Custom Pages

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Mix and Match Snowflakes

I have one more magic square post that I want to make, but I'm taking a little break from it this week.

So, here's a more casual blog post: a couple of snowflakes with an interchangeable center.

One center is made up of layered rings while the other is a simple six ringed flower. I still need to make a few small tweaks to these designs. The layered rings are a new concept for me, and I didn't realize that they would cause the center to stretch. As a result, I need to enlarge the regular center to better match up the second round of each snowflake.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Deconstructing Magic Squares

Today I'm going to talk about deconstructing magic squares into smaller shapes. I think this information is helpful for both designing and tatting magic squares. Later on, I'll make a second post to show how I designed the onion ring magic square.

Muskaan also has some posts about magic squares, which you can read by clicking here, and here. If you are interested in the origin of the magic square, scroll down to the bottom her second post.

There are two ways that I like to visualize magic squares. The first involves looking at the pattern as a group of four smaller squares, connected in the middle.

Small Squares

This type of visualization is helpful for designing magic squares.

Let's use my recent onion ring square as an example. Here is one square by itself:

And here are four squares connected together:

For a magic square, the trick lies in redesigning the center, where all four squares meet. A magic square will have one continuous path that connects all four squares together:

Using a simple diagram, the path to tat a small magic square looks like this:

I find that it is best to begin tatting at the corner of the square. It's easier to finish the tatting on the outer edge, and this starting position also allows the square to be built up to any size.

Here are a few more examples of magic squares broken down into four smaller squares. I have boxed one small square in blue for clarity. Notice how the smaller squares connect in one continuous round in the center of each magic square:

So, what happens if you take four magic squares and connect them together, using the same method pictured above? You get an even larger magic square!

This large magic square can be visually broken down into 16 small squares (boxed in pink) or into 4 magic squares (boxed in green). All squares flow together in one continuous, and somewhat confusing round.


This type of visualization is helpful for tatting magic squares.

As magic squares grow, the path to tat them becomes more and more complicated. For this reason, I find that it is extremely helpful to visualize magic squares in a second way: as a series of triangles.

If you begin tatting in the spot designated "A" on my diagrams, you will find that the pattern is built up in triangular sections.

I'll go through this step by step, using my onion ring magic square as an example. The same basic stitch count is used throughout. (Please note: in the following example, "clockwise" and "counter clockwise" refer to the direction of the tatting in the photos. In practice, because tatting is worked from the front and back side, actual directions may vary).

The first section of the pattern looks like this:

From here, I have a choice to make. I can turn counter clockwise to complete the square or I can turn clockwise to build a larger triangle.

A counter clockwise turn uses an onion ring to corner, and results in a completed small square:

On the other hand, if I had chosen to turn clockwise to build a larger triangle, I would need to tat an inward-outward facing ring combination to corner. Here is the resulting larger triangle:

After creating the larger triangle, I am faced with the same decision again. This time, tatting in a clockwise direction will finish the square:

While tatting in a counter clockwise direction will build a larger triangle:

Note that each clockwise turn uses inward-outward facing rings to corner, and each counter clockwise turn uses an onion ring to corner. This rule is consistent throughout the pattern.

Moving on from the expanded triangle, I can turn counter clockwise to form a square:

or I can turn clockwise to build a larger triangle:

I can keep building this way indefinitely, creating larger triangles until I feel like turning to make a square. For this particular pattern, I stopped at the image below, which involved a clockwise turn to complete the square:

Lines of Symmetry

When expanding magic squares, it can be tricky to keep your place in the pattern. Something that I've found to be helpful is to use lines of symmetry as a guide.

Let's look at some of the lines of symmetry in the large magic square pictured below:

Some of the lines deal with the overall square, whereas others are for smaller sections. There are more lines of symmetry than what I have drawn. Depending on where you are in the pattern, the most prominent lines will change.

