Stories about American Tatters

Mrs. Stella Estey

 These are the tatting shuttles handed down from my Greataunt Star to my tatting teacher Aunt Stella and then to me. One is made of hard rubber the other is a pearlize two-layered celluloid. Stella was with us from 1908 until 2002. On the right and below are four sampler pages I put together from some of Stella's tatted pieces.

Hard Rubber shuttle marked N.R.Co. circa 1880
Pearlescent celluloid shuttle circa 1920

 Angeline Crichlow

Mrs. Crichlow was kind enough to share with me her tatting shuttle collection one evening in 1995. She was a wonderful tatting designer and author of many tatting books. She also taught tatting and founded two tatting groups. She was the fourth generation in a family of tatters. The doily on the right was designed and tatted by Mrs. Crichlow. The sterling tatting shuttle was given to her by her daughter. The carved bone shuttle was given to her by her mother. Both of these shuttles are from the 1920's. Also on the right are three shuttles made by Mrs. Crichlow from hair barrets.

 Opal Louise Brown, Morley

These two shuttles came into my collection in 1997 from a friend who was traveling through Salem, Oregon. They came in fishing lure boxes with notes typed by their owner, Opal Brown. Both of these shuttles date to around 1915. If any one in this area knows something about this tatter, please drop me a line.


Mrs. Bertha Strahan Jamison


I would like to share with you the story about the switch cane shuttle. Switch cane is a pole-like cane easily grown in the East-Texas area. It is used primarily in the making of fishing poles. We have a tatting club in Lufkin, Texas (Chat and Tat) that meets once a month. One of our members heard about a lady named Mrs. Bertha Strahan Jamison, 96 years old, that lived in a nursing home but tatted every day out in the lobby. We invited her to our club meeting. Our members were excited and anxious to meet this lady that had been tatting for 88 years. At our next meeting Mrs. Jamison arrived all dressed up and looked very pretty. After introductions, we settle in to tatting and chatting. Mrs. Jamison took her shuttle out of her bag and we noticed right off it was different. As we ask her about her shuttle, she told us that she had never owned a "bought" shuttle. She had always taken a pocket knife and whittled her own shuttles out of switch cane. That particular day she was using a shuttle she had whittled in 1940. It was a beautiful dark brown and shined like glass. She said over years of use the oil from her fingers had "polished" the shuttle to the beauty we saw that day. She had other hand whittled shuttles with her that were not dark but were in different stages of change. We were all very impressed.


Table of Tatters

Stella Estey
Angeline Crichlow
Opal Morley
Esther Vivarttas
Bertha Jamison
Dora Young






 Esther Elizabeth Vivarttas


This tatting shuttle was given to Susan Groh in 1976 by her mother, Althea McClellan Temme, because she was the first of 3 daughters who learn to tat. Along with the shuttle her mother wrote a note telling of its history. This shuttle belongs to Susan's grandmother, Esther Elizabeth Vivarttas. It was carved for her by her father Captain Vivarttas on board a sailing ship when she was 10 or 12. He died when she was 13, around 1895. This shuttle is dark brown with open ends. The hand carved letters E.E.V. are raised 1/32" on the front and a raised diamond shape decorates the back.

 The next tatting meeting I brought Mrs. Jamison a "Susan Bates" shuttle since she had never had a bought shuttle. She tatted with it for about five minutes and said, "honey you can have this shuttle back, I'm just to use to my whittled shuttles. Since my husbands hobby is whittling, he whittled shuttles for members of our club. At times we would use them or at least show them to Mrs. Jamison so she would know how much we respected her and her way of tatting. Mrs. Jamison was a member of our club for two years, dying peacefully at the age of 98.
 My husband would be glad to whittle shuttles for others that might have a collection and like a very unusual shuttle added to it. By the way, I asked Mrs. Jamison about the shuttle unwinding if you dropped it and she said to me, "honey, you just don't drop the shuttle."



Dora Young

Dora Young loved to tat. She wrote a book called "All New Knotless Tatting Designs" in 1974 which also included her patented technique of split chains.
Blown glass tatting shuttle by Father George Hilsdorf.