The Tatting Kit

8 - Tatting Lace

For my 30th birthday, we went out to dinner with my in-laws. When it came time to give gifts, my MIL hands a bag to me. I reach inside and pull out a covered basket made from raffia.

My husband snorts, “Isn’t that the basket you guys got in Jamaica that one time?”

When I look at him, puzzled, my in-laws gleefully share a story about a time they got badgered into buying this basket from a street vendor. It is made clear that they did not appreciate his sales techniques and bought the basket even though they didn’t want it. After they half-chuckle, half-sneer at the memory, my MIL brushes the story aside and excitedly encourages me to open the basket, which I do.

Inside are 4 very small spools of thread and 2 small hooks, similar in style to a crochet hook but much smaller. There is also a pamphlet of some sort, which appears to be from the 1950s.

I let out an “Oh!” and reach in to pull the items out.

As I hold the hooks up in my hand, I can see that they are rusted. One is so thoroughly rusted, I’m afraid it’s going to break in half or crumble to bits if I continue to hold it.

I gently put the hooks back into the basket and pick up the spools of thread. They’ve clearly been used at some point. Two of them are about half-full, and the other two barely have any thread left on them.

After a few puzzled glances between the objects in my hand and my MIL, she finally speaks up to explain that the items are for tatting lace.

“Oh?” I respond, keeping an appreciative, but probably confused, smile on my face.

“Oh yes,” she begins. “I was cleaning out my basement and I came upon these. I know you like to sew, so I thought you would appreciate these. They belonged to my great-aunt, but you don’t know her – she died about 20 years ago.”

I sew, but I’ve never tatted lace in my life. Up until this moment, I didn’t even know there was an activity called tatting.

At this point, I’m feeling like:


“Oh. Well, thank you,” I say, trying to conceal my bewilderment. I drop the items back into the raffia basket. I pick up the pamphlet and leaf through it. It appears to be instructions for making doilies. I return this item to the basket, shut the lid, and return it to the gift bag.

“Thank you, again. I’ll see what I can do with it,” I say.

My MIL beams.


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