Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why I tat

Some of my friends wonder why in the world I would do something like tatting, something they see as too tedious and time consuming for them. These folks don't have hobbies that involve a lot of handwork. They don't knit or crochet or do needlepoint or cross stitch. It's hard for them to imagine WHY I would spend so much time and effort on such a little thing. Especially since I give it all away. I can't imagine selling any of my tatting - it's way too much work to get a piddly amount of money.

(Another blogger thought that I was driven so crazy by my children that I did tattoos!! HA HA HA HA!!!! She laughed too...)

I really love tatting. To me it's like creating a work of art. I used to do costume design, and I have a real appreciation of vintage clothing. It's relaxing to me.

My dear maternal grandmother taught me how to tat when I was in high school. I think she may have tried to teach my mother and my aunt to tat, but they didn't or wouldn't learn. I learned to sew on my own, and my grandmother was delighted. So she offered to teach me to tat and I picked it right up. My friends remember me tatting quite a bit during my college years.

Here's my grandmother in about 1949. I think she's really elegant.

My Grannah (and that's what we called her - I had trouble saying grandmama when I was little) was a character. She was well educated for her time. She was born in 1906 and ended up with a Master degree in Early Childhood Education from Columbia University, really unusual for a woman in the 1920's to do. She was a fine pianist and she sewed a lot. I have a cedar chest that she left me that's packed to the gills with beautiful clothes she made for recitals. And there is a tin in the bottom of it with old tatting thread.

My mom's sister says that Grannah was always carrying tatting in her pocket so she could work on it any time she had a moment. She tatting tons of edging for her girls' clothing. I think Grannah tatted because she liked to stay busy. She didn't like folks who just wasted time doing nothing. When she became bedridden late in life and couldn't tat because her arthritis was so bad, she found some other hand crafts to do. She sewed a form of bargello on towels.

Recently, my mother gave me a bit of Grannah's tatting along with the metal shuttle she was using. And here it is. I'm grateful to have had such a grandmother!


  1. What a lovely photo. She really was ahead of her time, no wonder you are so smart.
    Enjoyed the story so much.

  2. Grannah's father had only a 5th grade education and felt very hampered by it, even though he was very smart and owned a LOT of businesses in Lakeland FL (banks, phosphate mines, stores, a hotel). So he made sure all his children received a GOOD education. My other grandmother got her Masters at Columbia too, about the same time!

  3. I like you tend to give my tatting away rather than selling it, you are right its a lot of work for very little money! Lovely to hear about how you learnt to tat, my maternal grandmother also taught me, and like your family my mother never picked up the craft although my big sister is the real expert in the family (Jane Eborall). Lovely to see your blog.

  4. Was she doing huck weaving? That is the first needleart I learned from my Grandmother. I was about 4 and it was of course a blunt needle : )

  5. Huck weaving! Yes, that was exactly it! Thanks, RB!