hem-stitch in groups of four so I can easily identify two groups for each bundle.

If you don’t use hem-stitching, then it is sensible to weave a few rows with scrap yarn before and after your scarf so that it doesn’t unravel before your fringe has made it secure.

Some weavers prefer to twist fringes before wet finishing; others prefer to do the wet finishing first. I personally have no fixed preference. It depends on the fiber I am using and the result that I want. Try it both before and after to get a feel for the different effects you can obtain.

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Twisted fringe tutorial

Step 1:

Place the scarf on the cutting mat so that the woven edge is aligned with any of the marked horizontal lines, leaving enough room for the length of fringe you want to make. Place the book on top of the scarf an inch or so back from the edge.

If you have used scrap yarn, now is the time to cut it out. Gently separate the warp ends in the middle of the fringe area, with the help of the comb if needed, and use the scissors to snip each weft in half. You can then ease the weft out at the selvedges.

removing scrap yarn from scarf fringe area

I always work my fringes from right to left, so I remove all the scrap yarn from the right half of the warp first.

Step 2:

Working from the edge towards the center, carefully pick out two groups of ends each half the size of the finished bundle.

first step twisting groups for fringe

If you have a fringe twister, clip each group an inch or so from the cut end and then twist until the groups start to kink (see above right). It doesn’t matter whether you choose to twist clockwise or counter-clockwise as long as you are consistent. Count how many twists you insert the first time so that you can repeat this for each bundle.

You can do exactly the same job with your fingers if you don’t have a twister. Apply the twist to one group first, then clamp it between two fingers while you twist the second group.

Step 3:

When you have the required amount of twist in both groups, un-clip them and put the two side by side. Then, using your fingers, gently roll them together in the opposite direction to the original twist. They will readily ply themselves together.

second step plying twisted groupChoose one of the guidelines on the cutting mat to line up your knots. Make a simple overhand knot in the plied bundle, loosely at first, as shown in the image on the right above. Once you have positioned the knot, you can tighten it up.

Don’t worry too much about keeping all the knots perfectly aligned, however. A little bit of variation around the line is normal and will not be noticeable when wearing the scarf.

Repeat Steps 2 and 3 all the way across the scarf. Once you have completed half of it, you can remove the scrap yarn from the other half and continue.

half-completed fringe on handwoven scarf

Step 4:

If you haven’t wet finished your scarf yet, now is the time. You will get a neater edge if you trim the ends after washing and pressing.

Place your metal ruler on the waste yarn below the knots in your fringe. I usually like to leave a gap of ¼” to ½”. Use the rotary cutter to trim the fringe.

While it is usually preferable to cut on the side away from the finished object, the knots make it tricky to keep the ruler steady — so live dangerously but cut carefully!

trimming end of scarf fringe

The cut ends will soon untwist as far as the knots. If at this stage you notice any odd threads that are a little too long, just use scissors to snip them into shape.

hand twisted fringe completed

Voilà! The perfect finish to your handwoven scarf.

FREE Guide: 7 Simple Scarf Tips Every Weaver Should Know

Scarf Weaving With Confidence

Download this free PDF guide and get 7 great tips for weaving success in every scarf project! Get my FREE guide »

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