How to choose a Weaving Shuttle

Weavers love their yarn… but I think it’s safe to say that (perhaps more than other fiber artists), we’re absolutely in love with our equipment!
So many choices… and so many variations that seriously impact the ease with which you weave.
Today, I’m going to talk about a few different decision points you’ll run across when choosing a shuttle and why you might prefer one style over another! And of course… I’m not even covering them all!
The best way to decide which shuttle is right for you is to hop into a store and try it out in person, if you can. That’s why we love our local yarn & weaving shops: they allow you to see an item in person and really see if it’s right for you. So, if you’re lucky enough to live near a shop you love, pay them a visit when shopping!

Factors to consider when selecting a shuttle

Boat shuttles allow the yarn to wind off easily and come in a number of variations (which we’ll get to in a moment!). These are easiest to use if the loom has a race that guides the shuttle.
End-delivery shuttles tension the yarn (which comes out at the ‘end’ of the shuttle), which allows for more even selvedges.
Boat shuttles can have either a closed or an open bottom. A closed bottom shuttle allows the shuttle to glide more easily over the warp threads. Open bottom shuttles are lighter, and some weavers like the ability to control the yarn by holding the bobbin from underneath.

Does the shuttle have a guard that allows the yarn to unwind smoothly from the bobbin? That’s one feature of the Flying Dutchman, which also sports a bowed metal wire that keeps the shuttle from sticking in warp threads.

How heavy is the shuttle? While the open vs. closed bottom is one variation that impacts weight, so can overall size and type of wood used. Depending on the size of your loom, a heavier shuttle may give you some ‘oomph’ when throwing.
How much yarn does the shuttle hold? Holding more yarn means that you need to refill the bobbin less frequently, but holding a lot of yarn usually means a less narrow shuttle, which can get easily caught on the shed.
And of course… budget and finish and appearance are very important factors!
I LOVE spending time browsing handmade shuttles on Etsy or vintage shuttles in antique stores (but don’t forget function… many antique shuttles are crafted for industrial looms and may be too heavy/large for your loom).

You may also be surprised to find that your local yarn shop carries a selection of shuttles from artisans (and not just the ‘big names’). Bluster Bay Woodworkers is one maker available in select shops.

The Woolery has a fabulous video tutorial on weaving shuttles you may like to watch.
There’s no best shuttle! Only the shuttle that’s best for you and your loom! I encourage you to give multiple shuttles a try to see which features you like best!

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