The Egyptians used knotting as decoration on a ceremonial dress, and a mummy was found with a skirt overlay of knotted rings, which seemed very much like tatting. Knotting was worked by winding the thread onto a shuttle and then making a sequence of knots on a thread at close intervals so the work appeared like a string of beads.
It did not turn out to be popular until the17th century when it is thought the Dutch, due to their trading in the East, introduced new types of knotting from China and made it commonplace in Europe. It is not clear where the transition from knotting to tatting took place, but it is generally thought to have taken place in Italy. Someone sitting and knotting one day decided to combine her knots into a ring instead of making a string of them and at that time – tatting was born. During the 18th century tatting was once regularly taking over from knotting in England, although the phrase tatting did not certainly appear in print until 1843.
It is thought early examples of tatting were still referred to as knotting. The craft is quite famous in Europe. The German word for tatting is Schiffchenarbeit, which means “the work of the little boat” (i.e. the boat-shaped shuttle.) The Italians name it “Occhi,” which means eyes, referring to the rings, which make up the lace. The Turkish say “makouk,” which is their phrase for shuttle. The French call tatting “frivolite” and the Swedish phrase is similar, “frivolitet” which again describes the personality of the work.
Shuttles were very intricate and expensive, being made as a good deal to be considered to be used. The thread used for tatting is wound around the shuttle, and the blades were used to weave through the fingers, permitting the finger to make the knot. The shuttles were carried in knotting bags, which have been additionally richly decorated and were taken in all places from society parties to theatres. You will notice in older art workpieces, women holding a tatting shuttle and an ornament or piece of clothing which was tatted.
In 1851 Mademoiselle Eleonore Riego de la Branchardiere published sample books displaying instructions on how to tat and the enchantment of the art. Riego additionally developed the use of a central ring with “picots” as a central motif. Many historical patterns use this as the basis of their design. Rings connecting rings, knots joining rings made up a finely designed doily. The name doily comes from Mr. D’Oyley who stored a small store in The Strand in London in the eighteenth century, promoting material and small portions of material which have been fringed or adorned and used to put under finger bowls and the like to stop them from marking tables.
Tatting is a method for handcrafting a particularly long-lasting lace from a series of knots and loops. Tatting can be used to make lace edging as well as doilies, collars, accessories such as rings and necklaces, and other decorative pieces. The lace is fashioned by a pattern of rings and chains shaped from a collection of cow hitch or half-hitch knots, referred to as double stitches, over a core thread. Gaps can be left between the stitches to form picots, which are used for practical development as well as decorative effect.