Tuesday, 15 November 2016

beginning or ending …

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… it’s all a matter of perspective
Who knows when the beginning is and where the end. Who can be certain that the end is not the beginning. Who’s to say which is which. It’s all about perspective ! Like stairs going up or coming down ; glass half-full or half-empty ; or that a glass is never ever empty coz there’s always air in it?!

Okay I’ll stop messing with you and share an amazing video titled Smiling Face Cosmic Eye 

Next, in my bloglovin’ feed, I was captivated by an image of love & affection and hopped over to read more. It was my first ever visit to this blog and boy, was I glad. A perceptive writing and mantra to view the world & live by. 

This page has multiple updates since first posted.
Now to tatting and perspectives .... 

an annotated compilation of resource links 
for hiding ends in tatting

Are we starting or ending ?!
Many of us use the knotless method to start tatting – tatting over the tails either in the same element or in 2 different elements. Long before I encountered the vibrant tatting community online, I had figured out a way to start knotless. It is Method 2 diagrammed by Jane here. It works beautifully & is safe despite any amount of handling.
Conceptually the same method is recently demonstrated by Karen here. First-timers may find this easier to handle because the chain thread is inserted later. 

Ending just like we started
The very same concept can be applied when finishing off the round or piece, hiding the end tails without a knot. In response to Tim’s query, I had prepared a diagrammatic image & shared on Craftree, resulting in wholesome discussion. Those diagrams were done in haste, within minutes of reading the question. With time to review them, directional corrections have been made based on my TWoT diagrams.

Download pdf here : Hiding End Tails without Knot pdf  
A Knotless Method of Hiding the End Tails.
I do sometimes use an overhand tie before sewing under . 
Tatters might find it familiar. I’ve merely presented it as diagrams.

But it doesn’t end !
Oh no, there are numerous methods of hiding ends, some may even be spot treatments under specific circumstances. More the merrier – we all learn and absorb differently!
Choice of a method can be based on the thread size used, the thread quality/characteristics, individual tatting tension, individual comfort & skill, availability of resources, pattern specifications, and so on. Some resource links have been annotated in Hiding Ends here. More links are listed below, in no particular order (numbering is merely to keep track.) 

HIDING END TAILS (and old thread)

I . Some Basics of Hiding Ends/Tails
Georgia’s articles are a must read for an overall perspective :
A Craftree discussion among varied tatters & tatting techniques on Hiding ends with good advice & tips.
More links can be found (and customized by user) in Eliz’s Element-al Approach to Tatting ... Techniques  including hiding tails in Cluny tatting, in Split Rings, etc.

II. Finishing with Single Shuttle Split Ring (SSSR)

A. When last ring is a free ring
If the last element of a pattern is a ring, one can apply single shuttle split ring method
For quite a while I used Miranda’s finishing with SSSR.  She highly recommends it for tatted jewelry.
Frivole has another pictorial on the same method, hiding both core & chain thread ends in the last ring, one on either side. 
UPDATE : video by Marilee

B. When last ring is attached
Now what if the last ring was also attached? To answer the question, let’s consider :
What is the basic necessity of a SSSR?  A SSSR requires something to anchor & secure the loop which is used for working the latter half of the ring. In case of unattached ring, it is the base of ring; this can be substituted with a thread or tail, that can come from different ‘sources’, and the method ‘tweaked’ accordingly. The tail could be from the first ring, or from a previous chain. Simple.
Here are Frivole’s instructions on hiding ends in SSSR. I have often used this.

C. For rings-only, bare thread (BTS) or single shuttle patterns
I haven’t come across any tutorial for this scenario. Nevertheless, one can use it with a bit of preplanning – do not tat over the tail in first ring. (if one forgets, see III below)
Tweak #1 :
In case of classic wheel (or the square motif pictured above) with BTS, leave a tail on the first ring. This is inserted into the last SSSR loop, before closing. Remember to leave the required BTS length while pulling it thru the SSSR. 
Tweak #2 :
If one is fearful of unraveling, leave BTS with first tail, tie a tight knot between the 2 threads and then begin the SSSR.

