Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What the Hell is Needle Tatting?

Got The Forgotten Crafts out of the library.  It's interesting, but it's much more "here's some shit you would've been expected to know how to do" than "here's how you do it."  I still don't really know what tatting is, but now I know that you need a shuttle and some thread, and it's "much as a spider spins a web behind her as she goes."

My interest in tatting is based on the fact that Ben Franklin (and I think Hobby Lobby too) have a kit on needle tatting which is the only place I ever see the damn thing referenced.  Knitters and crocheters are easy to find.  Outside of family members I don't think I've encountered another cross stitcher in real life, but I can find them on the internet.  I've at least seen crewel and candlewicking and other obscure needlecraft that nobody other than my mother wants to do.  But needle tatting?  Other than two paragraphs in The Forgotten Arts and Crafts and that kit at Ben Franklin, needle tatting does not exist.  Sometimes I think I want to learn it just so I can make my own needle tatting book and/or kit.  Working title: What the Hell is Needle Tatting?

Despite being written in the 1980's, The Forgotten Arts and Crafts still manages to long for a time when people knew their place and you could refer to people as "peasants".  Such as the peasants who enjoyed the useless, decorative results of tatting.  Ahh, for those halcyon days when the lower classes could be contented with a tatted collar and embroidery had yet to be ruined by the Victorians:

"As the nineteeth century wore on so taste declined (according to my taste at least) and embroidery reached perhaps its pit in Berlin wool-work....

On second thoughts, perhaps this was not the bottom of the pit.  Perhaps that has been reached today, when ready-to-embroider canvases are sold in shopping malls.  Clumsy representations of the paintings of old masters are already painted on them and the colored wool to create the picture is supplied with it.  This is not what the high art of embroidery is all about."

I'm trying to decide what exactly sullies the good name of high embroidery.  The ugly pattern?  The fact that it comes with the materials?  The male author manages to separate knitting, crochet, lace making, and tatting, but there is only a section on "embroidery."  Based on the description I assume he's complaining about needlepoint kits.  Needlepoint (like cross stitch) is technically a type of embroidery, but no gentlewoman would ever refer to it as such.  To appear suitably educated, a lady must remember that embroidery primarily refers to a trasnfered or drawn design covered over or filled in with a variety of stitches.  Such as this.

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