Tools Day: Ski Shuttles

Patterned rag rugs always use at least two shuttles. I often have four or five filled ski shuttles at the loom. A low profile ski shuttle is an excellent choice for weaving patterned rag rugs. Why?

  1. It fits pleasantly in the hand.
  2. It holds a large amount of fabric weft without being bulky.
  3. The wide base glides smoothly across the warp.
  4. The low profile fits easily through the narrower shed of a tight warp that is common for rug weaving. (Beware of ski shuttles that are taller, and may not fit as easily through a tight shed.)
  5. It is slender enough to send it out of the shed to go over or under outer warp ends, when needed.
Basket of ski shuttles ready for the next rag rug!
Basket of ski shuttles that are ready for the next rosepath rag rug!

My ski shuttles are made by Glimåkra, except for the beautiful cherry wood ski shuttle my husband made for me.

Hand crafted cherry wood ski shuttle, and rosepath rag rug just off the loom.
Newly completed rosepath rag rug is ready to be hemmed. Cherry wood ski shuttle is hand crafted by Steve Isenhower.


Ski Shuttle Dimensions (Glimåkra Single Ski)
Height: 1 1/4″ (3 cm)
Width: 2″ (5 cm)
Length: 19 1/2″ (50 cm) and 25″ (64 cm)

Why I like low profile ski shuttles for weaving rag rugs.
Weaving width determines which ski shuttle length to use. The shorter shuttle works with any weaving width. The longer shuttle works only for wider weaving widths (30″ or more) and for spaces with plenty of clearance at the sides of the loom. The low profile of the shuttles is seen in relation to the height of the reed in the beater.


How to Wind a Ski Shuttle

1 — Hold ski shuttle vertically. Start with one tapered end of the fabric strip coming across the top of the ski shuttle. Hold the tapered end with your thumb while you start winding the fabric strip onto the shuttle with your other hand.

How to wind a ski shuttle.


2 — Continue wrapping the fabric strip around the length of the shuttle, straightening the fabric as you go.

How to wind a ski shuttle for rag rugs.


3 — Finish winding when you have a tail of fabric remaining.

How to wind a ski shuttle.

May your shuttles be a good fit for your hands.

Happy Weaving,

13 thoughts on “Tools Day: Ski Shuttles

  1. What a beautiful cherry wood shuttle your husband made. Giving a hand made gift is giving a part of yourself. What a loving gift. Cherry wood is a very hard wood. Perfect choice for a shuttle’s smooth durable surface.
    How wide is the fabric weft?I love the colors you selected for this rug.
    Great pictures. Very informative. Thanks, Karen

    1. Hi Pam,

      The cherry wood has a nice feel, too. I like holding it in my hands.

      The fabric for the rosepath rug is cut 3/4″ wide. The batik fabric for the double binding rug is lightweight, so I am cutting it a little wider, about 7/8″ wide.

      All the best,

  2. I really appreciate your tips, Karen. Are you weaving with a single strip of fabric as opposed to two strips? If so, why?

    1. Hi Denise,

      My first response is — it’s easier. 😉
      Weaving with a single weft strip does make a lighter rug, but I don’t necessarily see that as a disadvantage. I use doubled weft fabric strips if I want to do some color gradation in the rug, but otherwise, I like the simplicity of weaving with one fabric strip on the shuttle. Weaving with two fabric strips on the shuttle can be tricky if the fabric strips are not exactly the same length. However, I have been thinking of doubling the weft for the rosepath pattern picks on the next rug to accentuate a raised look for the pattern…

      The double binding rug is two layers thick, so using one weft strip on each shuttle makes sense to me.

      Thanks for asking,

  3. Your rugs are gorgeous and whatever the draft is, makes the rug look so sophisticated! And it looks fun to weave. I don’t really understand what a double binding rag rug is and what the threading is….

    1. Hi Debbie,

      Double binding is very fun to weave. There are two layers being woven at one time. First, throw a pick for one layer, and then throw a pick for the other layer. It feels like magic every time you beat the two layers together.

      I listed some resources for double binding in my response to Maggie in the comments at the end of My Favorite Thing to Weave, if you are interested.

      All the best,

      1. Thank you! I just ordered The Big Book of Rugs (sounds like a children’s Golden book title!) and am looking forward to figuring out what you are doing.

        1. Debbie, in The Big Book of Weaving (I think that’s the book you mean), this 8-shaft rug (p.144) is called “Rag Rug x 2.” The book doesn’t mention the words “double binding,” but calls it “weft enhanced plain weave.”
          The other example of double binding in the book is “Checked Fabric,” p.96, and they call the weave technique “Reinforced weft weave structure,” but it is actually a simplified double binding structure. You can use that draft to weave rag rugs if you adjust it to 8 epi and use fabric strips 3/4″ wide. Arrange the two blocks as you please. I have done many rag rugs with this draft.

          Have fun!

  4. HI, Karen, thank you so much for all the tips on weaving! Your rugs are beautiful! Do you usually use 12/6 cotton rug warp for your rag rugs instead of 8/4? Just learning! Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Kathy,

      I only use 12/6 cotton (Bockens) for rug warp. I like it because it has high twist which makes it very strong and durable. This makes it an excellent choice for rugs, hopefully giving them as much longevity as possible.

      Happy weaving,

  5. Thank you so much, Karen! I’ll definitely try it when I weave a rug, hopefully pretty soon. Thanks again!

  6. Would your husband ever consider selling ski shuttles kit. I would just need them cut out. I could do all the sanding and finishing myself. i have plenty of woodworking tools just not a bandsaw. i have looked in to purchasing them and they can be expensive when purchased new. i want 4 so that i can double band and not have to keep loading shuttles all the time.

    1. Hi Kris, I know what you mean about wanting a few shuttles so you don’t have to stop so often to load another shuttle. W won’t be able to help you with this. My husband is not making anything to sell. Thank you for asking.

      All the best,

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