Tried and True: Use a Boat Shuttle for Rag Weaving

Wind very narrow fabric strips on quills and put them in a boat shuttle. It’s efficient. It’s faster to wind a quill than to load fabric on a ski shuttle. Plus, I like the advantage of sending a boat shuttle across rather than a ski shuttle. This rag rug on the drawloom has fabric strips that are only one centimeter (~3/8”) wide, instead of the usual two-centimeter-wide (~3/4”) strips for an ordinary rag rug. Grab your boat shuttle and pay attention to a few simple tips. Your very narrow fabric strips will be woven up in no time.

Tips for Using a Boat Shuttle to Weave Very Narrow Fabric Strips

  • Use fabric that has minimal fraying at the edges. Trim off any long threads. Loose dangling threads that are long enough to wind themselves on the quill will make you wish you had used a ski shuttle.
  • Wind the fabric with the right side down. Then, when the quill unrolls, the right side will be facing up.
Winding quills with narrow fabric strips. Rag rug on the drawloom.
Swedish bobbin winder is clamped to the side of the loom. A five-yard fabric strip is wound onto a quill. The right side of the fabric is against the quill.
  • Handle the wound quill as little as possible to prevent fraying the fabric edges. Simply wrap the tail end of the fabric strip around the filled quill. Do not wrap the end into a slip knot around the quill because the fabric will fray as you release the knot.
Winding narrow fabric strips on quills for drawloom rag rug.
One long fabric strip per quill. Fabric is cut 1 cm (3/8″) wide.
Fabric-wound quills ready for weaving drawloom rag rug.
One fabric-filled quill covers a little more than one unit of weaving (4 picks). I keep a dozen filled quills in the basket on my loom bench so I can keep weaving as long as possible.
  • Unwind enough weft for the pick before you throw the shuttle. Pull the weft out straight from the quill. When a quill unwinds in the shed, the weft comes off at an angle. And as such, if there are any loose threads at the edges of the fabric strips, the threads will wind themselves on the quill and bind it up. And you will wish you had used a ski shuttle.
Folke Samuelson Damask Shuttle - drawloom rag rug!
Folke Samuelson Damask Shuttle has a low profile, well-suited for the smaller sheds of the drawloom. Fabric is unrolled from the shuttle prior to the next pick.
Design is "Trasmatta Snöfall" ("Snowfall Rag Rug") by Kerstin Åsling-Sundberg, from Damast, Horlags AB Vavhasten
Drawloom rag rug is well underway. Single unit drawcords are pulled and held in place on the pegs above the beater. Design is Trasmatta Snöfall (Snowfall Rag Rug) by Kerstin Åsling-Sundberg, from Damast, edited by Lillemor Johansson.

May your hands enjoy their work.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

10 Comments

  • Geri Rickard says:

    Oh thus is so lovely! I cant wait to see it! Thanks for all the tips! Its wuite an impressive piece!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Geri, This design is good for a single-unit beginner like me. Very simple. But I think the outcome will be quite impressive, as you say.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • ellen b santana says:

    beautiful. does the weft not shed threads as it is walked on? happy new year.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ellen, As with any rag rug, yes, the weft will shed threads as it is walked on. My main concern about keeping the fabric edges from fraying is so the fabric strips will roll off the quill unhampered.

      Happy New Year,
      Karen

  • Betsy says:

    Beautiful! Love that blue.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, The color is very pleasant, with subtle variations. I am also going to introduce some more shades along the length of the rug.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Ladella says:

    Very interesting even for a long time weaver. Excellent way! Kudos to you for sharing this information.

  • Nannette says:

    Good morning Karen,
    Beautiful.
    About 5 years ago I bought a tabby woven rag rug with the warp deliberately saw cut at a craft show. The result was/is a shaggy rug. the first few washings freed the loose ends. Now it has settled.

    Your post is on the other end of the spectrum of rag rug weaving. I love it.

    Thank you.

