I’d Rather Be Tatting to Feature Original Patterns

I relished the thought of tatting a gift for my Irish friend just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. (Long car trips to baby showers such as this and other events offer the perfect opportunity to tat away). Confidently picking up my new Aero tatting shuttle, its detachable bobbin wound with vivid, variegated green thread, I glanced fondly at the shuttle, embellished with a decoupage dragonfly, a recent purchase from Etsy’s La Cossette.  I began tatting a motif so basic, it required no pattern. After a time, glancing at it to admire the appearance of the lace, I peered closer in exasperation and surprise as I spotted what appeared to be an error.

Up to that moment, I’d happily clicked away as this simple, one-round composition–four three-leaf clovers joined by picots (loops used for joining or for decoration)—would, I assume, emerge to form an eventual diamond shape with central chains arching from one three-leaf clover to the next. Or so I thought. Sure enough, I isolated the mistake: I’d inadvertently joined the first picot of the next ring of the second three-cloverleaf repeat to the second picot of the last ring of the last cloverleaf instead of the third (and final) adjacent picot immediately corresponding to it. Unaware of the misaligned join, I then blithely completed the first ring in the second sequence of four cloverleaves and closed it. Drat! I said to myself. More?

Now, I’m going to have to pick out the double stitches of the closed ring, in second-half by first-half order, all the way back to the jinxed join to make the repair. TATTING NEWS FLASH: picking out tatting stitches is a task not for the faint-hearted, nor for the impatient. I’ll explain why a little later.

Then, as fast as my stitchy mood appeared, it began to evaporate, as an insertion of lacey inspiration formed instead in its place, becoming threads of a beautiful idea! What if I hadn’t made a dreadful mistake after all, but instead, without knowing it, slid serendipitously on a new design path infinitely more interesting?

Knowing that if I analyzed the situation much longer, I’d resign myself to digging the crochet hook tip of my tatting shuttle below one of the picot loops in the closed ring, scooping it up and cautiously pulling the working thread out while holding the stitches to either side taut–the beginning of the laborious process that allows tatters to “reverse tat,” stitch by stitch. Then, they pull this “ring” thread out all the way counter-clockwise through the opening where the beginning stitches and ending stitches meet in the oval shape that was once a closed ring. Now on tatted tenterhooks to see the results of this simple change, I resolutely forged ahead.

In the spirit of bold adventure (almost as thrilling as the heart-throbbing historical romance I’d recently inhaled, in which tatting, yes tatting, was mentioned), I carefully set myself a mental reminder that this four-cloverleaf motif would require a mirror-image alteration at the opposite end. I’d started tatting the motif in a car pool with my sisters-in-law and niece en route to baby shower that stretched into an extended family visit, stop for dinner and of course, return drive home from my in-laws’ house. And being the stubborn, okay, determined creature that I am, though the day was long, I just had to finish the motif (the Victorian sets/node stitches required for the necklace  to accompany the pendant itself go very fast, so I wasn’t worried about that aspect, nor about creating a clasp). Upon returning home, I continued tatting almost to the very end. But alas for the tatting, it had been too long a day.

So long, that in the process, I ignored an important rule I’d learned from personal experience as a obsessively dabbling  craft enthusiast over the years: when you sense fatigue or distress, STOP crafting immediately, and pick up your work another time. The consequences of failing to do so usually present themselves sooner rather than later. And they’re almost always downright vexing.

Sure enough, I noticed the error too late–just after I’d closed very last tatted ring of the final cloverleaf. “Not again,” I mentally groaned. Instead of beginning the fourth and final curved chain after the third and final cloverleaf of four, I was dismayed to see I’d begun it after the first ring, a pretty pickle indeed! There’d be hell to pay tomorrow, so tight was the knot I’d managed to create. So, with a sigh of resignation, I set the tatting down to rest in its newly purchased fabric tatting bag adorned with pictures of tatting shuttles, removed my eyewear, and began my evening bedtime ablutions in preparation for sleep.

