Tatting by shuttle or needle

Tatting? What is it?

I thought that all homemade lace was bobbin-lace.

Do you have to use a shuttle to tat?

I didn’t know you could tat with a needle.

I will try to give you the basics of tatting in today’s article.



Is Tatting A Lost Art?

Tatting is not the most popular handicraft known to man. In fact, a lot of people don’t even know what tatting is.  And most people would be hard-pressed to tell if a piece of lace was tatted or not.

Tatting has been around for many centuries. Fishermen making their nets is a form of tatting.  They just use thicker material and tie knots at most of the intersections.

A small percentage of people who tat are men. I happen to be one of that percentage.  I learned at a young age and have kept it up for many years.

When I was 12, my Mother wanted to learn to tat. She had a friend, Ruth, that offered to teach her. And being just 12 and an only child with an over-protective mother, I had to go along. Boy, was I excited, not!

Every day for two weeks we went to Ruth’s for two hours for Mom to learn tatting.  And she was having problems not making knots.

You see tatting is basically a series of slip knots. But if you don’t get the thread to ‘pop’, you have made a granny knot instead of a slip knot.

Mom was real good at making granny knots, so her rings wouldn’t close up.

After almost two weeks of sitting in a chair listening to Ruth telling Mom what to do and Mom not getting it, I was bored. So finally I said to Mom ‘Mom it’s easy. Let me try’.

They gave me a shuttle and showed me how to hold the thread and shuttle. The first time I tried I made only one granny knot. So my ring didn’t close. But the second time it worked and I have been tatting ever since.

Mom was so mad at me for picking it up so quickly that if looks could kill, I would have been dead.  But it gave her the impetus to finally get the ‘popping’ right and she became a tatting machine. She would make lace for handkerchiefs for gifts to all of the family and friends.



Learning To Tat Is Not Real Hard

Tatting is not a hard as it sounds. It is just the fact of learning how to hold your hands and the proper tension to keep on the thread.

If you keep an open mind and don’t fake yourself out, the moves are very easy to learn. The fact that the thread from the shuttle is put around the thread around your hand is easy. The ‘popping’ or ‘flipping’ of the thread is the part that most people have problems with.

After you have looped the shuttle thread over the hand loop, you have to pull the thread so that the loop goes from the shuttle thread to the hand thread.. This is the ‘popping’ or ‘flipping’ that I am referring to.

In order for the ring to close the slip knots have to be on the thread wrapped around your hand. If just one loop of thread didn’t flip, then you have a granny knot and the ring won’t close.

By leaving a space between two stitches, you will get a picot. A picot is a length of thread that stands up from the ring. They are decorative, but also functional.  By running the thread of the next ring through the picot you join the rings together.

And tatting is just a series of rings and chains run together to get the final look.

By using just one shuttle at a time you will only be able to make rings. To make chains you need a second thread on either another shuttle or using a ball of thread. By using the ball or second shuttle thread around your hand you will make a chain instead of a ring, as the thread is not in a loop.

The videos on the instructional pages will show you the difference. The page is currently under construction. Watch for the announcement of completion on our page on Facebook.



Using Needles To Tat

Tatting can also be done with needles. This makes it easier as it is almost like casting on for knitting.

The needles used are not the type that are used for sewing. These needles have a dull point and are normally 5″ to 7″ long. They come in different thicknesses to accommodate different sizes of threads.

Larger threads and even yarn are easier to tat with needles.  For a series of rings you would still use only one thread. For rings and chains you would use two threads, just like with shuttles.

For some people it is a lot easier to learn and use the needles as there is no flipping of the thread required.

There are videos being made and a page in work for needle tatting. Watch for the announcement of completetion on our page on Facebook



Tatting Can Be Done Anytime Or Anywhere

It is easy to pack a small bag with your tatting shuttles, needles and some thread to take along with you. So you can tat when waiting for an appointment or a person.

Just remember to finish the ring before you put it up. A partially finished ring, especially with a shuttle, will normally end up being messed up. You can forget where you are in the pattern. Or the thread can get disoriented and be hard to put back on your hand.

If you are using a shuttle and decide to take out the unfinished ring, you will have to pick out all of the loops and picots individually.  If you are using needles, it is just a simple matter of carefully sliding the loops off of the needle and your ready to go again.

An other advantage of tatting with needles is that the thread is a lot less likely to get disoriented. So it is easier to continue the pattern. But it is just as easy to forget where you stopped in the pattern.

If you are having trouble learning to tat from my videos, feel free to contact me either by email or the comment section below. i will do my best to help you over the rough spots.

I am working on a series of webinars that people can subscribe to for better instruction and help. I will let you know when I get them done. Also, I am checking out if Google Hangouts can be used practically for one on one instruction. Or possibly a class where questions can be answered right then both verbally and visually.

If I find it is practical to use Google Hangouts, I will post it on our Facebook page for Designs by C and N and on my personal timeline.


There will be another article next Friday. So come back to see what we talk about then.


Please leave a comment below to let me know if this article was helpful. Also let me know if there is a crafting subject you would like us to write about.


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