Tatting, a time-honored form of lacework, involves knotting and looping thread to create intricate decorative pieces, from doilies to jewelry. Choosing the right thread is crucial, as the quality, color, and finish all work together to deliver the final effect. A good tatting thread should stand up to steady fingerwork, with its cords staying wound as you transform the fiber. Even better, a thread should be gentle on your hands and be forgiving, so you can undo knots with ease when necessary. Threads are sold in a variety of sizes, with higher numbers indicating a thinner thread. For the sake of consistency, our recommendations below all describe size 10 thread—a popular option that is appropriate for many basic projects—but quality holds true across a brand’s various sizes.
1. DMC Cebelia Crochet Cotton
The unmatched quality of this thread is immediate upon first touch. Made of 100 percent cotton, it is silken yet not slippery, making it very easy to work with. Although consisting of just three cords, it is tightly twisted and doesn’t split or twist as you maneuver it with a shuttle or needle. Double-mercerized to increase strength and luster, this thread can be used to achieve incredibly fine details and subtleties. Cebelia thread is available in three sizes—10, 20, and 30—and each comes with a good amount of yardage for the price. Size 10, for instance, offers 282 yards of material.
2. Handy Hands Lizbeth Thread Egyptian Cotton Crochet
Thread from Handy Hands’ Lizbeth line is an excellent choice for when color is a priority. Available in a generous variety of colorways, from single hued to variegated, these hand-dyed threads can transform a straightforward design into an eye-catching, one-of-a-kind work of art. Each is made of six-cord fiber that has been super-combed and gas singed to yield a consistent, fuzz-free thread. It’s tightly wound too, to hold its structure throughout the complex tatting process. Lizbeth thread is available in sizes 3, 10, 20, 40, and 80, with comparable sizes with less yardage than Cebelia thread.
3. Kurtzy Crochet Thread
If you can afford to sacrifice a bit of quality for quantity and price, go with this group of cheerful yarns. You get ten balls of size-ten thread, each with 213 yards to last you many projects. The threads aren’t quite as soft and tightly twisted as higher-end products, but they are still easy to work with. Note that colors might vary from pack to pack, so this isn’t the best choice if you want to execute color-specific designs.
4. Simthread Metallic Tatting Yarn
This option offers a cost-effective way to build up your thread collection while introducing some sparkle to your tatting work. It includes six spools of metallic, three-ply yarn that can be used for either shuttle or needle tatting. The threads are more rigid than nonmetallic cotton, which makes them resistant to breakage, but they are also rougher on the fingers. You get five threads in size 10 and one in size 5.
5. Coats Crochet Aunt Lydia’s Crochet Thread
This highly popular cotton thread is soft, easy to work with, and mercerized to show subtle luster. However, it’s not as tightly spun as other favored brands, such as DMC’s Cebelia or Lizbeth, and projects that need to go in the wash aren’t likely to have the best structural longevity. Where it stands out from the competition is yardage: Each size-ten ball (the most commonly available size from this brand) holds a generous 350 yards of thread—much more than any of our other picks.