Mary Ann laid a stunning, intricate-patterned, red doily on the dining room table. It was about the size of a large pizza, and mesmerizing in its fragile design. Her daughter, Shelley, said, â€œMom! Did you do that? Itâ€™s incredible.â€Â Mary Ann smiled, hesitated a bit, and then said, â€œNo. But I was hoping after I died and you were going through my things youâ€™d find it and think I had made it. I actually bought it at a garage sale. A man had a stack of these he had made, and I paid all of $7 for it.â€Â Shelley responded appropriately in my view…â€You are Sh*itting me!â€
I studied the doily and shook my head in pure admiration. Since, sadly, I am lacking in needlework knowledge, I assumed it was a crocheted work.Â Mary Ann told me it was a process called â€œtatting,â€ a term I was unaware of. My grandmother crocheted and sewed, my aunt knitted, and my mom quilted and embroidered. The gene pool must have dried up the spring I was born because I have no patience for any of those skills.
â€œTatting?â€ I said. â€œHow does that work?â€ Mary Ann showed me her tatting shuttle, a smallish metal boat-shaped device with a pointed needle at one end. Then she disappeared and returned with an older version made out of wood that has been in the family for generations.
I still had no clue how something so small and innocent looking could turn out something like the doily.Â By way of demonstration Mary Annâ€™s fingers flew as the shuttle fed thread over and under, over and under. Soon a pattern emerged from the series of tiny knots.Â I realized how long it must have taken the man to make the red doily, and winced that it ended up at a garage sale bargain priced and unwanted.
Mary Ann disappeared yet again and returned with a small purple tatted butterfly she had made, and a white circular tatted design that would make a gorgeous ornament. â€œWould you like to have these?â€ I gulped at her generosity before nodding yes, yes, yes. She then offered me a purple star she had knitted as well. She shrugged away my effusive thanks. I always leave her house humbled by her talents and kindnesses.
The tatted objects are now on my desk, a resting place for my eyes during writing or reading breaks. When I see them I envision Mary Ann sitting in her favorite chair, lost in a rhythm of tatting and thoughts, and give thanks for her in my life.
It is said relationships are best when there are no strings attached, but in this instance, Mary Ann and my tatted items are the best part of my day.