Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Tat

This month I was out in Tacoma, Washington for one of the grooviest fiber gatherings you'll ever encounter–the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat. I was enjoying a rare morning off when I found a bunch of tatting shuttles for sale at the Carolina Homespun booth in the marketplace.

Tatting shuttles are used for making tatted lace. Tatted lace is very pretty. I did not know how to make tatted lace. All I knew about making tatted lace is that many, many of my friends have tried to make it, and have failed spectacularly.

So I bought two shuttles (silver, brass). I also bought cotton thread to go with the shuttles (white, ecru). I very nearly bought a third shuttle (bone); but buying three would have been silly.

That morning was my only free time for the whole of the festival, so it wasn't until I headed home that I got a chance to unwrap the shuttles and fiddle with them. My first flight out of Seattle was canceled, so I spent five hours in the Alaska Airlines Board Room drinking fruit juice and watching "Tatting for Beginners" videos on YouTube.

This is where I began.

before-tat

This is where I ended, five hours later.

tiny-chain

To give you an idea of how small that loop is, if I inhale deeply it will disappear right up my nose.

Perhaps you are entirely unfamiliar with tatting and would like to know how it works. Here is a brief overview.

Tatted lace is really just a series of simple knots tied one after the other into a piece of string. You begin by winding the string onto shuttle, as shown above.

Then you pull a little string off the shuttle and wrap a loop of it around your left hand. Then it's sort of like your left hand is doing cat's cradle, and your right hand is tying sailor knots, and meanwhile you are having a sneezing fit.

Tatting is something that gets mentioned all the time in those 19th century books I read. Usually it's the daily occupation of a frustrated maiden aunt with dim eyesight. She sits in her room all day, embalmed in black bombazine, morosely tossing the shuttle from hand to hand. You think knitting has a reputation for being stuffy? Honey, compared to tatting, knitting is a drug-happy orgy being thrown by a Playboy bunny in the zero-gravity Jacuzzi of a rocket ship headed for Jupiter. Tatting is for people who are afraid to try lace knitting because they think it will make them look slutty.

Needless to say, I find the appeal irresistible.

Back at home, as a break from the deadlines that are the reason this is the only post for February, kept at it. At great length, I made a ring almost (but not quite) the size of half a dime.

Then for about a week I just kept making rings, which are formed by a series of double stitches. Part of the fun of tatting is that the very first thing you learn, the thing you must learn before you can do anything else, is the double stitch. But the double stitch is, so far as I can tell, the hardest thing to do in all of tatting. So once you scale that wall, you're in good shape. But it's a very tall wall, crumbly, without a lot of good footholds; and there are gargoyles at the top who keep pooping on you.

Anyway, to practice my double stitches I just kept making them, and turning them into rings.

practice-chains

They're not difficult, really; but you have to do them all perfectly or your chain will freeze and won't close into a ring. If you mess up even one, the only thing you can do is get a pin and a magnifying glass and unpick all the way back to that stitch, one knot at a time, and do it over.

I will never complain about ripping back my knitting ever again.

Once I had something of a grip on rings I moved on to picots, which look like little mouse ears.

first-picots

Here's my current chef d'oeuvre: two rings of the same size with picots that are pretty much the same size if you step well back and squint.

two-chains

I don't need to learn tatting, you know. It's not like my life lacks for diversion. But I spend a great deal of each day knitting, and sometimes I find it fascinating to see what else string can do for you.

P.S. Before you mention it, I already know that there is such a thing as needle tatting and needle tatting has a reputation for being faster to learn. However, needle tatting does not give you an excuse to buy pretty shuttles. Nor am I much interested in going faster. Slow and painstaking suits me fine, thanks.

On the Horizon

On the calendar, may I please draw your attention to a few noteworthy additions you may find interesting?

March 29-30, I'll be at a shop I've been hoping to visit for years–the inimitable A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland, California. There will be both classes and the lecture I think I may need to re-title "The One with the Victorian Bathing Drawers."

