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In the last lesson on reading patterns, we went over the three types of tatting patterns you will encounter, and tried them out by tatting three small motifs. These were ring-only patterns, made with a single shuttle.

This time we will branch out into making chains, too. These patterns will require either a shuttle and ball thread, or two shuttles. At the end of this lesson you will have the flexibility to make the vast majority of tatting patterns.


When beginning a new pattern, some authors (especially in vintage patterns) will tell you whether you will need one or two shuttles, or a shuttle and ball thread. This is handy info, but not always included (especially in modern, diagrammed patterns). If the pattern doesn’t say how many shuttles to use, how do you tell? Here are a few hints:

  • If the pattern is only made up of rings, you only need one shuttle. Case closed.
  • If the pattern makes rings and chains, read through the pattern if it is text, or if it is diagrammed trace it with your finger or eye to look for these two-shuttle features. Roughly in order of commonality:
Split Rings (SR)
Rings located in the middle of chains, called “thrown rings” or “floating rings”
Any references to using the “shoelace trick”
Any Celtic patterns or themes
Single Chain Mock Rings (SCMR)
Pretty much any other techniques you don’t know how to do yet
—We’ll learn how to do all of these, and other fanciness later. Promise.—

If the pattern is free of the above list, then you can probably make it with a single shuttle and ball thread. If it includes split rings, Celtic designs, etc. then you will need two shuttles.


Reading patterns with chains is not much different that what we did in Reading Patterns and Making Projects, Part 1. Here are a few additional things you need to know.

  • Chains are usually abbreviated as Ch or C, just as rings are usually abbreviated R.
  • When you are tatting with two shuttles, many patterns will label them as S1 and S2, or Shuttle 1 and Shuttle 2. This makes it easy to keep them straight when referring to them in instructions, so make sure you decide which is which from the beginning and use them consistently.
  • When switching between rings and chains, you will usually reverse work. Unless the pattern tells you not to for a design reason, you can assume that each switch between a ring and chain will require you to reverse or turn the work.
  • Remember the sp and lp, small picots and large picots from Part 1? Sometimes it is helpful to make a vsp, or very small picot, to join two elements together. Instead of being decorative, these functional picots are made just big enough to stick your crochet hook through to make the join.
  • Chains are sometimes used to make rosettes, or rounds of chains on top of each other. These will usually start off with a small ring in the middle that has a lot of picots, which is the first round (Rnd). The second round will be made of chains that join to the picots, and from there each round will have slightly longer chains that join to very small picots between the chains.

When making rosettes, the number of picots in the center ring will equal the number of petals in the rosette. Six picots will make six curved petals.

Rounds of ChainsTry making this rosette:

Rnd 1: R 2-2-2-2-2-2. Close the ring and do not cut the thread. Tie the two threads together leaving a space the length of a picot. This will look like a sixth picot and let you move to the second round without cutting the thread. Begin Rnd 2 at this knot. This is called a “false picot” or “mock picot.”

In Rnds 2 through 4, begin every chain with a vsp. To do this, begin the first half stitch but do not tighten it all the way to the last chain. Instead, leave a small space as you would for a picot, make the second half stitch and only then snug the stitch close to the last chain.

Rnd 2 CH -5+ joining to the picots of Rnd 1, repeat around ring. When you get back to the first chain, join to the first vsp you made on the first chain, and continue to Rnd 3.
Rnd 3 CH -9+ repeat around ring. Move to Rnd 4.
Rnd 4 CH -13+ repeat around ring. Move to Rnd 5.
Rnd 5 CH 7-5-7+ Do NOT make the beginning vsps. The picots on these chains are decorative; make them like normal. Repeat around ring, join the end of the last chain to the same picot that began this round, tie and cut the thread. Now you have a rosette!


Speaking of rounds, you will see them quite a bit, and not just in rosettes. Patterns come in parts, which means that anytime you are making a doily, many times with jewelry, animals, ornaments, sometimes with edgings…well, you get the idea…you will make one part building on another.

Here is a doily with each of the rounds, also called rows, highlighted separately.

Comparison of Rounds in a DoilyTo get from one row to the next, you will usually finish the current row and then cut the thread off—leave SEVERAL inches of extra thread—and tie and hide the ends. (I’ll go over how to hide ends in another lesson soon.) Then wind your shuttle(s) again and begin the next row around the edge of what you just made.

Another way to get from one round to the next is to “climb out” of the row. There are a few ways to do this, depending on whether you are making rings or chains, and how you want the design to look. I’ll make lessons on these techniques in the intermediate tatting series coming up.

Note: If you made the rosette above, when you made the false picot and then began the second round, that was one way to climb out of the row. You just did some fancy tatting, don’t you feel good about yourself?

Now that you can do some fancy rosettes, are you ready for a flowery edging?

Try this lovely vintage daisy edging from 1915:

Tatted Daisy EdgingBegin with the leaves at left of the daisy:
R 9 ds, p, 5 ds, p, 14 ds.
R 14 ds, p, 5 ds, p, 9 ds. Ch 16 ds, turn.

To make the daisy:
Ring 1: 10 ds, join to 1st p of 1st r, 4 ds, p, 4 ds, p, 10 ds.
Ring 2: 10 ds, join to last r, 8 ds, p, 10 ds.
Join all rings. Repeat R 2, twice; R 1, twice; then R 2, omitting the last p, turn.
Ch 15, join to upper p in second leaf; ch 10 ds, p, 11 ds, turn.
Repeat first leaflet, join 1st p to 6th R of the daisy.
Repeat R and ch 16 ds.
Join 1st R of daisy to first leaflet, and 5th R of first daisy.
Continue pattern for desired length.


Patterns with both rings and chains are not much different from ring-only patterns, and are not any more difficult. Using two shuttles can appear intimidating to new tatters, but it is truly no different than using a shuttle and ball thread, and will open up whole new worlds of possibilities. Give a few of these patterns a try and see what a difference two shuttles makes.

Happy Tatting!


This post is part of a series of Absolute Beginner Tatting Lessons. Go back to the previous lesson, Reverse and Turn Work, an Exploration, or jump ahead to the next lesson, Finishing a Tatted Motif with a Folded Join.