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Tools and Materials
There are two main types of shuttles available—one with a center shaft and one with a removable shuttle. Some shuttles have a small hook on the end for joining, but the thread can catch on the hook; a small crochet hook can be used for joining, instead. For beginners, I recommend a shuttle with a center shaft and no hook.
A smooth, tightly twisted thread is the most suitable thread for tatting. Most cotton crochet threads can be used successfully. All of the patterns in this book use DMC Cordonnet Special.
Winding the Shuttle
Insert the thread through the hole in the center shaft and wind the thread evenly around the shaft. Untwist the thread while winding it onto the shaft to help prevent the thread from binding while you tat. Be sure not to wind beyond the borders of the shuttle. Such overloading will damage the shuttle.
The basic tatting stitch is the double stitch, which is worked in two parts.
Unwind the shuttle so that the thread is about 12 inches long. Hold the shuttle between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand with the thread coming from the back of the shuttle (having the thread coming from the front of the shuttle can cause knots in your work). Take the end of the thread between the thumb and forefinger of the left hand, then pass the thread around the outstretched fingers, crossing it under the thumb (Fig. 1). The thread around your fingers is referred to as the ring thread; that coming from the shuttle is the shuttle thread.
With the shuttle in your right hand, pass the shuttle thread under and over this hand just behind the tips of the fingers. Pass the shuttle under the shuttle and ring threads between the first and second fingers of the left hand. Bring the shuttle back over the ring thread and under the shuttle thread (Fig. 2), allowing the ring thread (the thread around the left fingers) to fall slack by bringing the four fingers of the left hand together. Pull the shuttle thread taut, causing it to form a loop around the ring thread (Fig. 3). Spread the fingers of the left hand to bring the loop close to the fingers and thumb of the left hand; pull tight. The first half of the double stitch is now complete.
The second half of the stitch is the reverse of the first. Allow the shuttle thread to fall slack, pass the shuttle over the ring thread, then back under the ring thread and over the shuttle thread (Fig. 4). Pull the shuttle thread taut and tighten the ring thread until the second half of the stitch slips into place beside the first half. Use your right ring finger to help move the stitches into place. This completes one double stitch (Fig. 5).
The double stitch should slip back and forth freely when you pull on the shuttle thread. If it does not, the stitch has been locked by a wrong motion and must be made over again (use a needle to take out the stitch). While practicing it is recommended that you take out your work occasionally; this will help you learn how the stitches are formed. Practice the doubles until you can do them without looking at the instructions. To close the ring, pull on the shuttle thread until the first and last stitches meet. Practice and have patience—your fingers are making foreign movements.
Chains are made with a shuttle and a ball thread, or with two shuttles. Tie the two threads together with a square knot, leaving 2–3-inch ends. Hold the knot in your left hand between your thumb and forefinger. Lay the ball thread over the top of your left fingers forming a half circle; then wrap it around your little finger to control the tension of the thread (Fig. 6). This thread is your chain thread or running line. The double stitches are formed in the same manner as for the ring. The first double stitch should be made as close as possible to the knot.
When working both rings and chains, you usually (although not always) reverse the work between them. Work is sometimes reversed between rings as well. To reverse the work if you have just finished a ring, turn the work over so that the bottom of the ring is at the top. Turn chains so that the stitches are upside down.
Picots are used for decoration and to join rings and chains. To form a picot, make the first half of the next double stitch; slide it on the thread, stopping about ¼ inch from the last stitch. Complete the double stitch (Fig. 7) and slide the entire stitch into position next to the double stitches already made. For larger picots leave a larger space between double stitches. If a picot is required at the beginning of a chain or ring, make the appropriate size picot holding it securely, then make double stitches as directed.
