Go To


Keep them coming!
Here is a list of the current tips. If you have any to contribute, please
E-mail it to me!

See also Hiding Ends




  • Smashing them without breaking the thread


CLUNY LEAVES How to make a cluny loom


How do you do it?



:-)         and          :-(








SEPARATING EMBROIDERY FLOSS 2003: A Skein Splitter is now available in the Tools Section

SHOELACE TRICK The scoop on 2 uses!




Go To


Esther Methe (ROM) has provided information on the cleaning and starching of textiles gleaned from the Canadian Conservation Institute Notes.

Anionic Detergent

If you decide to wash a textile, the next step is to choose a suitable detergent.    Most detergents available, including those for delicate fabrics are not suitable because they contain perfumes, colorants, and whiteners. Even after washing and rinsing, many of these additives remain and may harm the fibres.

Detergents for washing historic textiles should have a neutral pH (i.e., they should be neither acidic nor alkaline), and should clean well at low temperatures. Old stains that have oxidized are very difficult and often impossible to remove.

W.A. Paste

One product that meets these conservation specifications is W.A. Paste (Canpac 645). This is an anionic detergent containing sodium dodecyl sulphate (sodium lauryl sulfate).


W.A. Paste is the same as Orvus which is produced by Proctor and Gamble in the United States and available through drugstores in some Canadian provinces.

When a bath is prepared for a historic textile, the W.A. Paste must be diluted.  Dissolve 5 ml of W.A. Paste in each litre of water (one teaspoon in each quart of water).  If the paste appears to separate, stir before using.  Mix carefully to ensure that the detergent is well dissolved: the solution will be slightly cloudy.

After washing with W.A. Paste, the detergent must be thoroughly rinsed.

Further reading
Canadian Conservation Institute.Washing of Non-Coloured Textiles. CCI Notes 13/7 Ottawa Canadian Conservation Institute, 1986.


Orvus is available in 2oz. containers here at Tat's All, in the Neat Stuff section.

W.A. Paste is available in 0.5 kg or 1kg jars from:

Art and Artifact
Conservation Services Ltd.
International Gilders' Supplies
12-1541 Star Top Road
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1B 5P2
Telephone: 613-744-0949

Joanne's Creative Notions
P.O. Box 44030
1 Wexford Road, Unit 9
Brampton On
L6Z 2W1
Telephone: 1-800-811-6611
Fax: 1-800-711-1100
E-mail: Joanne
University Products of Canada
2957 Inlake Court
Mississauga, Ontario
L5N 2A4
Telephone:   905-858-7888
Fax:   905-858-8586
Email: Email University Products



Since Wheat Starch Paste has proven stable for book bindings, Esther Methe suggests that it is not likely to discolour textiles; paper used to be manufactured from cloth rags.

Corn or rice starch may also be substituted, but, as with the wheat starch, you want something that is pure. Commercially prepared starches should NOT be used as they have perfumes and additives that will, in the long term, damage fibres.

Many museums use commercially available adhesives to repair and hinge paper artifacts. Unfortunately, many of these adhesives are chemically unstable and, in time, can disfigure the artifacts with which they are in contact.

Wheat starch makes a smooth adhesive that remains tacky, even when diluted to a thin consistency. Once dry it produces a strong, reliable bond.

Wheat starch paste has been used for centuries in the Orient, and has proven to be a suitable adhesive for direct, long-term application to paper.

is an unmodified, highly purified wheat starch. It contains approximately 87% to 91% starch, 9% to 13% moisture, and less than 1% fibre, protein, and mineral matter from the wheat germ. Other sources of purified, food grade wheat starch are available and may be more accessible.

Use distilled water to avoid introducing contaminants into the paste.

    Equipment and Supplies:
  • distilled water
  • wheat starch
  • double boiler (glass or stainless steel) or saucepan (domestic type, 2 to 3 litre capacity)
  • pyrex graduated glass beaker (500 ml or 600 ml capacity)
  • plastic or metal spoon
  • heat source (bench-top single burner or domestic stove)
  • storage container (glass, plastic, or ceramic with a non-metallic lid)
  • seive or strainer (fine, non-metallic mesh)
  • scales or balance (optional)

    Preparing the Wheat Starch
  1. Weigh out 30 grams of starch powder on the scales. If scales are not available, you may estimate that 30 grams will measure to the line marking 50 ml on a graduated beaker.
  2. Place the 30 grams of starch powder into a glass or plastic container.
  3. Using a graduted beaker, measure 300 ml of distilled water.
  4. Gradually pour 50 ml of this water into the container holding the starch powder, stirring continuously until all the lumps have dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Cover the mixture and let stand.

    Cooking the Wheat Starch

    Paste can be prepared in adouble boiler or by using the following procedure.
  1. Pour the remaining 250 ml of water into a beaker.
  2. Set this beaker in a pan containing enough water so that the beaker is surrounded but does not float or tip. Allow the water in the beaker to come to a boil.
  3. Stir the starch/water mixture, and pour it into the boiling water in the beaker, approximately 25 ml at a time, stirring continuously as it thickens.
  4. When all the starch/water mixture has been added, continue heating and stirring for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the beaker containing the paste, and allow it to cool.

Thinning the Paste
- for use as a starch.

When the paste reaches room temperature, it will have a thickened appreciably. If the paste is too thick for a particular procedure, thin it by adding distilled water and stirring vigorously. Thinning at this point usually creates lumps, which can be removed by forcing the paste through a sieve.

Subsequent dilutions can be achieved simply by adding water and stirring; lumps should not recur.


Store paste in a container made of glass, ceramic, or plastic that has a non-metallic lid and that has been sterilized with boiling water.

At room temperature, the paste will last at least three days; if refrigerated, it will last for at least seven days.

Stored paste must be put through a seive and thinned before it is used.

Paste should be discarded as soon as it separates or sours.


wheat starch (minimum order of 1 pound)
TALAS (Technical Library Services)
213 West 35th Street
New York, New York USA
Telephone: 212-736-7744

Wheat starch

University Products of Canada
Division of BFB Sales, Unit #8
6535 Millcreek Drive
Mississauga, Ontario
L5N 2M2
Toll free:   1-800-667-2632
Telephone:   905-858-7888
Fax:    905-858-8586
also: supermarkets, health food stores

Conservation References

Bachman, Konstanze (1992). Conservation Concerns.

