Lace-Making A Rare Craft

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Lace and fine needlework is displayed on tables, chairs and the walls of Loretta Ost's Elk Ridge home in Payson.

Ost's talented hands have done tatting, crochet, embroidery and other sewing for most of her life.

"Not many people do tatting anymore," she said of the craft she learned from her mother. "She tried to teach my sister and me to do it when we were young, but we couldn't get the hang of it. I decided I wanted to learn, so I asked for another lesson," Ost said.

She has now been tatting -- making lace -- for more than 40 years. Her mother did it for a good 80 years or more after learning it from a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in North Dakota.

The first piece she did, a small doily, she gave to her mother, who framed it. After Ost's mother died at 94, that first work was returned.

In addition to the displays of that first work and the pieces she has used to decorate her home, Ost has made a special showing of the many of other works. Some have been done as custom orders for clients, other are examples of pieces she makes for the Payson Community Presbyterian Church's annual craft sale.

Among her sales work are a variety of earrings in different shapes and colors and stationery she has made by gluing tatting flowers in the upper left corner -- Ost makes two kinds of stationary, one using parchment paper, the other using plain paper, she even makes the boxes in which the 10 pieces of writing paper are sold. Ost also makes decorative snowflakes and snowmen for the holidays.

Over the years she has started taking photos of her work and placing them in an album to share with clients of her Tatting by Loretta business.

She said tatting is not that difficult, it really calls for only two basic steps.

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Loretta Ost starts a tatting project by weaving the fine tatting thread through her fingers. The next step is to use a shuttle to work the thread back and forth into knots that eventually become lacework.

Demonstrating, she weaves a fine, white thread through her fingers, then with a shuttle begins to work the thread into an intricate design.

A shuttle looks like something from a tackle box, it is generally elliptical in shape, narrowing at the ends where the top and bottom pieces nearly meet. In the center, between the top and bottom thread is wound. Tatting is a series of knots created by pulling the shuttle through the thread woven through the fingers.

To create a tatting border around a 10-1/2-inch-by-11-inch hanky takes more than 40 inches of handmade lace. It takes Ost about an hour to make a pair of earrings and a similar amount of time to make her stationary. Some larger projects can take as much as 100 hours though.

"It keeps me busy and out of the bars and off the street," she said and laughed.

Tatting uses special threads in addition to the shuttle, and some people also use a crochet hook or special needle, according to BellaOnline's tatting site.

To learn more about tatting, there are various sites online that discuss the topic and the sites include reading recommendations.

Ost has taught classes in tatting and has been asked to do so again, but she keeps putting it off, she said.

However, she will do special orders through her business, Tatting by Loretta. Give her a call at (928) 474-1364.

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