Tools, Glorious Tools: The Fringe Element

IMG_5493It’s unruly. Just looking to make trouble. It needs to be tamed. It’s the fringe element.


The fringe element, at its most unruly

A clever blog pal noted that there seemed to be a “fringe element” infiltrating these posts lately! But I have the perfect tool to tame the fringe element, to get it to conform. When a weaver cuts cloth off a loom, there are lots of long warp pieces, just hanging there and waiting to be finished somehow. The fabric can be hemmed, so the ends are tucked under and secured. Or the ends can be knotted and left as loose, flowing fringe, which, as we know, has a tendency to make trouble.


Fringe twister to the rescue!

But there is a tool, one perfect tool, designed for this specific problem. The tool is simple in design, a perfect fit in the hand. It does its one job to perfection. It makes this maker’s life easier. The tool is a fringe twister, something I never knew existed until last year. It offers another option to hemming or to leaving the fringe as individual threads waiting to fray and tangle. I learned about the fringe twister (or twinge frister, as I’m apt to say) as a specialized tool for weavers but it might be useful to anyone who works with fibers and likes the idea of long, sexy, swaying fringe or who wants to create a custom cord for sewing or other crafting. The tool is so simple, such an elegant design. It consists of two (or more) alligator clips attached to a bar that rotates and moves the alligator clips. You clamp the clips onto two bunches of threads, keep tension on the twister tool, and wind clockwise.

Many thanks to my husband for being my hand model!

Many thanks to my husband for being my hand model!

Then, when they start to kink, the two bunches of tightly-wound threads are removed from the clips and you knot them together at the end.


It’s time to knot the two bunches together, close to the end

When you let go, the two will twist back around each other, counter- or anti-clockwise. This produces a lovely corded effect.


That’s more like it!

So, when I finish a scarf I put weight on the scarf so I can pull back against it. I decide (pretty arbitrarily) how many threads will be in each bundle and clamp two bundles into the clips. I’m careful because the grip on these little clips is very tight. (Don’t ask me how I know this. I just do). Then I wind and count. If I like the way it all looks twisted together after 20 clockwise wraps, I make sure I wind all my bundles that often as I work my way across the width of the scarf. I clamp and wind and twist and knot, and obsess about getting all the twists the same length. And then I enjoy the appearance of bouncy, sleek, controlled, corded fringe.


This is how the finished product looks

Is it possible to twist fringe without this tool? Of course it is. But when faced with holding one clump of threads in my left hand and one in my right and twisting them each clockwise at the same time, then transferring the two bundles to one hand to tie the knot . . . let’s just say I don’t want to live in a world without a twinge frister! What’s your equivalent tool to the fringe twister? Do you have a special paintbrush or pair of knitting needles? Is there a whisk that whips your egg whites to meringue like no other? Or is it an obscure gardening tool? What makes your making easier?

53 thoughts on “Tools, Glorious Tools: The Fringe Element

  1. My cooking life became so much easier when my husband invested in a top-of-the-range set of kitchen knives for me. I used them with enthusiasm and growing skill for a year or more. Then I chopped off the entire end of my thumb. Suddenly, sharp knives didn’t seem so attractive any more…..

  2. I have made cords by hand for many years and inwardly squeed with delight at your little revelation – who knew!! It amazes me there is always something for every need if you know where to look! My life is strewn with cries of ‘Eureka’ at those serendipitous moments when the right tool for the right job has miraculously shown up after years of struggling to ‘make do’. Obviously there is yet more room for improvement!

    • I’m a fool for tools! I love the look of the corded fringe but would NEVER have the patience to do it without the special tool. I swear, I think I craft simply because I like tools so much and need an excuse to buy them!

  3. A pastry scraper. It cleans the four and gooey stuff off the countertop after dough rolling or bread kneading or biscuit cutting. Of course, all I ever get are clean counters, not lovely twisted fringe. I always wondered how they did that…

  4. I’m actually planning a post (and who knows how long it will take to niggle its way first and foremost in what gets posted) on kitchen tools. One of my favorite things is the micro-plane. Or should I say plicro-mane?Makes cheese grating and lemon zesting an absolute joy.
    The fringe on your scarf is just lovely. I can totally see why you love the twinge frister.

  5. Well…any knitting related gadget has immediately my totally devoted attention! remember the yarn buddy ? So splendid and lovely and perfect, exepct for the name;0) You renamed it the yarn minder! Since Christmas I also have the double version thanks to dear Mr. Walker…total bliss! But your twing twister uhm fridge creator uhm fringe twister is a work of art!!! More of this please, Johanna

    • You really love your marn yinder! I never knew there such a thing as double–how cool and how perceptive of Mr. Walker, to know exactly what would please his honey!

  6. Who was to know that’s how it’s done. I’m here trying to fill in a few missing strings of the fringe on our old chenille spread (now a tablecloth) and I can’t get it quite right, though I’m twisting and twisting.

  7. What a nifty little tool. I like small things that have a lot of impact. And if the perfect tool for the egg white thing pops up in the comments, please share! I always avoid recipes that require beaten egg whites, because I never manage to make them properly. I know, a fat free bowl must do the trick. I even tried grannies tip, to add a tiny pinch of salt, but I never to get them right.

  8. Oh, I remember the joy of the fringe maker, yes I do. I think I might still have mine somewhere downstairs. I just couldn’t part with such an amazing tool even if the loom is just a memory.

    My favorite tool, well one of them is my handy grapefruit knife! Who knew it would make grapefruits a regular morning treat and with ease!

  9. I hope whoever came up with that fringe twister patented it! I couldn’t help but Google “fringe twister patent”…the oldest one I saw was 1871 but it was for a machine and not like this nifty hand held model.

  10. I bought a fringer a few years ago but haven’t used it. I have made nothing but “rag” items for years and that seems too fancy an edge. (I tie or hem stitch) Glad to see how well it works. The loom is ready to go and I am debating what to start with – more rags to make sure everything is working probably! ;-D
    There is nothing like a good tool. I’m trying to think what… Perhaps the rotary cutter. I think that revolutionized quilting…

  11. I love tools but don’t use my fringe twister! don’t know how many dozens of silk scarves I’ve woven over the years finished with hand twisted fringe. Can’t be bothered to attach the clips then move them on to the next pair, too fiddly, it is much quicker by hand and you can get the twist tighter. Each of us have tools that work and a drawer full of those that don’t.

  12. Glad you’ve got a handle on your fringe. I love my bias tape maker. It’s just a little inexpensive gadget that folds the fabric as it passes through. The fun part is pulling the little metal handle and ironing the folds as it emerges in a long strip. Fast and fun!

  13. What a great idea the fringe twister is Kerry – the tool must make it so much easier. I love scarves and have so many but there are some that are prone to fray as the edges are rough, which becomes annoying after a while! I love the soft blues and greens of this scarf – must be so satisfying to make them yourself 🙂

  14. Pingback: What I’m Weaving This Wednesday | Love Those "Hands at Home"

  15. Pingback: Grand Central Counter | Love Those "Hands at Home"

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