The Creative Corner · Vintage Needlework

Tatting: Design with Two Rings

Two large tatted rings lying next to each other on a knitted doily.
Take one shuttle and two different size rings. Look what you can make!

Over the next two posts I’m going to talk about tatting design with two rings. Earlier this year I was browsing through some old magazines and my eyes fell on an intriguing set of one-shuttle patterns. I really liked one of them and I was heading out for the evening, so I snapped a photo of the instructions and the illustration and grabbed a shuttle I’d just filled with a watermelon variegated thread. You can see it in the next post. The color combination might be enough to awaken you without the benefit of coffee.

With everything I needed, I left for the evening. When I got to my destination (I was the designated kid driver for the night) I pulled out my shuttle, glanced at my phone, and started scrolling. The instructions in front of me said something like “Start with a small ring and then a large ring.” What small ring? What large ring? Aargh. There I was, stuck at a meeting with nothing to do because my instructions were insufficient.

Small ring + large ring = pattern

In the photo at the top you can see the small ring and the large ring. Although I realized all the patterns on this page looked similar, I neglected to notice that they were identical in construction. Every single pattern uses a combination of the small ring and the large ring. And one shuttle thread.

I love one-shuttle patterns because of their portability. It’s amazing how creative you can be with one string and very little else. (In the case of these patterns, if your shuttle doesn’t have a nice hook or sharp pick on the end you may need a crochet hook to pull the thread through the picots.)

The more I looked at these patterns the more entranced I was that the designer, in 1919 (whose name was Orene Clarkson), made all this with two rings. This set consists of a straight edging, a scalloped edging, an insertion or a double edging, and an octagon.

However, I noticed that a couple pieces were missing. There was no corner pattern, so I designed one. The set also contained no square, so I designed one of those, too.

You will need

In order to complete these edgings you will need a knowledge of how to make rings. You will also need

  • One tatting shuttle with a hook or pick on the end
  • One small crochet hook (size 8 or smaller) if your shuttle has no hook
  • Thread. I used size 20 Lizbeth thread for all these samples.
  • A needle for working in thread ends, with an eye large enough for your thread.

Making the Large Ring

To make the large ring, you will tat a ring that includes 1 1/2 stitches between picots. The easiest way to do it is to make one ds (double stitch), make the first half of a double stitch, leave the space for your picot, and follow it with a full ds. Then make another first half ds before making your next picot. Without those extra half stitches the ring is too small and too tight.

Large ring:

  • Make a ring of 2 ds, picot, (1 1/2 ds, picot) 11 times, ending with 2 ds. Close ring. You should have 12 picots. Between each picot is 1 1/2 double stitches, with 2 ds at the beginning and the end of the ring.

Making the Small Ring

This one is easy. If you tat you’ve done it hundreds of times already.

Small ring:

  • Make a ring of 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, close ring. You should have 3 picots, each separated by three double stitches.

The Small Edging

A simple tatted edging made of alternating large and small rings. Text: A simple one-shuttle edging in tatting. Vintage Living, Modern Life.
A large ring and a small one alternate in this simple edging.

This is easy, portable, and versatile. You can use it for almost anything.

  1. Make a ring of 2 ds, picot, (1 1/2 ds, picot) 11 times, and then 2 ds. Close ring.
  2. Leave a space of 3/8 inch between rings.
  3. Make a small ring of 3 ds, join to 11th picot of large ring, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds, picot, 3 ds. Close ring.
  4. Leave a space as before.
  5. A large ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to the last picot of the small ring, (1 1/2 ds, picot) ten times, 2 ds, close ring.
  6. Repeat from Step 2 for the length of the edging, alternating large and small rings.

But wait… what about the corner?

Sometimes when you make a tatted edging you need a corner. This article didn’t include any. So I designed a simple corner for this first edging.

Simple large ring, small ring alternating edging with a corner. Two large rings come together to form the corner.
Sometimes an edging needs a corner of its own.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Make the edging as usual, ending with a large ring.
  2. When you get to the point that you want a corner, do not make the next small ring.
  3. Instead, make another large ring. Join the picots 1 and 2 of the new ring to picots 11 and 12 of the old ring. So in tatting notation, the new ring instructions would look like this: 2 ds + 1 1/2 ds + (1 1/2 ds – ) 10x, 2 ds, Cl R. [+ means join and – means picot here.)

The Scalloped Edging

Simple tatted edging where rings are arranged into a small scallop pattern. Made with one shuttle.
This scalloped edging is easy and good practice.

Once I started to make a length of this edging, it really grew on me. When I have some free time I’d like to design a corner for this pattern next.

To make this edging you are using the exact same rings you used before. You are even joining them in the same way. The only difference is that after almost every ring you are turning your work upside down so half the rings look right side up and the other half look upside down. It’s called reversing your work.

  1. Start with a small ring of (3 ds, picot) 3 times, then 3ds, close ring.
  2. Leave about 1/8 inch of thread and reverse your work (so the ring you just made is facing down in your hand instead of facing up.)
  3. Make another small ring same as before. Reverse work again and leave another short length of thread.
  4. Make a large ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to the last picot of the first small ring you made, (1 1/2 ds, picot) ten times, 2 ds, close ring.
  5. Reverse work and leave another space of thread. You’ll leave a short space of thread between each ring you make.
  6. Make another large ring of 2 ds, picot, 1 1/2 ds, join to the last picot of the second small ring you made, (1 1/2 ds, picot) ten times, 2 ds, close ring.
  7. Reverse work, make another small ring, joining the first picot to the 11th picot of the first large ring.
  8. Reverse work, make another small ring, joining the first picot to the 11th picot of the first large ring.
  9. Do not reverse your work this time. Make a large ring, joining the second picot of the large ring to the third picot of the last small ring you made.
  10. Leave a space of thread, reverse work, and make another small ring. Do not join it to anything.
  11. Repeat from Step 3.

Although this looks complicated, it has its own rhythm: small, small, large, large, small, small, large. Then you start over. If you take your finger you can trace the progression over the photo so you can see the rhythm of this pattern in action.

Next up

In the next post I’ll give you the patterns for an insertion, an octagon, and a square to match the pieces above.