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All you wanted or needed to know about Tatting

Posted November 30th, 2010 by Administrator

Tatting is a technique for handcrafting a very robust lace constructed with a combination of knots and loops. Tatting may be utilised in order to  make lace edging in addition to doilies, collars, together with other decorative pieces.

The Tatting Lace is made with a pattern of rings and chains formed by a number of cow hitch, or half-hitch knots, called double stitches (ds), over a core thread. Gaps can be left within stitches to make picots, which might be used for practical construction as well as decorative effect.

Tatting dates around the early 1800s. The word for tatting in most European languages springs out of French frivolité, which means the purely decorative nature of the textiles produced by this method. The technique was made to imitate point lace.

Some consider that tatting patterns may have developed from netting and decorative ropework as sailors and fishers would put together motifs for girlfriends and wives at home. Decorative ropework utilized on ships includes techniques (esp. coxcombing) that show striking similarity with tatting. A superb description about this can be found in  Knots, Splices and Fancywork.

Some believe tatting originated over 220 years ago, often citing shuttles seen in eighteenth century paintings of ladies such as Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Madame Adelaide (daughter of Louis XV of France), and Anne, Countess of Albemarle. A close inspection of these paintings shows that the shuttles under consideration are too large to generally be tatting shuttles, and that they are in fact knotting shuttles.

There is no documentation, nor any samples of tatted lace, that date in advance of 1800. The majority of the available evidence demonstrates tatting started in the early 19th century.

Older designs, especially in the early 1900s, are likely to use fine white or ivory thread (fifty to one hundred widths within the inch) and intricate designs. This thread was either made of silk or simply a silk blend, to allow for improper stitches to be easily removed.

Newer designs through the 1920s and onward often use thicker thread available as one or even more colors. The most impressive thread for tatting is a “hard” thread that will not untwist readily.

DMC Cordonnet thread is a common tatting thread; Perl cotton is an example of an exquisite cord that is nonetheless a tad loose for tatting purposes. Some tatting styles incorporate ribbons and beads.

As most magazines, and home economics magazines from the first half of the twentieth century attest, tatting had a substantial following. When fashion included feminine touches for example lace collars and cuffs, and inexpensive yet attractive baby shower gifts were needed, this creative art flourished. Because the fashion moved to an increasingly modern look and technology made lace a simple and inexpensive commodity to buy, hand-made lace started to decline.

Tatting has been used in occupational therapy to help keep convalescent patients’ hands and minds active during recovery, as documented, one example is, in Betty MacDonald’s The Plague & I.

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