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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Design with me: Floral Heart

I've long admired Mary Konior's "Queen of Hearts" from her book Tatting with Visual Patterns. Ever since I saw the design, I wondered how it was created. I have some ideas, but they are only guesses.

After several years of tatting and designing, I finally gained the confidence to try to recreate Mary's Queen of Hearts, in my own way. In this blog post I will go over the steps that I used to create my design, which I've named Floral Heart:

When I design, I almost always think in terms of basic elements (rings and chains), which can be pieced together to form different types of tatted fragments. Each fragment can be duplicated to form larger pieces of tatting, such as a round in a doily. Below is a photo with examples of tatted fragments. There are five-ringed flowers, six-ringed flowers, trefoils, clovers, onion rings, and many more which lack standardized names:

Mary's Queen of Hearts is composed of a fragment which I have seen referred to as "The Scream" because it is reminiscent of the famous painting. Here is a photo of the Queen of Hearts design, and in the lower right corner is the fragment that makes up the heart:

There are nine of these fragments, all strategically placed and joined together to form the shape of a heart. There is a chain going between each of them, which allows travel from one fragment to the next. The chains also help to form the outline of the heart.

So, how did Mary put this design together? Perhaps she sketched it out on a piece of paper and worked from there. She could have tatted several of these fragments, and placed them together like puzzle pieces to build a heart. Or maybe she simply picked up her shuttles and worked version after version, until she had something that took the shape of a heart.

When designing my heart, I decided to go with the second option: tatting many sample fragments and placing them like puzzle pieces to form a heart. I chose a fragment that looks like a flower with picots, a fairly common shape in tatting. Below is a photo of the fragments:

I tried many different placements, but I found that mimicking what Mary did for her Queen of Hearts worked best. Below you will see nine fragments, positioned in a similar way to Mary's design:

Now, Mary did not have access to an iPad or apps when she built her design, but I do. I love to use my iPad and an app called You Doodle to draw on top of photos. It helps me to visualize where I want to go with my tatting. If you don't have these resources, you might try taping the tatted fragments down on a piece of paper and drawing connecting chains with a pencil. Below you can see that I have drawn connecting chains and other elements to complete the heart:

From here, it is a matter of calculating stitch counts. I tatted a few fragments with extra picots and a long chain, so that I could place them next to each other to see where everything would join up:

I basically held these two pieces in various positions on top of my iPad sketch, and took note of the stitch counts and join locations for all of the elements. It was a painstaking process and took me over an hour to get preliminary stitch counts.

At this point, I was NOT confident that the whole idea would work. I knew I'd end up with something, but I had my doubts that it would look like a heart. Well, I was pleasantly surprised when my first draft came out looking like this:

It was pretty close, and just needed to be cleaned up a bit. I removed the decorative picots on the outer chains, adjusted some joins, and tatted another sample:

This sample looked much cleaner, but still had issues in the lower part of the heart leading to the bottom point. I wanted to slim down the outer edge. I also noticed that the inner negative space could use a little cleaning up, so I went back to my You Doodle app and drew some samples:

On the left is a sample with a cleaned up outer edge and cleaned up negative space. The sample on the right just has a cleaned up outer edge. I decided to tat the sample on the left first. This is the resulting heart:

I was still curious how the sample on the right would look so I tatted that too:

After looking at my tatted samples, I decided to include both options in the final pattern. I tatted a few more versions for test tatting purposes, and to see how it would look in two colors:

And that's the process that I went through to create this heart. My blog post probably makes the whole thing seem more simple than it actually is. It took about 40 hours total, half of which was spent designing and the other half writing and testing the pattern. Keep in mind that I have been designing for several years now, and it has become easier with practice. If I tried to make this heart when I first started out I'm not sure if I would be successful (maybe I would but it would take a lot more trial and error).

Anyhow, I hope that those of you who are interested in design have found this post informative. Maybe some of you can adapt this process to make your own creations. In addition to hearts, I wonder what other shapes can be made in this way? I'm sure this process can be used to make other heart designs. Maybe that is something I will revisit in the future.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Floral Heart

Here is the completed design I posted about earlier this week. It's called Floral Heart and the pattern is available in my Etsy shop (click here if you want to go to the listing).

The heart on the left is tatted in Lizbeth size 20 thread. The colors are Blue Ice #163 and Ocean Teal Medium #664. The heart on the right is tatted in Lizbeth size 40 thread, Pink Medium #622.

I also made a couple of hearts in size 80 DMC Special dentelles thread:

On the left is color #115 and on the right is color #107.

This heart was inspired by Mary Konior's "Queen of Hearts" which appeared in her book Tatting with Visual Patterns. Would anyone be interested in a "design with me" blog post about how I used Mary's pattern as inspiration to put this design together?

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Something New

A new design, in progress. More on this later in the week or early next week:

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

New year, new thread

I have an antique thread cabinet that I purchased a few years ago at the DC Big Flea market. I bought it with the intention of holding antique tatting shuttles, and I did use it for that purpose until recently. After joining Instagram and seeing lovely photos of DMC tatting thread, I wondered if this thread would fit into the cabinet. I knew I'd be in trouble if it did...because then I'd have to go on a shopping spree. Well guess what? It fit perfectly:

This thread cabinet was originally meant for sewing thread, but I don't sew. Instead, I tried to match the colors of the DMC thread to the labels in the cabinet as best I could. I even bought extra thread so that I could tat things without messing up the display:

This thread (DMC special dentelles, size 80) has been discontinued in the US, so it was a little difficult to find vendors that had it in stock. I placed a lot of online orders over several months, and eventually moved onto shops based in the UK. I found Minerva Crafts to be a good option, because they carry a wide variety of colors and restock whenever they run out.

The thread cabinet has a glass top that opens and closes on a hinge. The photo below shows it in a closed position:

My antique tatting shuttles have since been moved into different displays, one is a Milward's Needles display and the other is a Clark's Mile End set of drawers. Maybe I will post pictures of those sometime in the future.