Crafty Manolo » T-T-T-T-T-Tattered


By Twistie


Tatting is a lovely craft with a long history… well, dating back to the early 19th century, anyway. It’s been practiced by queens (quite literally, when Lady Katharine Hoare wrote a popular book of tatting instructions and patterns in 1910, she included work by Marie of Romania) and by random women nobody outside their families ever knew much about. Traditionally,  it’s done with a shuttle, as in the above illustration.

But what if you don’t have a shuttle? What if you tried a shuttle and found it awkward but would still like to try the craft? What if you’re just curious about alternative methods? Have I got some YouTube links for you!

This is a tutorial on needle tatting. At the end, you should have a pretty tatted flower motif and plenty of assurance whether tatting by needle is for you. My ear was badly jarred by the instructor’s insistence on pronouncing ‘picot’ as ‘peacott.’ The word is French. The o is long and the t is silent. Still, the instructions were clear and easy to follow, and that’s the important bit.

Here’s a great tutorial on how to finger tat. Yes, I said finger tat. Just take the warning about tatting with ropes at the hardware store to heart, m’kay?

And for you traditionalists out there (and I know you’re out there, because I can see you), here’s the first in a series by Nobones that will give you all the basics to learn tatting with a shuttle.

Alas for my fellow southpaws, I have not been able to find a single left handed tatting tutorial on YouTube. If some hardy tatting soul is reading this right now, I consider this a woeful lack. Once we get the basics we can learn to reroute instructions in our heads, but really, why make it so hard on us? Just a thought.

12 Responses to “T-T-T-T-T-Tattered”

  1. ZaftigWendy Says:

    Tatting feels so ladylike, what with the making of lacy loops in thin air. And yes, I’m a traditionalist, shuttle all the way!

    I’ll bet one could learn left-handed tatting the same way many learn left-handed crochet – by sitting across from a right-handed teacher, so that you can mirror her moves. I’ll have to find a leftie who wants to learn and see if I can teach her/him that way.

  2. Impkitti Says:

    Tatting can be so delicate looking and yet is very strong.

    I taught myself to tat left handed (I’m right handed) because a woman in a class told me I couldn’t teach her to tat because she was left handed.

    It is not really that difficult. Same motions, different hands.

  3. Twistie Says:

    @ZaftigWendy: Oh I know if I ever took up tatting it would be with a shuttle. I’m something of a traditionalist… at least when it comes to having pretty toys to play with! LOL!

  4. Twistie Says:

    @Impkitti: Oh I know it’s far from impossible. It’s just every twice in a while I get frustrated at always having to be the one to work out the differences. It was just kind of a brief random wonder why there isn’t a left-handed tatter with a video camera putting something up on YouTube for those of us who could really use the visual from the angle we do best.

    Believe me, if I was sitting in your class, I might need to ask an extra question or two or I might need an extra demonstration, but there’s no way in holy heck I would sit there and say you couldn’t teach me.

    On the other hand, I think one of the things I love so about doing bobbin lace is that it’s completely ambidextrous. Right or left handed makes no difference in any aspect of the craft.

  5. Tara Says:

    I only recently learned to tat, and I am right handed, but I had difficulty at first because it seems to me that tatting is dominant with the left hand. It is my left hand that manipulates & makes the knots (and picots). The right hand just passes the shuttle over or under the thread in my left hand. When I first started I could have easily started in either hand. Especially since I learned that the manipulation occurs in the hand without the shuttle.

  6. Impkitti Says:

    @Tara – I agree. Most of the work is done with the left hand. I think that is what confuses a lot of left handers – they are not use to trying an art that is left-dominate.

    I have to give myself a couple of days between tatting and crochet – my hand positions are similar, but the tensioning is so different, my hands get confused.

  7. Impkitti Says:

    @ Twistie I love how bobbin lace is so ambidextrous. I get annoyed when people insist that the footside *must* be left…or right…. Most of the time it doesn’t matter! Once it is off the pillow, it is difficult to tell which way it was worked.

  8. Twistie Says:

    Absolutely, impkitti. And whichever side you work the footside (assuming the pattern has one), the work with your hands is the same. You use both hands equally, and the movements don’t change based on what hand is dominant. Oh, maybe some lacers wind their bobbins in different directions because of handedness, but as long as you wind them all in the same direction, which direction you use doesn’t matter.

  9. Jen AKA Jupiter Says:

    I am left handed. The person that taught me how to tat did it right handed. I just need some more lessons on more advanced techniques.

  10. Snuze Says:

    I actually bought a shuttle and yarn to learn to tat from my Mum. That was 6 months ago. I have yet to sit down to learn tatting from her. :p


  11. Tara Says:


    How did the person teach you that they did it right handed? Did they have the shuttle in their left or their right hand?

    I have the shuttle in my right hand, which means my left hand is handling the thread, tension and making the knots. My right hand just passes the shuttle under or over the thread.

  12. Sarah J Says:

    I don’t tat, but my dad does. He taught himself years ago as something he can do on a plane (he travels a lot for work) We have dozens of tatted snowflakes he’s made over the years and the one rule is that we aren’t allowed to tell people he made them, but if they ask if he did, we aren’t allowed to lie.

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