Boat Shuttles: Select one for the type of weaving you want to do
You will eventually have more than one shuttle, since they come in different sizes and serve different purposes. A good boat shuttle to begin with would be one that holds a 4 or 5 inch quill. This size shuttle can be used for a variety of different threads and yarns and is a good size for weaving with cotton. If you want to weave with thicker yarns, such as for weaving blankets, then you can choose a shuttle that holds a 6 inch quill.
The smaller 11 to 13 inch long boat shuttles are the easiest to catch and throw. They are easy to hold and you will quickly learn to use them. If you weave wide fabrics, choose one which is a little longer, 11 to 15 inches long, as they will hold more yarn. Shuttles made to travel across a wide warp have rollers on the bottom.
The new “CLASSIC” shuttle is perfect for rigid heddle weavers as it is longer and easily passes through a rigid heddle shed.
Swedish shuttles are slender so they travel easily through even a small shed. And they have long ends which are easy to hold and give you a place to put your fingers when you throw the shuttle.
After you choose your boat shuttle, select the appropriate bobbins and/or quills and then a bobbin winder which is compatible. A thin spindle bobbin winder will wind both quills and bobbins. The thick spindle winder only winds bobbins.
The “Mini” #18
The Mini Boat is a very nice small shuttle, 7 3/4 inches long. It can be very handy when you are weaving on a small loom, a narrow warp, or need to use several shuttles at a time. They take the 3 1/2 inch, 90mm quill.
Shuttles # 6, 7, 8, & 9
These four shuttles have the traditional boat shuttle shape. The curved side allows the thread to come off the quill without catching inside the box. They vary in length and in the size quill they can hold. The #6 is 11 1/4 inches. The #7 is 12 inches. The #8 is 12 3/4 inches. The #9 is 13 1/4 inches. Not shown is the #8B Damask shuttle. It is similar to the #8 but is thinner for weaving small sheds. The #6 and 7 hold a 4 inch quill, 110mm, the #8 holds a 5 inch quill, 130mm and the #9 holds a 6 inch quill, 150mm.
Double Bobbin Shuttle #12
If you frequently double the weft threads for color blending or for pattern weaving, consider purchasing a double bobbin shuttle. It is easier to wind two bobbins than to wind two threads on one bobbin. If you use two bobbins in a double bobbin shuttle, the threads will not twist. It takes the 3.5 inch, 90mm quill.
The #16 Boat Shuttle has a solid bottom and rollers. It is designed for weaving fine threads on a wide warp. It is 12 inches in length and holds a 4 inch quill. It is a very popular model.
Shuttles #13, 14 & 15
Boat Shuttles # 13, 14 and 15 all have the same shape and have rollers for weaving wide warps. The #13 is 11 3/4 inches and holds a 4 inch quill. The #14 is 13 inches long and holds a 5 inch quill. The #15 is 15 inches long and holds a 6 inch quill.
If you have a drawloom or weave on a table loom with narrow sheds, consider purchasing a damask shuttle. They are only 5/8″ tall and will weave through very small sheds. They are useful for weaving on table looms, double weave and pick up weaves. The #8B is a damask shuttle which holds a 5 inch quill.
We also stock the Folke Samuelsson weighted damask shuttle seen here. It is 14 inches long and holds a 6 inch quill. It is the choice of drawloom weavers.
The Classic Shuttle is designed for weaving on a rigid heddle loom. It is 15 inches long for ease of putting it through a rigid heddle shed. It is only 1 inch tall so that it will fit even through the smallest of sheds. And it will hold a 6 inch quill so it will carry a lot of yarn.
Quills and Bobbins
Bobbins have flanges on their ends. They have some disadvantages. They hold less thread since they start out thicker, are more expensive and can be very noisy when you throw them across the warp. Sometimes they create extra drag on the thread, which can cause your selvages to be pulled in. If you have draw-in of your selvages, especially on a wide warp, you should try using quills instead of bobbins. The thicker ends of the bobbin can sometimes catch inside the bobbin cavity of the shuttle. In this case, the bobbin is probably too long or too thick and it will be better to use quills. Bobbins need to move from side to side in order to release the thread without creating drag on the thread. So, the bobbin should be about 3/4 to 1 inch shorter than the box of the shuttle.
Quills do not have sides, are made of cardboard, can be cut to the right length and can be used in any shuttle. The quill length should be 1/2 to 3/4″ less than the length of the shuttle’s box. Quills are much quieter than bobbins. We stock carboard quills in lengths up to 6 inches.
We also have ‘pirns’ for fly shuttles and end-feed type shuttles. These work well with the Bluster Bay shuttle.
Ski shuttles, double ski shuttles and flat shuttles can hold much more weft material than a boat shuttle and are appropriate for weaving with very thick wefts and for weaving rugs. Ski shuttles and double ski shuttles can be thrown across a wide warp. Glimakra shuttles are more slender than most, so they travel easily through an ordinary shed. Yet, they hold a lot of weft.
Flat or Stick shuttles cannot be thrown, but are less expensive and very useful for narrow warps and vertical looms.
Ski shuttles come in two lengths, 19 1/2 inches and 25 inches. Double ski shuttles also are in two lengths of 13 3/4 inch and 18 3/4 inch. Flat or stick shuttles are available in lengths of 12, 16 or 20 inches.