A picot is a loop of thread that is located along the edge of a piece of lace or ribbon. Picots can also be included in tatted, knitted, or crocheted fabric. Depending on the function of the fabric, a picot can serve a functional purpose, or simply serve an ornamental purpose.
Like many elements of design, in fabric or otherwise, the functional picot likely came before the ornamental picot. A picot can be made to secure a hook or button in order to close a garment. Thus, the size of a functional picot depends on the size of the object that must pass through it. Of course, ornamental picots vary greatly in size depending on the style and intentions of the creator.
Picot is a derivative of the French word “piquer” which means “to prick.” The etymology here requires little guesswork. It is almost definite that the word comes from the tools used to create picots: sewing, crocheting, or knitting needles. Because picots have been used in these various forms of fabric-making for centuries, there are literally thousands of patterns which employ them. Furthermore, there are numerous ways to create a picot. Depending on whether you are tatting, knitting, or crocheting, you will use one of a dozen different picot-making methods.
In general, picots are made by creating one complete stitch, then creating the first half of a second stitch. Be sure to leave a space between the first stitch and this new stitch. The size of the space that you leave will determine the size of your finished picot. Then continue to make another complete stitch. It takes practice to get the picot right and to be able to make a succession of them in the same size.
For specific instruction on how to create a picot, you can peruse numerous arts and crafts books and websites. The best instructions generally include directions that are written out in text and accompanied by drawings and diagrams. If you have a serious interest in fabric making and specific styles, you may want to consider taking a class. Knitting, crocheting, and tatting are very often best taught with the assistance of an accomplished fabric-maker. Many stores that provide knitting, crocheting, and tatting materials also offer courses.