"But, really, why does anyone create? You feel a... a restlessness inside, a need to make something new, something no one has ever seen before. You want to add to the beauty and the richness of the world with a gift, an offering that is uniquely yours. It's an act of selfishness and generosity, all rolled into one."

-- Bruce Coville,
The Last Hunt

Thursday, August 27, 2015

That Peacock

You know, the one from that book. The book we all bought for that peacock.

Yes, it's a challenge. The diagrams are confusing, and the written directions are minimal and in German. I assume the diagrams would be easier to understand if I could actually read the written directions.

However, I am nothing if not determined. I scrutinized the diagrams and compared them to the cover photo and the few words I could understand from the directions. I studied German in middle school, but for some reason, tatting terms weren't covered. Nonetheless, I could figure out what meant ring and what meant chain, so then I could determine what order to do certain things in.

The head, neck, body, and legs are easy and straightforward (although in practice it turned out I had to change a few stitch counts in the body, but no big deal). It's the tail feathers that have so many people flummoxed. So here you go:

Each tail feather is tatted separately, starting with the leftmost one, and each starts closest to the body. Each feather is made without any cutting and tying. They all start with simple split rings.

When you get to the part that looks like onion rings, circled in red above, it is actually what might be called onion split rings. Or split onion rings, if you prefer. The inner ring is a normal, ordinary, one-shuttle ring. The outer ring is a split ring; at the top, it joins to the picot at the apex of the inner ring. Not as hard as it looks at first glance.

The rosette, in the yellow square, is a little more complicated. It's actually worked from the outside in, and then you climb back out at the very end. The first element made is what, in the final product, looks like a floating ring, but is actually a split ring, because it leads from the previous onion split ring. Next, you make the chain carrying actual floating rings, but omit the floating ring at the apex; make a very small picot there instead. The chain becomes a mock-ring by joining back to its starting point; make sure both shuttles are on the back side of the work. Now make the inner ring, which is a split ring. After closing the split ring, bring both threads behind the chain and join to that very small picot. Make one final split ring to match the other floating rings. The rosette is now complete.

Read that paragraph a couple more times. I promise it makes sense.

The rosettes at the ends of feathers 2 and 4 are easier because they don't lead to anything else. Just lead into them with the split ring as above, then make a normal ring for the center, then make the chain carrying floating rings around it, remembering to join the chain at the top of the inner ring.

The bits at the ends of feathers 1, 3, and 5 are just onion rings with a slightly convoluted outer chain.

Adding to the confusion was the fact that the stitch counts on the diagram are sometimes missing; and when they are there, they don't always tally with the photo. No matter. This is a somewhat free sort of pattern anyway. Sometimes I went with the diagram, sometimes with the photo, sometimes neither. Just make the number of stitches you need to with your particular tension to achieve the graceful curve you want.

Oh yeah, and as I was finishing the very last feather, I noticed that the rosettes at the ends of feathers 2 and 4 should have had an extra two floating rings. Oh, well.

So, this is definitely not a beginner pattern, nor one for the faint of heart. But if you can make rings, chains, Josephine rings (on the head), and split rings, you can make this bird. If you're up for the challenge, I hope my explanations help a little.

And BTW, when you make a picot on a Josephine ring, it is helpful to make just one ordinary double stitch to hold the picot in place. So when I make a Josephine ring of 6-6, it goes 6 2nd half stitches, picot, 1 1st half stitch, 6 2nd half stitches; the first half stitch in this last group is also the second half of the double stitch. The extra half stitch doesn't affect the size, but it keeps the picot from slipping out or turning wonky.

I tatted my peacock in size 80. The head, neck, and body are Lizbeth color 656 Wedgewood Dark. The legs are DMC color 579, a very pale yellow that doesn't show well against the white background. Tail feathers 1, 3, and 5 are Aqua Bay HDT by Yarnplayer (somehow Marilee ends up in my posts one way or another, doesn't she?). Tail feathers 2 and 4 are Blue Lagoon HDT by Tatskool. And of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone, but had to add beads. That's Fox's influence.

I've got big plans for this bird (that's the part I'm still hoping will work as intended). More on that later.


  1. Spectacular ! The peacock is perfect & very graceful !
    And thank you so much for your explanation, filled with so many valuable tips . I think German designers are brilliant tatting engineers -- they use simple techies to create elaborate & intricate patterns !
    And hats off to you for mastering it !

  2. The peacock is gorgeous! Love the use of beads in the eye and tail :).

  3. Fabulous! And the beads add just the right amount of bling for a peacock.

  4. Well done on mastering him, I went though the same back in January, he drove me up the wall, I found the diagram and the picture on the front of the book was different in places. Google helped me a lot, but it was a pattern that really tests your tatting, he is now framed and I hope I don't need to do him again, I did make some notes on the diagram for the future. Not a beginners piece.

  5. Thank you for your explanation. It makes so much more sense now! I hope that when I get around to tatting him I remember that you so thoughtfully posted this information! I'm going to bookmark this page now!

  6. Wowie. Yours turned out spectacularly! I love the colors you used and your additional directions make a lot of sense!

  7. I think it is absolutely beautiful! I also think tatters buy more books in different languages they do not understand, than other regular people :) thanks for your clarifying this cause I know all tatters want to make this eventually :)

  8. Sensational tatting, Miranda! That peacock is the best!

  9. That is gorgeous! Thank you very much for this post, even if I haven't got the book, everything here is interesting! Thank you for the hint about picots in josephine rings, it's clever indeed.

  10. Your peacock turned out beautifully! Thanks for all the tips. Just looking at it you wonder how it's tatted.