Historical information

Tatting is a form of knotted lace making using thread and a small shuttle. Twisted threads are tied around or through small, pointed shuttles that can be made of bone, mother of pearl, tortoise shell, steel or plastic. This produces a stable, strong lace using simple knots of two half hitches to make rings and chains embellished with picots.

The origins of tatting are not clear but early versions of decorative knotting were used by the Egyptians on their ceremonial dress. Tatting also has elements of fishermen's net making techniques and the decorative knotting that was practiced by aristocratic women from the 15th century.
Tatting, as we know it today, emerged in the first half of the 19th century. The new availability of mercerised thread from 1835 encouraged a burgeoning of lace crafts of all sorts. It was known in Italy as "occhi" and in France as "la frivolite".

It looks fragile but is both strong and durable. An article in a column named "Wives and Daughters" published in the Star newspaper in May 1910 describes the durability of tatting lace - "there is edging and insertion still in existence that have outworn two sets of pillow slips."

In the 19th century and well into the 20th century, tatting was used like crochet and knitted lace for decorative edgings, collars, doylies, tray cloths etc. At first, different tatting patterns were passed along by word of mouth from person to person, however in time, patterns regularly appeared in newspapers and magazines well into the 1950's.

Paragon knitting, crochet and tatting books have been distributed throughout Australia since the 1930's, originally by "Paragon Art Needlework Pty Ltd" of Sydney, N.S.W. From 1946 these books were designed and printed in Australia from patterns provided by British and Australian thread companies. Consequently these patterns may also appear in similar British and American publications. Paragon Book No. 104 is an instruction book designed for the "beginner" whilst Paragon book No. 105 is designed for the more experienced tatter.

The layout of these books was typical of the 1940s period when paper was in short supply. Most of the pattern books were approximately 18 cms wide by 24 cms high and some were smaller at about 13cm by 21 cms. The type used was small (about four lines of text per centimetre) which was difficult to read.


This item is an excellent example of a needle work pattern book available to women in the 1940's in Australia.

Physical description

A soft covered 16 page instruction book with black and white photographs and detailed instructions explaining how to tat and eight tatting projects including how to make a collar and handkerchief edgings, published by Paragon Art Needlecraft of Sydney.

Inscriptions & markings

Front cover -
"PRICE 1/3"
"Learn to/ TAT'
Back Cover -
"36/D5 E/A DO2" - handwritten in pencil