If you've been struggling to learn shuttle tatting, and are feeling frustrated, you're not alone! Here are my top five tips based on a decade of experience teaching courses to ensure success when beginning shuttle tatting!
Lizbeth #10 Tatting Thread
1. Use the proper thread.
Starting a new adventure in fiber arts is exciting, I get it. It's tempting to run over to your local Wal-Mart or Joann's and just grab the closest thing to tatting thread you can find (usually crochet cotton). But while this will technically work, it can make learning even more frustrating. A proper tatting thread in a variegated color that has a good contrast without being too dark or too light, such as the example above, will make learning go much smoother. My preferred thread for providing students during my lessons is a Lizbeth #10.
2. Take breaks and stretch.
It's normal for your hands to start feeling cramped or sore after a few minutes, especially when first beginning. After all, you're using muscles and holding positions that your body just isn't used to yet. Start a good habit of putting your project down frequently and giving your hands a good stretch, rolling the wrists around, and allowing the fingers to relax. Never try to tat through any amount of pain or discomfort!
3. Focus on getting comfortable over producing a finished product.
We live in a society that focuses so heavily on producing results, it's no surprise that we often feel pressured to produce something quickly and easily in the first go, making us feel disappointed when that doesn't happen. As with learning anything new, allow yourself time to make mistakes and fail before you succeed. Screwing it up a couple of times will actually help you be better at "reading your work" in the future, and any amount of time spent with the thread will help you feel more comfortable and confident with the shuttles, whether the end result is a knotted mess or a beautiful finished piece.
4. Don't worry about holding things "correctly."
Something I see quite frequently is that beginner's will try to copy exactly the same way that I hold my thread and shuttles, but feel confused or frustrated when their hands want to do something else entirely. (This is especially common with crocheter's who are picking up tatting after long years of holding a crochet hook and yarn!) My motto is "If it works for you, it's correct." Focus more on making the thread do what it needs to do to make the stitches, not so much on how you're holding things.
5. Feeling frustrated? Put it down!
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if you're feeling frustrated put it down! Say a few cuss words, make a cup of tea or coffee or have a drink, whatever you need, and come back to it when you're feeling a little more relaxed. Not only will you be better able to focus but when we're feeling stressed, our body tends to naturally tighten up, creating more tension. This can make getting the stitches to flip even more difficult! Nine times out of ten, after I've forced a student who's getting flustered or frustrated to take a break, they pick up whatever lesson they're struggling with easier and with greater success. Remember, tatting is supposed to be fun!
Still feeling lost? My Patreon course is designed to teach you everything from the very beginning basics, up to advanced techniques that will give you the confidence you need to succeed with any tatted lace project you might want to tackle!