I wrote this piece some years ago and was recently updated, I thought you might like to read it. Those who already do tatting will already know all this but for many of the readers of my blog that are not tatters I hope you enjoy this piece.
THE REVIVAL OF TATTING
Tatting dates back to the seventeenth century although it did die out towards the end of the eighteenth century and returned back by the middle of the nineteenth century, tatting as it is today was just beginning to develop.
There are many theories how tatting came by its name either it came from the English "tatters" as tatting is made up of bits and pieces of rings, chains, picots, ovals and scallops. Or from the French "tatter" which means feel or handle and in modern French the word for Tatting or Knotting (which is what tatting really is) is Frivolitã´. The English Dictionary defines Tatting as a kind of knotted Lace made be hand with a small shuttle and used for trimming, with its origin unknown.
The basic technical is very simple and involves using a shuttle and a ball of thread, also a tatting hook is necessary but a thin crochet hook would be alright if a tatting hook was not available. Antique shuttles are still around but do take a bit of finding. These were made of ivory, tortoise-shell and Mother-of-Pearl, but these days plastic has taken over making the shuttle is slightly larger than those made of these semi-precious materials, also there are wool ones available. Some shuttles come with a hook attached, or a hook lip. The smaller the shuttle the neater the work and the faster a tatter can tat too large and they became awkward and inhibit the movement of work. A tatting shuttle has two points each end, which only just meet this allows the cotton to be wound on to the shuttle more easily.
The best thread is Mercerised Crochet Cotton but alternatives can be used as long as they are evenly spun, smooth and hardest. Although there are some new threads on the market, with a metallic thread which are worth trying, anyone who loves tatting will find it is worth while trying to see how they look and work. Embroidery thread can be used with care. Some of the best thread is now coming from Turkey, and the USA with some beautiful colours and variegated threads.
The thickest thread that can be used is No.5 up to the thinnest No.150 although this thread is only just strong enough and would need to be used with caution as too much pulling will make the thread snap. No 5. Is the best for a Christmas tree stars making them large enough to be seen.
The finer the thread the smaller the tatting will finish up and the size of thread given in patterns are only given as a guide and a more experience tatter can adjust the thread to suit herself. At the beginning No 10 and 20 mercerised cottons are recommended and the use of finer threads will came in time. It is advisable to keep the hands clean when doing tatting although tatting can be hand washed carefully in either a mild washing up liquid or washing liquid, powder does not always dissolve so a liquid works better with tatting. Large items of tatting can be machine washed if put in a pillow case or similar item. As a final touch tatting should be pinned to shape and ironed under a cloth and then left to dry naturally this is called blocking.
Tatting is made up of knots, the knot is a double stitch comprising of two stitches, one a mirror image of each other worked on an independent thread. These are worked to form rings or chains or a mixture of both. Often the work is reversed when working in rings to chains but this must worry the beginner which sounds daunting at first but with patience and careful following of the pattern are simpler than first thought.
Picots are made by leaving a small space among the stitches, when the stitches are pushed together this forms a picot. Further rings can be made and joined to these picots to form designs. It is possible to work with two shuttles of different colours, thus making a design in more then one colour.
To make something even more special beads sequins or pearls can be added in the construction of the edging's or motifs. These can emphasise the design, and can be threaded on to the thread or onto the shuttle. Also picots can be pulled and then cut frayed to add more interest into making a picture such as blade of corn or a flower.
There are many books on the market with an array of patterns in with, and many patterns are both written and done with diagrams.
One of the stitches used is The Josephine Knot, which is a survival from the eighteenth century knotting and was named after Napoleon's Empress and is still used today. Is consists of a very small ring of single stitches which form into a perfect circle.
The use of Tatting can be very vast; Kipling's verse Laces for a Ladies and in Kipling's day Ladies did wear laces as well as the Gentleman. These could be tatted ruffles to the wrist, neck and knee and an theme of the Edwardian's was tatting put side by side in a juxtaposition in pin tucks on semi-transparent Georgette or lawn material for either a seductive or prim wear. Collars can also be made of tatting and can be added to a plain dress to enhance it.
There are many uses for Tatting including edges to tablecloths or doilies, collars to dresses or individual fragments such as butterflies, crosses, or flowers. Handkerchiefs can be either edged in tatting or have a tatted corner added and many who do tatting still make the tatted handkerchiefs as presents even though we now have tissues.
Smaller motifs can be used in paperweights, small frames or even on the back of the mirrors and brushes that have a clear plastic or glass top and where there is enough room to slide a motif in. Very small motifs can be made into a brooch or put in a pendant or key ring. Even blank cards can be used, by placing the motif on a plain piece of fabric (usually clipped by a couple of stitches) and then glued to the card these can then be used for any occasion. Motifs can even be used on a wedding veil together with an edging
With all the endless possibilities which Tatting can produce, tatting can become a worth while hobby not only enhancing one's home but as a gift.
I hope those who have never tried tatting maybe inspired to try this ancient art of lace.
Until the next time we meet take care