"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, June 27, 2010

I've really done much more than this...

... on Janet Carroll's "Starburst" doily, but you can't see it because I kept on cutting it off and throwing it away. A couple of posts back, I showed my first start on round 4, which I cut off because I had made the thread spaces between the rings too short. The next attempt, I broke the thread after only five rings; it was so close to the beginning that I decided it would be easier to start over than to join on a new thread. Next I discovered, way too late to fix it, an error in the pattern; repeating the error all the way around would have looked funny, so out came the scissors again. On take 4, I did everything correctly, but it still just didn't look right. I decided that this was because I was making my joining picots too short. Snip, snip.

By this time, I had used up most of the thread on the shuttle and still hadn't gotten past the first repeat. All for the best, I decided, and emptied the shuttle and refilled it with a different color. Actually, I had originally planned to make this round lavender (this is Majestic color 813, by the way, and I wish you could see the way it looks under the OttLite), but if you recall the last look you had at it, I was using the dark teal. I had gotten some idea that using the same color for this "middle" round that I had used for the center and plan to use for the outer round would tie it all together very nicely, especially because the shape of this round echos the shape of the outer round. But that would have meant using the lavender on the next round instead, and ultimately I felt that that was going to look too random. Putting the lavender here breaks up the teals better. The next two rounds will be in the light teal and the outer round in the dark teal. Thus, the pattern of the colors from center to outside will run ABCBA.

I'm finding the mathematics of this pattern fascinating. Most round patterns have the same number of repeats in every round, or else each round is a multiple of the number of repeats in the center, but this is not the case for this doily. The center (rounds 1-2) has eight repeats. On round 3, the repeat is much smaller, so that three repeats in this round fit into one repeat of the previous round, for a total of 24. Twenty-four is divisible by many numbers, so there was no particular reason why she had to go back to eight for the next round, and in fact she didn't; round 4 has 12 repeats. Then the next two rounds have 72 repeats (12x6=72), each repeat being a single pair of rings.  (Actually round 6 is a little more complicated than that, but it's close enough for this discourse.) Then finally round 7 has 18 repeats (72/4=18). Thus we go from 8 repeats to 18 in a perfectly balanced manner. OK, so it's simple multiplication and division; it doesn't take much to fascinate me.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Calling NM Tatters!

I don't know about you, but I feel awfully lonely sometimes as a tatter. All the other tatters I know are online friends; I don't know anybody else "in person".

I've searched for local tatting/ lace groups. There is a lace guild, and they do say they welcome tatters, but I've looked at their calendar of events, and it's pretty much all about bobbin lace. I have nothing against bobbin lace, but since it's not a craft I've taken up yet, it doesn't sound like these meetings would do much for me.

I know of two other tatters in New Mexico: Ridgewoman and Quayceetatter, but I haven't met either of them because they're both kind of far away. So imagine my thrill when I read Is'Dihara's post on the Piecework Magazine winners, and one of the runners-up is a tatter from Albuquerque! Her name is Sue Peterson. Congratulations, Sue!

Sue, or any other tatters in or near Albuquerque, if you're reading this, I'd love to meet for a tatting show-and-tell.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday was my birthday. I have long held that the definition of "middle-aged" is 25 years older than me, and "old" is 50 years older than me. Thus, I am still not approaching middle age. So there.

A couple of my presents:
My old mixer didn't work so well once the mechanism to lock the beaters in place gave out, so this is what I asked my parents for. My mom was thrilled that for once I actually let her give me kitchen stuff. The first thing I did with it was to make my own birthday cake, because, my mom being 2/3 of the way across the country, who else was going to do that for me?

I am lucky that my apartment is on the end of the building, so I have windows on three sides. However, I have no west-facing windows, so my tatting/ reading corner gets really dark in the afternoon. I have always longed for an OttLite, but always felt that there was something more important to spend the money on. Well, Sunday I was in Jo Ann Fabrics picking up a few things I needed, when I noticed that this model was on sale better than half off. It was still kind of expensive, but I figured it was the best price I'm likely to see, and my eyes aren't getting any younger, so I might as well splurge and give myself a present. I love it so far.

