Sunday, August 28, 2011


At our last Twin Cities Tatters gathering, Michelle and I were looking at the different chain stitches, which prompted my Study of Chains a couple of posts back.  While looking at the Node Stitch, we saw further explanation of up and down picots.  I've been looking further at those picots in my Elgiva Nichols books on technique and history.

 In the Elgiva Nichols books, the Node Stitch is described as sets of half stitches, i.e. three first half stitches and then three second half stitches. Naming the stitches is suggested as first halves "plain" and second halves "purl".  Like a reverse stitch in knitting.  The nodes end up on upper and lower edges, or where the direction of the stitch changes.  Picots will end up as "up" or "down" by making them between the sets of half stitches. 

Picots are formed by whichever stitch follows them - a picot just prior to a set of first half stitches (under) will be "up", and a picot just prior to a set of second half stitches (over) will be "down".  (The books suggests memorizing this:  Plain drops down; Purl stands skyward - however, that will depend on what you consider first half and second half.  The 'Purl' will just be the reverse of the 'Plain'.)  I practiced.  It's hard to remember which half you're on :)

I was all excited about the "purl" part and thought to myself, "Oh - this is what purl tatting is."  WRONG.  This is a purl STITCH.  Purl/Pearl tatting involves (gasp!) 3 shuttles.  So, just for fun, I looked up purl and found Wikipedia says:  In older tatting and crocheting patterns, picots were sometimes specified as purls, purl stitches, or pearl stitches. These specifications are not to be confused with the reverse stitch known as a purl in
knitting.  WHAT?  I thought I just learned that the purl stitch was exactly the reverse of the plain.  Like in knitting.

No wonder tatting is so blasted confusing!  Or is it ME that makes it so much harder to understand?  I always need to understand things backward and forward.  I do tend to make things more difficult than they need to be. 

In all that trying to study and understand, I didn't get any actual tatting completed.  But I did spend some time sewing more armchair caddies:

and devoured this wonderful book in two days:

And to finish my weekend, I will spend this afternoon celebrating the 50th Wedding Anniversary of my dear Godparents.  This will be the sixth 50th Anniversary celebration of 7 brothers/sisters in my mom's family.  How wonderful is that? 


  1. How heartwarming to find another confused person when it comes to tatting terms and techniques - and that's coming from somebody who's been 'at it' for well over fifty years!!!! You are my soulmate!!! I gave up years ago and just 'use' whatever's 'useful' and try to call it whatever I consider is right in the light of experience!!!
    Guess what? The word verification is 'rabit' - do they think I'm rabbiting too much?!?!?!?

  2. I so appreciate your work to clarify. Honestly it's confusing at best but your pictures and explanations are a BIG help!

    I can't wait until next week!

  3. Judith Connors has the book, The Illustrated Dictionary of Tatting, which covers the terms, techniques and cross-references multiple terms for the same thing. For Purl(e) she says: (1) An early name for the picot. Also called a pearl. See pearl tatting. (2)The second half of the modern double stitch. Also called the English stitch, the over (O) stitch.

    Clear as mud now? She also published an update/revised version after I got mine so there is clearly more to confuse us!

  4. You are so not the only one in this predicament!!

    Quite some time back, I ran across pearl tatting and (at the time) just felt it was way beyond my comprehension.

    After reading your post I searched up pearl tatting and remembered where I had found the explanation (can be found here):

    Now that I'm not afraid to work with more than 2 shuttles at one time, I might give this a go.

    I think I understand the difference between pearl tatting and the pearl/purl stitch.

    Hope the link helps !


  5. I admire your quest to untangle all the confusion in tatting terms. I'm a bit conservative in my 'range' of techniques, and don't venture too far into the 'outer reaches of the galaxy'!

    I also want to comment on the 50th anniversary milestone(s)! When I was much younger, my perception of couples who reached their 50th year were already in rocking chairs and were VERY old people. They seemed to have grown up in the era of the horse-and-buggy, and were out of touch with modern times.

    Now that we're approaching OUR 50th (in two years, we seem so much younger (our prejudiced perception, of course) since we were raised on 'rock 'n roll' and are still 'active' and are somewhat keeping up with the computer age. (We're a bit behind times on movies and music, however!) We were also only 20 and 21 at our wedding in 1964.

    We don't have children to tell us how 'fuddy duddy' we are, but I believe our nieces and nephews think we're kind of 'cool and hip.' After all, we still buzz around in our 1969 GTO muscle car!!! :)

    So CONGRATS to all the 'young' 50th Anniversary couples!!!

  6. Your up and down picots look great!
    The Elgiva Nichols books are wonderful, but to me they all seem like "rocket science", LOL :)
    I've been tatting over 30 years, and definitely still have more to learn.


Thanks for your thoughts - I read and appreciate every one!