Sometimes it’s the strange dreams that stay in your mind. Occasionally it’s the more mundane ones that come back afterward with a hidden message. Two nights ago I dreamt of an elephant shaped tatting shuttle. It was blue metal with its trunk straight out in front as the tip of the shuttle and bright flowers on its sides. I haven’t tatted in twenty years and had never tatted very much even then and yet here in my dream I was trying to figure out how to move my hands to make the lace. I closed my eyes and it all came back; my fingers remembered how without my having to see them work. Hmmm, maybe this is a little strange after all.
I quickly drew up a sketch of the elephant.
I also began immediately to relearn tatting. Out came all of my shuttles. I somehow have a small collection. My own from high school, two vintage celluloid ones that my sister Susan gave to me from a box of trinkets she had bought, and three from my grandmother. Two of those are plastic and the ones she used all the time. The third is (or was) silver plate and engraved with “B. D.” which stands for Bertha Dyer, her sister. Nearly all the silver is rubbed off. It was well used.
It took me a good many attempts to figure out how to make both of the half-hitches that are the tatting stitch, but my muscles memory didn’t fail me and I remembered. Then I went online and saw video of accomplished tatters and was amazed at the fluid movements of their hands. They used a different movement from what I had learned. It was like a sleight of hand. One hand passed the shuttle over the other hand and like magic, a stitch was created. I watched over and over until I saw the motion. Then I tried to duplicate it. It was very awkward. Then I went to bed. And when I woke up and again picked up the shuttle, I could do it. Not very smoothly and sometimes still dropping the shuttle, but I had learned how to hold the shuttle and keep it in the right position.
The piece at the top is my first effort. I made simple rings until I ran out of thread in the shuttle. With another shuttle that had finer thread in it, I started the double row of rings. That went great until I hooked the last ring into the wrong picot of the previous ring. Oops! Put that aside. Began again with two other shuttles, one tan from age and one white. That went great until I pulled too tight on the fourth ring and popped the old thread. Oops again! The one at the bottom is also done with two shuttles. I didn’t get too far before I ran out of thread again. Now that some of the shuttles are empty and I’ve tried them all out, I can try a “for real” project.