Thursday, October 6, 2016

Tatting Right-Handed vs Left-Handed (more This Way or Tat?)

When I first started teaching others to tat more than 20 years ago, I was sensitive to the difficulties of left-handed individuals to learn new skills from the right-handed. You see I have two left-handed siblings and one of them wanted to learn to tat. Even though I'm right-handed, I actually prefer to use my left hand for some tasks, so I decided to try tatting left-handed.
By left-handed tatting, I refer to holding the shuttle or needle in your left hand. 

I learned some very valuable things from the experience. Firstly, rings and chains progress from right to left (counterclockwise). You can't switch at will from left-hand to right-hand, or vice versa. Believe me, I tried that, too. Once you start a round, you are committed to continuing with the hand you begin with.

Over the years I've taught ring first, chain first, and now I teach finger-tatting a ring first. I always encourage my tatting students to try out different hand positions if they find it awkward to tat with the position I demonstrate. I don't use the same hand position with both hands as you can see from these images.
Right-handed: I grip the double stitches between thumb and index finger and tension by flexing the remaining three fingers of that hand.

Left-handed: I grip the double stitches between thumb and middle finger and tension by flexing my index finger.

If you've been following along with muskaan's "This Way or Tat?" series, you'll have noticed that she points out that her observations are based on tatting right-handed. My own limited experience with tatting left-handed leads me to theorize that progression would consistently be in the opposite direction to that of the right-handed tatter. 

The larger ring was ring #1 and you are looking at it face up. I tatted the second ring with traditional double stitches after a reverse work. As you can see, the wreath will progress in a counterclockwise direction. 

I'll be tatting with my right hand again for my next post. Are there any left-handed tatters out there who want to test my theory further by tatting through the exercises with us? Or perhaps your own experience has shown you this?

By the way, muskaan, I'll include my method of keeping DS and RODs straight in my head with that next post. It will fit in better there. :)

Happy tatting, everyone!


muskaan said...

Oh I love this !!!
Clear pics and instructions. I will add this link to my posts and series. Looking forward to more such experiments :-)

My right-handed hold is like your left-handed one - the pinch is between middle finger & thumb. The ball thread is loosely wrapped around the pinkie Only Once (more like a drape) - with just sufficient tension to make the chain, etc. It does not hurt the finger. This wrap was a transfer of learning from knitting to crochet & tatting.

Corina said...


Jane McLellan said...

It is interesting.

Lace-lovin' Librarian ~ Diane said...

Interesting... I never thought about left-handed tatting until last year when a couple of my students were tatting left-handed. The lesson I learned is that it doesn't really matter as long as each person is happy with his/her results!

Eliz Davis aka Tatknot said...

I've found that many of my students who do lots of knitting and tatting prefer that hand position, muskaan.

Many left-handed people get used to learning by sitting across from the demonstrator so that they get a mirror-like image that helps them translate your movements to theirs. Is that what your students did, Diane? If they follow the diagram in the same direction that you would, they will be starting from the backside rather than the front. This will be a more important consideration when they start adding beads or jewelry findings to their work.

God's Kid said...

I taught my niece how to tat and she is left handed. I had to figure out how to do it "backward" from the way I learned so that I could teach her. She has already quit though.

Dora, the Quilter said...

Decades ago when I learned to tat and then taught scores of other people to tat (I wonder how many of them still tat), I quickly realized that the tiniest, most subtle movements are in the left hand while the shuttle is in the right--so I saw no reason to switch the shuttle to the left hand. Neither did my students. I would be concerned that switching the shuttle to the left hand would work against the twist of the thread.

In my way of thinking, the shuttle just gets pushed and pulled over and under the thread, so I felt my left handed students were at an advantage.

It's interesting the different ways in which we see and feel the movements.

Eliz Davis aka Tatknot said...

It's nice to know someone else tried this approach, God's Kid. My sister quit, too, but that could change again some day.

I, too, think that the left-hand does the more sensitive movements in tatting right-handed. I hadn't thought about possible effects on the twist of the thread. I'd love to hear from some tatters who tat left-handed. I have found it rare for a tatter to choose to tat with the left-hand.

Margarets designer cards said...

Interesting piece, I had one student who was left handed,so I moved to the other side of her so she could see better what I was demonstrating, I was also interested to see you start teaching without the shuttle so they can see and feel the thread moving better, I am thinking about this and it might prove better for teaching at the start

Eliz Davis aka Tatknot said...

Thank you, Margaret. As to teaching, I find that some people are going to pick it up quickly no matter what method you use. However, others seem to get distracted by the shuttle so that they fail to get the flip. By removing the shuttle, I think people get the stitch a little faster. Then I can show them how to load their shuttles so they can tat something bigger and learn the chain, picot, and how to join in whatever order you prefer to cover them.

Pigmini said...

As a left handed tatter and teacher of tatting I found this really interesting. I naturally tat with the shuttle in my left hand and the thread in my right! There have been comments about beads etc... once again it really doesn't make any difference to the finished article whether the tatter is left or right handed! People who follow my blog would not realise I'm a 'leftie' simply because I don't tell them! When I'm teaching a right handed person the 'flip', chain and ring I hold the thread in my left and the shuttle in my right. That does not come naturally, so I have to concentrate and so do it VERY slowly, which is great for teaching anyway!! For a left hander I do what comes naturally anyway!

So tatters, we all know the basics... why not 'practice' working the 'other way round'? Yes, we will be all fingers and thumbs at first, it is good for us!! First of all it slows us down, AND reminds us of what it was like to learn that flip!! I'll join in!!

Eliz Davis aka Tatknot said...

Thank you so much, Pigmini, for sharing your insights. I agree with you about the benefits of teaching ourselves to tat with 'the other hand.' I hope others will answer your challenge and give it a try.

Ninetta said...

Interesting, thank you very much