Here's the progress on the "Starburst" doily. (Not "Sunburst" as I erroneously called it in the previous post, thinking that it couldn't possibly have the same name as those god-awful candies.)
On the top is the completed round 3. The new color is Majestic 837. On the bottom is my first attempt at round 4. I have cut this off because I didn't make the spaces between rings long enough to lie flat. I did mention that this would be trial and error.

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Shuttle, New Project

Many thanks to Jane, Sally, and most especially "I'm in the garage" for my brand new walnut Pop-a-Bobbin! I'm enjoying it so far. Unlike other bobbin shuttles I've used, this one grips the bobbin just the right amount so that it neither sticks nor unwinds willy-nilly. It's a bit fatter than what I'm used to holding, but I can see that it needs to be that way to hold the bobbin, and it's just a matter of getting used to it.

Here's what I've done with it:
This is the first two rounds of Janet Carroll's "Starburst" doily. The thread is Majestic size 80, color 850. I'm going to be doing this in shades of teal and lavender. If you have Carroll's book Elegant Tatting Patterns, take a look at the photo. It doesn't look like that much, does it? I mean, it's a very good design, perfectly proportioned with lovely negative space, but in plain white there's not really anything to set it apart from the other eight million doilies in the world. That's why I'm doing it-- I want to see what it will look like in colors. I think and hope that it will be amazing.

After this, the entire rest of the doily is rings only, with bare thread spaces between. Thus the big challenge of this project will be to keep these spaces even. I won't even be sure how long to make them until I try. There are measurements given in the pattern, but that's for size 30 thread. In size 80, the whole thing has a much smaller diameter, and thus the thread space lengths have to be shorter as well.

The other challenge, of course, will be to keep the cat hair off of it. That's always the challenge around here, but it's an absolute must if I want to enter it in the fair.

A couple more things about the Pop-a-Bobbin. Any tips on winding the bobbin more evenly?

Also, if I want to purchase extra bobbins, is it just the standard Aero ones? All advice appreciated!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


In case this is the first time you've ever read my blog, this is the "Rising Star" doily by Janet Carroll, from her book Elegant Tatting Patterns. I made it as a wedding present for a childhood friend of mine. The threads are "Leafy" and "Peace" HDT's by Yarnplayer. (Note: this link goes to her Etsy shop, where she sells the thread; however, the shop is currently closed while she works on her latest book. You can also get updates on her blog, which is here.) Tatted in size 40, it measures 13 3/16 inches (33.2cm) across.

I'm just going to touch this up with an iron under a damp cloth. Despite rather vigorous blocking, there are still a couple of problem spots that don't quite lay flat. They're not obvious in the picture, but they stick out like a sore thumb in real life, at least to me. Then all I have to do is find a way to keep it flat in the mail. I'm thinking of placing it between two pieces of matboard.

My next project is going to be another doily from the same book, and I'm probably going to enter it in the State Fair. I was planning to do this one again in different colors, but I decided against it for two reasons. First, I'm pretty sick of it by now. Second, I had a lot of trouble with my tension on the long concentric chains-- hence the need for the iron-- and I'm not sure that I can really make it competition-worthy without a lot of undoing and redoing.

Despite those last two sentences, I really enjoyed making this. I love the way the chains sort of swoop in and out, and I think the colors I chose make it look like a rose garden with lots of trailing vines. I really think this is a brilliant pattern, and I feel a real sense of accomplishment for having finished it.

On a completely different subject, Fox has gotten her Thread Exchange idea up and running. Check it out-- and join in-- at The Thread Exchange Blog!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Here's a whimsical post to lighten your day.

I was rereading The Borrowers Afield last night. My favorite bit is where they make the fishnet, because it turns out that Homily's knowledge of tatting is what allows them to get the knots right (I assume the "flip" is what came in handy). I am always left wondering about one thing, though. If Homily knows how to tat, she must have a shuttle that fit her hands. We know that the Borrowers used pins as knitting needles, and I'm sure that so enterprising a tool-maker as Pod could easily have fashioned a crochet hook from a bit of wire should Homily have required one. But a tatting shuttle has somewhat more complex construction. What do you suppose they used?

