This article is in response to a reader, Ruth, who wrote about her frustration with a shuttle that continually slipped through and out of her fingers. Donít worry, Ruth, there are a few different options for you.
As you know, there are a number of different shuttles and people like them all for one reason or another. Otherwise they wouldnít remain on the market for long. On the plastic shuttle, you really do need the shuttle to be smooth so that it will glide over and under the thread without snagging. Iíve gotten to an age where my arthritis prevents me from tatting as quickly as Iíd like (and thatís one major reason why I do needle tatting more often than working with the shuttle-but, thatís just me). But, if youíve checked out some of the video web sites on tatting, youíll see that those fingers can fly pretty fast with that little boat shaped shuttle. Therefore, a smoothe shuttle aids the tatter in moving along quite quickly. Iíve had people ask about how long it must take to make a doily but my response is always, ďNot if you can see how fast some peopleís fingers flyĒ. So, a smoothe shuttle is pertinent to smoothe and fast tatting.
If you havenít seen them yet, there are shuttles that have a ridge or two designed into the molding (Iím referring to plastic shuttles) which help to prevent shuttles from hitting the floor while tatting. Iím not suggesting that you run out and purchase a new shuttle but, do keep this in mind when purchasing your next shuttle.
Something that may also help-which you can do yourself-is to keep your hands clean, dry, oil free and with no lotions or creams before you start tatting. Not only will this help to keep your hands from sliding on your shuttle but it will also keep your thread clean. Remember, hands have natural oils that come to the surface and coat things we touch.
Some might think about using a nail polish remover to take off the layer of slick gloss. I do not suggest this, as the chemicals may also dissolve the plastic.
Another suggestion, which will take just a bit of effort, is to use an extremely fine sandpaper and sand the very middle of your shuttle on both sides. This will remove the light glossiness, which is used when manufacturing the shuttle; allowing you a better grip. You will only want to sand a very small portion-just where your thumb and finger(s) hold the shuttle. The small area, only slightly sanded, should allow you to firmly hold onto your shuttle and yet allow it to pass over and under your thread in a smooth manner.