I need a small portable lace project to take on a trip I’m making and I thought tatting would be the ideal thing as it’s easy to pick up and put down and the equipment is quite small to carry about. I haven’t done any tatting for a while so I’ve been back to the instruction books to remind me how to make the double stitch that is a feature of the work. The image above is the edge of a little doily I bought years ago at The Lace Guild which shows the distinctive rings and loops that are used to make the patterns that are joined together as the work progresses by looping through the picots made at intervals between the double stitches.
I found tatting difficult to learn from a book as the secret to the technique is the transfer of loops from one thread to the other – you’ll know what I mean if you’ve tried it! The written instructions for this always tell you to make the first half of the double stitch by looping the thread round your fingers then passing the shuttle thread through the loop and then pulling the thread taut with a sharp jerk – in my experience this always ends with a knot on the thread not a loop. The secret is not a sharp jerk but a slight and careful pull to transfer the loop. It is much easier to learn with two colours of thread so you can see the transfer and also if a friend shows you how to do it. I was lucky enough to have such a friend who showed me how to tat on a long flight to the USA, which also means I always associate tatting with travel so to take some on a trip seems very appropriate!