Efficient use of ski shuttle?

By Kade1301, 24 May, 2013


Is there a trick to using a ski shuttle efficiently? I seem to either have long loops of yarn hanging off it (which get caught everywhere), or get stuck for lack of yarn in the middle of the shed - and I haven't decided yet what's more annoying. Of course my shuttle is not exactly the length of weft needed for one pick... And I'm currently weaving with two shuttles, which aggravates the problem.

Or is the solution to not use a ski shutlle unless one absolutely has to but use a boat shuttle even if one can weave only a few cm between bobbin changes? (The weave is a weft-faced tote bag, so the ends are easy to hide).

I'd appreciate advice from the pros! Thanks! Klara

Group Audience



9 years 4 months ago

Hi Klara,

My preference is always to use a boat shuttle unless the weft is particularly large (i.e. rags).  



Sara von Tresckow

9 years 4 months ago

With practrice, one learns how long to leave the loop on the ski shuttle and how to avoid those places where the loop might catch.

For weaving with very bulky yarn or rags, this is just part of the process.


9 years 4 months ago

I only use the ski shuttle for mop cotton or rags.  I haven't had much trouble with those wefts.

sally orgren

9 years 4 months ago

I find that a longer shuttle doesn't work well with a shorter width warp. Since you are weaving tote bags and not a rug, is the warp a lot wider than the length of your ski shuttle, or only just a little wider? (I am wondering if the effectiveness of the ski shuttle is being compromised because you can't really throw it across a wide span of warp.)

When I took a rug weaving class at Convergence 2010/New Mexico, we used large, custom made, open bottom boat shuttles, with air conditioner tubing for bobbins. This was a great solution to regular small boat shuttles that need to be refilled all the time—as you pointed out!

As you can see, we were weaving with at least two shuttles at a time. The open side of this custom shuttle was smart, as the bobbin held more. (Note how the bobbin  shaft is NOT centered in the interior space of the boat?)

So, do you know a wood worker?!


9 years 4 months ago

My warp is 40 cm wide, the ski shuttles 64 cm. But I used the boat shuttles today - much nicer to work with. I like the open-sided, asymetrical ones, though. (Un)fortunately I'm my own woodworker, so I'll have to have a look around the workshop and think a bit on how to make two of those. Why do you call them open bottom? I see a bottom - or is there a hole in it, hidden by the yarn?


9 years 4 months ago

Sally, probably meant open sided. Open bottom shuttles are common purchase items for weavers, but open sided is a more custom design. We all make typing errors. ;)

sally orgren

9 years 4 months ago

(what Reed Guy said!)

sarahnopp (not verified)

9 years 4 months ago

Is there a reason to use the ski shuttles over long stick shuttles? 

Sorry, that was a very imprecise question. (I do understand that ski shuttles have a flat bottom for skimming over a warp.) What I should have asked: Is there a reason ski shuttles work better than stick shuttles for this specific project? 


9 years 4 months ago

I'm not sure whether ski shuttles work better than stick shuttles - but my stick shuttles are 70 cm wide or shorter than the warp, so I don't think they'd work any better. Besides, I have just recently received my second ski shuttle and wanted to try it out.

But inspired by Sally's pictures (and TheLoominary's report from way back when) I built two bigger, open-sided boat shuttles. They were supposed to be prototypes, because I remembered that I do know a professional woodworker (who's obviously not a weaver and has no idea about dimensions or fastening the bobbin rod, both of which are not easily visible on the photo). But even though they are not beautiful, they do the job. So for the time being I'll keep them to work with.