Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Opinion Followup

As I said in my Opinions post, I don't like to complain unless I have a solution to offer. And then I went teetering near the edge of dropping off. LOL!

I heard from many people privately and I know that I'm not the only one who recognizes that some books could be better written. Seasoned designers are very good about asking for input before they complete and publish their books. I remember Iris asking for thoughts on her blog. I've seen Sharon Briggs ask for preferences. Many will ask which style of notation is preferred, what kind of binding is most convenient, what sort of balance between color, text, photographs, and diagrams are helpful? Then they juggle the most popular of responses with their own resources, which are sometimes limited, and go from there.

I learned about a budding group focused especially on designs and publishing. It is hosted by Sheron Goldin and can be found at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TattingDesignAndPublishing/. I would encourage new designers who are thinking of putting a book together to also check out old designs. There are antique publications available free at The Antique Pattern Library. I suggest researching there just to see what has been done. Then I suggest checking out as many tatting books as possible from your local library or I.O.L.I. library, which has an extensive collection. You have to be a member to borrow books, but it's well worth the exploration.

Tatting is still not the craft you can go to your local craft shop and learn how to do. Lessons are sporadic in most places and completely lacking in many less populated regions. It's important that a book be as clear as possible. Directions need to be well written, as abbreviated as possible without losing clarity, with clear separation between segments. Abbreviations need to be explained somewhere. If it's not a learn-to-tat book, any techniques beyond the basic ring, chain, and join need to be explained and illustrated. Clearly defined and marked diagrams are a plus. A clear photograph is desired, but even if it is a black and white scan, the edges need to be well defined. The font needs to be big enough to see clearly. If terms are used that are not standard, they need to be cross-referenced with the commonly known term and explained. If a pattern is 3D, it needs to be shown from all angles. Pattern books get a lot of abuse over time. They need to open easily and stay open, which is one reason spiral binding is so popular.

I would also suggest finding a mentor, someone who has already published and get some input from them. That's where the yahoo group is helpful.

My best advice is to not jump into publishing a book until you've checked out as many resources as possible, to make sure you aren't plegarizing unknowingly, and to learn the best way to present your patterns and your style. After all, if you've gone to a lot of time and trouble to design and tat and record your patterns in a book, it would be a shame to have it wasted in a poor presentation. Additionally, it gives you a less than stellar reputation as a designer. Your designs may be superb, but if no one can follow your directions...it's a waste. That's what editors do, you know. They make something presentable and marketable.

That said, I'm looking forward to the new crop of tatting books that will come out in the next year. I've heard of so many people "working" on a book and I know tatting is a never-ending fountain of creativity.


  1. From a relatively new tatter, please allow me to say ... I've purchased many books! in my short time and if I'd have been able to see the book first there are some I never would have gotten. You said that perfectly Gina, Thank you.

  2. I've tossed around the idea of getting published as well, especially after writing for Belle Armoire, but I've worried over many of the things you've covered here.If I ever do decide to move forward with the idea, I'm certain to use this advice!

  3. So many tatting books...so many disappointments...
    Can't believe I paid money for something so... um...poorly made!?!

  4. BRAVO! Well said, Gina! It is a disappointment to pay over $20 for a new book, only to learn the directons are confusing! We all have our favorite designers ~ and there are at least 3 basic books that ought to be in any library a tatter would like to start. But, I'm becoming skeptical about buying new books; as one I just gave away because it was too obscure in directions ~ for me. A tatter with experience would see the problems and know how to fix them! It's ok if one has only paid a couple of dollars for a single patter, but in excess of 20 + shipping means I have to be able to read the pattern, have a diagram to follow or an e-mail address for an SOS! LOL
    Thanks for you help with the latest pattern that gave me fits!
    It's always nicer if someone else has worked out the 'kinks.'
    hugs, Bev aka Ridgetatter

  5. I guess I should mention that part of my job is creating training and presentations. It sort of compells you to cover all angles and look for any holes in the information. It doesn't matter if it's tatting or machine guarding, the process is the same.

  6. This is why I buy most of my books at tatting conventions, so I can look before I buy.

    I knew in 2001 that I wanted to do a book of heart patterns, but I waited years until I had improved my pattern writing skills. I asked lots of advice along the way.

  7. Well said! As a beginner tatter, I need every step explained in detail. What I find is that the writer, an experienced tatter, takes some details/steps for granted that they feel you already know and overlook that a newbie may be trying out their designs. Now I am not talking advanced designs, but the basic designs you can practice with.

    I hope I am not expecting too much from a publisher with my idea as to how it should be presented.


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