Susan Taliaferro's Snowflake
Pattern by Susan Taliferro ©2000
Lesson Authored by Sabina Carden-Madden
©Paradise Treasures January 2003

Susan Taliaferro is a veteran tatter of 25 yrs, as with most tatters eventually trying a hand at designing. This is her first snowflake designed in 2000. The original notation was written in long hand as that was what she was accustomed to at the time. She sent me her pattern for this snowflake in this year's Etatter's Xmas Exchange and said share it with my friends...What better friends to share with than the Online Tatting Class...I made this snowflake this last week several times as a comfort tatting and was so impressed with it's potential as a teaching tool. I thought it would make a great lesson to share.

This snowflake has a traditional character using ball and shuttle. It has elegance and is quick to work with lots of room for embellishment. A little goodie filled with information for a beginning tatters and experienced both. There come along those patterns which by their simplicity lend themselves to teaching, the use and comparison of techniques. This is one of those gems and a gold mine for the tatting student.

Beginning tatters can practice and improve on the use of basic techniques. The intermediate tatter can experiment easily comparing various techniques and see the results and effects quickly in a finished project. Others can be inspired by its symmetry and spark their own creativity.

Bravo Susan. As a first design of a snowflake its certainly is a boon for any tatter to try and enjoy your pattern.

Please look over the patterns, both here and at Gale Marshall's site at Tat's All. We have Gale to thank for asking Susan to share this lovely with the tatting community.

For techniques discussed in this lesson see the tech links page.

Susan's First Snowflake (Contemporary Notation and Modified)

5/8" 4 hole button
#8 Perle Cotton
Crochet hook for joins if shuttle is not pointed

R = Ring
Ch = Chain
cl. = Close
RW = Reverse work
slj = Shuttle lock join
+ = Join
"=" = Small picot, next picot to be joined to
p = Picot
- = Small picot
-– = Decoration picot
SLT = Shoelace trick

Wind shuttle with 2 yards continuous thread method from ball

Round 1

R: 8 + (to any hole in button) 8 cl. RW
Ch: 4 - 4 - 4 -- 4 -- 4 = 4 slj into same hole as last ring
*Ch: 4 + 8 - 8 = 4 slj into next hole in button
Ch: 4 + 4 -- 4 -- 4 - 4 = 4, RW
R: 8 + (into same hole as last ch) 8 cl. RW
Ch: 4 + 4 - 4 -- 4 –- 4 = 4 sjl into same hole has last ring

Repeat from * 3 times

Ch 4 + 4 –- 4 –- 4 + (1st picot of 1st ch) 4, join to base of first ring
Tie cut and hide your ends as desired.
Remove thread from the shuttle and rewind with 2 ½ yards continuous thread method from ball

Round 2

*R: 4 –- 4 + (to center p any 3 p ch of 1st rnd) 4 –- 4 cl., RW
Ch: 4 – 4 –- 4 –- 4 –- 4 -- 4 = 4 slj (into last free p of next ch previous rnd) + 4 –- 4, SLT
R: 2 –- 2 –- 2 –- 2 –- 2 –- 2 cl., SLT
Ch: 4 – 4 slj (to 1st free p of next ch previous rnd) 4 –- 4 –- 4 –- 4 –- 4 = 4*
Repeat from * to * 3 times
Last chain is joined the first p of first chain and then to base of the first ring of this round. Tie, cut both ends 4 - 6" long, knot ends together for your hanger.

Model 1 and 2 are demonstrated in the following techniques discussion, note the differences.

Techniques Discussion:

Notation -- As originally written it is considered long hand and very much like a mathematical equation to show the double stitches and picots to be worked. ( 4 DS P) 4, 4 DS... represents 4 picots separated by 4 double stitches or 4 - 4 - 4 - 4 - 4 as is considered contemporary. Note though the more picots the longer the contemporary line of notation gets so using the older type of notation has advantages when writing patterns with numerous picots per element. It's almost as though the long hand becomes short hand in some cases...The notation used is best reflective of the item being tatted to clearly and concisely as possible describe the line of progression of the elements as well as provide the tatter with a refercence to the outcome of the work. Different types of notation work for different projects. Being familiar with the properties that make the notation work best, you can enhance the tatter's ability to understand and follow the instructions.

Picots-- The contemporary notation lends itself to describing the type of picot needed where the long hand may not without additional wording. This may help a tatter who is visually oriented to see in the minds eye the work they will be doing knowing in advance where to place construction picots versus decorative picots when a picture of the tatting is not available. A time saver if a tatter is not used to tatting the same pattern several times. Picot placement can be changed. Note in the models the positon of the decorative picots have been moved twice over from the original model shown at the top of the page.

