Monday, April 15, 2013

Spinning Spiral

Way back last summer, I had the notion to adapt Mary Konior's famous Spinning Wheel pattern, by making each repeat a little longer to produce a spiral shaped effect.

For my first attempt, after a quick review of the pattern, for some reason, I thought it would be necessary to work the spiral version starting at the long end.  I did a few calculations for the number of rings per row, and soon produced the item below.  Well, it laid flat, but had no other redeeming virtues.  I decided to try again working from the small end outward.

By the way, I had never worked this pattern before, but I soon appreciated its popularity.  The pattern is that  rare thing: easy enough to quickly memorize, but complex enough to be visually interesting.  In a word, elegant.

My second attempt (the first starting from the small end) was ruffling like mad after just a few repetitions.  I started over with fewer rings on the first row, but again, eventually it would ruffle out of control.  I'm not sure how many times I cut off rows or started over.  This went on for weeks.  What was once an elegantly simple pattern was now excruciatingly monotonous.  At some point, I returned to mathematical calculations.  It seems there is a geometric progression (is that the right term?) involved.  For extra ring, this doesn't just add to, but instead multiplies the number of rings in each successive row.  To make the spiral, I would have to leave more chains  not joined to in successive rows.  Finally, I came up with the final version, shown at the top.

In Mary Konior's book, she showed this pattern in just the two versions:  the small Spinning Wheel and the same design element as an edging around a linen center.  I used to wonder why she did not include a larger version all in tatting.  Now I know.  If there were more rings in the beginning row, then it would not lay flat, or more chains would have to be left bare, which would not have been as appealing.  I wonder how much trial and error she endured to arrive at the one perfect version.

Was it worth it, spending so much time and thread on this project?  Persevering with the attempt instead of abandoning it was good for my strength of character.  I arrived at an even greater appreciation of Mary Konior's greatness as a designer.  My finished project, not so much.  Sometimes, it's the journey not the destination that counts.


  1. Anonymous10:43 PM

    Awesome post, Martha! Truly an inspiration.
    Love the final effect.
    Thank you,
    Katie V in NC katie at r-v-r dot com

  2. Wow Martha, that is an amazing amount of work. Good on you for persevering and figuring it out. congratulations

  3. I love how that turned out! It looks like a seashell. Such pretty colors.

  4. It's true we start with a vision but its nit where you finish it's what you learn on the way

  5. Well done for not abandoning the project. Sometimes there's more maths in these things than we realise, like the hyperbolic tatting.

  6. I like what you were trying to achieve. I'm not sure I would have had the tenacity to keep trying as you did. The top one reminds me of a snail, one of my favorite little creatures!

  7. Love how it turned out. I admire your perseverance.

  8. What a wonderful inspirational post. I am not an 'outside of the box' type tatter. So I admire anyone who is. *Smile*

  9. I've often thought about trying to make this pattern larger. Can you not make the short rows 9 rings and the longer one 18 rings. Staying with that for each section?

    1. I used to think so till I started working with it. Konior's pattern has 5 chains between the 6 rings of the second row. To that you add 3 rings and leave 2 bare and the pattern repeats itself.

      If you start with 9 rings in row 1 and 18 rings in row 2, then there are 17 chains to work with. You could join to the first 9 chains and leave 8 bare, but I don't know if that would look good or lie flat.

  10. Marvellous work, marvellous colors!!

  11. Very nice work! I really like it! I too stared at the pattern and wondered. I even talked about it with my engineering husband & daughter. They were intrigued by the idea. When I mused that I wonder how many rings and what size....they both said almost simultaneously "tatting goes logarithmic!"....which has become a teasing joke at my expense.
    I'm glad you tried it out and conquered it.