Tools Day: Double-Bobbin Shuttle

The first time I wove fabric that required a doubled weft I did not use a double-bobbin shuttle. I didn’t own one. I used a regular boat shuttle and sent it across twice, going around the outer warp end. Those first thick and thin towels came out beautifully. So I know it can be done.

Weaving with a double-bobbin shuttle. Tips.

Square pattern peeks through from below. Double-bobbin shuttle carries the doubled tencel weft for this kuvikas fabric.

The first time I used a double-bobbin shuttle I wondered if it was worth it. It was awkward and clumsy in my hands. Since that rocky introduction a few years ago, I have woven many meters with my double-bobbin shuttles. They have become cherished tools and efficient accomplices to some of my favorite fabric-making endeavors!

Tips for Weaving with a Double-Bobbin Shuttle (and a short video demonstration)

  • Practice. Make sure you allow extra warp length for practicing. You will probably need it at first. Have fun and laugh, and refrain from throwing the shuttle across the room.
  • Winding Equal Bobbins. Wind the first quill. Lay it close to the bobbin winder where you can see it easily. As you wind the second quill, attempt to match it in size to the first one. (Winding two quills with equal amounts of thread is no small challenge.)
Winding equal quills for a double-bobbin shuttle.

Visibility of the first wound quill is key for judging how much thread to wind on the second quill.

Winding quills for double bobbin shuttles.

Knowing when to stop is the trick. The ideal is for both quills to become empty at the same time. This only happens in your dreams. But sometimes you can get pretty close.

  • Sending the Shuttle. Sending the double-bobbin shuttle through the shed is the same as sending a regular boat shuttle across. The best release is done with a flick of the forefinger so the shuttle speeds across. Then, the doubled weft naturally snugs the selvedge, and the two threads are neatly aligned across the shed. With a slower, more timid shuttle send-off, the quills unwind unequally.
Weaving with a double-bobbin shuttle.

Holding the shuttle palm up, the forefinger launches the shuttle to glide quickly through the shed.

Results of timid shuttle send-off.

Timid or sluggish shuttle send-off lays unequal lengths of threads in the shed.

How to tips for weaving with a double-bobbin shuttle.

Deliberate send-off of the shuttle helps the threads to lay across the shed in equal lengths.

  • Receiving the Shuttle. Receiving the shuttle can be the awkward and clumsy part at first. Especially if you are trying to practice a quicker send-off. I catch the shuttle as for any boat shuttle, palm up. And then, if needed, I fold my two bottom fingers around the threads, guiding them to fall equally across the shed.
Using a double-bobbin shuttle. Tips.

After catching the shuttle, I gently close my fingers around the two threads, as needed, to guide them to fall evenly across the warp.

  • Weave. Enjoy the process.
Shuttle shadows. Karen Isenhower

Shuttle shadows.

May your practice produce perfection. (Well, maybe not perfection, but at least improvement.)

Happy weaving,
Karen

2 Comments

  • Debbie Moyes says:

    I have a stupid question. Why do you need to weave with two threads? Why not use one larger one?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debbie, That’s a very smart question! It seems like it would make sense to weave with a larger thread instead of two thinner ones. Certainly easier. But two thinner threads have a way of laying better than one thicker thread, and fill the space better. Many drafts with a ground weave and pattern use a doubled weft for the pattern. Part of the difference is seen in wet finishing, too. The combined threads blossom out more than a single thread would.

      Thanks for asking!
      Karen

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Pattern in the Kuvikas

Each time I remove the temple I step back to review the progress. What does it look like now? It still looks like stripes. Four picks complete one row. The stripes lengthen, pick by pick. I hadn’t originally planned stripes, but seeing the results makes me hopeful.

Kuvikas stripes.

Lengthwise stripes on a solid-color warp are possible with a block weave, such as this kuvikas (summer and winter).

Every fabric has a structure–the particular way that warp and weft threads crisscross each other. This eight-shaft kuvikas structure sets the stage for weaving block patterns, like the square-within-a-square pattern or these stripes. It’s how the loom is set up. This loom is set up to weave kuvikas.

Love my double-bobbin shuttle!

Tencel pattern weft is in the double-bobbin shuttle. The regular boat shuttle carries 8/2 cotton for the tabby weft.

Truth is a constant. It doesn’t change with the wind. It isn’t subject to our whims. It’s how things are. Truth is the structure of creation’s fabric through good times and bad. Imagine the despair of Jesus’ closest followers as they watch him, their friend and Teacher, die in agony on a cross. Where is truth in this despair?

Kuvikas - Weaving lengthwise stripes on a solid-color warp.

Each complete row of pattern is made with four picks–tabby, pattern, tabby, pattern.