This is easiest to visualize if we use the triangle expansions that I talked about earlier. Let's start with the smallest triangle and expand it into a larger triangle. I can use this edge as a guide:

First I have to tat the corner, and then I can tat a mirror image of my previous work. The result is a larger triangle:

To expand this into an even larger triangle, I can use the new edge as a guide:

I make an onion ring corner, and then tat the mirror image of my previous tatting to form a larger triangle:

If I want to turn this into a square, I can use the other edge as a guide:

Again, I need to tat a mirror image of my previous work. The result is a square:

Using this technique, you can memorize the basic stitch count to tat triangles and squares without referring to the diagrams. It takes some practice, but I've found that this method works much better than trying to keep my place in a diagram.

That's all for today's post. It contains a lot of information, hopefully not too confusing. If you have any questions or find that something isn't clear, don't hesitate to ask in the comments below! For my next post I will talk in depth about how I designed the magic square pictured above.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Onion Ring Magic Square Pattern

The onion ring magic square pattern is now available. You can access the file by clicking here, or by going to my free patterns page. I have test tatted and proofread this myself, but if you notice any mistakes please let me know!

To keep everything consistent, I ended up tatting these squares in white thread. However, I think this pattern would look more interesting in two colors.

I've made this pattern free as I really want to share the idea of designing magic squares. I love that these patterns can be made all in one round and would be very pleased if more designs cropped up in the future.

I still need to write a few posts to show the design process. If all goes well, I should have a post about deconstructing the magic square next week, and a post about how I designed the square a week after that.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Onion Ring Magic Square #2

Here is the magic square that can be created using the hidden square from last week's post:

Notice that the onion rings appear on the inside of the square. In the previous magic square (lower left in the photo below), the onion rings are on the outside. Each time the magic square is built up to a larger size, the onion rings will flip (from the outside to the inside, and vice versa).

If you look at the large square, you can see several of the smaller squares within it. Using the same basic repeat, the pattern can be built up to any size, all in one round.

I won't be tatting any larger squares as I'm just using it as an example of how to design a magic square. I should have more detailed posts about the process in the next couple of weeks, and will also be sharing the pattern on my blog.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Hidden Square

Here is the square that was hidden within last week's magic square:

Look at the bottom right corner in the picture below. You can see half of the hidden square, outlined in green:

The final step is to make a magic square out of four of the hidden squares. The stitch counts are all contained in the first magic square, so no new calculations need to be made. However, it will take somewhere between 12 and 15 hours to tat. More on that in the next week or two.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Onion Ring Magic Square

Well, it's time for the big reveal. This is what I've been working on for the past few weeks:

It's another magic square, this time made with onion rings. If you've been following along with my last two posts, you will remember that I started with a small square and then connected it into four squares. The last step was to redesign the middle to enable it to be tatted in one pass. Here are the three images together. Can you see how one builds off of another?

This is only a small version of the square, and it can be built up to any size from here. There is also another square hidden within this pattern. My next post will show the hidden square and then I will work on completing another magic square based off of the hidden square.

I received several guesses in my previous posts about what I was making. People were very close, and the guesses of a square doily, mat, or shawl are technically correct because this pattern can be used to make all of those things. However, I was thinking about the design in more of a conceptual way, and less so as a finished project.

My end goal is to compile a post showing how to design a magic square. I think it's a really interesting concept and would love to see other magic square designs pop up, though I know that's wishful thinking!

I will also be sharing the pattern on my blog so keep an eye out for that. It should be ready in the next month or two and will be available as a free pattern.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Little Square: Phase 2

The second phase of this pattern involves connecting four squares together. It's a way to make sure the squares are repeatable, and it also gives me a good base to work with for the next step:

The next step will be more difficult, and involves redesigning part of the pattern.

So far, no one has guessed my exact intentions for this pattern. I have received guesses of a mat, a square doily, a tablecloth, and a box. While it can be made into all of those things, the purpose of this pattern is a little bit different.

All will be revealed in my next post, which should be ready early next week. You are welcome to keep guessing though!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Little Square

A little square, but I have bigger plans for it. Can you guess?

More on that later this week...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Big and Small

Just a couple more snowflakes, one big and one small. These are both tatted in Lizbeth size 20 thread and the designs are loosely based on each other.

I meant to have a blog post about sizing a picot gauge for central beads, but didn't realize how much information I had to go through. I still need to finish that up and try to make it more concise and readable.