April 25ish-26ish, I'll be at dear, old Yarn Over in Minneapolis, and also doing some classes (to be announced) at StevenBe. At the Yarn Over dinner, I'll be debuting my new talk for this year, "Five Women, Five Shawls." There will be history, as ever–but this time most of the history will be personal.

And May 3-6, one of the things I'm looking forward to most this year: the North Light Fibers Retreat on Block Island. A quiet, beautiful island off the coast of Rhode Island, in May, headquartered in a couple of handsome Victorian hotels? Plus knitting? And run by a small luxury fiber company? Do you see why I said yes? Four seconds after they asked?

My life is rough. Come share it.

75 comments:

JoAnne said...

One of these days, I'm going to that Block Island Retreat. Since I'm just a ferry away in Mystic, it would be silly not to go.

I tried to teach myself to tat wnen I was in high school, 2000 years ago. I had less patience then, plus I was left-handed and still figuring out how to do things upside down and backwards. I'm still a leftie (today is our day, actually) but know I have the upside down backwards thing much more under control. I should try again. PS - how did you find Cards Against Humanity the other night? We had one of our best games ever. I think it was the moonshine cherries.

Deb said...

The shuttles are absolutely gorgeous!

I guess I need to dig my old plain one out.

The nice thing about tatting is that it doesn't take up much space in a bag, plus it confuses people even more than knitting when you do it in public.

=Tamar said...

Yay for you! My great-aunt flatly refused to teach me tatting when I asked. Ihe only person I know who tats is a male computer programmer, who learned to do it while waiting for programs to compile during the 1960s.

Lori said...

I taught myself to tat as a teenager, way, way, way before the internet. All I had were some ratty needlework magazines and maybe that Readers Digest needleork book. Just pictures and descriptions to,try to figure out how to get the knot to 'flip' on the ring so you could pull it closed.

In my obsseion/determination to figure it out, I took that shuttle everywhere. After all it is extremely portable, tuck it in your front jeans pocket. My breakthrough came while I was sitting in youth choir on a Sunday morning, when tada it actually worked and I could repeat it. Evidently I wasn't as discrete as I thought because several of the adults in the chancel choir gave me less than pleased looks.

PenCraft said...

laughing outloud. Jupiter. LOL

Elena Jardiniz said...

The nuns at my school used to tat edgings for their snoods out of black sewing thread. The edgings were, maybe 1/4" deep. I never did learn how to do it even though one of them did give me some good pointers on my embroidery when I was small. Her rather reserved interest and encouragement were probably more helpful than enthusiasm.

Maureen said...

Block Island! You lucky devil.

GUNTer said...

omfg
"Tatting is for people who are afraid to try lace knitting because they think it will make them look slutty."
hahahrrrhrhahahahr

Charade said...

This post is hilarious. I can't wait to read it to my old City Knitters friends when they come to our farm for our 3rd Annual Pretend-We're Country-Knitters Retreat and Wine Extravaganza shortly.

The only tatter I've ever known was a woman I worked with for a couple years. She had long hair down to her knees, which only proved she had the patience to become a tatting expert.

dances said...

You are almost to the really fun part of tatting, joining the rings, and then there is working in two colors. tatting was my first needle art that I was able to really excel at. I made many many yards of lace. I have stopped tatting for the most part because I didn't know what I would do with the result. Now I knit socks because there is always someone who wants a pair of socks. Have fun with it it has a lot of the advantages of knitting in that it is portable and fits in a pocket. it also puzzles people who watch you do it.

HoleyFiber said...

Oh, sweet memories... I learned tatting years ago, during the summer, when one old lady organized a little club for kids in the neighbourhood. The younger one sewed toys, but for three of us (teenagers seasoned in crafts) she gave tatting lessons. I agree, tatting is lovely, but oh so slow!!! My best accomplishment was a dozen of flowers/snowflakes that I've sewed on a t-shirt - it look great! I also made a few collars, but since I never wear lacy collars it was not very useful. But since I have a little girl who love lace, and have a small enough neck, may be I should try it again - need to dug up my old notebook of schematics.

mehitabel said...

