Friday, August 16, 2013

Well you DID ask....!!!

Someone asked me the other day about my tatting read at your own risk of boredom!!

I learned to tat at the Numurkah Community Centre in northern Victoria in 1999. Diana Eckett from Melbourne was the teacher and the class was 2 half days. The cost was $40 plus threads. I saw it on the notice board and, having wanted to learn lacemaking for years, I enrolled......

Now what noone told me was that tatting and bobbin lace are NOT the same thing!!!

Diana handed out these funny looking plastic thingys and some thread and I thought…

Ahhh…......Earth to stupid?…........I don't think this class is what you think it is…….

(But I HAD paid and it all looked very interesting … I stayed and played. Thank goodness!!)

On the first day we learned to flip the stitch using two colors of wool and using finger tatting as though for a chain so we could see the color change when the flip occurred.

We then progressed to the ring once we could flip the stitch consistently. After getting the ring we "earned" our shuttle and did a simple ring/chain edging. Thinking back, it was a huge achievement for the first lesson, and a great credit to Diana's teaching ability. Sadly Diana is no longer with us to thank personally for those lessons. but her words and kindness are fondly remembered.

Went home that afternoon and suddenly everything was tatting thread from cows tail hair  to baling twine. Tatted chains and rings sitting on the back of the trailer coming in from feeding the cows. I was totally hooked after ONE day….(have tatted since using anything from grass, corn ear fibre, human hair to licorice straps...!!)

On the second day we progressed to an actual pattern which was an edging from the Rebecca Jones book The Complete Book of Tatting. Followed by a tricky little pattern from the Heritage Patterns Book from the Queensland Lace Guild. Swapping threads over with SLT ......WOW!! So I stayed for the afternoon class as well..

At the end of the classes we were then allowed to look through Diana's books and select a pattern to go on with. I chose Whip Cream Frill from the book Tatting Doilies and Edgings.

All fired up and raring to go I took it home, joined the NSW Guild and ordered a shuttle from John O'Brien in New South Wales….. but didn't get a chance to try to start it for a couple of months as we got busy on the farm and farmer's hands, tiredness and white tatting thread (all I could get) do not quite mix……

So imagine my dismay when I tried to start it again and couldn't even remember how to hold the thread……..devastation!!… that was it - bye bye tatting - there were too many other things on the farm that needed more attention than tatting so it got put in the box and there it stayed. Not that from time to time I did not think about it……

I kept my membership with The Tatters Guild of Australia (NSW Branch) - one day I would TAT…….
when things got a bit quieter…..
Maybe next month???.......

Diana had told us of her wish to get a Victorian branch of the Guild going so when I heard it had been successful I joined that one too. With all intentions of once and for all learning this tricky little craft. I mean Simpson to Melbourne is ONLY 3 hour..…
I could get to a meeting and be back before milking…….

We moved farms again and I basically forgot all about it until we came back to Whittlesea in December 2002 and I found it in the box of craft things when I unpacked. Tried to have a bit of a go then but could not get it going so I put it away again. Looked for a teacher close to us but there was noone around.  It just wasn't going to happen……

Then in 2003, I took a lesson with Rosemary Buxton. As I watched her place the thread around her hand and do the first stitches it all made sense..right then it all came flooding back like I had done it forever! What an idiot! I was SOOOOO close!!!

All that time and all I had to do was hold the stupid thing a bit differently…grrrrrrrr. When I think of the doilies I could have done with that extra time……..

Got as far as split rings that night!!! How embarrassing - I booked a lesson for a learner!
Great ad for Rosemary as a teacher though!

Went home and sat up until the wee small hours just making ring/chain combinations....I HAD to remember it this time.. And I did…..hopefully never to forget again! There have been some rough times and hiccups in life along the way after losing my partner and tatting “enabler”, Jamie, to an accident in 2010…..but my trusty shuttles have always been close at hand and patterns racing though my head even if I wasn’t ready to tat again. I turned my hand to designing and did Sharon Briggs' Design Tat course. My avatar here on this page is a result of her brilliant instruction and exercises in design. I named it "Jamie" for obvious reasons....he was the one who always encouraged me to try something different and believe in my ability to design. xxx

Been active in the chat rooms for tatting and developed a huge personal library and shuttle collection, as well as a reputation for finding patterns that are a bit unusual or obscure. It is my passion and a craft I dearly love to do and teach. From the jumpy little chat room of InTatters in 2004, came a group of chattatters that regularly met there and to this day at least 5 of us are still in contact. We called ourselves the International Chat Tatters. We often got together for chat and tat online sessions even though we were spread out across the globe! Some wonderful laughs and patterns came out of those times.

I am a member of the Vic and NSW Tatters Guild branches, InTatters, the International Chat Tatters, Palmetto Tatters, Ring of Tatters, the Danish Tatting Association, the Northern Victoria Tatters group, and most recently the Queensland Tatters.

Shown work in Whittlesea Show from 2003 to 2010 with varied success. (one day I WILL win a place above Leonie Martinson!! LOL – now THERE is an awesome tatter!) Lilydale Show for the first time in 2006

Taught tatting in Diamond Creek in 2003, Whittlesea Neighbourhood House in 2004/5 and Kinglake Neighbourhood House in 2006 as well as friends wanting to learn.

