My introduction to tatting goes back quite a few years, to my mother's aunt. No, she didn't teach me to tatt. In fact, as far as I can remember, I only met her once. My great-aunt lived on the family home stead several hours drive away, and the one trip I remember my parents taking me along to visit her, I was too young for much of it to stick with me. I remember parts of the drive. I remember her showing me her spinning wheel and demonstrating how to use it, then coming back to it later on my own and giving it a try. It stopped working for some reason and, afraid that I'd broken it, I quickly left! I have only the vaguest memories of what she looked like.
When my great-aunt died, my mother found herself with a number of items her aunt had made, as well as some of her materials. I had taken up embroidery by then, so when my mother found a couple of small boxes of embroidery floss, she gave them to me. I greatly appreciated the gift, and used some of the silk threads to embrioder a vest for my daughters. I still have it, along with another I'd made. Who knows - maybe some day, they'll be passed on to my future grandchildren, and they'll be wearing tiny vests embroidered with threads that belonged to their great-great-great-aunt!
Mixed in the the skeins of floss were two strange looking tools I'd never seen before.
Looking through my craft books, I discovered they were tatting shuttles. Being the curious sort, I tried my hand at it. The bit of tatting you can see at the top of the photo is about as far as I got! *L*
Although the silver shuttle was quite lovely, it was the plastic one that I found the most useable. The longer, upturned point made it easier to work the thread around itself and could be used to join loops in picots instead of a crochet hook.
I made many attempts to tatt. The only knot I was able to master was the half knot. For those who embroider, a half knot is a lot like doing a buttonhole stitch around a loop of thread. I was able to do a double knot well enough, but I kept loosing track of which one I was supposed to be making in the pattern!
One of the difficulties with the old shuttles was loading them with thread. Modern shuttles have solved that problem.
I picked up this shuttle with a spare bobbin and built in hook at a Walmart, I think. I actually broke it out of its packaging for the first time today and gave it a try. I was able to do one loop well enough, but am totally mixed up on doing the next one. I definitly need to practise it more. The new shuttle is certainly easier to work with than the old shuttles my great-aunt used.
Somehow, though, it's not quite as satisfying.