Tatting – The Art of Lace Making

Tatted Snowflake using thread ball and shuttle

Aah! Lovely Tatting!  Perhaps this is one of my favorite classes to teach.  It is so simple and yet so cumbersome for the beginner to learn.  It is unlike any of the needlework hand positions with which experienced needle artists are familiar. 

I was fortunate to live next door to my little grandmother while I was growing up.  I was always fascinated watching her tat away with beautiful threads making lace edgings on everything.  I was 8 years old when my older sister and I decided we wanted to learn to tat.  Try as she did, grandma was unable to slow down enough to show us how to make the simple knot.  The next day she brought us a book – “Learn How to Tat” – and told us to read the book and then come to her with any questions.  My older sister carefully read the directions as I held the shuttle and did exactly what the instructions said to do.  When I had the knot firmly in my head, I showed my sister and she, too, caught on quickly.  One problem – we could only make the knots.  We were unable to pull the thread, as the book had instructed, and make the pretty rings which are the trademark of traditional tatting.  We ran next door to visit grandma.  Now that we knew how to make the knots, grandma was able to show us how to flip the knot to the other side (sounds cryptic, doesn’t it) and then we were able to make those pretty rings. 

I was so fascinated with the entire process and the “magic” of slipping the knot to the other thread that tatting became one of my favorite things to do.  Growing up, I made tatting for some of the dresses I made – particularly lace around the collars.  I never met anyone else who knew how to tat and the idea of teaching tatting never occurred to me.  When I moved to Virginia, the first thing I did was look up the local needle arts store.  As I was buying my pearle cotton thread, the owner of the little shop asked me what I was doing with it.  I told her I used it in my tatting.  She was so excited to have found someone who knew how to tat that she asked if I would be willing to teach tatting in her shop.  Thus I began creating tatters in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  I loved teaching the tatting classes.  I often wonder how many of my former students are still tatting.  Now, decades later, I am still teaching tatting, but now I am teaching in a quilt and sewing shop.  I have advanced my skills to new levels and am always excited to find something new about tatting.

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