Yesterday I received a question about whether I had my blog tutorials in PDF format. There's actually a website that will convert any blog post into a PDF file, and I thought I'd share that here as it might be useful to some.

To convert a blog post into a PDF, go to and copy paste the URL of the specific post you would like to convert. After you have done that, you can click on the button that says "print preview" and it will take you to a page where you can make small edits and also save the file as a PDF.

Edit: Margaret brought up a good point in the comments below. You can also copy paste an entire blog post into something like Microsoft Word or Pages and export the PDF from there.

Don't forget there is also another PDF website called where you can combine multiple PDF files into one large file, split them up, and make other conversions. Both websites are free, but limits you to two files per hour (if I'm remembering correctly). Anyhow, they are both really useful and are worth checking out.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Little flakes and stars

I'm still tatting snowflakes, and I've added a few small stars to the mix:

I've been testing out different beaded centers with the flakes, and have come up with a formula for calculating the picot gauge needed when using size 20 thread. The picot gauge is used with Frivole's method for adding beads, which you can view by clicking here. Hopefully I'll have more about that next week.

These snowflakes and stars are inspired by one of my earlier designs. I had the idea to create snowflake pairs that consist of one small and one large version, both using similar design elements. In this case, both designs feature outward facing clovers tatted in two rounds:

The small snowflake and star are tatted in Lizbeth size 20 thread while the large snowflake and star are tatted in size 40. I have several other design pairs drawn, and I hope to tat them over the next few months. Part of my goal with this project is to create snowflakes that are suitable for both small and large threads.

To draft these designs, I've been using the Amaziograph app that I blogged about earlier. Here is the sketch of the small snowflake from today's post:

I'm really pleased with this app and can get lost in it for hours. I think it's a great way to visualize a design before attempting to tat it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Revisiting a design

I keep several design binders where I store pieces of finished tatting as well as hand drawn diagrams for each pattern I make. Sometimes I leaf through the pages, looking for a small gift to put into a card, or to get inspiration for new creations.

Most of the designs are finished and have either been placed on my blog or in my Etsy shop, but once in a while I store something that I intend to work on later. While looking through last year's binder, I kept seeing a snowflake that I started in July. I set it aside because I didn't like the way it looked, but over time I started to think..."Oh, that's not so bad."

I had written a note to myself to make a few of the chains longer to increase the negative space, so a couple of weeks ago, that's what I did:

The snowflake on the left was tatted in July of last year, while the one on the right was tatted just recently. In the end, I think I'll go with a happy medium, and use a chain length right in between the two tatted samples above.

I had also wanted to invert the clovers in the middle of the snowflake, to create a design that could be completed in one round. I just finished that up a few days ago, and as you can see it creates a much different visual effect when compared to the first design. The new snowflake is in the upper right corner of the following photo:

As usual, I have been distracted away from old projects and have found myself drawing and tatting snowflakes again! I feel like I'm more inclined to make snowflakes when the weather is nice. Perhaps that's because I get sick of all of the cold and snow in the winter, and I don't want to tat things that remind me of it.

I'm working on a few designs that I drew with the Amaziograph app (this is my first real test of the program), and I hope to share some photos in the next few weeks.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Drawing Symmetrical Chains

Today's post will be about how to draw a symmetrical arc, which can be used to represent chains in tatting diagrams. This is something that has come up in the online Inkscape discussions, and a few members were trying to find solutions to the problem. I found something that works pretty well, and I will share it below.

To begin, open Inkscape and select the Pencil tool. You will need to draw either a horizontal or a vertical line. (Due to limitations in the software, this method will NOT work with diagonal lines. However, after you have made your symmetrical arc, you can always rotate it into the correct position later on).

To draw a horizontal line, use the Pencil tool to click a point on the screen, then hold the CTRL key and click on another point to the right of your original location. The CTRL key will help keep the line in a horizontal position (or a vertical position, if you are drawing a vertical line).

