Thursday 26 January 2012

Burns Night

Burns Night is annually celebrated in Scotland on or around January 25. It commemorates the life of the bard (poet) Robert Burns, who was born on January 25, 1759. The day also celebrates Burns' contribution to Scottish culture. Burns' best known work is "Auld Lang Syne".   To mark the occasion I tatted some Scottish thistles, here is one I wore as a brooch yesterday.

Although I do not live in Scotland, last night I went to a Burns Night celebration in a country house where the host is Scottish.  I tatted 80 thistles to be placed on the table, you can just see one on the right of the picture.

I designed this particular pattern for the thistles myself, it is quick and easy, well it had to be with so many to make!  The picture does not show up the table cloth very well,  but it is pure linen and over 100 years old.

The evening was great fun with the traditional  haggis accompanied by neeps (swedes or turnips ) and tatties (potatoes).  This is when  potatoes sound very much like tatting!

A haggis is a very old Scottish dish, which combines meats, spices and oatmeal to create a very rich unusual, but none the less delicious feast!  There are many traditions associated with Burns night, one being toasting the haggis as well as the "lads" and "lassies".  So as you can imagine a fair bit of the hard stuff was consumed.   There was no dancing but we did sing some Scottish songs including "Auld Lang Syne" at the end of the evening.

A book mark which I gave to someone yesterday morning who is Scottish, he helps with the computer group held in our church each Wednesday.  

Robbie Burns was truly remembered in style yesterday and I am sure he would have appreciated the celebrations in his honour.

THISTLE PATTERN © Sally Kerson 2012

R ring
p picot
Ch chain
Cl close
+ join
LJ lock join
SLT shoe lace trick
VLP very long picot
T & C tie and cut

The thistle is made in two parts (green thread and purple thread), with no ends to sew in for either part. Ring one, when looking at the thistle, is the second ring on the left, you go back and work the first ring on the left with the second shuttle (R4)
Materials required: size 20 thread green and size 40 purple

Bottom part of thistle using green thread and starting with second ring from left:
Wind two shuttles CTM. 1½ yds on shuttle 1 and ¾ yd on shuttle 2.
Using Shuttle 1
R1: 4 – 3 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 6 Cl
R2: 6 + (R1) 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 3 – 4 Cl
R3: 4 + (R2) 1 (5 graduated picots with 1 ds between each and making the third one the longest) 3 Cl RW and change to shuttle 2
R4: 4 + (R1) 1 (5 graduated picots with 1 ds between each and making the third one the longest) 3 Cl RW
Shuttle 1 make a lock chain to the length desired cut and finish with an over hand knot.
Top part of thistle using ball and shuttle.
Wind ¾ yd of purple thread on to shuttle.
First row: join to first picot on top of thistle (R1)
Ch: 1 Lj (next p) – Lj (next p) – Lj (next p) – Lj (join between ring 1 & ring 2) - continue as before until last but one picot - Lj to last picot SLT & turn
Second row: LJ to first picot 3 VLP join to next picot. Repeat to end but only making 2 VLP before joining to last picot on R2. After that join tie a knot and cut the same length as the VLPs, cut the other VLPs to match.

Hint: I used PVA glue to make the head of the thistle stand up straight!


  1. Love the thistles little sis. How's the hangover this morning?

  2. I hope the haggis was piped in traditionally!!!!!!
    My BIL is scottish.

    Looking forward to seeing your tree planting photographs.

  3. The Night of the Eighty Thistles - it almost sounds like and Agatha Christie mystery, doesn't it!
    They're lovely, and you're so clever to have designed the pattern.

  4. Your thistles are beautiful! I have a wee bit o' Scots blood, but not enough to have tried haggis yet! ; )

  5. What beautiful thistles!! Scottish songs remind me of grandma who loves them. I think her favourite was Loch Lomond.

  6. OH MY GOSH!!!! I gotta have this pattern! The Irish appreciate the Thistles too! Is this your pattern?
    it is beautiful, you made them so lovely!

  7. the thistles are pretty! n u r brilliant!

  8. We had a traditional Burns night in St. Andrews when my husband took me there for a college reunion many years ago. (He went to St. Andrews University in the states and spent a year at the university in Scotland during that time.) The haggis I had there wasn't nearly as good as the haggis I had in Glencoe on that same trip - that was really delightful.

    Any chance you'd share the pattern for the thistles? They are lovely.

  9. Lovely thistles! And you made 80?! Wow! Hope you had a right good time.

  10. I did have the... guts... to try haggis a few years ago when I was in Edinburgh. It was... different! Not my usual vegetarian fare! No thistles at that table though.

    Yours certainly do justice to the vintage linen. They are just great. And so many!

    i love Maureen's mystery take on the theme...

    Lovely post.
    Fox : )

  11. You tatted 80 of these? I'll bet you never want to see another one! Lovely, but how time consuming. Sounds like a lovely time was had by all.

  12. Your thistles are wonderful!!! :)

  13. Anne, no sadly the haggis was not piped in by a piper only a recording of one! Sorry no pictures of tree planting.
    Maureen, the evening was set in very beautiful surroundings and in many ways reminded me of the the Agatha Christie era!
    Diana, I love haggis and eat it at other times of the year.
    umintsuru, we sung Loch Lomond
    Karrieann, it is my pattern made up especially for this occasion.
    Val thank you very much
    Gina I tatted a lot of them over Christmas, and no I don't want to see anymore until next year!
    Suztats, 80 because the tables were huge, and I had a marvelous time thanks.
    Teresa, So you know what a great evening a Burns night is!
    Fox the vintage linen was a white as snow and the thistles looked as though they had been embrodiered on them
    Thanks God's Kid

    I will put the pattern on my blog after I have got it checked over by big sister! Just need to recover from last night and catch up with things first!

  14. I agree with everyone, your thistle pattern is so effective! And I can't believe you tatted that many. I bet you got lots of compliments on the night.

  15. Gorgeous Thistles, that was a labour of love.

    I hope your enjoyed Burns night,


  16. I found your thistle while searching on Pinterest. It's absolute perfection. Here's my question. My daughter is engaged to be married and I am refinishing a wedding trunk for her. The young man she is marrying is of Scottish heritage. The groom's party are even wearing kilts for the wedding, right down to the 3 yr old. Bagpipers of course! Would you be willing to make your thistles for me to decorate the inside of her trunk? I don't know if you do this kind of thing, but I just know how perfect they would be. Please let me know as soon as possible. You can email me at thank you so much!

  17. Hi there - similar to the previous poster I'm wondering if you'd be willing to make your thistle for me as decorations for my wedding next year. I'd love to put them on my invites (so would need around 20-30). Please email me at Thanks, Laurena (Canberra, Australia).

  18. Thank you for posting the pattern I was wondering if I could refure to your blog when I get around to posting some thistles in the future?

  19. Please do, look forward to seeing them

  20. Your thistles are beautiful! I wish I had the talent for tatting, but alas I barely can knit. I saw several people have asked if you would take orders for your thistles, if you would I would be interested in several as bookmarks. My email is Either way your work is beautiful and a treat to see, Thank you!

  21. Oh, thank you sincerely for sharing your Original Tatting Pattern....former Scottish Country Dancer (50lb more RCDS for me).

  22. Pleased you like the pattern, here is a more updated version
    by fraying the end they look far more authentic. Happy Tatting! Even if not Dancing!!!

  23. I just found this thistle...Thank you for sharing. I do Rita Cochrane's Thistle-do pins for my hubby's flashes. I've been known to tat a pair of earrings too...I can see this as well...

    1. Glad you like the thistle Cynthia. I’ve used it in lots of ways.


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