I’ve made a bunch of tatted bracelets lately, and while I was working on one of those an idea struck me for another way to use all the edging patterns I’ve posted: fancy-schmancy bookmarks with a matching tassel on them. After all, tatting thread is pretty ideal for making tassels, so you can get perfect matching, and the actual fabrication of a tassel can’t be but so hard. And, unlike many of my “can’t be but so hard” moments, this one turned out well: tassels are really, really easy to make, especially if you have your tatting tools on hand.
You don’t need any special supplies if you’re a needle tatter; if you use shuttles, you’ll probably want a tapestry needle or similar just to tuck in the thread ends, or possibly a tiny crochet hook. You may also want some sort of tool to set the length of your tassels—a 6″ metal ruler, a pack of 5″ index cards, a pack of 4″ playing cards, etc. depending on the length you want—but you can also just use your hand, especially for shorter tassels. For the white tassel, I used my hand, and for the left I used a frame built out of Zometools, which are a modeling kit I have a lot of on hand.
Choose a lace pattern and make about a 6″ strip, or whatever length you want the bookmark body to be. Shown are my Atlantis edging and garden path edging. Make sure you end with at least a foot of thread left on either the needle or ball thread, and at least 6″ (or longer for a longer tassel) on the other.
- Hold both threads together and tie an overhand knot in them, snugged down close to the end of the work. Still holding them together, tie another overhand knot about an inch away—this creates the dead thread between the top of the tassel and the bookmark to go over the top of the book. This doesn’t have to be exact—mine are about exactly a half-inch and an inch-and-a-half.
Set the work aside and start making your tassel. Using your same thread, wrap it around your hand or your length-setting tool 20-30 times, depending on how fat you want the tassel to be. Mine are 22 (brown) and 31 (white) wraps. Note: the width of the object, not the circumference, sets the length of the tassel, so your hand will give a 3-4″ tassel.
- Finish the wraps with a bit of overlap between the two ends (see photo) and cut. Work the next step on the far end of the loops from the overlapped area, as best you can judge, so the loose ends will both be at least the length of the finished tassel.
- Taking the tatted piece up again, tie the two loose threads around the bundle you’ve made, at one end. Make a good solid square knot or similar. Drop the shorter piece, holding it together with the bundled threads.
Lay the longer piece along the bundle and use your thumbnail to pinch it against the other threads, about 3/4″ from the top of the tassel. See photo.
- Start wrapping the longer thread around the bundle, working back upwards towards the top of the tassel and catching the section that you were holding in place with the wraps. Wrap as tight as you can, and be careful to lay each new wrap alongside the previous without crossing or tangling the threads. 10-15 wraps is a good number, or whatever looks best to you—I would not go fewer than about 5 for durability reasons.
Use your needle to tuck the last wrap you make under the second-to-last, pull tight, and then pass the needle down through the middle of the wrapped section of the bundle, pulling the thread through and tight.
- Cut the loops of the bundle at the bottom—a good way to do this is to hold onto the top, insert one blade of your scissors through the loops, and apply tension with both hands to make sure your scissors are right at the middle before cutting.
- Comb the separate strands of the tassel with your fingers to make them as aligned as possible, then trim the ends to make them all the same length. The sharper your scissors are the easier this will be.
- Finished! Stick it in a book or wrap it up for a fancy little gift.