Arts and Entertainment

All knotted up

Centuries ago some clever person discovered that thread knotted around itself could be made to look like lace. This process is called tatting. During the 1930s, it was called Depression lace.

Lynda Rathmann learned the art when she was about 20 from a 90-year-old woman. She says it is the only craft she could do as soon as she was shown how.

Tatting involves a thread and a shuttle. The thickness of the thread impacts the size of the finished piece.

The shuttle is a small spool sandwiched between two pointed-oval, thumb-size pieces of plastic or metal. The pointed ends come together at each end leaving just enough room for the thread to pass between them.

Through, over, around

One end of a ball of thread is wound around the shuttle spool. The working thread is held between the thumb and index finger of the left hand then wound around the left little finger to hold it taut.

The right hand passes the shuttle over and around the left thread. The knot formed is held between the thumb and index finger while the shuttle is passed under and around the string.

This forms a square knot, which can be slid together with other square knots to form a secure knotted chain.

The lacy part of tatting comes from forming picots, loops that make it possible to join pieces of tatting to form a variety of decorations.

Picots are formed by holding a new knot slightly away from the chain until the square knot is formed and then sliding the knot into the chain. This leaves a small loop.

From booties to flag

Rathmann has made a variety of tatted pieces including baby booties, trim for her daughter's wedding veil, garters for weddings, bookmarks, place cards, hat bands, birth announcements and an American flag. The flag has won ribbons at fairs in Arizona and at the Jefferson and Clallam county fairs.

She has collected tatting books with many more projects. Some of the books are written in other languages but Rathmann often understands what to do by looking at the pictures.

Rathmann has won many ribbons and prizes for her tatting but would love to have more competition. Often her pieces are the only ones entered so they are judged with crochet works.

She would like to start a tatting club so she could share with others.

She enjoys teaching and welcomes anyone interested in learning to call her at 360-808-5591.

Chicken scratch

When not tatting, Rathmann often does chicken scratch, which involves a design drawn onto a piece of gingham, a two-color plaid, usually with one white square and another of a solid color.

Where these squares intersect are squares that combine the two colors. Embroidery floss is stitched around the white square and Xed across the colored square. This makes the design stand out.

Rathmann and her husband rescue Cabbage Patch dolls from garage sales and thrift stores. They started collecting because Rathmann found that she could communicate best with one of their daughters if they talked through dolls.

She has more than 450 dolls that live on shelves lining the walls of their own room and a variety of toys for the dolls.

After each doll is rescued, it is washed, dressed in clean clothes and tagged with its name. One or two are used to decorate the house.

Their cat Toby loves to play with the dolls and often sleeps curled up with them.

Rathmann doesn't sell her tatting but gives it to people she thinks will appreciate it.

Reach Dana Casey at

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