Friday, 11 July 2014

Turn Work in Reverse Stitch

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Tatting Tutorial

How to Twist Work when tatting the Reverse Stitch

The 6-shuttle bracelet/braid in above pic is the reason for 2 back-to-back posts. It was made by UshaKota in response to a thread started by Judith Connors on InTatters, titled : Reverse Stitch. She cleverly converted a macramé pattern into tatting (more in next post).
This little tutorial is a fore-runner to that very bracelet pattern. There is a short discussion on the Reverse Stitch & a ‘reverse’ of rs, which will be required for the bracelet.
I have followed the terms & notations subscribed in the above mentioned thread. For a  detailed & enlightening discussion, please refer to the posts in the thread.

Threads used : Anchor Mercer Crochet 4054. Size 20.
Pink : 052 in Shuttle 1 (Sh1)
Aqua Blue : 0185 in Shuttle 2 (Sh2)
(2 colors are used only to show clear comparison)
Please excuse the poor quality of some of the images – despite repeated efforts, some of them just did not want to come out right ! Also, in a couple of images the chain segments may appear confusing; however, when viewed in sequence, along with the text/instructions, it should be clear.

Abbreviations used :
Sh – shuttle
ds – double stitch
rs / RS – Reverse Stitch
FHS – 1st half stitch
SHS – 2nd half stitch
UFHS – Unflipped FHS
USHS – Unflipped SHS
TwW – Twist Work  (not to be confused with RW – Reverse Work, or TW - Turn Work )
SR -- Split Ring

There already exist very good tutorials & demos for ds & RS. The only reason I have included some instructions & images in this post, is for immediate comparison on same page, without having to hunt for them or refer back & forth. I have also included a table to compare the ds, rs & turn work in rs.

I. Double Stitch (ds) :

core thread green (Sh2) , working thread pink (Sh1).

Every tatter has done a ds ! 
Fig 1 simply shows a chain of 5 ds (pink) worked on a green core thread.

II. Reverse Stitch (rs or RS):

core thread pink (Sh1), working thread green (Sh2).

And then, there is the rs – kind of like the opposite of a ds. In Reverse stitch, each half of a ds is Unflipped.
Those familiar with Split Rings know that the 2nd half of the ring is done in RS, & is sometimes called the Split Ring Technique. However, rs is not limited to only split rings.
This is a very useful technique, requiring 2 shuttles for convenience. 
For comparison between ds & rs, refer to table at end. 

The following images show how an rs is made :

Fig. 2A . Using pink as core thread, make 1st half of rs (also called a hitch since it is unflipped) ie. USHS with green. Keep the core Sh1 thread taut while working the hitches.
In rs, since the half stitches are not flipped, the order is reversed 
Fig 2B shows the 2nd half of rs - UFHS being made.
TIP : The only thing to keep in mind while working a rs, whether for a SR or any other application, is to keep the core thread taut at All times. This will easily ensure that the stitch being made Never Flips.

Fig 2C shows 1 rs completed.  And Fig 2D shows 5 rs made.
Notice the switch in colors & direction of caps with respect to the ds.

TIP : If one is working chains, you get a Z or zigzag chain if you alternate ds with rs, as is clearly visible in Fig 2D. 
This stitch is also used in encapsulation. 
I often use rs to change direction in freeform tatting. 
There are lots of other variations, possibilities & applications, which is not the purpose of this post.

Coming to the main purpose …

III. Twist Work in Reverse Stitch  :
core thread pink (Sh1), working thread green (Sh2).
Update : I was hesitant to introduce a new term in tatting where there is already abundant multiplicity of terms. Hence I had gone with 'TW in rs or Turn Work in rs". However, Judith has since suggested "Twist Work or Twist rs" since a) it involves more than a mere turning of page as in TW ; b) the term TW already exists & can become confusing; & c) it involves a full 180 degree turn/twist. I have adopted this term, & altered the text. The pictures, unfortunately still show Turn Work in rs & it will require major effort to alter the notations in each one. Please note the change, however.

Those familiar with TW (turn work) in normal ds tatting, will find this easier to understand. The basic concept, technique & objective is the Same. Just as one would turn work (as turning a page) in usual tatting, similarly one can twist work in rs, at a full 180O

Twist Work in rs (TwW rs) : step 1
The next images show how one can ‘twist’ a rs. ….
Fig 3A. Take the working Sh2 (green), & pass it below/under the core Sh1 pink thread, as indicated by arrow. It is important to keep this thread-space in a tight pinch while continuing with the next 2 steps (ie. till 1 rs is made), otherwise it has a tendency to revert to former state.
Secondly, this little thread space that is passed under should not be pulled too tight, otherwise the entire work will simply get back to the original position.

