Monday, 16 May 2016

Of long chains & large rings

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I keep telling myself that I will Not be distracted. Huh, as if that resolution lasts for long!
Yesterday I got this cute angel pattern in my mailbox & recently some experimentation on Mock rings held my curiosity. Of course I had to jump in ! You know the feeling, right ?!

by Sheila Heneise    
On May 16th, Georgia Seitz is revisiting this cute angel pattern as she some story to tell !
I took the opportunity to tat this minimalist, but happy angel.
This time I went with single shuttle & ball thread, in Anchor size 40 white.
Techniques I used : direct tatting, directional tatting, decorative picots, Join to Smooth Side (JSS), inward picot (held by pin), long picots, very small picots, turn work.
Size : approx. 1¾” x 1 ¼“
Instead of reversing work each time as instructed, I used direct tatting (reverse stitch) for many of the segments. It is a fairly quick & fun tat, but I could’ve done better with the chain shapes.
One can make the wings using Martha Ess' Folded Rings.
TIP : Switching from normal tatting to direct tatting (and vice versa) can create a distinctive pointed chain/tip at the turn. 

Large Ring Options

Each of the 4 large rings in the motif has been worked differently using the stitch-count given by Eliz. (links to respective posts & tips in the discussion below).

RING 1 : Normal Ring
Working large rings has become very comfortable ever since I came across Patty Dowden’s technique. I have my own version of it – looping the thread round the entire hand (all fingers) gives me lots of room & slack, without having to wind extra thread.
Conditions : stitches should not be tensioned too tightly ; 6-ply tightly twisted thread works best

RING 2 : Mock Ring with inward picot
Jane McLellan’s experiment with normal ring, self-closing mock ring (SCMR), & mock ring, led her to choose the latter for the large rings’ motif she was tatting. She used an inward picot (picot on the core thread), held in place by a pin/clip, at the start of a long chain which was then joined back to the picot to simulate a ring. She also used a SLT/overhand tie to change direction of chain for the ring. Instead of SLT, I switched shuttles.
TIP : SCMR is a ‘fancy’ Mock Ring (MR). The only difference is that the inward picot loop is drawn out & held in a finger, allowing the whole shuttle to pass through at the time of linking & closing. In MR, we make a normal picot join.

RING 3 : Mock Ring with scroll/overlapping effect
This was followed by Eliz Davis' mock ring where instead of an inward picot, she used a normal picot, tatted the long chain, curved it back into ring shape & linked it to the picot below as in stacked rings. She also shared the stitch-count which I used.
This was an interesting ‘twist’ not only in terms of visual effect, but also in terms of working it. In Jane’s MR, we continue to tat the chain & join to previous elements in clockwise direction, since the SLT or the switch shuttle made the directional change right at the beginning.
In Eliz’s MR, the chain is continued as normal, hence it is looped back in counterclockwise direction & joined to previous element accordingly !
TIP : Visually this is very similar to a Running Scroll in Elgiva Nicholl’s book . And one can choose the direction of overlap. The overlap in my trial is opposite to that of Eliz’s. Also, instead of a picot, one can use an under-over or alligator join.

RING 4 : Folded Chain Mock Ring
I’ve used the folded chain many times, eg. in the Super 17 Butterfly. Would it simulate a ring ? At the point where ring has to start, make a very small picot and 2 SHS (2nd half stitches). The chain folds immediately, leaving the picot protruding outward for joining at the end. I counted the 2SHS as 1DS (but it is optional). Continue with chain & join back at base to the picot.
I could’ve made the picot even smaller.

Factors that may determine choice :
  • Thread colours & desired position in pattern
  • Individual ease & comfort with particular method
  • Whether working with single shuttle & ball or with 2 shuttles (The above motif can be tatted with a single shuttle & ball, irrespective of the method !)
  • Thread characteristics
  • Desired visual effect


In the previous post, Set 1 of Common Threads has been renamed ‘Overhand Tie’ (instead of overhand knot) after a discussion on Craftree. Two ties in succession create a knot. A knot conjures up the image of something that has been tightened, whereas a tie is like a ‘half-knot’ with slack that can be loosened easily if required.

Related Posts : butterfly patterns


  1. It is very nice that you worked out the ring discussion and posted pictures, nice to see them all in one motif so we can be the judge :)

    1. It's just nice to be able to take different routes to the same destination, Carollyn :-)

  2. When I saw the picture in your Doodles Project page, I immediately headed over to read this thread. Thank you for putting them all in one motif and sharing your comparisons.

    1. I owe this curiosity to you & Jane, Eliz :-) Thanks for starting this fire !

  3. The reason I didn't use the SCMR is that like a normal ring, it requires that you move ds along the thread, to get rid of the loop, and that's when it distorts on a very big ring. I like your idea of the folding picot instead of the safety pin, I might try that next time I come across very large rings. The other possibility ( as if you didn't have enough!) is to tat a chain and then do a 'crocodile join', ie put the threads above and below the chain to close it into a mock ring. Jane Eborall has used this method.

    1. Very good point about the SCMR, Jane! Will keep this tip in mind.
      About the chain looping & anchored with an alligator join (one of the under-over joins I will be reviewing when I get back to the JOINS posts ), I already mentioned it in the Ring 3 TIP. Nicholls called it a Running Scroll & we don't need any picots. I love the variety we have !!!

  4. PS, I love the sense of movement in that angel!!

  5. Very nice angel and motif!! :)

  6. I love that Angel and the moment of her would look brilliant on a tree, certainly she would look like she was moving in flight
    Interesting discussion

  7. Thank you so very much Sue, Georgia, & Margaret !
    Yes, the sense of happy, free movement was what inspired me to tat it right away :-)