Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rant about tatting....

...for no particular reason. Fox mentioned the other day that she wasn't doing the Catherine Wheel join correctly and it got me to thinking. I am mostly self taught and until I went to a tatting workshop, I had never seen another tatter, or another tatter's work. I learned tatting, like I learned to knit crochet and embroider. I was shown the first steps and then just ran with it. If a pattern said to do something I didn't know, I did whatever worked for me. So I don't get bent out of shape by people talking about doing what is "right" or "proper". In short, I don't worry about tatting police. I see so few tatters, it isn't likely to matter and when I do they mostly are impressed by what I have done.

I am personally not impressed by bazaar junk done by a half blind granny using rope like thread and beads designed for use by a 5 year old. My apologies to elderly, visually challenged femmes assisting in raising funds for worthy causes, it's just a personal preference. I like to think that when something leaves my hands it can stand up to the close scrutiny of the average person. Good enough, is not good enough for me, I expect excellence from myself.

That said, over the years I have heard numerous things about the "right" way to tat and I have to admit that I mostly ignore it. Things like front side back side tatting. I personally don't think that it looks better, it just looks a little different. I don't do it and I make no apology. I do a lot of 3D tatting. When you look at a tulip, which is the front? The inside, or the outside? I like knowing that when I pull a doily out of the wash and slap it down on the table, which ever way it lands is right side up. In designing this necklace I wanted a sort of netting effect where the motifs join the necklace band so I used just chains over that section. Which meant when I got to the end of the row I just finished it with a split chain and turned around to do the next row. The recipient will never know or care that I didn't do front/back tatting.

I like balance. When I do a join, a join is a join, not a stitch. It seems to me, that in a design where a ring has a lot of joins, that counting the join as the first half of the stitch means that I'm losing a half stitch for every join which will make the ring smaller than a ring of the same stitch count that doesn't have joins. I don't count the join as a stitch, I've been doing it that way for over 30 years and so far it's worked.

Tiny invisible joining picots. Baloney! Imagine a mat full of lacy motifs all connected together. Envision delicate picots evenly spaced around the edges of each motif so that the lace is suspended in a diaphanous spiderweb of picots. Now picture the same thing where each motif is jammed up against the next one because of tiny joining picots. In my opinion it's UGLY. I don't do it.

Years ago when I was tatting the flowers for my wedding I needed to tat a lot of carnations in a short amount of time. I was literally -tatting in my sleep. The pattern had a very short split chain at the end of each row. Due to tatting late at night I often skipped the split chain, just finishing the row and then doing a slip stitch back to the last picot. In the ruffles of the carnations it wasn't visible and I was waaay too tired to be picky. I wouldn't have done it in a place where it would show and I wouldn't have done it if I'd had more time and hadn't been tired. Can you see them?

There are a lot of little things the tatting police probably wouldn't like about my tatting. That's OK. I don't tat for them, I tat for me. I tat because I enjoy tatting and I enjoy the fruits of my labour.

Just because the general consensus is that you ought to do things a certain way, doesn't mean that there might not be another equally effective way to do things. You can't always assume that because you do things differently, that you are doing it incorrectly. Who says you have to do things one way and one way only? You might be the person who finds a whole new BETTER way of doing things.

In case anyone is interested, here's a closeup of the assembled motifs and the little inset that I used to finish it off. I would have taken better pictures but it was late and it's already been packaged up and mailed off.


Marty said...

Whew! What a relief. I do as pleases me, as well. I don't do front/back tatting because I like either side to be the front, just like you said. I do count the join as the first half of a stitch. I've been doing it for years and it works for me. Sometimes I take somebody else's pattern and figure out ways of working the pattern that are more comfortable to me. It works, it's pretty -- what could be better?

Happy Bluebird said...

I love your thinking! I am always so concerned that I'm doing it "right" - but it's a perfectionist thing. I tell myself often that no one else would know anyway. I do kind of like the look that the front side/back side tatting has, though I don't worry about it if I don't do it. (The "look" is for my own personal satisfaction though, no one else's!)

Thanks for your RANT!

Michelle said...

