Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What makes a good pattern?

I haven't been keeping up with the blog, I have been tatting a little, but not a lot. I saw a comment the other day about Anne Orr's baby bootie, or as it's called in the book, Baby Socklet and Shoe. I've tatted it, but the design is a stinker, at least , in my opinion it is. It is pretty and it looks all right when it's finished, but it's one of those piecemeal patterns where you tat a piece and lay it aside, then you tat a different piece and lay it aside, then you connect the pieces together by doing yet more pieces. Pieces drive me nuts.

When people talk about a good pattern, or a nice pattern, or a "go to" pattern, They are often talking about very different things, but they use the same terminology. It must really confuse new tatters. A lot of people looking for something to tat for a christening often choose this pattern. It isn't especially difficult and if I remember correctly it takes about 11 hours to complete. I remember the number because someone asked me what I would charge for making them and I had to figure out the hours and I can't remember if that was for one or the pair, although I think it was the pair. What I DO remember is that having to do the bits and pieces really irritated me, so much so that I did my own version, following along the same lines, but working the whole thing in only 2 pieces. The Anne Orr bootie calls for size 30 and I used a size 50 in mine

One of the things I realized as I was finishing it off, is that thread doesn't stretch like yarn. I know. You'd figure that after tatting for all these years that I would recognize something as obvious as that, but I just didn't think about the simple things, like getting a non stretch bootie over a tiny foot. Happily, I remembered this vital piece of information just as I was working on the last couple of boot rounds and  instead of working around the top of the bootie in a circle, I stopped at the front and worked back over the row just done, which meant that if I had been doing front side/back side tatting it would have been a real nightmare because I would have had to do everything on the row backwards. I don't do front side/back side, so I just turned and kept going.

Is it a good pattern? Maybe. It's pretty enough and it doesn't have lots of pieces, but if  front side/back side is a major issue for you, you'd definitely hate this pattern.

If you are just learning to tat, a design that uses just simple rings and chains is going to be a great pattern, but if you are experienced, that kind of pattern will drive you around the bend with monotony. If you need something for a quick gift, you might gravitate toward something that has a simple design, but if you want to make something with lots of WOW factor, you might want something more elaborate. If you were making a gift for another tatter, you might choose something with lots of clunies, because you know that another tatter will appreciate the time that goes into them, but a non tatter might be just as impressed with something that just uses chains.

Sometimes your definition of a good pattern is neither how the finished lace looks, nor the techniques it uses, nor how long it takes to complete, but depends solely on how the pattern is written. Some people don't like using written patterns, and some people can't stand visual patterns.

Now and then, people will refer to a design as being their "go to" pattern and often that simply means that the pattern is their first choice to tat, just because they have it memorized and they don't have to go look for the pattern or refer to a page when they are tatting. That doesn't mean it's particularly pretty, or quick to tat, or well written, it just means it's memorized.

So what about you? What makes a good pattern for you? Is it the visual appeal of the design? Is it the way that it's written? Is it the techniques involved? Or is it something else? Inquiring minds want to know.


Ladytats said...

hhmmmm a "go to" pattern, I am not sure that I have one. I seldom tat more then 1 of something, except for my Rosary pattern, that one is memorized as I have made bunches of dozens. So, I suppose that makes it a "go to", why? because I have memorized it.
as for pattern styles, I gravitate toward graphic patterns but can and do work pieces from written patterns.

Julie Romero said...

I like both written and diagramed patterns, I chose a pattern based on visual appeal...finding a well tatted model much more appealing as well if photos are included. Go too...well, something relaxing to tat that doesn't drive me bonkers from either complexity nor repetitious simplicity. Mary Konior's patterns usually fit the bill...particularly her cross patterns for me.

Marty said...

I like a bit of a challenge for a good tat -- something that keeps my mind engaged. If it doesn't, I slip into autopilot and make all sorts of silly mistakes. Given the choice, I want to work from a diagram, but it helps to have a really good picture as well and bits of explanation about anything unusual.

Lace-lovin' Librarian ~ Diane said...

I like having a combination of written and diagrammed patterns. I'm very much a visual learner, and looking at just the written patterns can get very confusing for me. My go-to pattern is definitely Mary Konior's Spinning Wheel glass mat. Yes, I do have the pattern memorized, but that's not the reason. I love the swirl of the design. I find the in and out flow of the pattern to be very relaxing. I also like the fact that I know I can complete one with one skein of hand-dyed thread!

Margarets designer cards said...

What makes a good pattern is one that challenges but does not give you headaches and not too many knots and threads to tie in, A good pattern is one which is written or has diagrams that are easy to follow, and not silly bits that confuse. A good pattern is one you love to tat and do often.
And a good pattern is one that looks good on any colour or thread

shannon_in_love said...

my go-to pattern is the vance edging...its got a nice flow to it.. for me...a good pattern is something enjoyable.

did i have fun tatting it? yes...then good pattern...

was it too difficult causing aggravation...not a good pattern.

did it challenge me but not stump me? good pattern.

Kathy Niklewicz said...

I prefer diagrammed ones and am glad they are more available now. I admire all of you who have mastered the software.

The booties look great! The changes you made are a good idea. I'm glad you're not hung up on front-side/back side. I want relax when I tat, so I only pay attention to that on very small projects. Unfortunately, I'm not doing much tatting
these days! I read the blogs to relax, instead.