Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hiding Ends

I know that many of you will agree with me here: Hiding ends has been a thorn in my side since I first discovered that I should do more than knot and cut.  

With the needle, I ended up using a bigger needle just so that hiding ends would be easier.  Of course, this produced an even more bulged and floppy piece. 

With the rosewood needle and yarn, I sewed the ends through the caps of the stitches and slid them through a few stitches as well.  

Now, with the shuttle, I'm back to trying every little method that I've tried before. If I thought bringing the ends through my stitches or sewing them through the caps was tough with the needle, it should have been obvious it would be even harder with the shuttle.  Of course, I tried anyway.  No matter what, it seemed as though my stitches became distorted. >.<

Well, I brought my question to (I'm hooked...) and someone said they use the Magic Thread trick.  I've known about this trick for so long --even had some pre-cut threads from a very generous woman that were just sitting around in pill bottles in my tatting cubby.  I never tried it, though!  I looked it up yet again and realized that I'd done the same thing with floss threaders, though, so had at it with both ways.  Floss threaders are stiffer and make closing rings feel a bit funny, but works like a charm (as long as I have a jar opener handy).  The thread works the same, but without the added funkiness to closing rings.

A part of me still thinks that the ends will somehow come loose right away so I'd still prefer to find a way of sewing in that works for me, but this whole hiding ends fiasco has kept me away from tatting long enough (No, really... it's so daunting to me that I think about it before I even think about starting and it's kept me away from many patterns as well as just tatting in general).  

Well, that's all.  No pictures today as I only have one and plan on putting that up over at my other blog with more rambling!  :-)

Happy tatting to all!

Stephanie Grace

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


The most obvious difference between needle and shuttle tatting is the way in which stitches are made. To say it plainly; stitches are much more easily made with the needle. Learning to twirl the thread around your finger to create stitches is a lot easier than mastering the 'flip' required in shuttle tatting. (I was born blonde; twirling things around my finger comes naturally...). ;-)

I really wanted to give some sort of visual for the differences of stitches, however, that seems like a moot point as this blog isn't about teaching so much as just sharing observances. (If you've stumbled here and are interested in learning stitches, e-mail me and I'll send you the links from which I learned to tat.).

Here's a visual of needle versus shuttle using the same pattern and same thread size. 

Can you tell the difference? The one done with the needle is bulkier (scans of the finished pieces are below).

Now, my picots are never incredibly consistent, but if you look at the shuttle-tatted cross, you can kind of see how I'm getting more consistent. This is the first thing (other than a length of rings and chains or an all-ring butterfly) that I've completed with the the shuttle. Of course, every time my rings started to look 'okay' and semi-consistent, my hands got sweaty and I'd struggle to close one. >.< I hate when that happens, so here are a few things I do:

Needle tatting-
If your stitches aren't sliding off the needle as easily as they were, stop, un-thread your needle, and clean it. A light detergent, such as Dawn, will work, but I've used my hand soap (Cetaphil, antibacterial) and gotten wonderful results.

Shuttle tatting-
Before you add more shuttle thread to your left hand, drop the shuttle. Let it do its little crazy dance. If the thread is already twisted from the motions of tatting, it will most certainly twist when you go to close your ring, so never carry over twisted thread. ;-) I like to drop my shuttle often (not always by accident, either! LOL). When you're doing ring after ring, this might really help. Just remember that when you transfer from shuttle to left hand, that thread has been moved around –sometimes a lot.

Needle and Shuttle-
When closing a ring, if you keep pulling to close and there's still a of thread that just won't come through, that's usually due to twisted thread. Drop the needle or shuttle once in a while. (Yes, yes, I'm redundant.).

When closing a ring (or chain for shuttle tatters working off the ball), if your stitches are becoming smushed or seeming to blend together, this tends to be from the oil or sweat on your fingers. Wash and dry your hands, then open the ring, relax the stitches by spreading them back out a bit, and then try again. Note: If you've been working for a while, the thread could just be too wet from your hands. Sometimes, you need to put the piece down and let it rest.

When all else fails, untat if you can. This is another thing that varies between the two and yet is very similar in a way...
Needle tatting- If you've messed up a stitch or half a stitch and they're still on the needle, just pull them off toward the pointed end. You end up with curly thread, but it won't matter.

