I’ve been on something of a vacation from designing new tatting patterns, as the ol’ muse has been silent on the topic, but now the ideas are flooding in again. It helps that one of the lovely ladies at my local needlecrafting group had a bunch of leftover crochet cotton that she didn’t want any more—so my stash has roughly tripled, and I have a lot of odds and ends of all sorts of colors, and I am very grateful. Anyway, I have something of a thing for dragonflies, and it occurred to me at last how to make their elongated wings and straight tails in tatting.
You will need about 3-4 yards of #10 thread (or embroidery floss) for the wings of one dragonfly and about a yard for the body; you can use the same or different colors.
Because I am perverse, this pattern involves both Josephine knots (rings made of only one single stitch, but held in a straight row) and spiral chains (chains or chain segments made of only one single stitch, allowing the knots to spiral around the needle; see this pattern). Some of the spiral chains are embedded in rings; to avoid a tangled mess, it is important to have the same number of spirals in each direction on the ring (although it is possible to sort this out if you mess up by passing the ball through the closing loop of thread). This pattern assumes that 8 single stitches make a complete circuit of the needle; if you are having trouble making it around feel free to multiply all numbers in the pattern by 1.25 (so 10 stitches per circuit).
- Thread the color you want for the wings onto your needle; the body color will be your ball thread.
- Starting at the tip of the tail, chain 4ds, then 40 single stitches of the same handedness, spiraling around the needle.
- Ring: 4ds, 24 first-half single stitches spiraling around the needle 3 times, 8ds, 24 second-half single stitches spiraling around the needle 3 times in the opposite direction to the first set, 1ds, small picot, 3ds. As you pull the thread through, use your fingers to shape the ring and make sure the right number of spirals stays in place.
- Shoelace trick: tie an overhand knot between the ball and needle threads to move the needle thread to the other side.
- Repeat step 3.
- Chain: 1ds, 4 single stitches spiraling halfway around the needle, 1ds.
- Ring: 3ds, join to the wing made in step 3, 1ds, 24 first-half single stitches spiraling, 8ds, 24 second-half single stitches spiraling, 4ds.
- Shoelace trick.
- Repeat step 7, joining to the wing made in step 5.
- Chain 4 first-half single stitches, spiraling halfway around the needle.
- If you are using different colors: using the ball thread/body color, put 10 single stitches of the same handedness on the needle, but prevent them from spiraling (Josephine knot); unthread the needle, cut a 6″ tail of the ball thread and thread it onto the needle, and pull through and close the Josephine knot. If you are using the same color, just make a 10-single-stitch Josephine knot with the needle thread.
- Tie off the thread and bury ends as well as you can.
Note: the blue dragonfly pictured was a first draft and does not match the pattern given (shorter wings and tail) but is included for a sense of what single-color pieces will look like, and also because blue dragonflies are pretty.