An Introduction to the Priscilla Project

January 2, 2011 10:00 am

I’ve been toying around with the idea of a larger tatting project for a while.  I have a habit of reverting back to redoing the same patterns or variations of the same patterns and have been wanting to stretch my tatting skills more but my OCD tendencies are craving a systematic way of doing that.

And thus the idea for the Priscilla Project was born.

As far as I have found, there are 3 full length books and one shorter pamphlet (on yokes) on tatting from the Priscilla Publishing Co. with the first book published in 1909.

I’m not sure why I’ve gravitated to the patterns in the Priscilla books over some of the other great antique tatting patterns out there, but I just love them.  (Especially the third book)  However, actually tatting from them has been both rewarding and frustrating.  The close-up pictures never seem to be of the part of the piece that’s giving me trouble.  The directions are often vague and sometimes wrong.  But the pictures show some incredible pieces and a lot of techniques that I always thought were newer inventions.

As soon as I got my printed copies bound it started feeling like a real project that I could tackle.  Now I have flipped through and drooled over the books enough.  Time now to start tatting.

I have no idea if I’ll eventually end up tatting all the patterns.  The OCDness in me wants to make that as a goal, but my more practical side is reminding me that I’m also a working grad student and that even if I weren’t, working (and likely re-working and re-working again) the patterns would take years.  Plus I’ve got other projects going on in my life (both with and without thread and shuttles).  Who knows?  In a year or two I could get sick of attempting to read the tiny print.

So as I start off I set no goals for this project.  Or rather, for right now, the goal is simply to explore these books more and to document the process as much as my time will allow.

I suspect that a few of the the patterns will leave me baffled, frustrated and confused.  But I can tell just from flipping through the books that it’s also going to be a lot of fun.

If you’re interested in exploring the books with me, print out your own copies of these awesome books.  You can find them online at the Antique Pattern Library, a great resource for all sorts of antique lace patterns of all sorts of techniques. Or if you want a more compact list of just tatting books, check out the selection of antique tatting patterns (These are mostly pulled from the Antique Pattern Library, but this site saves you time by only listing tatting books.)


3 Responses to “An Introduction to the Priscilla Project”

Wanda wrote a comment on January 2, 2011

What an interesting project. I have at least one of the Priscilla books – original copy – and tried a pattern just this last fall. Good luck with this! These patterns can be very challenging to follow but they are very lovely.

admin wrote a comment on January 3, 2011

Thanks Wanda. I’ve unsuccessfully messed around with some of the bigger patterns, but I’m looking forward now to really taking the time to make them work. The pictures of the finished pieces are just so pretty I’ve got to make them work for myself.

Marie wrote a comment on December 15, 2013

I taught myself to tat in 1976 using an old tatting book from the 1800’s and have never had any problem following old tatting patterns. It’s the new tatting patterns that make me crazy!!!
Recently counted my collection of vintage tatting books (and the ones that contain chapters on tatting) – 54 total, and that does not include my collection of Home Needlework magazine and Workbasket, which are almost complete.
At age 64, I’ve discovered that I like single shuttle tatting and have reverted back to it. No worrying about the ball rolling away in the car or while I’m recovering from another (yucky) joint replacement. Going through my books from the 1800’s, I have found lots of single shuttle edgings that are complex enough to be a challenge with their different sized rings.
Favorite sized thread? DMC Cordonnet Special 100! Recently used up my stash that I purchased back in the 70’s when a department store discontinued it, and purchased a new stash. It is definitely NOT the same size nor quality as the older thread!

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