Tatting is a technique for handcrafting lace that can be documented approximately to the early 1800's. The instrument that is used is called a shuttle. A tatting shuttle is usually a small oval, less than 3 inches long and pointed at each end, but shuttles come in various shapes and materials. Tatting can be used to make lace trim as well as doilies and other decorative uses.
To make the lace, the tatter wraps the thread around one hand and manipulates the shuttle with the other hand. Generally no tools other than the thread, the hands, and the shuttle are used. Modern tatters also use tatting needles, matching the thickness of the needle to the thickness of the thread. A tatting needle is a long needle that does not change thickness at the eye of the needle.
Contrary to popular belief, many people around the world actively participate in the art of tatting, and the craft is experiencing a resurgence in interest around the world.
Some believe that tatting may have developed from netting as sailors and fishers would put together motifs for girlfriends and wives at home.
In modern times, in addition to shuttle tatting, a long, thin needle can be used as an alternative method to form the double-hitch knots used in tatting.
Tatting instructions and patterns can be found all over the web, including some streamlined video instructions