Guest Author - Beverly Elrod
A major problem and hassle with tatting, whether using the shuttle or needle, is when the working thread/yarn starts to twist on itself. This can be very irritating as it can cause knots where I don't want them. It also makes it difficult to draw the working thread through the stitches and close rings.
While some tatters might try different little tricks that help for each individual stitch; such as gently pulling the thread (to straighten it) as it's being pulled through the stitches or as the ring is being pulled to, this isn't a 'fix' at all. It's only a temporary solution that I've never felt was good enough. To me, this just makes my tatting an irritating craft.
Iíve found a very simple solution for this problem, and Iím sure others have found this solution as well. Now, this may seem a bit Ďstrangeí, but itís something that only needs to be done when your thread starts to irritate me from being twisted. I call this the Ďtire swingí method because it reminds me of when I was a child and would twist the rope of a tire swing just as tight as I could and then hang onto the swing, for dear life, while it untwisted itself. Itís a bit easier with the shuttle, but Iíll explain the needle method first.
I figure about how long my working thread is. Then, Iíll either stand up, or even stand up while on a chair and let my needle and working thread dangle and, by nature, it will untwist itself. If the thread is even longer than the distance from my hands to the floor, Iíll simple run my fingers along the working thread (starting at my project) and run it along the thread. While doing this, I gather the thread, which Iíve Ďfinger strippedí and move it out of the way. As my working thread and needle come off of the floor, itís being untwisted as I pull it through my fingersóI just run it between my thumb and index finger. Sometimes Iíll do this a couple of times. But, if you do it too many times, you may untwist your thread to the point that it separates, and we donít want that.
If youíre using a shuttle, this is much easier because your working thread can be long or short, depending on how you like it and you can adjust it as you go. So, all you have to do is to unwind a length of working thread and gently let your shuttle dangle. As with the needle, it will untwist of its own accord. Be careful to not let your shuttle unwind too much because youíll get that Ďbacklashí effect, like the tire swing when it untwisted too far. As with the needle method, Iíll also Ďfinger stripí the thread between my thumb and index finger to straighten it out a bit. Then, Iíll rewind my shuttle to a good working length and go back to my happy tatting. I hope this will help you with your tatting as well.