Upon waking I found what I needed to remedy the tightly closed double stitch: a T-pin that was able to penetrate into the knot and loosen it sufficiently so I could insert the end of my modified Aero shuttle and begin the final unpicking back to where the third and final cloverleaf ring, followed by the fourth and final chain would end the motif. It was such a relief to finish the piece, even though by finishing, I only mean the tatting itself. The piece isn’t truly finished until the thread ends (if any) are hidden and the tatter blocks the tatting. Blocking involves turning the piece over onto a cloth or plastic-wrapped level surface that permits the tatter to dampen with water, carefully shape and pin the lace with rustproof pins, letting the lace work sit until the tatting is dry.

I’m hoping by now you might guess, having read the account above, why someone who’s been tatting (making lace with a shuttle) for close to 25 years, when faced with the entirely alien experience of setting up a self-installed WordPress website and the technical complexities associated with it, doesn’t run for the hills. (I think some of you know the thought had crossed my mind at one point, but then you probably don’t know this about me: Shuttle tatters—and editors for that matter—both of which I am, stand apart. Where others might give up when the going gets tough, in the end, we persevere. I think the synonym for this chronic condition is known as “perfectionism.”)

…What I’ve learned this quarter, “Digital Tools,” is that mistakes can lead to new directions that can be beneficial (this includes humility, a prerequisite necessary for personal growth as humans). But, you can’t let a temporary set down, or the unexpected keep you from your ultimately goal(s). My essential mission remains the same:

  • To create a [lace] tatting website that’s vastly different from the current offerings in the Tat-o-Sphere: to take charge of the reigning website/blogging info chaos, restructuring it give site visitors faster and easier access to all the information they desire by aggregation.
  • To provide a single resource to turn to that meets site visitors’ insatiable thirst for tatting; one place to rule them all: I’d Rather Be Tatting.

But before it ascends the throne amid a joyous cacophony of welcomes, the website requires more fine-tuning; I’d Rather Be Tatting is far removed from where I expected it to be at this time. The home page slider upsets my aesthetic sense so deeply I’m that close to changing themes (stay tuned for more news in “The Business of Digital Publishing”).  The more content I publish—and I need to publish more, pronto–the more highly developed my lacey voice becomes (yay!), as I gracefully relinquish the polished primness befitting a tatting princess in favor of a more authentic, fun writing style that’s soooh tattilicious. Parse that, spell checker!

Sadly, my website suffers still from unresolved dualities of share buttons (a case of widget-itis), requires the reappearance of a lovely (and meaningful, Mark!) logo to brand it, the need to re-take and re-submit and strrrrretch old photos and add more photos to enhance blog posts. Thankfully, I recently took advantage of the UW student discount to purchase Adobe CS6 Standard, and am now delving into a few PeachPit Press QuickStart Guides on my Kindle to improve the photographs and any graphics on my site.

With the blessings of our fearless leader behind me, I plan to switch host and domain provider in the hope of finding stellar service sometime soon.

The social whirl: Despite the lovely introductions to numerous exciting new tools and social media and explanations given for why they are so crucial to the future success of our websites (and I believe it’s so), I still am not at ease with the overwhelming (to me) plethora of them. I think this has to do with developing realistic schedules for writing and editing and social media that make sense. I don’t think they will be written in stone and I’ll probably find out along the journey by trial and error, and adjust accordingly.

After tweaking my website to fix its outstanding issues, adopting routine content submission schedule, and easing into the fast-paced world of social media, my next step will be the culmination of a dream I’ve long held: the creation of a small collection of simple, but original patterns for publication, time permitting, using Adobe Illustrator or InDesign for stitch diagrams. Because I also love to make jewelry, they will probably be earrings that I will sell both on my website and on Amazon.com. I may start by publishing a single pattern at a time, free, then, eventually sell them as a collection. Some day, my tatted lace-loving ambitions may even take me to Etsy!

…While I managed to finish the lace motif, sadly, it was not in time for the wearin’ of the green. But I learned much from my experience. The same holds true for “Digital Tools.” Though my website, “I’d Rather Be Tatting” still needs adjustments to take it where I want it to be, it was a great learning experience and I will continue to learn and grow every day—the start of my website wasn’t an end, it was just the beginning.

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About Holly

During the week, I'm a professional writer, editor and proofreader who loves to make content sing. Afterhours, I morph into my alter ego who who loves shuttle tatting (a form of lacemaking), beading jewelry and too many other crafts to name here! Watch for my upcoming blog, "I'd Rather Be Tatting, " coming soon!

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