Hear! Hear!!!

I'm a lot like you- tatting for more than 30 years- content with what I do and thrilled to meet another tatter. I like the new techniques but will probably continue my own way for the next 30 years. tee hee!
Thanks for saying it though!

Fox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fox said...

Well, I will be the voice of dissent!

I really like fs/bs tatting! I think it looks better. But, this is just opinion, so it's all subjective, isn't it?

As far as "doing it the right way," I said to you in an e-mail that it was not so much a matter of doing the CW correctly, but that it was so obviously wrong when I first tatted it, before I really understood Marilee's excellent instructions.

As a tatter of under two years experience, I think that it is rather dopey to re-invent the wheel (so to spoke!!) when there is a plethora of fabulous instruction out in Tat-Land, courtesy of excellent, experienced tatters - you being one of that august number.

Does it not make sense in this tatting abundance on-line to take what you need and learn from it, rather than muddling along on one's own, frustrated and annoyed - unless one really wants to start from scratch for some reason that this tatter does not understand at all!

I am also interested in doing the best I can do and I strive for my own degree of excellence. I compete with me alone. That said, I am quick to go for all the help I can get to "fix" what needs fixing if I am not sure about something.

Thank goodness for the Internet - I have said this ad nauseam, for I have met very very few tatters in the flesh and have also learned on my own.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
? Fox : )

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

I rediscovered tatting on my own, learning as I go from the internet and the Tat-land community. Other times I work out my own method, only to find out later that they are already discovered and have names given to some of the methods.

I don't do front/back side tatting, or tiny joining picot. I prefer less decorative picots because I like clean lines, but that doesn't mean I steer clear of picots altogether.

When I am asked to teach tatting, I showed them how I do it. I showed several different ways of doing a technique but always adding that they should do whichever method that they are comfortable with. Sooner or later, they will get on the internet and find out the different ways of doing things and that there is never a right or wrong way.

The only wrong way is if your ring won't close or your tatting doesn't look like how it is suppose to.

Jenny said...

Great to hear some common sense. I have been tatting for nearly 60 years and agree with every word you have said. The overall finished appearance is the thing the tatting should be judged by, not a lot of rules.

Susie said...

Interesting rant. I learned to tat from the internet over 5 years ago, and I definitely like to do things the "right" way. (It comes from teaching math classes, probably.) Since I like color, the front side/back side is important for lark's head joins (which look like a double stitch and don't show "blips" of color where they shouldn't be on the "front"). I'm definitely not as careful for single colored pieces as for variegated thread, though. It is also fun to try new techniques (maltese rings are my current new thing), and keeping an open mind on tatting allows for improvements...either in speed, look, or overall FUN!

shannon_in_love said...

i agree. :)

I tat for me.

CrazyKwilter said...

I agree!

I tat for the sheer pleasure of seeing lace form from threads in my hands.
I don't need any more stress in my life from trying to do things "correctly" especially when what is deemed as "correctly" comes from someone else!

Margarets designer cards said...

At last some common sense, I have been tatting now for 40 years and taught myself, this right/wrong side I cant see any difference, I am like you I put it done and thats the right side showing I cant see a right and wrong way. I like to tat for the pleasure and enjoyment I sell some of my tatting and people will buy it because they like it. Your necklace looks lovely and very pretty desing.
If anyone is so pickey that they want to look at my work and pick holes in it, they can I have been tatting too long to worry about what others say or dont say.
Have a nice day

John said...

Good morning!!
I sooo agree.... and, ... disagree... and, ... agree... you get the picture. On any given day I have different opinions within myself. I'm self taught and have been tatting for 2 1/2 years. As long as it's relaxing for me, I'll keep learning. I may not use a recently learned technique again. It's just kinda nice to know that I can 'do' it. Some days, I want to be very technical and others, well, just let me sit, breathe, relax, and tat. So, I agree and tomorrow, I might disagree. I love that about our tatting community.

Anonymous said...

Any advice for a beginner? I would love to learn this, but keep having trouble closing the chain. I keep ending up with a wadded up mess of knots. I can crochet and knit and want to tat also. Thanks!