"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

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Vinnie's Doily Again, and Blendables Thread

As promised, here's another version of Spring Doily 2 by Vinnie.

The thread is Vickie's Lilacs by LadyShuttleMaker, and as you can see, I added lots of decorative picots. It completely changes the look, doesn't it? For comparison, here's the first one I did again:

I thought I was just going to do these two, but then Mark had to go and mention Sulky Blendables Thread. It's a 30-weight quilting or machine embroidery thread available in lots of nice variegated colors. There was some discussion on the Here Be Tatters list about what size tatting thread it's really equivalent to. Is it like 80? Is it smaller? What's it like to tat with, anyway?

Well, I just happened to remember that I have three spools of it that I picked up last summer in a quilt shop in Dillsboro, North Carolina. (Unfortunately, the shop is not listed on this website, and I can't remember the name of it, but the town is small enough that if you're ever there you'll find it.) I've had this thread since August and have done nothing with it! Shameful!

What we have here are colors 4033 Grape Wine, 4028 Storm Clouds, and 4021 Truly Teal. Aren't they gorgeous? The photo really doesn't do them justice. I had a hard time limiting myself, but I was on a budget.

In order to answer the above questions about the thread, I decided to make one more of the doily. Here it is, in Storm Cloud. I like how the color changes are so subtle.

And the verdict is, while it looks a lot like size 80 on the spool, it actually tats up a lot smaller. The size 80 versions of this are about 2 3/8 inches (6cm) across; this one is only about 1 7/8 inches (4.75cm). I'm not sure what size tatting thread it's equivalent to because I don't have anything smaller than 80 on hand to compare it to.

This thread was a bit different to tat with. I don't mind working with small threads at all; in fact I prefer them because they put less strain on my left hand, and for some reason I don't have trouble seeing the stitches. So the size didn't bother me. I found that this thread has a finish that makes rings close very smoothly; that was nice. Unfortunately, the finish does not prevent the thread from getting all fuzzy as you work with it. If I had to untat, the fuzz got really bad. Also, because it's only a 2-ply, it's not as strong as the cordonnets I normally work with. The thread broke three times just in this small piece, and I was trying to keep my tension loose. The finished piece has a much softer hand than tatting done with cordonnet.

The bottom line is, if you're comfortable with size 80, you'll find this thread slightly challenging, but not terribly difficult. It's not designed or intended for tatting, so it does have its limitations. However, the colors are so pretty that I think it's worth it. Go into it knowing what to expect, and you'll keep your patience. If you expect it to tat like tatting thread, you'll probably be disappointed. I would recommend this thread for smaller pieces, not for Mark's next wedding dress. :P

Back to the doilies (really coasters), here are all three of them together:

I think this shows how, at least for some designs, the color choice can affect the number and character of decorative picots that you include. In a bold, busy thread like Stardate, decorative picots would have been distracting; this thread calls for smooth, clean lines. On the other hand, the soft, feminine Vickie's Lilacs cries out for lots of feathery, frilly picots, so I included them and graduated the sizes. Storm Clouds is too masculine-looking for frills; however, it can take a few picots as long as they are bold and regular. This is one thing to think about when choosing a thread for a particular pattern. Will the picots in this pattern look right with this thread? If not, can the picots be changed to suit the thread better? I had never thought about this in quite this way before, but playing with the picots in these different threads helped me to see it.

I learned quite a few things about design from Vinnie's pattern. In addition to the picot thing, there was the paperclip trick. You put a paperclip on the core thread to make a downward picot; a later join will hold the picot in place, and you get to work multiple sections in one pass. I already knew this one and have done several patterns that use it, but I always forget about it. After doing three of these, I'll remember it. Then there's the order of working various elements. I tend to think that if I want a 3-ring cluster, I need to work all three rings together. This can limit where you go afterwards. Vinnie has you do two rings (with a chain in between, but the rings are joined), then go off and do something else, then come back and do the third ring. You get much more freedom of movement by not constraining yourself always do everything in order. A lesson for both tatting and life. (It's 2:24 in the morning; I can't help saying things like that.)

Karol from OBC, I can't get your e-mail address. Would you please contact me at luthien1 at comcast dot net?


  1. Interesting post. Those colors are beautiful. The subtlety of the shading really adds depth to it. I was wondering about how that thread would work up. It looks like it equals a size 100 or possibly 120. Joann's had Gutermann 18 spool packs on clearance so I HAD to pick one up. I'll definitely have to be careful with it.

    Not being a huge fan of lots and lots of picots, they sure do make that pretty doily even prettier. I just printed off the pattern so I can try it for myself!

  2. WHAT an interesting post. I love working with fine and multiple threads too. Thank you for this insight into something I knew already - or thought I did!!!!

  3. Steph, enjoy making the doily, I sure did. Just read Vinnie's blog post clarifying a couple of points before you start; there's a point at the beginning of each repeat where you'll be tempted to do an SLT but it's actually better if you don't.

    Jane, I'm sure there's nothing I know about tatting that you don't know ten times better!

  4. Hey, Vinnie - there's lots I don't know about tatting. Lots and lots. My memory has always been poor and I tend not to remember things I'm not that interested in at the current moment in time!!!! By doing that I prevent wastage of brain cell 3's resources. This is an excellent post.

  5. Very interesting, indeed! It hadn't occurred to me to blend fine sewing threads, but I shall certainly give it a try. It might add something extra to my 3D flowers!

  6. Miranda - this was a great read. You are one fast tatter! And such a very good one! Your work here is beautiful and very inspiring.

    I have King Tut thread that my sis gave me - also quilting thread and it is so fine - finer, I think , than #80, that I find it very difficult to tat with, and hiding ends is awful.

    Your thread is so pretty, and I am amazed at how neat your tiny stitches are.

    I am still working on Vinnie's pattern, another try, this time in Karey Solomon's HDT. It takes me a while...
    Fox : )

  7. After reading Mark's post about the Blendables, I pulled out a spool of the 12wt but it is still too fine for me. I can't see the stitches so if I lose count, I'm in trouble without a magnifying glass. The 12wt seemed close to an 80 to me. I love all your picots.

  8. You know I was going to write something eloquent but all I can say is...


    ~TattingChic ♥

  9. Hmmmmm....
    I don't think I thought about the design so much!
    Great great insights.
    Lovely post.
    I hardly get past the first two lines of a post, but I've read each and every word of it.
    And what wonderful tatting!
    Lots of love,

  10. Thanks for reviewing the Blendables thread and tatting up some samples. I will be doing that shortly as well. I really like this thread. Bobbinlaces wonderfully!!!