The needlework called Tatting in England,
Frivolitť in French, and Frivolitšten in German, is
a work which seems, from all accounts, to have been in favour several
generations ago. Modern ingenuity has discovered some ways of
improving on the original plan of tatting, which was, indeed, rather a
primitive sort of business as first practised.
Tatting differs entirely from crochet,
and is composed of stitches forming knots. It is intended as
an imitation of point lace, and is especially used for trimming
under-linen, on account of its strength.
To make the stitches or knots a small
instrument is used, called a shuttle. This shuttle consists
of two oval pieces, flat on one side and convex on the other, and is
made of wood or ivory.
The two oval pieces are joined
together by a strong cross-piece. The illustration shows the
construction of the shuttle. These shuttles are made in ivory, pearl,
tortoiseshell inlaid with pearl, and silver; they are also
manufactured in coloured bone, black, red, and white. The best to work
with are the pearl for a white shuttle, and the inlaid tortoiseshell
for a black shuttle; the prices vary from sixpence to one shilling and
two-and-sixpence each. In selecting a shuttle be careful to see that
the ends close, as if dropped it soon becomes unthreaded, which is
very inconvenient. The cotton intended for the work is wound round
this shuttle, and the thickness of the cotton varies according to the
style of work. It is better to use the proper tatting cotton, because
it is stronger than the ordinary kinds; this is manufactured by
Messrs. Walter Evans and Co. for the purpose. Their Boar's Head Cotton
is also frequently used, and answers very well.
These are made in 3 sizes:--Finest,
No. 1; No. 2, useful medium size; No. 3, the largest.
The Way to Hold the Hands.
Take the shuttle in the right hand,
between the thumb and second finger, and allow the forefinger to
remain at liberty, and rest the under part of the shuttle between
the second and third and on the middle finger. Place the
thread round the three middle fingers of the left hand, so as to form
a loop, keeping the second and third fingers a little apart, and bring
the cotton again between the thumb and forefinger, letting the end
fall within the palm of the hand, while the end of cotton which holds
on to the shuttle passes over the thumb-nail.
To Make a Stitch.
Keep the hands in the position above
described; pass the shuttle at the back, through the loop--that is,
between the second and third fingers. Take the end of the shuttle
which comes out from the loop between the forefinger and thumb of the
right hand, and strain the cotton very tightly towards the right. When
the cotton is drawn through the loop, this cotton must not be impeded
by the fourth finger; it should, on the contrary, slide over it, and
be drawn tight. It should divide the loop into two parts. After this
withdraw the second left-hand finger, which is above the
cotton, and pass it again under that cotton, so as to draw up the
loop. A half-stitch is thus formed, and must be tightened by
being drawn closely to the forefinger and thumb of the left hand. For
the remaining half of the stitch keep the hands in the same position,
but, instead of letting the cotton fall over the thumb, pass this
cotton over the back of the hand; then let the shuttle fall between
the second and third fingers of the left hand, in front, and take it
out again at the back, strain the cotton very tightly, withdraw the
second finger from the loop, letting the cotton which is behind the
hand sweep over the fingers. When this is done, guide with the
unoccupied fingers of the left hand this second half-stitch up to the
other, thus completing one stitch.
The Way to Make a Loop in
When a certain number of stitches are
made, very tightly draw in the loop by straining the cotton until the
first stitch touches the last, and thus a loop is formed. During this
process the stitches should be held tightly between the forefinger and
The Way to Make a Purl.
A purl is a small loop of
cotton often used as an edging in tatting, as, for instance, round the
outer edge of the ovals in tatted insertion No. 2. The following is
the easiest method of making a purl:--The stitches are not made quite
closely together at the place where a purl is to be made; about
one-sixth of an inch is left between each. This space is left free
until the loop is made by uniting the stitches; then the small piece
of cotton in the space bulges out between the stitches, and forms the
purl. If several are required a small space is left between every two
or three stitches, according to the desired number. Care must be taken
in that case that the small pieces of cotton left be all of the same
length, so that the purl may be perfectly even. The purl can also be
made thus: At the same time with the end of thread take the
tatting-pin or a very large darning needle or knitting needle in the
left hand, so that the point may come out farther than the row of
stitches; if then you wish to make a purl, throw the cotton on the pin
before making the stitch; then fasten this stitch, and push it at once
close to the preceding; the pin with the cotton should come above the
stitches. Do not take out the pin before all the purl and all the
stitches are completed and joined together.
Joining the Work.
Place the tatting-pin in the loop that
is to be joined, and with the hook draw the thread of the loop--that
is, round the hand through it--pass the shuttle through this loop, and
draw it up tightly close to the stitches.
A "straight" or double thread is used
to join various parts of the work, and forms very beautiful patterns.
Without the straight thread we
should be unable to imitate point lace patterns, or, indeed, to
execute any designs but those composed of circles, ovals, &c. To use
this straight thread 2 shuttles are required; they should be of
different colours. Sometimes one end of thread is left attached to the
reel instead of using the second shuttle. In commencing a loop the
straight thread is held between the second and third fingers of the
left hand, about 2 or 3 inches from the work; the other shuttle is
held as usual in the right hand, and the stitches and purls worked
with it upon the foundation of the straight thread of the second