"But, really, why does anyone create? You feel a... a restlessness inside, a need to make something new, something no one has ever seen before. You want to add to the beauty and the richness of the world with a gift, an offering that is uniquely yours. It's an act of selfishness and generosity, all rolled into one."

-- Bruce Coville,
The Last Hunt

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What Do You Make of This?

My parents found this shuttle a few years ago in an antique shop in England.

One has to wonder who they thought would be using it, for a shuttle 5 1/2 inches/ 14 cm long to be even remotely serviceable. And the really funny thing is, it is so narrow that it doesn't hold any more thread than a normal-sized shuttle.

I have considered the possibility that it might have been intended as a knotting shuttle, as those were generally much larger than tatting shuttles. On the other hand, knotting shuttles were large so that they could hold a lot of thread, so this doesn't really fit the bill. Plus, knotting shuttles were usually very ornate, since that craft functioned as much to show off the knotter's elegant hands as to actually make anything.

I'm thinking that it may be a sort of "transitional" shuttle, made during the time period when knotting was declining and tatting was ascending. In this case, it would be understandable that a shuttle maker might not know what a knotter/ tatter really wanted from her shuttle, and he might have been trying to make something that would be useable for both crafts, if not ideal for either. I'd be interested to hear other people's ideas.

I believe it is ivory.

It came wound with this horrid yellow and green perle cotton.
In addition to being, as Jane would say, grotty colors, these threads are stiff, rough, thick, and full of knots. I certainly hope that some poor soul wasn't trying to learn to tat with this shuttle and these threads-- that would be enough to put you off tatting forever!

I'm giving the thread to Squijum. At least he can get some pleasure out of it.


  1. Yikes! Do NOT give the thread to Squijum!

    Thread is dangerous for cats for if they swallow it, it can wrap around their intestines and kill them! My vet warns people about the dangers of yarn and thread!!! Please be careful!
    Fox : O

  2. it looks more like a netting needle, and the thread would be heavier and intended to be used to make nets not lace.

  3. Don't worry, Fox, he will only play with it under supervision. I never leave thread lying around.

    Thank you, Ladytats and Josie. I'm glad to know no one was trying to tat with it!

  4. My first thought was a netting shuttle too; and, I was happy to have my thought validated. LOL I was sitting in a physician's office a few years ago and a gentleman (a peer) asked if I were making a net for fishing! I was using my Lady Hoare-style shuttle that GMA made for me (it has a ship etched on the ivory design). It came to my mind then, that if my shuttle were longer, it would be pretty easy to make a 'net' to scoop up trout with; had my SoninLove in mind!
    What a fortunate find. bj

  5. I agree with the others, my first thought was a netting shuttle :) I have seen many netting shuttles of several sizes and that one is fairly average of many I have seen, especially for repairs, but I couldn't tell you what that thread would have been for...

  6. I think it's a netting 'needle' which would've been used for thicker thread like the fishermen use. For finer netting a straight 'needle' is used.

  7. I agree with Jane, and its a netting needle, used to make netting

  8. It's not a fishing netting needle; they are much more narrow and have an opening in the center to hold the cord. Perhaps for a more artistic sort of netting