      A guide for collectors and curators. New York and Washington, DC: Cooper-Hewitt Museum and Smithsonian Institution.

Bogle, Michael (1975). Textile Conservation Centre notes, Nos 1-15.
North Andover, Mass.: Merrimack Valley Textile Museum.

Finch, Karen & Greta Putnam (1985).London: Batsford.
      The care and preservation of textiles.

Flury-Lemberg, Mechthild (1988).Bern: Schriftender abegg-Stiftung.
       Textile conservation and research.

Landi, Sheila (1992). London: Butterworths.
      The textile conservation manual.

Leene, J. E. (1972). Washington, DC: Smithsonian
Institution & The International Institute for Conservation of Historical and Artistic Works.
      Textile conservation.

Textile Conservation Newsletter.
P.O. Box 37089, 3332 Mc Carthy Road,
Ottawa, Ontario,
K1V 0W9 Canada

CCI Notes can be ordered from the Canadian Conservation Institute. 1030 Innes Road, Ottawa, Ontario,
K1A 0C8 Canada

Information gathered from source Esther Methe (at the Royal Ontario Museum) by Sharon Briggs.

Epsom Salts Stiffener
  1. Bring a cup or so of water to just under boiling.
  2. Stir in about 1/2 cup epsom salts.
  3. Keep heating the solution while you add more epsom salts until it won't dissolve any more (complete saturation).
  4. Remove from heat.
  5. Place tatting in solution.
  6. Let sit until cool.
  7. Remove the pieces and spread them out on a piece of tin foil, using a toothpick to push the picots into place.
  8. Set it up away from cats and small children overnight or until it dries.
  9. Remove foil from back.
  10. Done!
Ann Wilson

I was making a snowflake and had to start in a new thread three times. Instead of using the Magic Thread Trick to hide the ends like I usually do I tried something a bit

When I add in a new thread, there is a length of the old thread left hanging off the end of the chain or ring. I make the first half of the first ds with the new thread, then fold the old thread over the half ds just completed, then make the second half. The old thread is folded down over the second half of the ds, and the first half of the next ds is made. I continued like this, folding the old thread back and forth over the just-completed half of the ds, for 5 or so ds.

This kept the ends in quite firmly, didn't add noticeable bulk to the stitches, and was much faster. And I found that I could do this on both rings and chains and not afffect how the anchor thread slid.

If it were to be done at the end of a piece, then I guess a needle threaded with the remaining tail would be woven in between the ds on the last chain.

New trick!
Ann Wilson

To remove chocolate

To remove chocolate from your tatting.

If the thread is washable, make a mixture of :

  • Dove liquid (dishwashing),
  • Clorox II powder
  • water
in equal amounts, enough to cover the item.

Let it soak and then rinse thoroughly and of course, finish the drying process as you would normally.

This tip was given by a lady on one of the craft/household type programs and she used it to restore discolored Heirloom laces, fabrics and garments. My sister-in-law used it to clean a handmade baby garment for her great-grandson! Turned out beautifully!

Beverly Philipo

To remove blood
To remove blood from your tatting (or anything else), the following methods have been offered:
  • A spit-bath, or spitting on a piece of cloth and dabbing the stain with your saliva. Some say it works only on your blood, some say it works on any blood.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide is the old standard. Saturate a bit of cloth with Peroxide and gently dab at the bloodstain, changing the cloth frequently and resaturating with peroxide.

A few things to remember about blood

  • The fresher the stain, the easier it is to take out.(This is true for any stain.)
  • NEVER ever rub a stain! When you rub, you spread the stain to the unaffected area beside it.
  • The ideal way would be to place your soiled area over a plastic mesh (or something similarly inert) for support, and pour the peroxide directly over and through the stain, periodically dabbing the stain with a clean dry cloth.

The Magic Thread Trick
Gale's Magic Thread Trick sketch As Lori posted, I also never tat over the magic thread for the last half of the last stitch, because it is too tight to pull the thread back through.

But this is the adaptation that makes it a no-fail proposition
for me:
To hide one thread (tails):
Near the end of a round, cut a 4" piece of thread (same thread as your project).    Double it, and tat over the ends (not the loop) so that the loop is facing the finished stitches, leaving it out of the last half of the last DS.    Cut and tie, leaving about 4 inches on the tail.     Now cut a 6" length (this is the Magic Thread) of a smaller gauge thread, looping it through the loop of the 4" piece.     Holding the tails of the 4" piece, pull the smaller thread (MT) through (but not out) so that the tails of the smaller thread (MT) are now over the finished stitches.    Remove the 4" piece, from the loop, and insert tail from project.     Holding the tails of the 6" piece (MT), pull the tail back through the stitches and cut close.

To hide two threads (tails):
Use two 4" threads and two 6" threads(different colors if possible).    Follow the same process as above for each tail, but start the 4" threads at least 1/2 stitch apart, and hold back the tails of one 4" thread for the entire last DS.     I usually use quilting thread for the 6" piece (MT) as it is quite strong and is approximately size 60, but DMC 80 works great too. When working in size 100, try using silk thread, which compares to about a size 150.
Using the extra pulling thread works every time for me, and I never break my Magic Thread.

Debbie Drake in North Idaho
NOTE: Many people have found the Picot Beader ©, available in the Tatting Tools section, to be helpful with the Magic Thread trick with threads up to size 60.

What if you tat a large doily that doesn't lay flat?

The pattern calls for 8 "points" or what ever. You do 6 or 7.
Then soak it in a mixture of heavy starch and shape it over a bowl the same size. You could pin down the points. When it dried you could use it for a bowl for potpourri or turn it upside down and use it for a lamp shade.    You would have to have a hole in the top for the finneal (lamp thing that holds the shade).   You could even sew a colored lining and starch it with the doily.   That way the bulb wouldn't be seen thru the lace.

Another idea I have done it tat an edging the same width as a wooden picture frame
.    Glued it in place and then lightly spray painted the whole thing.   Looks cool.

