This is intended as a beginner tatting project. I have made dozens of these over the years. After you have made a few, you can figure out how to tweak a pattern to give it your own personal twist. After that, making up your own designs becomes pretty easy.
At the beginning, you may find the process to be slow--that is why I made these small. After your skills develop, you will be able to work these up very quickly. At that point, go ahead and try a bigger project. If your first project is too ambitious (big and complicated), you will get frustrated and quit.
This form of lace making goes way back to at least Elizabethan times. I saw a painting of a very classy looking lady in Elizabethan garb who was clearly bored out of her mind sitting for her portrait. She passed the time by tatting. The artist actually painted the lace she was making and the beautifully carved shuttle she was using. If you learn to tat, you are working to ensure that a beautiful art form survives for at least one more generation. I would love to see what you create.
Step 1: Basic Materials
Thread--thicker crochet cotton for a large ornament, hand quilting thread or thinner crochet cotton for tiny ornament
Shuttle/hook--these may be separate items or manufactured as a combined tool
White glue or spray starch to stiffen the ornament--optional
In all pattern directions:
'dh' means double hitch
'p' means picot
Step 2: Ornament #1
This one involves only rings--no chains.
Load the shuttle with thread.
Ring #1--4 dh, p, 3 dh, p, 1 dh, p, 1 dh, p, 3 dh, p, 4 dh, close ring
Ring #2--4 dh, join to last p of previous ring, 2 dh, p, 1 dh, p, 1 dh, p, 1 dh, p, 1 dh, p, 1 dh, p, 1 dh, p, 2 dh, p, 4 dh, close ring
Ring #3--4 dh, join to last p of previous ring, 3 dh, p, 1 dh, p, 1 dh, p, 3 dh, p, 4 dh, close ring
These 3 rings form a cluster of rings. I intended to make 6 of these clusters. I ended up with only 5 clusters since I was using up thread that was already in my shuttle and there was only enough for 5 clusters.
Repeat the cluster-- when you get to the first p of the first ring, join to the last p of the previous cluster. When you start the next cluster, start the first ring about 1/2 inch from the base of the previous cluster--this will allow the clusters to be separate from each other.
Repeat a total of 6 clusters (or 5 clusters in my case). The last p of the last cluster joins to the first p of the first cluster. Stiffen if desired.
Step 3: Ornament #2
This snowflake has chains connecting the clusters so it is just a tiny bit more complicated.
Unwind about a yard of thread. Start the first ring about a yard from the end of your thread. You will use this tail when you tat the chains.
Ring #1--6 dh, p, 3 dh, p, 3 dh, close ring
Ring #2--3 dh, join to last p of previous ring, 3 dh, p, 1 dh, p, 1 dh, p, 3 dh, close ring
Ring #3--3 dh, join to last p of previous ring, p, 3 dh, p, 3 dh, close ring
These 3 rings form a cluster.
Wrap the tail thread around your hand and use it to tat the dh of the chain.
Chain--3 dh, p, 4 dh, p, 3 dh, pull tight
Form the next cluster.
Form the next chain but join the first p of the chain to the last p of the previous chain.
Repeat this process until you have 6 clusters. After the 6th cluster, make one chain where you join the first p to the last p of the previous chain AND join the last p to the first p of the first chain. Tie the two ends of thread into a tight knot and trim the ends. Stiffen if desired.
Step 4: Ornament #3
This snowflake is made in 2 rounds.
Round 1--3 dh, p, 3 dh, p, 3 dh, close ring.
3 dh, join to last p of previous ring, 3 dh, p, 3 dh, p, 3 dh, close ring.
Repeat until you have 6 rings. Note, the 6th ring is joined to the 5th ring at the first p and to the 1st ring by its last p.
Tie the ends together and trim threads.
Round 2--unwind about a yard an a half of thread.
Ring #1--9 dh, p, 3 dh, close ring.
Ring #2--3 dh, join, 3 dh, p, dh, p, dh, p, dh, p, dh, p, 3 dh, p, 3 dh, close ring.
Ring #3--3 dh, join, 9 dh, close ring.
Chain--2 dh, p, 4 dh, join to p of round 1, 4 dh, p, 2 dh, pull tight.
Make another cluster.
Make another chain but join the first p to the last p of previous chain.
On the 6th chain, join the first p to the previous chain and the last p to the first chain p. Pull tight. Tie loose ends. Trim tails. Stiffen if desired.
Step 5: Stiffening
Tatting tends to be stiffer than crochet--especially if you are using thicker thread. You may not need to do this step. Sometimes I don't stiffen my tatted ornaments until a few Christmases later when I discover that they have gotten droopy.
Mix white glue with water--about 50/50. Paint the mixture onto the lace. Blot excess with a paper towel. Allow to dry.
Alternate method--spray with starch. Heat with an iron. Flip over and repeat the process.