My mother did beautiful tatting, and after her heart surgery her doctor told her to walk for at least 2 hours a day. So she'd walk up and down her (long) driveway, tatting all the time. I have never been able to learn but have always wanted to, and cherish the pieces she left me.Her shuttles, alas, were green plastic.

Redford Phyl said...

My mother could tat like you wouldn't believe. She tried to teach me, the genius daughter who can do anything, and I failed miserably. Complicated knitted lace charts? No problemo. Tatting? Not happening. My daughter? Yep, she learned to tat and has probably as many shuttles as I have drop spindles. She has never learned to spin.

Toni said...

I'm impressed how FAR you got with your tatting. I spent an hour or two with EACH of my grandmothers as they each tried to teach me to tat, and the only thing learned at the end of each session was two poor elderly women finding out how many swear words I know.........

Rachelle said...

Tatting is something I want to learn too, it's finding the time is the problem unfortunately. I have thread and plastic shuttles already

Knittingand said...

Ah, I knew it! An obsession with 19th century lace knitting is ALWAYS followed by tatting! Those are rings, btw, chains are when you do a straight bit without closing it into a circle :)

Check out http://www.georgiaseitz.com/ if you want lots of info on tatting. The website is pretty badly set out but if you persevere it's a goldmine of info

Judy11 said...

My Mom and Nana tatted. Though both had quit doing it by the time I became interested in any needle arts. I deeply regret not bugging them more for handwork traditions. Excited you are happy finding a new 'needle'work craft!

Jane S. said...

I love tatting, both the lace and the actual process. Yes, the shuttles are way too much fun to collect (I won't tell you how many I have!). I learned from watching a tatting video since I don't know any tatters in person, just online.

You're off to a great start. Slow and steady is the way to go and you will pick up speed without even realizing it.

KerrSplash said...

My grandma was aces at all needlework, knitting, crochet, embroidery and tatting. Mainly the tatting ended up as colorful little flowers like unto your picot circles, in multicolored thread glued to a notecard on which were drawn green stems. What lovely memories your post brings. Sorry to have missed you at Madrona this year. Will not tarry on class sign-up in the future!

Veronika said...

I once got a ribbon of tatted lace on a present, and I was amazed. How could anyone have skill and patience enough to make something this beautiful? Then I visited a friend's grandma, and she was making them! It's called "nupereller" (plural) in Norwegian. But I think she used many threads at the same time. Not sure though. And the thread(s) was barely thicker than sewing thread. I was so stunned that I didn't know what to say to the lovely grandma...

Katy said...

I taught myself to tat but I can't seem to make it through a while project. I'm treating it bit like making mayonnaise, I've proved I can do it but I don't feel bound to do it frequently.

Can't wait to see where it takes you!

Abigail said...

congratulations and welcome to the addiction that is tatting!

you've probably found a ton of good sites if you googled, and someone else already sent you to the amazing http://www.georgiaseitz.com/

but may I also suggest Jane Eborall's Blog: http://janeeborall.blogspot.com/
and her site full of amazingly fun little patterns and tutorials: http://www.janeeborall.freeservers.com/

Gerri said...

I am so relieved that there is a fiber art I don't feel like doing. No more room for any form of stash. But!! You go!!

As for Block Island, I was there once. Loved it. At the time, people said it was like Nantucket 30 years ago. Hopefully now they are saying is like Nantucket 55 years ago.

Joyce said...

I learned to tat from a professor (male) at an university where I used to work. He was still tatting even after having had a major stroke. I was in one of the last tatting classes he taught...several of the people in the classes were taking for the 3rd and 4th times and were still having problems. I jumped right in and had it very quickly. Once you learn to get the knot to pop to the right place, you're off and running! It looks like you're doing great with it.

Garyo said...

