I've been weaving for years and have never used a temple. I gather that it is the answer to all selvedge problems, but I hesitate to buy one, because I don't know the first thing about how to use it. Can anyone give me some basics on using it, or direct me to a source that gives helpful details?
Thanks for your help.
I took two weeks of weaving this summer with Jason Collingwood, Peter Collinwoods son and he made me a believer of the use of temples. The simple purpose of the temple is to keep a straight edge. Jason moves his temple every inch which is about every 8 rows. I wove without one then with one and my edges were like night and day. The temples are expensive but definately worth the money. I bought 3 in different sizes.
I also use a temple most of the time. It is important to use it correctly, though. You need to set it at the width of the cloth in the reed (turn the temple upside down and hold it against the warp in the reed and set the pin so that the edge of the cloth is positioned at the base of the temple teeth on both sides). Then, insert the teeth at the very edge of the woven cloth, one or two threads in from the selvedge. You should absolutely move it every inch as Jason Collingwood suggests. If the temple gets hard to insert (and you start worrying about the edge threads breaking), you have not allowed enough weft slack in the sheds. Enlarge your arc and make sure you don't pull the weft flat when you beat. To make sure that happens, you can close the shed to lock the arc in place before you beat.
I've successfully used a wooden temple, but now have a pattern that calls for a metal temple. Why metal and not wood?
I am definitely not the expert to ask, and am in the learning process about using a temple, so you are way ahead of me. But in response to your question, the wooden temples are often wider than the metal. So perhaps the pattern is wanting you to be able to see more of the weaving area by using a metal temple. I'd love to hear what other responses you get.
The difference between the wooden temples and the metal ones is really that the metal ones have slanted teeth. Their teeth are also a little wider at the base. They are most appropriate for rugs. The straight teeth on a wooden temple don't provide enough space between their tips and the edge of the temple to fit into a very thick selvedge. In general, you'd use wooden temples for finer fabrics, metal ones for thick fabrics like rugs.