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.
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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- Weave. Enjoy the process.
May your practice produce perfection. (Well, maybe not perfection, but at least improvement.)
Cooks have recipes, builders have blueprints, and handweavers have weaving drafts. There are a few different formats, but all drafts carry the same essential information. There is the tie-up box, the threading pattern, and the treadling sequence. Finally, there’s the drawdown, a graphic representation of how all the threads intersect.
The two formats I see most often are the typical American draft (e.g., Handwoven), and the Swedish draft (e.g., VÄV Magasinet). Many American drafts assume jack looms; whereas, Swedish drafts usually assume counterbalance or countermarch looms. However, any loom can weave from any draft.
As Madelyn van der Hoogt says in The Complete Book of Drafting, “Any tie-up can be used for any type of loom. Discover from the tie-up which shafts must be up and which down for each shed, and do to the loom whatever is required to get them there.”
All the draft formats have this in common: The tie-up box is the starting point. The threading pattern and treadling sequence begin at that point, and go out from there.
The Swedish draft makes perfect sense (remember, of course, I weave on Swedish countermarch looms). I picture the draft as if it is lying flat in front of me.
Becky Ashenden says in the forward to Weave Structures the Swedish Way, “With this orientation of tie-up, treadling, and threading, the draft has a direct relationship to the weaving of the fabric. The tie-up’s location in the lower right-hand corner of the draft allows all other information to match as closely as possible the physical aspects of the loom.”
Here is a comparison of the Swedish and American draft formats:
- Weft drawdown (filled-in squares show lowered warp threads, weft passing over)
- Tie-up is in lower right corner, and uses black squares to designate shafts that sink / white squares for shafts that rise
- Threading is below the drawdown
- Shafts are numbered from back of the loom to front, with the first shaft the furthest from the weaver seated at the loom
- Treadling sequence is on the right, and reads from bottom to top
- Treadles are numbered from right to left
- For a “sinking shed” loom (countermarch or counterbalance loom), use the black squares to tie up sinking shafts
- For a “rising shed loom” (jack loom), use the white squares to tie up rising shafts
- Warp drawdown (filled-in squares show raised warp threads, weft passing under)
- Tie-up is in upper right corner, and uses numerals to designate shafts that rise / white squares for shafts that sink
- Threading is above the drawdown
- Shafts are numbered from front of loom to the back, with the first shaft the closest to the weaver seated at the loom
- Treadling sequence is on the right, and reads from top to bottom
- Treadles are numbered from left to right
- For a “sinking shed” loom (countermarch or counterbalance loom), use the white squares to tie up sinking shafts
- For a “rising shed loom” (jack loom), use the squares with numerals to tie up rising shafts
Similarities between Swedish and American Drafts
- Threading reads right to left
- Squares in the tie-up box represent treadle cords that attach treadles to corresponding shafts
Getzmann, Ulla, and Becky Ashenden. Weave Structures the Swedish Way. Shelburne, MA: Väv Stuga Press, 2006.
Hoogt, Madelyn Van der. The Complete Book of Drafting for Handweavers. Coupeville, WA: Shuttle-Craft Books, 1993.
May you flourish at your loom.
All the best,
When the front side of the fabric is on the underside, it helps to have a mirror. This is one of those times. A transparency can be woven with the weft turns on the front or on the back. I’m weaving this transparency with the weft turns on the front. The underside, therefore, has the crisper lines, and will (probably) be the right side of the finished transparency.
You can think of other weaves, as well, that have a different appearance on the back than on the front. That’s when a little mirror comes in handy. You can use a larger hand mirror, of course; but these are two little mirrors that I keep in the cart by my loom.
- A little wooden mirror with mother-of-pearl inlay that I picked up on one of my international travels.
- A lighted extended little mirror that I picked up on one of my wanderings at Home Depot while my husband was shopping for tools. A Husky Round Lighted Inspection Mirror, “…for inspection of hidden, unlit areas in applications ranging from industrial maintenance and automotive repair to general homeowner DIY applications.” They forgot to add, “…and for handweaver inspections of the reverse side of the cloth.”
May you find tools that serve you well.
How far will you travel? How will you know when you have arrived? Do you wish you could know when you are halfway there? Applied to weaving, I like to have the answers to these questions before I begin the “journey.” A pre-measured tape gives me consistency, especially important for multiple pieces in a set. The tape also acts as my “trip odometer.” I can see how far I’ve gone, and exactly how much is left to weave. It satisfies my insatiable need to know how close I am to the end. Are you like that, too?
How to Make and Use a Pre-Measured Tape
- Roll of 3/4″ or wider twill tape (or any cloth tape or ribbon that does not stretch, and that pins easily)
- Tape measure with inches and/or centimeters
- Fine tip permanent marker
- Flat head pins
- Use the permanent marker to place markings on the twill tape, as measured with the tape measure. Mark the start line 1/2″ from the end of the twill tape, so that the tape can be pinned in front of the mark.
- After drawing a line for the starting point and ending point, draw a line at the midway point, labeled MID.
- Include dotted lines for hem measurements, if applicable. Write the hem measurement on the twill tape; i.,e., 3/4″ or 2 cm.
- Write the weaving length measurement on the twill tape. Include calculation for takeup, if desired; i.,e., 25″ + 3″.
- Write the project or item description on the twill tape, if desired, for ease of repeat use; i.e., handtowel.
- Add other lines or marks, as needed, for borders, placement of weft colors, or other design elements.
- 1/2″ after the final marking, cut pre-measured twill tape from the roll of tape.
With the warp under tension, pin the pre-measured twill tape near the right or left selvedge with two flat-head pins. Match the start line of the tape with the beginning of the weaving.
Before each advancement of the warp, move the pin closest to the breast beam to a point near the fell line. In this way, have the pins leapfrog each other, moving only one pin each time. Always keep the warp under tension when moving the pins.
May you accurately measure your ways.