Rings and chains are joined at picots. To join two rings, work the first ring, then work the second ring to the point it is to be joined. From the front, insert a small crochet hook (or the hook or point of the shuttle) through the last picot of the previous ring and pull the ring thread through, making a loop large enough to insert the shuttle (Fig. 8). Pass the shuttle through the loop and draw the shuttle thread tight, joining the rings. Continue making double stitches. Chains can be joined in the same way. Sometimes, it is necessary to join a chain to a ring or chain that is to the right and below the chain. In this case, insert the hook through the picot and draw up the shuttle thread. Pass the shuttle through the loop (Fig. 9). Draw the shuttle thread tight, locking the join into position. Make sure that the stitches before the join are drawn close together, as the join will lock the stitches.
Joining the End to the Beginning of the Work
Work the last ring of the motif to the join; pick up the first ring, holding it so that you see the front side, fold it over to the left so that the back is now facing you. Insert the crochet hook through the picot from the back to the front, then twist the picot to draw the ring thread through (Fig. 10). Complete the join and the ring and close the ring. When working with more than one row completed, you will find it necessary to turn the work inside out.
Joining New Thread
Always join the thread at the base of a ring or chain by making a square knot and leaving the ends until the work is finished. Do not cut the ends until later, as the strain of working may loosen the knot. Never attach a new thread in a ring, as the knots will not pass through the double stitch.
When working with two shuttles, it is important to mark the shuttles as Sh #1 and Sh #2, #2 being your running line. Sh #2 will also be used to form rings on top of chains.
When working with one shuttle and a ball, the ball will always be your running line. It cannot be used to form rings.
When two colors are used in making rings, two shuttles must be used. The double stitches will be the color of the running line (the thread around your left hand). If chains appear on a two-color design, use the second shuttle as if it were a ball.
To correct a ring, turn the ring so the bottom of the ring is up. With the index fingers and thumbs, separate the stitches at the base of the ring. Insert a needle between the first and second halves of the last double stitch made and move the needle back and forth to loosen the stitches. Insert the needle into the second half of the last double (this is the last stitch on the ring) and pull up an excessive amount of thread. Loosen each stitch, being sure to leave a gap for each stitch. Once three or four stitches have been loosened, pull the thread from the beginning of the ring (the opposite side from where you are working). Place the ring back on your hand and continue taking off the stitches until the mistake is corrected.
Josephine Stitch and Josephine Knot
Work either the first half or the second half of the double stitch the required number of times. If worked as a ring, the resulting ring is known as a Josephine Knot.
In this stitch, the running line is wrapped around the shuttle thread, creating a smooth surface. Begin the ring and work the specified number of double stitches. Without wrapping the shuttle thread over the right hand, pass the shuttle under, then over the ring thread and away to the right (Fig. 11). Keep the shuttle thread taut, causing the ring thread to wrap around the shuttle thread. Repeat the required number of times. Hold the rolled stitches securely between your thumb and forefinger and finish by working at least one double stitch. Close the ring.
Determine where you wish to place your beads by looking at the pattern. Before winding the shuttle, load the thread coming off of the ball with the required number of beads. Use a beading needle if the thread fits through it; if not, use no needle. Wind the shuttle, working the beads on evenly. When working chains, load the required beads onto the running line.
Working Rings: If you have three picots that require beads, push three beads up into the closed ring on your hand. Example—2d, p (bead), 2d, p (bead), 2d, p (bead), 2d, cl. After making 2 double stitches, pull one bead up from the ring on your hand. Make the appropriate picot, then continue making double stitches.
Working Chains: Push the required beads onto the chain thread that will be wrapped around your hand—the beads will sit on the back of your fingers. When a bead is needed, repeat as for a ring.
Load a sewing needle with approximately 12 inches of thread (the length of the thread will depend upon the size of the work). Make a slip knot in the end of the thread and insert the needle through any center picot of the work, either a ring or chain. Pass the needle through the slip knot and pull tight. Go to the opposite side of the work, insert the needle through a picot (be sure to hold your thread in the center of the work). Working back and forth, go from one picot to a picot on the opposite side. When you go through your last picot, bring the thread back to the center and wrap the thread under the center of all the threads. Weave the thread around the center numerous times, going over and under the "spokes." Insert the needle under the weaving, bring it up through the center knot and work a knot by weaving the needle through center top; cut close to work.
