Although a shuttle, needle, or spool is a very convenient way to have extra thread at hand for tatting, none of them are essential in order to actually tat. Finger tatting requires only thread and hand(s.) The tail end of the thread is held while the normal over/unders are worked. Wrap hand as for a ring. Grasp the thread tail at the very end. Lay the thread over the fingers of the right hand and take the tail under the working thread of the left.
The tail then goes up and over the working thread, back toward the right hand.
The stitch is transferred or "flipped" and the first half stitch is drawn up and tightened.
For the second half stitch, again grasp the tail at the very end. This time the thread dangles down loosely while the tail goes over the working thread in the left hand.
Here you can see the stitch before it is flipped.
Once the stitch is flipped, then the second half stitch is drawn up tight.
When making a chain the same hand movements are used. Grasp the tail at the end with the thread thrown over the right hand. Bring the tail under the working thread of the left hand.
Bring the tail up and over the working thread and back to the right.
After the stitch flips, draw it up as normal.
For the second half stitch, drop the tail over the working thread of the left hand and down into the hole.
Bring the tail under the working thread and back to the right.
The stitches which are finger tatted look no different than shuttle or needle tatted stitches.
Using finger tatting, small bits of color can be added easily to flowers made of all rings. Close ring and finger tat one ds. Make another ring, and again one ds, continue for desired size. The tails can be hidden in the rings by using the magic thread trick.