Saturday, November 01, 2008


We've all got one, right?

I just put away an email I was writing to a tatting friend to vent about a couple of subjects related to tatting that I don't want to post about. Why? Because they would offend some and hurt a few others and I never want to discourage tatters. Besides, if I don't have a solution in mind, why complain?

I've even got a blog in the works for the sole purpose of evaluating issues related to tatting. It wouldn't be popular. I may just keep it private. I would rather offer it in the spirit of helping others improve their work, be it tatting, designing, books, or blogs. I'm not sure I'm in a good enough mental place to do that as well as it should be yet.

Here's an example. I was at ZigZag Corner yesterday and bought some thread and other tatting supplies. I don't need much, but the thread is a gift and I was checking to see if there were any new books. I absolutely adore being able to see the book before I buy it. I found two books by a designer that I've bought from before. I still haven't tatted from the book I have. I need to rewrite the long, run-together directions in order to follow them. I've tried to follow them, but even with post-its, I got lost. Beautiful designs - but I will not buy another book in the same format and the other two were like that.

I've long thought I would love to offer a service to designers where I could rewrite the pattern to standard notation (which is still up in the air and will probably never be agreed on) and make up the diagrams (something I've still yet to learn) and offer advice on how to clarify certain things, but I'd have to charge for such a service, since it would be time-consuming and tedious, and no one could afford it in the end given the low-volume demand (compared to other craft books) of tatting. Nice idea, but not practical for now.

I did buy one book yesterday. I've put off buying it because 1) very expensive; 2) I couldn't see it before buying until yesterday; 3) it's something I don't tat or use very much. I've long admired the photos Iris has put on her blog for her book, Just for Fun, Tatted Jewelry, but the price was prohibitive for me. I don't wear tatted jewelry for the most part - in fact, I don't wear a lot of jewelry on a daily basis. Earrings - and the occasional necklace. Rarely a bracelet or a brooch. I like them, I just don't wear them. I will tat them for other people, but not all that often. There were only a few things I thought I would tat from the book for that reason, so it was hard for me to justify spending so much, especially since I couldn't see how it was done. I have another of Iris's books and it's very good. I've tatted a few things from it and I've tatted those few things more than once because I like them so well, but even that book was probably half the price of this one. I have well over 100 tatting books and 4 binders full of printouts. I'm out of room and I don't have enough life left to tat even what I'm inspired to tat now....but the lure remains.

The book is nice to look at - color photographs, good quality paper. It's in two languages so the ability to use the same book is broader. I haven't tatted from it yet so I really can't speak to the ease of usage but the diagrams are there and seem clear. She gives the size of beads used, the size of thread and approximately how much thread to put on the shuttle in that size. Once you're an experienced tatter, you know where to compensate when you want to use something different from the original instructions and I have always maintained that it's very helpful to know how much thread to put on the shuttle from the pattern, regardless of the tatter's tension. This is true in knitting and crochet - even when you know the gauge, you are working from a good estimate, not something carved in stone. There are two items I am pretty sure I will tat and possibly two others. $38 is a lot of money to pay for 4 sets of instructions but that is my splurge for the year. It's more than the two books combined that I did not buy, but I know I will tat something from this one and probably nothing from the others.

I am NOT saying everyone should make a book like this. I actually prefer the small $6/$7 up to $10/$12 booklets that are more limited in scope. I almost bought another copy of Tatting by Myra Piper to give as a gift. It has 47 snowflake patterns in it. The directions are not short form but abbreviated, no diagrams, and the pictures are black and white photocopies, but very clear. I've tatted several snowflakes from my copy and the directions are good. It's an excellent buy. Do you know how many snowflake and heart patterns there are out there? Even butterflies? Tons of them.

My other favorite snowflake book is Snowflake Roses by Denise Munoz. There is one flaw with this book. It was printed with errors so there is a sheet of paper with corrections inserted which is easily lost. There are only 12 patterns but they are all variations with a rose center. No diagrams but the directions are clear and short-form. Both of these books are only $6 each. I've tatted a lot out of both of them. They are also easily affordable gifts. Please note: Newer copies of this book are correct. If you buy one and it doesn't have the paper with corrections, it's probably current. Thanks to Sue Hanson who checked her new copy against my copy of "corrections."
Along that line - I like books that focus on one element. Martha Ess's block tatting, for instance. Ruth Perry's Celtic tatting is another potential - though I would like the focus to be on either the alphabet or edgings, or motifs rather than a combination in each book. Pat Stevens book on Fantasy that one. It's about a SINGLE flower, but the potential combinations are fabulous. Dianna Stevens with her book of bags. The books about animals. If you don't like to tat critters, you don't have to buy it for the one thing you do tat.

