I am one month off on the Featured Lace writeups – I still have to do July’s important 18thc Belgian needlelace post. The delay is attributable to the Los Alamos fire, and also to time spent developing the LaceNews Channel on YouTube. In working on collecting YouTube videos, it is obvious that there is a large interest in tatting. Of the 1,056 videos so far on the site, 385 of them are on tatting. I also confess to making a statement on another lacemaking blog that I don’t much like tatting… so as penance I’m putting up this piece as the August Lace of the Month. It is quite remarkable.
This little piece is 13″ long and 5-1/4 wide along the centerline. It represents very early techniques, before the method of joining one picot to another was presented in 1851 in the work “Tatting Made Easy” by an author listed only as “A Lady”. Before this time motifs were made separately, then tacked to a temporary base paper or fabric, similar to the finishing method for Irish Crochet. The joins are done by literally tying picots together with separate knots done with a needle. This is clearly shown in the photo below. Another characteristic of early tatting is the inclusion of needlelace fillings in some open spaces. In this regard it also resembles various higher quality Irish Crochet pieces, the best of which include very similar fillings.
The picot tying method is attributed by some authors to France. One such was Mlle. Eleonore Riego de la Branchardière, who in her 11 tatting books advocated both fine netting needles and sewing needles to pass the working thread through picots. (All authors comment on how fine the netting needle must have been to accomplish this task.) The 1851 “Tatting Made Easy” work gives the first written explanation of how to pass a shuttle through a working thread drawn through a picot. But something was lost here, no longer did a single thread pass through the picot.
This method of tatting is unfortunately obsolete, and is not represented in any of the YouTube videos. Someone clearly has an opportunity to set this straight. There is a wonderful density and frillyness to this type of work that somehow has been lost in modern tatting. The use of separate motifs is freed from the geometrical restrictions of conforming to convenient shuttle tie-in points, and the variety that can be assembled is quite wonderful.
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