And then the unimaginable happens. Jesus comes back to them alive! This is the truth of God’s redemptive love–He died for us. Truth awakens hope. Speak truth to your soul. Wait in hope, for glorious fabric is being woven on His loom.

May you never lose hope.

With joy,
Karen

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Kuvikas Squares Meet Stripes

After neglecting this Glimakra Standard loom for a few weeks, I lost my consistency in beating. The first panel, side one of a cushion, has a square-within-a-square pattern. And the squares are not all equal. If I tried to put the same pattern on the back panel, the cushion front and back would not match up at the seams.

Kuvikas (summer and winter).

Each block consists of twenty picks, so there are sixty picks for each row of the square-within-a-square pattern. Consistency in beating is crucial in order to have all the rows of squares equal in size.

Stripes to the rescue! The stripes use one of the four possible kuvikas blocks. I get a coordinating pattern without the fuss of trying to match up the sides. The stripes have a ribbed appearance–simpler than the squares, but still geometric. The patterns are different, but they work together and complement each other.

Kuvikas. Front and back cushion panels.

Two red picks separate the front and back panels of the cushion.

Kuvikas squares and stripes.

Repeating “block one” makes a simple stripe pattern. The square-within-a-square pattern is made by weaving two groups of blocks. Group 1: block two, block one, block two. Group 2: block three, block four, block three.

There are many different gifts in people; and the gifts all come from the same source. Each gift is like a pattern than can be used in a variety of ways, complementing the other patterns around it. Our Grand Weaver sees the whole project, and places the people with the gifts where they best fit in the overall fabric. You are made for a purpose. Your gifts are exactly what the rest of us need.

May your gifts bless those around you.

With purpose,
Karen

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Quiet Friday: Thirteen Cushions

There is always room for more cushions and pillows. What better way to use handwoven fabric? Making cushions puts the fabric to use where it can be seen and touched. The very first project on my first floor loom was fabric for a throw pillow, with a cottolin warp and 16/2 linen weft. Unsightly selvedges are nowhere to be seen!

Cotton and linen cushion. Handwoven fabric.

First project on the GlimÄkra Standard floor loom.

From the all-linen blue and brown dice weave cushions to the wild and hairy pillows with rya knots, each one makes a statement. Each one says, in its own way, “Welcome to our home.”

All-linen handwoven dice weave cushions.

Linen Dice Weave Cushions

Thirteen cushions, all handwoven. Karen Isenhower

 

Enjoy this little slide show video I made for you.

May your handwoven fabric be put to good use.

Happy Weaving and Sewing,
Karen

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Happy Weaving New Year!

January 1st is more than just another day, isn’t it? It’s a time to review the past year and bring new dreams into the year ahead. This pivot point calls for gratitude. I am especially grateful for friends like you who walk with me on this weaving journey!

Thick and thin cottolin towels on this warp. One towel to go!

Thick and thin cottolin towels on this warp. One towel to go!

The end is near! The end of the warp, that is. HalvdrÀll on the loom.

The end is near! The end of the warp, that is. Almost ready for the final border of the halvdrÀll table square. There will be just enough warp left for a short sample piece.

First up in the new year I have thick and thin towels to finish, and the halvdrĂ€ll is oh so close to the end of the warp (didn’t quite make it for Christmas). And one little girl is off the small tapestry loom, waiting for final finishing, mounting, and framing.

Little girl small tapestry.

Little girl small tapestry. After finishing the ends, the piece will be mounted on linen-covered foam board and placed in a frame.

Thank you for walking with me through 2015!

May you bring big dreams into the new year!

Joyful New Year,
Karen

12 Comments

  • Charlene says:

    What a lovely review of your year’s weaving work.

    A large and beautiful body of work.

    Thank you.

  • Elisabeth Munkvold says:

    Dear Karen,
    Thank you for seeing such beauty in life and sharing it with us! This was a very inspiring way to start a new year!

    Happy New Year!
    Elisabeth

  • Betsy says:

    Karen
    Happy New Year! I really enjoy reading your blog and look forward to new posts.
    Warmest Wishes
    Betsy

  • fran says:

    Always nice to see what you are up to! Best wishes for 2016.

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Happy New Year Karen,

    I hope it is a wonderful year for you!
    Liberty

  • linda says:

    Your tapestry of the child is wonderful. It has given me so much pleasure to see how your weaving has become so absolutely gorgeous. I’ve has so much fun watching all the love you’ve put into your weaving. The article was a cherry on top of the most delicious desert anyone could have dreamed of.
    I still can’t believe all the time you devote, how quickly you work, and how “perfect “it all is. I hope 2016 is even more bountiful for you and more joyful. lp&j LINDA

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