Saturday, June 06, 2009

New Fly Shuttle Cord

I've been thinking that the problems with my right hand have to do with the fly shuttle, in particular the very inelastic cord that makes each throw start with a very sharp motion. So DH and I went to the local DIY store looking for some type of cord of about the same grist but with more elasticity, to soften the start of the throw.

The first thing we looked at was the bungee cord material. However, the one that was about the right grist was much too stretchy, and the size that was about the right stretch was WAY too thick. We didn't want to replace all the eye bolts and hooks that are part of the fly shuttle assembly, so it was important to find something the right thickness.

DH is very good at "outside the box" thinking, and he found the perfect solution in the window department. There's a ribbed tubing called spline that's used to fit replacement screening into window or door frames. It comes in several sizes, one of which seemed the right thickness, and just enough elasticity. Best of all, it was under US$4 for a more than adequate supply. Here's what the packaging looks like:

It's now installed between the handle and the overhead hook, and between the handle and the sides. DH was afraid that replacing the whole cord would be just too stretchy, so we left the part that goes from the hook on the side down to the picker block, and fastened the spline onto the existing knot.

Doesn't look all that different, right? But it is just stretchy enough to cushion the impact of the throw. I wove about a towel and a half with it, and although the stretchiness takes some getting used to, I think it will help the hand. It remains to be seen how long it will hold up, and whether it will retain its elasticity under heavy use. I'll report my findings after I've had a chance to use it for a while.

I'm also trying to train myself to throw with my left hand and beat with my right. Muscle memory is awfully strong, though, and it still seems impossibly awkward. Hard to believe throwing with my right hand felt that way when I first started using the darned thing!

Anyway, I've lost count of the towels again. There were a couple I didn't photograph because they were the same as earlier ones, except for a slightly different weft color. What I'm currently weaving might be #16, or maybe #17. In any case, here it is:


Ruth said...

Whenever I talk with prospective owners of fly-shuttle looms (or post on WeaveTech), I always say, "Teach yourself right from the start to use the fly shuttle with either hand." I was, um, "lucky" in this way: I was in the throes of very serious tendinitis (aka, tennis elbow) in my right arm at just the time I started using a fly-shuttle loom. Though pulling the cord felt more natural with my right arm, I was forced to use my left arm most of the time. Now I alternate every time I advance the cloth.

Good luck with you new, stretchy cord and with retraining your left hand/arm. It's worth the trouble; we need to be kind to our bodies.

shirleytreasure said...

I so much miss my fly shuttle. It's on my wish list.....
Those towels are awesome. I hope your finger is feeling much better.

neki desu said...

yep muscle memory is a strange thing.
hope you can "deconstruct" it with ease.
lovely towel, it looks as if it were a puffy material

neki desu

Katherine Regier said...

I am excited to read of your elastic threads. Years ago, I added small springs into the cords of my fly shuttle, and they have their problems. You can read about it here:
Your elastic cord solution is so much more elegant! I'll have to try it!

evelynoldroyd said...

Is this still working for you now you have had time to work with it? Is this on a double-box or single box? I took my double box off because it was a downward pull and I kept bashing my knuckles on the beam. Perhaps with more stretch it would be easier to use. Wonderful information - I am just getting back to weaving after weaver's elbow and shoulder problems. Evelyn