"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, May 9, 2010

Secret Revealed!

Well, you've been hearing for weeks now about my Top Secret Project.

I've teased you

and teased you

and teased you

and told you nothing. So now everyone who reads this blog (both of you) is dying to know what it is, aren't you? Aren't you? Oh, just say yes.

Funny, all those teaser pics kind of look the same, don't they? That's because this project pretty much consisted of the same thing over and over again:

I did a total of 12 of these babies, plus three partial ones, plus a couple of little green thingies. When assembled, they make this:

Oh, did you want to see the front? OK, OK:

This is my gift to my mom.

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled tatting programming to say HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!!!! My mom always made home-cooked meals and home-baked bread; never let me eat sugary cereals or get cable TV; worked the night shift for years so that she could be home when I got home from school; didn't let me play with toy guns or Barbie dolls; did let me play with toy cars and regular dolls; taught me to love handcrafted items and folk music; taxied me to riding lessons, piano lessons, guitar lessons, violin lessons, and harp lessons; forked over the money to pay for all of the above; and still drops what she's doing to come take care of me when I'm sick.

We now return to our regularly scheduled broadcast.

The threads are all by Yarnplayer: the aptly named Purple Pansies and Blue Pansies, both in size 50; and Leafy in size 80. Everything is sewn together and attached to the barrette with invisible thread (which is a pain to work with, because it's kind of hard to see).

The pansy pattern is from the book New Dimensions in Tatting by To de Haan- van Beek, and the leaves are the "Simple Leaf" pattern from Karey Solomon's Tatting Turns Over a New Leaf. I highly recommend the latter book if you enjoy tatting objects from nature. The only real change I made was to move the last three stitches of the inner ring around to the beginning, so that I could finish the ring with a mock picot to work the whole thing continuously. I also used Catherine wheel joins (I'm getting pretty good at these) when I had an outward-facing chain to join to the round below it. De Haan- van Beek used needles and was thus able to just pass the core thread between stitches for these joins; I had to pry two stitches on the previous round apart to expose the core thread to join to.

The flowers are made with the technique pioneered by de Haan- van Beek. She called it inverted tatting because the chains are forced to curve in the opposite direction from how they naturally want to. Others have called it Dutch needle tatting because de Haan- van Beek was Dutch and used needles. (She actually used shuttle tatting technique; she just used needles because she didn't feel like winding shuttles for such small pieces. So don't let the term "needle tatting" put you off; it really is shuttle tatting.) I think the most acurate name I've enountered is picot lock joining. I could have sworn I saw this term on Tatman's site, but I can't find it there now. Anyway, picot lock join describes the technique perfectly, although I'll admit it doesn't have the same ring to it as Dutch needle tatting.

Whatever you call the technique, I think a lot of people have been afraid to try it because de Haan- van Beek's instructions, frankly, are nearly incomprehensible, at least in the English translation. (I'm curious whether it makes more sense in Dutch. Any Dutch tatters have the original version of the book?) But it's really not hard. You are just making lock joins with the second shuttle, so that you end up with two picots intertwined with each other. You do have to be willing to adjust your stitch count and picot length depending on your tension and the exact shape you're aiming for. Since you have to take the chain thread off your left hand so often to make the joins, I find it easier not to wrap it around my little finger; I just sort of pinch it in the knuckle of the little finger instead.

The result is a unique way to fill space that looks both light and solid. It also adds a bit of texture to your tatting, as the picot lock joins will form a row of bumps which can become a design feature. There are other patterns out there now that are easier to read than de Haan-van Beek's. So if you haven't tried this technique yet, I encourage you to try it!


  1. It's beautiful and the HDTs really suit the pansies. Great job.

  2. I am sure your Mother is going to love this, it is super cute!

  3. That is really lovely and the colours really suit the Tatting!

  4. A truly beautiful gift for you Mother!!

  5. I have both the Dutch and English version of the book you are speaking about. I wanted to make the roses - I think they are beautiful. The pansies are beautiful as well. Was not able to figure out how they were tatted from the Dutch version. Now that I have the English version, I just haven't found the time, but after seeling your lovely flowers, I will give it a try. Thanks for sharing with us.

  6. Thank you for the lovely comments, everyone.

    Tatting-Marie, I really hope you'll try it. You might also see the book Contemporary Tatting by Judith Connor- it has a rose pattern using the same technique, but much easier to understand.

  7. Congratulations on finishing the barrette, it's beautiful! You explained about the inverted tatting really well. I started a rose in that once, but never managed to finish it. I think it takes more patience than I have.

  8. Yarnplayer, thank you so much for the gorgeous threads! It's true that inverted tatting is more time-consuming, since you have to take the thread off your left hand every few stitches for the joins. One of my goals in life is to master every tatting technique that I come across, even if it's not one I'll use often.

  9. Beautiful! Yarnplayer's pansy colorways are irresistible to work with. I'm going to revisit To's book now.

    I noticed that it's easier to do a Catherine Wheel join if I put a length of thread between the two stitches the join will be. That way when I come back around to actually doing the join, the space between is large enough to get the thread through, but small enough to not leave a picot.

    As far as the picot lock join, I've seen that on Tatman's site, too. I bought the Jacobean Flower Spray pattern from him and that's where I found it. After reading what you've had to say while doing these gorgeous barrettes, I'll have to do a bit of practicing before I attempt the flower spray. Again, great job!

  10. these are absolutely beautiful, excellent job!