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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Pretty Fine Threads

This towel project has 896 warp ends! 24/2 cotton is pretty fine (as in thin) for towels. These lightweight towels will have textural character from the M’s and O’s weave structure. The warp is unbleached cotton, except for some color near the borders. The weft, 20/1 half-bleached linen, is also finer threads.

Pencil and paper, and Fiberworks to design some towels.

Pencil and paper, Fiberworks, and tubes of thread are used in the design process.

I don’t often use the computer to design weaving projects. But this time simply writing out the draft on paper wasn’t enough. Fiberworks enabled me to work out a design I’m excited to put on the loom! That still wasn’t enough, though. I needed to keep at it to settle on the colors. Examining color combinations through color wrapping was a tremendous help in finalizing my design.

Color wrapping for designing cotton towels.

Solid color stripe sits next to a stripe with alternating dark/light colors.

In things that matter, it makes sense to keep pressing for answers. Take the extra steps to make sure you are on track. Search for answers. What you look for, you find. Is it possible that God shows Himself to those who want to find Him? It’s an honest quest. God, if You are there, let me find You. It’s worth the extra push. The fine threads, the design, the colors. The pretty fine threads do fall into place.

Which color combination would you choose?

Variations on a theme. Do you have a favorite?

I’m curious–which color wrapping combo would you select? Share your thoughts in the comments. You will see my choice when I warp the loom!

May you find your heart’s desire.

Happy weaving,
Karen

~UPDATE~ Towel Kits ~

The response for the towel kits last week was amazing! The kits sold out in a few minutes. I’m sorry if you were disappointed and were not able to snatch a kit.

Five more towel kits are ready! The River Stripe Towel Set, Pre-Wound Warp and Instructional Kit, for $150 per kit, will be listed in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop today, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, about 3:00 p.m. (CT).

If these kits sell out I will make some more!

If you are not already on the Towel Kit notification list, and would like to be notified when the next round of towel kits are ready, please send me a message HERE.

Thank you!
Your weaving friend

33 Comments

  • Beth Mullins says:

    The black and white is a great classic but, I’m attracted to the reddish combination.

    Congratulations on the towel kit sales!

    • Karen says:

      Beth, I agree that the black and white is a classic look. The reddish set is red and orange, but the white threads between the orange soften it and make it compatible with the red.

      Thanks!
      Karen

  • Sara Jeanne says:

    Personal favorite #2. As always, your blog is inspiring!
    Thanks Karen

    • Karen says:

      Sara Jeanne, It’s great to hear from you!
      #2 works well because the 2 colors are close in hue, which I tested by looking at the pics in black and white.

      Thanks for adding your thoughts!
      Karen

  • Julia says:

    Hmmm? Each color combination has its own character – can’t say which is my favorite, just like the seasons and the weather and children. Do we have to choose? Can’t we weave, experience, have each one? They are all so lovely!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, Haha good answer. Well, you can have and weave each one if you want, but I’m only going to put these threads (almost 900) on the loom one time. I have to choose. 🙂

      Karen

  • Sandy Huber says:

    I like them all, but my eye keeps going to #2 🙂

  • Betsy says:

    I like all of them, but I would lean toward #4.

  • Cuyler says:

    Like #2 very much.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think I like #2 the best, but would be tempted to combine the # 2and # 4 together ☺
    Carolee

  • Doris Walker says:

    I actually like #2 & #3. But I am sure any of them would work up well.

  • Peg Cherre says:

    Interesting responses. So much about color is personal. I like #3 & #4 best…seem to be alone in that.

    • Karen says:

      Peg, I agree, so much about color is personal. That could be an interesting study – what factors contribute to an individual’s “color sense?”

      Karen

  • Gerda Hoogenboom says:

    Number 2, definitely. And good to hear your towel kits are doing so well. Would be tempted, but postage to France would make them too expensive to ever use.!!

  • Nanette says:

    Since these are such light towels, I wonder what kind they are…too light for kitchen? Good for finger tip? I like #4 but it might be too subtle for many places….I’d consider where it will go. A warp stripe is a big commitment–what will the weft be? Can/will you vary that with colors?..

    • Karen says:

      Nanette, I don’t think they will be too light for kitchen use. With linen weft they will make very absorbent towels. I am considering weaving a long length for a dining table runner…

      The overall weft is half-bleached linen. I plan to make weft stripes that match the warp stripes. The stripes will form a border “frame” on the four sides of the towel. If I make a table runner I will probably leave off the weft stripes.

      You are right about warp stripes being a big commitment. Hmm… sounds like material for a blog post. 😉

      Happy weaving,
      Karen

  • maggie says:

    my vote is #4. living in where i do green is a neutral. but i’ve found blue towels sell first. unfortunately i don’t like blue.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Maggie, Your comment makes me chuckle. I love blue – any shade of blue is my favorite color. So I purposely avoided blue because I wanted a challenge, and blue seemed too easy. 🙂

      Karen

  • Liberty Stickney says:

    I love them all, but I like #4, the best, soft and beautiful!

