Tatty Tip – 1 Chain Tension

I have been tatting for just over two years. I have found my own way around some problems, and hope these posts might be helpful to others. Iā€™m not saying any of these are the best or only way to do things; only that they worked for me.

If you have a problem, keep trying, and keep asking. The important thing is to find what works for you!

Chain Tension

Chains caused me problems right from the beginning. I had read several recommendations to hold the ball thread as when crocheting and this was how I taught myself to do it. Eventually I figured out that the angle of the thread across my hand was my problem. When crocheting, my left little finger folded in, gripping and controlling the thread which was held close to the hand.

Holding thread for crochet

Holding thread for crochet

When tatting, I found this very awkward.

Tatting With Crochet Hold

Tatting With Crochet Hold

When tatting rings, I could see that the thread was away from the hand, and much further along the fingers.

Holding Thread for Rings 1

Holding Thread for Rings 1

Holding Thread for Rings 2

Holding Thread for Rings 2

Now I wind the thread twice around the little finger at the first joint, using my right hand and winding away from my left hand. The third finger pushes against the thread, crossing it over the wound thread. It is enough to hold it firm, without it having to be too tight.

Ball Thread for Chains

Ball Thread for Tatting Chains
Ball Thread When Tatting Chains 2

Ball Thread When Tatting Chains 2

I find the movement much closer to what I do when making rings. For me it is quicker and more comfortable, and my tension improved.

Changing my method did slow me down at first, until the trick of keeping tension became automatic.



  1. ooohh… tatting is something new to me.. and i love to read more on how tatting works.. šŸ˜€
    hopefully i will try this craft one day.. thank you for your post.

    1. Thanks! šŸ˜‰

  2. This is probably going to come in handy once I can start my tatting.

    1. Great! Hope to see photos. šŸ˜‰

      1. I will post all of my progress on my blog šŸ™‚

  3. Your tatting is beautiful! I have always wanted to learn tatting. I can knit (a little) and am learning to crochet. When I was a child, I bought a small embroidery kit for fifty cents and continued until I saw my friend making a beautiful counted cross stitch design. I cross-stitched for many years and graduated to knitting about four years ago. Now I am ready for a new challenge.

    1. There are some great website out there to help you learn. Try Intatters and
      Good luck!

  4. Have you ever don needle tatting?

    1. No, I taught myself shuttle tatting and just kept on with that.

      1. I had a hard time with the shuttle, so I you tubed needle tatting, it’s neat! My grandma showed me the basic stitch but I’ve been trying to keep learning.

      2. There’s always something new to try. šŸ˜‰

  5. Tried your method of holding thread for tatting a chain. I was looking for suggestions to help me with my tension and I was getting so frustrated. Your method WORKS for me! The thing that made the most difference was the way you described wrapping the thread away from you with your right hand. Such a little thing that made a world of difference! Thank you so much! My tension improved so much in the first try. Now I can tat with confidence that my ring tension equals my chain tension.

    1. Glad it was helpful! šŸ˜‰

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