In 2006 I had the pleasure of hosting two fellow tatters from our tat chat group – Susanne from Denmark and Ginny from New York. Both spent time in Victoria with me and in Queensland with Maureen Lawrence. My contact with tatting has also made it possible to travel to Denmark to stay/travel/tat with Susanne and meet the wonderful ladies of the Danish Tatting Association and have the honour of being hosted by Inga Madsen, a designer I very much admire.

I hope to be tatting when I am well into my 100's………need to….too many patterns left.


  1. Brava! *******xxxx****!!!!!!

  2. I'm glad someone did ask - I enjoyed reading the story of your involvement in tatting.

  3. Thanks for sharing your tatting story! I'm glad you were determined to stick with it, even to go so far as completing Sharon's design course!

    1. Sharon's course was one of the best things I have ever done and I would recommend it to anyone....designer or not. The understanding you get about construction and appearance of work makes you think about the pieces you are doing in such a different way and you begin to "see" designs in all sorts of places.....

  4. Not the least bit boring. My adventures in learning are somewhere on my blog too. I love that you've come back to it after losing dear Jamie. I was so honoured that you counted me as a friend during that time. I read your post about his loss with tears streaming down my face. Here's to you and the future with whoever (fingers crossed it's Ben) and always with tatting.

  5. What an enjoyable story love to hear it. Mine also had stops and starts, in unusual places too. We all must be hooked on it bad. Cause it's a question like "how did you two meet?" Or remember where you were when you first heard a beautiful song. Thank you for sharing

  6. This was quite a saga! I'm quite shocked to discover you have been tatting only since 2003, after that 'amusing' start in 1999! I thought you had been tatting for a MUCH longer time! Your work is dazzling and fabulous! I've always loved looking at your gallery! It's just amazing what has occurred in tatting since the internet brought us all 'together' and truly revived the art! So grateful for blogging!

    I am also impressed that your first teacher taught the chain first - with the two thread colors, back in '99!. That method is now recognized as one of the best ways to teach tatting!. It's taken 150 years for it to be recognized! I was also amused you had thought you were going to learn bobbin lace, and learned tatting instead - and stayed with it! . I'm impressed there are several tatting Guilds/groups in Australia and lots of shows, with intense competition! And you've even traveled to Denmark! I didn't realize you also were doing so much teaching! Lucky students!!!!

  7. Lovely story and is not boring! Congrats for dont give up and thanks for sharing with us your love for tatting. (Sorry, for my bad english, but I do not a speaker english.)

    1. Hi Fatima, Thank you for taking the time to comment. Your English is fine. Hope to see more of your work soon.

  8. Interesting to hear how you learned to tat, not sure I have heard the entire story before (or maybe I am too old to remember). I am so pleased that you were so persistent to learn the craft because that got to mean a lot for me too. Words can not describe all the inspiration coming through the computer screen from you that got to influence my tatting in a very positive way. I can honestly say that I have never experienced such a close tatting-sisterhood with anyone like the one we have shared for almost 10 years. Besides that we have even had the pleasure of meeting in person twice (even without those worm holes ;-) ).
    It all started through a chatroom and later we sort of created our own little space where we could both chat, tat and show each other our progress, with you and me tatting and Jamie being the support who sometimes joined our chats too. Those sessions are a very fond memory of some great times shared, and I hope that maybe one day in the future we could perhaps try another one of those sessions.
    I look forward to seeing all the stuff (doilies too of course lol) that you are going to do in the future.

  9. Your post is definitively not boring at all! Your tatting story sounds like one of those super romantic love stories, with meetings and separations, enthusiasm and loss and finding each other again, in the end and in spite of everything you found something that will be kind of home for you for all the rest of time. That kind of story that children would love to be told ;)

  10. What a great story and you told it so beautifully. It's obvious that tatting is very important to you and has opened many doors. Please continue to share all your tatting adventures (and other adventures, too).

  11. I love your story, tatting has also been a labour of love for me, and persistence over the years has been rewarded too. Thanks so much for sharing your story and your work here too :)

  12. I love your story, tatting has also been a labour of love for me, and persistence over the years has been rewarded too. Thanks so much for sharing your story and your work here too :)

  13. Just popped in to your blog to find this fascinating story of your beginnings in tatting, not boring at all, your enthusiasm and your tough spirit have encouraged me time without number, and I thank you for that.
    Now I am pleased that you are back to tatting and have Ben in your life, be happy my friend you deserve it
    Love you heaps and more

  14. Recently found your blog as I've decided to give tatting another go. Like you, I've had a few starts but never really been able to get beyond that very beginner stage. I've even managed to collect a few shuttles because... well... they're adorable. Ha ha! I notice up there on your profile that you say you are in Broadford and sometime Echuca. Well, I'm not too far from you. I'm in Avenel. It's always exciting to find someone in this area with the same interests. C

    Can you tell me more about "the Northern Victoria Tatters group"? I tried to Google them but nothing comes up. I have recently renewed my membership with the Vic Guild. I had been a past member and even managed to get to a meeting or two but that was quite a few years ago. I don't know when I'll get down there again as I have teenage kids who take up my weekends but I keep thinking, I'll get there eventually.

    Oh and I just loved reading about how you started tatting. So pleased that you decided to share that.