Welcome to the tatting land! It took me more than a week to understand how to make a stitch when I started tatting. Flip was the problem. Once you got it, you can tat quite quickly. Not so slow, I believe.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. Maybe I should just chuck the shoebox of tatting supplies my sister gave me because she always wanted to learn how to tat. I am pretty sure that "over 50" is the wrong age to begin a new skill that so many people find frustrating :) I'll just enjoy reading about your progress, instead!

sewmuchfun4 said...

I love this post - it really made me laugh.

I am a tatter who learned to knit a couple of years ago when I started homeschooling one of my kids. With the added responsibility, my level of concentration was severely compromised, and as you pointed out, ripping back in tatting is PAINFUL. Despite that, it can be wonderfully relaxing when you get your rhythm - like ballet with your hands (ahhh). You may have already run across these blogs, but just in case you haven't, check out Jon Yusoff, Tat-ology, and of course, Jane Eborall, who has a ton of tutorials.

It is amazing what a person can do with string, isn't it.

Good luck and keep flipping!

Ann

Anonymous said...

I am a bobbin lace maker. At every demonstration I have done in the last 30 plus years The Tatting Lady always makes an appearance. She usually stands in the back of the group and loudly proclaims to one and all that I am tatting. When I gently correct her she sometimes slinks away quietly, sometimes not. Usually muttering under her breath something about me not knowing what I am doing because I am most certainly tatting. So I learned to tat in self-defense. I can do a row of rings with connecting picots and nothing else. But I at least have something to flourish the next time I encounter The Tatting Lady.

Deborah said...

First point: I'm really impressed by how far you've come along on that so quickly.
Second point: Some day I have to get to one of your classes. When I read your blog posts, it can really startle me to see my own thoughts written out so clearly.

Would you mind sharing some of the resources you've found most helpful?

I want a shuttle. Or five.

Anonymous said...

I can pretty much handle any needlework you through at me.

I have failed spectacularly at tatting. Twice.

My biggest regret is finding those tatting shuttles after my grandmother passed away and not being able to ask her how to do it.

KHM said...

You've done beautifully. Thanks for reigniting this desire. I've had to learn. Interwebs, here I come

Thanks, Franklin. No matter how long I let time go by, you always enthuse me. Thank you.

Krystina said...

"Tatting is for people who are afraid to try lace knitting because they think it will make them look slutty" You are KILLING me hahahaha

Christine said...

I nearly got thrown off a plane once 'cos I had one of those tatting shuttles with an integrated minuscule hook. Tatting is great for travel crafting, so compact to carry. The security official looked at the implement, the attached string of lace and the chubby middle aged woman in front of him and effectively said "I'll let you through this time, you don't look like a threat, don't do it again!" I've always used taken plastic shuttles and hidden the tiny hook required for sorting out oopses in with pens and such. Works every time!! Maybe it's just UK security, they threatened to take a crochet hook off me another time!

SarahSeattle said...

I used to tat while waiting for the bus. I got a lot of comments about 'my uncle the surgeon, who tatted to keep his hands flexible', along with the more usual 'My grandma, (aunt, neighbor etc) used to do that'. It was great for travel. It took much less space than a sock. Now that I've heard that airlines into Mexico will confiscate your knitting needles, I may instead bring a tatting shuttle and string for our upcoming trip.

Little Ol' Liz said...

Oh Franklin, clearly tatting loves you, perhaps more than you love tatting! Like knitting, some of the best patterns and tools come from the gentlemen who venture over to the Dark Side. Look up The Shuttle Bros and Mark Myers for some tatting awesomeness. There's plenty of help online, and lots of women that would love to help you out. Tatting is especially suited to frills, lace, beads and silk threads -- but lose those reproduction crap shuttles. Most eventually tarnish, potentially coloring your thread. There are shuttles of different plastics, bone, exotic woods and such that are a joy to work with, once you find the size that feels best in hand. Happy tatting!

Anna said...