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Weave Two Connected Layers

Two layers of cloth exchange places in this double weave structure. One layer of warp is solid deep plum. The other layer has stripes of bold colors. Clean lines occur where the layers switch places. So, with deep plum weft alternating with orange, blue, green, and red weft, we get a message written in clearly-defined blocks: Be invigorated with vibrant color!

Magic of double weave!

Dark plum weft alternates with the blue weft. The reverse side of the fabric has dark plum squares in long vertical color stripes.

Double weave throw. Karen Isenhower

Colors of the warp stripes are used as colors for the weft stripes. As a result, you can see the “pure” colors in a diagonal line–orange, blue, green, red–where the warp and weft colors are the same.

Double weave magic!

Variance in the blocks of colors gives the cloth a dynamic appearance. Not including the dark plum background, there are sixteen different colors of blocks as a result of the four colors being used as warp and weft.

Message. We have a message from heaven. When Jesus came to earth, he not only brought the message, he was the message. Not that we should try to be good like him. Nor that we are already good enough. But that he, the direct link to heaven, would suffer the consequences for all our misdeeds. And rise again. He willingly switched places with us—the great heaven and earth exchange. This good message brings hope and grace to all of us who live on this earthly layer. Thanks to our Grand Weaver’s faithful love, we are woven into a vibrant-color existence through faith, on this layer and the next.

May you see your surroundings in living color.

Joyful weaving,
Karen

11 Comments

  • Meg says:

    This is terribly interesting. The colors are so delicate.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Meg, The contrast between the deep plum and the other colors has a surprising effect. Working with colors never grows old!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Chris says:

    Hi Karen,
    I love doubleweave, so many interesting effects possible. This is a terrific project.:)
    I am so pleased I discovered your blog.
    Kind regards
    Chris

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chris, Doubleweave is fascinating! This project stretches me—literally, side to side—making it a delightful challenge to weave.

      I’m delighted you found your way here!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Janet H says:

    This is just beautiful! And timely. I am currently trying to design a similar doubleweave windows draft for a throw and have come across 2 sources that explain the block design differently. I have been trying to work this out in my head, one vs the other, in my planning process and how to apply it. I confuse myself and have had to keep setting it aside and studying it again later. Seeing this post of yours, I just now realized that you have been posting about this same block design all along and your pictures are now helping me work through it. I am planning a gray background with 10-11 shades of blues, greens, purples in the “windows” for the front. I may vary the heights and widths of the windows throughout the throw…haven’t progressed to that decision yet.
    My first source for this project is in the book Loom Controlled Double Weave by Paul R. O’Connor, on pp. 42-43.
    The second source I found online: https://www2.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/webdocs/opr_8s.pdf pp. 2-4
    The two may actually be the same thing, just explained differently, so I was having a little difficulty figuring it out in my head. In the second, they are using Dark/Light instead of color letters. If I use gray for both the D and L in Block A, I’m thinking it would be the same as O’Connor’s threading. If I used the second threading, and used gray as D and my colors as L throughout, I think it would only change the appearance of the back. Am I right? If I want gray to predominate on both sides, I think I just follow O’Connor’s threading, but I think the second source (using D/L) shows the tie-up in conjunction with the treadling and would be more helpful in setting up my loom.
    I went back through your previous posts about your throw and it appears you used the second approach, the D/L threading in both blocks A and B. I would really like to know what the back of yours looks like, but I still think I want to follow the O’Connor threading. It has been incredibly helpful looking back at your posts at this point in my design process! I feel like a light went on and suddenly it is making sense to me.
    Thank you so much!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Janet, I haven’t studied doubleweave like you have. The draft I’m using is similar to the one in the arizona.edu file. I don’t have the O’Connor book to reference. The draft I am using is from The Big Book of Weaving, by Laila Lundell, p. 176, if you want to compare it. I wound the warp with 2 ends–plum, plum; and plum, other color. The threading alternates the plum with the other color in the blocks with squares.
      I’ll post a picture of the back in a little bit.

