Happy Mother's Day 2008!
This little picture shows my Mother as a small girl on the lower right. Her Mother, my Grandmother, Helene Marie, is on the top left of the photo with Al my grandfather on the top right and Bud my mom's little brother on the lower left. It was my Mom who taught me to tat. She had said that Her mother had tatted or at least knew how and it was from their French heritage that it had been passed down from. I thought having a "hens and chicks" edging coming across the photo was a fitting touch.
Seeing as it was my Mother who taught me how to tat. I thought a tatted tribute to her would be fitting. My mother passed away in 1992 from a sudden and serious health issue which caused her life to surrender at a most unexpected time.
Years earlier was the summer I turned 14. It was not an easy one for us as a family. My father had left and we were on welfare so groceries and money were scarce.
I had had a burning desire to tat since I was 3 years old and I felt it was time that my requests to learn to be stopped being ignored and seriously addressed with a lesson of some sort. My sister who tatted snubbed the idea altogether, so the only one left to teach me was my Mother who hated needlework of all kinds. Her family was very good at it and worshipped with reciprocity those women whose hands had been kissed
by the gods of the needlearts, but my mother had been looked down upon with shame at her lack of needlework charms. Somehow, inspite of this, I found an old red plastic "BOYE" shuttle in the sewing drawer and said "Oh, look Mom, here's a tatting shuttle, look now you CAN teach me, Oh, I SOOOOOO want to learn" (keep in mind I'd been doing this since I was 3 with no results).
This time my mother's response was less than encouraging, "It is the middle of the month we have 2 dollars left and no milk. Those 2 dollars are going to buy us milk for the rest of the month or they're going to buy tatting or crochet thread and you need to buy crochet thread to learn on and I'll be damned if I'm going to spend the last 2 dollars on crochet thread when we need MILK!!!" ....okay, okay, I thought, I could certainly see her reasoning for this. I desperately searched the sewing cabinet finding all kinds of spools and threads of all sorts of colors and sizes.. "What about this, Mom?"...."What about THIS?" "OR This!!!!" each little spool of thread seemed like the answer to my delimma at the time, the golden ticket to my learning to tat, each one shot down with my mother's shaking her head "NO", each time she appeared to get a bit more frustated with me. Finally she said to me, "Now, look, all we have is sewing thread and you can't learn on sewing thread the knots have to slide on this other string that actually made the knots in the first place and then they switch places and all the knots have to switch place in order to slide on the ring thread to close in a ring and if all the knots didn't switch you can' t close your ring and it's a big disaster. I could never do it on crochet thread and I'm certainly not goin to teach you on sewing thread....it's too small, it's smaller than the smallest tatting thread..NO NO NO"....well, I'll spare you the negotiation that took place but just know that 1 hour later my mother sat in the living room with sewing thread that I had wrapped around the old plastic "BOYE" shuttle and attempted to teach me with the help of a Coats & Clark How To book that had a tatting chapter in it. My mother, for the life of her could never get a ring to close, but she understood the concept of each half of the ds (double stitch) switching places so the knots would all slide in the ring. While she couldn't show me, her tangled knots causing her to utter more profanities than thought appropriate at the time for a 14 year old girl to hear did not deter me. I WAS GOING TO LEARN TO TAT. So, when It was my turn my mother patiently coached me as I switched each half of the double stitch over and over until all 10 DS slid expertly into a ring, so did the next ring and the next ring and the next....until my mother threw the book down and said, "Look, I don't know any more, I don't know picot's or how to join them, or chains or anything else, you're gonna have to teach yourself how to do a picot and how to join them, sorry kiddo".
Little did my dear mother know she had actually taught me the HARDEST part! Thank you, Mother!! I love you for that always! Picot's are easy so are joining them. I learned all the rest of that from the "how to book" that I mentioned earlier.
That summer our school had a summer "home economics program" where you got school credit
for a project in the needle arts worked on in the summer. The home teacher came around with a chart to keep hours on and so I had already decided that I was going to do a doily for my first project. I told the school summer teacher that I would start, but the finished project wouldn't happen until I was 80 years old and so I didn't think I should do it...she laughed and told me that
I just had to log the hours I worked on it all summer and I'd get a credit for each hour of work, finished project or not.
Well, 42 hours later (that's 42 tatting hours or a couple of months) I surprised myself as I really had a finished doily. At 14 I thought it was the most beautiful doily in the whole world. I had picked size 10 variegated pink cotton crochet and I thought it was the most beautiful color at the time.
Here it is, the summer fruit of my labors:
My Very First Doily, at age 14
I made a close up of it because believe it or not it was blocked not once, but twice. I'm showing it closeup for newbies to see that this is my very first doily and look how uneven the stitching is and now I take painstaking efforts to make sure there are no strings showing between the cloverleaf or tri-leaf or trefoil (all different names for the three rings in row that look like a clover leaf.) My tatting now is a bit neater, not requiring a lot of blocking, just know, if you are a newbie that it will not always look like this.
My mother, by the way, told me that summer how proud she was of me that I learned all that other stuff, the picot, the chain, the joining of the picot, the joining of the base of the chain in a round or to the last ring....etc....etc.... It meant a lot to me to hear her say that especially when she seemed so frustrated at first that I GOT IT and she didn't.
Thank you, Mom, for teaching me to tat. I love to do it and share it with others, although I teach them on DMC cebellia size 10 to learn how and I recommend a book called "Fancy Pants" available from HandyHandsTatting.com.
I love you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day, may you rest in peace.
From your loving daughter,
Thank you for stopping by today. Newcomers and comments are always welcome and appreciated.