Tuesday, 22 August 2017

gauging the lie of the land

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(Common Threads III)

When making a picot in tatting, there are mainly 2 factors involved.
Which 2 factors ? – the half stitch(s) on either side of a picot and the position of picot gauge !
An interplay of just these factors can change the look and effect of the picot, as well as it’s functionality.
Comparing 3 types of picots here - interlocking, Mrs. Mee, & tuft - got me thinking about picot gauges. Gauge position was very interesting.

It started as a deconstruction of the 2 factors in various picot types we know of, but that is a Huge study and I’ve only just bit a small morsel at present and will require more time and concentration than I can manage at present. But keep an eye out …
For the present, I’m sharing only the various positions of gauges (that I know of. I welcome more input).

Picot Gauge in relation to Core thread
& where the stitch faces

Vertical v/s Horizontal
These are the standard options that we are all aware of.
I’ve used a 8mm gauge vertically and a ½in gauge horizontally.

Notice (in traditional tatting) -
In normal rings and chains the gauge lies above the core thread, whether it is held vertically or horizontally.
Vertical position -  picot has the hand (for ring) or ball (for chain) thread wrapped around both sides and we get the same size of picot as the width of gauge. Stitch is formed at the base of the gauge since gauge is at right angles to the core thread.
Horizontal position – the hand/ball thread lies across the entire width of gauge and the resulting picot is half the length of the gauge. Stitch is formed at the side of the gauge since gauge is parallel to the core thread.

Common practice is to RW – reverse work after a ring to tat the chain. But what if we don’t RW, and work the chain directly using unflipped stitches?
Carollyn pointed out an interesting aspect with beautiful pics here.
(in direct tatting)
If chains are tatted directly using reverse stitch ie. unflipped stitches in reverse order, then the gauge is held below the core thread, vertically or horizontally.
It holds true for reverse rings and 2nd side of split ring as well .

This establishes that where the stitch faces while tatting decides where the gauge is held!

Picot Gauge in relation to Core thread & the Half stitch

Now let’s bring in one more factor – the half stitch where the picot is to be made.
In all the following pictures, I have used the 8mm gauge vertically.

Picot is simply a length of bare thread between 2 half stitches.
Let’s tackle the fhs - first half stitch first.
After 4 stitches, we want to make a picot followed by a fhs. Above pic shows fhs being formed. Let’s call the left part the arch which will be compressed into a picot, and the right part is the loop of the half stitch.

Gauge is held above core thread, under the arch.
Inset pics show the completion of the process to form 1 picot.

Gauge is held above core thread, through the loop.

Gauge is held below core thread, through the loop.

Similarly for shs – second half stitch.

Gauge is held above core thread, under the arch.

Gauge is held above core thread, through the loop.

Gauge is held below core thread, through the loop.

Can you identify the gauge positions for regular picots, interlocking picots, Mrs Mee picots, and the tuft picots that were described in this post ?

If this seems confusing, pick up some scrap threads and give it a quick try to discover the joy of versatility! And like I said, this is only a tiny glimpse into the beautiful world of picots.

Happiness lies at the Core of Tatting !
Stay happy stay tatting always :-)


  1. Hmmm...thank you for the lessons!!! :)

    1. Nature of the beast, Sue - once a teacher always a teacher ;-D (wicked grin, LOL)

  2. In regards to vertical and horizontal gauges, I agree with the way you've described them. However, I have noticed both Georgia Seitz and Karen Cabrera use the terms in the opposite direction (which I find very confusing).

    Like you, I tend to think of a vertical gauge as measuring the up and down length of the picot and the horizontal gauge as measuring from left to right. Georgia and Karen refer to the direction the entire gauge is facing, so in your 8 mm example, the gauge is laid horizontally above the core thread. In your 1/2 inch example, the gauge is placed tall, in a vertical position.

    Anyhow, this is something I've been thinking about as I've been trying to figure out the "correct" way to label gauges when using them in my own patterns!

    1. Robin, this was news to me, so I checked out Karen's video. It doesn't make sense - it is not logical. It has to be incorrect.
      Vertical, by definition, is perpendicular (to the core thread in case of tatting) and horizontal is parallel (to core thread). I'll ask Georgia, too. This is my understanding unless all our Geometry lessons were a waste ;-P

      About gauges in your pattern - I've drawn (on Inkscape) and used a staggered picot gauge with notated length for a couple of my patterns, and I like to include the 2-sided arrow (as in pics above) to avoid confusion. Or you could include a tiny image illustrating how you place it. I'm sure you'll come up with something better :-)

    2. Robin, here's one pattern where I used the diagram (without arrows, though) - Bonds of Love bracelet - https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5MqI5ByadI4Wm9LSDd1dURvaWM/view

    3. I'm going with a two sided arrow on an Inkscape drawn gauge, plus some in progress photos to make everything clear. If you do talk to Georgia, I'd be interested in what she says. I'm wondering if there is standard terminology for picot gauge use.

    4. That's what I did in the latest pattern I just uploaded, Robin.
      I heard back from Georgia and have marked a copy of my response to you. I checked Judith Connors' Dictionary and the way I have pictured & explained is correct. Phew!
      But I also see where the other resources are coming from - their focus is how the gauge itself is placed or held.

  3. Very interesting! Thank you:)

  4. Always fun to see what subject you have picked for your tips and sorry I have been off the grid lately. I feel I have a jungle for a yard that is taking my time and can't wait for cooler weather.

    1. Missed you, Carollyn :-) We've had a looooong sultry summer/monsoon, too, and waiting 'perspiringly' for better climes