Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Halloween was over a week ago, yes. But here is a delayed reflection on the tatting that my Halloween involved. I didn't wind up tatting any ghosts or pumpkins or other themed patterns (although I have been eying Jane's spider -- wonderfully simple and effective pattern, the kind that motivates me to learn the involved technique it uses, not so that I know the technique, but so that I can make the pattern!). The tatting that did make into my Halloween was just a simple edging.
You see, the part of Halloween that I have always loved the most is dressing up. I don't go in for any of the store-bought princess or witch costumes -- the ones made of the thinnest shiny cloth you've ever seen, all in a one-piece dress. Nor the headed and footed dinosaur costumes, although the right one of those can look great. The only store-bought costumes that have ever entered my family's house were a puppy dog suit and a tiger suit for my two little brothers when they were about 6 and 8. They were so cute that that was definitely worth it. But normally when my family dresses up we prefer to make our own outfits out of clothes we own already or buy at the thrift store. I've been a cat before, by dressing entirely in black and making myself cat ears out of a headband and construction paper. Or my brother dressed up as a 19th century insane asylum escapee -- he began the party in a "straightjacket" made out of a long-sleeved dress shirt, and gradually disguised himself to assimilate into society with a top hat and tailcoat. Naturally I and my sister and brother (he of the tiger suit, now grown up into a teenager) were delighted to be invited by some friends to go Creepy Caroling on Halloween this year. This involved dressing up in Victorian clothes and going door-to-door singing carols with suitably spooky subjects. There were a couple parodies of Christmas carols, such as "Hark the Streptococcus brings / Strep sore throat to all who sing", a song from the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas, and an H.P. Lovecraft song about a man surrounded by Fish-Men. My sister and I, however, were sold at the point where we dressed up in Victorian clothes. We scoured the thrift stores and found long skirts and vaguely Victorian jackets. I made myself a wide-brimmed bonnet out of cloth and cardboard, and was very proud of finding a blazer with lapels that could be pinned up so that it looked like a high collared blouse. It was white, and I realized that a jabot would be exactly the thing.
So, rummaging around in my drawers of tatting-related items, I found a handkerchief that I had edged in white many years ago when I was first learning to tat. I pinned it at my throat with a cameo-type pin, and voila -- a repurposed jabot which did not cost me any money at all.
Of course, it would have been nice to have a jabot completely of lace, and I already considering the idea for next year. I have such plans for caroling next year. The late Victorian era is of course when tatting first hit the scene, and the Victorian style lends itself so beautifully to abundances of lace. In addition to a full-lace jabot, I would love to make a little reticule to carry around my wrist. My friends and I are much too old to trick-or-treat, and we looked on this simply as a fun outing to bless other people with singing, not to obtain candy from them. But since it was Halloween night, everyone opened their door intending to give candy, and while we continually repeated "No, thank you," there were several elderly couples who refused to take no for an answer. There's a point at which you bless people far more by letting them give you something than by refusing it, so we wound up with about 8-10 pieces of candy each, and the poor gentlemen in our party had bulging coat pockets from trying to accommodate the carrying needs of all the ladies whose skirts were pocketless. Hence a reticule would have a practical purpose. But far beyond practical purposes, I have designs boiling around in my head now which I am itching to execute. I would like to make it of black cloth, largely circular and with a drawstring, and cover the cloth with black lace. I love tone-on-tone looks, and it would be fairly easy to find a doily pattern which I could use to make lace of the same circumference as the bag. Or perhaps I should try to design or alter a pattern into a cylinder shape, to eliminate excess folds in the bag. I could also try to make this bag functional year-round, by doing something similar to the bag Frivolina recently showed, which has pockets for shuttles and space for thread, and opens out flat into a nice work surface when spread on a table. Perhaps it is a little pathetic to be so excited about something 11 months away, but I cannot wait to tat more Victorian costume elements. There are so many possibilities!


Isdihara said...

Congratulations on a marvelous Victorian Halloween costume accessory (as well as a well-executed costume)! It is amazing how you worked tatting into your ensemble. Love it! And now, *I* can't wait for next year's costume too.

Gina said...

I'm not even a halloween person but your plans sound like great fun and so creative!

Anonymous said...

I think it's great when people make their own costumes. It keeps the brain muscles in shape, having to come up with one's own ideas

Like the tatting bit - added nostalgia