Tatted Earrings

October 26, 2008 at 11:07 am | Posted in Tatting | 5 Comments

In response to my Needlework for Today post, CateranLlama commented with an interesting idea:

Tatting! No, seriously, find a pair of biggish (plainish) beads you really like and tat a few lacy loops around ‘em and finish ‘em off with earring hooks.

This is really in the spirit of what I was getting at in that post: a small, wearable piece of needlework, worked in a technique you don’t see that often. So I asked her to demonstrate, and that’s what she came up with:

If you want to play as well, CateranLlama wrote up what she did to create these. If you don’t know how to tat, the Encyclopedia of Needlework has a description in chapter 10, and the terms used there are the same as in the instructions:

Select a pair of beads. The holes need to be on the large side, but make sure the beads aren’t too heavy to wear comfortably. Note that you’ll end up with two strands of thread with knots on it inside the hole. Wind your shuttle with comfortably-sized thread. I used a medium-to-fine crochet thread instead of something really tiny because my sample beads have sharp edges and I didn’t want them cutting the thread mid-way through. If you use a smaller thread, use either smaller beads or increase the numbers of stitches.

Create a decorative structure to hang below the bead. I used a clover-leaf-like structure, but in theory anything that could support two small picots along the top edge would work. Mine is three double, small picot, five double, slightly larger picot, four double, small picot, three double, tighten up the loop. Three double, attach to second small picot of previous loop, five double, slightly largish picot, five double, small picot, three double, tighten up the loop. Three double, attach to second picot of previous loop, four double, slightly largish picot, five double, small picot, three double, tighten up the last loop. Cut this off the shuttle (and don’t loose it!)

Figure out which end the decorations should be on, and feed the string back through the bead from this end. Tat a few double stitches, make a small picot, tat one bead-length’s doubles plus three or four, hook it on to one of the small picots on the side of your decorative structure then add enough double stitches to go back up the other side. Tighten it up, cut it off. (Note that tightening it up is the hardest part of the whole process. Don’t be afraid to pull the decorative part partially back into the bead to work with the stitches inside.) Here’s an illustration of how working with the bead in the loop should look like:

Feed the string back through the same end, do the same kind of loop-making as above.

So at this point, you should have a bead with two loops of double stitches around it. Each loop should have one small picot somewhere within a stitch or two of the top end of the hole, and there should be a decorative structure of some sort stitched to the bottom.

Feed your string through the eye at the bottom of one of your earring hoops. Three double, hook on to one of the picots at the top of the bead-wrapping-loops, double far enough to reach the other picot and add it, three double (or a few more, for very large beads), tighten, cut off. And you’re done!

Of course I wanted to play as well, so I got myself some supplies out and gave it a go:

It turned out my beads are way too small to have a tatted loop inside, so I adopted another method. I made two clover leaves as described, inserted the thread ends (two from each side) through the bead and knotted them together around the ornament on the other side.

The small beads are added while tatting in the following way: before starting the ornament put as many beads as you need onto the thread and try to keep tham inside or near the shuttle. When starting a ring where you’ll need a bead (could be more than one as well), move the bead into the ring and keep it at the bottom for the moment (similar to the big bead shown above). When you reach the picot the bead should sit on, just slide it onto the picot before continuing to work.

I think there’s lots of potential in this kind of jewellery, I’m going to explore it some more. One technique that easily lends itself to working with beads of all sizes is macramee, so maybe my next pair of earrings will use this.



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  1. I used to make a lot of chokers out of macramee. You can use strips of fabric like you’d weave rag rugs with, if you want something bigger and more colorful than tan hemp. If the thing you’re using to knot is bigger than the beads you want to include, you can string the beads on quilting thread or fishing line or crochet thread and feed that strand along with the appropriate knotting string. I was stringing them on the center string mostly, but I did experiment a bit with leaving “picots with beads on them” in my knotting string as I went along.

  2. […] November 2, 2008 at 2:49 pm | In Other Crafts | Tags: Origami So, after making some nice earrings, where do you put them? They definitely don’t come with a nice jewellery box from the store! […]

  3. Cool drawings! I wish I could draw like that to demonstrate what I’m doing with tatting. Very cool post! 🙂

  4. I’ve also made some tatted jewellrey. There’s a picture of it here: http://lizziebach.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/a-pair-of-earrings-to-match/ I think you are right that in order to bring these crafts forwards with us we need to come up with ways of making them contemporary. I love my jewellrey and think despite it being an old craft the necklace and earrings themselves look modern as they have been made in fashionable colors.

  5. […] but where to go from there? Looking at my blog archives, the previous posts on tatted flowers and tatted jewellery don’t look exactly beginner-friendly. So, back to the marvel that is Project […]

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