Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On Reading a Tatting Pattern

On Sunday, a friend asked me my opinion on an old tatting pattern.  It was "Lacy Twirls of Tatting Chair Set #4605" in Star Book #46. 

First, it was written in the style most of the old patterns are (R, 4 d, 3 p sep by 4 d, 4 d, cl r. Ch, 8 d, 3 p sep by 4 d, 8 d, turn.) So I wrote it over into a more readable fashion ( R 4-4-4-4 clr.  Ch 8-4-4-8 RW)  I changed the "turn" to "reverse work".  In my mind, "turn" implies a side to side motion, where "reverse work" implies a top to bottom motion that you would find when switching from a ring to a chain and vice versa.  But this pattern had chains coming from rings in both the normal fashion and where the tops were needing to be facing opposite of how they normally would, so you had to "force" the chain and it ends up a little twisted.

Chains coming from a ring in the normal fashion

Chain coming from ring "twisted" (the bottom)

I made a bookmark in the way it was written to get a feel for the pattern.

Original pattern
It was hard to see what the chains and rings were doing, so I switched to having two colors.  This shows how the chains end up all the same color and the rings the alternate color. (I did alter the pattern to start in the middle of the end instead of the side so I could leave the ends as a tassel)

Original pattern/2 colors

Next, I made another bookmark where I used 2 shuttles and just switched shuttles when the chain would be forced.  This made the chains all smooth, but creates a different look in the 2 color bookmark.

Switching shuttles

Here are all 3 bookmarks together:

I like the look of the "forced" 2 color bookmark best, but if you were making it all one color, I would go with switching shuttles as that is a smoother way of working the pattern.  I also thought it would be nice to join the picots on the inside of the bookmark to make it more stable, but I didn't want to take more time to make a 4th bookmark ☺


***Jon**** said...

I like the 'forced' one, too.
Whenever I see a design where the chain changes direction like this, I will use two shuttles, even though sometimes the patterns doesn't say it, especially in old patterns.

Looking at the bookmark a few times, I wonder if it would look nicer if the ends are made as clovers, omitting the chains. Just a thought.

LadyShuttleMaker aka MadMadPotter said...

What a very interesting post. I think I like the second bookmark best.

Ladytats said...

I too like the look of the colors in the middle bookmark. I understand about forcing the chains. the only way you could avoid it is the way to did the 3rd bookmark. but then you would need to use only a solid or variegated threads on your 2 shuttles to avoid the odd way the colors line up.
I agree that joining the chains in the middle of the design would make it stronger.

tattrldy said...

Great job on trying out the pattern all three ways, they all look good. I like the way the color work on the middle bookmark. As you are using two shuttles you could do a shoe lace trick to switch the colors and it the chains might lay a little better. I agree with you, joining more picots in the center would certainly make it more stable. I do love the heart shape the pattern makes there toward the ends.

Jane McLellan said...

Interesting work, thanks for showing us the results!

Kathy Niklewicz said...

Great comparions! (I'm impressed you even had time to tat all three!) I keep going back and forth whether I prefer #2 or #3. However, I AM puzzled why the designer didn't hook up those picots in the center section!

These are good examples of using color and switching shuttles to avoid the 'twist' in the chain. I'm sure non-tatters would never believe the 'angst' we feel over a the slight twist in a 'forced' chain! Perfectionism is a nice goal, but I think we sometimes go overboard (LOL)! To me it's not even noticeable here, unless under the microscope!

And fortunately, we now write patterns in a more 'readable' style. I feel sorry for the typesetters and proofreaders 'back in the day', not to mention the tatters! Even knitting and crochet patterns were written in a 'jammed together' style, making patterns look much more complex than they were. This unfortunately kept many people from even trying to learn needlework. I'm glad you rewrote them for your friend!