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Tatting a loops & lace necklace

Learn traditional tatting for a sparkling necklace that brings together the best of fiber and beads.

Many cultures use traditional needle-tatted lace as edging and doilies, but this technique can also be used for stunning jewelry by incorporating beads. Unlike many other beadweaving techniques, tatting shows off your thread, allowing you to play with color and texture in a whole new way.

Needle tatting is a technique in which cords are knotted on a tatting needle and then transferred to another part of the cord. Groups of knots (stitches) form rings, which look like loops, and chains, which form bridges between rings. The order in which you work the rings and chains determines the design. When you add one or more beads between the stitches, you create a bead picot. Picots can be simply decorative, or they can be functional, joining one ring to another.

SUPPLIES

necklace 17 in. (43 cm)
 

  • 12 13 mm crystal polygon drops
  • 4 mm bicone crystals
    • 12 color A
    • 13 color B
  • 39 3 mm drop beads
  • 3 g 11/0 Japanese seed beads
  • 4 g 15/0 Japanese seed beads
  • clasp
  • 2 4 mm jump rings
  • DMC Perle cotton #5–#8, or twisted silk #5–8 or F–FF
  • tatting needles, #5, #7, or #8  (Handy Hands Tatting, handyhandstatting.com)
  • twisted-wire beading needle
  • 2 pairs of pliers
INSTRUCTIONS
STRINGING THE BEADS

All the beads must be strung before you start tatting. The first beads you string will be the last beads you work.

1. Leaving the thread attached to the spool, attach a twisted-wire beading needle, and string the beads that will form the end ring of the necklace: Four 15/0 seed beads, an 11/0 seed bead, a 15/0, a 3 mm drop, a 15/0, an 11/0, and four 15/0s.

2. Referring to “Stringing patterns,” below, string the beads that will form the end segment of the necklace: Chain B and Ring B.

3. String the pattern that will form the body of the necklace: Chain A, Ring A, Chain B, Ring B. Repeat 11 times (until you’ve strung 12 13 mm polygon drops), ending with Chain B and Ring B.

4. Remove the twisted-wire needle, and thread the tatting needle. Push all the beads toward the spool of thread, leaving about 1 1⁄2 yd. (1.4 m) of empty thread between the beads and the needle. You will unwind the thread as you tat.


STRINGING PATTERNS

Chain A: Two 15/0 seed beads, an 11/0 seed bead, four 15/0s, a 13 mm polygon drop, four 15/0s, an 11/0, and two 15/0s.

Ring A: Five 15/0s, a color A 4 mm bicone crystal, four 15/0s, an 11/0, three 15/0s, an 11/0, a 15/0, a 3 mm drop, a 15/0, an 11/0, and four 15/0s.

Chain B: Two 15/0s, an 11/0, three 15/0s, a 3 mm drop, three 15/0s, an 11/0, and two 15/0s.

Ring B: Five 15/0s, a color B 4 mm bicone crystal,  four 15/0s, an 11/0, three 15/0s, an 11/0, a 15/0, a 3 mm drop, a 15/0, an 11/0, and four 15/0s.


Tatting a loops and lace necklace Photo A
PHOTO A
Tatting a loops and lace necklace Photo B
PHOTO B
Tatting a loops and lace necklace Photo C
PHOTO C
NEEDLE TATTING WITH BEADS

1. Hold the needle in your right hand, and place the spool to the left. Lay your needle against the thread about 10 in. (25 cm) from the first bead (the last bead strung). The thread between this point and the threaded needle is the tail thread, and the bead-strung thread on the spool is the working thread. You need a very long tail thread as you work, since the tail travels through all the rings and chains of the necklace.

2. Make a double stitch (DS): To make the first half of the double stitch, make a small loop, crossing the left end over the right end, and slide the needle into the loop from front to back (PHOTO A). To make the second half of the double stitch, make a small loop, crossing the right end over the left end, and slide the needle into the loop from back to front (PHOTO B). Pull the thread tight, taking care not to shorten the tail thread. The double stitch on the needle resembles a larkshead knot.

3. To make a bead picot (P), slide one or more beads next to the double stitch on the needle, and make a second double stitch (PHOTO C). In the instructions for making the necklace, the P will be followed by a bead size indicator such as 15/0 (P 15/0). This means to make a bead picot with the bead of that size, in this case a 15/0.

