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Beaded Needle Tatting Basics


Beads are added to tatting in two basic manners.

1. Beads are threaded onto the shuttle and/or ball threads and brought into position as the double stitches are formed. (See the three gold beads on one picot in the scan at right.)

2. Beads are added to previous segments of tatting usually during joining. (See the red bead over the picot in the scan above.)

If you want to have beads on the rings, the beads must be threaded onto the shuttle thread as the thread is wound onto the shuttle. If working with a particular color sequence or pattern of beads, the beads must be threaded on in the reverse order of working, i.e., the first bead needed is the last bead to be threaded.

If you want to have beads on the chains, the beads must be threaded on the ball thread.

If you want beads on both the rings and the chains, thread the beads needed for the chains first, mark with pin or paper clip, then the beads needed for the rings. Next wind the thread onto the shuttle moving the beads into position.

To determine how many beads per yard of thread are needed, do a test ring with a measured length of thread, i.e. half a yard. Measure the leftover thread, i.e., 8 inches. So every 10 inches of thread wound should have the proper number of beads for a ring.

Since the ball thread draws from inside the line of beads, no measurement is necessary.

When winding the shuttle with beads it is best to "walk" the thread onto the shuttle.

Needle tatters will place beads on the ball thread and draw through them to wrap the DS onto the needle. Beads to be placed over a picot during a join needed not be threaded but brought into play individually as needed.

Before commencing the ring, move the required number of beads up the shuttle thread and into position slightly behind the middle finger of the working hand. The beads dangle back there until needed. As the picot is made, move bead(s) into position and complete picot.

- picot may be snugged up so that the bead is tightly held between two DS, or,

- picot may be made normal size so that the bead dangles from the tip, or,

- multiple beads may be placed on one picot:

--a group of three, five or seven, seed beads will form a point or flowerlike grouping

If the picot with beads is to be used for joining, make sure that the picot is large enough to accommodate join. And pay attention to spacing, don't place three beads on a picot to be used in only one join. Two joins into one picot would fit three beads, etc.

Note that there are four beads on each picot in the center ring above. The subsequent round joins to each picot with a ring. The join is made between the second and third beads so that two beads line up on each side of the join.

Close ring only after checking to see that the proper number of beads, picots, and joins have been made. Look first, then close.

Beads to be placed on the chains should also be moved into position behind the middle thread before securing ball thread with a couple of wraps around the little finger. Beads are moved into position as needed as described above.

Beads may also be added after the tatting is complete, i.e., during joining.

Picots which are used for joining are normally made slightly larger than the other picots to allow for the small amount of thread which is used up in the joining process. If you intend to place a bead over such a joining picot, it must be long enough to accommodate the length of the bead as well as allowing for the join.

If the diameter of the bead will allow it, use a small crochet hook size 14, 15, or 16 to insert into the bead. Use the hook to catch the picot and apply tension to the picot so that it flattens out. Then slide the bead off of the crochet hook and onto the picot. DO NOT REMOVE CROCHET HOOK. Use crochet hook to complete join by pulling up the loop thread and passing the shuttle through the loop. Snug stitches into place and continue.

If the diameter of the bead is so small that a crochet hook will not pass through it, thread a 10" length of sewing thread on a very fine needle. Pass the needle through the bead while pinching the thread tails which are not knotted (just to keep the bead from sliding off.) Next pass the needle through the picot and back through the bead the opposite direction.

Holding all the threads and needle apply tension to the picot so that it flattens out and then slide the bead from the sewing thread onto the picot. DO NOT REMOVE NEEDLE AND THREAD YET. Insert the crochet hook into the tip of the picot and when it is secured, remove the needle and thread. Continue using the crochet hook to complete the join.

For more info on beaded tatting see:

Rebecca Jones, The Complete Book of Tatting
Judith Conners, Beads in Tatting
Rosemarie Peel, Tatting with Beads

This expanded discussion of beading is an excerpt from Book 6 of the Ribbonwinners Series, "Tatting Talk: A Self-Improvement Guide for Tatters". Georgia Seitz 1998. Reprinted by permission.

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Content copyright © 2014 by Georgia Seitz. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Georgia Seitz. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Georgia Seitz for details.

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