Bobbins, Quills, and Pirns, oh my!

Bobbins, Quills, and Pirns, oh my!There are so many different devices you can put in shuttles -- boat shuttles take bobbins and quills, end-feed shuttles take pirns. And the shuttle size/maker changes the bobbin, quill, or pirn size too.

Now, I'm a new weaver -- in some places I have (had -- thanks Weaver's Marketplace!) too many of some things. But in others, I have too few. Bobbins and quills, for starters.

Being a knitter first, I really want to get as much yarn on my shuttle as I can, so I have minimal ends. That was really the first shock of weaving -- cutting the warp up knowing I'd be throwing away 2-foot lengths across when I took it off the loom, and then relentlessly cutting my skein as I filled up bobbins, again, again, and again! I quickly gravitated to quills, which with their smaller core diameter, let me stuff more yarn onto the shuttle.

But I soon had several weaving projects going, and waste yarns available on a few of the quills too. What's a weaver to do?

cut drinking straw to use as quillIn a perfect lightbulb moment, I realized that drinking straws might do the trick.

Yay! now I have an almost-infinite supply of quills. Now, the surface of the straw is slippery, not grabby like the cardboard quills. So, I tucked the end of the yarn into the middle of the straw, and caught it between straw and bobbin winder. It stayed put, and the quills filled up in no time.

Start winding quill

The one drawback I found with my straw quills was that they are thin enough that the straw can get a little wedged in one end of the shuttle -- I guess I was tipping it too much that way, as this only happened one time. It was easy enough to put back into the channel where it belonged; I suppose you could wrap a rubber band around the end to thicken it and prevent that from happening.

Nat's weft, wound and ready to go

I save miscellaneous small diameter paper rolls, too, like the one in the shot above; and one of my shuttles came with a brass quill -- Fan-cy! My other odd-ball shuttle is, I am told, a 120 film core. I haven't gone to the local photo place yet to see if they have more; it's got the nice small diameter like the quills, even if it's "only" 3 inches long. And, it clears my low profile shuttles perfectly. There is also a Bosworth charka quill there -- it fits in my Khadi Kanoo and Bosworth boat shuttles.

And pirns? Those are for end feed shuttles. I have a Schacht and a Bluster Bay, both the 13" models. I love the open threading of the Schacht -- being a new weaver, I still unweave a fair bit (especially my stick-to-itself cottolin warp, sigh). It's nice to be able to take the pirn out and wind back onto it easily while I work my way back down to the mistake(s!!) However, it's got just a light oil finish, which makes it have more friction than my more polished Bluster Bay shuttle. The BB flows better over the cottolin warp. It's too bad that the Schacht takes a 6" pirn and the BB takes a 5.5" one ... I haven't tried to put the 5.5" pirns on the Schacht shuttle yet, since I already have the 6" pirns for it. The cardboard pirns fit in nothing so far. Maybe eventually a shuttle they fit will come along.

Here's the cottolin warp, first tea towel done on-the-loom, second one to be started ... tomorrow!
Multi-shaft huck


Carrie at Rhubarbsky said...

I can totally tell you're snowed in. . . you're so prolific lately!
Thanks for the elf visit. Have a Merry Day.

Holly said...

I can never get the straw to stay on the bobbin winder (mine is electric). What's the trick?

DebbieB said...

Brilliant - I must try this. I have only a few cardboard quills, but a huge supply of drinking straws.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Your experience with bobbins and pirns and shuttles is nicely told. And your tea towel is looking really good. Soon you are not going to be a new weaver!

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Thanks to all for the comments!

@Holly: I haven't played with an electric bobbin winder -- I could see the straws being too slippy on a fast one. Is there a way to use the yarn as a friction brake, putting it down the center of the straw to hold straw onto electric bobbin winder better? Another alternative would be to make quills out of cardstock -- wind it around [a straw, the post of your shuttle, the post of your bobbin winder -- something approximately 'right sized'] 2-3 complete times, then tape it along its length (or glue). Cardstock would have more friction and stiffness than the straws.

Holly said...

I'm going to look for some "old-fashioned" paper straws 'cause the plastic straws are just too slippery for me with the electic winder. Thanks for your suggestions.