Mike Lyon's Laws of Tatting
Mike¡¦s Laws of Tatting
1. All tatting is based on patience. You rush, you lose.
2. In transitioning between rings and chains, the position of the first half stitch is most critical.
3. Make your rings tight. Make your chains even tighter.
4. There are two kinds of picots: structural (join) and decorative. They are different sizes. Know when to make which.
5. It takes 20 times as long to undo a mistake as it took to make it.
6. Block your piece after each round for the best symmetry in the finished
product. Use only water during blocking and save any starching for the final round.
7. Plan your pieces overall color scheme before you ever make the first stitch. Which pattern elements do you want to emphasize?
8. The drop of spaghetti sauce that you thought had fallen onto your napkin at
lunch will magically appear on your tatting that afternoon.
9. Before you begin the next round, look closely two rounds ahead to
determine where your new join picots need to be.
10. Before sitting down to tat, always wash your hands ¡V especially if you are using white thread.
11. Keep the number of colors to a minimum in any piece. Simplicity yields
12. When you close a ring and before you begin the next element, give an extra
tug or two to the ring. You¡¦ll be surprised at how many rings are not as
closed as you think they are.
13. A wine corks makes an excellent support surface when doing the final sewing
in of thread ends. Push the needle through the tatting into the cork, not
14. If working on a delicate or detailed piece, avoid multi-color threads, as the
splash of colors can mask the design.
15. Avoid thinking to yourself ¡§this picot or this set of stitches is not up to par
with the rest of my piece, but is ¡¥good enough¡¦¡¨. You¡¦ll regret your laxness
16. Never tat with wet or even damp hands.
17. When tatting with light-colored threads, wear light-colored clothing. Stray fibers from dark clothing can get embedded in your work, giving it a soiled look.
18. On each round ¡V before blocking/starching ¡V press down all the ¡§puckers¡¨
at the joins.
19. Many picots look alike. When making a join, take care to use the correct
20. The larger the piece you are working on, the more care must be taken to keep
everything clean. More handling = more opportunity for dirt to accumulate.
21. There are more tatting designs in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
22. Just as you begin round 5 of your 17-round magnum opus piece, you¡¦ll see a
pattern that you¡¦d really, really, REALLY like to be working on instead.
23. Your next project cannot be made to your satisfaction with the threads you
currently have. You will need to order additional colors.
24. If possible, avoid designing patterns with rings larger than about 35-40 ds.
The appearance of large rings can be ungainly due to uneven tightening.
25. For medium and large doilies that will stand the test of time and be valued
heirlooms, stay with tried-and-tested muted or antique colored threads.
26. On large doilies with many rounds, often the temptation is to ask, ¡§Do I
really need to start the next round? This piece looks fine if I just stop
here.¡¨ With the decision to keep working, that first join and double stitch
becomes a commitment of another large block of time.
27. On large pieces with many rounds, the final double stitch in the final round is a bittersweet farewell to an old friend.
28. Never seek to learn how long a piece takes to tat. We each tat at different
speeds and the answer would be meaningless. The mere concept of ¡§time¡¨ vanishes when one is deeply engrossed in the art.
29. Critically analyze the variability in your tatting. Are your rings uniform?
Is the tightness of your stitches consistent? Are your decorative picots the
same size? Only by reducing such variability will you improve your work.
30. When designing a new piece, draw it actual size on a piece of paper. Tat a
very tight chain of 50-60 ds, creating a small picot every 10 ds. Use this as
a measuring device against your drawing to determine the number of ds required for each element.
31. Lock joins can be undone, but you may discover new words for your adult
vocabulary while you take them apart.
32. Tat for relaxation and enjoyment, but always stay focused as if the piece is destined for a National Museum.
33. If you are irritated or upset, don¡¦t take out your anger on your tatting.
34. You have been in tatting nirvana when you glance up at a clock and realize
that three hours have passed since you sat down with your tatting.
35. Your time is precious ¡V and limited. When choosing what to tat, pick something that will stand the test of time and be cherished for generations. Anything else is mere ¡§busy-work.¡¨
36. Be your own worst critic. If YOU are not totally satisfied with your work, don¡¦t give it away as a gift. Re-make it.
37. Whether round, square, oval, or any other shape, a completed piece that has not been blocked is still unfinished.
38. When making a chain ¡V trefoil (i.e., 3 Rings) ¡V chain combination, take particular care to ensure that the third ring does not open up as you make the final chain. After you make 1-2 ds on the final chain, stop and check.
39. Look with a critical eye at the last piece you tatted. What is the weakest aspect? What do you wish you had done differently? Think on these things and practice correcting them before you begin your next piece.
40. When asked by another tatter to critique their piece, a truly honest reply and suggestions for improvement are always better than merely heaping praise. To gloss over clear and obvious weaknesses will only serve to perpetuate those weaknesses.
41. A corollary to #40 ¡V Don¡¦t ask ¡§What do you think?¡¨ about a piece if you are not willing to get constructive criticism. Accept suggestions for improvement for what they really are ¡K indicators of how your tatting can be made better. We all are at different stages in the art, and we can all improve.
42. Rings are fun to make, but no fun to unmake. Double-check your stitch count before you close your ring.
43. On very large projects, eat the elephant one bite at a time. If you find yourself bored or making frequent mistakes, put the piece down and do something else to clear your mind. Tatting is not a race.
44. Find the most complicated, most difficult pattern you¡¦ve ever seen and begin work on it. You will be challenged, you will learn new techniques and approaches, and your tatting will be elevated to higher levels.
45. A corollary to #44 ¡V Fear of complex designs is the beginning of tatting stagnation.
46. You may share your original patterns freely, but do NOT share the patterns of others without their permission. Small changes to a design by another tatter does not necessarily make it ¡§new¡¨ and your own. While you may not end up in jail if you violate this, tatting karma will catch up with you eventually.
47. As a tatter, you are a member of an elite group of artists. Take pride in that.
48. Never pass up an opportunity to tat in public. You may attract new converts.
* (this list is still under construction)
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