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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Tips for Taming String Yarn Weft Tails

Those pesky string yarn weft tails! There is a lot of starting and stopping with these mug rugs. Normally, tucking a weft tail back into the shed adds a bit of extra thickness at the selvedge. So, what about this very thick weft? It has the potential to throw everything off balance. A few easy tips help minimize the distortion the thicker weft can cause.

Taming String Yarn Weft Tails

  • Begin the thick weft on alternating sides. This will prevent one selvedge from building up more than the other.
  • Taper the end of the string yarn, cutting it at a steep angle.
  • Starting about 1 3/4″ inside the selvedge, send the shuttle through the shed toward the selvedge, going over or under the outermost warp end. Pull through until almost all of the weft tail is caught.
What to do with string yarn weft tails.

Starting the shuttle from the inside, going outward, is an easy way to catch all the separate threads of the string yarn.

Taming string yarn weft tails.

  • In same shed, send the shuttle back through to the other side, aware of encircling the one warp end.

Tucking in string yarn weft tails. Tips.

  • Beat. (Beat on open shed. Beat again. Change sheds. Beat again.)

How to manage string yarn weft tails.

  • Continue weaving.

Rep weave mug rugs. String yarn weft tails - tips!

  • To end the thick weft, leave a 1 3/4″ tail, and taper the end of the string yarn, as before. Lay the tail back in the last shed, going around the outermost warp end. Beat.

Things happen that throw us off balance. From personal celebrations to unexpected losses. Don’t be afraid. Putting trust in the Lord minimizes the inner turmoil. The Lord is my light. He lights my way. What is there to be afraid of? Wholehearted trust in the Lord pushes fearfulness away.

May you walk in a lighted path.

Happy weaving,
Karen

4 Comments

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hey Karen,
    Just wanted to say congratulations on another great project and article in the newest Handwoven Mag! I’m so proud of you! Thanks for all you hard work and help with our weaving!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liberty, Thank you so much! It’s my joy to add my little two cents to the whole wide weaving world. My copy came in the mail yesterday! There are a lot of great projects in there.

      Thanks, friend,
      Karen

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Quiet Friday: Plattväv Towels and Thanksgiving Prayer

Start to finish, the plattväv towels have been a handweaver’s joy. Narrow stripes on the warp beam are strangely invigorating. Does it take extra effort to wind a warp with many stripes? Yes–cut off one color and tie on a new color, over and over. But when the loom is dressed and ready to go, the weaving is a breeze. Being cottolin, the warp is fully compliant; and with a little care, the linen weft becomes a weaver’s friend. Plattväv, the icing on the cake, gives me a simple pattern weft that dresses up these plain weave towels. (And, yes, I am in the process of developing a kit for these plattväv towels.)

Planning handwoven towels.

Cottolin warp with counting cord.

Striped warp for plattväv towels.

Threading the loom for plattväv towels.

Tying up treadles the easy way.

Weft auditions for plattväv towels.

Plattväv towels on the loom, with linen weft.

Plattväv towels on the loom. Karen Isenhower

Blue linen pattern weft.

Beautiful blue linen pattern weft.

Plattväv towels coming off the loom!

Off the loom and ready for trimming threads.

Band loom weaving.

Plattväv towels ready to roll!

Plattväv towels. Karen Isenhower

The joy of weaving is a blessing, as is the joy of friendships across the miles. Thank you for walking this journey with me.

Thanksgiving prayer: Thank you, Lord, for everything.

May you overflow with blessings and reasons for giving thanks.

Thankful for you,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    Hi Karen,
    These towels are just beautiful. Thank you for all the work you do to help us with our weaving. Happy Thanksgiving my friend!

  • Martha says:

    Love the photo of the towels rolled up- very interesting to view. Beautiful work as always.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Martha, The linen is predominant in these towels, and linen begs to be rolled. I had fun playing around with them to take pictures.
      Thanks for your kind words!

      Happy Thanksgiving,
      Karen

  • Anne says:

    I will definitely be interested win the kit! Beautiful!

  • Theresa says:

    The towels are lovely. I too will be watching out for kit information.
    I’m wondering if hemp would be worth a whirl in place of linen?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Theresa, I’m excited about putting the kit together. It’s good to know you are keeping an eye on it.
      I have never woven with hemp. From what I’ve heard, it weaves much like linen. So I’m certain it would work for this.
      I love the Bockens and the Borgs Swedish linen, so I haven’t branched out much in that regard.

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

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Thankful for Plattväv

The brilliant blue linen, with its natural luster, is a lively option for the plattväv pattern floats. And blue linen weft for the hem makes a fitting border. These towels with blue accents have a different “character” than the towels with the black linen accents (as seen in Striped Warp Freedom). The accent color makes a big difference.

Plattväv towels with linen weft.

Golden bleached 16/1 linen for plain weave weft. Plattväv pattern weft is doubled royal blue 16/1 linen.

I planned stripes in the warp to simplify the weaving. The warp stripes enable me to weave patterned towels with a single weft color. Plattväv weft floats keep it interesting. As much as I like blue linen, I am uncertain about it here. I’m waiting to see the towels off the loom, washed and dried. In the meantime, the warp stripes make my heart sing. And I’m thankful to have options for the pattern weft.

Blue 16/1 linen is used to weave the hem. Karen Isenhower

Royal blue 16/1 linen is used to weave the hem. The antique Swedish shuttle seems appropriate for this Swedish weave.

We always have a reason to sing. ThanksGiving may be a holiday, but it’s also a way of life. It’s seeing the good, the benefits, the blessings, even in the midst of uncertainty. It’s knowing that carefully planned warp stripes are still there. My hope is in God. My soul is confident, firm, and steadfast in him. And thankful to the core.

May your heart find a song to sing.

With you,
Karen

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