Here are some of the plastic shuttles you can go out and buy today – or more likely order on-line or by phone, as few shops now sell them:
Since the 1990s the Japanese manufacturers Clover have been producing their colourful sets of 5 shuttles
in pink, yellow, green, orange and blue. The neat size (2.5") of the Clover is particularly popular with small-handed tatters. The pick is useful for joining picots, if not too small.
One of the most popular of modern tatting shuttles must be the grey Aero. It has a removable bobbin which you can put on the end of the shuttle to make thread-winding easier, and an embedded crochet hook for joining picots.
The classic Aero was manufactured in England from the early 1970s until the 1990s. It was made from a good quality shiny plastic that was easy to grip. But the one currently produced in Germany is still excellent and is the working shuttle of choice for many tatters.
The hook and the projecting end make the Aero a bit long (3") for some. A few tatters take drastic measures and 'neuter' their Aeros, getting rid of the rear end to make them more compact!
There are some inferior Aero-style versions produced by other manufacturers.
This Russian shuttle is described in the tatting book, "Volshebniye Uzory" by T.I.Sekunova, published in 1994. In a photograph of equipment needed for tatting, it is the only sort of shuttle shown. Tatyana wrote: "Unfortunately, for the time being our factories are not producing shuttles, but we can make them ourselves". There follows a diagram for making a chunky plastic shuttle like the one in the photo!
Another Russian tatting book, published a few years later in 1999, has pictures of more familiar manufactured shuttles, and no mention of making your own.
Milward Shuttles are constructed from 2 moulded sides, stuck together to form the central post, and it was sold with a hook.
Many people who learned to tat back in the 1950s or 60's will remember buying a Milward,
light and easy to hold with its hollowed sides. The separate hook was especially useful
as it could be threaded on a cord to wear round your neck.
Many still love tatting with their Milward shuttles. Production was discontinued in the 1980s.
These colourful plastic shuttles were made in the 1950s or earlier.:
Not much is known about them, but small differences identify them as belonging to 'families' made by different manufacturers. It shows in the shape of the shuttle or the brass rivets, visible or not. Some were made from a marbled plastic.
Collectors will notice 3 sorts of central post: