Ribbonwinners Tatting Patterns & Shuttles by
Georgia Seitz
11460 Via Appia
Anchorage Alaska 99515-2905 USA
AKTATTER@aol.com
www.georgiaseitz.com




Needle Tatting Basics (Part 1)


This is an excerpt from Book 6 "Tatting Talk: A Self-Improvement Guide for Tatters" used by permission. Georgia Seitz copyright 1998.


Needle Tatting Basics by Georgia Seitz 4-18-98


You will need thread, a tatting needle (or substitute see below), scissors, needle threader.


Please bear in mind that tatting needles are different from regular needles. The shank of the needle and the end with the eye are the same diameter. The eye of the needle may not be larger or the stitches will not slide off the needle. The point of the needle should be dull.


Be certain that the thread you choose matches as closely as possible the diameter of the needle.


For those without regular tatting needles or those just wanting to understand the mechanics of the technique, you may take a plastic drinking straw and poke a hole just large enough to accommodate the yarn you will be using about 1" from the end of the straw. Use your scissors to clip the opposite end into a rounded point.


There are two styles of tatting to be created. First, all rings such as are the equivalent of "one-shuttle" work. And, second, rings and chains such as are made with a shuttle and ball thread or two shuttles.


In needle tatting all rings or "one-shuttle" work, is accomplished by threading the needle with a cut length of thread (length determined by project in hand.) Rings with chains will be worked from a ball of thread of which the end and a certain length is threaded thru the eye of the needle. The length of thread pulled thru will be determined first by the size of the project and second by the awkwardness of pulling too long a tail thru the stitches each time. The more thread you have to pull thru each time the greater the fraying of the thread and the less attractive the lace produced.



To practice the needle tatting technique just use a cut length of thread approx. 1 1/2 yds long. Thread one end thru the eye of the needle and pull about 1/2 yd thru the eye. With the needle held in the right hand with the thumb on the bottom and the four fingers on the opposite side turn the needle so that the eye of the needle is on the right hand side, take the tail of long end of the thread and bring it up to the middle of the needle.


Place the tail end under the thumb so that a loop is formed by the tail going down and back up to the right. The thumb is the pinching point and will be in the middle of the loop.


Position the left hand with the thumb sticking up and the four fingers slightly curved inward and around the left hand side of the thread loop formed above. Take the thread as it comes up and over the forefinger of the left hand and stretch it taut between there and the pinching point.


Bring your right hand and the needle towards you and around your upright thumb clockwise. Place the point of the needle on the side of the thumb closest to you and go from the base upwards sliding under the thread. Gently pull the needle to the right and the thread slips off the thumb. Note here that a loop, i.e., the first half stitch of thread is around the needle.


Holding the thread in the left hand firmly pull down slightly until the slack is gone from the loop and the thread completely encloses the needle. Slide this loop to the mid point of the needle and hold it in place with the outstretched forefinger.


With the left thumb upright take the needle and move it away from you wrapping the thread around the thumb in a counterclockwise movement. Take the point of the needle and place it at the base of the thumb on the side farthest from you and slide the needle upwards again picking up the loop of thread. Let the thread slip off the thumb. Note here that the thread is again in a loop around the needle, this time in the opposite direction, i.e., the second half stitch.


Holding the thread in the left hand firmly pull down slightly until the slack is gone from the loop and the thread completely encloses the needle. Slide this loop to the mid point of the needle and hold it in place with the outstretched forefinger.


You will now see the familiar double stitch of tatting has been wrapped around the needle. Continue in this manner for two more double stitches. As you tighten the first half stitch of the 4th DS leave a space of thread about 1/2" long. Reach forward with the forefinger to hold this loop in place while the second half stitch is wrapped. When the 4th DS is complete physically push the DS down next to the first three DS. Note that the space of thread is forced outwards and thus forms a picot.


