Last time, I talked about how to begin tatting your design. Now it's time to talk about making adjustments and putting the final touches on your piece.
Nearly all of my designs go through a series of changes before becoming written patterns. The types of changes that I make can be lumped into four categories:
1.) Trial and error
2.) Altering the size of an element
3.) Relocating picots
4.) Making last minute changes to improve visual effect
Let's talk about them in order, starting with trial and error. Most of my adjustments are based on trial and error, especially in the beginning stages of designing. I like making snowflakes because I can use each of the six points to try something new. Often, the first version of my snowflake will look horrendous, with six differently tatted sides. If you read my post about designing Solstice, you will see what I am talking about.
I don't worry about things looking pretty at this stage. I simply try to get an overall "feel" for the pattern, finding stitch counts that form a good solid base. These counts will undergo smaller changes later on.
Now, let's talk about the second category: altering the size of an element. This happens when I have a ring or a chain that is proportionally out of sync with the overall piece. It can also happen when I want to adjust the size of my entire design to create, for example, more open space. (You could say that using a larger thread will also create a larger piece, but sometimes that is not the effect I am looking for.)
Let's use the snowflake from this tutorial as an example. In my previous post, I mentioned wanting to have more negative space to make room for a jewelry finding in the center. I don't own any thread larger than size 20, so I couldn't take the easy way out by using a larger thread. Instead, I relied on simple math to make everything bigger. Here, I changed all of the 2's to 3's:
By turning every 2 into a 3 I ended up increasing the size of my motif rather drastically. If you want to make a smaller adjustment, carefully select a few locations to add a stitch or two. Or, if you are good at math, you can calculate changes in size by using ratios.
Tatting doesn't have to be about math, especially if you are like me and have a love-hate relationship with the subject. If you don't want to do math, you can rely on a combination of "feeling" and trial and error to enlarge your design.
When I looked at my chains, I knew that I should increase them by a lot less than I had increased my rings. This is due to the distribution of stitches in rings versus chains (rings have to go around an oval while chains only go around an arch). I had a feeling that increasing my chains from 6-6 to either 7-7 or 8-8 would work, and decided to go with 8-8 to cater to those who tighten their chains more than I do.
Everything worked out, except for one minor detail:
You may not be able to see it from the photo, but the clovers in the lower right corner are joined together by one picot instead of two. It can be hard to predict the domino effect that changing the stitch count will have on your design. When I made the piece larger, I found out that I needed to join my clovers in two locations instead of one.
This brings me to my next topic: picot placement. Relocating picots is my least favorite thing to do. The reason is this: if I don't have a picot in the right place for a join, I have to tat the entire round over again just to move a picot. As such, I try to avoid incorrect picot placement at all costs. In Part 3 I talked about placing a picot every few stitches, and in Part 4 I talked about tying picots together to simulate missing joins.
Luckily, I have so many picots in Round 1 that I didn't have to tat the motif over again. I was able to use the preexisting picots to form extra joins.
Sometimes, you will have to tat the motif over again to move a picot. If this happens, just make sure that the total number of double stitches in your rings and chains stays the same. For example, if you have a ring of 9-5-6 and you want to move a picot, keep the overall count at 20 (9+5+6). Your new ring could be 7-7-6, which still adds up to 20.
After completing Round 1, I rotated my iPad to a vertical view to match the size of my newly formed motif.
Sometimes you will find that it's better to start from scratch rather than working from your draft. My rough draft of Round 2 was too far removed from my end goal to be useful, so I took out my measuring sample and came up with new numbers.
I did not have to measure the clovers, however. I was able to reuse the clovers from Round 1's draft to form the clovers in Round 2. For this reason, I never throw away old measurements until I have finalized my piece. They have come in handy on more than one occasion.
Let's move on and talk about making last minute changes to improve visual effect. I like to take photos of my tatting in progress so I can study my design throughout the day. I have also been known to stand on top of the couch to get a view of my tatting from far away. Each time I look at my tatting, I have a chance to see something new. For this snowflake, I saw that I wanted to add something extra to jazz up the outer chains. I decided to use Josephine Knots:
If you look at the photo you will see that I sometimes make a few different changes at once. Because I was redoing Round 2 from scratch, I needed to use trial and error to get an overall idea of the new stitch count. As you can see, tatting a draft is very forgiving. I even skipped making clovers because I was running out of thread.
It may be surprising, but the mess I created above had enough information for me to piece together a completed snowflake. I rewrote everything onto a new diagram:
And cut away the draft of Round 2 so I could tat a better looking model:
I decided that I didn't like the jewelry finding, so I tatted a new version without it. I also made a few rings smaller to balance out the piece. My new version is tatted in size 50 DMC Cordonnet Special, my favorite thread for tatting snowflakes:
In the end, I am pleased with the result. I think the snowflake looks better without the jewelry finding and with slightly smaller rings in Round 2.
The only thing left after making a design is to create a written pattern. I prefer working with diagrams, so I use Inkscape. Inkscape is a free program and there are many tutorials on the web to help get you started. Click here to go to the website for Inkscape.
For a free, printable version of the snowflake I've designed in this tutorial, go to my Free Patterns page or Click Here.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this tutorial and have found some tips and tricks that will help you on your way. Best of luck to all of the tatters embarking on their own design journey. I will be looking forward to seeing more join in on the fun!