 

 

 


MAKING THE NECKLACE

1. To make the first Ring B, begin with a double stitch (DS) (see “Needle tatting with beads,” above). Continuing in needle tatting, work as follows: P 15/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 11/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 3 mm drop, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 11/0, DS, P 15/0, and DS.

Tatting a loops and lace necklace Photo D
PHOTO D

2. To make the loop that joins to the next ring, slide the next 10 beads (two 15/0s, an 11/0, four 15/0s, a bicone, and two 15/0s) to the needle to make a 10-bead picot, and make two DS. Finish adding the beads for the first ring with a P 15/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 15/0, and DS (PHOTO D).

Tatting a loops and lace necklace Photo E
PHOTO E
3. To join the ring, slide the stitches down and off the needle, onto the tail thread. Leaving a small loop before the first stitch, continue pulling the tail thread through the stitches. Make sure the beads aren’t twisted, pass the needle through the loop (PHOTO E), and pull the tail thread tight. Make the first half of a square knot with the working thread and the tail.
Tatting a loops and lace necklace Photo F
PHOTO F
4. To begin Chain B, make a DS with the working thread as close to the previous ring as possible. Make a P 15/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 11/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, P two 15/0s, a 3 mm drop, and two 15/0s, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 11/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 15/0, and DS (PHOTO F). Slide the stitches off the needle and onto the tail thread. Since this is a chain, you will not go through the loop to make a ring. Pull the tail tight, and tie the working thread and tail together with the first half of a square knot.
Tatting a loops and lace necklace Photo E
PHOTO G
Tatting a loops and lace necklace Photo H
PHOTO H
Tatting a loops and lace necklace Photo I
PHOTO I

5. To make Ring A: DS, P 15/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 15/0, and DS. Make the first half of a double stitch. Make sure that your existing loop and chain aren’t twisted, pull the working thread to the front, and insert the needle between beads five and six of the large picot on the previous loop from back to front (PHOTO G). Pull the working thread across the front of the picot, right under the needle, and use the tip of the needle to pull a small loop of the working thread back through the picot, leaving a new loop of thread on the needle with the working thread continuing in front of the loop (PHOTO H). Continue stitching the loop with a DS, P 15/0, DS, P 11/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 3 mm drop, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 11/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, a 10-bead picot, two DS, P 15/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 15/0, and DS. Join the ring as in step 3.

6. To make Chain A: DS, P 15/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 11/0, DS, P 15/0, and DS. Slide the next seven beads to the needle to make a polygon picot, and DS, P 15/0, DS, P 11/0, DS, P 15/0, DS, P 15/0, and DS. Slide the stitches onto the tail thread, pull the tail tight, and tie the working thread and tail together with the first half of a square knot.

7. Make Ring B as you did Ring A in step 5.

8. Continue stitching the necklace as in steps 4–7, ending with a Chain B and an end ring (note that there is no last 10-bead picot). Tie off the end ring with a surgeon’s knot.

9. Remove the tatting needle, and, using the twisted-wire needle, gently pull the tail thread through a few stitches of the last chain, and trim the thread as close to the beadwork as possible. Cut the working thread from the spool, use the needle to sew through a few stitches of the ring, and trim.

10. Open a 4 mm jump ring, attach an end ring of the necklace and half of the clasp, and close the jump ring (PHOTO I). Repeat on the other end of the necklace.

Tip!

You can use several types and sizes of thread to make this project. Each has its advantages and drawbacks. Keep in mind that you need a continuous length of at least 13 yd. (12 m) to make the necklace.

  • Cotton thread is the traditional medium for tatting, is inexpensive, and is the easiest thread to find. Cotton offers great drape, but tends to stretch under the weight of the beads. When using cotton, tat very tightly.
  • Silk thread doesn’t stretch and maintains its shape well. However, silk can be more difficult to find in a range of sizes and colors, particularly in longer lengths.
  • Size 8 thread (close to size F or FF in certain brands of silk) offers great drape, and it’s easy to string the beads with a twisted-wire needle. However, the weight of the beads and the natural springiness of tatting can cause the necklace to twist and stretch over time. Use with a #7 or #8 tatting needle.
  • Size 5 thread is thicker and allows greater stitch definition, but it can be difficult to string beads with a needle if they have a small hole. One solution is to stiffen the end of the thread with glue and twist it to a sharp point, which you can use as a needle to pick up the beads. Use with a #5 tatting needle.

Designer’s note: Looking for a simpler pattern? Replace the polygon drops with teardrops or bicones, or skip the alternating pattern altogether and keep it simple throughout.

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