Next, we need to switch to the Node tool (F2) to add a central node to the line. With the node tool, click on your line, and then click on the icon at the top of the screen to "Insert new nodes into selected segments":

This will place a new node in the middle of your line:

Make sure the central node is still selected before proceeding to the next step (the node will be blue when selected). Now, click on the icon at the top of the screen to "Make selected nodes symmetric":

This will change the appearance of the node from a diamond to a square. You should also notice a few small circular icons on either side of the node. These are called node handles:

If you do not see the node handles, please make sure that "Show Bezier handles of selected nodes" is turned on. This icon appears at the top of the screen when the node tool is selected. It looks like this:

To turn the line into an arc, we are going to select and drag the central node while holding the CTRL key on the keyboard. Make sure that the central node is the only node selected for this part (otherwise you will be moving the entire line):

Now it's time to edit the fullness of the arc. For this step, you will be clicking and dragging a node handle while holding CTRL on the keyboard. Remember that the node handles are the small circular icons on either side of the node.

You only have to choose one node handle to drag. The other node handle will automatically adjust along with it (this is what is meant by a "symmetrical node").

In the example below, I've dragged the right node handle to make the arc more full:

This is what the completed symmetrical arc looks like:

I can see this method being useful for creating bookmark or cross diagrams. If you can find a vertically or horizontally positioned chain within a doily diagram, this method can also be used there. Subsequent chains can be copy/pasted from the first chain and rotated and placed as needed.

Here is an example of a simple edging diagram containing symmetrical chains:

Only the first ring, chain, and picot set were drawn. I then grouped the first set, duplicated it, and moved each repeat into position using the arrow keys.

If you have questions about anything contained in this post, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Drawing Teardrop Shaped Rings: Alternative Method

On Wednesdays, a few members of the Online Tatting Class have been meeting to discuss using Inkscape to create tatting diagrams. I've been attending the early sessions, which are at 3 PM Eastern Standard Time.

During the first class, one of the members named Pixie shared an alternative method of creating teardrop shaped rings. I had previously used a different method, which can be found by clicking here.

This alternative method involves drawing an oval with the Circle tool, changing the oval into a Path, and then making the topmost node corner (which creates a pointed end). I've incorporated another step, which is to add a Spiro path effect to the ring, to smoothen out the curves.

Here is a step by step tutorial.

After opening Inkscape, you will need to draw an oval using the circle tool:

This oval needs to be changed to a Path, so that we can get editable nodes. To change it to a Path, select the oval and go to Path -> Object to Path on the main menu:

Once the oval has been changed into a Path, it should have four little square icons (called "nodes") around the perimeter. These will be visible only after the node tool (F2) is selected.

Select the Node tool, which is right underneath the cursor icon on the left side of the screen. Then, click on the topmost node of your oval, or whichever node you would like to make pointy (it will turn blue after it has been selected). Next, click on the icon at the top of the screen to "Make selected nodes corner". You will need to click on this icon twice to get a nice sharp point:

This is what the oval looks like afterwards. You can see the teardrop shape beginning to form:

We can smooth out the edges of the ring by adding a Path effect called "Spiro Spline". To do this, select your ring and go to Path -> Path effects on the main menu.

This will open up a new window on the right side of the screen. Click on the "+" icon to add a new effect:

After clicking the "+" icon, a pop up window will appear in the middle of the screen. Scroll down and select "Spiro spline" then click "Add":

This will smooth out the edges of the ring to make a nice teardrop shape:

If you want to reshape the ring, you can do so by using the resize arrows, which appear when the ring is selected with the Cursor tool (F1). The height and width can be adjusted pretty freely, and you don't have to worry about holding the CTRL key while resizing. Click here to read more about resizing shapes in Inkscape.

You can also adjust the shape of the ring by moving nodes with the node tool, but I don't think it's necessary in this case. However, if you would like to see a more detailed explanation of that please leave a comment down below and I will create a separate post with pictures.

After you have a shape that you like, remember to save it to a template file for future use. Copy/pasting images from a template file saves a lot of time when creating new diagrams.

In my next post I'll talk about how to draw symmetrical chains. The question popped up in our online Inkscape discussion a few weeks ago, and I've finally found a solution. I just need to take screenshots and compile a post.