Monday, 5 May 2014

Tatting : Experimenting with a Stitch

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Self-Padded Double Stitch

Is it an s-p ds ?
Is it a DDS ?
Is it a BDS ?
Is it a dds ?

No, I’m not high, but I Was all confused as many of us are when we encounter new &  multiple tatting terms, try to look for tutorials/definitions/explanations & find out (if we are lucky) that they All apply to the Same Technique !!!
This is the message Judith Connors tried to put across when she recently started an InTatters thread about the history & multiplicity of the Balanced Double Stitch.
UPDATE : InTatters has shifted to Craftree & click here for the new link to thread

Before proceeding further, let me give the full forms & sources of the above abbreviations :
s-p ds : self-padded double stitch by Rhoda Auld in her book 'Tatting: the contemporary art of knotting with a shuttle'
DDS : double double stitch or padded double stitch by Jane Eborall
BDS : Balanced double stitch by Ruth Perry
All 3 terms refer to the Same technique.
Okay, dds is the odd one out here. Jane Eborall uses it to refer to the Daisy double stitch.
(click on links for the respective tutorials)

During the discussion, there were many queries, explanations, suggestions, etc. This brought on some experimentation too. Here is my exploration into this stitch domain.
I first learned it from Ruth Perry & hence called it BDS. I loved the effect of this ‘basic’ stitch & had already used this stitch in my designs. A BDS/s-p chain does not curl as much as a normal ds chain would. It has more texture, bulk, & stiffness.

But then Judy, in the same thread, spoke about varying the number of half stitches!!! That was exciting stuff to try out. But this also created a problem about how to notate the count. Judith’s historical knowledge came to the rescue again. Rhoda Auld used the term "wrap" to indicate the number of times thread is wrapped around the core for padding !

UPDATE : Judith Connors added a summary at the end of the discussion thread here (post#74)

·                       'Padding' tatting has been done for over a century. The earliest practices were padded pearl tatting, and the use of uneven thicknesses of threads. These padded the core thread, mostly.
·                       Rhoda L. Auld experimented with wrapping the double stitch itself, and in 1974 published her 'self-padded double stitch' and 'self-padded ring'. This could be applied to equal and unequal numbers of wraps, on either half-stitch.
·                       In 2008 Ruth Perry applied one extra wrap to each half-stitch, calling this a 'balanced double stitch'. It is only one of the possibilities of self-padding double stitches.
·                       This thread has investigated Rhoda Auld's approach to equal and unequal numbers of wraps, and chosen to call the result the 'padded double stitch' - pds(1,3), 1 and 3 indicating the number of wraps on the half-stitches, or pds(2,2).
·                       Padded double stitches may be applied, for effect, to known elements in tatting. However, the adage 'Less is more' is advised, as over-padding could alter the integrity of the known elements. “

Accordingly, I am updating the notations in this post & using 'pds' instead of 's-pds'.

Here are my trials, with pictures , stitch counts, & comments/observations …I have used size 20 thread.

Self-padded Chains

# 1 : In this 1st picture, all stitches are 5 in number & Both 1st & 2nd halves of a ds, whether padded or not, are the same.
  • As is clearly visible, while count remains same, length & width of each subsequent segment increases with each increase of wrap !
  • I found it easier to do the 2nd half stitch wraps than the 1st half.
  • This time I managed both 4 wraps And 5 wraps too. Altho’ neatness is lacking.
  • When I loosened the 5-wrap ds, it seems to have had a better effect than when the tension was tighter.
  • Unknotting/unraveling a pds becomes a tad cumbersome as wrap count goes up.

# 2 : In this trial, all 1st half stitches are normal FHS of a ds (i.e., no padding); padding is applied Only to the 2nd half stitches. Hence “Variable” pds. Each segment is 7 stitches.
  • If stitches are snugged a little loosely, then a subtle ric-rac effect is visible. However, it is a very delicate balance between ‘loose’ & ‘tight’. If too tight, then individuality is lost ; if too loose, then the chain tends to twirl & flop a bit.

# 3 : Josephine Chains & Ring made using pds (2nd half stitches) . My love of Josephines got the better of me & curiosity made me try out how the Josephines would turn out with padded stitches !
I used only 2 wraps & the 2nd half st (SHS) since I find it quicker & easier to handle than the FHS of pds.
  • In the 1st segment of J. chain, the stitches were tatted ‘normally’ tension-wise (i.e. a bit tight) & snugged close together too.
  • In the 2nd segment, I deliberately loosened the stitch, thus getting a broader wave !
  • Josephine Ring made with 2-wrap SHS is almost twice the size of a normal J. Ring as can be seen in the pic.

I added a 4th picture showing 5 wraps of the 2nd half stitch, just before closing it.

The texture is superb. And these padded chains can be used by designers in various ways to enhance their tatting project. 

TIP : As the wrap count increases, the stitches acquire a beaded effect in the variable s-p trial.  Especially, I think, if one makes the FHS tight & the s-p SHS a little loose. Then one could get a ‘spiral’ or wavy cap.

This was just a 'dry-run' to see effects of this stitch. And I tried this only on chains. These stitches can be used to make rings, too (self-padded rings as Rhoda called them).
It will be even more exciting to Apply this stitch in newer & different ways !

TIP : Try this stitch with finer threads, including silk & floss. It will be interesting to see the results !

Would love to get your feedback, inputs, & criticism, as well as view any trials/projects made with this stitch.
I will update if any further information , etc. comes my way.

Thanks for reading through, if you have ;-))


I should’ve mentioned that these chains, due to the increased thickness & texture, can be used in bracelets, cords, bookmarks, free-form tatting, & all sorts of other applications, including edgings, etc. ! 
It is up to the designers  ! 

Here’s another possibility – a beaded chain/cord with no beads !!!

In 1st half segment of cord (towards the left) I have alternated 1ds with 1pds(5). { 5 within brackets represents 5 wraps} I kept the ds 'tight' & the pds 'normal' in tension. In reality, it looks & feels pretty nice - like tiny beads !
It would work so wonderfully in various applications.

In 2nd (right) half of the cord, I used Only pds(5), separated by a SLT {SLT - shoe lace trick}. I used 2 different colors in the 2 shuttles & switched them with the SLT, so that one can see white 'beads' alternating with blue ones.
Not very nicely done ;
the SLTs seem to make the cord flip around a bit - it does not stay even. Or maybe I was SLT-ing wrongly..
Altho' both threads are from the same brand, same size (20), same purchase, the white appears thicker & stiffer as compared to the variegated blue !!! Hence the difference in the sts even tho' both were made with the exact same number of wraps.
This segment needs to be tried again for clearer results & inferences.

So, here is my contribution - a beaded cord with no beads (but bds ! ) 


  1. Thanks again for taking the time to run these experiments and post detailed notes and pictures. When I get around to trying this, I can come back to your blog and use your notes as a reference point.

    1. Oops, sorry for not responding . Better late, eh ?
      I had loads of fun doing this !

  2. Thank you very much, informative and clear.