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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thoughts on Pattern writing!

Designers all write their patterns slightly differently, of course they do....there is no right way or wrong way. They are all such gifted people and I am sad that I do not have their talent for originality.

But maybe I can express my thoughts on what I like to see in a pattern.

When I started to tat way back in the ice age! all the patterns that I possessed were written in a very long winded way with photographs of the finished piece but no diagrams. This I accepted as the norm.

Now when I see a pattern written like that, particularly for a doiley, with what seems like pages and pages of text without even a pause to come up for air!!! my brain shuts down.
I know that if I go and make a cup of tea in the middle of the pattern then when I come back I will not have even the faintest idea where I was.
I will usually scan the photo as well as the text, write out the text as I go in a shorter way and print the photo in light grey (sometimes need to invert the black and white photo to do this) so that I can write on it and colour it as I go.

This helps me enormously.

Modern patterns are a doddle to follow compared to these.

My favorite pattern writer has to be Jane Eborall who kindly shares all her patterns freely,and goes to such pains to make them as followable as possible. From Jane we get full written instructions as well as lots of diagrams with rings and chains usually numbered to help us see the pattern clearly in our minds and know exactly where we are going next. All following Jane's patterns requires is a tick against each line when it is completed.

Most other designers write their patterns somewhere between these two extremes and it is up to us to add our own notes to the printed page.
Many come with good text and a clear photo, some with a photo and just a diagram. A good diagram can be worth a thousand words but sometimes a few words as well would help a lot.

My first experience with the patterns of Iris Neibach was about this time last year. I was looking for something to kick start my Christmas tatting and looked through my collection of saved patterns. Iris had posted a free pattern for a Christmas motif as a gift to her tatting friends for Christmas 2002. Going back to her site I could no longer find it there. Lucky me to have saved a copy.

The pattern showed a photograph of the finished motif and what it might look like as a mat of multiple motifs and a diagram of a segment of the motif with stitch counts on it. I would have liked a diagram of the whole motif but I am not a wimp! so guessed I could follow it ok, the motif was so stunning that I HAD to be able to do it.

Iris is a tatting genius in my opinion and this was the first pattern that I had ever tried which works from the outside into the centre and back out again,allowing the complex motif to be made in one round.

This was my first attempt, when I got back to where I started having put my magic threads in the last ring or so I thought... I found that I had already done that ring at the very beginning!! Now I know that I could have corrected this by untatting that ring but I would still have been one magic thread I decided to keep it like that to remind me of my inattention to the pattern. Had I been able to colour the diagram as I went then I would have seen that I had already tatted that ring.

At this stage I decided to draw a complete diagram numbering the rings and chains to show how the design progesses and then colour it in as I went along.

After that it was easy and I produced several of them.

This I guess was my very first rainbow snowflake.

Playing with beads and Christmas colours this looks dramatic on a black background.

But this is my all time favorite, it reminds me of the ferris wheel at a carnival.

I recently sent my photos and my diagrams to Iris as I didn't want to cause any offence to her, asking permission to post them on my blog to help others.

Not only did she say yes but she asked my permission to post them on her blog!! Thanks so much for the compliment Iris.

So here is my diagram to help you, I sincerely hope it will be useful.

The progression is numbered consequitively be it ring or chain. Just follow the arrows and change shuttles where necessary. The red and green are the actual colours you will get using two shuttles.
Yup I do know that I missed out number 29...just checking to see if you were paying attention!!!

I also did a diagram to show the stitch count but you dont need that you can find the pattern here on Iris's website as it is now back on line for you all.
These were my first ever attempts at drawing diagrams.

Iris, I love your designs.

The motif made in size 20 takes about 5.5 metres(6 yds) on Sh1 and about 4 metres(4.5yds) on Sh2..don't forget you made need more.

I think this will look nice in HDT...Go tat!!!

Iris also posted my diagram for Eleanora but I will explain that in my next post. Hope you can wait.


  1. Pamela, thank you for a wonderful post! I love Iris's designs also, and I look forward to working on Eleonora soon... I just need to get my brain in gear!

  2. I think that is the answer, we just need to get into the right gear.

  3. This is a brilliant post Pam.
    Pattern writing is something I constantly think about....and it is the bane of my existance. I LOVE designing...I HATE writing patterns. I too am looking for just the right balance in patterns and your post is very helpful!

  4. I have given you an award. Please check my blog for details and feel free to pass if you are too busy!

  5. Just found this post - thanks for the huge compliment. I'm very flattered that you like the way I do my stuff! I too love Iri's patterns. Just never seem to get round to making other people's stuff as my brain keeps coming up with new ideas of my own!!!

  6. Excellent post, Pamela. My brain completely shuts down when it comes to a longwinded pattern also. I am so thankful for diagrams. Without them, I don't know if I would love tatting as much as I do. After discovering Iris' patterns and getting the feel for them, I realized that I now prefer patterns written as diagrams with as little text as possible.

    Your 'Ferris Wheel' version of Iris' pattern is my favorite! Did you use a lock stitch chain for the alternating colors? I'd have never thought of that. Brilliant!

  7. Yup, Steph that's a lock stitch chain, the name escaped me, very effective isn't it bit it did make it difficult to hide the end with a magic thread.

    Your tatting of Iris's patterns has inspired me so thanks.

  8. ooops!Just found this unmoderated comment Jane...well you already knew how much I love the way you do your stuff. Ta for everyfing!


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