I would like to see other unusual ideas for the use of our tatting.    June is wedding month and I want to tat some gifts that are different.

Pat Stevens


I've done this... Any cotton or rayon threads will dye.

Before dyeing, you need to skein your thread (wind it into a circle); cotton needs to be tied in about 6 places so it won't tangle.    I use Procion dyes made for cellulosic (plant) fibers, sometimes with a urea filler to slow down the dye take-up.   

And then use at least 4 colors, painting the dye directly on the skein so at least some of the colors are right next to each other or overlap.   You need to work quickly because you have a limited window of time before the colors de-activate.   

Then I rinse until the water runs clear (this can be upwards of 20 times!) steam the thread and let it dry.    If it still looks to me like it needs improvement, I'll repeat the dye process on all or part of the skein, then go through the whole rinse-and-steam part again.   

After the thread has dried - in the house or outside in the shade - I roll it into a ball to use.    It's very labor intensive but the results can be a lot of fun - or a lot of work leading up to a total disaster...   

I think I'm going to do this with our tatting group - in the summer.

Karey/ Tatting Times

Okay!!! For all you who really want to know and for all the others who might have a passing interest in playing with yarn and string, here are the directions for a center pull ball.

The only material you need, besides the yarn, is a well-sanded broomstick handle, a paper towel tube, or a thinnish magazine, such as a comic book, rolled into a tube.    You need something in the middle of the ball while you wind.

Leave a tail about 8 inches long and start winding the yarn from the bottom to the top, your hand coming towards you as it passes over the top of the center, around the middle of your chosen center.    Keep winding until you have a bit of a bulge, then start laying the yarn on the ball diagonally from top to bottom.   Turn the ball as you wind so that the yarn is evenly and very prettily laid on.    When you are done it will be more of an egg shape than a true ball, especially if you have a lot of yarn to wind on.   When all the yarn is wound on, tuck the very end under a few strands of yarn of the outside of the ball and remove the center.    The tail that you left at the beginning will now pull very nicely from the middle of the ball and won't tangle.    The ball won't roll all around as you use it, either.

You can purchase a nostepinde, a fancy carved stick for winding yarn, or a ball winder that you clamp on the edge of a table and crank away.   Both make center pull balls.   Check in knitting magazine ads for availability and prices.    Patternworks carries both.

Ann Wilson


I take the end (that is to be in the center) and wrap it around my pinkie.   Then I wrap the yarn around the other fingers burying my thumb in the center.   KEEPING THUMB IN PLACE, turn the ball every few wraps.

I learned this when I was about 6 and that is a L-O-N-G time ago!!(G)    I will try your (Ann's) method, never hurts to know more than one way to do something.

Barbara Engle


    How about:
  • Take two pieces of thick card about an inch on each side larger than the doiley.
  • Cut two (or more) sheets of acid free paper about the size of the card.
  • Use a hole punch on the card and paper lined up neatly to put holes all the way around, about half an inch apart.
  • Sandwich the doiley in the middle between the acid free paper - this is so that it does not get discoloured or otherwise affected by the card.
  • Take a bright coloured, white or metallic ribbon (those really soft and sheer ribbons would be perfect) and weave your way around the edges, going in one hole over the edge and up through the next hole - sort of sewing it together.
  • When you get all the way around try to have some decent lengths of ribbon left at each end and tie in a big bow.   If you do it all with the right colours you won't need any wrapping paper at all.


If you are going to sew an edging on, I suggest doing it the other way round, ie. make the hankie fit the edging.
  • Buy a gent's handkerchief much bigger than the size you want to end up with.
  • Tat your square edging with a pleasing number of repeats, and corners where you want them.   I like to have an odd number of repeats on each side, so there is a whole repeat at the middle of each side.
  • Block the completed edging, pinning it out to make each corner exactly 90 degrees (yes, use a set square!).
  • Now place the edging on the fabric.    Withdraw threads from the fabric just inside the edging, probably two or three along each side.
  • Then stitch the tatting to the fabric, using three sided stitch or antique hem stitch.   Count the hanky threads you pick up in each stitch to make them the same.    This gives a very neat even row of holes along the edge.

The stitch makes the hem at the same time as attaching the tatting, so the excess fabric is cut off afterwards. Steph Peters

Here is how I do it.
  • Tat a couple of repeats of the pattern for practice and to get a measurement of how far apart the picots are to join to the hanky.
  • Make tiny marks with a pencil or other non permanent marking system, at the proper intervals along the hanky edge. That way, when you tat, you know where to join to make things look even.

This way would work for both sewing the tatting on or joining the tatting directly to the material which is what I do. I think that the tatting is joined much more sturdily when it is attached directly instead of sewing the tatting on later.

There are quilter marking pencils and other sewing related items for making on material that are not permanent but will stay for as long as needed.    There is also an air erasable marker but any moisture will cause the marks to disappear, such as the moisture in you skin or if you live in a humid climate.

Jeanne Lugert


I have a fancy sewing machine, but after a conversation with Mary and Karey when I was down visiting, I tried my wing needle using a straight stitch, once with thread, and once without it.

I sewed along the edge with the wing needle and it left lovely holes, even without the thread.     You can buy a wing needle anywhere (we found one a Joanne's for $3.99).

Use your straight stitch and select a long stitch length.    Sew along the edge of your piece and make your holes.     I made up my sample a month ago and the holes are still visible.    The holes are big enough to put your crochet hook through, so no one has to learn or relearn crochet.

You could tat your edging and use every second hole or so.     The extra holes would probably disappear if you sprayed the finished piece with water, or when you wash the piece.

I noticed lately that you can also get a double needle with a wing needle and a regular one.    Now you can hem and make the holes in one step...    O-Oooh, another toy!

Gale M.


Some people try turning their thread by winding from the opposite end of the thread so the twist goes in the opposite direction.

This is such a common belief, I think the human brain must be pre-wired to believe that Z and S twist can be reversed by starting from the opposite end of the thread. :)

However, I am a weaver, and my mom is a spinner and a weaver, and here is how I was taught to prove to myself that "Z" twist remains "Z" (or "S" twist remains "S") no matter which end of the thread you start from:

  • Take a short piece of something fairly coarsely spun, like yarn, so it is easy to see the twist.
  • Hold it at the top, dangling vertically, and see which way the fibers spiral around it.

