New toys

I went over to ANWG for the first time yesterday – spent several hours manning the Complex Weavers table in the vendor hall, saw the galleries (which were great – some wonderful work there!), and cruised through the vendor hall. To my absolute delight, I saw these shuttles at Bluster Bay’s booth:

A plate tensioned end-feed shuttle from Bluster Bay!

A plate tensioned end-feed shuttle from Bluster Bay!

This is essentially identical to the Bluster Bay mini end feed shuttle, except that it is closed-bottom and it is tensioned with a plate tensioner!! Regular Bluster Bay end feed shuttles are made with a hook tensioner, like this:

Bluster Bay mini shuttle!

Bluster Bay mini shuttle!

In the hook tensioned system, the yarn goes around the hooks before exiting the shuttle – the more hooks it goes around, the more drag there is on the yarn as it feeds out of the shuttle, and the higher the tension. This works OK for many yarns, but it’s difficult to get enough tension with fine yarns, and it’s a nightmare for springy metallic yarns. Since I often weave with both types of yarn, I couldn’t really use them. Instead, I used Schacht end-feed shuttles, which have a plate tensioning system – the yarn passes between two plates, and the distance between the plates is adjustable, so you can control tension by tightening or loosening the plates.

Anyway, for many years Bluster Bay only made their end-feed shuttles with hooks, which made me very sad because they really do produce the best shuttles on the market (in my opinion, of course). They are well-designed, beautifully finished, and just gorgeous – made from exotic woods and polished to a sheen. And they are a joy in the hand. I just couldn’t use them!

So when I found out that they were making plate-tensioned end feed shuttles,  I bought one on the spot. It is considerably pricier than the version with hooks – $150 vs. $90 or so – but well worth the money for an awesome tool. If it works out the way I suspect it will, I may replace all my current end feed shuttles with these. I am so totally jazzed.

My other “find” was also fantastic. Fiber Rhythms had retro-reflective yarn! This is made from the same stuff often used as piping on cycling jackets, and also appears on runners’ shoes and in painted lane markings on roads. It is dull gray and unreflective until the light hits it dead on, whereupon it takes a brilliant glow. Like this:

retro-reflective yarn without glow retro-reflective yarn with glow

I’ve been fascinated by this stuff for ages, but it’s very hard to find and tends to be quite thick. So when I found a spool of fine retro-reflective yarn, I snapped it up on the spot.

Today I have two classes, one with Kay Faulkner and another with Bonnie Inouye – looking forward to both!

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  1. Posted June 21, 2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Fascinating reflective yarn. Good buy! I look forward to hearing about your classes. You have chosen 2 teachers I would also like to learn from. (that was not a well constructed sentence but you understand).
    Happy weaving and learning!

  2. kath
    Posted June 21, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Great finds! I’ve been looking for retro-reflective yarn for ages! Just ordered 100 yds of each size from Fiber Rhythm’s website.

    Have you tried the retro-reflective ink for surface design?? It seems to be available only by the gallon.

  3. Posted June 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Cool retro-reflective yarn!! Oh, the possibilities…

    I’m so pleased to learn about the plate tensioner on the BB ef shuttles. I have had a BB hook-tensioned ef shuttle for years, but until fairly recently I had not used it more than a couple of times, because of the difficulties that arise when the fine silks I tend to weave with get caught on the metal spiral threading at the bottom of the hooks. I remedied this by putting in thin cardboard shims to guide the threads above the catchy parts, and they work okay…but I’m going right away to the BB site and order a plate-tensioned one. I do like the weight and beauty of my BB shuttle.

  4. Posted June 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Congrats on the Bluster Bay shuttle! They are luscious. I decided to take the plunge and I bought a Schacht electric bobbin winder, so I am a tiiiiiny bit over budget. (eek) But I am still going to get some retro reflective yarn! Hubby wants space invader curtains in his office: What better for pattern yarn?
    I have seen you at meals here, but haven’t had a chance to say hi yet. I am sure I will run into you before we all pack up and leave. Oh, and your outfit looked amazing in person yesterday!

  5. Posted June 22, 2013 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    thanks for the update on the BB shuttles.
    They are all I use, and will for sure get one with the tension box for finer yarns.

  6. Debra Deadmond
    Posted June 22, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    I am so excited about the new BB shuttles! I love their shuttles but I keep going back to my Schact EFS. I hope they go up on the website soon! I think it will be my birthday present.

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