Where Rustic Living Meets Refined Elegance

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I love needle work.  I especially love embroidery and monograms but I also love the needle work called "Tatting".  My grandma Juanita on my dad's side was a beautiful artist.  She painted in both oils and watercolors.  Along with raising 8 children, making jams, pies and all things delicious,  she was the queen of rummage sales.  I don't know that she ever paid more than a few dollars for anything but she always looked so pulled together and her home was beautiful simplicity before Shabby Chic was in style.  She also did beautiful needle work and her tatting was my favorite.

When I was 17, I sat down with her and had her show me how it's done.  I loved it!  A tiny ball of thread, a simple shuttle, some creative imagination and you were off and running. 
Out of all 8 of her kids (4 boys and 4 girls) the only one who learned to Tat was my Uncle Floyd. Go figure.  He and I are the last of the Tatters in the family. 
 He too is an artist, carving tiny humingbirds and flowers out of simple blocks of wood and painting them so that you cannot tell they are not real.  He gardens, makes jams and preserves, knits and of course Tats.
I have never gone beyond what is called a "single row" of tatting.  However Uncle Floyd Tats double row and can make just about anything.  This last weekend I was visiting and before I left I saw he was working on some new Tatting  so I asked him to show me how it's done. 
He started by laying the lace across his jeans showing me the order of loops and "pico's". 
Then he began to show me how to turn each loop to get the pattern I wanted.
As I watched his hands swiftly work the shuttle and thread I was very touched by what I was seeing.  These were not "Tatting hands" as one would think of when picturing the art of making lace.  These are the hands of a man who has worked hard to raise a family. The hands of a man who worked with his Uncle to keep Bees, who at one time owned and operated a pig farm in Washington state, who later started his own plastering business in Sacramento and became one of the premier plastering companies in the 70's & 80's.
A farmer, a business man, a father, a grandpa........a mans man.  Hands that are rough and calloused from still chopping wood for the fire yet those same hands move shuttle and thread to create tiny little laces and trims. 
This little piece will find a place in the barn after I sew it to a small towel or pillow case.  A sweet little piece of lace from a mans hard workin' hands.  Something to cherish.


  1. This was such a nice story! Although I do almost every kind of needlework, I've never learned to tat and I keep saying that one of these days I'm going to teach myself. As for men doing this kind of work, I've always enjoyed the fact that my grandfather, who seemed to be able to do anything with his hands, made broomstick lace for the wedding slips of all his daughters. I wish I had a sample of it!

  2. Very interesting and sweet. What an honor in must have been to watch him do that.

  3. What a lovely story with treasured memories. crafty people are just incredible. Thank you for sharing these pictures.

  4. Hi Tamra,
    What a beautiful needlework you learn here!! I might think you have to be very patient, isn't it?
    Tamra, thank you so much for your nice comment on my blog!! Although it is not to seen on the picture, but the door is given a patine too. I hope I can show it to you in a later post!
    I wish you a wonderful weekend!

  5. Lovely story. I wonder if skills like these will eventually die out? It would be very sad if that happened! Have a great weekend!

  6. Very cool! Amazing that those masculine hands can produce something so delicate.

    I just finished reading your article in Pittura- very nice, Tamra! Thorough and interesting!

  7. Choked me up!! and tugged at my heart strings!
    These are amazing hands :)

    "Hands To Love."

    Thank you Tamra for your beautiful visit, I would so love to turn one into a cottage, one to escape to, perhaps a studio to create in and then take a nap!!

    I am soooo! glad they inspired you, there is just something about the romance of a shepherds hut, with the bah bah!! Bahing of his flock!

    see you soon
    Thank you for sharing ...
    "The inspiring hands."


  8. My Home-Ec (Spinster) teacher in 1970 tried to teach someone, anyone, of us the fine art of tatting, but we laughed at her. Now, I realize it's a very, very rare art form, and even rarer to discover a wonderful soul who imparts it upon us. Thank you for sharing this!

  9. What a beautiful needlework you have done...



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