Care & Use Tips

Bluster Bay End-Feed Shuttles

YARN TENSIONING: End-feed boat shuttles use a special, tapered bobbin called a pirn that does not spin inside the shuttle as yarn is released. Instead, the yarn is released off the end of the pirn, through a tensioning device, and then out the side of the shuttle. This design allows for consistent weft tension no matter how much yarn is on the pirn. The result is faster weaving with smooth selvedges.

Honex Tension End-Feed Shuttles

Printable Instructions For Using Bluster Bay Honex Tension End-Feed Shuttles

Threading weft yarn through the Honex tensioner is quick and simple.

  1. Insert a filled pirn onto the pirn shaft. Leave about six inches of yarn trailing off the small end near the Honex tensioner.
  2. With your left hand, hold the yarn taught to prevent any more from feeding off the pirn. Do this by using your left index finger to hold the yarn tight against the pirn or against the bottom of the shuttle at the end of the pirn.
  3. Use your right hand to straighten and lower the yarn, first into the tensioner gate and then through the slot at right end (front) of the tensioner.
  4. Still with your right hand, gently pull the yarn toward the rear of the shuttle. The yarn will slip along side the front of the tensioner, then down, and will finally pop up into the orifice on the side of the tensioner.


Adjusting the tension on the yarn:

The Honex tensioner is quickly adjusted to properly tension yarn in a wide range of sizes. A 2mm hex wrench is required to adjust the tensioner, and each shuttle is shipped with this small tool.

Adjusting the tension on the yarn:

The Honex tensioner is quickly adjusted to properly tension yarn in a wide range of sizes. A 2mm hex wrench is required to adjust the tensioner, and each shuttle is shipped with this small tool.

adjust Honex tensionThere are small holes in the wood on either side of the shuttle near the tensioner. To change your yarn tension, insert the hex wrench into each of the holes in turn, making sure it slips into the adjusting hex screws in the tensioner.

Turn the adjusting screws clockwise to increase tension on the yarn, and counterclockwise to decrease tension. Both sides should be adjusted equally. Note that the screws might turn with some stiffness. Start with a half turn at a time on each side until you achieve the proper tension for the yarn you are using.

PLEASE NOTE: If an adjusting screw is loosened too much, the screw will fall out of the tensioner and drop into the space below. Although you want to avoid this, it is not a tragedy and is easily corrected. Simply remove the tensioner by loosening the large screw on the bottom of the shuttle. Retrieve the adjusting screw, screw it back into place and reinstall the tensioner.

Rebecca Robbins of Robbins Nest Weaving created this video that clearly shows how to replace a screw that has fallen out of a Honex tensioner:

If you lose an adjusting screw, contact us and we will send you a replacement.

Hook & Eye Tension End-Feed Shuttles

Printable Instructions For Using Bluster Bay Hook & Eye Tension End-Feed Shuttles

  1. hook tensionerFeed the weft yarn through the screw eye at the end of the pirn shaft. It may be easier to do this before you slip the fully wound pirn onto the shaft.
  2. Pull the end of the yarn out the slot on the side of the shuttle.
  3. To adjust the tension, hook the yarn around as many brass hooks as necessary. A small crochet hook may be of aid.

When tensioned correctly, the weft should unwind freely as the shuttle is thrown. It should neither pull too tightly nor leave loops of weft at the selvedges. The number of tensioning hooks you use will vary with every weft yarn. Bulky, fuzzy yarn may need no tensioning. Very fine linen, silk or Mylar filament may need to be looped around all of the hooks.

Filing Pirns For Any End-Feed Shuttles

 To unwind smoothly, end-feed pirns must be wound correctly. Many types of bobbin-winders can be used to fill pirns, including hand-operated and electric winders designed for side-delivery bobbins or paper quills. However, the shafts on some winders may need to be built up with masking tape, duct tape, surgical tubing or an adapter (see below) to provide a snug fit for pirns.

winding a pirnWhen filling a pirn, always keep your tension very firm. The full pirn should feel hard. Begin winding yarn at the wide end of the pirn, initially covering about one inch. Gradually wind on more yarn, carefully following the cone shape of the pirn.

For 8” and 5½” wood or plastic pirns, move down the pirn about one-half inch with each new layer of yarn. Each layer should cover no more than about two inches.

For the smaller Swedish paper pirns, move down the pirn less than one-half inch with each new layer of yarn and each layer should cover no more than about 1½ inches.

Keep in mind that the weft yarn will unwind off the small end of the pirn. Never wind too far forward or back over the area already filled. With practice, winding a pirn is no more difficult than filling a conventional, side-feed bobbin.

Making And Filling Quills
For Swedish-Style Boat Shuttles and Super Slim Boat Shuttles

Printable Instructions For Making And Filling Quills For Swedish-Style Boat Shuttles

Very low profile Swedish-style boat shuttles and Super Slim boat shuttles are designed for use with paper quills instead of plastic or wood bobbins. Inexpensive, machine-made cardboard quills are available for purchase. However, many weavers make their own quills from scrap paper, providing themselves with an inexhaustible store of free weaving supplies.

Regular 20-lb or 24-lb office-weight paper, such as laser or ink-jet printer paper, typing paper or notebook paper, makes fine quills. There are several methods of cutting paper to wind into a quill:

quill paper shapes

No matter which shape you choose to begin with, the paper at its widest point should measure the desired finished quill length. For quills used with Bluster Bay shuttles, this measurement will be 3.5 inches (9 cm) or 5 inches (13 cm).

The length of the paper determines the final outside diameter and the quill’s stiffness. Experience will teach you the best length to use, but a good length to start with is 8.5 inches.

Starting with the narrow end, make a quill by tightly winding the paper around the shaft of a bobbin-winder. Swedish-made bobbin-winders designed expressly for quills work best. When simultaneously making quills and filling them with yarn, the tightly wound quill is held in shape by the pressure of the yarn around it. If you are making a batch of quills to fill with yarn later, hold the tightly wound paper in place with a dab of quick-drying glue or a piece of cellophane tape.

There are two methods of filling quills. Weavers and authors of weaving instruction books often express strong preference for one method over the other, going so far as to pronounce the other method wrong. In fact, there is no one right or wrong way to fill a quill. The method you use will depend on the shuttle with which the quill is used, as well as just your own preference.

quill fill 1In one method, weft is built up on each end of the quill, them the center is filled in to level with the ends. This method works well with shuttles with very small exit holes, and where the quill completely fills the length of the bobbin hollow.


quill fill 2For the other filling method, weft yarn first traverses back and forth, the entire length of the quill. As the quill fills, this traverse becomes shorter and shorter, building a bulge in the center of the quill. This filling method works well with shuttles with long yarn exit slots, and if using a short quill in a long bobbin hollow.

Adapting a Quill Winder For Use With Bobbins or Pirns

One method for using a quill winder to wind bobbins or pirns, is to use a cardboard quill as an adapter. This method has an advantage over padding the winder shaft with masking tape, duct tape or surgical tubing: it is easily removable when it comes time to wind quills.

adapt a quill winder