Tatting comprises a series of double-hitch knots we call double-stitches arranged in rings and chains, and ornamented with picots and sometimes beads. It is worked using either a shuttle or tatting needle using tightly-twisted threads.
Learn to shuttle tat
I’ve written out some instructions for shuttle tatting which I hope will get you started. If you need more instruction than what I have here, check out Georgia Seitz’s online tatting class. In fact, even if you’re good to go with what’s here, check out her site anyway. You’ll learn more there than I could ever teach you.
FREE tatting patterns
Visit my FREE Tatting Patterns page for edgings, doilies, bookmarks, and a lot more. Plus, sign up for my monthly tatting pattern by email at the Be-stitched online tatting supply store.
Most of the free tatting patterns on Be-stitched.com use the basic techniques of rings and chains, and are good for beginning to intermediate tatters. Check out the links page for web sites with more advanced techniques.
Tatting abbreviations and tips
Check out this page for information on JK, SL, CWT, and HCR, as well as a few tips on how to add beads and avoid twisted picots.
Tatting: A Really Brief History
Tatting is a lacemaking technique which involves making lark’s head knots over a foundation thread. Series of knots are formed into lines called chains and circles called rings to create a delicate yet sturdy lace.
Tatting is popular all over the world, and there are many names for the technique. Italians call it occhi, meaning little eye. French call it frivolite, which some say describes the character of the work. Finnish call it karriko or reef of rocks, or sukkulapitsi, meaning shuttle lace. Germans call tatting schiffchenarbeit, meaning work of the little boat. In the Orient the word makouk is used. The English word, tatting, is derived from the Icelandic word taeta, meaning tease, knot or pick up.
Early forms of tatting were simply called knotting. Knotted lace has been around for hundreds of years and has been found on Egyptian mummy burial garments.
There is some speculation that tatting itself may have had its modern beginnings at sea. The eyelet, a seaman’s knot, is a rope ring made of lark’s head knots very much like a tatted ring. Historically, lacemakers guarded their secrets well since their livelihood depended on their knowledge. Sailors had no need to guard the secrets of tatting, so it seems likely that tatting traveled with them.
In recent years, tatting has enjoyed a surge in popularity. The Internet has been a great vehicle for spreading information about tatting and connecting tatters from around the world. One of the greatest benefits from this has been the amazingly rapid development of new techniques.
(Reference: Tatting Technique and History by Elgiva Nichols.)