Cut the ends 3 inches long; tie them together in a square knot. Thread a needle with one end. The size of the thread will determine the size needle to use. At the base of the knot, sew the needle back through the double stitches (Fig. 12). Be very careful not to pull on the double stitches, as it will stretch out your stitches. Do not run the thread through picots—the thread will show. Trim excess thread close to stitches, being careful not to cut stitches.
You will find it much easier if you press the work after each row after finishing the ends.
It is very important to keep your hands as clean as possible, as the thread will pick up dirt and oils from your hands.
If you are using colored thread, make sure the thread is colorfast before washing. Using a very mild, unscented liquid detergent or dish-washing soap, soak the work for several minutes. Rinse well; do not twist or wring work. Lay the work out flat on a white towel and let air dry. Sometimes pinning out the picots will help to block the work. Be sure to use rustproof straight pins. Iron your work, placing a white cotton towel between the iron and the tatted piece. Never place the iron directly on the work as this will flatten your stitches.
On hard stains, place water, detergent and piece in a clean pan. Place on stove and bring to a boil for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the severity of the stain. Pin or lay out flat to air dry.
Basket of Clover
Beginner Completed Size: 7¼" diameter
BASKET OF CLOVER
Materials: DMC Cordonnet Special, size 30—1 ball each white and green 954. Two shuttles are required. Wind each shuttle with a different color. Use the white shuttle as the ring thread, the green as the chain thread.
Center Ring (white shuttle only): R 3d, smp, 6d, p, 3d, 3 p sep by 2d, 3d, p, 6d, smp, 3d, cl. *LR 3d, j to smp of last ring, 12d, 7 p sep by 2d, 12d, smp, 3d, cl. R 3d, j to smp of last ring, 6d, p, 3d, 3 p sep by 2d, 3d, p, 6d, smp, 3d, cl. Rep from * 2 times more. Rep LR once more, joining first and last smp's to first and last rings made. Cut and tie. FW.
Row 1 (white shuttle and ball): *R 4d, p, 4d, j to 4th p of LR of Ctr R, 4d, p, 4d, cl. RW. Ch 7d, p, 4d, 5 p sep by 3d, 4d, p, 7d. RW. 3-Ring Cluster—R 8d, 3 p sep by 1d, 6d, smp, 2d, cl. R 2d, j to smp of last ring made, 8d, p, 1d, j to 3rd p of next small ring made on Ctr R, 1d, p, 8d, smp, 2d, c1. R 2d, j to smp of last ring, 6d, 3 p sep by 1d, 8d, cl. RW. Ch 7d, p, 4d, 5 p sep by 3d, 4d, p, 7d. RW. Rep from * around. J last ch to base of first ring made. Cut and tie. FW. PW.
Row 2 (2 shuttles): *R 4d, p, 4d, j to last p of ch of prev row, 2d, j to first p of next ch, 4d, p, 4d, cl. RW. Ch 8d, smp, 8d. RW. R 4d, p, 4d, j to 3rd p of same ch, 4d, p, 4d, cl. RW. Ch 8d, smp, 8d. RW. R 4d, p, 4d, j to 5th p on same ch, 4d, p, 4d, cl. RW. Ch 8d, smp, 8d. RW. Rep from *7 times. J last ch to base of first ring. Cut and tie. FW. PW.
Row 3:All joins will be made with the shuttle thread. Attach white shuttle and ball thread to any p on any ch of Row 2. *Ch 8d, smp, 8d, j to free p on next ch. Rep from * around. J ch to beg. Cut and tie. FW. PW.
Row 4 : Rep Row 3.
Row 5 : Rep Row 3, changing smp's to p's.
