Friday, May 29, 2009


I am completely obsessed with my tatting looking "perfect" - I hope that shows through in my work! Actually, it's not only tatting, I'm pretty much a perfectionist in every area of my life. This is good and bad, as with any personality trait. I tend to be a fairly slow, methodical tatter. This can be a bit of a drawback when selling your tatting because time is a big factor in cost, but can be balanced by extremely high quality, neat, perfect tatting which looks great in jewelry. You get the picture - it's a give and take.

Here's the thing - for years and years I made rings without ever thinking about the fact that the last ds in a ring sort of gets turned under when you close the ring. It makes the ring look a little uneven (like you are missing 1/2 a ds on one side) and the ring doesn't quite lay flat. I know what some of you are thinking - like, who's paying attention to that?! Well, I didn't for years either, until I started the "Tatting Proficiency Program" a couple of years ago. I read through the binder and saw them mentioning "posting the shuttle" - putting the shuttle through the ring before you close it with the idea that it would not cause that last little ds to turn under and semi-dissapear, and your rings would lie flatter. Not only that - but your rings will be easier to open!

Now I've never had a problem opening my rings, but I looked at a piece I had just made and - hey, how did I never notice that the last little ds curled under like that?! I could get perfectly round, flat little rings?! Well, who knew?? So I tried it. Sigh. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it didn't work well for me. Instead of curling down, now my ds curled up. The rings were a little rounder, but I really didn't think the jewelry laid as well with the ds curling up as when the ds were curling down.

But I could never look at my ugly, lopsided, uneven rings the same way again. Suddenly I hated that darn last ds! So I set about figuring out how to fix the "problem."

So here is the method I came up with: What I started doing about a year ago is making and extra half ds at the end of each ring. I do front side/back side tatting as well. So, if I am making a ring on the "front side," I do an extra 2nd half of the ds and then close the ring. If I am making rings on the "back side," I do an extra 1st half of the ds, pass the shuttle through the ring, (I do post the shuttle from the back side so that all rings are closed with the thread ending up on the same side) and then close the ring. With this method, I find that the last half ds just dissapears when you close the ring nice and snug and the ring looks perfectly even on both sides. The last full ds in the ring is completely visible and doesn't roll either way. The ring lies completely flat and has a nice even shape. Yay!

Now so far I've only shared this with one other person. I guess I thought for a long time that 1. This wouldn't work for anyone else but me or 2. Who else would care? But she found it very useful and solved her "rolling ds" problem as well, and persuaded me to share this technique with the tatting world. Thank you for the encouragement, Suzanne!

So, maybe you'd like to try this? Or maybe I lost you back at the second paragraph and you can't believe I actually care about this as much as I do. :-) Anyway, I wanted to share with those who are as obsessed as I am about "perfect" tatting - and I'd love some feedback for those of you who do try it.


Kathy Niklewicz said...

Hi Elizabeth!

So cool to read your last two posts - thanks so much for sharing the lovely pattern! I'm sorry your eyes are giving you problems. I'd have to say it's a common occurrence at your age. I started having distance problems around age 30, but now have both distance and 'up close' problems.

I eagerly awaited your post about your rings because your work always IS perfect. I have to admit I was unaware of the problem of imperfect rings until recently when I read somewhere on a tatting site about dropping the shuttle through the ring, but didn't try it. Obviously you've taken it one step further! Now I'm really curious to try it.

I admit for awhile that I didn't understand the need for 'front-side, back side', but then it kind of worked on me, and recently began experimenting with it. I really was surprised that 'hens and chicks' isn't quite as easy that way, since it's all rings, and one has to think about which 'side' one is on. At least with rings and chains I kind of know where I am. Now I'm going to try for perfect rings as well! Never too late to learn, I suppose! Thanks so much for sharing this tip. I admire your perfectionism!

Hope you have a great show season!

Krystle said...

That's awesome, I do the exact oppostie, I do a first half ds and post the shuttle on frontside, do frontside/backside and a 2nd half ds on the backside without posting the shuttle.

I'll have to try your way and see the difference.

I did a post like yours awhile back and thought that maybe I was the only one. So glad to see you are with me on the dark side!

The other obsession I have is with Joins. I am all over the Lark head picot join.

Lace-lovin' Librarian ~ Diane said...

There's nothing wrong with perfectionism in my opinion. Good for you, solving your problem. I haven't gotten the hang of front side back side tatting yet... I get mixed up so easily! I think I need to get back into the T.A.T. program to improve my tatting.

Thanks for your lovely, thoughtful post. Maybe now I'll seek a little perfectionism! said...

Believe me your perfectionism shows in your work. My mother is the only other person I've seen whose work has the same glow. It even shows up in her cooking.
Like you I didn't find that dropping the shuttle through the ring made much of a difference. What you are doing makes alot of sense to me. I do something similar when I want a sharp turn after a lock join. Thanks for sharing.

Marilee Rockley said...

