Vintage patterns can be difficult to understand if you haven’t studied them a bit or even talked with other tatters. I say this because there are a variety of terms that are no longer used or which mean something totally different than they used to mean. Tatting instructions are much like a language…over a period of time things just change: words are no longer used or what once was considered to be improper grammar and ‘not a real word’ are now in the dictionary and very proper. So, we can understand what new tatters go through.
By going to our tatting forum you’ll find that new tatters will often bring up questions concerning expressions or instructions which either they haven’t yet learned or which is something that doesn’t make sense because the terminology is all but obsolete. This is where we go to learn from other tatters. That’s one of the reasons the forums were created. So, make sure to take advantage of this wonderful tool! Frequently, I’ll find an experienced tatter assisting another tatter with directions, from a vintage pattern, which wouldn’t make sense to someone who recently learned to tat; with instructions which are up-to-date.
We also have discovered that some tatting tools are no longer used-such as a tatting pin-and so we’ve had to learn what the purpose was and what we now use in its place.
Pattern graphics have also changed. When I first attempted to teach myself to tat, there were mini tatting books I was able to purchase, which taught the basics of tatting, but neither the words nor the pictures made any sense to me. Everything was done in black and white; with very little/or no color. Graphics have come a long way since the beginning of pattern publishing. We now have cameras with many pixils, which make our published picture quality almost as good as the original picture. We no longer are limited to the drawings of the best artist available and then having to have the picture shrunk so that it’ll fit in a small area-another artistic method which made the graphics difficult to see.
Sometimes, when I find it difficult to understand the written directions, I’ll draw out a graphic (following the instructions) and see if I can draw the written pattern to it look like the picture; thus making the pattern make sense. Sometimes, I may still have to resort to utilizing the help of my tatting friends online. But, this will put me one step closer to being able to understand the vintage pattern on my own.
I hope these tips will also help you to understand some vintage patterns you might own.