Monday, October 21, 2013

Tatting & Grandparents: The Rest of the Story

As I said before, I learned to tat from my maternal grandmother.

The doily I posted a photo of was made by my paternal grandmother.  She probably didn't tat much.  When I was young, growing up around her she was actively doing other handcrafts, most notably quilting. 

But my story revolves around my paternal grandFATHER.  I am the daughter of an long line of Nebraska farmers in NE Nebraska.  This includes my father & grandfather.  They were true men: probably never changing diapers, cooking for themselves, cleaning, etc.....that was women's work.  There were clearly defined male/female roles in how I was raised and I know that came down through the generations.   So I was surprised when my paternal grandfather told me (35 years ago or so, and shortly after I had learned to tat) that he too had tatted.  Even then I was shocked at this professment.  He told me that he had learned to tat in grade/elementary school as a kid.  He told me that that back when he was a kid, the Nebraska winters were harsher than in recent times and that it was to ugly for the kids to go outside for recess.  So the teacher taught them things like tatting.  Let me back up and tell you that this was a one-room country school that he went to....the same one that my father and I went to too (good old District 40).  So the heritage of tatting, my grandfather, and this one-room country school (that no longer exists) is a particularly sentimental one for me.  I would assume that 'yes' he did learn to tat, but 'no' he really never was a 'tatter'. 

Tatting (sometimes called 'poor-man's lace') was something that was cheap for the teacher to work with her students with.  Probably everyone's mother had a tatting shuttle in their sewing basket, in fact you don't even need a shuttle to do it.  So in my heritage, it truly was a poor-man's lace. 

I was raised in a humble, rural environment but was never wanting for anything though.  We raised all our own food (beef, pork, poultry, dairy, vegetables, fruit trees, etc.).  It was a good life.   However, I tell people that since "no farmer wanted to marry me" after high school, I had to get out of the area and went to college.  I now live in Omaha (the big city!) about 100 miles from where I grew up.


  1. I was tatting at the dentist's office when I was about 15 and a little old man sitting across from me smiled and said he knew what I was doing. Being the smartmouth idiot, I said something ridiculous like "Oh?" and then he proceeded to tell me that he had been in WWI and they taught them to tat in the trenches to pass the time. Not quite the same as your wonderful memory but still one that I treasure in my tatter's chest.

  2. YOURS was a cool story....I actually got goosebumps while reading it. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I like both these engaging stories!
    Fox : )