Friday, October 4, 2013

My grandmothers tapestry bobbins

I am wondering if any of you are familiar with these bobbins?
They belonged to my grandmother and she isn't in any shape to answer questions about them any more. I think they are beautiful, but I really don't have a use for them. I am hoping someone knows their origin and whether they are really used for tapestry weaving on high warp looms. They are quite large so I imagine they were used with large weft bundles.

I am also curious about these shuttles. Does anyone have working models of them? How do the bobbins fit into them to actually hold the yarn? They have metal tips and I imagine would take quite a beating. With the metal loops sticking up they must go through a huge shed! These also belonged to my grandmother.

Happy weaving!


  1. Hi Rebecca, I follow your blog and love it. I usually don't comment on the blogs I follow, but those shuttles have me curious. I don't have any answers for you, but earlier this week I saw some very much like them on Etsy (if I remember right). They were metal tipped like yours and had rings like that, but I assumed someone had added the rings because they had put a small glass tube/vase in one of them and put some small flowers like baby's breath in them. I thought it a shame that they had ruined the shuttles by adding the rings. Now I'm very curious about how these shuttles were used. Be sure to let us know if you find out.

  2. I have seen similar shuttles as yours minus the metal rings. It was my understanding that most were used for fly shuttle looms in mills. The tapestry bobbins are lovely! What a wonderful weaving heritage you have.

  3. I have not seen either the bobbins or shuttles, but yes what a wonderful weaving heritage you have. Do not sell the shuttles, they should be keepsakes. Bobbins? Well, how many do you have? Save one? Love your blogs always and know your workshop went great. Hmm, sigh.
    Helen Hart in cold 30 degree windy snowy weather

  4. Rebecca- They are probably based on European bobbins. yes they are high warp bobbins. Most likely Gobelin bobbins. They are 2-3 inches shorter then Gobelin bobbins. BUT, what often happened is tourist or people were gifted with used bobbins without realizing that the bobbins had been cut down and shortened as the points broke or wore out over time. When bought to the US the shortened bobbins were copied in the shortened form. There's a couple arguments that can be made that when William Morris studied Gobelin weaving to bring back to England. He received or was given some of the shortened Gobelin bobbins and didn't realize they were shortened, but copied them and they became the norm for British weaving-maybe not, but after reading the things he wrote about Gobelin weaving I can see some crusty old Gobelin weaver laughing as he gave them to WM. They are very reminiscent to some bobbins i have in my collection that I have picked up over the last 35 plus years. Lucky you! I would love to have one to show students.

  5. Thanks for your researched info Kathy. Helen Hart


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