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:
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:
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:
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!