FULLERTON, Calif. — With the help of family, a hand shuttle and thread, Bob Lent is helping pull through a family tradition of shuttle tatting. The technique involves a series of loops and knots to create patterned designs by hand. It was an unexpected hobby that he now finds himself taking part in just about everywhere he goes.

“I need to carry it on now with somebody. I think maybe one of my daughters could do it,” Lent said.

What You Need To Know

  • Bob Lent leads a weekly In Stitches group at the Morningside of Fullerton, helping others take up shuttle tatting

  • The tradition was passed down to Lent by his mother and he hopes to pass down the tradition to his own children

  • Shuttle tatting is a centuries-old handmade design using knots and loops to create a lace-like design

  • Needle tatting is a similar technique that uses a needle instead of a shuttle, making it easier on the hands

Lent shared that his mother, who was a child of the Great Depression, learned to create many things their family couldn’t afford through sewing, quilting and eventually tatting. He began learning the centuries-old art form from her, years ago. After some trial and error, he took to it and has been helping others take up the hobby, as well, at the Morningside of Fullerton retirement community.

One student, Frances Holt, learned how to tat with the use of a needle. This arthritis-friendly version helped her continue her own family tradition, especially during the pandemic.

“My grandmother and mother were very artistic in their sewing. It just means a lot to me to think that I am doing something that was done many, many years ago and it’s different,” Holt said.

She’s made rings, ornaments and more that she’s more than happy to share as gifts. For Lent, teaching others is a reminder of the bond his mother passed on to him. In one of her final pieces, Lent shared that he was able to complete one of his mother’s last doilies that he holds dear to his heart.

“I knew what the design was by looking at the other pieces. It’s hanging up in my bedroom as a memento that I’ll keep forever of being able to finish what she started.”

A tradition that hangs on by a thread — but will forever be tied to his family.