What is a Tatting Shuttle?

Malcolm Tatum

As a handy guide to help in the process of shuttle tatting, the tatting shuttle makes it possible to master the art of creating lace patterns using this time honored method of tatting. Here is some information on the tatting shuttle, and how it is used.

A tatting shuttle can be used to make many types of lace patterns, including doilies.
A tatting shuttle can be used to make many types of lace patterns, including doilies.

The tatting shuttle is an oval shaped device that contains two small holes at each end of the body of the shuttle. Generally, the tatting shuttle is no more than three inches in length, although there are larger models available. Two small pathways lead from the holes to the outside of the shuttle, allowing the user to insert the thread into the holes and then turn the shuttle in order to create the desired lace pattern. Tatting shuttles are often composed of materials that range from wood to plastic to various types of metal. However, the advent of the Internet has led to the creation of tatting shuttle patterns that can be downloaded, mounted on thick cardboard, and used with as much ease as any store bought model.

Tatting shuttles make it possible to create lace.
Tatting shuttles make it possible to create lace.

As one of the oldest devices used in the process of tatting, the tatting shuttle is often the preferred method to produce lace that is both visually appealing and also securely constructed. The holes in the tatting shuttle are large enough to allow for the use of the finest threads, as well as thicker twine. A tatting shuttle can be used to create a number of lace designs that can be used for everything from runners and doilies to shawls and even pot holders, depending on the type of thread that is used in the design.

Using a tatting shuttle requires nothing more than a high level of dexterity and plenty of thread to work with. Holding a length of thread that is wound in one hand, the tatter guides the thread through the holes to form loops. Removing the completed loops is accomplished by using the channels that lead to the outside of the tatting shuttle. The loops combine and interlock to form the pattern of the design that is found with all tatted creations.

Some expert tatters consider the use of a tatting shuttle to be a little more difficult than employing the procedure of needle tatting. However, others state that with practice, it is possible to use the tatting shuttle efficiently and with a great deal of speed, which helps to create a finished piece in less time. From that perspective, the tatting shuttle may be considered a valuable device when there is a strong desire to create a new item in a relatively short period of time.

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