In the world of home arts, there are some types of handwork that seem never to wane in popularity. Those are the varieties of projects that even people that lack interest in handwork themselves are well aware of. Crocheting, knitting, sewing (hand or machine), and cross stitch are all very common, and the supplies for all of them are readily available at most chain and individually owned craft and sewing shops. However, there are a variety of home arts that, at present, are virtually unknown.
When it comes to home arts and crafts, as in many things, the commercial sector greatly controls what is in fashion and what is not by increasing and decreasing the availability of supplies. Because of lack of exposure due to this manipulation, some types of projects almost become, at least for a time, lost. After all, the lower the availability of supplies, the less exposure a project type will get, and subsequently, fewer people will engage in or be aware of it.
Despite the overall popularity of needlework, it is hardly exempt from this process. Ribbon embroidery and tatting are two varieties that have almost disappeared from public view. People new to or with minimum exposure to needlework are most likely to be unfamiliar with these types of handwork, though it is possible that even more experienced individuals may not know about them.
Silk ribbon embroidery, which uses thin silk ribbons, typically in combination with traditional embroidery flosses, to create roses, leaves, and other designs as a decoration on fabric (or in some instances paper), is possibly the better known of the two because supplies and instruction books were readily available in chain stores within the last decade and a half. However, it seems that supplies are now relegated to online shopping, with perhaps the exception of small sewing or specialty shops.
Another home art that, like silk ribbon embroidery, could be considered temporarily “lost” is tatting. Tatting, which is traditionally done with the use of a shuttle but can also be done using a tatting needle, rarely keeps company with the popular needle arts, such as knitting and crochet. In fact, there are likely many avid crocheters and knitters that have never even heard of it, despite the fact that the end product is often as delicate as either fine gauge knitting or crocheting. In this case too, supplies are at least available online.
One may then wonder why, if products for these arts are available, they are barely known to some and entirely unknown to others. When it comes to lost arts, the differences between in person and internet shopping may be a major influence. Traditional stores are “browser friendly” in a way that internet stores cannot quite be. Despite the product recommendations that shopping websites provide, online shoppers may not be quite as likely to stumble upon something new as someone walking up and down store aisles and wading through books on a store rack. Therefore, despite an item’s technical availability, someone who is not purposely looking for a given item is potentially never going to discover it.
Although only two varieties of “lost” home arts and crafts were specifically discussed in this article, there are probably many more that are currently out of fashion, and are waiting for someone to happen upon or even purposely seek them out. Sewing, knitting, crocheting, tatting, embroidery and all of the other arts and crafts out there, though often functional, are now more about enjoyment. So, if you’re looking through an old craft magazine or sewing book and find something that looks interesting but that would probably be considered out-of-fashion or “dated”, explore your buying options both in store and online, and don’t be afraid to try something new though it may not be “in”. On the other hand, if you are getting bored with the standards, do a search online, at the library, or even by asking an older or more experienced person and you may very well find a project that you consider to be just as interesting and appealing now as it ever was.