If they appear to go ////, that's a "Z" twist. \\\\ is an "S" twist.

Now, to prove to yourself that twist is not changed by reversing ends, reverse ends so the top is now the bottom. The twist does not change.

One of my weaving books mentions cloth with very subtle patterns woven into it, made by deliberately using both Z twist and S twist threads dyed the same color. When the light hits the different diagonals, the pattern appears and disappears.

All that said, there sometimes *can* be a difference if you start from the "far" end of the thread. Spinners tell me that is not from twist, but from fibers on the surface of the thread acting like the barbs on a feather. A good tatting thread should not have too much of this "hairiness", which can be microscopic.

Lynn Carpenter in SW Michigan, USA

Well, I used to do it one way, but now I do it a different way, and it's a lot faster. I successfully separated all 12 plies of a skein of Caron Waterlilies silk floss.
  • find a piece of cardboard about the length of the skein, but not too short.
  • Open up your floss, making sure you have the middle (no doubled loop on either side.. if you know what I mean), and insert the cardboard. *
  • Now, hold the end with one hand and grasp one of the strands with the other and start to pull, unwinding as you go, but letting the cast off strands fall in a neat pile as you hang onto the end.
  • Lay that strand down and wind the cardboard again. Take the single strand and wind it on a bobbin or whatever you choose, but wind it now.*
  • Repeat from * to * and you will have no knots. Guaranteed.

It may sound tedious, but it's faster than anything I have ever done. And you get the full yardage use without knots!


Hello ladies (& gents),
I think I might also have an easy way to unwind the DMC embroidery floss.

I have one of those little thread winding gadgets for winding your thread onto a small cardboard card instead of leaving it in a skein. I start to unwind the thread - in whatever number I need (I just divided a skein in 2 - 2 lengths of 3 threads each) and after about an arms length, I start to wind each batch onto it's own card. A little slow going having to stop and start - unwind - wind on card, wind on card - but with a 2 year old who wants to help, it saved alot of tangles.

AND the nice thing too is that you can stop and go back to it and even put it away without any knots.


I also separate the strands of embroidery floss onto two bobbins BUT--

First, I put a piece of card into the center of the skein (Remove the end labels) and tape a penny/nickel/ small weight to one corner. Cut a slot in the card to hook your floss into, preventing it from unwinding.

    Here's the actual trick.
  • Unwind a yard or so of floss off the card, latch it in the slot.
  • Split your plies as needed (I'm usually using two plies at a time, so I split 2 and 4)
  • Letting the Weighted Card dangle, pull your plies apart, one set in each hand. This way the floss will untwist as you seperate plies, eliminating a lot of wierd back-twisting and knots.
  • Wind each split onto a bobbin, and start again.

I've gotten to the point where I actually have a bobbin in each hand and can wind both at the same time; much faster, as the splitting and winding are done all at once.

I hope this makes sense, and actually helps someone. I use it on some of the Rainbow Gallery threads -- I love some of the variegated combinations better than anything I've seen from DMC. Also worked superbly on the rayon (Marlitt? I think was the brand) and that stuff is AWEFUL for making a mess.

Chris :)

    For three threads I usually:
  1. Unwind about a yard of thread from the bundle
  2. Tie the bundle in a loose knot (if I'm using a small skein of cross-stitch thread) or put a rubber band around it or something to keep it from unwinding further than the yard you unwrapped.
  3. Split the six threads in half (for three threads) and pull them apart slowly, letting the main bundle spin between to unwind the thread. (This works well standing up or sitting on the edge of a chair)
  4. Fold two 3x5 recipe cards in half (so it is 3x2.5) and cut large notches out of the top and bottom (3 inch sides) so it looks a little like an eight turned on it's side.
  5. Wrap each half of the unwound thread around a card in the notches (an alternative is to use the fancy embroidery floss holder cards).
  6. Cut a slit on the inside of one of the notches and slide the thread in there to keep the card from unraveling.
  7. Unwind another yard or so and repeat the process again until it is all unwound. (now you can hold onto the two cards as you pull the thread apart)

For two threads, I would do the above process exactly the same, only doing 2 and 4 threads, then repeat to split the 4 threads into 2 and 2.

This goes pretty fast for me--I do a bunch while I sit and watch TV. I love to tat with embroidery thread as I never have to let my shuttle drop to unwind the twisted up thread!

And it comes in such great colors!

Amy O'Malley

Yes! You need two drop spindles and your shuttle.
  • Wind all the thread, as is, onto one drop spindle.
  • Separate the threads you want and wind the beginnings onto your shuttle.
  • Wind the rest of the thread onto the other drop spindle.
  • Unwind from the first spindle as you go, separating the strands onto the shuttle and the second spindle.

No drop spindle? Use a potato with a chopstick stuck into it. It isn't elegant but it works.

Ann Wilson


If you haven't got the tools to drill a lot of disks and you do have access to junk CDs or CD roms, you can make a spindle with 2 of those.

  • You'll need a 3/8" dowel about 12" long and a 3/8" inside diameter hole grommet. I find them in the electrical aisle of Home Depot.
  • You glue the two CDs label sides together. Super glue works; white glue won't dry for months, because of the lack of air penetration. Or you could just skip the glue.
  • Push the grommet into the hole at the center of the 2 CDs.
  • Put a hook into one end of the dowel. Sharpening the other end a bit is optional. Sand and seal the dowel.
  • Push the dowel into the grommet and spin.
    Depending on how far you push the dowel in, you can have a low whorl spindle or a high whorl, to suit your mood.

And you can slide the whorl off the spindle again to pack it flat for storage.
Brenda Metcalfe - Mansfield, Oh


My tatting bag is always a mess with cut off ends of threads so I finally did something about it.

The Ring of Tatters magazine a few years ago had an idea for a little bag to put your threads in...

Make a small fabric bag 2.1/2 inches wide by 3 inches deep, with a half inch casing hem at the top. Before sealing off this hem, you slip a piece of plastic cut from an ice cream tub or similar in each side of the hem. Each piece is just under 2.1/2 inches long by half an inch wide. Finish off the hem, and you have a little snap shut bag to push your threads into! Much quicker than trying to shove them into a little plastic zip lock bag (my previous attempt to be tidy).

