I'm as puzzled as you are.
CRAFT mag recently posted an article and an accompanying Instructables link to a beginner needle tatting pattern and I wanted to try it out. Tatting is an old and meticulous art that takes patience and time, dexterity, some math, and a really long-ass pointy needle to get it just right.
The beginner pattern on Instructables was for a 5-petal flower which is what that pink-tentacled thing you see above is supposed to look like. I used a #16 embroidery needle and some leftover sock-weight yarn which I'm pretty sure is the equivalent of tatting with a broomstick and a garden hose. It was hard at first because I'm not a patterns person; I'm a jump-right-in-and work at it until the yarn is shredded-person, but once I found my tatting groove, it felt very similar to ... futzing--that's the description that comes closest. You know, when you're playing around with a piece of string, wrapping it and re-wrapping it around your finger during a casual conversation. Here is my bastardized explanation of it: it's a series of small overhand/underhand loops and strategically-placed bigger loops (called picots) formed over a needle and pulled onto a string and when chained together form one giant piece of tatting. Something about a shuttle-tool is used but I'm not sure where or when. It sounds kind of simple and boring but have you SEEN the tatting out there? Really nice tatting is romantic, mysterious and reminds me of Moroccan tiles or fractals or the beauty of all things Classical European. You will be utterly blown away by it. Well, if you're a girl.
Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out RS and WS so my flower doesn't lay flat but rather rears up at certain point resembling a bug on a windshield. I'll try it again one day.