Tatting is an old craft used to make a type of lace. Tatting has experienced numerous periods of popularity, including during Victorian times and the 1950s and 60s. The English name of tatting is said to be
derived from "tatters" and to denote the frail disconnected character of the fabric. In recent years, it has been revived again with great enthusiasm. Tatting can be a very fulfilling hobby - it is easy to learn (contrary to how you might feel when viewing the incredible complexity of designs that result from tatting projects) and there are a vast array of projects available to the avid tatter. Tatting designs are elegant, dainty and useful in one - tatting projects include doilies, runners, collars, table covers, handkerchiefs, pillow edgings and more. If you're just starting out with tatting, this article aims to provide the basic overview before embarking on a project.
Familiarize yourself with the threads used for tatting.
Suitable threads include crochet cotton and mercerized cotton. DMC is one popular brand known for its tatting threads. Threads can be purchased online as well as in craft stores. (NOTE: When teaching someone to tat, I accidently found if you use two colors of thread, one in the bobbin and another for the ball, you can quickly see if an error has been made. When done correctly, the work should all be one color. If you see two colors, you know somethings was done wrong.)
Obtain some tatting shuttles.
Old shuttles used to be made of bone, tortoiseshell, Bakelite or steel. Modern shuttles are made from plastic. You may be able to collect older versions, although obtaining tortoiseshell shuttles can be difficult due to endangered species regulations. Start with modern ones and if you get a passion for tatting, you might even discover a passion for collecting old shuttles for display!
Learn how to wind the shuttle.Wind the thread around the bobbin that is situated in the center of the shuttle. If there is a hole in the center of the shuttle, insert the thread through the hole and tie a knot before commencing your project. Note that in some instances, the bobbin is removable. Do not wind the thread beyond the edge of the shuttle.
Practice using the shuttle.
This is explained in illustrated detail at Use a Tatting Shuttle. A brief outline is provided here for the sake of completeness.