Noelene in Cooma


I used the weaver's knot to add a new thread to my "one shuttle only" pattern and it worked like a dream! You can't even see where I added the thread! There is a place in my pattern where there are 2 rings, base to base, and this is the perfect place to add a new thread, because I can hide one end in the first ring and the other in the second ring and the weaver's knot is barely visible between the two rings! I really like how it looks.

    As I know I will get questions, I will tell those of you who don't know, how to do it.
  • Tie a slip-knot (not too tight) in the end of the NEW thread.
  • Slide this thread up to about 1 thickness of the thread away from where you want the knot to be on the end of the OLD thread. Then snug up that slip-knot on the thread.
  • Here's the fun part: Once you have the thread snugged up and in the correct place on the old thread, pull both ends of the NEW thread, so that the old thread "pops" and the knot "flips" (we're tatters, we know a flip when we see/feel one) and now the knot is finished.

That knot will not pull out. It's VERY tiny. And very few people will be able to see it when they look at your tatting! Cool, huh ?! One of my favorite tricks!

Hope this helps. Practice it. It's fun to do. I've taught it to my quilting buddies, too, as it saves having to hide beginning/ending knots in quilting -- you only have to hide one!



I've found a way to tension the ball thread that I like, but I've never seen anyone else do it... but the winding it 3-20 times around the pinky method made me claustrophobic (I'll admit, too, I never saw it until long, long after I learned to tat!)

I loop the thread through my fingers of my left hand the way one does for crochet or continental knitting, THEN wind it one extra time around my index finger. The thread pulls smoothly without having to stop and unwind and re-wind the pinky, which is helpful when you're doing long chains, but the extra loop on the index finger slows it down so there's something to pull against. Until I added that extra index loop, my chains were a bit too loose, but now they seem to match the rings.

Karey/Tatting Times


Scanning can be a lot of fun or a lot of heartache. A few tips will ensure a fun and quick exercise, clean crisp detail in a manageable file size.

    Here they are:
  • Make sure your scanning surface is clean. My Prof. told us to clean it each time, but I don't (my middle name is not Felix Unger!); I just make sure it is clean.
  • ALWAYS preview your image first. Do you find your scanner is taking a lot of time? That is because it is scanning the full length of the scanner bed. Can you see a ruler at the side of the preview screen? Put your mouse over the end of the ruler and push it up to just below the image you are scanning; the scanner won't be scanning all that white space any more.
  • Adjust the exposure,colour and brightness if your scanning software allows it.
  • Crop as close as you can to the desired subject (you don't need to scan the whole picture if you just want your baby's first tear.. you just need part of the face and the tear).
  • Keep previewing until it looks perfect
  • Set your scanning resolution at the resolution for your output. If you are only going to be posting the image on the web, scan at 96 dpi (Mac Monitors are only 72, but 96 is for PC monitors!). If you are going to be printing the image, use the dpi of your printer.
  • Set your scanning output percentage at 200%.
  • Once the image looks the way it should, is cropped optimally, the resolution and output percentage are set, SCAN!

So far, if you scan now, you will have an image matching your output, but twice as large as the original.

Now you have to use a graphics software. Photoshop, Photo Deluxe, Picture it! and more have a way of taking your image size and reducing the size of the image WHILE MAINTAINING THE RESOLUTION. If you want to make it smaller than 1:1, do that now while you are in the graphics program.

So, what does this give you? An image that is the size you want (usually 1:1) but has two times the number of pixels packed in, with no increase in size. The final result: A VERY crisp, detailed image that doesn't fill your 10 gig hard drive! Take a look at the logo at the top of this page; you can see the stitches!

Another tip: if you scan an image that you want to change, DO NOT SAVE IT AS A JPG. Save it as a pcx, bmp, or whatever. Do all the changes you want to make. Save it again in the original format. Then save as and select jpg as the format.

Now you have a master, and a small image that works well on the web. You have to make this extra step if you want a quality image. JPG images lose quality each time you save them. You can discard the master once you know you have a finished product.



This is a piece I wrote about a year ago when another newbie asked how to hide ends. It covers adding new thread and cutting out mistakes
These are techniques for pieces using both rings and chains. There are many many ways of handling ends. There is no one right way. These are just what I use.

To start without ends with the same colour for rings and chains.

Most patterns start with a ring. Form and flip the first part of the ds, then thread the ball thread THROUGH the stitch for at least two inches. Then make the next part of the ds and tighten. For at least the next four or five ds flip the ball thread up and down between stitches. This anchors the ball thread and does not thicken the ring. Be careful not to pull on the ball thread. Begin your chain as normal, the ball thread will be secure as soon as you do the first ds of the chain. You can then clip the end hanging from the ring.

You can only do this if your two threads are the same colour. If they are different , you must slightly modify the technique. I find threading the ball thread onto a fine needle helps here. Begin as before, threading the ball thread through the ds, but now you carry on threading all the ds. This hides the different coloured thread but is more fiddly and less secure that the other way of flipping so you must be careful not to tug on the ball thread. Of course as soon as you start the chain the ball thread will be secure.

If you have made a mistake in a ring.

If you have not tightened the ring too much you can open it by going to a picot within the ring, hooking a needle or crochet hook on the carrying thread and gently pulling. Most times, at least for me this does not work. But if it does for you, when you get the ring open enough to pass the shuttle through, just begin to undo the stitches. (In Sue Hanson's immortal phrase, you just "retro-tat")

Gale's note: if you cannot open the ring, try retro-tatting one or two stitches and try again. I have found that the last stitch usually flips itself and becomes a locking stitch. When you do this, you will also free up some thread and you will usually be able to open it enough to make the retro-tatting easier.

If you cannot undo the ring, you then move into cutting the ring. Remember that you can cut out rings without effecting your ball thread. Clip the ring somewhere in the middle (if it is a very small ring clip on the end side, not the side you started the ring.) Once cut you can unravel the thread. You will be left with a thread hanging from the chain anywhere from a half inch long to several inches. Tie in your new shuttle thread. The best knot to use is the weaver's knot (see R. Jones' book "The Complete Book of Tatting). This knot is great because you can tie it on even if the ring thread is only half an inch long. However, you can use any knot you are comfortable with. Give yourself several inches of the new thread to work with and make sure the knot is tight against the chain.