Your work is exquisite! I really admire it.
But personally, I'm just not interested in perfectionism. Art does not need to be perfect in order to be beautiful and inspiring, IMHO. Actually, in the old "art vs. craft" debate, it seems that obsession with perfect finishing belongs to "craft" whereas creative freedom of expression without concern for rough edges is a characteristic of "art".
I realize I may have now alienated myself from some of my best HDT customers, so I'll just slink back into my dye-spattered, uneven hole now, LOL.

Fox said...

I have that some sneaky obsessiveness! Often, it creeps up and catches me unawares.

Thanks for this great tip - I will try it tonight. I can't wait!

Unknown said...

You have absolutely impeccable tatting and I really admire your work. I'm glad you shared that! Thank you! I will try that. I get kind perturbed by that last half of the last DS on a ring and I never thought to just make an extra last half (whichever side you're on).


Elizabeth said...

Hi everybody - thanks so much for commenting.

Kathy - so good to see you :-) thanks for stopping by and saying hi - it's never to late to try new things - I think I was tatting for 15 years at least before I started front side/back side tatting.

Krystal, I went and found your blog post - how cool! You and I are obviously of the same mind ;-)

Diane, the TAT program is awesome, but I find myself intimidated by it. In that way I think perfectionism is a drawback - when it keeps you from being able to enjoy something just for its own sake without being "perfect" at it. I tend to avoid things I'm afraid I won't be good at, but surely I'm missing out on a lot of life, then?

Victats - thanks for the compliments about my work and for stopping by!

Marilee, your tatting is already perfect :-P as are your hand-dyed threads! Seriously though, I appreciate what you said; as I mentioned, there are plenty of times I wish I didn't have the obsessive need to have things "perfect." And I really don't think it's necessary, it's just part of my own makeup.

Fox - have fun and let me know how it works for you!

TattingChic, thanks for the compliments and if the last ds bugs you too then I hope this works for you.

Unknown said...

Hey Elizabeth, its the perfection of your work, that keeps me watching your page.

But I cannot learn without visuals, so please could you have a drawing to show what you said! I noticed the loops are always oval and thought that was just how it is. Do you mean before closing the ring I drop my shuttle inside? and that way I could get a round instead?


Prabhdeep said...

Hi Elizabeth-

I have mentioned in my blog very often that I like the neatness of you work. I'm so impressed with all the jewellery pieces that you make that I want mine to look similar to like yours!

I'll surely try your trick and see if it works. Thanks, for sharing!

Fox said...

Hi Elizabeth,
Tried your method, and I am perplexed. I find that it made my rings look quite lopsided! I need to talk to a tatter in person to figure this one out! Fox

Elizabeth said...

Hmmm, maybe I'll actually have to post some pictures of the different rings!

LadyShuttleMaker aka MadMadPotter said...

Very interesting post...I will try this and see how it works for me!

Unknown said...

Yes Please Elizabeth Place visuals.. About eyes, I have had to get myself specs for tatting! I already wear specs as I am short sighted. The only mistake I made was not to get varifocals. So that will be next on my list!

Suzanne said...

Hi Elizabeth!

Now that I have been playing with your extra half ds trick and not posting the shuttle (except on the backside) and the regular method of posting the shuttle on the frontside for several weeks, I have come to the conclusion that each method has its place. For me, rings tatted in the traditional manner with the shuttle posted are definitely more rounded. However, great care must be taken to ensure that the last stitch of the ring does not roll and, in making sure of this, it is very likely that there will be a small bit of visible thread at the base of the ring. Your extra half ds effectively locks the last stitch in position, but also creates a slight thread blip on the backside. Now, I must experiment with Krystle's opposite half stitch method. For now, my conclusion is that it does not matter a whole lot which method is used, just as long as it looks right! Your trick ensures consistency despite fatigue, stress, and other factors, which is a huge plus if one is doing marathon tatting sessions.

On a separate matter, I have been carefully examining your method of stitch placement and have concluded that it is necessary only when making joins and at the start of an element (to place the first ds exactly where you want it). If you could restrain your use of the index and thumb of your right hand to this context alone, it will save a lot of wear and tear and prolong your tatting career.

Thanks for sharing your 'trick'. I now look forward to hearing how you make absolutely invisible magic thread endings. Despite my best efforts, mine are never completely indistinguishable from the rest of the work.

Unknown said...

Hi Elizabeth,
I just wanted to let you know that when I remember to do this my rings do lie nice and flat.
In fact, someone recently posted about this and asked what method we use in closing rings. I put a link to this blog post in my comment to refer to your method.
You can click here to see that post. Hope things are going well for you. Haven't seen a blog post in a while.
~TattingChic ♥

Jane S. said...

Well aren't you the clever minx! :) Seriously, what a great solution. I've often been unhappy with the way my rings look. They always looked good as I was tatting them, but upon closing, they had that annoying little curl. So thank you for posting your solution. It works!