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Re: Should I try shuttle?
I started with needle tatting in March 2010 and just transitioned to shuttles earlier this year. Knowing needle tatting helped a lot, but I also kept trying the shuttle every few months from the beginning. I got frustrated to tears on more than one occasion. I'd get the flip, complete a ring, and the next ring attempt would have be throwing the shuttle across the room (literally). I kept needle tatting just to keep myself of feeling like I just wasn't meant to tat. The point: Don't give up!
I agree about size 10 or 20 thread, but the BIGGEST tip I can give is USE TWO COLORS. This video might clarify that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as2gXQ-RYeQ. With one color, it's much harder to see the flip.
Another tip is to be patient. If your hand is sweaty or the thread is too moist, you'll be struggling to close a ring, so just let it sit for a little bit if you find yourself with a half-closed ring that refuses to close farther.
As for shuttles, I agree with Clovers (I've jabbed myself with the pick plenty, but it's a quick 'ow' and move on, LOL.), but I have really tiny hands. At this point, I'm semi against bobbin shuttles because they tend to let thread go when I'm making stitches, but I'm working on that. *rolls eyes*
As far as a pattern. Don't worry about a pattern just yet. It can be too much pressure, LOL. I would, however, suggest that you do a pattern with which you've become accustomed. If you've done it on the needle, you'll understand how the thread should be moving, etc..., so it'll make shuttle-tatting it that much easier. ;-)
Okay, okay... enough rambling from me. Sorry for all that, but I hope some of it helps...