Susan Bates and Clover Shuttles
As a shuttle tatter, shuttles are a necessity when it comes to creating beautiful tatted lace. However, not all shuttles are created equal, and each type has their differences, quirks, pros and cons.
This article reviews two types of shuttles commonly found at retail craft stores, and aims to help new tatters understand the difference between these two styles of shuttles.
The first shuttles I used were Clover shuttles because they were the only shuttles I could find when I went looking for them at the craft store. After searching at Joann’s for a bit, I found them in the crochet section, wedged up under the crochet and needle felting accessories. There they were, hanging on one lone peg. (So if you’re searching at your local Joann’s, don’t give up. They are usually in the crochet accessory section somewhere.)
Made of plastic, Clover shuttles come in two packs, and sport a variety of fun colors. There is a ridged thumb grip in the center which is actually quite comfortable.
Clover shuttles feature a post in the middle of the shuttle which has a hole in it. To attach the thread to the shuttle, run the thread through this hole. You can either tie it to the post with a simple knot, or pull enough thread out to hold onto the end while you wind (my preferred method).
To thread a Clover shuttle you wind the thread around the shuttle. As you do, the shuttle will click each time the thread passes through the ends. Once you get used to it, the click-click, click-click of winding a shuttle is actually very soothing.
Additionally, Clover shuttles have a long pointed end, which can help with joining rings and chains together. You will want to have a small crochet hook on hand to help you with joins though, because sometimes the pick just doesn’t work for pulling thread through. (I was fairly good at joining with the pick, until I got my Susan Bates shuttle, and then I just got lazy. So now I use a crochet hook whenever I use my Clover shuttles.)
- Readily available; can be picked up at most craft stores (even if they are difficult to find).
- They are durable, and come in two packs.
- If you drop your shuttle, the whole thing does not unwind.
- The pick is super helpful for picking apart stiches / fixing mistakes.
- Winding thread is noisy, because of the tapered ends of the shuttle.
- Not having a hook means you need more tools with you when you want to tat.
- The pick will wear down over time, making it more difficult to join / pick apart stitches.
Conclusion: Clover shuttles are a great basic / beginner’s shuttle, particularly because you can (usually) pick them up at your local craft store.
Susan Bates Bobbin Shuttle
The Susan Bates, bobbin style shuttle is completely different from the Clover shuttle. Pretty much the first thing you’ll probably notice is the hook at the end, followed by the shape of the shuttle. It looks like a little arrow, or dart, or something.
I found one of these at Hobby Lobby, which btw has the largest tatting section I have ever seen at a craft store. They had an entire row of tatting supplies, not just one little peg in the crochet section. But I digress.
Susan Bates Bobbin Shuttle
This type of shuttle is a bobbin style shuttle, which means it has a round bobbin (similar to a sewing machine) that you wind the thread around. Just poke the end of the thread through the small hole at the base of the bobbin, and wind away. These types of shuttles wind pretty easily, and more importantly silently.
Figuring out how to remove the bobbin is only slightly confusing. There are no directions on the packaging, and I remember wondering if I popped the bobbin out or just tried to wind it with the bobbin in place. In the end it surprised me the amount of force I had to use to remove the bobbin. So, don’t be surprised if you really have to work to get the bobbin out of the shuttle. Don’t worry, you won’t break it. I haven’t broken mine yet, and I’m pretty forceful with it.
The beauty of this shuttle is of course the hook, it makes joining a breeze. A more inclusive tool means fewer items are needed when you want to tat. Additionally, you can easily wind and unwind the bobbin as needed, without a lot of manual effort. This shuttle also tends to hold considerably more thread than its Clover counterpart because of the bobbin.
However, there are no grips on this shuttle, which means you may drop it more (I drop mine all the time). The downfall to dropping your shuttle is that it easily unfurls long lengths of thread, because there is nothing to stop it from unwinding. Additionally, this shuttle unwinds almost without effort, so you may find yourself winding it up more frequently than the Clover shuttles.
- Winding is super quiet because of the bobbin.
- The attached hook is helpful.
- Holds more thread than the Clover shuttle.
- Unwinds very easily, which is annoying when the shuttle is dropped.
- The hook sometimes catches on the thread while stitches are being made.
- The hook makes it difficult to pick apart mistakes.
- Slips easily; not particularly great for beginning tatters.
Conclusion: Overall this is a good tool, once you get the hang of it, but is probably not the best tool for beginners. This would be my favorite shuttle, if it didn’t unwind so easily.
Of course, Clover and Susan Bates shuttles aren’t the only types of shuttles out there. There are many different kinds and styles of shuttles; however most aren’t as easily available as these two brands. Hopefully this article shed some light on the differences between these common shuttles, to help educate new tatters when it comes to picking out shuttles.
Do you have a favorite brand of shuttle, maybe one of the two listed here or another brand? Leave me a comment letting me know what you like to tat with.