Do this ring for practice: R 3 - 3 - 3 - 3

When the ring is complete slide the stitches downwards over the eye of the needle and pull the short tail all the way through. Note that the circle of stitches automatically forms into a ring. This style of ring closing only occurs when working with a cut piece of thread.


Leave a 1/2" space of thread and bring the thread tail with the first ring up to the pinching point and begin a second ring. After 3 DS join back to the first ring by pulling the working thread from the left hand up thru the last picot made on the first ring and slip the shuttle through the loop thus formed. Pull the thread back down through the picot until all the slack is gone. The old ring now lies next to the needle. Continue the ring and close: R 3 + 3 - 3 - 3. Continue to practice as needed.


To make a simple bookmark. Do not join the first two rings, but the first and third ring and then the second and fourth rings, etc. When you have the desired length, run a ribbon down the middle going under and over the short lengths of thread between the rings.



Needle Tatting (Part 2)


Needle Tatting Basics Part 2 by Georgia Seitz revised 6-21-98


You will need thread, a tatting needle (or substitute see below), scissors, needle threader.


Please bear in mind that tatting needles are different from regular needles. The shank of the needle and the end with the eye are the same diameter. The eye of the needle may not be larger or the stitches will not slide off the needle. The point of the needle should be dull.


Be certain that the thread you choose matches as closely as possible the diameter of the needle.


For those without regular tatting needles or those just wanting to understand the mechanics of the technique, you may take a plastic drinking straw and poke a hole just large enough to accommodate the yarn you will be using about 1" from the end of the straw. Use your scissors to clip the opposite end into a rounded point.


There are two styles of tatting to be created. First, all rings such as are the equivalent of "one-shuttle" work. And, second, rings and chains such as are made with a shuttle and ball thread or two shuttles.


In needle tatting all rings or "one-shuttle" work, is accomplished by threading the needle with a cut length of thread (length determined by project in hand). Rings with chains will be worked from a ball of thread of which the end and a certain length is threaded thru the eye of the needle. The length of thread pulled thru will be determined first by the size of the project and second by the awkwardness of pulling too long a tail thru the stitches each time. The more thread you have to pull thru each time the greater the fraying of the thread and the less attractive the lace produced.


Part 2 will feature needle tatting rings and chains while working from the ball.


Leaving the thread attached to the ball, pull one yard of thread thru the eye of the needle. Grasp the thread from the ball about 24" from the eye. Bring this to the needle and hold securely with the thumb of the right hand. The forefinger and middle finger will be opposite the thumb. Note that a loop of thread is formed between the pinching point under the thumb and the eye of the needle. Place the ring finger and little finger on the needle so that they are inside the loop just formed. You may also fold them back enclosing the right hand side of the loop and the tail end of the thread coming from the eye for convenience and for better control of the thread.


Note: It is necessary that the ring finger and little finger remain inside the loop of thread especially when the stitches are sliding off the end over the eye.


If you are still using the thumb to form the stitches consider switching to the forefinger of the left hand. It is faster and uses less movement.


Enclose the working thread which comes from the ball with the fingers of the left hand leaving the forefinger extended. Wrap the thread from the needle around the forefinger clockwise. Bring the point of the needle to the inside of the forefinger and pick up the loop of thread and slide if off and tighten it on the needle. This is the first half stitch. Slide stitch to the center of the needle and hold securely with thumb.


Wrap the thread around the forefinger again in a counterclockwise fashion and bend the forefinger down. The thread is laying on top of the forefinger. Slide the point of the needle under the loop and pick up the thread. Continue to slide the loop and tighten on the needle until it touches the first half stitch. This completes the second half stitch.


To create a picot, place the first half stitch on the needle and tighten leaving about 1/2" space of thread. Reach forward with the right forefinger and hold securely while completing the second half stitch. Then physically slide the entire double stitch back until it touches the previous work. Note that the space of thread is then forced outwards and forms the picot.


