So you think you have a handle on rings and chains, do you?  Yeah, so did I.  That is until last weekend when Gary Houtz stood all my preconceptions on their ear with an introduction to Alternate Thread techniques, as outlined in the Shuttle Brothers new book: Tatting GR-8 Alternate Threads.  Now, we get to tat rings and chains at the same time, in multiple colors!   Below, are the doodles I made in class:

AT and dsop doodles

AT and dsop doodles

If the motif on the lower right appears to be made up of what you think of as a ‘daisy picot’, you are right.  The Shuttle Brothers call this technique: dsop, or double stitches on picots.  As you know, the petals of a daisy picot/dsop are usually made of direct tatted stitches (unflipped) However, I bet you didn’t know that you can also flip the stitches of a daisy picot, thus switching colors and producing a two-color petal.  (Yes, you read that correctly: flipped and unflipped stitches are formed on or by the ring thread and the ring will still close correctly.  I’ll admit that this is a bit of a mind bender at first.)

The doodle on the left has an inner ring of petals that would stand up if it were not being squashed in the scanner.  Done in yellow or orange, with more petals, it would make an outstanding sunflower.

The thing that I find most appealing about alternate thread work is that it is very colorful and adds a bit of density and interest to a basic tatted motif (much as block tatting can really punch up a simple design of rings and chains).  The book contains many examples of AT applications that are sure to jump start your creativity, and it is a worthwhile addition to one’s tatting library.  Follow the link above to order the book directly from Gary or Randy.