Ball and shuttle -- A wonderful way not to have to cut and tie your work when you use continuous thread method and/or are making a lot of chains. However, unlike with 2 shuttle work, there are dynamics that come with tatting ball and shuttle.

Shoelace tricks to switch the position of the threads to bring the shuttle thread into position to make a ring. In this pattern the rings on the second round the chains are convex to ring, hence no reversal of work, but since there is no second shuttle to switch shuttles and use the other shuttle the make the ring. A shoelace trick is applied to move the threads into place traditionally. To achieve the same result but by another method, chains to be concave to the base of a ring, the Self Closing Mock Ring is a great choice. When using a SCMR you wouldn't need a shoelace trick at all. The consideration in using the SCMR would then turn to what colors are being combined or if variegated thread was being used in the pattern.

Joining below the core thread traditionally would call for a shuttle lock join. In this case because the ball and shuttle are called for, a shoelace trick would need to be done to bring the ball thread in the proper position to join to the button and or shuttle lock join with the shuttle thread to the button. Which method to use is the tatter's choice and would depend on the color combination and effect desired in the center of where the joins are made to the button. Note the two models above, the first is tatted with SCMR rings and the second is made using the shuttle to make the rings and join to the button. Although not as apparent in the tatting of one, when you see two side by side the difference is dramatic in the way the color flow of the variegated thread plays in the joins. Shuttle lock joins would also be used to join to the previous round below the core thread. The advantages to using the SLJ over an onion ring join or a tied double stitch (AKA Split Chain Join or Catherine Wheel Join) (a) the core thread would be interrupted and the stitches would not slide thereby holding the shape of the chain in place, (b) using a tied double stitch would require the ball be used to create the knot and this could be cumbersome depending on the size of the ball (c) onion ring joins as an option would interrupt the core thread but may or may not suit the desired look of the work the tatter is seeking. The key is experimentation to see the differences in the techniques on your actual work and the pattern it applies to.

Threads- This pattern calls for a lovely Perle cotton. It has a loose twist and seems a little thicker than Flora size 20 has a nice feel and slides nice. Other threads can be used in this pattern and the size of the button changed to accommodate the thread. Models 1 and 2 are worked in YLI Polyester Jean Stitch. Variegated threads add a whole different look to the work but also create some considerations to think about. The color pattern of the thread is broken up if tatted traditionally, but if SCMR is used for all the rings the color pattern is maintained. This is most evident as discussed in using variegated threads in needle tatting versus shuttle tatting.

Cut and tie or One pass??? Good question and tatter preference. My models here are all begun with the intention of one pass. This called for a split chain to climb out from the first round and beginning the snowflake from a different position, note Model 2. Cut and tie would have given me the intended tie off for a hanger, so please choose based not only on the pattern instruction but your end use as well.

Creating Variations -- Model 2 was a whoops, I got into the T-Zone (Tatting Zone, not twilight zone), that place we find ourselves in when we think we have the repeat of the pattern well done and just keep tatting. In this case I forget a chain section of 4ds and a join, distraction while tatting can alter your product and yield a nice variation in the process. Another whoops as a result of the T-Zone was cutting the threads too soon and not leaving enough to tat the remainder, I chose to fix this by taking a thread of the same color variation and use a weaver's knot to tie to the thread end that was very small to continue the last 4 ds of the chain. Note though with variegated thread weaver's knot to the back of the work under a join would have been well hidden and the work and time not wasted. The lesson in this is experminent and learn from the mistakes and create a new way to solve the problem. You can always tat another perfect one but the mistake is also perfect for learning something new.

I hope you will find this snowflake as enjoyable as I did, for comfort tatting, inspiration, learning and teaching. Special thanks to Susan Taliaferro who made a wonderful gift of this pattern to me and you all as well...Happy Tatting, Bina Madden

This demonstration may be copied for teaching purposes, please give the designer and author recognition when doing so including this web page url.

Email Bina

Chat with Bina live on Yahoo! Messenger
about topics related to this lesson or website.
AOL or AIM Members use my AOL Screen Name : TattingBina

Graphics watermarked with Digimarc & edited by Charles D. Madden

Created December 12, 2003
(Thanks Gina for your help!!, Thanks MaryJeanne for the correction in Round 1!!!)
Revised May 29, 2004