What is Tatting?
Tatting is a way to create hand-knotted lace using a shuttle (or needle) and thread to make a series of knots and loops. These knots and loops are formed into rings and chains that connect together to create a larger piece.
The knots, known as double stitches (ds), are composed of two half stitches made by working the shuttle first over, and then under, the main thread. Loops, or picots (p), are created the same way, but you stop the first half stitch from tightening all the way, leaving a little "loop" in the thread, before completing the second half of the double stitch.
Traditionally, tatting was made as edging for clothing, doilies, linens or towels, or for decoration.
Types of Tatting
The process of making tatted lace includes using a shuttle or needle to create the stitches. While shuttle tatting is an older form of tatting, needle tatting is a viable option for those who don't like using a shuttle. Additionally, certain items (like this tatted chainmaille pattern) can only be made using the needle tatting technique.
However, neither technique is better than the other, and each has its pros, cons, and limitations. Ultimately personal preference is what dictates which tool is used.
Thread is wound around a tatting shuttle, and then the shuttle is placed in one hand, and is moved back and forth over thread held in the other hand to create the double stitches and picots.
Shuttles are oval shaped, less than three inches in length, and may have a hook, or slightly upturned pointed end. If a shuttle doesn't have a hook, a small crochet hook is used to help guide thread through picots to attach pieces together.
Using both hands, thread is looped over the needle in a way that creates both a forward and backward stitch. Picots are created by leaving a space between stitches.
Tatting needles are long with a blunt end. A doll needle can be used as a substitute. Needle tatting can be a good alternative for individuals with hand mobility issues.