Shuttles are so easy to collect. They are exactly like knitting needles and pens in that respect; before you know it you have a box full! I have seen a lot of organizing ideas for tatting stuff, and one of them is those little drawstring bags with a bunch of pockets. We got those in our welcome boxes at NMT in the dorm…I knew I had at least one of them somewhere…I remember they were popular back then. It had little bottles of shampoo/soap/perfume samples/etc. (Side note-I’m still hooked on Cool Water. It smells like memories.)
Hey I found it!

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I wanted to find this because I scored a few more shuttles this week. My neighbor and his retired US Marine friend went antiquiing and offered to find some for me. They ended up finding a bunch, and got a good deal for the whole bag. That’s the second time I got a deal on a bag of shuttles…must not be a big demand for those. ;-)
He brought back three plastic ones marked “Gloria” (four actually, but one was broken right in half, I threw that one away.), a Bakelite shuttle (maybe? I think it’s the large black shuttle), and a big plastic one (that needs to be cleaned, I swear those are teeth marks on there…maybe someone had an adventurous puppy). I had everything kind of crammed in a basket in my thread box. Not the best organizing skillz.

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There were some shuttles in bags and in the silver tin. Bits of tatting mistakes are in the M&M tin for reference. Oh! See that cool spool of thread? That was an empty wooden spool that I wind leftovers on. The leftovers are great for sashiko embroidery and they look pretty on a wooden spool, lol.
Here are my shuttles (the ones not in use and the ones scored from antique stores).

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OK, so the big fat Starlight shuttle isn’t antique, but I grabbed it on sale at a hobby store last summer. It’s big so you can put beads on the thread. I’ll try that eventually…I have some super cool beaded dragon patterns to try once I mast the split ring/split chain technique. The shuttle beneath the red one is a Detach-A-Spool that I do use, it’s sturdy and I love the sharp pick. The one below that is a Just-Rite, and it’s very cool, but it felt awfully fragile when I used it, so it’s retired now. I would hate to break it! The three Gloria shuttle are in the middle top, with the toothy plastic one, and what was told is Bakelite. Bakelite is so cool! The rest on the right are my extra Boye shuttles. Classics, them. About 2-3 of them are in good shape but the others need to be cleaned and polished. Someone somewhere wrote on them with either a wax pencil or *gasp* a Sharpie so I need to get that off. ~Sigh~ The brown Gloria shuttle was scotch taped (like the old yellowed kind) to the broken shuttle, so now it has 20+ year old tape residue on it. Blech. Orange oil should get that off, plus the markings. We’ll see! Some weekend when I have time I’ll go through them and clean them all up, hopefully with before and after pictures. I love before and after pictures.
I put them in the cute bag:

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Big Red wouldn't let the bag close, so I put it back in the basket with the beads. They're friends so it made sense to keep them together.

I kept the rough ones in a small plastic bag and grouped the Glorias together. (now I have the GLOREE-AH! GLOREE-AH! song in my head)
And a shot of my thread box, better organized:

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Note toddler pj legs on the left.

Those bits in the basket are actually finished projects I need to block. There is some pretty blue edging from one of the usable shuttles in there too, that some long ago crafter made. And of course you might be asking, “If those are the shuttles you aren’t using, where are the shuttles you are using?” (I know Beth is wondering that)

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so many pretties so little time....

Going clockwise from the top center: The Twirls Autumn-something might become a neat square motif bookmark with a charm (on top of the ball), the grapey edging is for a pillowcase (the Starlit shuttle from Handy Hands is amazing!), the Twirlz purple stuff is the mask (I’m finally on the outer row. It’s another one where I’m writing out the pattern in US terms as I go) with the Dymondwood shuttle, two Clover shuttles for practicing split rings and chains, and another Detach-A-Spool with a Twirlz Patriotic sample. I’m using the same pattern as the edging, but making it into a bookmark.
It was a lot of fun to think about my neighbor and his friend asking about “lace tatting shuttles”. ;-)

Some thoughts on how old these shuttles are:
Boye:¬† Some of these are all marked “BOYE IMPROVED MORE THREAD-LESS KNOTS” with “PAT. APR. 17, ’23” around the center. I have four¬† of these, they were manufactured up to 1947, so these are pretty old! The others are marked “TATTING SHUTTLE MADE IN U.S.A. THE BOYE NEEDLE CO.CHICAGO”. That dates them to around the mid to late 20th century. The current Boye’s have a straight label, these are curved along the edge. They are very common in the stores I’ve visited and I own a few of them.
Celluloid: I’m pretty sure the unmarked toothy cream colored shuttle is a celluloid shuttle. I suppose it could be Bakelite, but it doesn’t feel like it. Bakelite is a little hefty, light but strong. This just feels like plain old plastic. It’s pretty beat up and almost looks handmade.
Detach-A-Spool: I have two of these, both marked “Detach-A-Spool PAT.APPL’DFOR”, which I think dates them to around he 1920s? But I have read that they were made by a different company into the ’40s as well. These are in great condition, so I’m leaning towards the ’40s.
Gloria: Produced by McCoy & Jones Co. I have a white, tortoiseshell imitation, and black. They are the smaller size without a pick. Marked “Trade Gloria Mark”. The tortoise shell imitation is bent open a bit, I wonder if a previous owner put too much thread on it. I can’t use it in this condition but I’m chuffed to have three Glorias in different colors! They came in ivory but I don’t;t think mine is real ivory, whew.
Just-Rite: Marked “Justrite PAT APPLIED FOR”. Dates to around 1940s. I have one of these.
Pumpkinseed: I have a feeling this is not Bakelite, but rather a “Pumpkinseed” shuttle produced around the 1920s (?). I can’t find a lot of information about them. It looks exactly like the pics I did find online, though, it’s even the right color. It’s a little larger than the others. It doesn’t look like the pictures of Bakelite shuttles I found. Oh well. The quest goes on!
All the rest are modern, either Clover brand or Handy Hands except for the Dymondwood and the bone shuttle from Hobby Lobby. All the older shuttles were purchased in bags, except for the Just Rite.

I’m still on the lookout for interesting shuttles wherever I can find them. ;-) I’m going to have to find a book about shuttle collecting for more info on these and any more I find. I love the history of an old crafty item-I just know someone used this before me and it feels like I’m adding my own history to it with every project.

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