Thursday, November 05, 2009

Do you ever feel frustrated when a pattern does not work out the way you thought it would?

This snowflake design by Luella Rossow is shown here in a
Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest Publications, Christmas Ideas, magazine from around 1992, I think. I love the way it looks.

And here are MY attempts at the same pattern! Can you see the difference? The centers are almost completely filled in with the first two. I tatted the third one differently.

The directions say to use size 20 thread. There was a ball of white thread on the table next to me without a label but I thought it was size 20. When I saw how closely the chains came to the center, my first thought was that I must have a ball of size 10 thread instead. So I tatted it again, this time in size 30 thread which is the middle motif in the second scan. Same result.

See the negative space in this one, a cropped motif from the original photo, where the center is separated from the outer round chains? I happen to really like that bit of negative space and I want it in the one I tat for me.

I started another one making the chains differently and with the outer rings of the clover one stitch bigger on each side. I was using the thread left on the shuttle and only got through three repeats but I could tell the effect was not what I wanted.

So I tried this one with fewer picots on the clovers and also fewer picots on the chains with more stitches between picots. It did lay flatter before blocking than the other two, and there is a bit more negative space, but it doesn't look like the original. I'm not sure that adding back the extra picots at the clovers will make a difference. I think the problem is actually with the chains but I can't figure out what to do. The original had 3 tiny picots with 2 stitches between. For this one, I made 2 tiny picots with 3 stitches between. I'm going to try one more, maybe 3 tiny picots with only 1 stitch between. That will shorten the chains and possibly open up more negative space.

What do you think????

And yes, I know a snowflake has 6 points. This one is described in the instructions as a snowflake, even though it has 7 points. I don't really care about the technical definition. I just want it to look the way I expected!


  1. Thats a lot of work to get the results you want. It makes me think about tension. It's funny how you can give two people the same thread and pattern and what they tat can look so different.

  2. I get very frustrated when I can't duplicate a pattern that I like, especially if it takes me a long time to work on it! I hope you get the design the way you like it. It's very pretty!

  3. I am just a beginner tatter but I do a lot of crochet. It looks to me like they really pulled the points out when they blocked and probably starched it. I think that is the only way they could get the loop so pointed. I may be wrong but that is how I see it.

  4. Sherry, I wondered about tension too but I don't generally see a lot of difference between my finished product and someone's pattern because of tension. It could be the designer does tat very differently from me though.

    Tudy, I did notice that the rings were pointy and since both my motifs cupped a bit, I wondered if the designer really stretched them out in blocking. My pins bend if I use too much pressure so I usually can't do that.

    One thing I haven't done is check other snowflake patterns I have that are similar and see what they've done differently. I could also reblock these. I had them in my clenched fist before I scanned them so you can see where I messed up the blocking. (only because I had to snatch them away from a certain inquisitive cat) As long as it's a good thread, I don't manipulate them too much when pinning. I might have to stroke and soothe a few stubborn spots but mostly it's just making sure everything is symmetrical.

  5. Hi Gina,
    When I first saw the pattern, I thought there were beads on the chains. Perhaps the picots on the chains are made smaller than the rings.

    Also I do think that it is the way the blocking was done (where pins were placed), making the difference in the way the negative spaces and the peripheral rings has shaped out.

    Hope you get the look you wanted.

  6. I agree with Tudy. I noticed in the blown up photo that the rings are distorted rather than natural ovals. The chains are a bit more "V" shaped than curved, too. I think she must have really stretched it when blocking.

  7. i'm curious how the same pattern could look so different with different sized threads. but i like the way the 2nd (individually pictured) snowflake looks, rather balanced. good luck!

  8. Interesting problem. Sounds and looks like a design hiccup to me. I'm sure it can't be the tatter as she's got WAY too much experience. Perhaps something was missed out when the printers were getting it ready for publication? SUCH a pretty snowflake, though.

  9. Must say I agree with Tudy and Martha on the blocking and stretching. One other suggestion, have you thought about adding an extra ring in round one, and an clover and chain combination? That would increase the diameter and the circumference of the circle.

    (Of course that would also require adjusting the stitch count for the chains, but I would start with the original counts and see how it much it increases the negative space.)

    Hmmm, Luella Rossow was consistent with her repeating sevens: seven picots per chain, seven picots per ring, seven rings and seven clovers. Is that part of the appeal of this snowflake for you?

    If so, then my suggestion will not work, since it changes the ring and clover counts.

    Please do let us know how it works out in the end. It is such a lovely flake.

    (Now I have to try to make one...just to see.) I will share my results too!

  10. Miranda9:51 AM

    I agree that blocking differently could make all the difference. I've got a 6-pointed object I designed that I can either make a pointy snowflake or a curvy flower- no difference in the tatting, just in the way I block it. If you look at the center picots of the center rings of each clover, you'll see how they've been pulled and stretched in the blocking.

    I generally try not to block stuff to where it changes the natural shape and curve of the tatting, but there are some cases where you have to, and this may be one of those cases. You might need to get stronger pins, like T-pins maybe.

    Regarding picots, you can see in the original that the ones on the chains are much smaller than the ones on the rings. I think that making the picots on your chains even smaller would help a lot. Also, I do see a difference between where you inluded all the picots on the clovers and where you didn't. I don't think one is necessarily better than the other, but in the original, you almost can't see a break in the picots around the edge; this gives it a very unique look. Where you omitted some of the picots, it still looks nice and frilly, but a bit more restrained.

  11. THat is one gorgeous pattern. I have had that happen, too where my tatting of the same pattern turns out differently!
    Those are really nice photos, too!

  12. Isdihara - I did consider adding or subtracting a ring before I tatted the first one but decided to wait and see how it turned out without changes first. I didn't notice how many 7's were involved. LOL!

    Miranda & others - I did make tiny picots on the chain, which is how they are described in the pattern, but they seemed almost as big as my ring picots in the end. I might need to adjust that more.

    The reason there are fewer picots in the last version is that I was getting tired of tatting so many picots and what I really wanted to see was how I could change the chain part to open up the negative space. For a final version, I would tat all of the original picots in the rings. I'll probably try one or two more versions but I'm anxious to move on to other things now!

  13. I'm back again. I'm totally SURE it can't be down to the tatter. NO pattern should need to be pushed, pulled and stretched to look like the picture. I still think there's a publication problem here. No published pattern should ever need to cause so much 'pain' to the tatter. If any of mine don't lie flat then I re-write them. I tat again and again and again until they do!!! Sorry, back to the glass of red wine!!!!

  14. I think that your tatting is great so I cant see it being that..I think I would agree with Jane that there may be a boo boo in the pattern itself.......anyway you have done a great job in trying to get this lovely snowflake to your liking and I admire you for that....I love the pattern and your 3rd effort
    Joy in OZ

  15. Ok, first lets establish I have no idea what I'm talking about. But,if I were trying to make my snowflake look more like the designers, I think I'd try not pulling up the chains very tightly and I'd make the topmost picot(joining picot) of the rings a smidge longer than the rest. I agree with everyone who noticed the manipulation of the rings with the blocking,that is part of the appeal to me also, the pointy ring. Being the please recipient of some of your tatting I feel as Jane does the issue is with the publicaction not the tatter. Your stitches are impeccable. Kudos to you for staying with your efforts,I'm a quitter and I'd have ditched it with the first failed attempt. (LOL)

  16. Connie - I can be downright stubborn at times. LOL! I made one more attempt which I'll post tomorrow. The instructions were very clear and did even say the middle would cup a bit but would flatten with blocking. It's funny how even small differences from one tatter to the next make such contrasting results.


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