Thursday, September 27, 2007

Throwing the Shuttle

Amount woven yesterday: 3.0"
Amount woven to date: 3 yards + 3"

Dorothy recently brought up a very important point about weaving technique in her blog. She pointed out the need for throwing the shuttle with each hand in the same way and the need for keeping the shuttle away from the body when beating the weft thread in.

When the shuttle is thrown through the warp, it emerges close to the open beater near the shafts. The yarn coming out of that shed and leading to the shuttle is thus at an angle to the fell. When the beater is then brought to the fell, and the hand holding the shuttle remains up close to the shafts, a fair amount of weft is pulled into the warp. Indeed, if you pull the beater slowly and watch the weft coming out of the shuttle, you can see the beater pulling more weft out of the shuttle as it approaches the fell. If you allow your shuttle holding hand to follow the beater and move down towards the fell, much less thread gets pulled into the warp. The end result will be more draw-in. The warp width will shrink.

How steep the angle is between the fell and the shuttle as it is held near the shafts depends on where the fell is. The closer the fell is to the shafts the less steep the angle is and the less thread that will be pulled into the warp. This raises two issues.

First, to have a consistent amount of draw-in, the warp has to be moved forward frequently, probably every 1"-2", Consistent draw-in is very important for consistent beating. Consistent draw-in may not guarantee even beating throughout the cloth, but it will definitely help.

Second, a decision has to be made as to where to maintain the fell. Close to the front beam? Half-way between the front beam and the shafts? Close to the shafts? Some people call that half-way point the "sweet" spot. That is the point where the beater will be closest to perpendicular to the warp. It is probably best to aim for that "sweet" spot. This is not an issue for the floating beater, if I understand the mechanics correctly. The floating beater will always hit the fell at an angle perpendicular to the warp.

I tend to keep the fell close to the front beam. Doing this, allows me to beat in more weft yarn and to beat more closely. As the warp threads on the edges get closer together because of draw-in, it becomes more difficult to beat as closely as I want to because those closely spaced edge threads offer too much resistance. That is the main reason that I often use temple. The temple gets those threads spaced out so that I can pull the beater closer.

Using an end feed shuttle creates a little blip in this issue. In an end feed shuttle the thread does not emerge from the center of the shuttle but from the end. When the shuttle is thrown from right to left, the thread will emerge from the far end of the shuttle because it is on the left side that it comes out of. But when the shuttle is thrown from left to right, the left side is closest to the warp and so will not pull out as far as it does when it is thrown from right to left. This difference may create a small difference in the appearance of each selvedge, at least that is what some weavers say. Oh well, nothing perfect under the sun, as they say.

One of the most important things about Dorothy's discussion, I think, is her focus on the need for self-analysis, the need to watch and analyze what you are doing. And she is good at it!

1 comment:

Leigh said...

I found Dorothy's post very informative too. My right selvedge is my least satisfactory and her post made me realize that I needed to pay closer attention to my body movements as I weave. After reading your post, I'm going to have to pay attention to how I handle the shuttle in terms of hand postion as I beat. I've been very aware that I have too much draw in, and have been working on that. You've given me some information to go on. Thanks!