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How To Do An Onion Ring (OR) In Needle Tatting

An onion ring (abbreviated OR in tatting patterns) is basically one ring inside of another ring. You can also needle tat larger onion rings by creating 3 or even 4 rings to make up a single onion ring.

Using smaller threads makes even a 3- or 4-layer onion ring very dainty, while larger threads create a differing effect and allow you to see more detail of how the rings “play together.”

It is primarily shuttle tatters who have done onion rings in the past, although needle tatters can do it as well. Most needle tatters, when they make onion rings, make the center ring first, complete with a picot at the top-center, and then do a chain up to the picot of the center ring, join the chain to the picot, and then finish the chain with the appropriate number of stitches so that the fit is nice and snug, neither overlapping the inner ring nor having space in between the inner ring and the outer one.

Note that each side of the second ring will be comprised of more stitches than the first ring had.

So pay close attention to the above video, and practice, practice, practice until you get it right. Knowing how to do the onion ring tatting technique will allow you to add absolutely gorgeous components to your tatting, and will open up new avenues of patterns you will be able to do.

Step 1: Tat The Center Ring

You will want to do as many stitches as the pattern you are using calls for. If you are using this article as a tutorial and aren’t currently following a pattern, do 6 double stitches on your tatting needle, then do a picot and do 6 more double stitches on your needle. Close the ring you just tatted on your needle.

Step 2: Reverse Work

The next step is to reverse your work to get ready for the next component of the onion ring. Reverse work (also abbreviated RW) is done by flipping the tatting so that the bottom ends up on the top and the top ends up on the bottom.

Step 3: Tat The First Half Of The Outer Layer Of the Onion Ring

Tat 11 double stitches onto your needle. The number of stitches is increased from those of the first onion ring, because the stitches need to go around the outside of the inner ring. If you were to create a third ring around the second ring, the third ring would require even more than 11 stitches, and would probably be in the neighborhood of 15 or 16 stitches. As I mentioned before, if you are doing an actual pattern with onion rings, the pattern will tell you how many stitches to make for each layer of the onion ring.

Step 4: Remove The 11 Double Stitches From The Needle

This step can be very tricky, at least at first. You need to remove the stitches from the needle because the needle will not be able to bend back around to where you need it to go.

The Tricky Parts…

Remove The Double Stitches From The Needle

Remove the 11 double stitches from your needle, pulling the core thread through the stitches. Do not close them like you would do if you were making a ring. Instead, keep your finger inside the loop that has formed, meaning the loop from the tail of the thread that is running through your stitches. Doing this will prevent you from closing the stitches into a ring, and instead keep them in a chain.

Snug It Up

Next, gently pull the chain of 11 stitches that you just created up along the outside of the inner (first) ring that you created, so that the end of the 11 stitches (in other words, the 11th stitch that you created) is snugged up against the outside of the first (inner ring).

If you need to “snug up” the stitches further over the core thread, then tighten them further, but be sure to not lose the previously mentioned loop coming from the core thread. What you are looking here is for the 11 stitches to end exactly where the picot of the first (inner) ring is located.

Lay The Ball Thread Over The Picot Of The Inner Ring

Once the outer chain (11 stitches) is snug against the inner ring and the end of the 11 stitches matches up with the picot of the first ring, grab your ball thread (NOT the tail thread) and lay it over in front of the picot of the first (inner) ring.

Insert A Crochet Hook UP Through The Picot, Then Pull Ball Thread Down Through The Picot

Then, using a crochet hook, insert the crochet hook into the picot from the back up to the front, and pull the ball thread DOWN through the picot of the inner (first) ring.

Once you have pulled the ball thread down through the picot of the inner ring, run your needle through the loop that forms from pulling the thread down through the picot.

Then, lay your needle down, take your ball thread, and tighten up the loop you just pulled through the picot so that the chain of 11 stitches lines up nice and snug with the first half of the inner ring.

It can be very fiddly to get this completely snug and straight, but perseverance will do you well with this one, because onion rings, when done correctly, are incredibly gorgeous in a pattern!

Once you get the part with the first 11 stitches all straight and snug around the first half of the inner ring, you want to continue to keep your finger in the loop and not close that ring yet.

Swap the loop over to a finger on your other hand, and and hook your finger through that loop so you don’t lose the loop. Place your needle so that it runs at the 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock position on top of the inner ring and the first half of the outer ring.

Add Another 11 Stitches

Add another eleven double stitches onto your needle with the ball thread.

Then, pull your needle through the second set of 11 stitches, while at the same time keeping hold of the loop on your finger and continuing not to lose that loop.

Start Closing The Outer Ring And Again Snug Up Everything

Once all 11 stitches have had the needle pulled through them, you can then begin to close the outer ring. While you are slowly (very slowly when learning) closing, adjust things as you go so that the stitches will end up nice and snug against the other half of the inner ring.

Once everything is nice and snug, knot off and you have completed an onion ring!

There is an additional technique you can use to create an onion ring with needle tatting, and if you are interested in learning that, watch the last 3 or 4 minutes of the above video.