      It’s great when a light comes on like that! Hooray!
      Karen

    • Karen says:

      Janet, Here’s a picture of the back side of the fabric!
      Back side of double weave.

      Karen

  • Janet H says:

    Karen, thank you for the view of the back! I think I understand the difference in the 2 threadings now. I also pulled out another book I have (and forgot to look at–head slap), Doubleweave by Jennifer Moore), and found an example done using the O’Connor threading that also showed how the back looks in that case.
    When I first started my comment above, it was going to be asking you a lot of questions to help me make sense of it all. As I typed, that light kept getting brighter, and I answered most of my own questions before they even got typed, so I ended up with a completely different comment than when I started. So, without even knowing it, you enlightened me! Sorry, I do tend to run on when I get wound up….
    Don’t mistake me for someone that knows what I’m doing. I think I am more of a technician (& perfectionist) than a creative artist, so I have to understand how things work (and then modify them). I do it when I sew also. Unfortunately, it means I spend more time planning (or “studying”) my projects than actually doing them. I would probably learn more if I just dove in and made things, but I guess I’m not made that way.
    I have put a request in to the library for the Lundell book, and I imagine I will end up buying it. As a technician, I am also a collector of resources and tools.
    Love your blog! You are an inspiration.

    • Karen says:

      Janet, There are many different learning styles. It’s great that you understand how you are wired! I think I’m also a technician to some degree. I enjoy systems and knowing how something works, and being able to alter that, too. But I’m also finding that I learn a lot by doing, even when I don’t understand. My mistakes — like the several I’ve made with this project — take me to greater understanding and experience. Learning is a lifelong pursuit. I’m glad about that!

      Karen

  • D’Anne says:

    Love those colors, Karen! The purple becomes a neutral background.

    • Karen says:

      Hi D’Anne, I never would have thought of purple being a neutral, but you’re right. It’s almost like a deeply colored black that sets off the other colors.

      Thanks,
      Karen

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Building Blocks in Double Weave

Troubles. What troubles? All is forgotten now that the shuttle is ready to soar. After my threading misadventure and correction, I’m ready to weave! But first… The treadle tie-ups need adjustments. And then, after weaving a couple inches, a few more adjustments. Now the shed is nearly perfect on every treadle. Ready, set, wait a minute… Sample. Which shuttle goes where to lock in the weft? How many picks make a square? Is my beat consistent?

Waterfall of colorful threads over the back beam!

Like a spectacular waterfall, warp ends splash with color over the back beam. First adjustments have been made to treadle tie-ups. Ready to start weaving the sample.

Sample first. Double weave throw about to begin.

Sample gives opportunity to practice and experiment. Checking shed clearances, weft color tryouts, synchronizing two shuttles, consistent beating–a few of the reasons why it makes sense to sample first.

After completing the sample, I am now weaving the wide dark plum beginning border of the double weave throw. In a few inches I will be enjoying the colorful blocks that we have all been waiting for. Building blocks. Success, setbacks, adjustments, and practice, all build a foundation of weaving experience.

Beginning dark plum border of a double weave throw.

Here it is. The real thing. The beginning border of the actual double weave throw.

Build. If I’m not careful, my attention goes to the building up of myself. Yet, love focuses on others to build them up. It’s through a process of success, setbacks, adjustments, and practice that love flourishes. When your strong desire is to see the colorful blocks of the weave, you press through until you see it. Love is even stronger than that. Our example is Christ. His love makes the pattern of love possible in us.

May you build on what you learn.

Happy weaving,
Karen

20 Comments

  • Joann says:

    What a beautiful blanket that is going to be.
    Joann

  • Joyce Lowder says:

    Gorgeous! Love the dark plum background and border and the beautiful squares of many colors! Reminds me of Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors! Bravo, Karen! 🙂

  • Beth says:

    You are resilient! It’s going to be beautiful. Kudos!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Well, I guess I would say I’m determined. I’m not going to let a problem, or two, or three, stop me. Haha!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Rachel says:

    Thank you for sharing your gift and love! It is an encouragement for all of us! Not only are the fibers woven but your words of love from God. As a beginner Weaver I have felt the love of God every time I sit at my loom. May He continue to bless you, your works and your blog!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Rachel, It is interesting that you say you feel the love of God when you sit at the loom. I can relate to that. I have often sensed that the Lord’s grace has placed me at the loom, where I find such satisfaction and joy.