Work this pattern for practice: R 3 - 3 - 3 - 3


To close the ring, transfer the needle to the left hand and hold the stitches keeping the left ring finger and little finger in the loop while sliding the stitches off the needle over the eye and onto the carrying cord (the short tail of thread). Grasp the point of the needle and pull up with the right hand. When the loop has tightened around your two fingers of the left hand, take the needle and insert it from right to left through the loop on your fingers. Remove fingers and completely close ring.


When all slack is gone, lay the ring on the table. The ball thread will be on the left and the needle on the right. Physically turn the ring over from right to left (like you were turning the pages of a book). Note that the two threads have now crossed and a pear shaped opening appears. Now just like you were tying your shoes, take the needle under the thread on the right into the middle of the opening and back to the right. Complete tie.


This not only anchors the ring so that it will not come undone, it also manipulates the manner in which the working threads lie. They are now in position to make a chain.


Place the stitches for the chain on the needle in the same manner. Work this pattern for practice: 5 - 5 (Remember, if you prefer the all right side up look, just do the half stitches in reverse order.)


When the chain is complete, transfer the needle to the left hand and hold the stitches. It is not necessary to keep your fingers in the loop when making the chain. Slide the stitches completely off over the eye of the needle by grasping the point of the needle with the right hand and pulling upwards.


If you want the chain to be straight do nothing, but if you want to enhance the curve of the chain, compress the stitches back to the starting point.


When all slack is gone, lay the chain on the table. The ball thread will be on the left and the needle on the right. Physically turn the chain over from right to left (like you were turning the pages of a book). Note that the two threads have now crossed and a pear shaped opening appears. Now just like you were tying your shoes, take the needle under the thread on the right into the middle of the opening and back to the right. Complete tie.


If you need to remove a partial ring form the needle in order to accomplish an awkward join, occasionally the stitches will twist. If so, give this a try:


When you slide the first part of the ring off, only slide it just past the end of the needle's eye, do not pull thru a lot of thread. Finish the join and prepare to slide off the new stitches. Line stitches up at the eye, pull the foundation cord backwards until the old stitches are as close as possible to the new stitches. Pinch all stitches between your thumb and fingers as if it were a sandwich and hold when you move completely off the needle. Use the foundation cord now to hold tightly and taut. Adjust the direction of the stitches if necessary and then close as usual.


Good Luck and keep practicing!



Needle Tatting (Part 3)


Advanced Needle Tatting by Georgia Seitz revised 5-1-98


Converting traditional shuttle tatting patterns to needle tatting:

If the traditional pattern calls for two shuttles and it is a simple ring and chain repeat then you only need the ball and the needle to tat it.


If the traditional pattern has rings which are "thrown off" of chains or which are opposite each other at their bases, then it will also call for two shuttles. In that case, you still use the ball thread and needle but you do not reverse the work for the ring that comes in the middle of the chain, i.e., the ring that is "thrown off," or that is opposite its mate at the base.


So for an example do this practice pattern using needle and ball thread:


R 3 - 3 - 3 - 3 close ring RW
*CH 5 - 5 do not reverse work
R 2 - 2 - 2 - 2 close ring and tie (optional) but do not reverse work
CH 5 - 5 RW
R 3 + 3 - 3 - 3 close ring RW
Repeat from * for desired length.

In modern patterns,"climbing out with a ring," means to do a split ring on the tatting needle.


Split rings in needle tatting:


If your pattern calls for split rings, you first need to increase the amount of thread which is pulled through the eye of the tatting needle. Also, it will helps if you stiffen the end of the tail with glue or fabric stiffener. Alternatively, keep a needle threader handy.


The split ring pattern is written similar to this: R 3 - 3 / 3 - 3. In shuttle tatting you do the first 3 DS picot 3 DS with shuttle one. Then switch to shuttle two to do the remaining 6 DS and picot. To accomplish this on the needle, wrap the first 6 DS and picot on the needle as normal, then stop and reverse the needle in your hand so that the eye of the needle is now on the left. Remove the tail from the eye of the needle. Using this tail, wrap the final 6 DS and picot. Rethread the eye of the needle and return needle to proper position (the eye of the needle on the right ). Slide the stitches off the needle and close as normal.


