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.

14 thoughts on “Tatting shuttles for giants

  1. Personally I think Pony shuttles should never leave the factory where they’re made!! They’re nowhere NEAR the standard of a ‘proper’ Aero shuttle. The best IMHO are the Aero’s with ‘England’ on them and then the next are those with Germany. I was surprised at how big the Boye is in comparison with the others.

    • Ah, thank you I’ll look out for that Aero. Glad it’s not just me with the Pony, I wonder if you only get them in Europe? No one ever talks about them, good or bad. For a minute, I thought I’d made the brand up!

      • Aero used to have a factory about twenty miles from where I lived and they made the ‘England’ ones. The whole caboodle went to Germany where they then used a lower grade plastic or something and they’re not as good. I don’t mind them but others do. They’re now called ‘Inox’ but I don’t have one of those as I have plenty of ‘real’ Aeros. I mainly use them because of the ease of winding. Pop the bobbin on the ‘blunt’ end and wind. Also unwinding back onto balls of thread is really easy too. Try Ebay for the ‘real’ Aeros. Hope this helps.

      • It does help, thank you. I was reading a thread on Intatters the other day, and it sounded like at least 50% of Aero owners hadn’t realised what the blunt end was for 🙂 also it sounds like you either love or hate the Boye!

        Thank you for commenting – always nice to know people are out there.

  2. I have several shuttles by David and I do believe that there are 3 options for a point: brass spike, wooden spike or hook. I have tried them all and I prefer the brass spike. I have tried all sizes and found that I love the largest because it holds the most thread and I can get a lot of work done without reloading. I gave my smallest one to my student which I used for tatting the last piece of thread on a project that would not fit on a regular size (clover) shuttle. I still have my metal Boye but rarely use it.

    • Yup, I saw that he did a few options, but I would like a small shuttle with a hook – one that doesn’t have the other bobbin winding bit sticking out of the other end. There is something quite nice about not needing a separate hook.

      • Oh, forgot to mention… I love your clunies. I agree, not as easy to pop an unfinished leave in your pocket as a ring or chain, but, I *have* done it and both the leaf and myself and survived.

        Haven’t we talked about clunies before…? I haven’t done any in ages…

  3. You think that is a big shuttle? Check my “tools and thingies” album at intatters! There is one I made when using waxed thread (of all horrid things to tatt with, LOL!), which I call my Monster shuttle. Really horrible, let me tell you. But it did serve its purpose, yk? I like the result of the project I did with it.

    Pony shuttles are made in India, I believe. I have never had the pleasure of using “English Aeros” (unless La Cossette’s are those? But I guess they are the new ones). And I know they are sold in Chile at least.

    Metal shuttles? I am in the “haters” team. I find they fray the thread, I have no use for the flat hook, I don’t like the feel in my hand… They are almost the only available here in Argentina, though, the DMC brand ones.

    Not that I have any reason to complain shuttle wise, of course!!!!!

    • I didn’t realise you were in Intatters! Not sure why though – it seems most people are! I was looking around for English Areos last night, and couldn’t find any, but then it dawned on me, that La cosette’s shuttles might be what I need – small, but with a hook – and without that back bit, which i didn’t like on the Pony. I went to a craf fair at the weekend and just spent far too much money on things I don’t *really* need, so might wait a bit though! Enjoy your new shuttles. I still love that your brother made you one!

  4. Oh yes I tatted on the Boye METAL shuttle for years, but only because I liked the convenience of the hook on the end rather than the Boye PLASTIC one I had. I didnt like the pick at the end of the plastic one because I hated picking up a little crochet hook to join picots. If your lovely white or ecru thread (those were the only thread colors available at the time) somehow slid between the bobbin on the metal Boye and the shuttle then the black dust that came off the shuttle from the bobbin turning and turning and rubbing against the shuttle …that black dust would get on your thread and NEVER come off…how often did the thread get between the bobbin and the shuttle??? Ummm…LOTS! LOL!
    I LOVE the plastic aero style with the little crochet hook on the end! It’s my fave! I will never go back to the metal Boye even though I have TONS of them in my fishing tackle box that I use to store some of my shuttles and some of my tatting thread (size 80 and 100)
    You have some lovely clunies also.
    Happy Tatting!

    • Hello! Is the Aero style one that you like made by Aero, or is it the plastic Boye with a hook? I’ve just realised there are Millward ones in the aero style too… Everyone’s at it!
      The white thread getting dirty sounds infuriating.

      Thank you for your comment – I was on your blog the other day and wondering how you are. Lovely to see you 🙂

  5. Because of your comment about Lewes, I came and had a look at your blog, after I replied to your comment on tat-ology.

    You do some very lovely tatting and I think you really have a knack for tatting clunies. Not many tatters (Elisadusud aside) ca get these little beauties to look good, especially when tatted with white thread.

    Even though your edges are not perfect, your clunies on the whole are extremely pleasing, boasting very good tension… I know! I have been trying to perfect them since I started tatting in 2009!

    Thanks for visiting tat-ology!
    Fox ; ))

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