Talking Craft: Shuttle

A good shuttle, while not absolutely required to make cloth, is one of the most important tools for efficient weaving.

From top to bottom: two stick shuttles, a boat shuttle, a rag shuttle, an end-feed mill shuttle, a baby boat shuttle, and a ski shuttle. The small walnut shuttle in the upper left is a belt shuttle, which is a type of small stick shuttle with a sharp tapered edge for beating in the weft of narrow bands.

The operating principle is the same for the simplest stick shuttles and the heaviest industrial flying shuttles: the shuttle carries weft (or woof, or filling) thread back and forth through an arrangement of warp threads.

Original graphic: http://cnx.org/content/m26166/latest/

When you consider the back-and-forth motion of a shuttle on a conventional loom, it’s easy to see how the word came to be applied to any sort of relayed transportation device.

From Old English scytel (“dart, arrow”), from Proto-Germanic *skutilaz (compare Old Norse skutill (“harpoon”)), from *skut- (“project”) (see shoot). Name for loom weaving instrument, recorded from 1338, is from a sense of being “shot” across the threads. The back-and-forth imagery inspired the extension to “passenger trains” in 1895, aircraft in 1942, and spacecraft in 1969, as well as older terms such as shuttlecock. (Source: Wiktionary)

More obsolete than a stick shuttle?

So the next time you hop on a shuttle bus, wherever you’re going, you can really think of yourself as part of the… fabric… of modern society.

Or something.

One thought on “Talking Craft: Shuttle”

  1. I remember reading about how they sent a spider into space to see how it would weave its web in zero gravity. After a bit of practice, it got pretty good. Fascinating stuff.

    Like

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