When I came to Ankara, Turkey to marry my husband 1.5 years ago, his cousin gave me a beautiful gift that I have treasured ever since. It was the most beautiful black cotton scarf with white flowers, but the thing that made this scarf remarkable was the lace trimming, which her mother had made by hand. I know it seems a bit dense and naive, but I never knew ladies still made lace by hand. In fact, I didn't know there was any other form of lace making other than bobbin and machine made. Now that I look back I realize I was really so uncultured, and lacked so much knowledge about things in the world. Ever since that day I became obsessed with handcrafts, and different forms of obscure art.
The lace she made has several names and styles. The type of lace she made was tatted lace, and she made it with needles. The Turkish call tatted lace Mekek, which uses a shuttle or needle, and specific weaving hand movements to form the lace. The Turkish also vary between the two styles of Turkish Mekek and Kaydırma Mekek, which is the American style. The difference is the way the hand looms the lace, and the versatility of it.
For example, Kaydırma Mekek transfers the knot from one piece of the thread over to the other to allow the thread to move over a thread ring, which holds the lace together. Tatted lace is believed to have been formed originally by ladies that had watched fisherman tie knots. These knots were then formed to create intricate lace designs hundreds of years ago. As time passed the technique progressed from having to cut and individually tie each attaching piece together, into forming picot hoops and joins to attach the pieces together and create more intricate designs.
Emma Everman's hands; tatting lace with a shuttle she's had for over 80 years.
By: John Flavell
It took me a while to learn the technique from researching online because the way Americans do this is different than the way the Turkish do this, yet it's a more versatile form. Also, most written and video tutorials online made it very difficult for me to see and realize that their was a knot being transfered from one thread to another. Thankfully one lady explained this in her blog. She even commented that many tutorials forget to explain this very crucial piece of information, and it is necessary in order to be successful at forming the lace.
Once I mastered the technique my mother in law invited her mother to come over and see how I was doing. Her mother has been doing tatted lace since she was very young, and is an absolute master at Turkish Mekek tatted lace. Her trims are so precise, crisp, colorful, and beautiful! When she came over I was so nervous, yet I wanted to see if I was doing Turkish and American style right. When I showed her, she was amazed. I was too by her reaction! She told me I had managed to master both forms in a short period of time, yet it is known in Turkey that if a person learns one it is rare that they know the other. Learning both forms are an achievement.
This was a heavy compliment; a great honor to receive it, and I hope hope I make her proud with continuing this handcraft for the preservation of it. Not many women outside of Turkey do tatted lace, and even less with the shuttle. There is shuttle tatted lace, and needle tatted lace. I haven't yet mastered needle tatted lace, but I find that I am more comfortable with the shuttle and have more control over joins and picots.
I started adding bead word to my lace shortly after I learned the technique, and have since made jewelry, brooches, and even started on a doily. I thank my AnneAnne (Mother in laws Mother) for guiding me, and passing a piece of Turkish culture onto me. I also thank my husbands cousin for giving such a personal gift to me that inspired me to learn such a wonderful art form. I hope to help preserve tatted lace, as this form of lacemaking has become more obscure over time due to cheapness, and availability of machine made laces.