Blue and Black Tatting & Antique Patterns

001bAfter my total wipeout with the red oval doily, I am quite happy to show you two successes! They aren’t perfect, but they sit flat and are even the whole way around.


Both of these patterns come from the same book, Tatting Book No13 by Anne Orr. This book is available for free as part of the Antique Pattern Library, an amazing website full of pdf files of old craft and art books. There are lots of tatting books on there and although the designs are no where near as clear as modern books, with enough experience and patience, you can decipher the instructions. As an example, here are the instructions for the blue medallion:

medallion38I ended up writing them out and double-checking the photographs. Written needle-tatting instructions look more like this (this is the centre motif in the medallion as described above):

  • Ring: 2-2-2-2-2-2 RW
  • Chain: 3-2-2-3 RW
  • Ring: 2-2 join to second to last picot of previous R 2-2-2-2 RW
  • Chain: 3-2-2-3 RW
  • Repeat for 5 rings total, joining last ring to both the second to last picot of previous R and second picot of first R.
  • Chain: 3-2-2-3
  • Tie and Cut.

It’s a bit different; needle tatting does a lot of reversing the work (RW) to get the chains and rings to sit in the right directions. Learning how to properly reverse took me most of a weekend and about 30 ugly little flowers.

Here are a few closeups of these two medallions, just for fun:

003b 009b

As always, check out Totusmel’s Instructables to learn the basics of needle tatting. She taught me nearly all I know!




Needle Tatting Ups and Downs

I have been doing a lot of tatting recently because it is super portable and easy to do in cars and coffee shops. I haven’t been finding myself with tons of time recently.

I finished my red oval doily from my last post but…

Red Tatting

It isn’t sitting. Nothing I can do will make is sit. It is super frustrating. The issue is that my picolts are too short.

Here is a quick snapshot from the book it came from, Needle Tatting from the Heart by Tina Neurdof. Can you spot the difference between mine and theirs?


Yep, the picots are all too short. Picots are the little loopy bits that serve as decorations and as links to other parts of the design. So… I started it again. I want to make this for someone in particular, so I really want it to work. If I can’t get it to work after the third time, then maybe I’ll move on to another design.


Still, the red is quite pretty isn’t it?

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WIP Wednesday – Needle Tatted Doily


What a difference a round makes! The mess on the left will look like the tidiness on the left as I progress with this latest round (a round is the term for a layer of tatting on top of a completed motif. I am currently working on the fourth round of five.).

This is the second time I get this far with this particular doily. There are a few mistakes, but none that are motif breaking, unlike the first time I tried to stitch this.

Tatting Progress!

My adventures in needle tatting are gaining, if not speed, then consistency. I am now getting very few bits of tangled thread that could never pass as tatting. Hurah! Here are a few of the many resources I have been taking advantage of and the resulting bits of tatting.

First off is this piece, which is the pendant part of a necklace by TotusMel over at Instructables. The pendant is slightly baroque and does a good job of introducing beginners to reversing their work, making picots that will be linked up way later on and to clovers, which is the three very tight loops at the bottom of the design. More information about reversing your work can be found on Tatted Treasures as part of their Absolute Beginner Tatting Series. Reversing your work is, until you try it out yourself, super confusing. They key, as far as I figure, is to see not only which way you want your chains to curve but also what side of the work the knot lands on. This is helpful when you are working form a design that includes a picture.

Two-coloured tatting is another Instructable by totusmel. She’s fab. This one is a video, which was fun too. The I had trouble getting the knots between the two colours as tight as I wanted them, and I also found the design a bit flimsy and fold-y where the two colours met. I think I need more practice and maybe to try it with two thinner threads than what I have been using.

I then made this pretty row of flowers (which I am planning to make into a bracelet once I get my hands on the correct latch hooks) following a thong tutorial by agasunset on Instructionables. The thong was really not my cup of tea, but I definitely liked the flowers and the way they tied together. What I changed early on was the order of the work. I started with one flower and finished it off with two knots. I then started my second flower completely separately from the first and attached it as I did the last two chains on the second flower’s edge. What all that meant that I only had an awkward amount of work in my hands for a limited amount of time. I then finished off the second one, started the third separately, rinsed and repeated.

I know that it is a relatively ungraceful way of doing things, and it meant that my bracelet had four closing offs instead of one. I have found that the bigger a project gets, the more easily I get my pulled thread caught as I close a ring or drop it and forget where the heck I was in the pattern. This step by step way of working allowed me to finish a piece without too much stress, and that’s perfect by me. In the same way as I don’t stress about what the back of an embroidery piece looks like, I am not going to stress about how many tiny closing knots are in a piece of tatting. Done!

Learning to Tat

I decided, some time last month, that I was going to try to learn to tat. Tatting is somewhat related to lace making, by way of crochet and magic. It is seriously complicated until you get the rhythm down, but once you do, it gets… No, it’s still pretty complicated.

I started with a shuttle, because I was enamored with videos of people shuttle tatting, the small piece of plastic seemingly gliding and sliding around in their hands, creating knotted wonders from nothing. I did not so much glide as drop like an angry bungee jumper. The shuttle would escape my hands, drop to the floor and pull the loop out of my hands; setting up again would be a disaster.

But then came the first massive stumbling block: the knot transfer. There is a trick to shuttle tatting where the knot needs to be around the shuttle thread, not the thread in your hand, even though you are knoting with the shuttle thread. If you do not perform this knot transfer perfectly (and perfectly ever time), you not only get a backwards loop of tatting, you can also not add any other loops, chains or anything to it. I practiced for over a week, making one little orphan loop after another, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I was technically making knots it a tatting like way, but I was not actually tatting.

So I decided to try needle tatting instead. There is a fabulous woman, TotusMel, who makes great tutorials over on instructionables. Her Learn Needle Tatting With My Flower Pendant video is extremely helpful. She goes slow enough at first to show you the basic stitches, and then manages to speed up enough to show you what kind of rhythm you can achieve once you get the hang of it. It is also nice to learn a new skill and have something pretty at the end of it.

I have made dozens of her flower pendant. I went to a cottage where there was not only no wifi, but it had no bloody electricity. I made flower pendants until it was too dark and I was a bit too tipsy to actually thread needles and do my knots properly (to be fair, it only took two drinks, I’m a lightweight). I made flower pendants on the dock, I made flower pendants in the boat, and I made them on the car ride back. Some of them twisted, some of them were too loose, some of them were too tight, and some just died in my hands, little knots without hope.

I think I’m getting then hang of it. I am now trying to learn TotusMel’s Needle Tatting Split Rings & Josephine Chains which is proving to be interesting.

I think the part that has been most frustrating was having some of my friends ask me what I was going to do with the mess of tatted flowers I was making. To them, anything I produced was pretty and needed to be treated as a piece of art, which is fair. To me, though, they were sketches, incomplete bits with little to no emotional attachment beyond trying to figure out why one of the loops was twisting crooked or why a chain had suddenly developed an extra picot. Crafting takes as much practice as other skills and not everything needs to be kept. If I am learning how to make brownies, I may have a few batches that are inedible. If I am learning how to write code in a new programming language, I am bound to created some stupid uncompilable piece of code. The failures do not have to be kept, but you do have keep what you have learned from them, which is the important part of practice.

When I created a tatted piece of work I would be glad to wear as a necklace or a pair of earrings, I want it to be as perfect as possible, and I want to know that I have done all I can do to make it that way.