Although today's tatter has a variety of types of tatting shuttles from which to choose, plastic shuttles are the most widely available and lowest priced ones. Wood, resin, polymer clay, acrylics, metals, bamboo, celluloid, shell, horn, bone, ivory and plastic have all been used by both industrial manufacturers and artists creating hand made shuttles.
Perhaps the most widely known plastic shuttles in the United States are manufactured by Boye®, Susan Bates®, and Clover®. The bright red Boye shuttle is perhaps the most easily recognized plastic shuttle. Available now in 7 bright colors, the Boye tatting shuttle retails less than $5. This tatting shuttle is about 3" in length. It also has a flat straight point on one end to facilitate joining.
Both the Susan Bates style and the Clover style tatting shuttles are smaller (around 2.5") with sharp points which curve upward. The Susan Bates shuttle is often found as a two pack retailing around $5. The Clover shuttles are also available in a 2-pack, however, there is a more economical package of 5 shuttles retailing under $12.
Set/7 Boye Plastic Shuttles
Set/5 Clover Plastic Shuttles
Tatters outside the United States will be more familiar with plastic tatting shuttles made by INOX-Prym, Aero and Pony. However, the internet makes available all types of tatting shuttles to tatters around the world.
The beginner shuttle tatter will soon realize the need for more than one tatting shuttle. Although one shuttle-work and ball and shuttle designs can be beautiful, today's modern tatting patterns and techniques are tatted more efficiently with 2 or more shuttles.
One Shuttle All Rings Tatted Lace
Shuttle and Ball Thread Tatting
Split Ring Tatted Heart
Made with 2 Shuttles
The basic tatters' kit should contain at least 2 tatting shuttles, a fine crochet hook, size 13/14, 15 or 16, scrissors or thread cutter. Other useful items are gauges to measure picots. Picot gauges can be made from wood, cardboard or plastic. Quilters' template and old credit cards are excellent sources for gauges. Also useful are plastic coated or goldtone paper clips. These are used as space holders for joining. Blunt tapestry needles and sharp needles would eventually be needed for hiding ends. A small magnifying glass is helpful when using the tiniest of tatting threads, i.e., size 60 - 160, or when an error needs to be corrected.
With such a wide variety of plastic shuttles available, the new tatter might find it hard to choose. Try 2-3 kinds of shuttles before deciding on the one right for you. The plastic shuttle should be light weight with no rough edges on it. The points should be touching each other firmly enough that when the thread passed between the points there is a small clicking sound. The plastic shuttle should have a feeling of balance when held between the thumb and fingers. When it is just right, the tatter will feel it. Happy Tatting.