Holy Moly I've turned into a critic anyway. I'm aware that some people prefer a variety of patterns in one book and I do have some like that, but knowing my preferences (I don't do doilies), I'd rather buy a book of all edgings than one that is largely doilies with 4 or 5 edgings included.

Okay...'nuff said for today!

I have severely restricted my shuttle purchases in the last year or two. I don't even know how many I have. There was a point where I decided enough was enough. What I want now are the ones made for me. I have a friend who was considering making one like a copper one I admired at one time but it hasn't happened. I'll treasure it if it ever is made. Anyway, I did buy this SewMate shuttle yesterday. Only $3 and I have 2 of the purple ones already. It's a little bigger than a Clover and Clovers are my favorite working shuttles. Actually, I keep forgetting I have these and there have been a few times when I wished I could put more thread on the shuttle than the Clover holds. I think this would work perfectly in that case. I read where someone ordered one without the pick because the pick cut into their fingers. I have that problem with new Clovers too but you can take a fine file to them and smooth that tip a bit. My older Clovers have worn down all by themselves.

Speaking of shuttles, I was thinking the other day that in the years I have been tatting since 1997, I've never broken a Clover. Ever. I have some other shuttles that I'm afraid of breaking, including wooden ones, so I don't use them. A shame really, because they want to be handled, I'm certain.


  1. I'm glad you brought this up. There are some books I have purchased that have left me terribly disappointed for the reasons you have stated. The little $6-$8 range books have usually been the best ones to tat from. There is no reason why you shouldn't post blog entries that some may find offensive. Isn't that what a blog is for? To say what you feel? You can't please everyone.

    As far as Clover shuttles are concerned, I love them. I have fat little hands and the Clovers fit my grip perfectly. Feeling adventurous, I bought a SewMate shuttle and loved it, although that pick is sharp enough to filet a fish.

  2. (chuckle) You've never been flamed on a list-group, have you? It marks you for life.

    The problem with blogs or any online communication is that you don't have the benefit of body language and things you write, if not written with extreme clarity, can create issues that were never there to begin with.

    I agree that you should be able to say what you're thinking - but on the other hand, for it to be beneficial to the most, I want to be able to say it in a way that is helpful, not blaming or thoughtless, and it does take a lot of forethought to compose something like that, especially on a regular basis.

    Tatting is becoming more and more sophisticated and I think our expectations have increased accordingly. I hate to see fantastic ideas and designs going to waste because they are poorly presented or the timing was wrong, or the audience wasn't considered or it's a duplication of effort.

  3. I thought you meant you felt you couldn't or shouldn't say anything at all for fear of hurting a person's feelings. And yes, it does take a lot of forethought to state something without appearing callous, but constructive criticism can be a good thing. Even when trying to be compassionate and understanding, some people will still get offended. It's the world we live these days.

    And yes! *laughs* I have been thoroughly roasted on a list group before. My butt is still on fire two years later, but I stand by what I said.

  4. It is hard posting honest opinions. I try to follow my mother's advice... if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Sometimes that's tough to do!

    I prefer the Clovers to the SewMates because of they way they fit my hand, but I do use the SewMates when I don't want to hide as many ends.

  5. I think I know how you feel after the big fuss on one of my favorite lists (which now is decimated and hardly ever has any new posts) I wasn't even part of it and I feel sad. Bewildered that people should attribute negative connotations to things when they have no idea who is saying them. And that people can feel betrayed by what amounts to penpals. There are many people online that I feel a certain fondness for, but really I know nothing about them,how can they possibly hurt my feelings. Most amazing of all is that a discussion about a craft should dissolve into an argument over religious belief. I am still dumbfounded and to this day I try to leave positive comments about someone's pictures or a question only.
    Thanks for being brave enough to let us know how you feel.
    P.S. I agree about seeing books in person. I bought a book in russian on ebay that had alot of pictures of some nice ideas and with shipping this moderately priced book became expensive and I was very dissappointed with the quality of the tatting in the book. Poor threads, no finishing, poor tatting.(some neat ideas though) The pictures on ebay were the only worthwhile items in the book..