Begin your new ring (trying not make the same mistake!) Flip the thread from the old ring back and forth between the ds of the new ring. You may have to use a needle or crochet hook. The knot will secure the thread, what you are doing now is just tiding the end. Finish the ring and tighten.

When you begin the next chain, deal with the other ring thread in the same way. I do not clip the ends until I have finished both the new ring and chain and had a good look to make sure everything is correct.

If, oh horrors! it is not, retro-tat the chain, which is quite easy, clip out the ring and begin all over again.

To add in a new ball thread
is the same
Tie on at the base of a ring, make the ring flipping in the old thread end, then make the chain, flipping in the new thread end. Don't clip until you have gone on to the next ring/chain combination.

Sewing in ends
... an alternative to the Magic thread trick.
You are at the end of your medallion and have joined the last rings/chains. Now you must stitch in the end threads. I tie a single knot then thread the threads onto a fine needle. I stitch back and forth through the top loops of the ds, going one way with one thread, then the other. Clip.

Many people use the Magic Thread Trick to finish off - I have never gotten the hang of it so I use the above technique.

I love tatting but am much too lazy ever to do a piece and then go back and fiddle with ends. This way all ends are dealt with as you go. The pieces I have made using these techniques have stood up to washing and general wear and tear.

I hope this has been of some use to the newcomers.
Comox BC

Charlene's tips for HIDING ENDS

Here is how I do it.

First of all, I have to choose carefully where to make an addition of thread. Right now for instance, I am tatting a wrist bag using mignonette stitch [ala Banaschek]. To add in thread is critical that it be done carefully and to be hidden.

So, I make slip knot in the thread I am adding, then put the 'noose' at the place that I want to have the next mignonette ring begin. I draw up the noose, until I get a 'pop' of the other thread into the noose. That is the weaver's knot as someone online describes it. According to Banachek, that should count as the first stitch of the ring, but I find that I must count it as the first half stitch otherwise the ring is lop-sided.

Then, I just tat the tails into the ring and snip them off when I close the ring. So, what I have described is one way to add in thread and hide the ends. There are more and people will answer about other ways to do it.

Charlene Calvert Pinkowski

I have just a little hint to make winding the thread onto the second shuttle, when the continued thread method is used.

I measure mine a little differently. Remember the old trick to measure fabric? A yard is the length from your nose to the end of your right hand?

Well, when I want to wind shuttle #1, I measure the number of yards required for that one, then wind shuttle #1 up to the length I need for that shuttle.

Now, holding shuttle #1 in my right hand, I measure the same length for shuttle # 2 (or differently if the lengths are not the same requirement), cut the thread and wind shuttle #2.

Does that make sense? And it's much faster to measure that counting turns of the shuttle. Counting 3 or 4 is sure faster than counting to 60 and losing your place.

Hope someone finds this helpful. I have used it for many years and find it really simple.
Charlene R

I have just a little hint to make winding the thread onto the second shuttle, when the continued thread is used.

I wind the first shuttle, then I wind the thread onto a bobbin, cut the thread, then wind the thread from the bobbin to either onother bobbin or shuttle depending on what type of shuttle you use, works with all types I have tried, and no need to count the the turns around the shuttle.

I bet this is a clear as mud. For all the clever people who already know this trick, it is probably boring to read, but maybe, someone out there, hasn't thought of it yet.

Ann in Australia

Stiffening alternative

When I do my earrings and want to stiffen them is use Hair Spray...it holds the shape well and after wearing a few times can be re-sprayed helping to keep a proper shape...and you can stiffen to the degree wanted...

Note: Some people have had disastrous results with hair spray, so it's effectiveness may be brand specific.


I just started using Aleene's Stiffen Quik Instant Fabric Stiffening Spray. It is in a pump dispenser. I like using it because it is not as messy as having to dip your piece of tatting in a glue solution then squeezing out the excess glue.

Here you just pin down your piece and spray. You may need to do a couple of coats to get the stiffness you desire. Stiffen-Quik is also safe to dry in the microwave, if you are using microwave-safe forms.

I have also used it on tatting that has beads on it and Stiffen Quik did not discolor or ruin the sparkly look of the beads at all.
Happy Tatting,

Carol Lawecki

Connecting double picots!

What I do is join using only the outside part of the double picot.

But you can make it so that the second double picot that you are making goes thru the first one.

  • Make the long picot then pull it thru the center of the first double picot with your hook.
  • Then make your joining stitch. This will look like a double picot thru a double picot.

I hope I have explained it good enough. Here is a sample you can look at from my site: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Bluffs/2475/dbpflake.jpg

Mark, aka Tatman

A variation on the "connecting Double Picots" theme.

My old friend Kim, who is in his 80's and now sadly very weak and unable to tat, used to be a master of the double picot, or as we call it round here, the Kim Picot.

One of his variations was to join a ring with a long double picot to a long double picot in the next ring. But he would join over both strands, so then there isn't the problem you have joining the outer one only. It gives an attractive chain link effect.
Sally Magill

The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta today announced the identification of a new disease.

Tentatively named Acquired Needlework Syndrome
, the disease is highly infectious. Scientists at CDC say the disease is caused by a bacillus called staphloaiguille because of its needle-like shape. Under the microscope the bacillus is long and slender with a long narrow opening at one end, from which trail thread-like cilia.

Symptoms of the disease include feverish babbling of letters such as DMC, TW, LOL, ROFL and talking about invisible friends such as Teresa, Paula, Robert, Karen, etc. At first sufferers appear to be taking an unusual interest in Verdi operas, while more advanced cases develop wanderlust, especially wishing to travel to Edinburgh, Dublin, and Belfast. Other symptoms include feverish buying and storing of woven goods and printed pamphlets, and a 'smoking' credit card. The disease is especially dangerous because it cannot only be passed along directly from one infected individual to another, but documented cases have been found where the sufferer caught the disease from reading a magazine, or attending a craft show.

