Tatting shuttles for giants

Boye Shuttle

I’ve only just developed a shuttle obsession. The internet is to blame of course, because I’ve only ever seen about 2 shops with shuttles in the UK, and usually they’re the Clover ones with a pick on the end, or the Pony ones with a hook.

On the internet there are loads. Vintage, modern, plastic, wood, Bakelite, celluloid, silver, brass. With hooks, with picks or with a gentle point.

I’ve always been intrigued by the Boye shuttle, purely because it’s metal. And actually, it looks a bit brutal. It’s not an airy fairy messing about shuttle for frivolous lace. It looks like a shuttle that means business. The only thing I’ve always wondered about was the flat hook. Looks a bit… well, dangerous, obviously, but not that practical. Looks like it would catch a bit.

Anyway. We all know where this is going – I bought one. It was listed as ‘vintage’ and came with a celluloid shuttle too. To be honest, I have no idea if either of them really are vintage, (you can still buy metal Boye shuttles brand new), but the price for two was the same as the prices I’d seen for one, so it seemed like a fair enough deal.

size comparison

And here are all the types of shuttle I own. On the right is the Boye shuttle, and next to it the celluloid. Next there’s the blue Pony (like an Aero, but I have a feeling, not as good) and then there’s the good old Clover. Until now I had no idea how small the Clovers were. LOOK AT THE BOYE SHUTTLE! It’s GIGANTIC.

Usually I use the Clover as my main shuttle, and the Pony as a hook. I did try the Pony as my main shuttle for a while, but the bobbin got a bit loose and it annoyed me. Anyway.

The Boye arrived this week, and I started to use it – it was already loaded with thread, all be it rather brittle. It takes some time to get used to. I found I was holding it with my fingers further to the back, and when you pull it through a loop, you have to sort of hold it more upright than normal, to clear the hook from snagging. There were moments when I thought it was ok – having a hook attached is brilliant – and moments when it was not ok.

Hooks and picks

As expected, I didn’t love the flat hook. The rounded one catches less – and should the thread catch, it slides off. With the flat hook, if you get caught, it’s more effort to un-snag yourself.

I did like the fact it was metal though – feels more like science than craft! There’s also something nice about the bobbin tension – it’s actually pretty tight, so wont let out thread unless you really want it – which is the problem I had with the Pony.

In conclusion – I think it’s just too big for me. I love that it’s metal, and I like that it has *a* hook – I just don’t like *this* hook. Having said that, I hate to be defeated, and so I think I’ll persevere a bit longer. In between speeding along with my Clovers, of course. (Also, now I’m hankering after a small David Reed Smith wooden shuttle with a hook but I’ve notice they have flat hooks too…)

size 40

Talking of persevering and stuff that is bigger than expected – I decided to try again with the size 40 thread. Above you can see the same thing in size 80 (left) and 40 (right). I was using up some of the 40 thread I had left on a shuttle (just didn’t have enough to finish this). I’m not in love it with it. It still feels too big for me. That was a test to see if this motif would be more useful in a bigger size – and I’m not sure it would, especially if I don’t like it!

cluny school

One thing I do like size 40 for, is clunys. I’ve still not really mastered them, and so I’ve given myself cluny homework. I’ve made this pattern before, but I still don’t think I’ve mastered it. The finished one was made in one pass, with a large split ring at the top. Not sure why but it never seems to come out quite the right shape – the clunys might have too few passes? (Should they be bigger?) Also the joining picots in the middle are too big and it looks really messy.

The ones in the middle of the half finished one are a much better shape. The one sticking out is a bit rubbish as I finished it on the train. If you’re a tatting commuter, this is an FYI: if you can get away with the embarrassment of getting your fingers into the right position for a cluny, then that’s awesome – but do remember they’re a lot harder to chuck in your bag unfinished when your train arrives! Packing away a half finished ring – or even a join – is ok, not so sure about a half finished leaf.

If you fancy learning clunys, there’s a bunch of links to videos and tutorials in the tatting pattern section. They’re by no means exhaustive, just ones I’ve found that have helped me.

The final episode: a new life for a baby blanket


Previously, on Baby Blanket: The Occasional Crafter was in a panic. What could be the final visit to her pregnant friend before her friend gives birth was fast approaching. The Baby Blanket needed more yarn, but the forces of evil were conspiring against the Occasional Crafter and the yarn shop was failing to deliver. Could this be the end of the line for Baby Blanket? Would Occasional Crafter finally admit she should leave more time to finish things? Only the postman could tell, and you know what they’re like. Hope was fading fast…

The final Episode: A swift email was sent to Texere customer support. They didn’t see fit to reply. In desperation our ‘heroine’ orders another ball of yarn from Purple Linda, which is dispatched immediately. The Occasional Crafter wonders why she didn’t order it from there in the first place. Both balls of yarn mysteriously arrive within a day of each other, despite being ordered a week apart.