      Thank you!
      Karen

  • Cindy Bills says:

    You did it! And it is made more special by the love you have shown as you refused to give up on this project, meant as a gift to that one you love. It reminds me of how important our struggles to love are, in light of Christ’s love for us.
    Blessings!

  • Good morning Karen,
    There is so much to learn between the first pot holder and using plum to make the colors sing.
    I’ve got to re-read your earlier postings to see how to adjust the shed to even out the tension. It is forgivable in a rag rug. But, now I now there are new skill to explore.
    Thank you for sharing your journey so others can follow in your trail.
    Nannette.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, One thing that delights me about weaving is that there is no end of things to learn. If you enjoy learning, the weaving loom is the place to be!

      Thanks for coming along,
      Karen

  • Pamela Graham says:

    Hi Karen,
    I can’t begin to express how much your blog has meant to me since I discovered it a few months ago. I have read all your posts and learned, among other things, how important it is to be brave as a hand weaver. You take bravery to new heights!
    I have questions about this beautiful throw: is it double width with double weave blocks? How wide will the finished throw be?
    P.S. I’m heading to Vavstuga in a little over a week for the basics class and can’t wait. Thanks to your posts I think I will be able to keep up.
    Thank you for sharing your journey.
    Pam

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pam, Your thoughtful words make my heart sing! I’m so happy that you have learned useful things here. I’m humbled that someone has read all my posts! Whew, I call that brave. 🙂
      I’m sure your time at Vavstuga will be rewarding. I’d love to hear how it goes for you, if you would drop me a line after you get back!

      This throw is double weave, meaning two layers of fabric are woven at the same time, but it is not double width. For this double weave, the two layers change places where the blocks change, so the upper and lower layer are interlocked, and the weft at the sides interlock, too. For something double width, it’s the same two-layer concept, but the layers interlock only on one selvedge, so it can unfold when off the loom. This throw is 103cm (about 41”) weaving width.

      Very happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Michelle says:

    It’s lovely–and so is your perseverance and generosity in sharing! You are an inspiration!

  • Danie says:

    Hi Karen
    I just discovered your blog …interesting.
    I am trying double weave …and your work looks great.
    However 2 questions
    – what is color of the yarn you weave the coloured sections with?
    – how does the back side of the cloth looks like ?

    Danie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Danie, The weft for the colored squares is the same colors of yarn that make the colored stripes in the warp. So, purple weft, and then the colored square, then purple, etc.

      You can see some of the back of the blanket in the slideshow video in this post: Quiet Friday: Woven Radiance.

      Happy Weaving,
      Karen

  • Danie says:

    Hi Karen
    Thanks for your prompt reply.
    The video is really helpful

    So in one horizontal row only one square has a plain color (the same yarn for warp and weft) . And the others are mixed. Am I right ?

    Sorry for my language, but I am from Belgium and English is not my mothering.

    Danie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Danie, In one horizontal row some squares have the same warp and weft color, and the other squares have mixed colors. Yes, that’s right.

      I am happy to answer your questions.

      Karen

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Stay Ahead of Empty Quills

What a delight to weave with just one shuttle for a change! It is relaxing to weave this Swedish lace wrap. Even moving the temple and getting up to advance the warp becomes part of the natural rhythm of weaving.

Exchanging empty quill for a filled one.

Empty quill is replaced with a filled quill from the loom bench basket. Smooth operation. My foot needn’t even leave the treadle.

There is one thing that breaks my stride. An empty quill. If I have to stop in the middle of a sequence to wind more quills, I lose momentum and sometimes I even lose my place. Solution? Stop ahead of time at a sensible place in the sequence and wind quills to put in my loom basket. Then, while weaving, it’s a seamless motion to change quills and keep going. It’s a pause instead of a dead stop.

