Teaching Beginning Tatting

Tomorrow will be my first day teaching tatting classes at Piecemakers in Costa Mesa.  I’ve taught classes and I’ve taught beginners before, but this will be my first time teaching a beginning class.  I’m looking forward to it.  I have 7 seven students.  Originally I had capped it at 6, but they had someone ask to be a part of it last week and I said sure.  Should be an interesting day.  I hope it goes well. 

I’ve been sick this last week and am finally feeling better today so I’m just getting around to finishing up all stuff for tomorrow.  I’ve got samples in size 10 (the size we’re going to work with in class), but I want to make a couple more in size 3 so they’ll be easier to see.  Also need to try to find some rope so I can make some super large samples.  I’m starting them off in size 3 with the very basics (I always teach chains first so the students can use two different colors and if they make a mistake it’s not such a big deal), and then we’ll move on to a basic ring and chain circular motif and a simple trefoil edging.

Meant to post something about it yesterday, but didn’t really manage to do anything other than nurse the cold/headache.  Anyone have any last minute advice for teaching a group of newbies?  We have a 6 hour class, so it should be plenty of time for everyone to get the hang of the basics.  This is the first of a couple beginning classes that I’m teaching, so leave a comment even if it’s long after I originally wrote this post.  What do you wish someone had told you when you were just starting to learn tatting?


  1. kathy niklewicz Said,

    August 6, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

    I am so delighted that you will be teaching the chain first, with two different colors on the shuttle and ball and with the thicker threads! (I even demo with cotton yarn on a Tatsy shuttle!) At last (ater 150 years!) the ‘chain first’ idea is becoming more accepted . Sharon Briggs has advocated the two-color method also!

    Since you asked what I wished someone had told me, it’s that I could hold the thread in the left hand with the forefinger up, rather than the middle finger (sometimes referred to as the ‘crochet hold’). If you have any students in your class who crochet, this would be natural for them. This is a point of some controversy with some tatters, but it is just more comfortable for me. I knit continental style, crochet and tat using this hand hold! I was delighted to find out that Miranda (“Tatting Fool” blog) also tats this way, because she’s an expert tatter! (She also agrees with teaching the chains first!)

    Janette Baker’s excellent book “Learn to Tat” also teaches chains first (and the two-color method), so her DVD included in her book is an excellent teaching aid.

    I wish you great success on your teaching venture!

  2. Diane Said,

    August 7, 2011 @ 3:47 am

    I agree with everything Kathy said! I learned with two colors of larger thread, and I learned to make the chain first. I also hold my thread as Kathy does. If I don’t, my fingers go numb quickly.

    The one tip that helped me out tremendously was, if your stitches look uneven, check to see that you are pulling the first part of the double knot tight enough. It made a world of difference in my tatting! Also, I would encourage them to blog about their progress. I’ve found that blogging keeps me trying, and I have a record of what I’ve done. Besides, there are so many wonderful tatters willing to share their tips!

    I wish you and your students luck with their new venture.

  3. admin Said,

    August 7, 2011 @ 5:09 am

    Thanks Kathy and Diane! I use my forefinger and thumb to hold the thread, and honestly it never even occurred to me that it could be done differently. I’ll let my students know that it works either way!

  4. Gina Said,

    August 7, 2011 @ 5:17 am

    LOL! I had to try that, using the forefinger for tension instead of the middlefinger, as soon as I read it.Even though I crochet extensively, it felt very awkward for me but perhaps if I’d learned that way, it would be easier. Actually, I have seen people tat like that. Whatever feels comfortable is what I usually say, as long as you can make the stitch. I’ve had students almost automatically use the reverse Reigo way even though I never showed them that. Remember to have fun!

  5. admin Said,

    August 7, 2011 @ 5:32 am

    Hi Gina,

    Yup, whatever is comfortable is what you should use. I have my way of holding the thread and shuttle and that’s what I’ll probably start them on, but it will be interesting to see how the students do it differently once they understand conceptually how the stitch is made.

  6. Kathryn Said,

    August 7, 2011 @ 5:53 am

    Is it possible to arrange to be taught privately? I’m in Costa Mesa a couple of days a week, but not weekends so i couldn’t do the Piecemaker’s class. I’m trying to teach myself tatting, and have gotten down doing a ring with picots, but when i try to move on from there i’m stuck as i can’t get the shuttle thread to pull.

    If this is something we could arrange, please let me know and what you would charge. My email is 4katee at gmail dot com. Thank you so much. 🙂

  7. admin Said,

    August 8, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

    Hi Kathryn, I’ll send you an email as well, but just wanted to let you know that next quarter (probably in October) I’ll be teaching a beginning tatting class

    From what you described, it sounds like you’re not “flipping” your stitches. Wouldn’t be surprising since that’s a really hard thing to teach yourself. I learned to tat one summer in college and it basically took me the entire summer to figure out what the flip was and how to do it. The good news is that once you’ve got down the flip you’ve got down the hardest part of tatting. 🙂

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