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How To Read A Tatting Pattern Diagram

The information below is definitely a work in progress. I have included the basics, including various diagrams, below, but this post is definitely not complete and I will be adding information and additional images as I think of them, so feel free to check back now and then for additional information.

This Info. Is For Both Shuttle Tatters and Needle Tatters

This information will be helpful to you whether you are a shuttle tatter or a needle tatter.

If you know how to tat the basic components of rings and chains, it truly doesn’t matter whether you are using a shuttle or a needle.

Additionally, virtually any and all other components, in addition to rings and chains, can be tatted either with a shuttle or a needle. There are small differences among needle and shuttle tatting, but the process of reading a diagram pattern is basically the same, regardless of whether you are a shuttle or needle tatter.

Although I will dive into the one main important detail later on in this article, correctly reading and implementing any diagram tatting pattern boils down to having your already completed work facing the correct direction when you start a component, whether you are using a needle or a shuttle.

In The Past…

Historically, vintage tatting patterns relied on written instructions for how-to make the tatting patterns.

Some had a picture of the finished project that went along with the instructions, but not all of them had a photo of the finished product.

Thus, in the past, the success of a tatting pattern being correctly tatted relied heavily on the reader’s imagination and skill to create the exact same project that was written in the instructions.

Today’s Patterns, On The Other Hand…

There are many modern patterns available today that now include a diagram of the tatting design as a help to guide the learner through the process. With the help of these diagrams, even novice tatters can confidently start their journey through the intricate art of tatting, once they have learned how to read a tatting diagram pattern.

Additionally, there is a wide range of tatting patterns available to you, especially free patterns that you can find on the Internet, that rely solely on a diagram without the help of written instructions. A good number of the most beautiful tatting patterns I have seen have only a diagram available, without written-out instructions. Therefore, I found that learning how to read tatting diagrams an absolute necessity, and doing so truly was not difficult for me.

Being Able To Read Tatting Diagrams Will Give You A Big Advantage!

Knowing how to read tatting diagrams is advantageous because it allows tatters to easily understand the intended pattern without having to decipher written instructions. Moreover, diagrams are often more visually appealing than written instructions, making them easier to follow.

Tatting Diagrams Are Universal Throughout The Entire World

The incredible international designs being produced by countries such as Russia, Korea, and Japan, to name just a few, amaze me to no end. With this in mind, it is no surprise that diagrams are popularly used to illustrate complex instructions to a wide audience.

If you are like me and only know English, note that tatting diagrams are universal throughout the world. This is because diagrams and numbers are visual and do not require any particular language. Through the use of symbols, colors, lines, and numbers, people of all language backgrounds can understand them. This allows for a much more efficient way to explain intricate and complex instructions.

If you have the knowledge to read tatting diagram patterns, you can follow a diagram and interpret any diagram from any country in the world.

Furthermore, diagrams are particularly useful in providing instructions as they allow for more detail to be included and for the instructions to be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps. This makes it easier for the user to understand each step and to complete the task.

In the world of tatters, the diagram is becoming a universal “language of communication.” Moreover, diagrams can be invaluable for providing a visual representation that gives a clearer indication of the task at hand. This can enable users to more easily comprehend and execute instructions, making the process faster and more efficient. As such, diagrams have become increasingly popular for providing concise and accurate instructions in an understandable format.

There is no doubt that tatting diagrams are great learning tools for visual learners, and they are a fantastic way to begin thinking about tatting more visually.

Have You Ever Considered Designing Your Own Tatting Pattern?

Having a good understanding of tatting diagram patterns can also have a positive effect on the process of learning to design your own patterns once you become familiar with reading tatting diagram patterns.

Having a basic understanding of how a tatting diagram works is an extremely helpful skill that you can use to expand your tatting possibilities.

Briefly, what you need to know…

Start Off With A Ring

A circle indicates to you that you will be making a ring. A ring is the tatting component most tatting projects start out with, because a ring is more sturdy than a chain or any other component of tatting, thus allowing a more sturdy foundation.

There are also curved “arches” that indicate a chain should be made. Chains are sometimes less curved and more straight than the ones shown in the example below.

A diagram with a straighter (less curved chain) will generally show you how curved the chain needs to be.

Dashes indicate a picot (also sometimes a picot is used to join two components – ring/ring, ring/chain, or chain/chain).

Each dash represents one picot, so you can determine how many picots are included in any given component by counting the dashes for that particular component.

A dash that connects two rings or two chains indicates a picot join.

The number of double stitches to make in a ring or a chain is indicated by the number values placed between picots in rings and chains.

In some patterns, you will see a single number value within a ring or a chain, along with dashes indicating the number of picots in that component. The single number represents the number of double stitches in between each picot, a well as the number of double stitches outside of the first and last picots of that particular ring or chain.

In tatting diagrams, whether or not to reverse work is not normally provided as part of the instructions, and as a result must be assumed by the direction of the preceding ring or chain.

This is a difficult concept to explain, but I will do my best.

A chain will curve either in one direction or another. The reason for this is that the top of a completed double stitch “takes up more room” (is wider) than the bottom of the double stitch. This is because there is a “lip” across the top of a double stitch, while the bottom of the double stitch doesn’t have that “lip” and is instead just 2 threads wrapped around the core thread.

The “lips” at the tops of the double stitches require more room than the bottoms of the double stitches. As a result, when you have a group of double stitches on your core thread to make a chain and you pull tight the double stitches along the core thread, the chain group of double stitches automatically is forced to curve either up or down.

Simply stated, in order to determine which direction your chain needs to curve, you will need to look at the pattern to see which way it curves, and adjust (reverse) the work already completed accordingly. Below are some images that I hope will help.

As a rule of thumb, most projects start at the center and work their way outward from there.