December 5th, 2012
No pictures yet of my recent love affair with the armistice blouse, but here’s a sneak peek in the form of tatted edging.
This is the collar that will soon be attached to my latest blouse. You can’t see it terribly well in the picture, but the fabric is a nearly sheer white with pale grey pin stripes. I used pink cotton for handkerchief hemming and fagotting, so naturally had to whip up a few lengths of pink tatted edging to match. It’s an embarrassingly simple pattern (I have yet to quite master the whole two-shuttle thing), but at least it works up relatively quickly.
And it’s such fun taking my tatting around with me. Everyone is always curious about what I’m doing.
According to some histories I’ve read, tatting was developed centuries ago by nuns. Is it just me, or was all needlework developed by nuns? They say it caught on in the European courts when the ladies in waiting (always eager for something tasteful to pass the time) discovered how well tatting showed off their taper fingers* as they tied all those teeny knots. Elaborate and richly decorated shuttles of precious metal or ivory were de rigueur up through the Victorian era. I purchased a reproduction sterling silver filigree shuttle myself a few years ago, but was dismayed to find it stained my thread with tarnish. Perhaps a bath in lemon juice…
But really, it’s easier to stick to the mid-20th century metal ones, with their handy little bobbins that pop in and out. They even have a hook on the end for picking up the picots — though I find it works much better with a crochet hook. My absolute favorite shuttle is red plastic, without a separate bobbin (they can sometimes unwind at inconvenient moments) but I can’t seem to put my finger on its present location.
*Taper fingers is a ridiculously overused, semi-erotic 19th-century phrase — sort of the “heaving bosoms” or “throbbing member” of a more decorous time. For example, from Tom Cringle’s Log, circa 1832: “Then again—as I praised his lovely taper fingers—they were more like bunches of frosted carrots, dipped in a tar-bucket, with the tails snapt short off…”