Beginners' Corner

This is a place where you can find all the information and other resources you need to help you to learn to tat.


The only equipment needed is a shuttle and 2 balls of thread in contrasting colours, but not too dark, otherwise it makes it difficult to see the individual stitches!

Thread: The best thread to use is smooth, to make it easier to slide stitches along. Number 10 is a good size, as you can more easily see the stitches. But after that, No 20 thread is a good all-rounder, or try No 40, 60 or 80 for a more lacy effect. Suitable threads can be found via one of the suppliers in our Links section, or possibly an independent needlecraft shop, or you might try Hobbycraft, or an online retailer.

Shuttles: Try various sorts to find what suits you. The main difference is that some shuttles have an embedded hook or pick, which is very useful for joining picots, but some people don't prefer these as they can snag. Other shuttles don't have this feature, and then you need a separate crochet hook.

The Personal Touch

For the first lesson, getting started is easier if someone shows you how. But you can also learn with the help of books and the internet.

The Ring of Tatters can help you by:

  • finding a local tatter to teach you, if possible
  • giving details of a local tatting group
  • giving a free lesson at one of the big shows or at a Tatting Day (see What's On)

You can also join the Ring of Tatters – beginners are welcome. Do contact us if you want help.


It may be possible to find in-person classes by searching for locations in your area that run classes covering a variety of traditional crafts.

For example, in the UK you could try:

There are also online classes available:

Patterns for Beginners

Here are some patterns to get you started:

Learning Tips

  • Use a thick but not too thick thread, otherwise it can feel quite clumsy – No 10 is ideal.
  • Practise the knot by making a chain, and use 2 contrasting threads for shuttle and ball thread. Then you can see instantly if you have flipped the knot correctly – the stitch will be the colour of the ball thread, not the shuttle thread.
  • Wait until you can flip the knot reliably, then move on from chains to rings. You need to be able to make proper knots that will slide on the thread, in order to make a ring that will close.
  • Practise for 10 minutes or so then stop for a few minutes rest. Shake out your hands and shoulders – we can get very tense when trying to learn a new skill. Then have another go. Try to do some practice when fresh, not late in the evening when tired.
  • Picots – how to make them all the same size? Beginners often worry about this, but if you do a practise piece with lots of picots and deliberately don't worry about size – then you get more relaxed and they automatically become more regular.
  • Finishing ends. There are 3 common methods:
    1. cut and tie the ends, perhaps adding a little touch of glue or clear nail varnish for extra strength
    2. thread each end on to a sewing needle and weave in and out of the tops of the previous few ds
    3. overstitch the ends on the wrong side with a needle and sewing cotton
    For beginners, particularly, it is good to use the quick cut and tie method and concentrate your time and energy on doing more tatting! But it depends on what the item is, whether it will have to withstand a lot of laundering or not, and also how much of a perfectionist you are.


Many tatting books now out of print can be bought second-hand from various dealers. Some have high prices, but others are very reasonable. For example, Abebooks have many tatting books in their catalogue.

Rosemarie Peel has two publications especially useful for beginners:

  • "Learn Tatting" by Rosemarie Peel - this is a fold out poster/leaflet with excellent instructions and diagrams. Good because you may not want to spend a lot until you know whether tatting is your thing.
  • "Tatting Basic Patterns" by Rosemarie Peel = a small A5-sized book with 32 pages, full colour throughout, teaches the beginner and has 20+ patterns. Included with the book is the "Learn Tatting" leaflet described above.

Mary Konior has written several tatting books which have been popular ever since they were published in the 1980s. Most of them are out of print and expensive because of demand. But new copies of her last book can sometimes be found at a reasonable price. Her 4 books all contain a good mix of designs, including edgings, doilys, collars, cross bookmarks, motifs (either stand alone or joinable), bookmarks and her own signature "fragments". The photos and written instructions are very clear:

  • "A Pattern Book of Tatting", 1985. Includes how to tat.
  • "Tatting in Lace", 1988. How to tat, some historical background and 2 edging patterns from the 19th century by Mlle Riego.
  • "Tatting Patterns", 1989. Patterns as above.
  • "Tatting with Visual Patterns" 1992. Different from her other books in having colour photos and diagrams. Lots of general tatting hints. Dictionary of tatting terms in European languages. 3D bell flower and rose, and many other patterns as above. Some modern experimental tatting.

Lyn Morton has written several books, including several suitable for beginners.

Books from other authors:

  • "The Complete Book of Tatting" by Rebecca Jones - voted “the tatting bible” on email lists, this has instructions and a wide variety of modern-style patterns: Christmas ornaments, a cat, the tatting bug, bookmarks and more.
  • "Tatting Patterns & Designs" by Gun Blomqvist & Elwy Persson. Lots of patterns for snowflakes. Some doilys.
  • "Easy Tatting" by Rozella Linden. Motifs, snowflakes, motifs, choker necklaces.
  • "The Craft of Tatting" by Bessie M. Attenborough. Traditional style edgings, motifs, doylies.
  • "A New Twist on Tatting: More than 100 Glorious Designs" by Catherine Austin, 1993. Lots of pretty pictures in colour, lacy tatting nostalgia.
  • "Projects in Tatting" by Sheila York, 1985. How to tat, simple cards, jewellery, other applications.
  • "Tatting" by Cathy Bryant, 1992. Baby bootees, heart, butterfly, basket, doyleys etc.

New books are being produced all the time – see suppliers.

If you join the Ring of Tatters and live in the UK you can borrow books from our library.


Nowadays there are several instructional tatting videos available online. There are also some DVDs available:

  • The Ring of Tatters' Learn To Tat DVD
    This contains instruction by our Chairman, Jennifer Williams, and was created by members of the Ring of Tatters committee, who have many years of experience in teaching in schools and colleges together with many years of teaching tatting. It is aimed at absolute beginners and covers the basic techniques. The student is shown slowly, step by step, how tatting works. It explains how to follow a tatting pattern and there are instructions for a simple edging.
  • Tatting by Pam Palmer is a classic professionally-produced DVD (with booklet). Well-known tatting author Pam Palmer has designed a basket of flowers with patterns which introduce a wide range of basic techniques. It is suitable for both beginners and for those who can already tat. (120 mins).
  • Learn To Tat by Janette Baker. Book (48 pages) and interactive DVD.