Men in Tatting
I smiled when I met Randy and Gary Houtz, the Shuttle Brothers, at the 1995 International Old Lacers, Inc. (IOLI) convention in Bellevue, Washington. Craning my neck upwards I was astonished to see two burly men who stood at least 7' tall. Well, perhaps it was only 6' something but they seemed larger than life. I learned that Gary, shuttle brother #1, who had been tatting since the mid-'70's, was in real life an accountant. The "Udder Brudder", Randy, shuttle brother #2, worked for the Forest Service, but carved tatting shuttles for his brother. Randy did not learn to tat until 1995! They have been teaching tatting and designing ever since. Randy also carves and sells hand crafted shuttles now. (For more info on shuttles, please visit: http://www.gr-8shuttles.com.)
Here are Randy and Gary Houtz behind the famous grande dame of tatting, Mona [Monica] Hahn, and Dale Pomeroy of 3-dimensional tatted flowers fame at the IOLI 1995 convention.
Tatting the GR-8 Self-Closing Mock Ring
All 16 patterns in their first book (71 pages) were intended to feature the self-closing mock ring (SCMR.) The SCMR is a method of tatting a chain from which any number of tatted elements, rings etc. may be thrown off. The chain is begun with a section of core thread held out in reserve for a later join. The patterns are predominately snowflakes and doilies. Also included are tatting techniques such as split rings, pearl or maltese tatting and hiding ends. All in black and white with numbered diagrams.
Tatting the GR-8 Self-closing Mock Ring for GR-8 Design
It was several years before the Shuttles Brothers published again, but their book was well worth the wait. The varied patterns in this 72 page book further demonstrated the many decorative uses for the SCMR. This one has many edgings, bookmarks, and collars. Individual motifs are presented with a suggestion for combining multiples to create large tatted pieces.
The third tatting pattern book by the Shuttle Brothers is titled "Tatting GR-8 Alternate Threads." Still presented in black and white photo and diagrams, their tatting has gone fancy. Here they advocate tatting rings and chains at the same time, alternately.
Many of the patterns reminded me of a genre of Latin music and dance that was popular in the 1960's. There we are tatting away normally a humble chain (think of it as the two-step) when all of a sudden the rhythm changes and we are throwing off rings, stacking rings and making all kinds of doodads to hang off the chain turned SCMR (that's what was called the "Boogaloo.")
Tatting GR-8 Alternate Threads
Style of patterns
Style of tutorials
Sample of pattern and diagram