Hemstitching at the end of this wrap.

Hemstitching at the end brings the weaving stage of this piece to a close.

We need to prepare for those times when people seem harder to love. It helps to think ahead, and fill our heart basket with the thoughts of kindness and humility that are essential to keep going. We have a good reason to love each other. We have been loved first. God so loved us that he gave his son. This is the Christmas news. God sent his son to be born here on this earth to be with us hard-to-love people and to save us. That’s good news worth celebrating!

May your heart basket be filled with love.

Christmas Blessings,
Karen

6 Comments

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Startling Surprise at the Loom

A startling surprise greeted me when I sat down at the loom yesterday afternoon! The sun was shining through the window and sparkles of light were dancing on the loom. The surprise happened when some of the light made its way under the woven warp and shined up through the cloth, revealing a hidden pattern. Whoa! I discovered a secret passageway in an old majestic house…accidentally! That’s what it felt like.

Afternoon light at the loom. Linen 5-shaft satin towels.

Linen towel in five-shaft satin dräll. Sunlight dances on the woven and not-yet-woven warp.

Linen towels in 5-shaft satin dräll.

Block pattern on the towel changes, and is emphasized with the change of weft.

Light through the fabric reveals a hidden structure!

Light comes up through the fabric on the left side of the loom, revealing a hidden structure in the cloth.

This is five-shaft satin, not goose-eye twill. How fascinating to get a glimpse of the inner structure of the cloth. I didn’t expect it, but it does make sense that the treadling pattern is woven into the fabric. But you won’t see it unless light shines through just so.

The Lord knows us intimately. He knows what we do and why we do it. Where we go and what our plans and intentions are. He not only knows what we say, he knows the thoughts behind our words. God is not surprised. He knows it all. His light reveals our inner structure. May it be pleasing to Him.

May you be pleasantly surprised.

With you,
Karen

14 Comments

  • Alison says:

    Beautiful Karen. What a blessing.

  • Beth Mullins says:

    Very cool! Now I’ll be shining light from the bottom of every weaving.

    Your work is so very beautiful, Karen.

    Lovely sentiment!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, I know, right? The light from below makes me wonder what I could see on other projects.

      Your kind words mean so much to me.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • Annie says:

    That is amazing! A reminder that cloth is not always as one dimensional as it may appear upon first glance and neither are any of God’s creations.
    Your comments about God knowing our inner thoughts, omnipotence, was often a frightening concept to me as a child, but it certainly helped me behave better! Now as an adult, it is more of a comfort, to know someone understands you completely.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Annie, So often there is more than meets the eye!

      I had similar misgivings as a child, thinking about God’s watchful eye. But now, it seems comforting and such an amazing thing to be known by the Creator of the universe.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
      Karen

  • Sara Jeanne says:

    Mother Nature is surely our inspiration!

  • Keleen says:

    Hi Karen! Remember when I had a senior moment on our walk this morning and forgot what I was about to say? Reading your thoughts, especially that his light reveals our inner structure, made me think of it. I was thinking of egg candling, when you hold an egg up to a light source to see what’s inside—hopefully a living and healthy embryo! That us another good analogy of how God’s light shows us our hearts. Sometimes we can see that an embryo has died there in the heart of the egg

    • Karen says:

      Hi Keleen, I am not very familiar with egg candling, but I have heard of it before. It’s interesting how a light source can show what’s inside! God’s light is certainly like that.

      Blessings,
      Karen

  • Teresa says:

    Wow, way cool! Thanks so much foe Sharing!

    T

    • Karen says:

      Hi Teresa, It was mesmerizing to see that pattern in the fabric. I wanted to share it so others could see it, too. I’m delighted that you think it’s way cool like I do!

      All the best,
      Karen

  • Linda Cornell says:

    Such inspiring reflections both in nature and in your heart. Thank you!

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