The CDC says that while the disease is especially prevalent in North America, cases have been found in every country on the globe. Family members should be aware that while the disease may occasionally enter remission, it is at present incurable.

The patient should be given a quiet corner with a comfortable chair and good lighting. Interruptions should be minimized.

Fwd by Briana


As a professional computer input assistant (typist), I suffer from carpal tunnel problems.
So does my friend, who is a copy editor for another newspaper that I also work at. Her physical therapist gave her some guidelines for not only exercise and therapy for her arms, but for positioning her keyboard, mouse and chair for optimum comfort.

  • arrange your computer so that you are sitting bolt upright and looking your monitor right in the face. Not looking down at it or up at it.
  • Adjust your chair and table so that your arms hang down to the keyboard and are not bent upward from the elbow. This allows the blood to flow into your hands.
  • Then tip your keyboard downward away from you so your wrists are not bent upward, but downward. If you are too short and your feet don't touch the floor in this position, get a foot rest. If you are tall, hike up the table instead of lowering the chair.
  • If you use a computer for long hours, take a stretch break every so often. If you can, stand up and do the stretches, if not just do them sitting.

    1. Put your arm out straight in front of you.
      • Bend your elbow toward your chest with your palm facing away from your body.
      • Make a fist, then push your elbow out straight.
      • Relax and shake your wrist out like a rag. This relaxes the tendons in your forearm and wrist.
    2. Simply stop what you are doing,
      • hang your arms straight down to your sides
      • shake your hands around vigorously.
    3. While sitting, press your feet flat on the floor and pretend to stand up. Use all the muscles that you would if you were to actually stand. This helps relax your back and surprisingly your arms.

    Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by repetitive motion, so you need to stop and switch gears occasionally. Also, I've found that lots of tea and sympathy help. :-)

    Also, while tatting or doing other stitching, sit in a manner that your elbows are either not leaning on armrests or are supported by armrests that allow your forearms to be lower than your elbows. I think this is the clue.
    Anyway, happy pain-free e-mailing and tatting, ladies and gents

    Knottin' Fancy in Greeley, Colo.


Hand exercise tool

Instead of silly putty,
you might try making one out of bird seed and a couple balloons.

My son had to get his shots a few months ago and was putting up a big fuss. So the doctor gave him this ball that he uses for the patients with hand problems to use for exercise.

It's just two balloons! Fill one up with birdseed, really tight, and cut off the 'blow up' end.. whatever that's called. Then take the other balloon and cover the filled one so that the hole is covered.

It works great ... I use it all the time..

shuttles (AKA Janet McDonald)

Hand exercises
Zena Hebert has created some videos of hand exercises for you to watch and practice along with! Have fun.

Don't forget these fun exercises that are on the main page of my site.


A newbie once wrote: "Ack~no no no no! I just learned the split chain! I don't think I'm ready for a shoelace trick yet! I *still* have to learn Cluny leaves!". Below are the responses...

  • You are using two shuttles and one color thread, you're close to finishing the round and one shuttle is running low on thread! Presto! You use the shoelace trick to switch working shuttles and so have enough to finish without rewinding.  Also, if you are using one shuttle and ball and the pattern calls for the chain to change directions you need the shoelace trick.

    Can you tie your shoe lace? Do the first part without the bow and you now know the shoelace trick. It switches the hand and shuttle threads from one shuttle to another.

  • The shoelace trick is very easy. Compared to split chain and split ring it is a piece of cake. All you do is tie a simple knot (like the first knot when you are tying your shoes).

    This crosses the threads so that one color which was the ball thread becomes the shuttle thread and vice versa. Simple. It doesn't even show except in the change of color. I use two shuttles when doing this.

    Mark? and Clara


This is Hope, the Aero junkie...I may wish for and have others, but the Aero is the only shuttle I "use" .

After years of wanting to "cap" the hook - so that it would quit catching on me, the sweater, the seat, the tatting bag ARGH!! I finally found the answer...

I got an eraser and trepidiciously stuck the hook in up to the shuttle, pushed it in and out 6 times, no problem...amazed at how wee the hole is that it makes. Doesn't seem to catch residue from the eraser..thank goodness. Now to get my DH to take his cutter (I'm a klutz) and cut the eraser in half lengthwise, then into 8 to 10 pieces...I am so excited!!!

Hope Green


How to:
  • Leave ˝ inch sp (for p), make first half of ds twice, push up p (which will lean toward the back),
  • ˝ inch sp (for p), make 2nd half of ds twice, push up p (which will lean toward the front),
  • repeat from beg 4 times (5 picots in front, 5 picots in back) making a ruffled picot.


  • I tat, you tat, we tat, he tats, she tats, they tat, we all tat. LOL
  • I tatted, you tatted, we tatted, he tatted, she tatted, they tatted.
  • I am tatting, you are tatting, we are tatting, he is tatting, she is tatting, they are tatting.
  • And you are tatty… LOL

Answer your question? Add a T to add an ending.

Tat is a ring, add a chain and another ring, ting, and you have tatting.

Add a cup of tea and some friends who tat and a couple of cats and you have a tat chat ring.

Happy tatting, tatty lady

Knottin' Fancy in Greeley, Colo.


The difference is in which thread you pull up through the picot.

With a ball thread join you pull up the ball thread and the join slides with the rest of the stitches.

With a shuttle join you pull up the shuttle thread through the picot, and pass the shuttle through the loop. This will be a locking join - the join doesn't slide at all.

Ann Wilson


You'll find below a link to a list of tatting terms and equivalents. To categorize, I s'pose that the first thing would be to put each technique into a ranking. I propose either 3 or 4 levels - you decide which you think is more approriate.

If as many people as possible could return this to me with their idea of which level (1 is the beginner level) they think each should be in, I'll start compiling that up. We'll start with shuttle tatting, as I do not know needle tatting. Nothing personal, just do what I think will be easier first - we can adapt for needle tatters later. Just replace my numbers with your own. Oh and this does not take into account how well a person can tat these.