I've never been particularly interested in tatting, since I don't love the look of it (though your account makes it rather tempting to give it a try), but bobbin lace (inspired by watching the demos by the Lace-Makers Guild in Vancouver at fibre festivals) and nalbinding are on the list. Nalbinding will probably happen first, since I already have big needles and lots of yarn. I already do inkle weaving and spinning, so I might as well add to the list of handicrafts.

Susan Sitze said...

I love knitting lace, and I learned to tat a couple of years ago. I hope to learn bobbin lace one of these days as well, but I also just took up spinning. I long for the day I can stop working 40+ hours/week and just practice fiber arts.

Emm said...

Timewarp! The last time I saw someone tatting I was 15 and the tatter (tattist?) was an elderly nun on hall duty. It was amazing how fast that shuttle could disappear into her voluminous habit as she descended like a harpy onto some offending sophomore...

Anonymous said...

I have always admired my grandmother's tatted snowflake Christmas ornaments each year I decorate the tree. After reading this, I wonder if I should store them in the safety deposit box throughout the rest of the year. ;)

Garpu said...

Nice! I taught myself, so I've got some strange habits. Other tatters I've met make fun of how I tat, especially since I use two shuttles (more modern technique) and most older ones use ball and a shuttle. My way means you can make way more complicated things. So... yeah. Don't let other tatters convince you that you're doing it wrong. I've found the older generation is weirdly proprietary about their craft.

Anonymous said...

Tatting, like knitting, has many ways to accomplish it. I have dabbled at it since I was a teenager, regretting that I never had a chance to talk about it with my grandmother. She was a very accomplished tatter and I had the privilege of seeing a bit of her work once. Enjoy yourself and keep us updated on the progress. - Joe-in Wyoming

FoFo said...

My mother used to be a nursing assistant at a nursing home. She would take us to the home on Saturday to visit the elderly people that didn't have visitors. There was one particular lady that I loved to visit and I would sit for hours watching her tat with a shuttle. I was fascinated. I've never attempted to do it but I love tatted lace. Thanks for sharing, I'm sure you will make lovely things.

Anonymous said...

Oh Block Island! Would love to go to the retreat - North Light Fibers is amazing! Beautiful yarn, made right upstairs (tour if they offer!), with the Alpacas hanging out right outside. I have a photo, blown up, on my wall of one of their alpacas from my last trip. I treasure all yarn I got from that trip. If I wasn't giving birth in May...
I love the whole island - hope the weather is nice for you!

Ell said...

I have now tatted (having not thought to do so earlier today). First, I LOVE Youtube how-to videos. Second, "over 50" is clearly fine for learning a new craft. Third, I found plastic shuttles at a local Jo-ann's, then told my mother about it and discovered she had one, unused (29 cents on the label) with a removable bobbin that can sort of be encouraged to spin....

You never know where a day may lead you.

Janis said...

Tatting is terrifically fun, pocket-sized, doesn't scare TSA folks when you are going through security while boarding a flight, and inexpensive. It's also beautiful.

However.

Picking out errors is only marginally less awful than I imagine it would be to eat my own toejam. That is the one thing that drives me apeshit when it comes to tatting -- since the work is essentially a series of knots, you completely lose the convenience of knitting and crochet where you can make errors vanish as if they never existed.

Yes, you can on some occasions when the planets align perfectly re-open a closed ring, but don't count on it.

It's a shame, because the convenience, beauty, and small size of the projects is so appealing to me. But ... AAGHGGHGHGHGH I JUST PULLED THAT DAMN RING CLOSED AND I FORGOT A PICOT AND IT'S #80 THREAD AND FUCK THIS AND WHERE DID I LEAVE THAT WHISKEY?!

Janis said...

BTW, you are now the only man I have ever encountered who tats who did NOT learn to do it while on a submarine or aircraft carrier. For a variety of historical reasons, tatting is a thing among sailors.

Pinkie Sue said...

