Ask Madelyn: Weaving with Two Shuttles

Ask Madelyn

Dear Madelyn,

I am weaving a rug with two shuttles. My problem is I cannot figure out how to weave so that I always catch the end warp thread on both sides. Is this even possible? Thank you for your help,

—Judy

Learn how to weave with two shuttles and always catch your outside warp thread.
Photo A: Second shuttle follows first shuttle

Hi Judy!

It frequently happens when you are alternating two shuttles that the edge warp threads will not interlace on one or both sides of the fabric if the shuttles are used in the usual way. When you are using two shuttles, you usually weave with the first one from one side of the loom to the other and then weave with the second one, entering it in a new shed from the same side.

You usually place the first shuttle on the breast beam in front of you or on the bench beside you and then place the second shuttle after (beyond) the first one, as in Photo A (the shuttle with orange thread wove first; the shuttle with blue thread wove second. The first shuttle is placed in front of the weaver (or on the bench beside you). The second is placed to the side of the first.

Madelyn is here to teach you how to weave so that you always interlace your outer warp threads when weaving with two shuttles.
Photo B: Second shuttle crosses over first shuttle

If the outside warp thread does not interlace, however, instead of placing the second shuttle beside (beyond) the first, place it closer to you, either beside you on the bench or in front of you on the front beam (Photo B, in this case in a Wolf Trap on a Baby Wolf). This will cause the second shuttle to cross over the first, interlocking the outside warp thread with the weft when the shuttles re-enter the next sheds.

For this fabric, the outside thread interlaces when the shuttles follow each other normally on the right side. But, on the left side, the second shuttle must cross over the first to secure the outside warp thread.

Madelyn Signature

P.S. Judy pointed out after receiving my answer that Janet Meany, in her Rag Rug Handbook, page 22, instructs: “When using two shuttles, lock the wefts at the selvedges as follows: When both shuttles are on the same side, change the shed and look at the last warp on that side. If the thread is up, pass the next shuttle over the other shuttle and into the shed. If the thread is down, pass the next shuttle under the other shuttle.” An elegant explanation!

Janet Meany and Paula Pfaff, Rag Rug Handbook. Loveland, Colorado: Interweave, 1996.

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