3 January 2010


TattingChic and I were having a 'natter' via email a couple of days ago after a remark at her Lace Guild about something and this got both of us thinking and talking!!!  I've had the same thing said to me many years ago when I abandoned the lace bobbins to return to the shuttle.

'They' say that tatting is NOT lace.  DUH!!!!  So off went dear old brain cell 3 into the unknown territory of the internet (without his safety gear too!!).  

First of all IS it lace or not?  The first link I found was this!  This defines for the clothing industry that tatting IS lace.  Then onto Wikipedia for this link.  Very interesting as it certainly does define tatting as lace.  

Another thing that number 3 learnt whilst on his outing was that the definition of TATTED lace was that it was made with a shuttle!  No mention of the needle at ALL!!!!  Personally I always call it a knotted lace made using a shuttle too.

This is really not at all surprising as the current way of needle tatting is a relatively recent idea - certainly within my lifetime.  In the 'dim and distant past' a needle was sometimes used instead of the shuttle to make the transferred knot.  The way the thread is manipulated using a needle nowadays is entirely different to the shuttle method.  I like the name of 'faux tatting' to define the difference between the two ways of achieving ALMOST the same thing.  I tried needle tatting in the past (actually as soon as I saw it advertised back in the 70's).

At first the needle appealed to me as a 'teaching tool'.  One that may help to show people and get them comfortable with the way the knot should look.  I realised that there were WAAAAYYYY too many ends to sew in and the resulting piece didn't 'do' it for me as it wasn't firm and was a a lot bulkier than that which I could achieve with the shuttle.  So tat was the end of tat and a rapid return to the traditional shuttle ensued!!!  

Nowadays there seems to be a 'zone' where shuttle tatting is being 'needled out' (get the pun?!?!?!) by the needlers.  Actually as you don't need either 'tool' I wonder what I'm talking about!!!  

Hang on, what did I just say?  

Actually that's right - you don't need a tool to tat - you can just manipulate the thread without.  Nowadays it's called 'finger tatting'.  VERY useful for many reasons.

BUT you can't 'do' needle tatting without a needle - you can't 'finger tat' it!!!  Tatting IS the formation of the stitch by reversing the thread as a reverse-hitch stitch onto it's own thread. The needle needs something for the thread to wrap round - without which it's a 'lost cause'.  AH, perhaps it could be called 'wrapped tat lace'!!!!  Somebody could then write a rap for the wrapped tat lace'!!!!  

BOY, all that thinking was hard work for number 3 to work out!!!

Hey, ho, this is all heavy going for only the third day of the New Year!!!!  


Bonnie said...

Really?!, there artists out there that say tatting isn't lace? That seems hurtful, it is hard to believe that "they", no matter what their art of choice is, would talk negatively about any other art. So very very sad. Tatting is the art of making lace! Thank you for clearing this up, #3.

Clemintine said...

Really? No mention at all of a needle? Funny then that your first link says this: "Tatters may also use tatting needles instead of shuttles to make lace... Shuttle and needle-tatted lace look almost identical, but they differ in structure."
and you wiki link says: "Knotted lace; including macramé and tatting. Tatted lace is made with a shuttle or a tatting needle."
Do you consider crochet lace to not be lace because it wasnt originally considered lace? Do you think that knitted lace isnt actually lace, but instead "lacy" as many people suggest?
Is cro-tatting not lace? Granted it is also a relitively new addition to the art, but it is very popular in Japan.
I don't mean to be crabby, but seriously. That is becoming a tired argument. Part of the beauty in any art is finding new methods of doing things, new ways that are out of the standard... and I consider that to be the same with textiles.

Sunela said...

You are soooo brilliant!! I love your comment - BUT needle tatting requires a needle and can't do finger tatting. I also started on Needle Tatting but don't like the look of it (when I do it). I have seen it done very tightly by others. Wonder how they get that accomplished.

Fox said...

Well, #3 made it finally clear to me; the penny dropped, so to speak, when you wrote about how the thread needs the needle, but the stitch on its own thread was different and resulted in the knot of shuttle tatting. Great explanation, Jane, for something that was fuzzy in my head from the beginning.

I have tried needle tatting and still could not explain the difference in words.

Great post.
Fox : )

Ridgetatter said...