Twist Work in rs (TwW rs) : step2 - start hitch

Figs 3B,C,D.  show the steps to complete the 1st reverse stitch after turn.

Fig 3B : Keeping the TW thread-space in a pinch, make an over-under loop in order to start the USHS

Twist Work in rs (TwW rs) : step3 - 1st hitch being made

& pass shuttle through this loop & snug. (Fig 3C)
1st hitch or USHS of Turned rs made (seen in next image, after snugging).

Twist Work in rs (TwW rs) : step4 - 2nd hitch being formed

Fig 3D : Make the under-over wrap for UFHS ie, the second half of the rs, pass shuttle through, and snug.

Twist Work in rs (TwW rs) : 1rs made after TwW !

Fig 3E: 1 Twisted rs (TwRS) made. 
Notice that
the core thread remains pink & hidden ;
the stitches are in green ;
the caps of the green stitches face in the opposite direction to the previous 5 green stitches. i.e., they now face the same way as the 1st 5 ds But these are RSs in green color from Sh2 !
Also, since the TwW thread was passed Under the core thread, it is NOT visible at all.

Figs3F & 3G show a 2nd rs being made after TwW.

Chain of 5ds, 5rs, TwW, 5rs

Fig 3H shows 5 rs completed.
This is all there is to it !
If you have done TW or turn work while working with ds, this is just the same, except that one is making reverse stitches instead of normal double stitches ! Simply twist work & continue with rs chain (or ring as in folded rings!).

This is just one of the ways to hold & work twisted rs. And it was the easiest to photograph ;-) 
It is an attempt to demonstrate the principle / technique & like all things tatting, each tatter can use their own way of doing it. 
eg. one can actually 'turn' the core thread, along with the previous work tatting, & work the rs just as one normally would. In that case, the previously made rs caps would be turned upward for a short span, till the TwW rs chain is completed, then revert back to original position.

                                           Comparison of ds, rs, TwW rs

1st Half St

2nd Half St

Cap facing

Core thread

Thread (visible)


wrap/loop ;
flipped ;

wrap ;
flipped ;


Sh 2


wrap ;
unflipped ;

wrap/loop ;
unflipped ;

in rs




A final word :

This (or a similar) technique was used by Usha for the specific objective of changing direction of rs while weaving the bracelet.
However, as I became more & more familiar, through tatting & then while writing out the post, I kind of see an immense potential for easing tatting. It may actually eliminate the SLT (shoe lace trick) which is used when switching shuttle positions in 2-color tatting. Hence this detailed tutorial in a post all by itself.
One can continue working in any direction, in any color as need arises, and tat any element, even though there are 2 different colors in the shuttles !

It is very much possible that this is not something new; may be FS/BS tatters already use this technique. My only excuse, then, is that for Me it is a journey of discovery & sharing. And just as I am learning from the challenges & information passed on by our superior & more experienced tatters, I hope someday some newbie will benefit from my shared experiences.

Happy tatting & stay tuned for the actual bracelet pattern in next post :-)

Update : Here's the mac-tatted braid/bracelet pattern 


  1. Thanks, I've absorbed all this, I think, in preparation for the braid. It is good to have everything in one place and not have to hunt around for the techniques involved.

    1. Jane, I hope your wait is worth it. Thank you for your patience :-)

  2. Extremely well presented, and very exhaustive details. When I made the pattern, so much of thinking did not go into it.. Except the movement of the shuttles to get the waves out. As Judith Connors mentioned in the thread, you have explored all possibilities of RS via the Intatters thread and "dittoed" here. Very detailed tut.. Looking forward for the Part II.

    1. Thanks, Usha :-) You tricked me into this by commiting without my knowledge !! But I am so so happy you did ;-) You, through Judith's initiative, provided us with a real challenge & innovative/interesting twist to tatting and I thank you for that. It has opened up even more opportunities & patterns to try out ...

  3. Update : The initial term "Turn Work in rs" has been changed to "Twist Work" when tatting is being done in reverse stitch. The notation is TwW. Although the notations in images could not be changed, all textual references have been altered , & captions added below images.