Overall Thoughts on the SSSR method of finishing :
Advantages : saves on sewing to hide ends ; no extra tools or preplanning required ; can be used in single shuttle, rings-only, and bare thread patterns as well
Limitations : if not pulled properly, the ring might distort ; ring should be large enough to hide ends – a minimum of 6 to 8 double stitches of loop tatting is ideal.
TIP : There is one tip I can offer when tatting an SSSR. Always begin the loop tatting from 2nd half stitch (ie. in the middle of a double stitch). The loop seems to be slide more easily & smoothly when closing. Additionally, the end remains at the back of the work.

III. Hiding Ends in Bare Thread Patterns 
This can pose a bit of a challenge as we do not want a double-up bare thread.
Heather’s tatting pics make it very clear how to add new thread to a rings-only bare thread pattern, while hiding the earlier end tail, by tatting over tail
A self-explanatory diagram of Matthew Takeda method 
This Craftree thread discusses many methods, tips, and resources. 
Besides, the SSSR method can be used, as discussed in II.C. above, if pre-planned.
What if we forget to leave the tail on first ring ? Tat the last ring normally. Leave BTS and using a needle, pass this tail through base of first ring, and sew the tail in the ring stitches.

I have used variants of the SSSR method for a couple of years until whip stitching end tails took over since May of this year. I have totally stopped dreading sewing in tail ends and this method is easier on my eyes! Here’s a compilation of resources ….

IV. Different Ways of Sewing in Thread Ends

A. Whip Stitch
Carollyn’s Whip Stitching the end tails. This is the video that changed my ‘hiding’ perspective.
Ninetta had also posted this stepwise pictorial collage earlier 
I have found this method very simple, quick, does not add bulk or distort, and can be used to hide tails in 2-colour or variegated thread projects – once the whipped tail is tensioned, the colour blips disappear (can you spot the sewn-in tails in the Square Motif above ?
UPDATENeedles used in hiding ends and related tips, including Whip stitch diagram pdf

B. Sewing under Caps
Jennifer Williams' diagrams on how to hide ends by sewing them in between the stitches
Lily Morales' Method for Hiding Ends - Sewing under caps between 2 double stitches
Jane Eborall's slight variation on Jennifer’s &  Lily’s method – sewing within every alternate double stitch.
Sharon’s method of adding in new thread is a tatted version of sewing under the caps !
I had followed Jon’s instructions on sewing under caps.

V. Tatting Over Tails
As the term suggests, one can hide tail ends by tatting over them. They are encapsulated within the stitches. It is used when starting the very first element of a project or row/round, or when the shuttle/ball runs out of thread midways and we need to add new thread, or we need to correct a mistake.
Gina Butler adding new thread using CTM shuttles, and taping both old tails(long) to shuttle and tatting over both tails (thus 3 core threads!). Reduces number of tails to hide, but preplanning required, as well as long tails, and it has the propensity to add bulk.
In case of shorter end tails, one can tape the tail to the core thread itself and tat, as diagrammed by Cactus. Tatting & handling becomes easier. 
Ann Wilson also has a tip.
I love to tat over tails. The first 2 starting tails are immediately taken care of – knotless, and no sewing ! It can be used to start absolutely any element - ring, chain, SR, SCMR, Cluny, ...(see V bleow). I hide the tails in different/opposite elements.
After tatting over tails, I prefer to leave short bits at the beginning of work (as seen in the pdf diagrams & my WIP pics in many posts). It helps me keep track of the front & back side, and also ensures that no accidental unraveling occurs.
Once the work is completed and all tails hidden, I tug at the short bits, just in case, and only then clip them flush.

UPDATE (Nov 16, 2016) : Eliz’s 2nd comment (and excellent tip) reminded me of what I always do to keep the tail at back of work...... 
TIP : How to keep the tatted-over tail end at the back of work :
If one is tatting from the front side (DS), stop encapsulating the tail after a 1st half stitch.
If one is tatting from the back side (RODS), stop encapsulating the tail after a 2nd half stitch.
The reason will be clear if one observes the construction of each half stitch and where the core thread emerges. In 1st half stitch, the core thread emerges towards the back; in 2nd half stitch, it emerges towards the front.