  • Bev says:

    Number 3 is my personal favorite with #2 as second choice, but my favorite color has always been red (but not pink) but 1 or 4 would probably fit most peoples color themes better.

  • Anonymous says:

    #1 is my fav, but 4 intrigues me…

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m drawn to number 4 because it is evocative of the colors we often see in flax when it is first spun.

  • Cindy Bills says:

    #3 and #2 are tied for me. I’m looking forward to seeing the weaving on your loom.
    Almost thirty years ago I came to a point in my life where I prayed that very prayer. If you are there, God, let me find you! And He did! So thankful He draws us to Himself. Words can not express. But I think you understand. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Dear Cindy, I am eager to wind this warp and dress the loom. With so many color viewpoints it will be interesting to see how the final arrangement works out!

      I’m so pleased and touched to hear your story. I’m sincerely grateful, too, that God draws us to Himself.

      Love,
      Karen

  • Irene says:

    I like 2 and 3, but 2 is my favorite. Love warm colors.

    Received the river stripe kit it. Thank you for shipping to Sarasota.

    Irene

  • Kathy says:

    2 and 3 also tied for me. 2 might be better just because it is different from usual red and white.

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Empty Quills

No matter how much thread is on the quill, if you keep weaving, you will eventually come to a bare quill. Three at once, this time. Two with tencel in the double-bobbin shuttle and one with 8/2 cotton. A quill is a small item with an essential role. This mostly-hidden cardboard cylinder holds the threads that weave.

Kuvikas on eight shafts.

Kuvikas on eight shafts with 8/2 cotton warp, 8/2 cotton ground weave, and doubled 8/2 tencel pattern weft.

An empty quill is a stopping place. You have to stop. Wind another quill, or three, before you weave some more. Or, use quills from your loom bench basket that you had already wound. It’s the cycle of weaving. Weave. Stop. New quill. Weave. Stop. And so on.

The quill is mostly hidden until the thread runs out. Likewise, truth seems like a secret until it comes to light. And then you realize it holds the fibers of life. Truth is worth searching for. It is central to understanding our existence. Examine a thread of reality, keep pulling that thread, and unroll it. It always ends up at truth. Truth is that core, that weaver’s quill, around which reality is wound. For our Grand Weaver, truth always holds the threads that weave.

May truth be at your core.

Yours,
Karen

2 Comments

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Twenty-Seven Mug Rugs

Twenty-seven coffee mugs sitting in a row… on these new mug rugs! Wouldn’t that be a lovely sight?! Twenty-four of the mug rugs are identical. The last three, however, are different. I ran out of string yarn near the end of the warp, so I switched to fabric strips for the weft. There is just enough spacing between warp ends that some of the fabric print shows through. I love the results! These last three mug rugs are set apart. Brought about by a shortage of string yarn.

Making rep weave mug rugs.

Fabric strip from a past rag rug project is used for the thick weft in this rep weave mug rug. The cotton fabric strip is 3/4″ wide.

Rep weave mug rugs with fabric strips.

Beautiful batik fabric with crimson and purple deepens the color of the red cottolin warp ends.

Six yards of rep weave mug rugs!

Cutting Off! Six yards of mug rugs.

Rep Weave mug rugs with cute short fringe.

Finished with machine zigzag stitches and a short fringe. 25 mug rugs with black string yarn weft. 1 mug rug with fabric strip weft. (Not shown: 2 mug rugs from the set-apart pile that have already been dispersed as gifts.)

Realizing our personal shortages is the beginning of humility. It’s not easy to acknowledge shortcomings. But humility begins with honesty. And it’s the answer for those who want to find the path to God. It’s our honesty about our shortcomings that catches His attention. God hears a humble prayer. The God of the universe gives one-on-one attention to the person who comes to Him in humility. Amazing! We come to the end of our personal supply, and He supplies the needed weft that sets us apart.

May your humility make you different from the norm.

With you,
Karen

~ATTENTION~ Towel Kits ~

Thank you for your fantastic response regarding the towel kits I am offering! Many of you have expressed an interest in knowing when the kits will be available for purchase.

A small number of towel kits are ready! The River Stripe Towel Set, Pre-Wound Warp and Instructional Kit, for $150 per kit, will be listed in the Warped for Good Etsy Shop tomorrow, Wednesday, March 29, 2017, around 10:00 am CT.

If you are not already on the Towel Kit notification list, and would like to be notified when the next batch of towel kits are ready, please send me a message HERE.

Thank you!
Your weaving friend

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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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