To practice this technique make this simple edging:
R 6 - 6 close ring.
*Split ring 3 - 3 / 3 - 3 close ring.
R 6 - 6 close ring. Repeat for desired length.

Or get a little fancy with the split ring edging:


R 2 - 4 - 4 - 2 close ring.
*Split ring 3 + (join to last picot of previous ring) 3 / 3 - 3 close ring.
Split ring 3 - 3 / 3 - 3 close ring.
Split ring 3 - 3 / 3 - 3 close ring.
R 2 + (join to picot of previous split ring) 4 - 4 - 2 close ring. Repeat from * for desired length.

Making a join in an "impossible" position:


Occasionally the pattern will call for a join which is at an impossible angle to reach with the needle. To make this join (often the last join), you don't bend the needle, you "bend" the lace. You either pull the lace around and hold it so you can make the join.


OR, you slide the stitches already wrapped off the needle onto the carrying cord, but do not close ring, or tighten, just let it hang loose while you move the needle freely into position and do the join. Finish the stitches needed for the ring/chain, slide stitches off and close or tighten as normal.


How to avoid distorted rings:


a. the distortion in larger rings is a hazard encountered in needle tatting. The needle creates a tunnel in which the carrying cord slides/lays. If the needle and the thread are not exactly the same in diameter then an excess of room in the "tunnel" allows the stitches to twist and turn and thus the distortion or the "loose" look. You must hold the stitches firmly when sliding off the needle and close tightly and anchor tightly. The only other remedy is to use a doubled carrying cord which is separate from the working thread.


b. you can double the picots over on the needle, too. The picot needs to be extra large to fold over and slip over the needle's point.


c. you again slide the stitches off the needle but do not close the ring, make the join and continue to the end of the ring and then close.


Two color needle tatting:


It is not easy to accomplish two color needle tatting. In her book, "Needle Tatting 2", Barbara Foster recommends using two needles and two colors of cut thread, alternating between the colors. In "The Complete Book of Jiffy Needle Tatting", Ed and Selma Morin recommend pulling the ball thread to the back of the ring and joining it in a manner much like the old-fashioned way of climbing out of a row by joining to the back of the work and pulling both threads up to the next row.


Depending on the nature of the lace in progress, I do neither.


I use two lengths of the cut thread, one of each color. I wrap a ring and tie it off. I unthread the needle and rethread the opposite color. Complete the ring and chain and tie it off. Unthread and rethread again. This is time consuming work better suited to shuttles in my opinion.


And, speaking of my opinion,"Why bother with Needle Tatting?"


First, I am a dedicated shuttle tatter. There is nothing as satisfying as the click of the shuttle. However, during my years of teaching I had a lady with a damaged right hand and another with a hand twisted by arthritis. They tried so hard to tat with the shuttle but no go. So I tried them on the needle. They've been tatting ever since.


Beyond on the advantages for the physically challenged, needle tatting is useful to allow tatters to experiment with fat, fluffy, textured, and metallic threads which do not work as easily with the shuttle. Another benefit that I see to needle tatting is when you are using an expensive thread, you can put a less costly thread in a complimentary color on the needle as the carrying cord and use the good stuff only on the outside. And, certainly, the needle does make it easier to add beads almost anywhere in the line of tatting.


But the real advantage I believe is that the needle tatting technique allows you to make joins in difficult positions, such as the ring or chain which must join to the far right just before finishing a row. Here at the end it is sometimes difficult to get the shuttle into a small space. So you can unwind the thread enough to finish and thread the tail onto a needle and make all the awkward joins, tie off and hide the ends all in one step.


I hope that you have all enjoyed this look at the technique of needle tatting. GS



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