I saw that Jane Eborall responded to some one's question about beads in tatting and thought I'd expand on that a bit. I taught a class last year about the kinds of beads and different ways to add them in. It seems a lot of tatters are confused about using beads and so are reluctant to try them.
I scanned some different size beads next to my shuttle to help differentiate the sizes. Those brown beads in the middle are size 11/0 seed beads, the ones you see most commonly sold and used. They work well with most sizes of thread.
The blue ones to the right of the brown ones are size 10/0 and you'll see them quite often right alongside the size 11/0,again a size commonly sold and used.
The purple/pink ones to the far right are known as micro beads at the store I bought them from. I have some that are even tinier. These work with the fine tatting threads in sizes 70, 80 and smaller. The problem is that the center hole is smaller and you need a very fine beading needle to thread them. If you are adding the beads as you tat, it's almost impossible to find a hook that is fine enough to pick them up. I'm not sure that even the size 16 hook will go through the hole.
Going in the other direction, the beads to the left of the brown size 11/0 beads are size 6/0. They are decidedly bigger and often look clunky on fine threads. These are best paired with size 10 or bigger threads. I like to use them as the eyes in some of my tatting though.
The beads to the far left are either 8mm or 10mm. You wouldn't really use these or bigger beads in tatting except as a single focal point in the design. They're heavy and work best with bigger threads. It depends on the design, of course. Marilee (Yarnplayer) has some wonderful designs with larger beads strategically placed and they make a nice balance.
There's a lot more you can learn about beads - different shapes and the kind of material they are made out of. I see Bree has already posted an excellent explanation and will be continuing it so be sure to go there and see all the different kinds of beads! I may show how they are put on the shuttle and ball thread later if there is interest.
In the meantime, here's an example of the difference between using a size 11/0 bead and a 6/0 bead. I tatted both of these seahorses from Jane's pattern.
The ecru one has a size 11/0 bead for the eye and the other one has a size 6/0 bead for the eye. It really pops in the bigger one, doesn't it? The thread is size 30 in both cases. The pattern calls for size 20 thread but I tatted the ecru first in the size 30 I've been using so I had to tat the colored on in size 30 also to make a fair comparison. Neither are tatted exactly to the pattern since I want to dye the ecru one and beads will be added later when used for embellishment.
Look at what we tatted at Tatting Guild!!!! Totally unplanned and unaware of my search for the perfect oak leaf, Kaye Judt designed one! There are various types of oak trees and the leaves and nuts are a bit different on each. I was looking for the White Oak Leaf.
I have no idea what that thread is. It was on a floss holder without any information. It was just enough for the leaf. I don't remember having this thread or even anyone giving me a sample like this. I didn't particularly care for it in terms of tatting but it came out ok. The ecru one will go in the dye pot. It took me slightly less than an hour to tat at home. At guild, I barely got through the first half.
Kaye plans to put the pattern in another book and may possibly teach it in the coming year.