Tatting Cluny Leaves by Hand – Needle Tatter’s Version

Making cluny leaves requires 3 basic actions:

  1. Make a loom on your left hand
  2. Weave the leaf on the loom, shaping the leaf as you weave, first wider, then narrowing at the top
  3. Pull the excess loom threads through the leaf, top loop before bottom loop

Experience also shows me that students find this process easier to do once they have seen it in action. Therefore I also recommend that you read through these directions once or twice to get the general idea before taking up your needle and thread.

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.

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, 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.
Finish the loom by pulling the thread up from the pinch between the 3rd and 4th fingers (over the top of the loop formed in the 1st picture).

C. 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 3 threads you will weave with are the 3 leftmost threads (ignore the thread loop around 5th finger). Do not include any of the threads around your 5th finger in the weaving.

A. Beginning at the right, weave the needle under, over, and under the three loom threads.

B. Pull the thread all the way up until there is no loop on the right side.

C. To return, weave the 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, set down the needle somewhere where you will not touch it nor the thread attached to it. It is very important that you NOT put any tension on this thread until after the loom threads are pulled through the leaf. Pulling on the needle (weaving) thread could cause a knot to form at the top of the leaf and prevent the loops from being pulled through.

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 top loop smaller and smaller until it is pulled completely into the top of the leaf.

C. Topmost loop has been pulled completely in. I also pull on it until the 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 ball 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. Done! Congratulations, you’ve made a leaf! Notice that the two threads come out the top of the leaf, at the end opposite from where they started working the leaf. Therefore leaves function in a pattern just like a chain or a split ring.

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 13 April 2003

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