Picking up one ball, she sets to work. It’s quite a big blanket, really.

Big blanket

She adds shell stitch to the final two sides and thinks to herself ‘This yarn is a bit splitty. Even after all this time I’m not 100% sure I like it’. Banishing such pointless thoughts she wonders again about blocking. ‘Can you really wet this kind of yarn and block it? Will it dry in time? What on earth am I going to block it *on*’. She remembers the wise words of the Ravelry group and decides to iron it into submission instead. It’s not bad. She’s seen worse.

With a swift glace at the clock, the she spots its fast approaching midnight. ‘I’ll just thread this ribbon through before I go to bed, wont take long’. It’s clear at this point the Occasional Crafter has no idea what she’s talking about. It takes ages. she gets there in the end as the clock makes its weary way to 1am. It’s finished though, and if she didn’t have such a bad back, she’d probably sleep soundly.


Saturday morning arrives, the day of the hand over. She gets up early and wanders downstairs, eyeing the weather. Its neither good nor bad — it’s not really decided yet, and standing in her pj’s she couldn’t really blame it. She takes a bunch of Baby Blanket photos in the less than perfect light and hopes for the best. She wraps the parcel, congratulating herself on the previous purchase of some pale purple tissue, matching ribbon and brown paper.


Annnnd… there is a happy ending! I gave it to my friend (on time) who loved it. For some insane reason she’d not bought a baby blanket yet, and it was also the only handmade gift for the baby she’s received. I thought it was the law that you had to have something slightly terrible knitted or crocheted by a mad female relative? I’m happy to be a substitute on this occasion. My friend is gigantic. She’s at the stage where it looks like she’s got a perfectly round ball stuffed up her jumper. But she also looks brilliant.

A relief all round. One day I might mention to people I know that I have a blog. Only problem about that is that I wont be able to talk about them when they’re not looking 🙂

If you want to make one too, I used:
• This pattern by Alicia Paulson
• 11 balls of this yarn, Kool Kotton
• A 5.5 crochet hook

Now – just incase, You’ll need more than one ball of yarn to do the border! That was my mistake – please don’t make it yours too. Also, there seemed to be a shortage of cream Kool Kotton. No idea why but everyone was out of stock, so I ended up with white.

The pattern is super easy. It’s the ideal chatting or TV crochet project. Question is, what on earth do i make now?

New year, new-ish tatting and crochet

Hello, happy new year! I can’t believe new year was only last weekend. It seems like a lifetime ago already. It’s been a tricksy week this one… Two steps forward, and while not quite two steps back, not really the four steps forward I was hoping for.


I snapped this little pile while I was packing up. Look at the colour of the ecru thread on the white cotton! It looks so yellow. I know it sounds odd, but I love looking at little piles of tatting like this. I still can’t believe that my fingers can make something this delicate. I’m not a delicate person. I’m a jeans n’ trainers girl through and through – about as delicate as a herd of elephants.

Anyway. I digress.

I was hoping to be able to be able to present a finished baby blanket this weekend, but sadly I need a bit more yarn:


All I need is half a ball to finish the shells on two sides, but sadly, despite ordering from Texere on Tuesday and paying extra for first class post (and the fact that it’s listed as in stock) I’ve yet to receive a even a dispatch notice, let alone any yarn, which is really frustrating. I’m hoping it comes this week, as I need to give it to my friend next Saturday. Tempted to order another ball from someone else as a fall back…

That aside, the blanket came with me to my parents for the Christmas holidays and to friends for new year. With all the travelling, I put my billions of lavender bags to good use, and stuffed them in with the blanket each time I packed it in a bag. It smells great!

black bags

These are two I made but never blogged. They’re made from an old sheet, and I gave them an extra seam around the edges. I put less stuffing in than some of the previous ones, and they look quite different I think. (Still not that straight though, which is why I didn’t give them to anyone!)

I finished the other beaded posy I was making – just need to sew in the ends and block it:
small beaded posy

These beads are TINY. I thought the red ones I’d used for the other one were small, but these are about half the size of those. They’re bronze, and actually only show up against certain backgrounds, but I really like them.

I’ve been back to work this week, and so back to commuter tatting. As ever, I didn’t have a pattern ready, so I thought I would make use of my ingenious pre-planned project.


Yeah. Not so ingenious when it’s in size 100 thread and you’re working in size 80! So I might have two ingenious pre-planned projects to carry with me in different sizes.

Incase you’re wondering, the ingenious part was that whenever I got stuck on a journey, I could work on a new square if I hadn’t had time to look up a new pattern. I know this pattern off by heart, and it’s a good travelling project. Foolproof, even. Or not, as it turns out.

Anyway. Onwards! I’ve just ordered a new tatting book from Susan Schwenke. There’s a snowflake in it that a lot of people have made recently, and I love it. I had a plan to make a load of snowflakes *now* so I don’t have a panic next Christmas. Will that actually work? Who knows. (It wont, will it?)

We shall see…