To turn the work in progress you must consider the situation and where the next tatted element will be placed. There are three basic choices, reverse work, turn the work, or rotate the work.
The line of progression in tatting indicates the direction in which the lace is built. Usually the lace builds from left to right. Note the line of progression as this piece of tatting is shown.
Reverse work, reverse and rw all are direction to turn the tatting so that the front becomes back and the top becomes bottom.
Often used in needle tatting, the term, turn work or 'flip' means that the front becomes back and the top remains top. Consider this motion as turning the page of a book from right to left.
In this case the term "flip" does not refer to the motion of transferring the loop, or the knot, to the other thread, aka, the infamous FLIP, as is needed to do true tatting.
When directed to rotate the work, term often encountered when tatting "onion rings", it means that the front remains front while the bottom rotates one quarter turn to right clock wise. If you consider the bottom of a ring where it closes as 6 o'clock on the clock face, then you are rotating the tatting so that the bottom of the ring now at 9 o'clock position.
Rotate is the least often used term, so let's use this pattern to practice it. Part of the following description is an excerpt from Book 3 of the Ribbonwinners series, "Tatting Tiny Treasures: Miniature Tatted Lace for Dollhouse" by Georgia Seitz. This classic rosette is formed with a ring and several picots. The number of picots determines the number of petals on the rose. Begin and end the ring with the same number of stitches and create one less picot than the number of petals desired. For example:
R 2 - 2 - 2 - 2 - 2 close ring.
Create mock picot which is the same length as the other picots.
DO NOT REVERSE WORK.
Simply ROTATE the ring a quarter turn clockwise and begin chaining around the ring making a shuttle join into each picot.
CH 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8
Join last chain into same picot where the chains started. This join may be made directly into the exact spot as before. This means, however, that the thread is pulled up and over with each succeeding join and it becomes highly visible. Or, the shuttle join may be made into the short length of thread from the ball which is on the back side of the join. Remember the ball thread is not involved in the shuttle join so it is just carried forward that short space on the reverse side.
On the second round of chainwork the length of the chain needs to be increased and each segment of chain should have the curve enchanced by gently compressing the stitches to the left before joining.
The number of rounds of chainwork are at least three traditionally, but may be increased or decreased as desired. Additional patterns may decorate the edge.
The next round of chains are: 10, 12; then the chains with the picots begin and end with 2 DS and have 3 DS between each picot; the last chain segments are 16 DS. Compress before each join.