Spinninglizzy's Weblog

Falling down the slippery fibre slope

Ode To An End-Feed Shuttle

I suppose “Paean” is more correct, but I think “Ode” sounds better.

I visit the end-feed shuttles at my local weaving shop from time to time, (the same ones have been there for the past half year, so they must not be huge sellers), but have balked at the prices every time.  Apparently, most of the other weavers in the area must balk as well…  I knew the EFSs were always the same ones, but I never looked at them long enough to have any recollection of one in particular.  Because I could never buy one, what would be the point?

The large sheds I get with my Bergman loom allow me to use shuttles I could not use with my other looms.  I was able to secure an AVL end-feed shuttle second-hand, and found it works very, very well.  Very. Very. Well.

I can’t say I love using the end-feed shuttle (EFS).  It would not adequately express the depth of my feelings for it.  It’s a necessary part of the joy of weaving I experience on the Bergman.  I don’t mind using different shuttles on other looms, but on my Bergman, weaving is so transcendentally joyful, why anchor it down with a boat shuttle?

Now, in my opinion, the problem with one end-feed shuttle (or any other type of shuttle, for that matter), is that it needs, at a minimum, a second.  Something like those animals that must needs be kept in herds.  Just think colour-and-weave.  Or shadow weave.  (And, just plain laziness!)  Am I not right?

A few weekends ago, after a family outing to the Pacific Science Center, I mentioned to DH that we had to stop at a certain vitamin store because we needed some things, plus I had a coupon for five dollars in savings.  On the way there, our son fell asleep in the car, and said vitamin store was three blocks away from the weaving shop.  Son asleep, plus  husband in the car to watch him equals a little time all to myself to have a look at things without any interruptions!  I did not plan this side trip, truly!

Within minutes, I was clutching Paul O’Connor’s “Loom-Controlled Double Cloth” book and a walnut Bluster Bay end-feed shuttle.  I experienced the sensation of reasoning with lightning speed and crystal clarity.  I ruled out the one that wasn’t either Bluster Bay (BB) or Schacht (I don’t even remember looking at its brand name), because it took pirns that the store didn’t have in stock.  Then I ruled out the maple wood Bluster Bays, and finally the Schacht, because it was the smaller size that used the smaller pirn.  The walnut BB was the only EFS that I liked and which also fit the AVL pirns that I’d already invested in for the AVL EFS I have.  (Whew!  Did you think the computer field the only one with acronyms?!)  Just then my DH came in, carrying the weepy, just-woken DS, and my free time abruptly ended; I did not hesitate, but went straight to the cashier.

The book has been in my mind to purchase since January, and I had the vague notion that the next time I saw it, it would be coming home with me.   But not a new shuttle, and certainly not an end-feed shuttle.  While I have wanted another EFS, I also knew they cost as much as a used loom.  Or even two or three.   (Now that I’ve splurged on the Bluster Bay, I expect I shall be innundated with incredble deals on used end-feed shuttles…)

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I’m not sure what got into me, but that wasn’t me.  Me, I bargain-hunt.  I bide my time.  I think things, and wait, and they eventually come to me.  I ruminate.  I agonise, at length, over things even as small as the relative merits of  toothpaste (on sale, versus a preferred brand…).  I can count on two hands the number of non-book, weaving-related equipment that I’ve purchased new, (like stick shuttles and bobbins for boat shuttles), but really, this is my first substantial brand-spanking-new weaving purchase.

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I haven’t had a chance to try it yet; my Bergman is awaiting a new warp.  The BB is very slightly longer, higher, and wider than my AVL EFS, although it weighs less and feels a marvel to hold.  Truly, it is balanced and finished to perfection.  Tensioning and threading is done completely by hand.  I tension the AVL with a hex-wrench, and use an spinning wheel orifice hook to thread the yarn.  The AVL is partially open-bottomed, whilst the BB is completely closed.  I had some concern about this at first, until I found that the BB weighs less than the AVL, which I find very comfortable to use.

Can someone explain to me why a hundred dollars for a shuttle was unthinkably expensive a few months ago, but purchased with less thought than for toothpaste today?  I know I should feel guilty, but I don’t.  I did save five dollars on vitamins, after all. ;~)

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11 April 2009 - Posted by | Weaving

6 Comments »

  1. I know what you mean about shuttles needing at minimum a second – I have a few little shuttle families. Also it’s very true that some shuttles feel better to use than others and it is a great joy to have a shuttle that is good to hold and works beautifully. I’m sure this was $100 dollars well spent.

    I wonder if I’d have got into weaving at all if I’d known that the money spent on my loom, which seemed a huge amount, would be far exceeded by the money spent on reeds, shuttles, bobbin winder, new cords, yarn etc?

    Comment by Dot | 12 April 2009 | Reply

  2. Oh yes, Dot has it right. It’s the stuff that goes *with* the loom that sinks us. I have a BB shuttle that I picked up at a guild sale at an absolutely swesome price. It was in a box, and apparently several people had spent some time agonizing over it- I opened it up and fell in love. It’s a 15″, a little large and heavy for me, but I wouldn’t give it up. They are things of beauty. Enjoy yours.

    Comment by Kimmen | 12 April 2009 | Reply

  3. Congratulations on the purchase!!! I can really relate to a lot of your post. I’ve been wanting an EFS for a long time but haven’t been able to justify the price. I have a really beautiful 15″ Schmeing fly shuttle that I plan to use after I grind down the metal tips. Maybe I’ll do that today.

    Comment by Terri | 27 April 2009 | Reply

  4. I have been out of weaving inspiration but now returned!! So sorry not to have commented until now. Those shuttles are something else and look quite scary. Congratulations on over riding your saving money head, I sometimes do mad things like that and its very healthy (and fun) hows the bergman? and what are you weaving. ?

    Comment by deborahbee | 29 April 2009 | Reply

  5. You are so right to ask why end feed shuttles are so expensive. I have two (one large, one small) AVL’s I purchased new for $40 not that many years ago. Like a good loom good shuttles are well worth the investment.

    Comment by Barbara Fessler | 5 May 2009 | Reply

  6. I so related to your blog. I bought the same exact large walnut shuttle. I love it. It needs a mate. I have two large bobbin shuttles that are very fine but nothing compares to that BB end feed shuttle. I had to have it, call it love at first sight and I still love it. And, I am not like that. Yep, I ruminate over salt and toothpaste, too.

    Comment by Yvette Tillema | 19 February 2010 | Reply


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