Guest Author - Beverly Elrod
You’ve determined that you wish to learn shuttle tatting. You’ve purchased the thread. But, when it comes to choosing a shuttle, you’re bewildered; and rightfully so. As a beginner (and quite possibly as a tatter with some skills) it can be very undaunting trying to pick out a shuttle you’ll be happy with. There are so many different kinds to choose from. How do you make a knowledgeable choice if you don’t have the experience to help with the decision making process? Thankfully, you can be guided, by those with more or even slightly varied experience, to help you out.
First, let’s take a look at some of the more common types of shuttles which are readily available to the average consumer. I’ve noticed that, over the years, various stores frequently change what they have in stock, but some shuttles seem to be a ‘constant’ in the stores.
The most common shuttle is a simple oval shaped shuttle, which is slightly pointed on each end. These are made of molded plastic from two separate halves. These two symmetrical halves are pressed and held together at the thick central built-in ‘bobbin’. These halves are relatively flat; except toward each end, where the two halves slightly curve toward each other and are only separated on each end by a slight gap. This type of shuttle is commonly referred to as a ‘clicker’ shuttle; being called so, because of the clicking sound made as the thread is wound around the built-in ‘bobbin’ and clicks as it passes between the gap on each end. As the thread passes through this slight gap, of the two halves, the clicking sound emanates as the two halves separate and then snap back together. This is the least expensive of store-bought shuttles. I like the idea that, if I misplace this shuttle, I haven’t lost a lot of money. On the other hand, being created from two separate forms, I’ve found that either while winding the ‘bobbin’ or while tatting with this shuttle it has a tendency to come apart and my thread falls in my lap. This has been very discouraging for me. If you don’t want to replace this, immediately, with a more expensive shuttle, I’ve found that the best solution is when removing it from the package to separate the shuttle halves and put a dab of super glue on each half of the center post. Quickly press the shuttle back together and wipe off any excess glue. Give your newly strengthened shuttle a little time to dry and then you can enjoy it for a long time.
A second shuttle that’s fairly common to the craft industry is also a plastic molded shuttle. This one, however, has a pointed tip on one end. I laughingly refer to this shuttle as a swordfish shuttle due to the point reminding me of a swordfish. This wonderful point can be utilized when a knot is created that you don’t wish. It can also be used to open the width of a picot, which has been made a bit too small, before you complete the second half of the stitch. But, it’s my belief that this ‘swordfish’ point was designed to do picot a joining. This cannot be accomplished with the extremely tiny picots, but anything above the very intricate can be done using this shuttle.
The next shuttle I’d like to discuss is shaped and created like the clicker shuttle except it’s formed out of metal and is fused together. Some are decorated with a design formed into the molding process and some are formed with various metals of different types to give color to the decoration. Yet, others are made with a chain link, in one end, to be used as a pendant or a keychain when not in use. Still others are without design or of precious metals and are simply a plain basic shuttle.
My favorite shuttle is similar to the ‘swordfish’ shuttle, except it is made of metal and instead of having a swordfish pointed end, it has a tiny hook. This hook is used to reach through the picot and latch onto the thread for a join. This is the easiest way to make a join without having to put down your shuttle and pick up a small steel crochet hook to do the work. Thus, this is the type of shuttle that I always try to keep plenty of…just in case I break one and there doesn’t happen to be one at the local store, to replace it, that week.
You may even decide that you’d like to have one of every kind that you can find-as most tatters do-or you may just stick to your favorite. The important thing to remember about choosing a shuttle for yourself is to choose one that will work best for you and that you’ll be happy with.