how to select a weaving shuttle

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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Book Review: Handwoven Home by Liz Gipson

Rigid-Heddle Loom weaving is a great gateway into Loom weaving: it has the ability to create much larger fabrics than a simple frame loom, without the complexity of managing a number of shafts. In Handwoven Home: Weaving Techniques, Tips and Projects for the Rigid-Heddle Loom, Liz Gipson shows us that you needn’t think of this ‘simple’ loom as simple at all. She creates a lovely array of woven items (and patterns!) for the home using a rigid-heddle with weaving widths as small as 8″.
Book - Handwoven Home by Liz Gipson

Who the Book is For

The introduction of the book says that the book is for anyone who has completed weaving one project on a rigid heddle.

The book, however, contains detailed instructions (with step-by-step photos) about how to warp your rigid-heddle loom, how to finish your weaving and a review of basic know-how for the beginner weaver. While it’s always easier to learn a new craft by taking an in-person class, I’d venture to say that an adventurous newbie who learns well from books could learn to weave for the first time from this book.

It’s a joy to see a project-based book that dedicates significant effort into the introductory how-to steps. In today’s publishing world, these sorts of instructions are often shaved off for a thinner (and quicker) book.

A more advanced weaver will still find plenty of variety in this book. The projects are lovely and the patterns present a fresh and modern spin on ‘classics’ like the linen tea towel. This book came out of Liz’s 2015 New Year’s Resolution to weave fabric for all of the rooms of her home, and I think any weaver who picks up this book will be similarly inspired to do the same.

Topics Covered in this Book

The main chapters are organized by room of the house, and are as follows:

  • Yarn for Interiors
  • Know-How For the Rigid-Heddle
  • Following the Patterns
  • The Kitchen
  • The Dining Room
  • The Living Room
  • The Bathroom
  • Warp your Rigid-Heddle Loom
  • Finishing your Weaving

These titles don’t quite reveal how much this book is a blend between a project book and a reference guide for weaving. The introduction contains a considerable discussion of choosing yarn for your projects (think of a miniature The Knitter’s Book of Yarn for weavers) and detailed step-by-step photos of many of the techniques demonstrated.

Short insets on selecting colors that work well together, interesting weaving patterns and fun variations of fringes convey useful information that readers can apply to any of their weaving projects.

Featured Yarns

We are delighted to have our yarns featured in over half a dozen projects in this book! Our Organic Cotton and Cottolin are always popular with weavers, but we were also very excited to see that Euroflax (a delicious, but usually knitting, yarn) scored a feature!

Knitters will find this book a welcome introduction to weaving. As Liz is also a knitter, a number of projects use ‘knitting yarn’ in a way that is not traditionally found abundantly in weaving patterns. This presents a fun opportunity to dive through your stash to create fun new projects.

I love the ‘give it a try’ spirit that Liz presents throughout the book. She gives you the tools, it’s up to you to go and make something fun!

Other resources

* 25% off the full retail price of any Craftsy class. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Link is a Craftsy affiliate link. Expires November 19, 2017.

Meet Jane and Her Loom

Jane Stafford is a weaver’s weaver. For over thirty years, she has explored the wonders of woven cloth. She operates Jane Stafford Textiles on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, Canada. Her studio-based workshops are so popular, they often fill up a year ahead of time. Jane is a consultant to Louet North America and the Jane Table Loom shares her name. We asked Jane to share a bit about what makes this table loom so special.

Jane: The Jane Loom has several wonderful features.  My favorite feature is its portability. Imagine a sixteen-inch loom that will weave any eight-shaft pattern, and the whole thing folds down and fits under your bed!  It has a very large shed. You can weave five-inches before you have to advance your warp.  Those are just a few features that make weaving on the Jane Loom so pleasurable. There is also the built in raddle, overhead beater, lovely handle to carry her around by, and easy-to-use levers.  I could go one and on.

The Jane Loom has a lot to offer to any weaver. Most weavers love to take workshops and attend conferences and retreats. In four easy steps and approximately sixty seconds you can fold her down, lock her up, and take her away. Good for travelers and anyone who doesn’t have a lot of room in their house to devote to a loom. 

Its eight shafts mean you can take any beginner through advanced workshop.  If it is a round robin workshop your classmates will love you for owning one because their weaving experience will be great, too.

For weavers that are moving beyond the rigid heddle loom, the Jane Loom is the perfect next step.  Learning weave structures on a table loom is often easier because you can really see how the tie-up controls what is happening with your warp.   Most new weavers eventually get shaft envy and want to create more complex patterns and they need more shafts and The Jane already has eight.

Want to try out the Jane Loom for yourself? Visit our website to find a store near you.