Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tools of the Trade

Both my looms are fully engaged and the weaving process is coming along nicely. I have one full log cabin scarf done and another started. On my bigger loom, I have towel number 3 done and the fourth will start after this blog entry is complete. So not much to show you there. I thought we could look at a 'weaver's tools of the trade' and I dragged out all my shuttles, bobbins and other do-dads. I have discovered that despite selling off 4-5 shuttles and other items recently, I still have a sizeable collection. Funny how that happens....
My preference is for Schacht end feed shuttles as they can be precisely tensioned and are actually nice to throw and catch. No noisy bobbins rattling and rolling on after the throw is done either. A friend who bought an EFS a while ago just started using it and is a new convert. Suddenly, she has two of them.. (see how that happens? ) They use pirns and they must be wound differently from regular bobbins. I can try to photograph this for a later post but best if you could refer to any good weaving book for a description. Here's a picture of the EFS's I have:

The wooden one is made by the late Jim Arhens (the 'A' in AVL) and has a wooden pirn which I can't seem to locate right now. Then there are the two sizes, and differing weights of my Schacht shuttles. The red pirns fit either, but the black only fit the larger shuttle. The decidely distressed shuttle is an old EFS (from a textile factory) that I found at a local antique store. It's seen better days for sure. It has the tips encased in metal as was normal for industrial shuttles. Now computers' blow' the weft across with high powered shots of air. No more shuttles.

Next is my selection of Leclerc shuttles. They are made in Quebec and this company has been making looms and equipment for so many years that they are a weaving insititution, literally everywhere. I would call these the workshorses of weavers. One is a double bobbin shuttle for when you'd like to blend and weave with two wefts at the same time. Personally I think a doubling stand is better. Of course.... more on that at another time. These take the regular styrene plastic bobbins.

I also have some Glimakra shuttles. The darker ones are made with oak and all are unique as they have rollers to help get them from one end of the warp to the other. I don't find them helpful with my current looms as I have no shuttle race for them to ride on. That also includes my old Leclerc counterbalance. (Most Leclerc looms have a shuttle race but 60 years ago, this old lady didn't get one.) The little brown 'rolls' are premade pirns for the shuttles. These are from Louet and last a long time. They can also be cut to fit. You can also use good stout, stiff paper and roll a quill and load it up with yarn. Not very exciting, but works when you have nothing else to hand. There was a time when all the nifty toys we use now weren't available and you made do. Next are some damask or 'mustache' shuttles: These have a lower profile and will slip through a narrow, tight shed. I use them often on my table loom and seem to load them with finer weft yarns. They take the Louet cardboard pirns due to the low height ( or paper rolled quills) These are made by Glimakra, another possibly Toika and one is by Woolhouse Tools.

Next we have ski shuttles for large weft projects such as rag rugs and bulky wools. The first picture is of Leclerc ski shuttles and one that will even take large bobbins. The second picture is of Scandinavian versions. The one with the symbol is made by Mr. Howell and are called Little Man Shuttles. Mr Howell passed away a few years ago but his work is still out there.


A friend gave this shuttle as a gift when she was selling off all her belongings prior to a move to Hong Kong. I haven't used it as yet and only have two of the large bobbins to fit it. It has the 'Little Man' logo:

I have some very tiny shuttles that I have used when weaving card inserts or doing inlay. But I think I have them cause they're cute. Good enough for me :) The top one is 3" in length and is made from dogwood. The black one is plastic and I inherited that with a loom some time ago.

Now comes some of my special shuttles. These are made from exotic woods by Mr. Michael Harris of Heirloom Shuttles, in Garland, Texas. They use the cardboard Louet pirns and the entire metal bar comes out and is held in place securely with magnets. They are hand polished with paste wax and are a real treat to use. My favourite is the Snake wood shuttle. The close up shows the wood's inner details. The others are a blend of Mexican rosewood, tulip wood, zebra wood and padauk:

A special commenorative ski shuttle was available for weavers to purchase when they signed up for HGA's Convergence in 2000 in Cincinatti. It featured 'curly maple' as you can see here:

His special shuttles all came with their own little cloth bag to protect them. A real nice touch! I don't believe that he's still making shuttles at this time. ( His day job was at NASA... and so while weaving isn't rocket science, it comes close with these beauties)

Next we have flat stick shuttles. These are great for table looms, big looms and any kind of weft. They are hand wound and can be slow to work with, but you get used to the process. I have them in all lengths from 4" to 34". Ideally you need them to be at least 3-4 inches longer than the warp on the loom so you can hand them off on the other side. As said before, these are great for narrow sheds and squeaking out the last few inches of a warp. The dark one is a special stick shuttle that is carved and can pack in the weft as well as carry the yarns. Inkle band weaving needs a shuttle with an edge. I don't know where this was made as there are no identifying marks, but it's sure interesting to see and hold!

Lastly, there are plastic netting shuttles which are handy for small amounts of weft such as cards or inlay work.
Next we have a variety of bobbins used in all these shuttles and the devices used to wind them:

I have shown my old electric bobbin winder. Made by Leclerc and it is circa 1950's. I had a new foot controller added (at a sewing machine repair shop) and just keeps on going! Then there is a Swedish pirn winder. It has a smaller post for the narrow pirns or quills as they are also called. It uses a worm gear and it's amazingly fast to use. Lastly, my emergency hand winder for regular bobbins and also made by Leclerc. It's for when the power goes out or the electric winder finally gives up the ghost one day.

So I have other tools to share but I think this is enough for this time. Just one more picture of my bench cushion, which is timely for weavers who have had enough of winter.


It's a little hard to see, but those are dancing ladybugs......See you again soon (if the computer gods allow) Blogger's spell checker isn't cooperating today, so all errors are mine. :)