I'm a traditional shuttle tatter. I think some of the confusion is regarding the word "needle". Historically, a sewing needle has been used to carry the thread ~ same as a shuttle.
THEN there is the Needle Tatting and Cro Tat that came along in the 70
s. THAT is faux tatting. It really doesn't look like traditional tatting. It's bulkier, looser, floppier ~ it lacks 'hand'. It is fine for what it is ~ FAUX tatting.
No, crochet, knitting and cro tat are not lace...they are similar but not the same. Crochet and knitting et al are formed by LOOPS, not a half hitch stitch. Not the same thing at all. Macrame is a different breed totally, more akin to 'knotting' or typing knots like Boy Scouts!

I don't see this as a 'tired issue'. I think it is important that we don't abandon a historical, tradition and replace it with a 'pretender'.
If you want to tat with various sized needles ~ fine. But it isn't lace making.
I think my pet peeve is that needle tatters sometimes act as though theirs is the BEST way; even an improved "new method'. Well, it's best if you can't learn to shuttle tat and do a flip; or want to use really bulky threads; although I have a 6' Lady Hoare shuttle that handles large, soft thread just fine. (for a muffler, scarf, shoulder wrap)

I think brain cell #3 is spot on and I raise my shuttle in salute!


Maureen said...

Using the needle as a shuttle is "inverted tatting" - Judith Connors does a lot of that. It's useful if you have tight spaces to join into. Judith makes the most stunning flowers using the inverted tatting technique.

Clemintine said...

I don't mean to be a troll, but i'm just going to point out that the word macrame came from a quote on a link.. and also that it is made by forming either full hitch, or *half hitch* knots. Also I'm going to point out that cro-tat patterns were published in the early 19th century.. and needle tatting has been around from the early 20th centry, not the 70's though that is about the time they started becoming popular. I'm also going to point out that irish crochet is definately lace.
I think the point is more the result, the comfort the worker has with various forms, and the JOY the one gets from making lace....

TAT19540 said...

If you use a small enough needle you can achieve a pretty close look with a needle as shuttle. Needle tatting works better with thicker threads than thinner. I do both. I like the look of the shuttle for fine and delicate work. To pigion hole lace as only being made by bobbins or the like is really not taking into account all the other ways lace can be made, either by a shuttle or crochet hook(Irish Lace) or a needle as in some of the Scandinavian lace work. People need to understand as long as someone can produce it by hand and not machine made, lace is still lace-no matter what tool you use to produce it. I like what you said brain cell#3.

Jane Eborall said...

Clemintine - Could you please give links to the early cro-tatting patterns and the early 20th century needle tatting so I can take a look? Irish crochet is certainly lace!!!! No doubt about that!!! I believe anything which forms a pretty fabric around holes is lace!!!!
TAt19540 - I agree about pigeon holing 'lace'. It's good to point out that 'machine made lace' is made with a machine, though!!! I have seen good needle tatting done but only on a very fine needle. Sadly there's a lot done in thick threads or yarn which really does the craft no favours. Makes poor old brain cell 3 squirm!!!!

Clemintine said...

Sure thing! The cro-tat reference I made is actually in Godey's Lady Book vol. 78 which was published in 1869
I found a link to it on georgia Seitz's site.

I cant for the life of me remember where I put the early needle instructions. I'm pretty sure it was either through project gutenburg or the APL. But I'll keep looking. I'm sure that pointing out how old things are wont change any oppions.. which is not my aim. I guess I'm just tired of being told that I'm stupid, lazy, or doing "fake lace" just because I prefer different ways of doing things.
I figure, if people cant accept new meathods, then we might as well just say that cutwork is the only lace there is, considering that most surviving pieces are cutwork or netting (Egypt, China, the infamous Cuthbert) other then small fragments left hanging from clothing in ancient chineese tombs.

❦TattingChic said...

Well said Jane and Beverly! Applause! Applause! I think the issue with Tatting and Needle Tatting is that "Tatting" requires the making of the "reverse hitch stitch" not the "Hitch stitch" as in needle tatting! There's "Tatting" and then there's "Needle Tatting". The argument lies in the fact (and it is a fact, ladies and gents, regardless of what side of the fence you are on) that the formation of the knot is not at all the same! Therefore to say you are tatting when you are using a needle is actually KNOT true! You are "needle-tatting" and like it or KNOT there is a difference! However, I think it's KNOT fair to say that needle tatting isn't lace either, it is, but it's "Needle tatted lace", not "Tatted lace".

Creative Commons Licence

Happy Beaks

Happy Beaks
I beg your pardon? I didn't quite catch what you said.