While tatting over a tail, since the tail is parallel to the core thread, the above rule applies.
UPDATE (Aug 2017) : The above tip in pictorial pdf - Tatting over Tails - the Middle Path.

VI. Hiding Ends in Other Elements
A. Finishing on a Chain
Frivole shows us how to finish on a chain with no ends to sew in.
Do you see the similarity with the SSSR method ? Yes, finger tat with a loop on a chain instead of a ring.
For those who find finger tatting difficult, insert the loop into a shuttle & tat ‘normally’.
Read more about my trials here - a few methods to hide tails when ending with a chain.

B. Hiding in Split Ring
Gina Butler has 3 videos, including for hiding ends in a split ring.
UPDATE Aug 2018 : Hiding ends in split ring without sewing (when the last ring is a split ring).

C. Hiding in Cluny Tatting
Dagmar Pezzuto uses a floss threader in 2 colour cluny tatting to hide tails by Dagmar Pezzuto
Mimi Dillman’s tutorial link on how to hide ends in a Split Cluny is listed in Eliz’s Element-al Techniques document
My simple instructions on how to hide the tail ends within any cluny leaf 

VII. Magic Thread Trick (MTT)
This is another group of knotless ways to hide all tail ends – whether at beginning or at the end, without any need for sewing. It involves a bit of preplanning and additional material to make loops. The loops should be strong and as thin as possible to avoid loose stitches (or tat tightly), and unobtrusive.
A few links that show up some little differences, allowing us to choose what suits us best.
Heather’s How to Hide Ends with the Magic Thread Trick – post and video
Crazy Mom used a floss threader back in 2009. 
Debbie Drake’s magic thread loops diagrams  
Magic Thread/Loop by Dawne Marie - Comments at end of the post are equally enlightening.
Jane Eborall’s instructions & diagrams 
Gale’s working of the MTT   
Jon’s methods - sewing and magic thread
UPDATE : Hiding Ends in a single ring pattern – Ninetta. This is an excellent application of Debbie's Magic Thread trick.

My short stint with MTT resulted in mixed results. Preplanning can become a habit. However, getting the right material sometimes becomes a problem. The loop (I used threads & dental floss) sometimes broke when pulling. The tug required enormous wrist strength. The loop can get in the way, if one is not used to them. If ending on a chain, there can be a risk of distortion if not pulled smoothly.
With so many other alternatives, I did not go back to this method. Many tatters swear by this method.

And then there’s the start !
One can’t have an ending without a beginning now, can one ?! Unless one begins with a continuous thread between 2 shuttles or shuttle & ball (CTM), one has to deal with ends at the start ! Annotating a few resources below.


See also Tatting Over Tails , Magic Thread Trick and Hiding in Split Ring above

Marilee’s pictorial to join new thread by tatting over tails 
Tamie, in the Beginner class video, uses a floss threader to tat over tails

For single shuttle rings-only pattern :
Edda Guastella  has a nice pictorial for adding new thread to bare thread pattern.
Charlene uses a weaver’s knot to add new thread in a mignonette pattern. 
I have already listed Heather’s method 
Matthew Takeda method of adding new thread. Diagram. Combines tatting over new tail & magic loop to hide old tail in a bare thread single shuttle pattern. One must remember to encapsulate the new thread before tatting the ring.
UPDATE 2018 Adding new thread WITHIN a ring - a pictorial
Adding new thread to Bare Thread pattern - a pictorial

Mark Myers’ video on Adding New Thread - KnotlessMethod
A similar video by squash8424 - Adding new thread to old thread. It is a good method if adding same colour thread or if tail length is very short. Conceptually the same as Mark's method, except for the 1hs made with old tail to secure.
In both methods, I am a bit wary of hiding both tail ends on same side; along with the core thread, it makes 3 threads under a stitch, and can add to bulk & stiffness. Nevertheless, extreme situations may warranty such steps.
UPDATEAdding thread with Lark's Head Knot video by Marilee. I used this very successfully here (& forgot - good thing blogging brings back memories) 