By far the best tatting overview I have ever read! I have been tatting for 39 years and love the craft. Although the double stitch can be complicated to learn it is the left hand finger drop that most of my students struggle with. I appreciate the humor in which you have approached this lovely lace art with. Here in Oregon tatting is getting more popular and my Lace Guild has many members that tat. Keep up the great work!

Janis said...

BTW (and sorry for leaving so many comments), yes Franklin, you do need multiple shuttles. Seriously. Another irritating thing about tatting is that, unlike knitting and especially crochet, you can't use your implement to make multiple items at once. With crochet, you can have an unlimited number of things going on at the same time, all done with the same hook. If you want to push the pause button and begin something new, you just pull up a very large loop and remove the hook. With knitting, it's not quite so convenient, but you can slip live stitches onto a ribbon and remove a needle if you need to.

With tatting, the only option is to cut the shuttle off the work. Moving back and forth between projects with one shuttle is not really doable.

So you do actually need many shuttles. If you are dead set on using the vintage-looking ones, you can find them -- and enough thread to make you faint with possibility -- at an online shop called Handy Hands. They sell more tatting crap than you could ever have imagined, and all good stuff.

If you're willing to use modern shuttles, I can strongly recommend the cheap plastic Clover ones. They aren't as cute as the silver-plated ones, but they holds TONS of thread and have perfect points on the end for joining by picot.

Also, go to your local Starbucks or other purveyor of conspicuous consumables and buy a little tin of gum that looks like this:

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/108/307483181_6d9d4ddaa9_m.jpg

These things are PERFECT for fitting single-shuttle projects into. Tiny little candy tins are a godsend for tatting.

yarn chef said...

I taught myself to shuttle tat just this past October. I found the YouTube videos from kcabrera74 to be amazingly helpful. She works the double stitches in a different manner than I've seen in any other book or video. I find her hand motions much less fiddly to work.

Lydi said...

Several years back, I worked as a summer camp counselor. One of my fellow counselors was an expert needle tatter. We bonded instantly, both being left handed, and left handed crafters to boot. I did learn to needle tat, but the prospect of trying to learn on a shuttle has kept me from adding tatting to my craft repertoire.
Unfortunately, I was less successful at teaching her how to knit...

Anonymous said...

My mom learned how to tat at a museum when they offered a class. She is really good. I watched her one night for about 10 minutes and pulled it out of her hand and started tatting. I love to do it. I have taught a friend, but she still prefers to knit. Knitting was the hurtle I had to over come.

Some how tying all the little knots just made sense. As a tip, buy the plastic clover shuttles to learn with. The hold the string really well so when you drop the shuttle the whole thing doesn't unwind and it has a sharp tip to undo mistakes. And yes you will learn patience, and you will appreciate how easy it us to fix knitting, its nothing to rip out seven rows.

Enjoy!

sewmuchfun4 said...

The clover shuttles are really good. They will keep the thread from unwinding if you drop the shuttle, but the tip isn't so tight that you have to struggle to free the thread will you tat.

If you get into tatting and don't want to buy a bunch of shuttles (personally, I cannot relate to this viewpoint), you may want to check out the pop-a-bobbin shuttles. I have two and they are really nice to tat with. With them, you just wind your thread on a bobbin (kind of like a sewing machine has) and "pop" in whatever color you feel like working with.

Oh, and not all threads are great for tatting. Some will break on you when you are trying to close rings or twist so much you can't enjoy the process. I like Lizbeth, but there are some other nice ones.

Ann

Ann

sewmuchfun4 said...

Now I'm leaving multiple comments!

I forgot to mention the ott light. I was surprised that some of my knitting friends didn't know about them. They are great - I carry a mini one with me all the time. Comes in handy when you're picking a kid up from a football game after dark. Anyway, they reduce eye strain and you can actually see more detail. When I make big mistakes in knitting or tatting, I pull out the ott light and a magnifier.

Ann

Daisy said...

