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Tatters Across Time
Shuttle: A shuttle is a device used to hold thread when tatting. They come in many shapes and sizes. Some have an oblong shape with a fixed center post the top and bottom come together at the tips with a narrow space though which the thread is wound. Others have a detachable bobbin, which holds the thread. Some shuttles are flat. Shuttles often have a hook or point at the front which can be used for joining.
Tatting thread: Anything from crochet cotton to the finest sewing thread can be used for tatting. A hard twist thread like crochet cotton or tatting thread works best, but any thread that is even and can withstand being pulled without breaking, can be used. This includes quilting thread, sewing thread and embroidery thread. Linen and similar threads that are "nubby" make it impossible to close rings and are unsuitable as is polyester thread which binds too much for rings to close. No Victorian lady would ever tat with anything coarser than size 40, but things have changed and modern tatting will typically use size 20 or 30. Thread referred to as tatting thread is usually size 80.
Double Stitch - DS The double stitch is formed in 2 halves and is the basis for all tatting. It is sometimes called a double knot. See also Lark's Head Knot LHK
Chain - CH A chain is a string of double stitches used to link rings together or to form design elements.
Ring - R A ring is a continuous circle of double stitches. Tatting may be made exclusively with rings or combined with chains.
Picot - P Picots are tiny loops of thread between double stitches which may be either decorative, or may be used to join elements of tatting together. Traditional tatting uses an abundance of picots to achieve a lacy effect, but more modern tatting uses fewer picots.
Josephine knot - jk A Josephine knot is a small ring made using only one half of a double stitch.
Mignonette tatting Rows of Josephine knots or tiny rings separated by a measured spaces of bare thread, where the next round is joined to the bare thread. This makes a very lacy network of tatting and several rows may be used to edge a handkerchief before a final row of edging is applied, or it may be used for an interesting effect to separate rows of edging or to create 'negative space' in a doily or collar.
Rickrack tatting This may go under other names, but it is done like the Josephine knot, making a chain by using one half of the Doublestitch for a specified number of stitches, then reversing and using the other half of the double stitch. Tatting in this manner creates a zigzag effect in the chain. When the same half stitch is used instead of alternating you get a spiral rather than a zigzag effect.
Weaver's knot A weaver's knot aka a square knot is made by tying two threads together, left over right, then right over left. A weaver's knot can be positioned anywhere you want it and won't come undone. It is often used to tie final ends together.
Lark's Head Knot - LHK Used in more advanced techniques, is the reverse of a double stitch, done often in split ring tatting.
Split Ring - SR Rings made with 2 threads where the first part of the ring is a normal ring and the second part of the ring is made of un-flipped stitches. It looks like a normal ring, but where a normal ring has the thread exiting the ring where it started the threads (2) may exit the ring at any point. This is useful for "climbing out of a round" so that you avoid having ends to hide. The split ring can begin at it's normal point at the base of the ring, but the threads can exit at the top or the ring, in position to begin the next round.
Shuttle join The shuttle thread is used to make the join whenever a downward join is required. Frequently used when chains are joined to a previous row. It is also used when joining the end of a split chain.
Split chain - part of the chain is tatted in the usual manner, but in order to have the thread exit the chain at a different point than the end of the chain, the shuttle thread is used to do a shuttle join at the point where the chain would normally end. Then the shuttle thread is used to encapsulate the bare thread making imitation double stitches. This lets the tatter work back toward the middle of the chain, and exit the chain at a new point. This technique can also be used to climb out of a round and avoid having ends to hide. Split chains are often used in conjunction with split rings for this purpose.
Pearl tatting Multiple threads used so that a chain can be more than one color and have picots or rings coming from either the top or the bottom of the chain.
Cluny tatting A method of holding the fingers like a loom and weaving threads back and for across a ring making an interesting leaf shape of solid threads.
Continuous thread method - CTM Working without cutting the shuttle thread from the ball or with 2 shuttles wound with one long unbroken thread.
Self Closing Mock Ring - SCMR A ring made with the chain thread so that it is a mock ring. A loop at the beginning of the mock ring is kept open so that the shuttle can be slid through the loop when the ring is completed. Pulling on the shuttle thread pulls the stitches into place and tightens the chain into a ring shape.
Shoe Lace Tie - SLT When working with one shuttle or running out of thread it is possible to switch the thread positions by doing a shoe lace tie. This is simply doing the first half of a knot the same as you would to tie shoe laces. Doing this wraps one thread over and under the other thread and reverses their positions. This lets you switch your ball and shuttle threads so that the thread with the shuttle can be used for making rings, then another SLT will put the shuttle back in position to continue. It is also helpful when you are working with 2 shuttles, but one of them is running out of thread and you only have a little more work to do. You can switch to the shuttle with more thread and continue working.
Magic Thread Trick In order to avoid having knots in your finished lace it is advisable to hide your ends. One method of doing this is to pull the ends inside the tatted stitches. This is accomplished by tatting over loops of thread at the beginning and ending points of the final round. The ends are inserted into the loops which are then used to pull the ends under the stitches.
Double picot A very long picot that is joined back to the chain or ring after one or two stitches. The picot is then arranged with one side pulled out longer than the other giving the effect of one picot on top of the other.
Dimpled ring Rings are usually round or oval in shape, but an interesting heart shape can be achieved by tatting a ring with a picot near the top of the ring then tat 2 or 3 stitches and join to the picot. Complete the ring and close. The join will make a fold at the top of the ring giving it a "dimple". Care must be taken to tat somewhat loosely or the dimpled ring will be very hard to close.
Twisted picot A decorative effect in a ring created by making a very long picot, then twisting the picot and joining into the tip of it before closing the ring.
Bead join Beads can be added to the rings of chains by sliding them into place wherever there is a picot. Sometimes the picot is also a join and the way to do the join and still have a bead at that location is to do a bead join. Make sure the picot is long enough to fit through the center of the bead and leave a little extra room at the tip. Then do the join through the tip of the picot. When completed the join is invisible inside the bead.
Last modified: November 11, 2010.