Here are some of the things that I think it's good for although I'm sure there are more:
- It keeps you tatting.
- It gives you a tangible goal.
- It gives you the opportunity to make mistakes and find creative ways to fix them.
- Group effort gives you the encouragement to continue.
- The challenge is personal. You aren't competing with anyone else, you are just challenging yourself to keep going.
- It gives beginners a reason to keep tatting and thereby provides them the opportunity to improve their skills.
- It gives designers a reason to design. (As if they needed it.)
- It has created many wonderful new laces which give others the opportunity to share in the design process and to see how designers develop their designs.
- It has given newer designers a reason to write out their designs.
- It has given tatters a greater sense of community.
I promised that I'd start to show the design process I go through. I'm sure other designers probably do some of the same things. You've no doubt heard me mention before that I once did a series of snowflakes to go out in the Christmas cards to my family. I began with the lacy snowflake from the trio below. It's very pretty and I did enough of them for Rob's family but the lace is very dense and they took a long time to tat and I have 8 siblings! I needed something roughly the same size, but faster to make.
In the picture above you can see the 8 snowflakes I eventually ended up with. I've numbered them so that you can see how they evolved. The first one is a variation of the beaded snowflake from my web site, so I already knew the stitch count.
Here's the pattern for the first one and in case you can't read the stitch count everything is 3. Knowing where I started from, can you figure out the pattern for the next one? Experienced designers would laugh at the question, but if you haven't designed before, see if you can. Many times I have created a new design because I just made a mistake in reading a pattern. Designing isn't hard, but like tatting, it takes practice. This is a very forgiving design that's really hard to mess up, so it's a good piece to start with. And you know what? I'm still doing variations of this same design.