Tatting Cluny Leaves by Hand

The following pictures are “notes” taken at a quick cluny class I gave in Tokyo in November, 2000. My students were two very good tatting friends, Yukiko Higashi and her friend Yuko. We got a lot of help with translations from my friend and co-worker, Mayumi Seki. Mayumi-san is not a tatter, but she learned a lot about tatting cluny leaves that day!

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.

While it is possible to make leaves by means of shuttle and ball, I recommend that beginners use 2 shuttles. If their two shuttles are identical, one should be marked so that it is easy to designate one as the “weaving shuttle” and one as the “ball thread.” By having the ball thread on a shuttle, you will eliminate any interruptions from chasing a dropped ball, and it will be easier to keep the tension on the loom on the left hand.

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 threads and shuttles.

In the pictures below (taken by Yukiko-san), I am using my left hand for the loom, and the right hand to manipulate the shuttle. 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

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

B. To return, weave the shuttle 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)

C. 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.

D. 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, 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 until after the loom threads are pulled through the leaf (pulling on the weaving shuttle 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 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.

Here we are, the authors, taking a well deserved break for dessert! Amazingly enough, there was no chocolate, and it was still good 🙂

Yukiko Higashi, Mimi Dillman, Yuko
Mayumi Seki, Mimi Dillman, Yukiko Higashi

This page content created 1 December 2000

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