Ring of Tatters - Tips

Tips and Techniques

Those of us who have been on the internet for some years will have picked up so many helpful hints and ideas from so many people. Sometimes the source can be acknowledged, but usually it is lost in the mists of time! But a big thank you to everyone who has sent their tips to tatting lists and helped us all - keep them coming! I am arranging the tips under headings, alphabetically.


  • When doing a chain after a 3-ring clover, it will snug up better if you begin with a 2nd half ds (not counted).

  • When a new piece starts with a chain, work first ds over a paper-clip or safety pin to give a firm anchor – remove it a bit later.

  • To make a chain S-shaped, perhaps for a flower stem, do RW where you want to change the direction and continue with ds.

  • For a change of texture, use:
    Spiral Tatting – use 1st half ds or 2nd half ds all the time, and gently coax the stitches into a spiral.
    Ric-Rac Tatting – do 4 x 1st half ds, 4 x 2nd half ds. (If you put your work down, finish with 2nd half ds like finishing an ordinary ds, then you know to begin with 1st half again when you re-start.) Also known as Node Stitch or Zigzag Tatting.
    These work well for flower stems or a loop for a scissor-finder etc.


Sewing in Ends © Jennifer Williams 2008


How to hide ends by sewing then in between the stitches

sewing in ends pic


Josephine Rings – Big Ones!

This variation consists of 1 x 2nd half ds as usual, then the rest of the 2nd half ds are worked over the lower part of the thread, the section going from little finger to thumb.

You can see the difference in the picture – ordinary Josephine Rings on the left and bigger ones on the right.




Picot Gauges

Make your own picot gauges by measuring and cutting up old credit cards or other plastic to exactly the size of picot you want. Particularly useful when you want a very long picot.

The gauge should be the width of the picot before closing it, that is twice the size of the finished picot. You work the picot over the gauge, and remove it to close up the picot.

Floral Picots

So-called because they add a ruffled effect like flower petals. This is because the picots lean alternately forward and back and overlap.

Do ordinary ds to the point where you want the floral picots. Then (2 x 1st half ds, picot space, 2 x 2nd half ds). You need to do several of them to get the effect. Then finish with ordinary ds.

Downward Picots

As above, where you want the picot, you do: (2 x 1st half ds, picot space, 2 x 2nd half ds), but only once to give you one dropped, or inward-pointing picot. As well as being decorative, it can be useful for adding a bead to the centre of a ring.

Downward Picot Flower
Use 1 shuttle
Pinch the dropped picot downward to encourage it.
R: 6-6 dropped picot 6-6
R: 6+6, dropped picot, 6-6
Make 5 rings.
Finish with a foldover join.

Double and Triple Picots

Basically you make a long picot, 1ds or more, then bend over the picot and join it in to the next ds to make a decorative double picot. (You can use the width of a ruler as a picot gauge) If you make a small picot between the start and finish of the long picot, you have a triple picot.

See Snowflake Pattern for an example.


  • Count before you Close! As beginners soon learn, that is because it is very difficult to open a closed ring once you have spotted a mistake. But we all need reminding even after years of tatting.

  • If you need to make, say, just one ring coming off a chain, you don't have to have a 2nd shuttle but can use the ball as a shuttle. A rubber band or scrunchy wrapped round the ball will stop it unwinding while you work.


Your shuttle runs out of thread in the middle of a round�

If working with a ball and shuttle, you really want to avoid cutting ball thread to wind on to shuttle – because then you would have 4 ends to finish off! No problem if you have a 2nd ball of thread to use, but if not, you can:

  • Cut ball thread leaving a yard or more so that there is enough to finish making chains on that round. Then re-wind shuttle and carry on, using hanging ball thread for chains. Even if you find you haven't left enough to finish the round, this does space out the joins.

  • Sometimes you can see the shuttle is going to run out, you only need a small amount of ball thread for chains, but you need more thread for rings: in that case you can do a swap stitch (or shoelace trick) – simply do first half of granny knot to swap the threads so that you can use the shuttle for ball thread and wind a length of thread from the ball on to a 2nd shuttle to use for rings. (Doing the Swap Stitch is the natural thing to do when using 2 shuttles and 1 is nearly empty).

  • If you only need a little extra shuttle thread and it goes right back to the bobbin or central post, you can cut it at source and tie on 12" or so of a different thread at the centre before re-tying the original thread. That way you can use the shuttle thread down to the last bit.

  • It is possible to crush the cardboard centre of the ball, if it has one, and get at the thread end to rewind shuttle without disturbing the other end you are using for chains.

How thick is it?

Wrap some of the thread around a pencil in a single layer, about an inch and a half. Count the wraps, then wrap different thicknesses in the same way. The one with the same number of wraps per inch will be the size of your mystery thread.


  • Even as a beginner, start a tatting file and make your own personal album. Buy a ring binder and some plastic wallets. Then you can collect patterns, pictures, photocopies, cards and have them all in one place for happy browsing.

  • Wash tatting even when work is in progress if it is a lengthy project. Even a tiny amount of perspiration if left can have a chemical reaction with the thread - it's then impossible to remove the grubby appearance.

  • If making a long length of edging, you can keep it under control by rolling it up into a skein and holding it with a piece of Velcro, or an elastic band or a scrunchy.

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