Today’s pattern is one of my favorites; it comes from the Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese de Dillmont, via Project Gutenberg. I love sifting through these old pattern books, which you can find by image-searching for tatting patterns and then clicking the black-and-white pictures; the Antique Pattern Library is another great resource. In particular, this pattern is based on figure 511; I made some alterations including working out how to turn corners and modifying the scalloped edging part a bit. I will also talk about using this pattern as a fractal-tatting motif (see also this post). It is also where I got the inspiration for the headband pattern in this post.
The basic motif is: Ring 6ds, large picot, 6ds; chain 6ds, picot, 6ds;ring 6ds, join to first ring, 6ds; shoelace trick and repeat. By “shoelace trick” I mean tying a single overhand knot with the ball and needle threads, switching their positions, so that the next motif has its rings facing the opposite way than the first motif. In this way you can build up a strip of arbitrary length, like:where the short, thin lines and the small circles are picots (and large picots, respectively); the ovals and arcs are rings and chains. So far so good, and by itself this already makes a nice, small edging. The Encyclopedia suggests making a strip in the desired length, then cutting the thread and making another strip, joining rings to rings and chains to chains along one side, repeating to desired width, and then adding a fancy scalloped edge.
Fancy scalloped edge: Follow the Encyclopedia if you prefer, but I have modified the pattern to omit the non-joining picots. Begin with a Ring 5ds, join to a pair of rings, 5ds. Chain 2ds, picot A, 3ds. Ring 6ds, join to a chain, 6ds, picot B, 6ds, slightly large picot C, 6ds. Chain 3ds, join A, 3ds, join D (omit or picot in first motif), 5ds. Ring 5ds, join C, 5ds; chain 12ds; ring 5ds, join C, 5ds. Chain 5ds, picot D, 3ds, picot E, 3ds. Join a chain to a picot on the wrong side, as follows: either simply pass the needle through the picot, use your fingernails to form a cow hitch in the picot on the needle and pass the needle through, or use the needle to tie a cow hitch in the needle thread on the picot. The first is easiest to do, but if you pull your chains tight it will tend to pull into a smooth curve, whereas you want the chain to bend sharply backwards here; the other two methods are tricky but in my opinion worth it. Chain 3ds, join E, 2ds. Repeat from start. If your strip of edging ends on a pair of rings, finish on a ring 5j5; if it ends on a chain, omit picot B from the large ring, and finish on the first small ring that joins picot C (as shown).
One thing I hate in tatting patterns is cutting the thread and starting a new piece, so the first thing I did with this pattern was figure out how to corner:It’s a little awkward and requires additional shoelacing, but lies reasonably flat. After you have made however many repeats you want (in my project, this was the height of the purse), finishing with a shoelace, make a ring: 6ds, picot, 6ds. Shoelace again and make a chain: 6ds, picot, 6ds; and a ring: 6ds, join to most recent pair of rings, 6ds; shoelace. Repeat these steps once more, and you are ready to begin working back along the first strip, joining rings to rings and chains to chains.
Constructing the purse proceeds as follows: Make a strip as long as you want the purse to be tall. Corner and build up new rows until you have a piece as twice as wide as you want the purse to be. Finish by joining the last row to the first row, forming a tube. Cut the thread (yes, I know!), and add a top flap by joining the first row to one side of the top edge; if you had more foresight than me you could do this by simply making one side of the bag longer than the other in the first phase of construction, although this forces you to have an even number of repeats in the width. Add a strap by making two long rows, joined at the ends to matching rings and chains in the top corners of the bag. Add decorative scalloped edging on the end of the flap and the bottom of the bag, using the one on the bottom to close the bottom edge, joining into two picots at once.
You may notice a couple things about the cornering: first, it adds a new row on the side that the last pair of rings face; in a flat piece that rasters back and forth this means you will have an even number of whole motifs. Second, the cornering procedure adds a half-motif of width; if you are making a tube you will have to make all the later rows a bit wider than the first, then come back and finish the first row at the very end. In a flat piece, though, you can’t come back and fix it—so we need a new way of thinking about the motif.Instead of the ring/chain/ring/shoelace motif, which is basically a square with the thread entering and leaving at the center of opposite sides, what if we think about a motif of half-chain/ring/shoelace/ring/half-chain? This adds a half-motif at the beginning of the row, and the corner is simply a couple of motifs with an extra shoelace thrown in and doesn’t have to be broken down into its constituent parts. To my mind this is a little harder to see at first, but a lot more elegant than the original motif.The revised motif pattern is chain 6ds; ring 6ds, picot or join, 6ds; shoelace; ring 6ds, picot or join, 6ds; chain 6ds; with shoelaces between the rings and chains as needed to make the corners. This also makes the motif a square with the thread entering and exiting on opposite corners—which is a much more interesting beast. Squares that connect on their sides can be tiled in one direction, but squares that connect at their corners can be tiled in two dimensions, and can be tiled fractally. Consider the image at right; the thin lines are the sides of a square motif, the thick lines connect the corners that the threads enter and exit on, and the numbers are the order in which the motifs are made. A large square can be made up of nine smaller squares, and the large square is, again, a square with the thread entering and exiting on opposite corners. The motif has to be altered a little bit to allow cornering, because tatting chains have a natural curve to them, but not by much.
A variant on this fractal pattern can be created by omitting the outside ring on the cornering motifs; I tried this purely because the double-shoelaced ring is a little awkward and doesn’t want to lie flat. The result is:
which started in the top-right corner (omitting the starting half-chain and first ring) and makes a square of 81 motifs (nine blocks of nine motifs) before starting on another (the tail on the bottom left). It makes something of an interesting pattern, but I think in future I will keep the outside rings.
Random note: the pattern I gave has a lot of units of 6ds, and is suitable for smaller threads; if you are working in larger threads, you may want to do 8ds or even more every time I called for 6. The purse is in a nominally size-10 thread, but I think is mis-sized, and using a smaller needle; the flat fractal piece is a more standard size-10 cotton with a #5 needle, and I used 8ds-picot-8ds rings.