Monday, 17 September 2012

Planning Ahead

After being tatting for over 10 years I realised that tatting involves a lot of planning.  It starts with deciding:-

  • what to tat, 
  • which pattern to use, 
  • which thread, 
    • what colour, 
    • what size
  • any beads to add
  • needle/shuttle
    • one shuttle/2 shuttles, etc.
This post will touch on one aspect of the forward planning in the tatting process itself.

It is generally accepted that tatters will always make an effort to reduce the number ends to hide at the end of the project.  There are various techniques that can be used to hide ends such as,
  • sewing in,
  • magic thread,
  • even the single-shuttle split ring, where possible.
Deciding how you hide the ends will need some planning on where you start and where you are going to end.  For example, where to place the auxiliary threads to pull the ends through if using the magic thread method.

One consideration to reduce the number of ends is to use either split rings or split chains, or both to jump into the next round.  It is easy enough to say 'use split ring to go to the next round" but not all patterns indicate where and when to use these techniques.  This is where planning ahead will help to smooth the flow from round to round.  Using the chart for the Lace Mat, I will try and explain what I usually do for cases like this.

The Lace Mat has four rounds (minus the stand-alone clovers) and after studying the pattern, I think it is possible to make all four rows without cutting the thread at any row until the last.

The obvious place to start is with the inner small ring followed by the chain after it.  Instead, I started with a chain on the right side of the ring (shown in green), continue as the pattern with the small inner rings and chains.  I end with the other side of the chain, which I then join to the start of the first chain.  The final ring of Rd 1 is a split ring, which takes me up to Round 2.
Round 2 begins with a split ring. But, rather than making a split ring for the first ring followed by the chain, I need to study the steps for Round 3 first to decide how the split ring should be. 
Round 1 to Round 2
Round 3 is joined to round 2 by the rings on each side of the scallop-shapes.  Therefore, I should start Rd 2 where it would allow me to go to the first ring of Round 3 the shortest way possible.  Looking at the chart, I see that I'll need a split chain for this.  This tells me that I need to make another split ring after the first split ring of Rd 2.
However, there are two rings to each scallop, joined to the first ring of Rd 2.  I need to decide which ring to make the split ring, else I will not be able to jump to Rd 3. In this case, it is the ring on the left in the chart below.
Round 2 to Round 3
 After making this 2nd split ring of Rd 2 (3rd split ring from the start), I work the chain and the subsequent rings and chains following the pattern.  The last chain is going to be a split chain, followed by a split ring for the start of Rd 3 (blue in the chart above).

Rd 3 continues with the long chain following the pattern.  The last chain of this round is a split chain followed by a final ring as a split ring.

Round 3 to Round 4 requires two splits ring as seen in the chart below.  The next steps continues as in the pattern until the end, and if my plans are right, I will end up with only two ends to hide
Round 3 to Round 4
However, do not forget the clovers.  There are ways to work the clovers as part of Round 4 utilising split rings but I have not looked into it in detail so I can't be sure that it will work.

A point to note here is, using split rings changes the shape of a ring, especially if it is an imbalance or uneven split ring, i.e. the stitch count of the first half is not equal to the stitch count of the second half of the split ring. The first split ring of Rd 2 is an imbalance split ring.  And, if you are particular about the shapes of your rings, like sometimes I am, you may have to endure the cut-and-tie to get the shape of the rings that you want.

In conclusion, there are various techniques that can be utilised to make tatting easier and saves time at the finishing end of it.  Here are a few points to consider:-  
  • Study each pattern and identify where they can be used well before starting.  
  • If there is a chart with the pattern, mark the places where you plan to use the techniques.  A clear picture of the tatting is sufficient if the pattern does not come with a chart.  
  • You may need to change the starting point to utilise the different techniques, such as split ring & split chains to move to the next round.


  1. Oh, dear! I'm afraid I'll never have enough brain power to do all that figuring! I am so thankful for people like you who can interpret designs in a new way so that the rest of us can accomplish some beautiful tatting.

  2. Thank you Jon, I had already decided to start with the chain so I could climb out to the 2nd round, I had not yet had the time to figure out ahead of that which I would have needed to do before starting tonight.
    Thank you for doing this, now I will see what I can figure out for the standing clovers. It is something I have been thinking on, but have not yet made up my mind.

  3. Your post reminds of why I love tatting so much. It's all the things one must do before making even one double stitch.

    Also, I and the rest of the tatting community, I'm sure, appreciates what you are doing with Norma Benporath's patterns. They are beautiful pieces of work and it would be a shame to see them lost to obscurity. Thank you, Jon!

  4. Thank you Jon. This subject is very 'New it Me' and has help me a lot. For the most part, what may be obvious to some is not to me. Therefore, most things are a challenge. On the 'lace mat tat along' I found that sometimes climbing out with slit ring to next round changes the direction of the ring. Ahhhh! I'm getting it! Lol
    It's all a matter of preference. Does one mind cut and tie (or whichever technique is used) verses direction and look of rings. It's like a light bulb has gone off...silly me, you've made me smile!

  5. Interesting. I've started the mat too (fun) and I've been thinking and thinking about those clovers. I'm still on round 2 so I have time yet. Do you think there's a way to do them with thrown rings?

  6. Even in the early days of my tatting I realized I could start at a different place than the pattern suggested. However those were simple ring and chain patterns. I also realized I could leave out the scary inner rings on snowflakes, which required two shuttles. That left a hole that I filled with a jewel or flower or crystal. I could have used doodads back then!

    However trying to keep from cutting and tying by using split rings is still uncertain for me, but I'll file this away for future reference! A meticulous post and tutorial, as usual!

  7. How could I not join in the fun! Especially with all the great hints and tricks talked about over the past few posts.

    Please add me to the list! I have almost finished the first round and hope to catch up quickly.
    Fox : )

  8. che lavori meravigliosi proponi. grazie


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