As a teacher, I have always told my students that there is no such thing as a “stupid question.” I want my students to speak up and ask and re-ask until they get it, without fear. As a teacher, I stand by this, but as a blogger I might have to reevaluate.

The whole point of a question is to get information that is relevant and useful either in the asker’s mind and heart or in a practical situation, and to get that information, you have to ask in a way that translates your question into the mind of another person who might have a chance of answering it.

Anyone reading this blog is old enough that you have probably asked a million questions in your lifetime. Half of these were between the ages of three and five, but the point is that you know how questions work.

Even though I don’t post regularly anymore, I still regularly get questions by email and in the comments, often several every week. I’m happy to answer these as best as I can, and I absolutely love hearing from people telling me stories of having success learning to tat, but I also (perhaps irrationally) expect a certain amount of maturity and discretion.

As a public school teacher, when I get a “stupid question” from a 12-year-old, I smile, sit next to her, and patiently walk her through what she needs to figure it out in her own head. When I get a “stupid question” from an adult, the part of me that laments our public education system, groans.

Maybe I’m in a crabby mood, or maybe I’ve just gotten this same question one too many times. I don’t mean to be mean, and I certainly do not want to discourage anyone from asking questions that I can actually answer. If you’re genuinely stuck, and if the question is something I’m able to answer, and you can phrase it in a way that actually lets me know what it is you mean when you write the question, I will do my best. And please do keep emailing me the warm fuzzy stories that help me through the harder questions.

Okay, done with my rant. Here is the question that provoked my little tantrum. I’m not going to name who sent it, because it really doesn’t matter. I’ve gotten essentially the same question several times since I opened this blog, and maybe this is just the one that broke the camel’s back.

“I found my grandmother’s old tatting shuttle at the bottom of her sewing box. What should I do with it?”

Really? Seriously? What should I do with it? How should I know what you should do with it?! If you’re reading a tatting blog, maybe you already know the answer.

Here are a few options that occurred to me over breakfast this morning:

    Hang it on your Christmas tree as a decoration.
    Put it in a frame with a picture of your grandmother for a memorial.
    Paint it gray and glue on whiskers and a tail, then use as a cat toy.
    Give it to your father-in-law to use as fishing tackle.
    Put it on a chain and wear as a necklace.
    Set it on it’s side, wedge a candle in it, light, and have a romantic dinner.
    Freeze, then use as ice cubes.
    Paint some flowers on it, then glue it to a headband and wear. Could be a conversation starter.
    Attach a string and let it hang down. Use this as a plumb to make sure all the pictures in your house are hanging straight.
    Take it to your local impressionist artist and let him incorporate it into a piece of artwork.
    Give it to your four-year-old and let him include it in his impressionist artwork.
    Attach one end perpendicularly to a sturdy rod and plant the rod in your front yard. Then watch it each morning to see which way the wind is blowing.
    Write your hopes and dreams on a piece of paper, and roll it up really tiny and stuff it inside the shuttle. Mount the shuttle to the frame of the front door of your home and kiss it every time you walk in or out.
    Tape it to the end of a pen and put it in a cup in your office so that everyone will know that the pen is yours.
    Weld it to a ring or broach and wear. You might start a new fashion trend.
    Collect a few more, hang them in a tree and listen as they clink and tangle in the wind.
    Stick it in the business and of a Nerf missile launcher and play fetch with the dogs.
    Cover in glitter, stuff it with silver tinsel, and use it as a centerpiece at your daughter’s wedding.
    Attach to a keyring and use as a zipper pull.
    Cover it in paint then throw at a wall. Repeat with several other colors and call it art. You might even make some money this way.
    Speaking of money, you could stuff your bills inside it and use as a money holder.
    Or seal up the sides and use it as a pill container.
    Or as a couch in a dollhouse.
    Or as the most painful braces in the world. Don’t tell your dentist.
    Or play as a tiny drum.
    Or stick it right back where you found it to collect dust.
    Or tie it to a brick and send to me as hate mail.

Or, you know, you could always use it to learn how to tat. Make something Grandma would be proud of. Check out my videos under the tab “Learn Tatting

Other ideas? Share in the comments below.