"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, April 8, 2010

Jane Eborall: Genius or Fiendish Madwoman?

That was the question going through my mind as I tatted Jane's Snowsettia pattern. Two pairs of shuttles attached to the work at once? You fiend, Jane! The ones that are dangling tangle worse than IV tubing and monitor cables on the way to a stat CT scan... ummm, OK, no more hospital references. But the shuttles did tangle a lot. Working little sections at a time and interlocking them as you go? Mad genius. A pattern that can represent two completely different things depending on what colors you use? Pure genius. You know I love you, Jane.

What I can say for sure is that brain cell #3 must have called in some of his buddies to work overtime on this one. Usually I can intuitively understand a pattern from the diagrams and a quick scan through the written directions. Not this time. I had to just start tatting, reading every word of the instructions, and trust that all would be well in the end. It was, of course, but I really didn't understand what I was doing until about halfway through. Then I had to make a couple more to make sure I really had it.

Lizbeth size 20 in Christmas Red and Christmas Green. Beads by Darice in one of those big cheap bags; they looked gold all together in the bag, but seen individually like this they are more silverish.

Lizbeth 20 in Red Burst and Dark Evergreen, with the same beads. I'm not too happy with the way this one came out. I was hoping the colors in the variegated thread would fall out more randomly; instead I ended up with the same color always on both shuttles. If I do it again with this thread I'll make sure I start tatting right at a color change so that doesn't happen. Hopefully somebody will like this one.

"Snowflake" HDT by Yarnplayer in size 40, doubled with a Coats and Clark metallic silver machine embroidery thread, and Lizbeth size 20 in White. Mill Hill seed beads; I'm not sure of the color name, but they're clear, slightly iridescent, and silver-lined. The Coats and Clark thread I used is pretty nice as metallic threads go. It's nice and smooth, not too stretchy or brittle, and holds up well if you have to untat. It's very fine, though, so it's best if you double it with a cotton thread. Even though it's so fine, doubling it with the size 40 resulted in nearly the same size tatting as the size 20.

Since these are Christmas ornaments, I stiffened them. I don't normally do this, but I've got a lot of tatting hanging in my windows and have found that if it hangs long enough, any motif will eventually collapse in on itself if it's not stiffened. I used Aleene's Stiffen Quick. I've tried other stiffeners, but this is the one I keep coming back to. I laid waxed paper down on my blocking board first, to keep the tatting from sticking to it, then put another sheet of waxed paper over the hanger threads (the tails from the second pair of shuttles, left long and tied in an overhand knot) to keep the stiffener off of them, thusly:

The stiffener also adds a bit of shine to the thread, which caused some color distortion in the scans. The Red Burst doesn't have any brown in it; that's really burgundy.

And in case you were wondering, I haven't lost track of what time of year it is. The hospital I work at has a craft fair fundraiser every November. I always plan on donating some tatting, but they send out the reminder e-mails in October. By that time, I've got so much else going on that I don't have time to make anything else for the fair. This year I've remembered in advance, so I'll be making a few things here and there for this event throughout the year, with plenty of time to do other stuff as well. It won't all be Christmas stuff either, but I figure that's mainly what people will be looking for in November. Jane is one of the designers who have generously given me permission to use their work for this fundraiser.

Finally, thanks to my dad, who found the quilt shop I mentioned in my last post. It's called Mrs. S Fabrics. You would think my search for "quilt shop dillsboro nc" would have turned it up, but it didn't. Anyway, it's a nice little store and you should definitely stop in if you ever take a vacation to Dillsboro.


  1. Love that purple motif. Beautiful!
    Fox : )

  2. Wow, A++ for perseverance. They are all beautiful. Still undecided on the genius or fiendish madwoman part, LOL.
    I read this tip, can't recall where from, on how to manage the shuttles if you are working with more than two at a time. Slide a wrist guard, something like what sportsman use, on your left hand (if right-handed) and tuck the non-active shuttles under the wrist guard until they are required.

  3. For patterns like this, I like to put an elastic band on my wrist and tuck the unused shuttles into it to prevent so much swinging and tangling.

    Your flakes look great.

  4. Thanks, ladies. I definitely want to do more of these (at some point in the future), so I will try Jon's and Martha's suggestions to prevent tangling.

  5. Love the motifs what a great job. The purple motif has to be my favourite!

  6. Neither genius, fiendish or a madwoman - just plain BONKERS!!! Will that do?
    Seriously somebody did mention that you can work this pattern in two parts using the one colour and posting the second colour through the 'gaps'. Not tried it myself but it makes a lotta sense!!! More than I do usually!!!

  7. Jane, I did think about doing it that way, but decided it would be too much hassle trying to keep the joins smooth. Besides, I had to tat it the way you wrote it or I would have been completely lost!

    And I still say it's genius to create a design that can be either snowflake or poinsettia using the exact same pattern.

  8. They all look beautiful! I particularly like the last one.

    It's funny, I was just thinking yesterday that if I want to give tatted bookmarks or snowflakes away at Christmas, I really need to get started now!

    I like the wrist band idea. I usually just rest the extra shuttle in a fold in my shirt... fine until I twitch or sneeze! : )

  9. They came out superb,she is a genius! Love the first and last ones.

  10. Oh, Just say both and make it easy! ;) She's awesomely geniusely-fiendishly madwoman! Your tattings look great! Thanks for sharing! :)

  11. Love the idea about the elastic .... will try it...
    Fox : )