Making “Split” Cluny Leaves by Hand

When a tatter makes a standard cluny leaf, both threads exit the cluny from the end opposite where the weaving begins. It can replace a chain or a split ring in a pattern.

However, by extending the loom by one extra motion, you can weave a leaf with one of the threads returning to the base of the leaf to continue with the work. The top of the leaf will extend off the current round, with only its base attached (as will the weaving thread, which must be hidden in the leaf or pulled through). Standard cluny would instead be a continuous part of the work. In this way, the cluny made by this expanded loom functions like a standard ring or SCMR, or in some situations, it can help you bridge out from one round to the next.

This method was developed by Melanie Blowers of Marysville, Washington. She was one of my first cluny students, and certainly the soonest to design and experiment with them. Thanks for sharing this with me, Mel!

Just like the standard cluny, split cluny leaves require 3 basic actions:

  1. Make a loom on your left hand with one extra motion directing the loom thread end up in the pinch before tying off on the pinky.
  2. Weave the leaf on the loom ignoring the 2 pinky threads, and treating the two right-most threads of the loom as one thread. Shape the leaf as you weave, first wider, then narrowing at the top.
  3. Pull the excess loom threads through the leaf: left-most top loop, bottom loop, right-most top loop, ball thread.

The result: a leaf with one thread exiting the top (weaving shuttle or needle thread) and one exiting at the bottom. To continue with the work, you must add another thread, or pull the weaving thread back through the leaf (unthread from the needle or shuttle).

In the pictures below, I am using my left hand for the loom, and the right hand to manipulate the needle. I will count the fingers on my left hand from the left to right, palm up. Therefore the thumb is the first finger, and pinky the 5th in the descriptions below. The tortoiseshell shuttle holds the ball thread or loom thread.

Both shuttle tatters and needle tatters can make this type of cluny leaf. The green shuttle in the photos below could just as easily be a needle.

1. Making up the loom


A. Begin forming the loom by taking the ball thread upward from the pinch, behind the 3rd and 4th fingers, and then back over your 2nd finger into the pinch (direction is important!)


B. Continue the loom by pulling the ball thread from under the pinch, between the 4th and 5th fingers, behind the 5th finger, and back up into the pinch from below to above.

step 4
C. Direct the thread up from the pinch between the 3rd and 4th fingers (over the top of the loop formed in the 1st picture) around the back of the 4th finger, and back over the top of the pinch.


D. Secure the loom by wrapping the ball thread several times around your 5th finger. This will keep the thread taut and make weaving easier.

Tip: Your left hand will seem tire easily when you are first learning. This is because you may be tense while concentrating to make the loom and the weaving motions. I recommend that when you are learning, you let the loom go at this point. Flex your left hand to rest it. Then make the loom again before starting the weaving.

2. Weaving the leaf

Tip: note that the only 4 threads you will weave with are the 4 leftmost threads. Do not include any of the threads around your 5th finger in the weaving.


A. You will treat the left thread as a single thread, the middle thread as a single thread, and the right two threads to the right of the 4th finger as a SINGLE thread. From now on, I will refer then to three loom threads. The result should be a 3-veined leaf, just like the standard cluny.


B. Beginning at the right, weave the shuttle or needle under, over, and under the three loom threads. Tension it tightly.


C. To return, weave the shuttle or needle over, under, over the three loom threads. Tension it tightly. Leaves should start at a point. You have completed one pass. (Generally, leaf sizes are described by the number of passes over-and-back in patterns)


D. Continue weaving back and forth, making each pass a little wider. 1/3 way through the leaf, you should be at your widest; then spend 1/3 of the leaf at that width, then in the last 1/3 of the leaf , weave more narrow each time to the point at top.


E. Weaving complete. You’re ready to pull in the loom threads.

3. Closing the leaf

Tip: at this point, you should lengthen the thread of the weaving shuttle or needle, and set it down somewhere where you will not touch it or drop it. It is very important that you NOT put any tension on this shuttle or needle until after the loom threads are pulled through the leaf (pulling on the weaving thread could cause a knot to form at the top of the leaf and prevent the loops from being pulled out).


A. Remove the loops from your left hand, and lay the leaf down, arranging your top and bottom loops as in the picture. Hurrah! Now you can flex your left hand out of its cramped “claw” position! 🙂


B. Grasp the leaf in your pinch. Pull carefully on the bottom loop to pull the LEFT-MOST top loop smaller and smaller until it is pulled completely into the top of the leaf.


C. Left-most top loop has been pulled completely in. I also pull on it until the leaf is compacted to be just a little bit more compact than I like (it will loosen as you pull the bottom loop up)


D. Still holding the leaf in your pinch, pull on the right-most top loop thread to close the bottom loop. If the leaf loosens too much, you may have to tug on the bottom loop thread a little to tighten the leaf again. Note that I am holding this loop over my 5th finger as I pull up. This prevents the loop from twisting (twisted loops are more difficult to pull in).


E. Still holding the leaf in your pinch, pull on the ball thread to close the remaining top loop. Again, if the leaf loosens too much, you may have to tug on the top loop thread a little to tighten the leaf again. And as before, you may want to keep a finger in the loop to prevent twisting as you pull the thread in.


F. Done! Congratulations, you’ve made a leaf! Notice that the shuttle thread is coming out of the top of the leaf, at the end opposite from where it began weaving the leaf. But the ball thread exits at the base, where the leaf began. Therefore this type of leaf functions like a standard ring in the work.

I owe a big thank you to my Dear Husband, who patiently photographed my hands for these instructions. I love you, Steve! Thanks for being so supportive of my “tatting habit.”

This page created 21 April 2003

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