These days many of us, tatters and all, are struggling with tough economic times. However, I find every penny spent on tatting to be worth while and that the benefits of even small expenditures can provide great rewards. If nothing else, tatting shuttles and needles last for decades and appreciate in value, too. Even small balls of tatting thread can produces miles and miles of tatted lace.
As an art, tatting has the extra benefit of being a wonderful stress management tool. As we focus our eyes and hands and mind on that small space through which the shuttle passes we enter an almost zen or yoga-like state of meditation. Soon the stresses and tenseness of the day fades away as our hands create pieces of light-reflecting beauty.
Tatting is even good for networking. If you are forced to wait in lines for job applications, at the doctor or dentist office, pulling out your shuttle and tatting will soon gather a crowd of interested onlookers. Inviting them to join your tatting guild, or offering to give free lessons could create a relationship that might have far reaching effects.
And, when cash is low and holiday gift-giving looms on the horizon, one inexpensive spool of thread can fashion dozens of small items such as snowflakes for greeting cards, bracelets, bookmarks, butterflies and religious items, too. Small hand crafted items are dearer to the heart than many store-bought items, so say "Thank You", Happy Holidays", or "Best Wishes for your Birthday" with tatted lace.
And if your budget will not stretch to new tatting pattern books, here is a great deal for you. The Gutenberg Project, founded by Michael Hart (who invented eBooks in 1971) makes available many ebooks to us today for free download. http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page. I have not yet researched the tatting books available there but here is a general vintage needlework book you can search for to learn the process. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16605/16605-h/16605-h.htm Title: The Ladies' Work-Book Containing Instructions In Knitting, Crochet, Point-Lace, etc.
And be sure to check out The University of Arizona's archives, too. http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/lace.html Their site is an archive of documents on weaving and related material: Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving. Textiles, Lace, and Related Topics. Begun in 1999 the archive is a real treasure trove. Here is a German language turn-of-the-century needlework book to search for. Donner and Schnebel's "Ich Kann Handarbeiten". The tatting pages are located: Frivolitštenarbeit pg 140 - 155.