Sunday, August 18, 2013

Bits of history

Wally Sosa asked in Facebook if someone had some informations about tatting before 1860. Wrong move to have read this, because all my phylologist twisted senses got awake. So I dug... and I dug... Not the common sources from the American libraries. Not they do not have the info, but by instinct I searched English sources and French ones. 
I knew from my French studies that there are mentions about knotting in the XVIIIth century and about frivolité as a term applied to a kind of lace. So I did a targetted search for "frivolité", "navette", "frivolité à la navette", "navette à frivolité" and "faire de la frivolité". 
I am not the only one to have done it. 

To make a point, from the beginning: Mlle Riego de la Branchardière was definitelly the one to develop the existing technique as we know as modern tatting. But was she the first one? Definitelly not, because I am sure this kind of lace was worked before, one way or the other. We have the luck to have her compiling this info and publishing her work and new ideas. 

Sooo... the knotting thing. Nothing to do with tatting, that much we know. BUT the shuttle is there. Proof??? many of them! Just have a look at the beautiful paintings of these nice ladies with their shuttles. If you want, I can indicate some sources. Of course they are bigger than the tating shuttle, of course they do not have united ends, but the shape and purpose to work with thread are there. In an other books dated mid XIXth century the shuttle had in the definition the fact that the 2 blades have  "often united ends". 

My guess is that at the beginning, many of these ladies had these shuttle as presents from their husbands (it was after all, one of the marriage gifts), or they inherit them from a passed relative or protector. I think these shuttle were also used to tat, until someone came with the smaller ones. It was the logical step to do, since the thread was thinner. 
The Queen Elisabeth of Romania was still tatting with a knotting shuttle from the family, and we talk about end of the XIXth century, begining of the XXth. 

Back to the size, The Dictionnaire des dictionnaires  mentions the "navette de frivolité"  at pages  890 and 891 as "a tool to make “frivolité”, the shuttle is composed from 2 blades with an olive shape, with pointed extremities and united in the middle. It has to be not more than 7 cm long, and 3-2 cm wide."... still a little bit bigger than the ones we know from Mlle Riego of Lady Hoare.

In a travel sewing kit form the Palais Royal (dated  for the Louis XVth time) there was a small shuttle in ivory. You can find by googeling...  

During the XVIIIth century there were a lot of mentions for the French Monarchy or nobility of legacy, or purchases of a "navette" in gold, ivory, with or without precious stones. Mme de Pompadour had a lot of them, the Princess Adelaïde, there are some paintings and drawings of ladies with shuttles. In at least 2 inventories I found "fond de panier à ouvrage avec ses navettes". I have a full list of them, it would me boring to post it here. 

In a biography of Mme. de Pompadour (1721 - 1764) written by. Goncourt:

Page 419
"… From the Beauvois tapestry to the China piled on the shelf, from the Sèvres cups to the soup bowl in silver, (…) from the gold embellished furniture to a Martin  laquerer of a tatting shuttle, all these collectors pieces and all the beauties of this century, recommend her as a mistress a luxury and small shiny pile of stones"

During her life, she aquired at least 6 shuttle (I have the references and the prices), 3 of them are mentionned in her testament and in the codicile to be given to friends.

The interesting part is that in an inventory done at the Court of Louis XV, there is a clear mention of a "navette à frivolité" (Inventaire des tableaux commandés et achetés par la direction des bâtiments du roi (1709-1792) : inventaires des collections de la couronne / rédigé et publié par Fernand Engerand). 

With one book printed in 1828 we get a bit of information about what frivolité was in France: a sort of edging, done with a needle or a shuttle (a bit later), consisting, mainly of chaings. It is the Manuel des demoiselles: the term frivolité is there, page 53. 

I make it a bit shorter, it is a blog entry, anyway. 1840, this book here has a clear mention about the tatted lace ("dentelle de frivolité"):

In 1851 I found the first mention of Mlle E. Riego de la Branchardière. She participated to the The great London Exhibition, at the section Tapestr, lace, textile ... with crochet. Funny thing is that I searched first for "tatting", I knew Gallica digitized also English texts. So I found a certain S.A. Ellis, "United Kingdoms, speciments in tatting collars, etc" who got an honorable mention. Then I searched for "Branchardière" and I found her at the same page, first column. 

Long story short: yes, there was tatting before Mlle Riego, I think she put on paper what she knew from France and England, and yes, she changed the tatting as it was until her, by making it easier, lacier, with more elegance as never before. 

Thank you Wally Sosa... without this innocent question of yours I would have never put my nose to dig in dusty archives and I would have not learned so much. 

Anecdote: Mlle Riego was sewing the beads on the lace. In The Complete Book of Tatting, at the Parisian Gymp Trimming  (guess. page 25), she indicates it very clearily!  I am no longer ashamed. 

Earrings with pearls

Everything added while tatting, this time.

1 shuttle and 1 ball / 2 shuttles
Thread used:  Anchor Freccia 20
4 mm pearls
4 seed beads 11 size
A tool to string the pearls
A paper clip

String the 4 seed beads on the ball (or the second shuttle).
T1: Start from the second ring of the first trefoil, like we will finish with a ring.  
R1: 6 + 6 – 6 – 6 close
R2: 6 + 6 – 12 close and turn work.
Take 1 seed bead from the ball /second shuttle, bring it at the base of the trefoil and start chain 9 – 9. Make lock join to the upper picot of the trefoil.  Turn work.
Take one 4 mm pearl string it on the ball thread, secure it with the paper clip.
Start chain: 8 – 8, tighten the chain. Carefully take out the paper clip and make lock join.  Do not turn work.
Start chain 9 – 9. Turn work.

T2. Start the second trefoil, as the previous.  The first ring will have a join where the chain and the pearl have the lock join. Finish the trefoil. Turn work.
Bring 1 seed bead from the ball at the base of the trefoil and start chain 9 – 9. Tighten.
String one  4 mm pearl on the ball’s thread, secure it with paper clip, tighten and start chain 8 – 8. Turn work. 

T3. Start5 trefoil. 12 ds, join both, pearls and picot from the previous trefoil, finish the trefoil. 
Turn work. Bring a seed bead fromt he ball /second shuttle at the base, start chain 9 – 9. Lock join to the trefoil. Do not turn work.
String one 4 mm pearl, secure with paper clip and start chain 8-8, tighten chain, lock join to the pearl. Do not turn work. 

Work chain 9 – 9. Turn work. 

T4. Start trefoil. Work 12 ds, join with the pearls and previous trefoil, finish trefoil. 

Turn work. Bring the last seed bead of the base of the trefoil, start chain 9-9. String one 4 mm pearl on the ball’s thread, secure as before… Do not turn work and start chain 9 – 9. Turn work.
Cut the thread from the ball and start a ring (12 +6+6+6). With this ring you can hide the end of the thread cut from the ball. Work 12 ds join both pearl and picot, folded join to the first ring you worked, 6 ds, close. Finished.

Please feel free to adjust the amount of ds according to your pearls. When you make the first time the chain around the pearl, work the chain until you are, more or less at the half of your pearl, make the picot and finish. Like this, the distance between the pearls and the chain will not be too big.

To string my pearls, I used this broken guitar string given by my son. See in the other post what I am talking about. 
This is my prototype, without seed beads. It is stable, does not twist. The seed beads are not only ornamental, they allow you ti bring toghether the 2 threads for a better finish. With my thread it got a nice shape.
There might be some mistakes. Please let me know if there is something difficult to follow.