Question Authority

Whenever someone says to me, "you must always...," or, "you must never...," I tend to take it with a grain of salt. Because for every great weaver who always does it one way, there is another great weaver who has never done it that way, and vice versa. So here comes another "do as I say, not as I do" moment...

With a standard boat shuttle, the yarn rolls off a bobbin through a side slot, while on an end-feed shuttle, the yarn spirals off the end of a pirn and through a slot near one end (hence the name). End-feed shuttles are considered by many weavers to be invaluable tools, and most who use one would never give it up. I happen to be lucky enough to own a very old end-feed shuttle, but I had never used it. Why not? Because an accomplished weaver, and expert in the field, told me that I would need a special type of pirn winder, and it was "impossible" to wind the pirn properly on the type of winder I happen to own. Full stop. For some reason, the admittedly oversized skepticism center in my brain didn't kick in. I did exactly the opposite of my usual tendency ― I did not Question Authority. She had given me much good advice in the past, so I simply accepted it. Besides, my regular boat shuttles have served me well, for the most part. I didn't really need the end-feed shuttle to do good work.

Well, this week handed me the opportunity, and I took it. After wrestling with a particularly sticky weft, I finally got fed up with it jamming up in my boat shuttle and dug out the end-feed shuttle just to give it a go, what the heck. And, what do you know? My little old single-ended manual winder worked just fine and dandy!

And the weaving is now going lickety split, the sticky weft laying in smoothly as can be. It's not all sunshine and unicorns, though, because the thing is heavy, almost 13 ounces! I think it was an old fly-shuttle, retrofitted for manual use. Something that heavy will cause some trouble in my hands and wrists if I use it constantly, so as soon as I'm done with this particular sticky weft, I'll go back to my regular boat shuttles for my more well-behaved yarns. But rest assured, a new, lighter weight end-feed shuttle just shot up to the top of my wish list! (As I recall, our last tool acquisition was in the form of a couple of sweet hand planes that now reside in Craig's shop, so I think it just might be my turn, eh?)

So, go ahead and listen to the experts, but don't forget to question them once in a while!