Tat, Tat, Tatting

Diane Helentjaris
5 min readAug 19, 2023

Tying knots never looked so good

Portrait of Marie Angélique Vérany de Varennes, Mme Georges Gougenot de Croissy, 1757, By Jean-Baptiste Greuze — New Orleans Museum of Art, Public Domain.

Tatting mystifies me. Always has. My uncle’s mother — I’m not sure there’s a name for such relatives-through-marriage — was the first person I ever saw tat. She created charming lace with only her hands, a length of thread, and a small shuttle. A jeweler by trade, Mrs. R was sharp-eyed and noticed details. She also fried an exemplary green tomato in her iron skillet. Ensconced and sedentary in an overstuffed, barkcloth-upholstered armchair, only her mouth and hands moved, yet they each moved at a different pace. As she gossiped with my grandmother, small loops of variegated cotton fluttered about her fingers and waved in a syncopated rhythm. The loopy lace grew at an imperceptible pace. She tatted fancy edgings in pink and green, purple and yellow, or green and white to tuck into birthday cards.

Tatting By Rodrigo Argenton — Own work, Compliments of Wikimedia Commons.

A friend who tats shared an instructor’s opinion: tatting is one of the most difficult fiber arts to learn yet the easiest to do once learned. Like doing the samba, it’s a muscle memory thing. Knots are tied and loops (“picots”) formed into designs using a needle or a shuttle (or, sometimes, only one’s hands). Hooks, like crochet hooks, may be employed. The thread is…

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Diane Helentjaris

Writer with a love of the overlooked. Author of the historical fiction novel The Indenture of Ivy O’Neill,.www.DianeHelentjaris.com