I tried to learn to tat once. It's so pretty, and I really wanted to do it, but I found the difficulty of fixing mistakes excruciating. I might also have made a strategic error in using an unloved ball of variegated crochet cotton in pink, pastel blue, and yellow to learn with. I figured I might as well use up something I was never going to use to make anything decent out of, but the fact that I hated two of the three colors in it might have contributed to the frustration level.

Winterhart said...

I had a feeling that you would like tatting! Small, finicky and lovely. It's so completely portable, too.

Lizy Tish said...

Oh my gosh, you make me laugh! Laughing out loud, with my husband looking at me funny. I read him the line about the gargoyles and he just looked at me funny again. Whatever. You are SO funny. I can't wait to take one of your classes someday. You tatting looks beautiful.

Shelda said...

My great grandmother was a wonderful, wonderful tatter. I have yards and yards of the most beautiful lace, edged handkerchiefs, etc. She tried (valiantly) to teach me to tat one summer, but it was the only needlecraft I've ever tried that I just. could. not. get.

I even bought some beautiful birdseye maple shuttles. I'd be happy to send them to you :)

oclairedelune said...

Very funny 'description' of tatting. Lol.
I learnt tatting six months ago, and started a blog to share my experience, if you want to have a look: oclairedelune.wordpress.com
I will recommend videos to learn tatting and new techniques, especially the great tutorials on Tatted treasures (http://www.tattedtreasures.com/tutorials/) to lorn the flip and other techniques, and a Spanish lady (http://entrelanzaderas.blogspot.ca/2010/10/clases-de-frivolite-tatting-lessons.html). The latter one has a non-classical way of tatting, but the videos are quite well made.
Tatting is soooo portable that it's a great "commuter" craft. Easy to stuck in a pocket.
Have fun!

Mags said...

Just a lurker and longtime tatter popping in...I have one of those pretty silver shuttles and, not to put too fine a point on it, they stink for tatting. The Clover shuttles work really well when you're starting out, and though they are plastic, they are pretty in their way. Also they have pointy tops that you can use to attach picots (which is your next step in tatting).

Learning the flip is the hardest part. Once you get the hang of that, you're golden.

As for travel, I've never had a problem with TSA, but I've heard the Mexican airlines do not allow any tatting shuttles with integrated hooks or pointy ends (like the Clovers) on airplanes.

Also, you can use one shuttle (usually for a rings-only design), one shuttle and a ball (when you are doing rings and chains), or two shuttles, but usually when you use two shuttles it's because you need both of them. That's a little more advanced form of tatting. You switch back and forth between the shuttles.

What you can make: hanky edgings (no, you don't need hankies with lace edges, but they are sooooo pretty), embellishments for clothes, doilies of course, tablecloths if you're really ambitious.

Anonymous said...

My aunt taught me to tat some *ahem* years ago. I never really did much once I learned the basics because it doesn't have a lot of practical applications. Two points : 1. Victorian ladies tatted because the movements were so graceful and showed off pretty, white hands so well (especially if one was in mourning). 2. If you want perfectly even picots you could have measurements tattooed on your left forefinger.

Patti said...

I bought a tatting shuttle about a year ago (a pretty pink plastic one) and some pink crochet thread and before long I was making rather wonky little loops with mismatched picots, but at the time I was in a bit of a slump and learning something new really takes your mind off things like your father having a stroke, and your husband having a heart attack, you get my drift.

Janis said...

Wow, I can't imagine a single terrorist who would be familiar enough with handcrafts to even register a woman tatting in the next seat over and go, "You know the last time I tried to join a picot in a mignonette, I poked myself like the dickens! I think I'll stab someone with her shuttle!"

Believe me Airplane Security Folks, if terrorists did enough needlearts to be familiar with tatting shuttles as anything other than useless bits of plastic for feminine frippery, they would be better mentally balanced and have more constructive things to do with themselves than to blow up airplanes and kill people.

*clears throat*

Anyhow.

Marci S said...