  6. LOL! Funny, you brought up Iris's book, Just For Fun! I was at a lace show in LA today and I've been wanting Iris' book for sometime. I told myself when I set out this morning I was going to buy that book if it was there. I was very disappointed to see the price was $39 and I REFUSE to pay that much for a paperback book no MATTER how nice it is or how fabulous and reputable the designer is. I spent WELL over $100.00 on tatting books today and you can bet not one of them was that's a RIP OFF! My apologies to Iris, it's not the book...the book is beautiful, but it's paper back and it's forty dollars!?! Uhhhh....NO thank you! It's the price that is a real problem and with the economy the way it is this is absolute price gouging.

  7. Steph - I think I'm pretty good at not making personal attacks but it's those times you are thinking of one thing and someone else thinks it is about them. Those are the ones I feel concern about. Tatters as a whole are a fabulous lot. Everyone has their own little quirks and I love them, but they are people and respond in true human nature.

  8. Diane, I grew up with that advice too. Even so, there are times I want something to be better so badly, and I know it can be if I can just find the right words. Lots of designers are asking for input these days before they finish their books and I think that is great. I think we can learn from the past too if we're willing to talk about what doesn't work for us. The point is not to be critical of the person - it's the final product that maybe could use some tweaking.

    This is how I approach ebay sellers who mislabel tatting - I point out that they will likely get more watchers and bids if it is labeled correctly and people can find what they are looking for. It's the same way with books. People will buy what they're looking for but if no one says what they want, designers are sort of playing in the dark.

  9. Connie, I've been thinking of you ALL day! I'm almost done with your package and should be able to send it out Monday! Whoo-hoo!

    Flames - my worst was on a non-tatting list. Twice, involving the same person. An innocent remark from me backfired. The second time changed the list completely. It is now an archived list, no longer active. It's not that I think controversial subjects should be ignored, but I do believe in approaching everyone and every subject with integrity and compassion. When feelings run high, it can easily get out of hand, so I try to think twice or thrice before I go there. I was slightly flamed on a tatting list years ago. I've got a much tougher skin now and don't take any of it personally, but I remember well how it felt.

  10. Tattingchic - just about anything from overseas doubles by the time it is here. I keep reminding myself that it used to be the other way around and all our tatting friends across the ponds and seas paid heavily for books and threads...and still do in many places.

    I bought a Japanese book last year at a Tat Day somewhere and it was extremely expensive too. My indulgance for the year. If I were not already heavily book-equipped, I probably would not buy them but I already have all the basics and any others that I've really wanted through the years, so it's a treat for me.

  11. Like you, Gina, I have well over 100 books - a lot have patterns in I know I'll never use. Having suffered many dissapointments over the years with books I've bought I decided long ago NEVER to put my ideas into a one. I still buy them avidly though!!!!!!!! Will I ever learn?
    As for lists and flaming - I can better you guys!!! I was once flung off a list so that I could be flamed!!! I now stick to my guns and the only person I flame is myself!! I DO feel that a blog is the place you should be able to say what you feel without worries.
    Connie - about the list that went 'bad' back in August. I missed the beginning of it all and when I did realise there were problems there I could see all 'sides' of what I thought was the issue. I made a decision to steer well clear. I felt there was a lot of private emailing and upset going on so I didn't feel I could offer anything to the episode. Mind, this didn't work and I've found myself more hurt than many as a consequence of keeping quiet and out of the furore!! I wasn't flamed, I wasn't mentioned, I did nothing but I've lost a lot because of it!!

  12. I want to inform you, that the price of "Just for Fun" is not depending from me. I sold this book to Lacis for nearly the same price as previous books. Personally I'm very disappointed about the very high price Lacis has put on the book. If you want to know how hard working is it to make a book, you can read a report about that on the file section of HBT. A hard book cover would have doubled my price and consequently rised even more the selling price. Please write me privatly, so that we can find together a solution.

  13. Hi Gina,

    Like you and a lot of folks I have a lot of tatting books. I am unable to preview a book before I buy it and sometimes I've been sorely disappointed. One in particular would be Butterflies Migrating which would be great for beginners but there really isn't anything in there that is challenging or that caught my eye. You know when you see a pattern that says "TAT ME!" I long for unbiased, honest tatting book reviews which are hard to find. I know what you mean about Iris' book being expensive but this is a special book that I'm putting on my Christmas List for my husband to get for me. Yeah!!!


Emails and comments both are welcome and always read.