AskDefine | Define tatting

Dictionary Definition



1 needlework consisting of handmade lace made by looping and knotting a single thread on a small shuttle
2 act or process or making tatting or handmade lace [syn: lace making]tat


1 tastelessness by virtue of being cheap and vulgar [syn: cheapness, tackiness, sleaze]
2 a projective technique using black-and-white pictures; subjects tell a story about each picture [syn: Thematic Apperception Test] v : make lacework by knotting or looping [syn: intertwine] [also: tatting, tatted]tatting See tat

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. a form of looped and knotted lace needlework made from a single thread
  2. the art of making such lace

See also

Extensive Definition

This page is about a form of lace making Tatting with a shuttle is the earliest method of creating tatted lace. A tatting shuttle facilitates tatting by holding a length of wound thread and guiding it through loops to make the requisite knots. It 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. Antique shuttles and unique shuttles have become highly sought after by collectors — even those who do not tat.
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.

Needle tatting

The earliest reference to needle tatting is in an 1850 instructional booklet by Mlle. Riego, whose instructions are illustrated with the use of a needle rather than shuttle, although both are mentioned. Riego recommended using a netting needle for fine work, and a sewing needle when the work was finer still. A tatting needle is a long, blunt 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. Rather than winding the shuttle, the needle is threaded with a length of thread. To work with a second color, a second needle is used. In 1859, Mrs. Pullan published a book which called for both a tatting shuttle and a tatting needle.
Some people consider needle tatting easier to learn than shuttle tatting. Many people start with needle tatting, then move on to shuttle tatting. Because the stitches are formed on the needle, they are all of uniform size. Mistakes can be slipped off the needle before closing the ring or arch. If one has to rip out later, one simply picks out the stitches or slides them off the working thread. By contrast, it is almost impossible to rip out mistakes in shuttle-tatting. Needle tatting is often preferred by people with arthritis or other disabilities. Shuttle tatting is more appropriate for single shuttle tatting in which the rings are not connected by arches or chains.
In the late twentieth century, tatting needles became commercially available in a variety of sizes, from fingering yarn down to size 80 tatting thread. Patterns are written specifically for needle tatting, although shuttle tatting patterns may be used without modification. There are currently two manufacturers of tatting needles.


Cro-tatting combines needle tatting with crochet. The cro-tatting tool is a tatting needle with a crochet hook at the end. One can also cro-tat with a bullion crochet hook or a very straight crochet hook. In the nineteenth century, "crochet tatting" patterns were published which simply called for a crochet hook. One of the earliest patterns is for a crocheted afghan with tatted rings forming a raised design. Patterns are available in English and are equally divided between yarn and thread. In its most basic form the rings are tatted with a length of plain thread between them, as in single shuttle tatting. In modern patterns, beginning in the early twentieth century, the rings are tatted and the arches or chains are crocheted. Many people consider cro-tatting more difficult than crochet or needle tatting. Some tatting instructors recommend using a tatting needle and a crochet hook to work cro-tatting patterns. Cro-tatting is most popular in Japan.


Older designs, especially through the early 1900s, tend to use fine white or ivory thread (50 to 100 widths to the inch) and intricate designs. Newer designs from the 1920s and onward often use thicker thread in one or more colors. The best thread for tatting is a "hard" thread that does not untwist readily. DMC Cordonnet thread is a common tatting thread; Perl cotton is an example of a beautiful cord that is nonetheless a bit loose for tatting purposes. Some tatting designs incorporate ribbons and beads.


Older patterns use a long hand notation to describe the stitches needed while newer patterns tend to make extensive use of abbreviations and an almost mathematical looking notation. The following examples describe the same small piece of tatting (the first Ring in the Hen and Chicks pattern)
Ring five ds, three picots separated by five ds, five ds, close, turn, space
R 5ds, 3 p sep by 5ds, 5ds, cl, turn, sp
R 5-5-5-5 cl rw sp
Some tatters prefer a visual pattern where the design is drawn schematically with annotations indicating the number of ds and order of construction. This can either be used on its own or alongside a written pattern.


Some believe that tatting may have developed from netting and decorative ropework as sailors and fishers would put together motifs for girlfriends and wives at home. Decorative ropework employed on ships includes techniques (esp. cockscombing) that show striking similarity with tatting. A good description of this can be found in Knots, Splices and Fancywork.
Some believe tatting originated over 200 years ago, often citing shuttles seen in eighteenth century paintings of women such as Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Madame Adelaide (daughter of Louis XV of France), and Anne, Countess of Albemarle. A close inspection of those paintings shows that the shuttles in question are too large to be tatting shuttles, and that they are actually knotting shuttles. There is no documentation, nor any examples of tatted lace, that date prior to 1800. All of the available evidence shows that tatting originated in the early 19th century.
As most fashion magazines, and home economics magazines from the first half of the 20th century attest, tatting had a substantial following. When fashion included feminine touches such as lace collars and cuffs, and inexpensive yet nice baby shower gifts were needed, this creative art flourished. As the fashion moved to a more modern look and technology made lace an easy and inexpensive commodity to purchase, hand-made lace began to decline.
In 1995 two mailing lists devoted to tatting were started, being TatChat and eTatters. The majority of members had been taught by grandparents or were self-taught. The two groups worked together to promote the art of tatting and as a result the craft has seen a resurgence in interest around the world in recent years.



  • Knots, splices and fancy work

External links

tatting in German: Occhi
tatting in Italian: Chiacchierino
tatting in Japanese: タティングレース
tatting in Norwegian Nynorsk: Nupereller
tatting in Low German: Occhi
tatting in Polish: Frywolitki
tatting in Swedish: Frivolitet
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