Row 6 (2 shuttles): *R 2d, 3 p sep by 2d, 2d, j to p on Row 5 ch, 2d, 3 p sep by 2d, 2d, cl. RW. Ch 3d, 9 p sep by 2d, 3d. RW. Rep from * around. J last ch to base of first ring. Cut and tie. FW. PW.
Row 7 (green shuttle only): *R 1d, 11 p sep by 1d, 1d, cl. Leave 3/8" sp, j thread to 3rd p on ch of last row, leave 3/8" sp. R 1d, 11 p sep by 1d, 1d, c1. Leave 3/8" sp, join to 7th p of same ch, leave 3/8" sp. Rep from * around. J thread to base of first ring. Cut and tie. FW. PW.
Row 8 (2 shuttles): R 1d, 4 p sep by 1d, 1d, j to 5th p on ring directly above a ring of Row 6, 1d, p, 1d, j to 7th p of next ring, 1d, 4 p sep by 1d, 1d, cl. RW. *Ch 1d, 26 tp sep by 1d, 1d, twist ch 5 times. RW. R 1d, 4 p sep by 1d, 1d, j to 5th p of next ring, 1d, p, 1d, j to 7th p of next ring, 1d, 4 p sep by 1d, 1d, cl. RW. Rep from * around, omitting last ring. J last ch to first ring. Cut and tie. FW. PW.
Advanced Completed Size: 20" diameter
Materials: DMC Cordonnet Special, size 30—1 ball. Use one color only. Four shuttles are used for Rows 10 and 11. Work Rows 1 through 8 of Basket of Clover (above).
Row 9:This row will join the remaining pairs of rings from
Row 7. Pull a twisted ch of last row to the back of the work so that it is out of the way. *R 1d 4 p sep by 1d, j to free 5th p of a Row 7 ring, 1d, p, 1d, j to free 7th p of next ring, 1d, 4 p sep by 1d, 1d, cl.** RW. Ch 2d, 21 p sep by 2d, 2d. RW. Pull next twisted ch to the front of the work. Rep from * to **. Pull the next twisted ch to the back of the work. Rep from * around. Cut and tie. FW. PW.
Rows 10 and 11 (4 shuttles): Rows are worked simultaneously. Mark shuttles in pairs (1, 1A, 2, 2A). Lay shuttle pairs out of the way when not in use. *Sh 1 and 1A: On subsequent repeats, twisted ch will lay over the top of last flat ch made. R 1d, 4 p sep by 1d, 1d, j to 17th p on ch of last row, 1d, 4 p sep by 1d, 1d, cl. RW. Ch 1d, 19 tp sep by 1d, 1d. Twist ch 5 times. RW.Sh 2 and 2A: Ch will lay over the top of last twisted ch made. R 1d, 4 p sep by 1d, 1d, j to 13th p on same ch, 1d, 4 p sep by 1d, 1d, cl. RW. Ch 5d, 11 p sep by 2d, 5d. RW. *Sh 1 and 1A: Twisted ch will lay over the top of the last flat ch made. R 1d, 4 p sep by 1d, 1d, j to 9th p on same ch, 1d, 4 p sep by 1d, 1d, cl. RW. Ch 1d, 19 tp sep by 1d, 1d. Twist ch 5 times. RW. Sh 2 and 2A: Ch will lay over the top of last twisted ch made. R 1d, 4 p sep by 1d, 1d, j to 5th p on same ch, 1d, 4 p sep by 1d, 1d, cl. RW. Ch 5d, 11 p sep by 2d, 5d. RW. Rep from * around, joining ch's to base of appropriate rings. Cut and tie all threads. FW. PW.
Row 12 : Attach shuttle and ball thread to ctr p of any untwisted ch of last row. *Ch 10d, smp, 10d, j to ctr p of next ch. Rep from * around. Cut and tie. FW. PW.
Excerpted from Elegant Tatting Patterns by Janet Carroll. Copyright © 1996 Janet Carroll. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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