Tatting. Is it just me, or does the name not sound AT ALL like the thing it describes? Things should really. Like wobbly jelly. Sounds like it is. And belly. Well, as a mum I now know why that sounds like wobbly jelly. But tatting?
This is tatting. Not some sort of shabby gossipping (tatty/chatting – see where I went there?) – or tapping your feet absent mindedly on a hard surface. It’s a form of lace. This is the above motif on my hand:
Yes, as if I didn’t have enough craft and needlework inspiration going on in my head, I dusted off an old craft I learned when I was 12. Tatting is a really really old art, lace made from knotted thread and actually pretty robust because of all the knots. It’s normally made with a shuttle, but I never got the hang of it. I learned needle tatting because it’s MUCH easier. It’s probably not as neat or perfect, but really? Perfect lace? Am I that OCD?
I learned it from this book, although didn’t get that good at it then, it required more patience and time than my 12 year old self was (quite rightly) willing to put in.
Sadly I have lent out or misplaced this book. Those teardrop shaped things on the front are shuttles, made of everything from plastic to bone. I have always used a darning needle – the needle should be as long as possible, and thin without much of an eye; about the same width as your thread, or not much bigger. I never found the perfect needle for my occasional craft. Until a few weeks ago when I half-interestedly googled “tatting needle” – and it seems in the last 28 years (28!! how can that be?) a couple of shops selling tatting equipment have opened. I got myself a bone-fide tatting needle from here: http://www.roseground.com/ , and some beautiful threads made for crochet and tatting made by “Lizbeth” and started:
The above is going to have an edge all the way round to make a… doily. I have never had a doily in my life. but seems I am going to change that very soon.
The above 2 patterns came from this book which I treated myself to along with the tatting needle:
It’s a really beautiful book – BUT the “how to tat” is written for shuttle tatters only. If you can needle tat already, then it has some really lovely patterns. I never learned how to tat with 2 needles, although I think you can – some of the patterns are for 2 shuttles, so if that puts you off then so be it.
The next 2 are also from the book, although I misread the pattern of the first, so it’s not really accurate.
This motif above is worked in LIzbeth crochet thread size 20 in “juicy watermelon”
…and this bookmark is Lizbeth crochet cotton size 20 in “Tropical Punch”
All these have been worked with size 20 thread and a size 7 tatting needle, which seemed to give the nicest result. I tried tatting size 20 thread on a bigger needle (paradoxically a size 5 needle, they, like thread, get smaller as the number gets bigger), but the stitches were loose and the whole thing looked… well, tatty. Boom.
The “brick” of tatting is one stitch only – the double knot, consisting of two halves which you make separately. With needle tatting you put the stitches onto the needle and then slide them off onto thread. Here are some action shots – I borrowed the Hubster’s camera arm to help last night in front of the TV
First half of double stitch:
Second half of double stitch
Leaving a space between stitches makes a picot (“pee-coh”) which is a decorative loop of thread which can also be used to join:
Some stitches on the needle – when these slide off they will make the next chain:
Obviously I just wanted to give you a flavour of the craft – in no way is this a tutorial! I’m not going to lie to you, learning it can be a fiddly process and it will probably take time – and a fair amount of unpicked stitches when you have fogotten to join picots – but it is a cheap, pretty hobby and very satisfying somehow.
(A bookmark made with an immediate download PDF pattern I bought for £1.25 from an ETSY seller here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/164157235/5710-vintage-tatting-pattern-for-tatted?ref=shop_home_feat_2 . See, tatting is alive and well!)
If you fancied giving it a go, I would recommend getting a tatting needle and some nice thread, maybe in variegated (changing) colours – the needle was £3 and the thread slightly less. Probably start with a bigger needle (number 5) and a chunkier thread – maybe perle cotton size 8 would be nice and comes in gorgeous colours to make it easier to see when you are starting out. The thinner the thread (and needle) the daintier the tatting. I’m thinking of trying size 40 Lizbeth next. I guess the outlay will be a good book, or finding a good youtube video to teach you. You never know, once Kiddo is settled into school (his second day today!) I might do a wee “how to” series myself! It’s a shame to let this lovely craft die.
And what am I going to do with all these? I have NO idea. No wonder my practical husband is completely baffled by this! Wait until I sew one onto a beautiful lavender pillow, then he’ll be impressed. Or not…
Back to sewing next time, kiddo and his pals starting school has prompted a little flurry of sewing happiness – pencilcases, zippered money-pouches, lunch bags… ahhhh, bliss!
Until the next time, Poppy xx