The Social History and Technical Development of Tatting: An Overlooked Needlecraft
AuthorsRewhorn, Brenda M.
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AbstractThis thesis takes a narrative chronological approach to explore the development of tatting as a craft activity from the eighteenth century to the present day by examining a broad range of primary and secondary literature. Extant tatting and relevant ephemera in archives and other repositories have been examined and analysed in order to identify the origins of this hand-held, knotted lacemaking technique. By the very nature of the subject, the research has been multidisciplinary and the data was accumulated over several years at every opportunity. The narrative, an enquiry as a means of understanding experiences as lived and told through both literature and research, has extended from the first known record of tatting in print through to the present day. A variety of literature is discussed, including periodicals and patterns, along with many illustrations of tatting and shuttles, a variety of designs with their possible use, threads, methods of construction, provenance, extant tatting in museums and archives. The Introduction to the thesis introduces the history and development of this needlecraft as a leisure occupation for women and highlights how tatting has often been neglected in relevant craft literature. The chapter also analyses the world-wide appeal of the craft. Chapter 1 investigates the tools, threads and variations of this portable craft as well as the often confusing terminology associated with it. There have been many practical books and articles published about, or referencing, tatting and Chapter 2 offers an analysis of them from the earliest confirmed mention in 1770 to the latest books to show how instructions for creating this knotted lace have changed, from those Madame Riego de la Branchardiere at the end of the nineteenth century to the colourful diagrammatic instructions seen in the twenty-first century. Tatting has been used by people in all walks of society, and Chapter 3 discusses some of the uses to which tatting has been applied to fashionable clothing, from elaborate collars to handbags and parasols. Many of these tatted items are in museums across the UK, a large number of which were visited to in order to study the surviving items, which are discussed in this thesis. The catalyst for this research was The Art of Tatting by Lady Katharin Hoare which contains photographs of Lady Hoare’s own tatting and that of Queen Elisabeth of Romania. Chapter 4 focuses on the work of these women, both in terms of their writing and their surviving tatted items. Access was given to both the surviving tatting of Queen Elisabeth in Pelés Castle, Romania and Lady Hoare’s tatted items preserved in collections owned by her descendants and those still use in a church in Norfolk. This work, never before discussed in close detail, is analysed in Chapter 4. The Conclusion to the thesis reviews current attitudes towards tatting and needlecrafts in general especially the difficulty in promoting and keeping tatting active and alive. The thesis aims to offer the first academic account of the social history and technical development of the neglected craft of tatting, and original contributions to knowledge include clarification regarding the writings of Mlle Riego and the discovery and recording of Lady Hoare’s tatting, as well as the extant items by Queen Elisabeth in Pelés Castle.
CitationRewhorn, B. M. (2018). The Social History and Technical Development of Tatting: An Overlooked Needlecraft. (Doctoral dissertation). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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