Tools Day: Swedish Bobbin Winder

There’s nothing quite like the beauty and functionality of a well-designed tool. The Swedish hand bobbin winder is one of those tools. A bobbin winder is essential. Steve made a superb electric bobbin winder for me that I normally use. But at our Texas hill country home, my Swedish bobbin winder comes into play. And it is a pleasure to use. I clamp the bobbin winder on a shelf in the cabinet where I store my few weaving supplies for this location. The tube of thread sits directly below on a simple homemade spool holder.

Swedish hand bobbin winder for winding quills.

Swedish hand bobbin winder is set up in my supply cabinet. It is easy to remove and put away when I finish winding quills.

Swedish hand bobbin winder for winding quills.

Narrow spindle on the bobbin winder is the size that works for winding quills.

For these color-and-weave cotton placemats, I am using double-bobbin shuttles. So, with the impressively simple Swedish hand bobbin winder I am winding matching pairs of colorful 8/2 cotton quills.

Double-bobbin shuttles for weaving doubled weft.

Double bobbin shuttles are handy for weaving this doubled weft color-and-weave pattern.

May you have the pleasure of working with well-designed tools.

Happy weaving,
Karen

2 Comments

  • I am glad I found your blog. It visually explains how weaving should look when done right. AND—– (very important) has been kept up to date since 2013.
    Thank you.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nannette, What a kind thing for you to say! I aim to give visual explanations, so I’m happy to hear that from you.

      Yes, I have been posting twice a week ever since I started in April 2013. Thank you for noticing!

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

Leave a Reply


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

Leave a Reply


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

4 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

  • Betty Morrissey says:

    just what I needed today thank you.

Leave a Reply


Tools Day: Narrow Shelf

It’s not easy to keep a table top cleared off. Little things accumulate that intrude on the work space. The wonderful maple work table Steve made for my weaving room a couple years ago provides a needed surface for multiple uses. I do my project planning here; and I weigh out my yarns here; and I wind quills here. It’s time to create a space for the little things, to get them off the table. Steve to the rescue! He built a narrow shelf to go on the wall behind the work table. Pencils, snips, pins and needles, quills with a little bit of thread, and the like. Pegs below the shelf give me a convenient place to hang a few essentials–small scissors, Gingher thread clippers on a cord, a few choke ties, tape measure, and my Väv Calendar.

Hand-crafted maple shelf compliments the maple work table below.

Hand-crafted maple shelf compliments the maple work table below. Frequently used items are within arm’s reach.

Hand-crafted maple shelf above weaving work table.

Re-purposed vessels make colorful holders for small items.

Now, I am ready for anything!

May your creative space work in your favor.

All the best,
Karen

Leave a Reply


Tools Day: Loom Cart

Having a cart beside my loom is the next best thing to a loom-side assistant! A turquoise utility cart from IKEA sits beside my Glimåkra Ideal. An Elfa drawer system on casters is right beside the Glimåkra Standard, and keeps oft-used tools within arm’s reach.

The IKEA cart (Råskog Utility Cart) serves as a holding space for any project on the Ideal. Since this loom is not in the room where I keep my weaving supplies, it helps to have a rolling cart that holds items as needed. The three tiers hold tools and supplies for dressing the loom, like sley hook, extra Texsolv heddles, and treadle cords. While weaving, I keep extra shuttles and small tools on the top tier. All the weft thread or yarn for the project goes on the second or third tier. When I weave rag rugs, fabric strips that are sorted by design and/or color are piled up on the three tiers.

IKEA utility cart as loom-side assistant.

IKEA utility cart holds thread and wound quills while I try out weft colors on a new warp.

The Elfa cart enhances efficiency at the big loom. It houses frequently-used essentials, especially small tools and supplies needed to dress the loom. It is near my work table where I wind quills, so yarn for the current project goes in the deep bottom drawer. The woodblock top adds a nice touch that compliments the wood of my Swedish loom.

Elfa drawer system with casters for loom-side assistant.

Too many leftover quills from projects sit in the top drawer of the loom cart. Sley hooks, flat head pins, headlamp, pencils, tape, and other small tools and gadgets are in this top drawer.

Elfa drawer system as loom cart. Organized!

Second drawer has anchor pins and arrow pegs for Texsolv cord, box of choke ties, box of long treadle cords, box of short treadle cords. I found the little boxes at IKEA.

Loom room organization. Guide strings wrapped on empty tubes.

Guide strings for measuring warp are wrapped on empty thread tubes. This drawer also holds rolls of twill ribbon used for measuring weaving length at the loom.

Organization at the loom. Elfa cart solution.

Yarn in the bottom drawer is only a half step away from the winding station. All the cotton and wool weft for the current project is in this drawer, making it easy to grab what I need for winding more quills.

May your loom-side assistant serve you well.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

8 Comments

  • Sara Jeanne says:

    Karen, you, my friend, are very organized…something I strive for. I especially like your method for keeping your guide strings orderly. I have a bag of empty tubes, so you’ll find me sorting my guide strings this week! Hah!
    Any plans for a Vavstuga trip this year?
    Sara Jeanne

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sara Jeanne, It’s great to hear from you! I’m glad you like the guide string idea. Necessity is the mother of invention. I was getting tired of untangling my guide strings when I wanted to wind a warp. 🙂
      Vavstuga this year? I haven’t ruled it out; I’m always looking at the list of classes and dreaming about what to do next. The hard part is fitting it in.

      Karen

  • Laurie Mrvos says:

    Loving both carts, and how organized they are! That monks belt on your loom is terrific!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laurie, I like to try to be organized, even though I don’t “feel” like an organized person most of the time.
      I’m glad you like the monksbelt. I am having a blast weaving it! It seems like “this” is what weaving looms are for. 🙂

      Karen

  • Cindie says:

    I have a couple of those tall 6 drawer plastic rolling carts next to my looms but I’ve often admired that IKEA cart while at the store but never came home with it because of lack of space…….I never thought of next to the loom, it will be great for the loom at the beach cottage!

    • Karen says:

      Cindie, I admired the IKEA cart at the store, too. I had to come home and figure out how I *needed* to have one. It didn’t take me long. Now I don’t know what I would do without it beside my loom! It’s not only attractive, it’s functional! Yay!!

      Happy beach cottage weaving! (sounds wonderful)
      Karen

  • linda says:

    WOOH. I’m really not organized. No guide strings here, just a trusty tape measure used for all projects. A castle at the top of my Macomber has a tray for the tools, an open bin on my rocking bench holds shuttles, and a basket on a table next to the loom holds the quills. Real simple here.no fuss no muss. Looms in two states always ready to go, I do have two secrets: scissors are tied to the loom and I have a hand woven pin cushion attached to the castle always in reach with pins and needles. My weaving work space is shared with sewing machines, knitting needles and yarn, quilting supplies laundry and my husbands desk.

Leave a Reply