Tatting is a technique for handcrafting lace that can be documented approximately to the early 19th century. The instrument that is used is called a shuttle. A tatting shuttle is normally a metal or plastic pointed oval shape less than 3 inches long, but shuttles come in a variety of shapes and materials. Shuttles often have a point or hook on one end to aid in the construction of the lace. Tatting can be used to make lace edging as well as doilies, collars, and other decorative pieces.
To make the lace, the tatter wraps the thread around one hand and manipulates the shuttle with the other hand. No tools other than the thread, the hands, and the shuttle are used, though a crochet hook may be necessary if the shuttle does not have a point or hook. The lace is formed by a pattern of rings and chains formed from lark's head knots, called stitches. Gaps can be left between the stitches to form picots, which are used for practical construction as well as decorative effect.
Tatters may also use tatting needles instead of shuttles to make lace. A tatting needle is a long needle that does not change thickness at the eye of the needle. The needle used must match the thickness of the thread chosen for the project. Shuttle and needle-tatted lace look almost identical, but they differ in structure.
Contrary to popular belief, many people around the world actively participate in the art of tatting, and the craft is experiencing a resurgence in interest around the world.
Some believe that tatting may have developed from netting as sailors and fishers would put together motifs for girlfriends and wives at home.
Tatting instructions and patterns can be found all over the web, including some streamlined video instructions.
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