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  • Introduction
  • Chapter I. EMBROIDERY(pp. 5 - 23)
  • Chapter II. BRAIDING(pp. 24 - 29)
  • Chapter III. APPLIQUE WORK(pp. 30 - 36)
  • Chapter IV. CANVAS WORK(pp. 37 - 44)
  • Chapter V. BEAD WORK(pp. 45 - 49)
  • Chapter VI. LACE WORK(pp 50 - 64)
  • Chapter VII. TATTING(pp 65 - 72
  • Chapter VIII. KNITTING(pp. 73 - 91)
  • Chapter IX. CROCHET WORK(pp. 92 - 109)
  • Chapter X. NETTING(pp. 110 - 114)
  • Chapter XI. TRANSFERRING(pp. 115 - 119)
  • Chapter XII. PERFORATED CARD WORK(pp. 120 - 125)
  • Chapter XIII. PERSIAN RUG WORK(pp. 126 - 127)
  • Chapter XIV. PATCHWORK(p. 128)
  • Chapter XV. TAMBOUR WORK(p. 129)
  • Chapter XVI. WIRE WORK(pp. 130 - 131)
  • Chapter XVII. DOLL-DRESSING(pp. 132 - 138)
  • Chapter XVIII. MISCELLANEOUS(pp. 139
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Title: The Ladies' Guide to Needle Work, Embroidery, Etc.
Author/Designer: S. Annie Frost
Format/Publication Date: HC:1877
Publisher: Adams & Bishop, Publishers, NY
Page Count: 160
Book Dimensions(ht. x w.): 8 1/2" x 6"
ISBN: None

SUMMARY- I found the chapter on tatting in this book fairly interesting. It doesn't give you the standard illustration of hand position, but it does give you a description of how to form the knots using two different styles - "English Stitch" and "French Stitch". I am evidently a "French Stitch" practitioner.

Ms. Frost enjoins the tatter not to knot small pieces of tatting together, "as it is very difficult to unite them quite closely; and, besides, knots are clumsy and bungling things to conceal in sewing. Keep an envelope in your pocket, and if your thread breaks or gets soiled, cut off the piece you have finished at once, leaving an inch of thread, and put it away." I found sections of this chapter echoed sections of "The Book of Point-Lace and Tatting" published in 1850 by Darton & Co., Holborn Hill, England. No author is given in the Darton book, so I've got to wonder if it's the same author 27 years later revising her early successful books, or if Ms. Frost didn't know anything about tatting and cribbed her chapter from another source? It's an interesting mystery...

You get a description of Pearl Edging(the above quote is from that section), shamrock stitch, a case for tatting implements(with nice engravings of it open and closed), End for a Necktie(with an engraving), and a wall pincushion(with an engraving). It's not a long chapter, but it is an interesting read for its historical context. She is enthusiastic describing a tatted bureau cover exhibited at the Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia. She described tatting as looking like buttonhole stitch and goes on to acknowledge "It is a very strong and serviceable edge for underclothing of all kinds, for children's aprons and other garments requiring frequent washing, and can be made very rapidly and without any strain upon the eyesight."

I may have to disagree with that last statement - I can't actually see any thread below size 20 and since my life is interrupt-driven, I'm constantly having to count back on whatever ring or chain I've left undone in order to resume. It strains my eyes. On the other hand, the reason I chose to learn to tat was due to my grandmother's stories about my Great Great Grandma Goff.

All the women in my family before me has a large cedar chest - known as a hope chest - where treasured family linens and small heirlooms were kept. This is where my grandmother kept the fancy tatted dinner tablecloth Grandma Goff had made, as well as a baby bonnet and a christening dress Grandma Goff had made for my grandmother's oldest brother Ralph(remember, she was my grandmother's grandmother and lived to see My mother go to school). I was dazzled by the delicacy of the pieces - so much more delicate than any crochet I'd ever seen. Then she told me that Grandma Goff had been blind with cataracts by the time she was 40. She kept busy the last 50 years of her life babysitting her grand and great-grandkids and tatting. She was the only woman grandmother knew of in the family who had ever tatted. It mystified the grandkids how she always knew they were doing something they shouldn't have been - and it was because they always got very quiet!

Grandma Goff did all of this beautiful, delicate work blind as a bat. At that time my grandmother was telling me all of this, both my mother and grandmother quilted, and if it weren't for my grandmother, none of us would have ever worn anything but hand-me-downs from older cousins growing up. She was an amazing seamstress. My grandmother crocheted, too, and my mother knitted and did embroidery off and on. There were examples of their needlework all over their houses. But no one had tatted in the family since Grandma Goff. I decided at that moment I was going to teach myself tatting. I figured how hard could it be, if a blind woman could do it(laughing).

I taught myself from books. It took a year. I was sixteen, and failure wasn't an option(my mother used to comment on 'special occasions' that I could teach stubborn to mules...). It is for this reason that I strongly advocate having a live instructor teach the basic knot. I may have grown up rural, but I was far from stupid - and it took me a YEAR to finally get the basics conquered. I have learned so much from joining a local guild - all the books in the world have not replaced the hands-on advice and demonstrations I have been the beneficiary of from Anitra, Carolyn and Katie. May these goddesses of lace be forever in my firmament.

So did my great great Grandma Goff ever have a fancy book all the way from New York? It's very unlikely. It's far more likely that a lady she went to church with or a neighbor down the road taught Grandma Goff to help her pass the time, and Grandma Goff's clever, sensitive fingers took to it. Grandma Goff's patterns weren't elaborate, but they were well executed, and they ended up as treasures with stories in my grandmother's hope chest.