Adding new thread in needle tatting
Carolivy has shared two pictorials for adding new thread in needle tatting and clarifying problems.
Adding new thread on a chain
What is the ball or shuttle 2 thread needs to be added? Or it is chains-only pattern and one needs to add new thread? Or there is a mishap and spot treatment is required on a chain?
Ninetta has shared 2 ways – adding new core thread in a chain  and adding a new ball thread (or shuttle 2) in a chain

The long and short of the tail, oops tale, it is that there is no one single method that is the best. It is up to the tatter to find her/his comfort method or situational method from this wide range of new and tweaked methods. One can use combinations or parts of two methods to take care of tails, as some of the links above show. One can also use the same method to start a new project/row/round, to add new thread, and to hide old thread.

Do you have one single go-to method to hide tails ?
Care to share more tips ?
Looking forward to your experienced inputs :-)

happy tatting with a :-)

ps - I will update my Resources page with a link to this post, instead of listing each & every one individually.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, my dear Hiding Lady :-) Perhaps I should dedicate this post to you ;-P

  2. A wonderful amalgamation of the information available! Well done to you. I have to say that I don't stress about starting without a knot. I tie a knot and then tat over the ends. It feels more secure and what's one more knot in the scheme of things? I tried finishing earrings with a SSSR and had then fall apart, so I'm a bit wary about that now. I read on Craftree, tie a knot and then do the SSSR, that might suit me better.

    1. Love your perspective on knots, Jane ! Yes, it is probably a good idea to secure the SSSR before tatting it. Thanks :-)

  3. Great suggestions and plenty to choose from 💟🌹💟

    1. I never tire of telling everyone that your video has changed my way of ending completely, Carollyn, and now you have a growing number of converts on Craftree :-D

    2. Oh thank you, I realy thought others did this that whip stitch way but they were calling it whip stitch but they were really making a running stitch in the tatting I think you know what I said ☺️

  4. Great job, muskaan! Thank you! I look forward to trying those that are new to me.

  5. I recently started using the whip stitch method and now prefer it for hiding ends. But I have used most of the methods you mentioned above during my short time tatting (not always with success). Great resource, many thanks.

    1. Bernice, I, too, enjoy trying out different methods, even thoiugh one may settle on a few. Keeps the skill bag nice & full to pick one if the need arises :-)

  6. For the sake of keeping all of these methods in one place, I thought I'd go ahead and share what I usually do to hide ends. I use a variation of tatting over ends that works well in BT work as well as ball and shuttle or two shuttle work. After tatting over the tail with the first DS, I push the tail to the back so it is not captured as I form the second half of the DS. I then place it back into place to be tatted over for several DS. If I want extra strength, I do it more than once.

    If I'm starting with a ring that won't need to receive a join to its base later, I tat the first half of the DS, then fold the tail thread to the back and along the core thread so that I tat over it as I form the 2nd half. I then continue to tat over the tails, often pushing the tail to the back for at least one additional half stitch.

    1. Thank you so very much for this, Eliz ! So you are basically encapsulating under every alternate double stitch, if I understand correctly ?

      Your comment reminded me of what I do when I tat over tails, to keep the tail at the back always. I've updated the post with an explanation.


    2. It's more like every other DS and a half. I only kick it out of the encapsulation for 1 half of the double stitch, but it adds a bit more tension on the tail.

    3. Okay, this is a great tip ! The half stitch gap in encapsulation will also ensure that the element remains flexible enough, and not cause any distortion, especially when hiding in a chain !
      Love it, Eliz :-) Thanks again. Will add another update.

  7. An amazing post, Muskaan! This is a great resource for all tatters. :-)

    1. Thanks so much Grace :-) Glad you find it useful . Started long time back, took me this long to organize. And yet there are so many more that generous tatters have shared.

  8. wallace@mail.postmanllc.net

  9. Very interesting post
    thank you :)

    1. I'm so glad you liked the post, Renata :-)