If you've messed up a ring or chain before reversing work/tying a knot, loosen the stitches around any picot or one stitch before a join (I always go one stitch before when it comes to joins so as not to stretch the joining picot -even if this means doing the next step multiple times). Unthread your needle and then us the needle (or a crochet hook) and pull the core thread around which the stitches are made. Keep pulling until the stitches have come undone. If necessary, repeat until the whole chain or ring is no longer existent. ;-)

Shuttle- If you haven't closed the ring yet (or are mid-chain), use the hook or pick (or any other handy tool) to *loosen the stitch enough to create a loop big enough for the shuttle to pass through. Pause and observe how the shuttle thread moves through the loop and follow that path to undo the stitch.

If the ring is closed, open it up by loosening the stitches at a picot, or anywhere, if there are no picots. Keep spreading out the stitches until they seem more workable, then repeat from * until all of the necessary stitches have been eliminated.

Well, there are some of my thoughts on some random stitch-minded things. This has become much longer than I wanted, so I'm going to scan the pictures and get this posted! If you have any arguments, better ways, or ANYTHING, I'd love to hear it!

Love and Happy Tatting to all!

Stephanie Grace

Pattern used is by Gina Butler and can be found here:
Full crosses:

P.S.S. - I stink at laying this straight on the scanner --neither of these are perfect, though, so I don't know if it's my scanning or my tatting....  They both cupped a bit, but probably because I don't like my joining picots to show....

Friday, January 20, 2012

Welcome! :-*

Thank you for dropping by my new blog!  Please, make yourself comfortable!  

I've created this blog to note the differences between needle and shuttle tatting as well as to share my experiences in the learning of both methods.

I am still learning both in many ways though I have been needle tatting for nearly two years.  Shuttle tatting didn't 'click' for me until maybe a month ago --and definitely not for lack of trying, shuttles just didn't want to cooperate with me.  For that reason, I am glad that I learned needle tatting first.  Had I have started with shuttle, I would not have fought on as long.  Having learned the needle already, my understand of tatting was better and, when the shuttles had me completely discouraged, I could pick up a needle and create something to give myself a boost of reassurance.  

Why did I start with the needle?
  Well, that's an easy one... I knew nothing of what I was getting into at the time.  I saw tatted pieces online and thought they were absolutely beautiful, so I wanted to learn.  When it same time for ordering supplies, the stingy side of me kicked in and six needles for their price versus the price of two shuttles compelled me to buy the needles ...ya know, with one ball of size 20 thread and one of size 30.  O.o I tend to research everything to death and I don't know why that didn't apply to that first purchase. 

Since I don't want to ramble on and on, I'm going to close this with what I think would be the perfect tatter starter kit (and I could be wrong --remember, this is all just opinion based upon my own experiences). 
  • One shutle
  • One needle (size 5 or 7 --if the set is cheaper than the single, though, buy the set.  With needle tatting, the needle should match the thread in circumference which is why they come in different sizes --I didn't know that when I started and thought I was going to have a back-up just in case I broke one --or four.  With needles, the smaller the number, the bigger the needle.  Don't go above 5 unless you plan on going with really thick thread.).  ;-)
  • A ball of thread in a light color.  Size 10 might be best for beginning because of how big it is (smaller the number, the bigger the thread), but size 20 is most commonly used, so I would suggest diving right in and ordering size 20.  If you feel too uncomfortable with the size, then go to your local dollar store and buy some cheap twine or anything else that mimics thread --remember, the learning stages are more about becoming comfortable with the actions as opposed to creating perfection.  Once you get the actions down with the cheap stuff, try it again with the thread. 
  • A ball of thread in a dark color.  This is especially important when you go to utilize the shuttle.  This thread should be the same size as the light colored one --if you're doing dollar store stuff to learn, just make sure it's a different color.  When learning shuttle tatting, two colors will help you greatly.  With needle tatting, it's easier to learn to work off the ball first, so color variation won't matter, however, no matter which method you choose or feel most comfortable with, stitches will always be more easily seen in lighter colors.
  • A crochet hook --size 10 seems perfect to me... I wouldn't go much smaller until you get to beading --those 14s and 15s are nasty little devils!  (Some shuttles have a hook --they are wonderful, but having a separate hook will help, too, especially in the beginning.).
  • Scissors.  You should have these on hand, but make sure you have a pair that won't fray the thread too much.  With both needle and shuttle, there's usually a hole through which you will feed your thread --you don't want to go insane or separate the strands with dull scissors, it will just make you crazy.  This will also make 'tatting over ends' a lot easier. ;-)

Okay, okay... I'm sure there's more, but this is getting very, very long and I'm sure that not even one reader will make it through all of that, so I shall bid you a fond farewell until next time (tomorrow, I hope!). :-*

Love and Happy Tatting to all!

Stephanie Grace