When you graduate from a stick shuttle to a boat shuttle, you’ll exclaim that you’ll never go back. The spinning bobbin unwinds the yarn automatically as the shuttle passes back and forth. Your weaving speed increases and you’ll notice a marked improvement in consistency. Here are a few tips for choosing the right boat shuttle for the project at hand.
Usually weavers like a longer, heavier shuttle for wider warps and narrower and lighter-weight shuttles for narrow weavings. A longer shuttle has a longer bobbin and therefore holds more yarn. Another consideration to your shuttle size is the size of your hand. If you have small hands, you may find a larger shuttle not as comfortable to use. Schacht Boat Shuttles come in four lengths: 9”, 11”, 13” and 15”.
Bottom or no bottom? Some weavers like the glide of the shuttle with a closed bottom. I like an open bottomed shuttle because I like to place my finger under the bobbin to stop it rotating when I draw the shuttle out of the shed. This is a preference and the best way to know what you like is to try both kinds.
Regular or slim? What about shuttle height? If the shed on your loom is narrow, then you might want to use a low profile shuttle, such as a slim boat shuttle. Also, a very narrow shuttle is excellent to use if you are taking the shuttle in and out of the shed. Note: that a narrower shuttle will hold slightly less yarn. Slim and regular shuttles are available in 11” lengths only.
What’s a double bobbin boat? If you are doubling wefts, then using a double bobbin boat shuttle solves the main problem that occurs when weaving with two wefts wound together on a bobbin: the two yarns never unwind exactly at the same rate when wound together on a single bobbin. The consequence is little loops developing at the edges, ruining your otherwise perfectly even selvedges. Winding two separate bobbins eliminates this problem. I love our Schacht double bobbin boat shuttles with two separate bobbin shafts so that just one bobbin needs to be changed out when the yarn runs out. You know, they will never run out at the same time no matter how much you try!
End Delivery Shuttles: the cat’s meow
End-delivery shuttles always seem to be a mystery. But as far as efficient and dreamy weaving, once you start weaving with an end-delivery shuttle, you’ll think your boat shuttle is slow. An end delivery shuttle speeds weaving, so it is an advantage over a boat shuttle, which is weighed against the higher cost.
How an end delivery shuttle works: instead of a free-spinning bobbin like a boat shuttle uses, an end delivery shuttle has a pirn that remains stationary. The weft yarn unwinds off the pirn’s tip when the shuttle is in motion and stops unwinding when the shuttle stops. It is the motion of the shuttle that causes the yarn to unwind. If the shuttle stops, the yarn stops, as opposed to a boat shuttle where the bobbin keeps spinning even when the shuttle stops. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Because the yarn unwinds as the shuttle moves, perfect selvedges are possible with no fiddling whatsoever. Weaving is also more efficient because the hands stay close to the shed to send and receive the shuttle.
There are different ways to tension the thread in an end delivery shuttle. The Schacht end delivery shuttle has a set of tension pads through which the yarn passes. These pads are controlled by a screw that adjusts the amount of tension applied to the yarn. To create a perfect selvedge, adjust the pads until the selvedge neither pulls in nor forms weft loops. Once set, your weaving will proceed rapidly with perfect edges every time (no kidding!).
The Schacht end delivery shuttle was designed with handweavers in mind. It feels good in the hand, is light weight, adjustable to a variety of yarns and super easy to thread. Available in 12” and 15” lengths.
Which shuttle to choose? Boat or End Delivery? 9” mini or 11” slim, open bottom? As I always say to my students: It depends. On what you’re weaving, how much efficiency matters to you, your budget, and what feels good in your hand. Happy weaving!