Reading Tatting Patterns

There are several styles of patterns and while they all look different, they do say the same thing, some just take up less space!  Always check the front of the tatting book for a list of abbreviations used within the book.  If your book or individual pattern doesn’t have a list of abbreviations, here are some of the most common:

ch – chain

cl r – close ring

ds – double stitch

j – join

jp – josephine picot (one half of the stitch repeated)

lp – last picot

ls – lock stitch or lock join (made with the shuttle thread rather than the working thread, also called joining below the work)

p – picot

prev – previous

r – ring

rw – reverse work

sep – separated (or separated by)

sr – split ring


Here is one “pattern” written in two of the most popular formats:

Method 1:

R of 3ds, 3 p sep by 3ds, 3ds, cl r rw.

*Ch of 6ds, p, 6ds, rw.

R of 3ds, j to l p of prev r, 3ds, 2 p sep by 3ds, 3ds, cl r, rw.

Rep from * 4 times.


Method 2:

R: 3-3-3-3

*Ch: 6-6

R: 3+3-3-3

Rep from * 4xs.


Method 2 is shorter and takes up less space, but often times, will not specify when to reverse the work and exactly where the picots are joined.

The easiest method of course, is the diagram, where the finished piece is photographed, or a line drawing made of it, and the numbers of stitches written onto the drawing or photo.