Sunday, May 27, 2018

Tools of the trade

I was going to show you a little pictorial of how I make the adjustable closure for the wheat bracelet, but then I realised that most of my photos were fuzzy and not even worth trying to sharpen. Hmm, another reason for my husband and friends to try and convince me to change my phone. A 360 view of the bracelet, now that's an idea!

I will instead talk a bit about the various tools that are basic for me and also some that I really can't work with.


I love my bobbin shuttles. I have four of them (I don't feel I need any more) and each came with two bobbins. I cut off the crochet hook because it was too big for my usual thread and decorated them with tissue paper.

The one on the left has a traditional Romanian motif on it.
I have recently bought a pair of post shuttles but I simply can't work with them. The tips needed to be coerced to stay together (that is actually a design flaw) and the point is too thick to poke through my VSPs (very small picots heh). I am also not used to not being able to adjust the thread position and length quickly. Even if I do find better quality post shuttles, I'm pretty sure I won't get any... they're not for me. Maybe a flat shuttle at most.

Trying to join that picot... Where is the crochet hook?

Crochet hooks

Since I neutered my shuttles, the only way to join would be using a crochet hook. My first one is actually a lot older than me and was used by my grandmother. It looks like the wooden handle was once broken, then attached to an empty pen case with a heat shrink tube. Pretty ingenious, and it also has a cap that way! I feel honoured to use a tool that has produced a lot of lovely items.

The old crochet hook is being put to good use again.
I have since bought myself another crochet hook in a larger size, to work with thicker yarn.

Good even needles

Back when I was needle tatting, I accumulated a real collection of even needles with narrow eyes. I don't use them all anymore, but I keep two sets of short darners in my working "basket" (it is actually a bag) for hiding ends. Having good needles really helps not distort the tatting too much. Here in Romania, Milward is the best brand I could find.


You might wonder what I need pliers for while tatting. I got into the habit of using them ever since my needle tatting days. Sometimes, my knots would be so tight on the needle, that they wouldn't slide past the eye anymore, so I would hold onto the needle with the pliers to get a good grip on it while sliding the knots. Before that, I was the bride with the most worn fingers, but that is a story for another time.

Now I use the pliers when hiding ends (I use the whip stitch method). My tatting is quite tight, so I grab the needle with the pliers to pull it through the little knot caps when it gets stuck.

A real finger saver.

The big eye needle

I use a lot of seed beads for making tatted jewellery and the big eye needle is invaluable for stringing beads. You open it, secure the thread end to one tip and rummage in the bead bag with the other end, letting beads catch on the pointy end. The principle is the same as for a needle threader.

It is 10cm long. Lots of beads can fit on that.

I won't even mention the pair of scissors (actually nail scissors, with very narrow and sharp tips), measuring tape and other doodads that are really quite common. If I haven't bored you already, next time I hope to share my limited experience with a few types of thread.

PS. I do a lot of my tatting at home on top of my laptop keyboard, so that is why you see so much of it. It is useful for keeping the tatting dog hair free but it's no fun when seed beads fall between the keys!


  1. I prefer bobbin shuttles too, but it does sound as though your post shuttles are not the best examples. I like to have a hook attached so that I don’t have to keep searching for it. But I see the attraction of using your grandmother’s hook, that’s special. I haven’t thought of having pliers as part of my tatting kit!

    1. It is true that the bobbin shuttles were bad quality but i would have still found it awkward. The pliers were a huge help with my too tight needle tatting.

  2. I echo Jane ! Recently I tried post shuttle again - huge failure! My fingers kept trying to roll the bobbin ;-P I even lost track of how the shuttle should move ;-D
    Never seen such a long beading needle ! It truly is an efficient way of handling beads.
    My work basket also contains a little lidded container as a thread bin. And tapestry needles & threader to whip stitch the tails. And a container for bobbins - I'm always short of bobbins!
    I do keep 4 different size crochet hooks for specific needs.
    I enjoyed reading your post :-)))

    1. I bought the big eye needle from a beading shop. I have seen a lot of people using them in tatting videos.
      I think some people get used to bobbin or post shuttles and find it hard to switch.
      I'm glad you enjoyed my post :)

    2. I to have used plyers and they work but will mess up the needle quicker You may try and use a balloon to grip the needle with and it is kinder on the needle. If still need the plyers use balloon to protect the needle.

    3. Madtatter, you are right, pliers can damage the needle. My pliers have a striped part and a smooth part (and also one that cuts wire :D) and I noticed the smooth part doesn't leave as many marks. Your idea with the balloon sounds great, I will have to give it a try.

  3. Si eu sunt pentru navetele cu bobina. Asa m-am obisnuit dar, pentru ca si eu am inceput cu unele mai ieftine, le-am taiat partea pentru bobinare iar acul l-am scos, l-am taiat si l-am pus la loc, asa incat sa-mi fie usor in utilizare. Nu puteam sa lucrez cu croseta, o pierdeam mereu.
    Navelete Clover nici eu nu le folosesc. Varful nu este potrivit deloc pentru fire subtiri sau VSP.

    1. Multumesc pentru comentariu si imi cer scuze ca nu l-am vazut pana acum, de obicei veneau pe email. Am auzit ca unele persoane isi fac un lantisor pe care agata croseta sa o poata purta la gat sa nu o mai piarda. Eu tin totul intr-o punguta si pun uneltele la loc imediat ce termin cu ele.


Any feedback or questions are welcome.