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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Measuring Yards

A couple of weeks ago, I managed to figure out a good stitch count for the small doily from my previous post, so that it lays flat without blocking. I'm tatting it again, in Ecru and Autumn Spice (color idea borrowed from Elena K)


It's hard to tell from the photo, but it's a nice color combination for Fall.

I tend to get bored unless I have something new to figure out, so this time I decided to try to calculate the number of yards that are used in each round of the pattern. Grace T gave me the idea when she was proofreading one of my snowflake patterns in June, and I thought it would be useful information to incorporate into future patterns.

I don't have a yard stick (never had use for one until now) so I used a tape measure (the kind used in sewing) and stuck it down to the couch with some packaging tape :)


The packaging tape actually came in handy later on when I was trying to measure out 20 yards to put onto the shuttle. I had to take the thread off the ball in 5 yard increments, and then place a piece of tape at the spot where I left off. I wound the shuttle up to the tape marking, and then measured out another 5 yards at a time. There's probably a better way to do this, but I couldn't think of one!

To measure the yards used in each round, I subtracted what was left over on the shuttle from what I had originally loaded onto that shuttle. So, if I loaded 4 yards, and was left with 1 yard on the shuttle after completing the round, then I knew the round took 3 yards of thread to make.

A few thoughts arise from this process:
1) Could I have tatted one repeat only, and then calculated the amount of thread based on this?
2) Is there a formula for calculating yards used in size 40 or 80, when compared to size 20? (i.e. multiply the size 20 yardage by 75% to get the size 40 yardage for the same pattern?)
3) Will slight differences in thread (different brands or varying thicknesses from the dyeing process) affect the amount of yards used in a pattern? Also, will different tatting tensions affect the amount of yards used? If so how much leeway would I need to provide in yard estimates?

These are the kinds of questions that distract me while I am tatting, which is probably why I so easily lose focus when tackling larger projects!


22 comments:

  1. I like the idea of keeping track of how much is put on then how much is left. That makes sense to me. I keep a ruler under my keyboard on the pull out tray. It is steel and 18 inches long so around once is a yard, it makes it easy to count off the amount needed to put on the shuttle. I just count balls on the larger projects by keeping the empty cardboard with the project. As I am not designing (yet), the amount of thread used is not as important to me. BTW the white really sets off the autumn spice.

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  2. Hello Robin, I've just found your blog. I've downloaded some of your snowflakes. They are beautiful. Can't wait to try them. Thanks for posting them.

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    1. Somehow I missed following your blog as well! That has now been solved :)

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  3. I hate counting anything, mainly because I loose focus on what I am doing and miscount (although I do manage to concentrate long enough for tatting!) so really admire people who have patience to measure how much thread they are using. What really really interests me is the fantastic colours that you are using for the doily!

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  4. I like a lot your doily and those colors. Beautiful!

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  5. That sounds like too much counting to me! I guess I should know how much I need so that I don't run out of thread... or I could always use white! ;-)

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  6. Well aren't you the smarty pants :) Actually that is a great idea to count what is left over. I used to sew all the time and I measure with the the thread to the nose and extend your hand, it about a yard. But All those other things that you mentioned comes into play and then of course mess ups and thread that the factory puts a knot in or two or three that take more thread yardage, cause most do not slide through a rings.
    I love the autumn and ecru colors this doily is beautiful!

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    1. Oh, I hate when I find a knot in the middle of the thread while winding shuttles! I usually just start winding a new shuttle so I don't have to worry about adding thread in the middle of a project, and thus having to hide more ends.

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  7. That's a good way to work out how much thread was used on the shuttle :).

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  8. The doily looks wonderful in those colours. It is an interesting question for you to figure out.

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  9. It was Marilee that said 25 clicks when winding the shuttle equals one yard,
    The doily is looking wonderful in those colours, and I like the design
    Margaret

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    1. Thanks Margaret! I have been using number of clicks to make rough estimates, and they usually work out pretty well. I typically estimate 5 winds around a shuttle for each standard sized ring or chain. Lots of counting with that method though.

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  10. Lovely colours !!!
    Good questions to ponder over. I use bobbin shuttles & shared my way of measuring & loading in my CTM post in Jan. All I do is count the times I wind around the holder (spectacle case) & load to shuttle. I know how many winds are required for a full bobbin. For large projects, I simply count the number of bobbins of each colour required. Boring stuff, really ;-P
    I remember reading a tutorial where she marks the thread after given intervals (say every 5"). This way, when you complete one motif/repeat, you can count the number of markings left & calculate the amount used.
    As for how much leeway - always give an approximation or disclaimer saying this is how much You used. Let the individual tatter decide whether s/he wants to add an extra length - only s/he knows the tension , thread, & other issues that relate to their working.

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    1. Good advice about providing a disclaimer about the thread usage. All in all, I think this process will be a good brain teaser for me. You like your techniques and I like my numbers :)

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  11. Gyönyörű munka... nagyon szép szinek...

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  12. Gyönyörű munka... nagyon szép szinek...

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  13. Love the autumn colors with that doily!!! :)

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  14. I use Karen Cabrera's method, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0Yf4x7Wchw
    But I only do it for big pieces of work. For small pieces I just overestimate the thread needed (I measure it in armspans), then I measure what is left and write that in my pattern. I round it upwards to give some spare, because every tatter's tension is different.
    For my Big Doily I was going to use vintage thread that I would not be able to buy again. So I tatted a sample, measured the thread consumed, counted all the stitches in each round (ring and chain separately), put them in an Excel sheet, and plugged in my measurements from the tatted sample. It was tedious! I had to try it a few times before I had confidence in my results. But when I started on the doily, I knew how much thread I needed in each colour, and I was confident that I had enough thread to finish it. :-)

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    1. Thanks for the link, Grace. I didn't know that Karen had a video about measuring thread. It looks like a really good method for getting an estimate with any size thread, without having to go through and tat the pattern again and again. I like your idea of writing it all down in a spreadsheet for larger projects. So many ideas to play around with...this will keep me busy for some time!

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    2. I've referred to that Excel spreadsheet many times! It helps you to estimate how much thread you need on your shuttles for each round. And even for the rounds that take more than one shuttle to finish, at least you have an idea of it when you start. Actually, I adjust my amount as I go. E.g., if I use up 12 armspans of thread when I'm 3/5 around, I know I need another 8 armspans to finish the round, and I wind my shuttle accordingly (with a bit extra - so awful to run out just before the end!).

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  15. These are so pretty Robin - I like it in both colour ways. I could start tatting one now! Will you be sharing the pattern (here or via Etsy?).

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    1. Thanks Frivole! I have a hand drawn diagram that I don't mind sharing if there is interest. As for a polished written pattern, that will be a while. I'm thinking of using this as a learning experience to improve upon my pattern writing and to try out iBooks Author. Whether or not it ends up in the shop is unimportant, as I'd like to take my time playing with new pattern writing ideas.

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