By the way, this is not the complete list of terms, you'll find that at http://www.sandbenders.demon.co.uk/tatting_terms.htm

? Block tatting, tally tatting
3 Bridge/bridging, knotless method
1 Joining
3 Cluny tatting, leaf tatting
1 Double stitch, lark's head
2 Josephine chain (jc), spiral chain, twist stitch
2 Link loop, mock picot, simulated picot, start loop
3 Mignonette stitch, net tatting
2 Mock ring, false ring
2 Oeillet, dot, rosette, josephine knot
2 Plain stitch, french stitch, half stitch, single stitch
3 Purl stitch, english stitch, over stitch
1 Ring, loop, oval, circle, lozenge
3 Set stitch, cord, lattice, node, ric-rac
3 Split-ring tatting, wrong-way tatting
3 Split-ring, mousehole ring
1 Transfer, capsize, click, flip, turn
1 Trefoil, clover
3 Pearl tatting, two-edged chain
3 Split chain, hooked chain

Now, remember, this is an opinion based survey. If there are any other techniques to add in, let me know.

Steph Peters


Having nothing much to do yesterday afternoon, I followed Lynn's request to see how many double stitches took up an inch of thread using various threads.

I did each sample the same way - first I measured off two inches and started to make a ring; that gave me the number of double stitches two inches of thread would make (if the measured thread is the thread that is making the stitches), and I divided the result in two to get the number per inch. Then I made a chain, seeing how many double stitches I made per inch when the measured thread was the core thread. Here are my results, from largest thread to smallest: (shuttle tatting)

Lily Bedspread Cotton (cone) 2 1/2 ds/in 16 ds/in
DMC Size 5 Pearl Cotton 2-1/2 ds/in 16 ds/in
DMC Cebelia Size 10 2-1/2 ds/in 16 ds/in
Coats mercer crochet size 10 2-3/4 ds/in 19 ds/in
Coats mercer crochet size 20 3 ds/in 21 ds/in
Coats Opera size 20 3-1/2 ds/in 20 ds/in
DMC Cebelia size 20 3-1/4 ds/in 24 ds/in
DMC Size 8 Pearl Cotton 3-1/2 ds/in 22 ds/in
DMC Cebelia size 30 3-1/2 ds/in 23 ds/in
Coats mercer crochet size 30 3-1/2 ds/in 25 ds/in
Coats Chain Crochet size 50 4 ds/in 30 ds/in
DMC "special dentelles" (tatting cotton), size 80 5 ds/in 37 ds/in
I included the number of ds/in made with the knotting thread because I think the data could give us some way of judging whether we tat tightly or loosely. Naturally we all think we tat "just right", and I am no exception, but it would be interesting to see what figures other people come up with.

Adele in West Vancouver, BC


Pinching off irregular beads with a needle nose pliers is a great idea, especially when I've had tens of thousands of beads to load for a tatted bag.

Additionally, I would suggest doing the smashing down in a waste basket. The little bits of glass tend to fly all over making them an eye hazard. The sharp pieces are also not fun to find later with bare feet.

Holding the threads to one side and pinching the other side of the bead will insure that the thread is not cut. I've only ever had a ridged type pliers, but by keeping the thread out of the way I don't have any problem.


I tried to make a cluny loom
the other day.

I have never seen one so I don't know what the real ones look like, but this worked for me. Please let me know what you think of it. If you can't understand the directions please give a yell so I can straighten them out. http://www.frontiernet.net/~schyler/loom-1.html
Take care.
Tammy in wNY

Proposed Standard Names for Basic Units in Tatting


Most fiber crafts have a verbal way to describe patterns. In crochet, you can say "I made a doily in the pineapple pattern" Or "I used granny squares with central bobbles." A knitter can say "I made a sweater with horseshoe cables on a moss stitch background." and other knitters can have a fairly good idea what the sweater looks like.

For some reason, this never happened in tatting. There are a few names, like "Hens and Chicks" but most patterns, although instantly recognized by experienced tatters, have no name. With the growth of the internet, more tatters are talking to each other over the Web. Here we cannot show the piece we are talking about, and trying to describe a pattern verbally can be very hard. "Well, it has rings and chains..."

This is an effort to help communication between tatters. Here are examples of the basic "families" of tatting patterns. Just as in knitting where there are the "cable" "rib" or "brioche" families of patterns, here is an attempt to name "families" of tatting patterns. All of the illustrations are of the most basic form of the pattern; all have many variations, but all of a family shares the same structure. ..............

Jeanette and Colleen


I am not the originator of this brilliant idea but I paid attention to the directions as thread choices are limited locally. Unfortunately I forgot to remember who told us about this great idea.

    You will need,
  • floss wound on to a floss holder or a piece of card board; make sure it has a slit to catch the floss in
  • screw driver (or piece of dowel) with a small enough diameter to accommodate the center hole of a sewing machine bobbin.
  • a few tooth picks
  • 3 sewing machine bobbins Class 15 bobbins work nice for this; Class 66 is okay but just barely holds all the floss.
  • small piece of card board or plastic milk jug have three holes in a row about 1/2" apart. This is the "guide"
  • small pieces of tape
    If you are using 6 strand DMC embroidery floss and want it to 2 strand this is how I do it with the directions we were told.
  • Take your floss and separate a few inches so that you have three sections of 2 strands each
  • slide each section through a different hole of the guide,
  • attach each section of thread to its own bobbin. I usually apply a little piece of tape to the end of the floss to hold it still.
  • Now slide a bobbin on the screw driver, using tooth picks to wedge in between the bobbin and the screw driver so that the bobbin turns with the screw driver. Do the same for the remaining bobbins.
  • Unwind 1-2 foot of floss from card, secure into slit.
  • hold the screw driver horizontal with the floss and card hanging in the area begin turning the screw driver and the floss should separate and untwist at the same time.
  • Use your other hand to slide the guide to help separate if needed.

After you separate that 1-2 foot, just unwind more off the floss holder and continue on until the hole skein is done. Now you can use these bobbins full of floss as "balls" or you can wind them onto a shuttle or shuttle bobbin.

I hope that helps. I did all the floss for the projects on my page like this.

Who ever came up with this I again thank you, and please forgive me for not remembering who it was.
Originator: Please contact me for proper credit. Gale

Tammy in wNY

Go To