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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Design with Me: Cross of Sevens

Each time I attempt a design, I learn something new. Cross of Sevens taught me that it is a bad idea to design something while trying to avoid a certain stitch count. In this case, it is the number six. The idea for this pattern began when I was doodling squares on Kaleidoscope Drawing Pad. I came up with a sketch that resembled the central portion of a cross:

At the time, Kaleidoscope Drawing Pad lacked the feature that allows you to change symmetry mid drawing, so I was unable to make the rest of the pattern. I put it aside for a while and worked on other things.

Some weeks later, after I had finished designing and diagramming Late Winter Snowflake, I took out my iPad to draw something new. I noticed that the app had been updated and I could continually change symmetry while keeping my drawing intact. A cross can be drawn by beginning with square symmetry and switching to mirror symmetry (butterfly icon) half way through:

After I finished my drawing it was time to transform it into tatting. I always begin by measuring a sample piece of tatting against my iPad to get a rough estimate of stitch count:

Then I jot these numbers in pencil (so they can be easily erased) over a sketch done in pen:

Next, I begin tatting the design, including making adjustments to stitch counts along the way. When things go well, I can have a prototype finished within a few hours:

With this cross, however, there was a problem. I wanted all of the small rings to be the same size, which resulted in many of them having a stitch count of 6-6. As a horror enthusiast I became worried about designing a cross that might contain the number 666. So, just to be safe, I decided to eliminate the number 6 altogether.

I considered my options. I could add picots to break up the stitches into sets of three, or I could change the whole design and turn the sixes into sevens. Most people, I assume, would choose the former as it is by far the easier and more sensible option. I, on the other hand, being stubborn and curious, decided that I wanted to test the boundaries of pattern alteration, so I chose option two. Was there an optimal stitch count for each design, or could I scale patterns up and down at my leisure?

I soon discovered that scaling patterns can be tricky. When a ring is made larger, the surrounding chains almost always follow suit. Making one small change can effect the pattern so that it looks quite different from the original. A ring that is too large or too small can be hard to close. A chain that is too long can be wobbly. A self closing mock ring that is too large makes tatting unpleasant; the same goes for large split rings.

Sometimes, as I found with this pattern, the math scales to a decimal. I can't tat in decimals, so I have to round to the closest whole number. I was able to come up with usable numbers by scaling the pattern up to increments of seven or down to increments of four (five didn't match up evenly). Six was the perfect number, but I didn't want to use six.

I convinced myself that I would make "lucky seven" work, no matter how hard I had to try. In the end, I spent longer altering this pattern than any other, and the results were a whole lot of frustrating renditions that didn't quite feel right:

I finally settled on a version, that while not perfect, was close enough. And even after all of that effort, I still had to put a few sixes in the pattern...there was no way to avoid this number entirely!

When I named the pattern, I knew I needed something to remind me of my experience. "Cross of Sevens" became a representation of the importance of the balance between being creative and following the direction the thread wants to take me :)


muskaan said...

Robin, you are a very patient genius !
To persevere with each trial requires tremendous fortitude. But I'm so glad you Did, coz now you have a beautiful pattern for the cross And a wonderful story to narrate alongside :-)
I learn something new from you every time. Thanks for sharing your designing process in such detail - it will prove beneficial to new/wannabe designers.

Lace-lovin' Librarian ~ Diane said...

Robin, I admire your ability to design! I've been trying to play with Kaleidoscope, but I really don't get how to use it. I will keep playing, though. I would love to be able to design as you do!

I tried tatting your Cross of Sevens, and I did fine until I got to the split ring. I have a terrible time trying to join on the second half of the split ring. I'm not giving up... like you, I'm just going to set it aside for a while!

Robin Perfetti said...

muskaan, you make me blush! I do hope to provide enough insights to inspire others to begin designing. I think the hardest part is taking the plunge, which you seem to have done already :)

Robin Perfetti said...

Hi Diane, I saw your recent blog post about me!

Cross of Sevens is what I like to refer to as an "unpleasant tat." In fact, I'm surprised that others have gone ahead and completed the pattern! I do have another cross sketched that I hope will come together more nicely (no split rings). Though it will be a while before I get around to designing it.

In regards to Kaleidoscope Drawing Pad, stay tuned! I plan to make a detailed tutorial on how I use the program, when life isn't so hectic.

muskaan said...

Robin, haven't you heard ... fools rush in ..... or should I say 'plunge in'... :-D !

Ninetta said...

lovely cross and funny post! thank you!

Margarets designer cards said...

Hello Robin, I was looking at Diana blog and she had put a link onto your blog, I really love your bookmark cross, lovely design, look forward to coming back again soon.

GraceT said...

Well, you already know that I really like your cross! So interesting to learn how you came up with it. :-)