Wednesday, 23 June 2021

2nd shuttle or ball

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 A question was asked recently in the context of a specific pattern. The pattern contained chains that faced opposite directions in an edging. It would be an easy "switch shuttle" if one were to use 2 shuttles. But she wanted to know if it could be done with one shuttle and a ball?

Yes! Of course, the easiest way is to do a shoe lace trick (SLT) or overhand tie, but you know I avoid it as much as possible, preferring other options such as Reposition, Twist Work, Reverse Join, and/or Reverse Stitch, whichever is most effective at the time. (See

Here's a quick sampler I tatted to show one way of  How to Avoid Using 2 Shuttles - using direct tatting.

Please note that this is Not the original pattern, though the general shape, and direction of each element, is similar. I also made up my own stitch count.

1. I started with the middle ring, unsure how long the leftover thread would last. But basically, we are tatting ring and chain segments, reversing work (RW) each time.
2. Now here is where the chain changes direction and our single shuttle is not in position. To bring it in position, either do a SLT, or follow what I did -
Turn work (as if turning the page), and direct tat the chain ie. with unflipped or reverse stitched (as in 2nd side of split ring).
Notice the chain takes the colour of shuttle thread, unlike the previous chains. 
3. Reverse work after completing the segment. This brings the shuttle to the top ...
4. .... and tat the 1st ring of next repeat. It looks like a thrown/floating ring.
5. Rest of the motif is again worked as alternate chains and rings, with RW between each element. Repeat the direct tatted chain and continue for desired length.

TIP: If you want all chains to have the same colour, SLT or Repositioning at the start and end of chain would be a better choice, and the chain would be worked with normal flipped stitches.

A couple of days back I stumbled upon Jon Yusoff's How-to - Avoid using the 2nd shuttle . See, thrown rings using one shuttle !!!! 

One might inquire 'Why replace 2nd shuttle with a ball?

My answer is that it may be a matter of preference, sometimes mood! It can also be a means to reduce the number of tails to hide especially if it's going to be a looooong edging. Of course, one will need to either have 2 balls of the same shade (in order to reload the shuttle) or preload several shuttles before using the remainder of the ball for the 2nd thread.

One other scenario is when the rings are worked as mock rings (MR) or as self-closing mock rings (SCMR), a single shuttle and ball can work well.

Personally, I do not mind hiding ends, and 2 shuttles are more portable and manageable (a shuttle won't unravel if it slips off, unlike ball of thread). 2 shuttles also provide a lot of flexibility and freedom. 

As I always say, there's no absolute right or wrong in tatting. Choose what you feel comfortable with, or what the pattern demands, or how the pattern can be adapted to colour(s) and techniques. My point is merely Be Aware that there are several paths to the same destination, and with a bit of thinking ahead and adaptation you can travel any road!

You can find all tutorials here - 


  1. Yes, good point, your last one. I like to use a ball where possible because it means not having to fill a shuttle, but ‘there’s a time for all things’, I don’t go out of my way to avoid using a second shuttle. Good solution to the original query.

    1. So true, Jane, thank you! 💕😍 I juggle between methods/tools depending on the specific circumstances and it helps to have a repertoire of skills under ones belt to make the choice seamless.

  2. I love it! Well stated, Muskaan! Travel any road with your shuttle. See where it takes you. The adventure is yours! Oh, how I love it!

    1. I am thrilled you enjoyed this journey with me, Anita 😍💕💖 We can create our own scenery with a tiny bit of imagination 😁

  3. Absolutely agree with your last sentence, freedom for tatting lol! The same is for the needle/shuttle alternative, it's always a personal preference.
    I love, like you, learning many possible paths to the same destination. I think I had missed the link to that particular Jon's tutorial, so, also thank you very much for that!

    1. Ah yes, I should've included 'tool', Ninetta 😃 And you have forged so many NEW paths in tatting!!! 😍👍
      I, too, discovered Jon's tut just a few days back, although it is not recent.

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