Ratta tat tat
Last week I got a general needlework book from the library – one of those Reader’s Digest books. I used it to help me figure out how to put hair on the little clown doll (I used rya stitch). I leafed through the entire book and (shockingly!) became interested in other needlework forms: embroidery (specifially, surface embroidery, as a friend explained it to me), applique, tatting, and rug-making. OK, I admit an interest in hairpin lace too, but that was pre-existing, and I swear it barely even counts as an independent form.
My mother has a set of dishtowels she embroidered at some point before I was born that I’ve always liked. Though I’ve never thought of doing something similar, I did do a couple of cross-stitched corners on dishtowels a few years ago. Truth be known, I don’t like doing cross-stitch; it bores me. And those towels were dreadful in that they barely absorbed anything. Since then I’ve found the very basic Martha Stewart flour-sack type towels at K-Mart and I don’t use anything else. We could use a few more, anyway, to keep the kitchen linens rotated more frequently. I may have purchased an embroidery hoop.
Rug-making is a physically larger and more expensive undertaking and I don’t think I’ll take it up for now. I may get H some materials for rug-hooking, though. He might get a kick out of it. Applique is similarly on hold and, as I said, hairpin lace doesn’t really count. I can build a loom with cardboard, rubberbands, and knitting needles and I have a collection of crochet hooks already, so I think that will not be a major undertaking to learn.
But the real kicker is the tatting. See, I really enjoy making lace. I knit lace a lot. I admire crocheted lace but haven’t made any in a long time, and have never done the kind of lovely, fine work that is possible. I’ve admired bobbin lace and needle lace, but have felt no real desire to try them; god save us from the hideousness of filet lace. But tatting, tatting. The tools are so appealingly minimal, the work so portable, the patterns so free-flowing. All the silly little rings!
Also, I have a love of the underdog. If you read about lace in any textile books, you will find that needle lace and/or pulled thread lace is sort of the aristocrat of laces. They were incredibly (pardon my yelling, but INCREDIBLY!!!!) costly to make — so costly that it sort of turns my stomach to look at them. I feel the weight of viewing and enjoying something exquisitely fine and useless that was made by the labor of exquisitely poor people — mostly women. There are few, if any, lace-making traditions that don’t have this underbelly somewhere, but I find the antique needle laces particularly distasteful. I realize there’s no shame in creating your own, but hmph. Tatted and crocheted laces are slightly more efficient (and hence, cheaper) methods of lace-making. The discussion of them in the texts I’ve read tends to have something of a dismissive tone. Knitted lace suffers the same treatment. That’s my cue to fall in love with them!
So I bought a pair of shuttles. They are so sharp I’m afraid of poking holes in my hands, so I may get one or two other styles too. Shuttles are inexpensive, so I feel like I can experiment a little. Tonight I finally got the “flip” right — I got the knot tied around the shuttle thread instead of the other end. I can’t do it consistently yet, but at least I have the idea in my head. My hands just have to learn the right motion to place the knot correctly every time.
I’ll be soliciting other locals to join me in an order from Lacis, the American mecca for handmade lace. If you click that link and have any interest in lace-making, grab a cup of tea and settle in.