Friday, July 7, 2017

Shuttle Handling


One of the issues that new weavers have is how to hold and throw their shuttle.  During my travels in June I talked to several people who said this was a problem for them.

First of all, I am interested to know how they are actually holding their shuttles.  If it is overhand, I recommend that they try holding it this way - cradled in their fingers is the best way I can explain it.

The above photo shows 'catching' - the point of the shuttle goes between my index and middle finger which allows my thumb to control the let off of the yarn from the bobbin.  The shuttle should be 'thrown' (actually propelled by the index finger) as close to the reed as possible as that is where the shed is the tallest.

My preference is for Leclerc brand wooden shuttles, but people with small hands find them too long.  In that case I recommend finding something that is shorter - Bluster Bay and Harrisville Designs both make shuttles with a snub nose.

Once the weft has been set, my thumb moves to the top of the shuttle, then my index finger moves to the point of the shuttle so it can be 'thrown' back for the next pick.

To beat the pick to the fell, I lift my hand holding the shuttle just enough for the beater to move below.

I weave fast.  All the motions of weaving roll one into the other.  My weaving rhythm depends on what I am weaving, how tightly I want the cloth to be.  An open cloth must be woven more slowly as each pick needs to be carefully set into the web.  A 'standard' cloth can be woven more quickly.  A dense cloth can be woven even more quickly as the force required to beat the pick in means the beater bounces back from the fell more quickly.

The point is not how quickly a weaver weaves, but that they wind up with the quality of cloth they desire.

But learning more efficient processes means that cloth comes off the loom more quickly.  If that's not important, then each person needs to do what is appropriate for them.

In the meantime I have this humongous stash to use up...

Currently reading Assassin's Fate by Robin Hobb

1 comment:

Susan Harvey said...

I have seen weavers covering the shuttle with their hand right over the top and heard it described as "The Claw". They also wove very slowly due to it. I tried to hold my shuttle that way and it literally hurt my hand after a while, so its not even ergonomically correct.

Of course there is always one exception and I have a friend who use the claw method and just whips along..... she has somehow made it her own.

I will continue to weave holding the shuttle as you do. It feels better, and is much faster process!
Susan