Four Awesome Reasons to Weave with Paper Quills

Four Awesome Reasons to Weave with Paper Quills

Do you find yourself running out of weaving bobbins time and time again? Spending time at the end of a warp weaving off half-full bobbins just to clear them off instead of sampling for fun? Imagine what you could do if you could have as many bobbins as you wanted. Have no fear, paper quills are here! Paper quills are awesome—let’s explore the four reasons you’ll want to weave with them.

But, before we dive in, what *is* a paper quill? They are slips of paper that are wound into a tube. You may see them described in Scandinavian weaving books, but they are a fantastic option for all weavers!

Weave with Paper Quills for Peace and Quiet

Does the sound of the plastic bobbin rattling around in the boat shuttle bother you? Weaving on a floor loom can be quite noisy and so reducing noise any way we can makes a difference in our comfort and our safety.

Plastic bobbins are louder, cardboard tubes are quieter, but paper quills are quieter still.

Paper Quills Fit Your Boat Shuttles

The flat caps on the ends of bobbins—flanges—have different heights and styles depending on the brand you buy (check these out from Ashford, LeClerc, and Schacht). Some are short, some are tall, some have a different profile. And if you own a few different makes and models of boat shuttle, you find that you also need to invest in different bobbins to fit.

Guess what?

Paper quills don’t have flanges.

You can make them a custom length and fill the paper quill to suit the profile of your shuttle. This is especially useful for the slim profile shuttles (such as those from HandyWoman and Glimåkra) that are popular for rigid heddle weavers and linen weavers.

Four Awesome Reasons to Weave with Paper Quills
Weft is wound onto the paper quills to form a cigar shape. For slim shuttles, fill your quill so that you can still throw your shuttle cleaning through the weaving shed.

The Price Is Right

If you use many colours and different yarns in your weaving, then you end up needing lots of bobbins (or spend lots of your precious time managing what you have). Owning as many bobbins as you want can get expensive.

If you’ve got paper lying around, then you can have as many paper quills as you want at no extra cost!

If you love the bobbins you currently use, then adding paper quills to your toolbox gives you more options for the odd project when you are playing with lots of different yarns—such as a colour gamp.

Paper Quills Are Easy to Make

Because paper quills are simply made from slips of paper, you can use scrap paper to make your own. You can even recycle them when you are done. Economical and environmentally friendly! The slip of paper is typically a rectangle, although you can play with different shapes (like ovals) or round the corners (like I do).

I like to use scrap writing paper as it is easy to roll into a tube, but you can use whatever paper you have. Experiment to find the best shape and size of paper slip for your shuttles and for the type of paper you use. To get a strong quill, lighter-weight paper will need to be rolled more times than heavier-weight paper. Adjust the height of your paper scrap so that there are more or fewer paper layers to your tube.

I often have scraps of paper lying around with old calculations on them. Do you have scrap pieces of paper you no longer need that you could use for paper quills?

Are You Ready to Switch?

If you are interested in adding paper quills to your weaving practice, check out Laura Fry’s The Intentional Weaver course in the School. There, she demonstrates how she winds weft onto a paper quill, creating small flanges as part of the winding-on process. Peggy Osterkamp, on the other hand, offers a different approach on her blog. With a little bit of practice, you can figure out which style works best for you.

Whether you choose to use paper quills exclusively or use them to supplement your plastic bobbin stash, share your journey with us over in the community forums. We’d love to hear about your experiences with paper quills!

Four Awesome Reasons to Weave with Paper Quills
To get started, the paper is wound around the bobbin winder. The initial winding of weft keeps the paper in place. Experiment to find your favourite way to wind the weft itself.

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