Monday, March 22, 2010


Just about every tatter I know personally, is someone I taught to tat. It's kind of like teaching someone to drive. Your habits, good or bad, become theirs.

I've been tatting rather prolifically, for a lot of years, over 30 anyway. There aren't enough tatters nearby to have a regular frequent get together. Once a year, isn't enough to effect changes in the way I tat. I'm pretty set in my ways. I'm not a granny sitting in a rocking chair that's too old to change. I'm also not too stubborn to change when I see a reason to.

Since I don't have a local tatting group to bounce ideas around with, a lot of what I know and what I learn comes from the on-line community. Sometimes I see different aspects of tatting being presented in such a way that it suggests that tatters who don't do things that way are doing it wrong.Being a very independent sort or person my reaction is 'who says?'

So just to give equal time to people who may do things differently, here's my perspective.

Front side/back side - I don't do it. I personally don't think it looks any better than tatting it half and half. I just don't. So I'm not about to jump through hoops to keep all of my stitches the same way around. To re-train myself to switch each time I RW would slow me down and I have too many designs spinning around in my head that need to get tatted and put down on paper. Besides, do a 3D Daffodil and which is the front, the inside of the outside of the flower? The top of the bottom of the base. How about a carnation? See? it gets nuts trying to figure out which side it up.

Sometimes I do front side/back side tatting (confused? so am I). When I'm working a design with multiple split rings joining together I work them so that they are all the same way up. The juxtaposition of multiple rings connecting to the same point with some of the rings, or some parts of some rings not all the same way around drives me nuts.

Counting the join as the first half of the next stitch. - I don't do this one either. To me, a join is a join and a stitch is a stitch. I have been successfully tatting anything and everything for years making a join and then a full stitch and my lace looks just fine, thank you very much.

Posting the shuttle through the ring before closing it. Tried it once. My other closed rings looked fine, the one where I posted the shuttle through looked twisted and I had to open the ring up so that I could put the shuttle back through. I have too much tatting to do to try that one again.

Tatting proficiency? Hmmm. Definition PROFICIENT skilled or expert. 30 years of tatting and teaching others to tat, 10 years of designing and publishing patterns, I guess that qualifies.

If not, I'm sure the tatting police will soon be at my door for spreading sedition. They're welcome, I'll just put the kettle and while they're peacefully sipping tea I'll wrap them in tatting so they can't get away. I'm sure they'll come around to my way of thinking eventually.


Lace-lovin' Librarian ~ Diane said...

I've tried front side/back side tatting... I get confused! I've tried dropping my shuttle through the ring... I think it looks terrible. So, I guess the tatting police will knock on my door soon after they knock on yours!

Randi said...

THANK YOU! for addressing the idea of choices in tatting.
For those of us who have been tatting for decades, front-
side/backside tatting was never included in our 'how to' books. We learned about it in recent years. It seems to me that it stems more from perfectionism than from tradition. As a recovering perfectionist I have to accept that I am not perfect nor are my projects. That being the case, I can see that this technique can be useful and does create a certain look, but it remains a choice, an alternative, a preference.
Of late, use of picot gauges is another choice which seems to 'raise eyebrows.' For those of us who have developed the skill to 'eyeball' the size of our picots, a gauge is a useful tool for achieving precision, but not always necessary. Again, a choice.
One of the great joys of on-line tatting sites is the sharing of experience and techniques. Acceptance of the variations in how we make our tatted lace enhances the generosity of spirit we see demonstrated in our growing virtual community. After all, a double stitch is still a double stitch whether made with a needle or shuttle. :)

Marty said...

Variety is a good thing. Those who like to twist their heads around front side/back side are more than welcome to do it. I like the idea that my tatting doesn't have a front side or a back side (not a backside, don't believe I've ever tatted a backside). I like to be able to toss something on the table and have it always right side up, no matter which side is up. :)
I, too tried the posting the shuttle through the ring thingy more than once. It doesn't work for me. I ended up with twisted rings that really bug me. I've never had any trouble opening a ring without posting it, so why bother.
That said, I usually count a regular join as the first half of my stitch. Lock joins I do not count as the first half. It works for me. I've never had any difficulty with a pattern doing it that way either.
I don't hold and move my shuttle like anybody else I know either. The way I do it works and is comfortable for me. I don't mind if nobody else I know wants to do it that way.
Isn't it great we don't all have to do the same thing? That would limit what there is to learn, doncha think?