Also, I'm pretty sure that I have lost a few shuttles, both bobbin and post styles, to Borrowers over the years. Any thoughts on what use they would have for a human-sized tatting shuttle?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm Excited!

I just got an e-mail from Jane letting me know that my Pop-a-Bobbin is ready! I'm going to start watching my mailbox today, never mind that it has to cross an ocean and most of a continent!

One and a half rounds left on the Rising Star doily. Expect the pic of the finish product in a few days.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Bumper Sticker

I saw a bumper sticker this morning that I really liked. It said, "100 years after you die it won't matter what car you drove or what house you lived in, but it will matter how you raised your kids."

Friday, June 4, 2010


Working on the Rising Star doily has got me thinking about joins. As far as I know, there are three different methods for joining to a picot that is below the chain you are working on: lock joins, slope and roll joins, and Catherine wheel joins. You can find instructions for all of them at DS9 Designs; scroll down to the very bottom to find the links.

Pretty much all tatters know how to do lock joins, and many are familiar with Catherine wheel joins, but I think that fewer people are familiar with slope and roll joins. Today's post is a comparison of the three. First, the lock join:
The lock join is the easiest of the three. It gets its name because it locks the core thread. By doing this, it creates a sharp break between two adjacent chains. If you are working with two colors, it also creates little spots of the core thread color, as you see above.

Sometimes these color spots look OK, like in this motif. I could have even done something more interesting with the spots by making the joining picots at different places in each round. Other times, you really don't want them, as in rounds 6 and 7 of the Rising Star doily:

I wouldn't want little pink spots in the middle of these stacked chains-- especially since they would only be there in 2 rounds, the previous 2 rounds having been worked with a green core thread. For situations like this, you can choose between slope and roll or Catherine wheel joins.

This motif was made with slope and roll joins. Like the lock join, the slope and roll makes a sharp division between two chains, but the core thread remains encapsulated, so there are no color spots. This is the join I went with in the doily. It is called slope and roll for a reason; the chains want to get a bit twisty at the join, but if you don't want color spots and do want divisions between the chains, this is the way to go. Also note that the core thread does not lock, so you have to be careful not to let the chains pull too tightly as you snug up your stitches. I find it easier to do this join with a crochet hook rather than the shuttle point.

Finally, we have the Catherine wheel join:

For this join, you need a second shuttle. As with the slope and roll, the core thread remains encapsulated so that there are no color spots, but one chain is a smooth continuation of the previous chain. Again, the core thread does not lock, and the join actually looks exactly like a double stitch. This is not a good join to use if you do want a sharp indentation between your chains; you can see in this motif that it looks nice in the spiral section, but the outer round looks a bit wonky. The Catherine wheel join is good for spirals (hence the name) and outlines, as in my rendition of Gina's Gingerbread Boy:

I used lock joins for the sharp indentations at the neck and armpits, but I used Catherine wheel joins for the rest for a smooth outline.

To sum up:

EDIT: I just fixed this table. I made a mistake in it originally.

I'm going to take a bit of a break to finish reading The Last Hunt, but I'll be back soon with the final three rounds of the Rising Star.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I've finally finished round 7 of the Rising Star doily.

Actually, I finished it yesterday, but it needed some serious blocking before it was presentable. It is now 12 inches (30 cm) across and no longer fits on the scanner. Only three rounds left, and they are all chains; by changing the starting place, I'll be able to work them all continuously.

Krystle, when you get to round 7, use the biggest shuttle you can hold comfortably. I didn't, and I had to refill twice.

Honestly, this round got pretty tedious after a while. I had to keep telling myself that the only way to get to the next round was to finish this one. Here's what finally got me through it:

This is the last book in The Unicorn Chronicles series, released on Tuesday. I love kids' fantasy lit, and I've been waiting forever for this one to come out. So I told myself I wasn't allowed to start reading it until I finished the round.

If, like me, you still check the back of your closet on a regular basis to see if you can get to Narnia, then you really should read this series. It's that good.

There was one more thing I wanted to talk about in this post, but it's not quite ready yet. It will just have to wait until next time.