I pick up tatting about once every 2 years which is just long enough to forget everything I ever learned. I could identify with the length of time it takes just to get off a ring let alone some picots. Thanks for the fun post. I always enjoy the laugh you give to my day.....

Mags said...

From what I heard (haven't experienced it myself), the people who had tatting implements confiscated by Mexican security were told that the U.S. required such strict measures for flights into their airspace. One gets the impression they were being a bit passive-aggressive. The important thing to know is that TSA will let you carry them on the way into Mexico, but you might get your stuff confiscated coming back.

You can always use flat shuttles (http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art40517.asp) (probably should look for some with rounded ends) and hide a crochet hook in a pen (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/118923246384135940/). That might pass scrutiny.

Barbara Chan said...

I taught myself to tat from the little green How to Knit, Crochet, Needlepoint and Tat booklet that my mother bought for me when I was a girl. It was really hard to learn until I met the elderly mother of a college classmate who said, "It's easy when you realize it's just a string of "pearls" on a string." The pearls being the teeny knots. I've since made lace for pillow cases and curtain edgings. I've been saving some lace yardage for my daughter. I've mostly been knitting and sketching, and trying to learn how to spin, in recent years. Now that I've seen your post Franklin, I may just pick up my tatting shuttles again!

Barbara Chan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Judy-Lynne Peters said...

Reason number (oh, I've lost count) to adore Franklin Habit. Your posts are invariably entertaining and inspirational.

Over fourteen years ago, I met a woman who has become one of my dearest friends. We bonded over a mutual love of Jane Austen and all the so-called "womanly arts." Karen, is a tatting proficient. She tried teaching me a bit and though I can manage a few baby steps, I quickly set it aside to do slutty lace work. But you make me want to dig out my shuttles and try again.

Leigh Wheeler said...

My grandmother attempted to teach me to tat, but it didn't take. I crochet, knit and sew, but not the tatting. I did get grandma the needles to needle tat, but that didn't appeal to her either. My mom gave me some gorgeous tatting that she found at a garage sale and a friend gave me a tatted snowflake for my tree. I love it all.

battatter said...

Bravo for learning a new skill. I invite you to visit my blog, which, contains tatting YOU WILL NOT SEE other tatter doing, 3D tatting. Yes, tatting can be a little daunting to learn at first, but it isn't all doilies and hankie edgings.
battatter@blogspot.com

scroll to the bottom to view the video of some of my 3D tatting.

~melly said...

i LOVE tatting. i learned to needle tat first, but there was a certain appeal in learnign to use a shuttle. plus some things (like split rings) are just plain easier on a shuttle.

a word: you can totally use big fat yarn to tat, and do a relatively small motif and end up with a bad-ass tatted coaster! :D

also, check out the instructional videos on youtube by user kcabrera74 she has really long fake nails, but her videos are all show, no talking, and they are really clear. AND she makes her double stitches with slightly different movements that i was taught with, and i find them MUCH easier and smoother than that stupid "flip your hand under the thread" thing.

Leslie said...

I hope you've set aside time for a visit to Lacis (the shop and museum) in Berkeley when you visit Verb at the end of the month. Beautiful antique tatting shuttles not to mention all other things lace...

Anonymous said...

There's a great necklace from Tatsy that offers 3 crochet hook heads, and a small ruler. The crochet hooks are different sizes for joining different rings. The ruler is just cool. See for yourself. http://www.ebay.com/itm/TATSY-Ring-and-Necklace-Pendant-Ruler-Hooks-Chain-/360088437206?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53d6f181d6

Barbara said...

". . .gargoyles at the top who keep pooping on you?" Franklin - you made my morning. Sort of sums up my week. Thanks for being you!

kmkat said...

Looking forward to seeing you at Yarnover!

Elizabeth said...

My mother spent ten years tatting a lace tablecloth - I'm sorry I don't know the exact dimensions, but it's big. She gave it to me as a wedding gift and I cried.

(She has also flirted with bobbin lace, although that didn't stick as long as the tatting which was so much more portable.)