Katherine said...

I think the most important thing for me about tatting is it should be fun, I do it for myself, and so even if it isn't perfect no one can tell but me.
Having said that, I enjoy reading about what others do...and trying out their tips and techniques. If it works for me I am happy to incorperate, otherwise I carry on in my own way. Happily there is room in the tatting world for all of us. :)

Gina said...

I've also been disturbed by the implication that front side/back side is the "best" way to tat. I don't. It's not important to me, but if it is important to someone, they should tat way. It is simply personal preference, not good or bad. Like you,I do in split rings when it seems the natural order of things, but I don't think of it as front side/back side. It's just a continuation of stitches in the same element and helps me keep the number of stitches right to start off with the 2nd half stitch when I do the 2nd half of the split ring.

I don't drop the shuttle through the ring either. And I finally figured out why some people count the join as the 1st half of a stitch tho I don't think I can explain it clearly. I think they misread some instructions and somehow it became a belief because every single set of instructions I've read in the past, before this became an issue, clearly states that the picot is the space between stitches. A space is empty. It does not take up room.

I HAVE tried all of the above. None felt or looked right, and as someone else pointed out and as I feel - tatting should be FUN! When you get too restrictive with the do's and do not's, it squelches creativity and inspiration. Besides, approval first and foremost should come from within, not from someone else. The world will go on, regardless. LOL!

If you're referring to the proficiency courses being talked about, they're helpful as documentation if you're wanting to teach or write for a publication. Not essential, but helpful. I think they're helpful for tatters who get really serious about tatting and want to learn all they can. For many people, the basics are enough or they are content to pick up a few tips and trends as they come up. I don't believe it should become a requirement for anything when you have a long history of experience, but I'm sure someone will decide it should.

(sorry this became so long!)

Gina said...

I misread the part about joins being counted as part of the stitch. I don't since it's generally the same as a picot, I guess and that must be where I came up with the statement about picots.

IsDihara said...

Wow, a lot has been said above, and it has all been enlightening.

Let me start by thanking Sharon for posting her views in such a positive and approachable manner. I have not seen the tatting proficiency convos, nor was I in on the alleged uproar about needle tatting not being real tatting (though I did read some folks reactions on their blogs).

As for tatting proficiency, I admit my views carry over from my decade in belly dance, where I tried to teach, but was refused by three separate community centers because I was not a certified instructor. In all three cases a "native" instructor was hired with no certification. So I agree that certification programs are helpful to get your foot in the door. I also think that a person's practical experience should be considered on its own merit.

In the tatting community, when I am asked to teach I admit I react fearfully. Because I don't have certification documents I offer a trial period. They can try me out and decide if they wish to keep me on as a teacher. Risky, and probably unnecessary, I know, but so far no one has turned me away. I have taught shuttle tatting successfully to individuals and even three students at a time. Knock on wood that no one has walked away without being able to make the flip, double stitches, rings and chains.

This comment is already too long so I will not comment on posting rings or the rest. But I love how this discussion has progressed and wish to thank everyone who has shared their views!

Carolivy said...

Thank you Sharon! As a self-taught Needle Tatter, I had never even HEARD of the Front side, Back side tatting until just recently! As someone who comes to Tatting from Crochet (where there definitely IS a Front and Back) am I tempted to relearn/reteach myself? Nope! I can't see the difference myself, it is so minute, so I'm NOT going to bother! I'm still trying to retrain myself on my Joinings! When I first learned Needle Tatting, I just put the Needle into the Picot that I was Joining with, left it on the Needle, then continued with the pattern...this works fine, but I am really Trying to retrain myself to pull the thread THROUGH the Picot as I do think that join looks better. But over 10 years of doing something one way is difficult to break the habit
As to Proficiency, the only thing I can see that might be a benifit for someone like me with a Proficiency Course would be that maybe I might learn some technique that I haven't already learned. Unfortunately, they do not accept Needle Tatters into these courses...sigh