Corry from Norway asked, “I’ve just been practising tatting for a month or so and I’d like some advise in choosing the right shuttle. There is such a great variety that it’s impossible to choose without some guidance.”
As to choosing shuttles, there is not a lot you need to know. There is a great variety but they all essentially do the same thing. You could wrap thread around a clothespin and use that as a shuttle and it would work just as well as one made from silver filigree. In fact, I have a template you can download for making your own shuttle out of cardboard.
As a beginner I would suggest either the Clover or Aero brand plastic shuttles, because they are cheap and do a good job without much investment. You could go for a wooden for bone shuttle that feels nicer in the hand, but there is no need.
One consideration is whether you want your shuttle to have a bobbin or not. A bobbin comes out so you can wrap the thread around it quickly and easily, but some of them also unravel easily while you’re tatting and that can get annoying. Some tatters swear by them and some swear at them.
The Aero brand shuttle does a pretty good job of avoiding the unraveling bobbin by putting little grooves in it so that it only turns a little at a time. The Clover brand does not have the bobbin, and has a small post in the middle to wrap thread around, which gives quite a lot of space for winding a large amount of thread at once.
The only other major consideration is whether or not you want your shuttle to have a hook or spike on one end for pulling out picots. Some tatters like this because it keeps your crochet hook very handy, literally on the end of your shuttle, but others find it annoying and that it snags thread or gets in the way.
If you spend any time on this site, you will quickly notice that I personally favor wood or bone handmade shuttles with no hook and no bobbin. I don’t mind a small spike, but most of my favorite shuttles have rounded edges. I like the feel and the connection to history of using a shuttle carved from natural materials by a master craftsman. Please do not feel like you have to copy that; I have had almost two decades of slowly acquiring shuttles to form my collection. I started with the plastic Clover shuttles and still recommend them for beginners until you are ready to invest a little more in the craft.
To buy shuttles, you might luck out and find one or two at your local craft store, but most of us order online. If you look on the right sidebar of the site you’ll find a collection of links to my favorite tatting suppliers, including a couple of craftsmen who handmake shuttles at reasonable prices.
Whatever shuttle you choose, remember that you can change your mind later if you don’t like it. As you tat for a longer time, and try out different shuttles, you will get a feel for which ones you like and which ones and up staying on the shelf. Have fun!