The Wonders Of Wooden Weaving Tools
I have had my eye on a few wooden weaving tools lately. I found a few things in an Etsy store that I decided I can’t live without. They’re made by a lady in Poland, she’s a student of archaeology – the time periods for when many of these tools were in every home and each village had a its own twist on the design. She does a nice job by the looks of the pictures in her shop and I finally made the decision to make a purchase. I purchased 30 weaving tablets (why didn’t I get 40?) in three different types of wood: Olive, Rosewood and Sandalwood. I also purchased two lucets, a small lucet with a fleur cut out and no handle, and one in the shape of a deer. I decided to get a Sami weaving shuttle and a warp spacer. The warp spacer has 24 holes and will come in handy for most tablet weaving, the Sami weaving shuttle should be great for backstrap and other pick up weaving.
The absolute best wooden weaving tools I’ve received have all needed at least a small amount of sanding or smoothing. Even the best “weaving ready” tools have had a burr, snag or too sharp a point that needed a tad bit of smoothing. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve gotten a “weaving ready” shuttle from a well-known (but not mentioned) weaving supplier and it had wood splinters sticking straight out of it. It needed shaping, sanding and smoothing, and I’m still not crazy about it (never used it once). I have also bought items meant for non weaving use, and make them into weaving tools. Reshaping an end and some light modifications to some items can take a hair stick or shawl pin and re-purpose it into a fine weaving tool. To reshape thick parts of tools, I like to use 320 to 400 grit sandpaper. 400 grit is also good for sanding down very rough spots. 600 grit is great for gentle reshaping, like changing the angle of an edge and rounding a square edge. 600 grit is also good as a next step after using 400 grit. 1200 grit is a wonderful paper or cloth to smooth the tool all over to make it as smooth as possible and dulling sharp points. 1200 grit is good to further smooth a place following a 600 grit. Chamois is good to burnish the wood and close the grain a tad.
These tools were on the better side of the spectrum. I found a few snags and odd points that I smoothed over. The shuttle needed a tiny bit of shaping where the pick-up curve is. The knife-edge was in an odd spot, at least for me. The point was so fine and sharp, I knew it would pierce the yarn and snag on the way through the shed. Some light shaping of the knife-edge, smoothing of all edges and dulling the point was all it took for the shuttle to be perfect. The cards all seemed to be in good shape, I found a burr or two that I was able to smooth over. I found a Q-tip useful to check for small snags in the holes and edges of the weaving tablets. Yarn gets snagged and abraded on things your fingers don’t detect. The warp spreader seems great, no worries there, especially since it mostly sits there keeping everything spread and not moving. The lucets needed reshaping. The edges of the horns were too square, the yarn needs to slide over these smoothly. The tool will be held in the hand, so it needs to be comfortable, no wooden edges digging into the hand. I wasn’t crazy about the dark polish that was applied to the lucets, so sanding a good part of that off gave them a rustic appearance and took a fair amount off.
I finished it off with a coat of Tung oil, then a good buffing after it was dry and soaked in. The tablets are delicate, not as delicate as cardboard or paper but they can bend and break. They have a nice look about them, and I wish I had bought 10 more. The warp spreader will do nicely, it needed next to nothing and wont get any use until I have a tablet weaving warped. The lucets are nice, I’ve made a practice braid and went back and forth between them, trying them both out. Everything seems smooth enough and I really like them, especially the lucets and shuttle. The shuttle is so smooth and I’m really looking forward to getting some use out of it. The tung oil did turn sticky on a few things, but buffing with a towel helped that a lot, and the next day you couldn’t tell. I may have to order a special patterned heddle from her later. Making sure your tools work for you is a part of making them your tools. Even though you haven’t made them, you have made them yours.