Group Effort. . .

Over the past years, we as a group have undertaken a number of projects. The Deck the Trees annual event at the Monte Vista Hotel in Black Mountain has been the biggest one over all. There have been several articles about this event that can be found here from 2018, and here for 2019. But if you read the 2019 article, you will see a reference to our group and a project we began about 8 months ago. At that time, member Sherry voiced a dream that she had: that we as a group would tat a collar for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We had to think about this for a bit, such an undertaking was going to be challenging, especially with so many different skill levels within the group. Not to be dissuaded by a challenge, we decided to forge ahead.

Step one was finding something that would work as a pattern. Not only would it have to work as a pattern, but would have to work with a size 10 thread, because some members were not able to work with smaller threads than that. So the search for a pattern began. The collar chosen was no more than a picture but a simple design consisting of 2 rows made in a single pass. converting the image and writing it out as a “pattern” with a stitch count and some form of directions was the next step. Fortunately, the image was of sufficient resolution that it could be enlarged to make the stitches show up well enough to develop a pattern that would be easy enough to follow for all participants.

There were other considerations that revolved around tatting techniques that had to be added to the instructions as well, such as: Would we adhere to the Front-Side / Back-Side tatting protocol? If so, how would the rows designated as being worked on the front side or the back side be noted on the pattern? How would joins be handled? How far would each member of the group go? How would we keep the project together? At first, the details were daunting!

The end result was both a written pattern and a diagram. So the subsequent step was to have the more skilled members of the group review what was written down, make any necessary adjustments so that a test pattern could be created. The simple pattern swatch looked like this: In the end, we chose a white Cebelia thread in size 10 and decided to add beads as well. Ten-aught (10/0) pearl seed beads were designed into the picots that were not joins and 3 mm pearls went over joined picots on the second row.

We also had to keep in mind that Justice Ginsburg is a small woman and so we were mindful of any adjustments that might have to be made to accommodate her stature. So we selected the thinnest of our group to use as the gauge for size. This was most important before we finished the first row and moved on to the second row, as seen here.

Each member worked for a week, and the colored threads you see along the edge mark the end of each person’s progress at this phase of the project. Some work faster than others, of course, but this part went smoothly. Several participants even tatted a practice swatch while waiting for their turn on the actual collar: Seeing it against black was the best way to actually visualize how it was going to appear in the end: and the overall effect was just what we had been hoping for! As the piece neared completion, we had welcomed a new member, Sharon, who was anxious to be a part of the project as well. By this time the collar was done, but we still felt like stabilizing the collar onto cloth of some description was necessary, because we felt like that would add body that the finished product didn’t have. Sharon was more than willing to take this part of the project on and after trying several supporting fabrics, settled on a black tulle or netting.

The tulle made it easy to trim any excess away on the edges after the tatting was stitched down. It also was lighter than other fabric options Sharon tried. Because it was black, it didn’t show against another piece of black fabric such as the Justice’s robes. Adding a single pearl in the center of the large motif that made up part of the second row stabilized the piece over all. And so the finished collar went off to Washington to Justice Ginsburg’s office. To date we have not heard from Justice Ginsburg herself, but member Anne has a contact in that office that says the package has indeed arrived.

It’s not easy to coordinate such an elaborate project among participants with widely divergent skills in a craft like tatting. Everyone who participated worked very hard to make sure what they did was of the same tension as the person who tatted before them. What a truly heart felt effort this was!

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