How to Choose a Shuttle for Weaving

imageplaceholder Sara Bixler
Contributor, Weaving Today

Choosing a shuttle is one of those age-old discussions that begins on your first day of weaving and carries through year of weaving experience. As an instructor, students are always asking me, “What’s your favorite shuttle”? In uttering those words what they’re really asking me is for the green light to choose a shuttle that will help them become the best weaver they can be.

We put a tremendous amount of faith into tools. Tools make our lives easier, faster and more efficient… but there are still decisions that need to be made when choosing a tool. Keeping in mind that there is no perfect shuttle that will be the answer to all of our weaving needs, and we should come to grips that we will most likely be investing in several until we’ve found that “favorite” go-to shuttle.

So, answering my new students' question usually begins with, “Well…” and we begin the discussion about what they think they would like to weave. We discuss things like the width of their pieces, the weight of yarn they’ll be using and the need to use 2 shuttles for special weave structures, and, of course, budget. All of these factors will play a role in this decision-making process.

If the student has a strong desire to weave wide shawls, tablecloths, or blankets, we’ll need to look at those shuttles that are larger in size to not only accommodate a larger amount of yarn, but also those that are heavier in weight. This allows the weaver to propel the shuttle from selvedge to selvedge easily without stopping midway. For those who have a strong desire to weave placemats and rag rugs, we’ll need to look not only at boat shuttles but also at the varying range of rag and rug shuttles.

When a weaver asks me how to choose a shuttle, my tried and true answer is to try the equipment first. I certainly would never buy a pair of shoes purely on recommendation from a friend or the saleswoman without giving them a walk up and down the aisle in the store first–the shoes have to fit! If you have an opportunity to try a wide range of shuttles either from a friend, fellow guild member, or even the studio/shop you’re purchasing them from, you'll be able to better make a decision. As I look at my shelving unit with the bulging basket of shuttles in all shapes and sizes, I would be a hypocrite to say I have just one that receives rave reviews, but it’s certainly been a journey getting to know each one of them and their unique characteristics.

Happy Weaving!


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