"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

Friday, December 24, 2010


Three days I've worked on this thing. Three days, I tell you, and there's still another round to go.
And as I was sewing the ends in on this round, THE CORE THREAD ON ONE OF THE CHAINS BROKE. Yes, that is shouting, and I'm stamping my feet, too.

Can you believe it? There is absolutely no way to fix this. I don't even understand how it happened. The frustration is beyond my ability to express.

So, this was supposed to be motif 49 from The Tatted Artistry of Teiko Fujito. Believe it or not, what you see here is all one round. The next round would have been an outline chain, and would have held the points more evenly. But there's no point in finishing it now. Grrrrrrr.

Oh, and Merry Christmas. :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Mother of Invention

Last Sunday, I got this mad idea that I needed to tat a cardinal. I searched online for a pattern and found nothing, so I asked on the Here-Be-Tatters list. Someone told me that there was one on the Palmetto Tat Days CD from this year. I ordered it and hoped it would get here fast, because this bird needed to go in a package that I was hoping to mail on Friday. Well, here it is Saturday, and no CD yet. It is the postal service's busy season, after all. It was still a good buy, because it sounds like there are several patterns on it that I'd be interested in. But I still needed that cardinal, and I couldn't wait any longer. Necessity being the mother of invention, I designed one myself.

There are a couple of little things I would tweak if I were to make it again, but overall, I'm quite happy with how it came out. Especially after the first draft, which I will never ever show anybody.

And here's why I so desperately needed a cardinal:

The pine needles and cones are from Karey Solomon's book Tatting Turns over a New Leaf. The branches are done in node stitch, but I wanted to give them an even more knobbly look, so I used a size 5 perle cotton (DMC color 938), and it came out just like I wanted. It turns out perle cotton isn't so bad to work with if you don't have to close any rings! The needles needed to be nice and crisp, so I went with Lizbeth size 40 (color 685, Evergreen Dark). The cones are done in Tatskool's new color "Cloves" in size 80, and the bird is DMC size 80 in the appropriate colors. The great thing about satin ornaments is you can just pin the tatting to them.

Why is it that all cats have pica? I thought I had found a safe place to leave my tatting while it is blocking, but the other day Squijum jumped up on that shelf and jumped back down with a pin in his mouth. At least I was awake. I'll have to try on top of the fridge next; I don't think he's found his way up there yet.

EDIT, 3 years later: I now have links to all of my tatting patterns, including the cardinal, available here.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Ornament

This is motif 36 from The Tatted Art of Teiko Fujito, made with Lizbeth Christmas Red and Christmas Green Mix.

By the way, even if this were white, it would not be a snowflake, no matter how much it might superficially resemble one. Snowflakes can only have six points. This is because the shape and polarity of the water molecule force it to crystalize in hexagonal forms. Being a stickler for accuracy, I get really irked when people refer to non-hexagonal motifs as snowflakes. It's just a motif.

I was working on this at a coffee shop yesterday. The young woman sitting across from me was obviously interested in what I was doing. We didn't chat because she was studying, but as I got up to leave she asked me what I had been doing. By then I had to get going, but I told her it was called tatting and spelled it for her so she could google it later. Then I offered her something from my grab bag. She chose an "Angels in the Snow" done in Krystle's Wine Berries thread. I'm hoping that having a piece of tatting in her possession will inspire her to look it up over her Christmas break. And, hey, cool, she liked my design!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Beautiful Berries, and Thoughts on Angels

This is my favorite wreath pattern. I like the way the Josephine ring berries stand out from the surface a bit, and it works up fairly quickly too. The pattern is by LaRae Mikulecky and can be found here. I added a lock stitch chain hanger.

Did you all see Fox's post where she ran out of thread while making "Angels in the Snow" and had to do a shoelace trick to finish it? She solved the "problem" by simply turning the differently colored point to the top to make it a focal point. I really like the way her flake looks, and it got me thinking. Wouldn't it look nice to do shoelace tricks throughout the pattern so that the SCMR's all end up one color and everything else another? That would be slightly different from how it looks in two colors without the SLT's, and I think it would be striking. I haven't had time to try it yet, but it's on my agenda. Of course, if somebody else gets to it first, I'd love to see it!

Don't forget, the pattern for "Angels in the Snow" is still for sale. We've raised over $150 for BIANM so far, and I really appreciate everyone who has contributed!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

One More

Inspired by the way it looks in Trayna's picture, I blocked the chains on the outer round a little bit straighter this time. I like the way it looks. The thread is size 80 "Snowflake" by Yarnplayer. I think this colorway is beautiful, and it actually does make me think of snowflakes, even though it has so many colors.

Here's a comparison of size 80 thread and size 20 thread, with a tangerine for scale.

You can also see the subtle difference in shape between these two flakes due to the way the outer rounds are blocked. I love the fact that you can control this just by the placement of a few pins.

This is probably the last one of these I'll do for a while, but the pattern is almost ready.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Ice

Here's the finished version of what I showed you yesterday:

This is, of course, my new "Ice Crystal" snowflake. See how nice and straight the spokes are from using Sherry's blocking template? I'm also pleased to report that blocking greatly improved my Dora Young knots. Yes, that's an improvement. In case you couldn't tell, it's the spoke at the two o'clock position. At least the colors are in the right places, which couldn't have been done with regular split rings. See Jane's explanation of Dora Young knots here. The reason mine are so uneven is because I have a hard time judging how much bare thread to leave before the lock join. I always leave too much, so that the split chain side is looser than the regular chain side. I know, I know, practice makes perfect, and I should just do a lot more of these. I will eventually.

Right now, I'm tatting another of these, this time in a single color so that I can just use split rings. The blue and white one is size 20. I don't particularly think this flake looks its best in a large thread-- to me, the airiness of the design calls out for a finer thread-- but I had to make this one big because it's for my Grandma, and her eyes aren't what they used to be. The one I'm making now is in size 80. I've still got about 1 1/3 rounds to go, but here's a size comparison just for grins.

I'm also finishing the pattern, incorporating the suggestions made by my wonderful and patient test-tatter, Trayna.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Next Snowflake... Almost

A couple of months ago, LadyShuttleMaker gave us some blocking templates to download, here and here. I must say, these are wonderful tools, if a bit frustrating sometimes.

Wonderful, because they show you exactly where the problem areas are, and frustrating because they show you exactly where the problem areas are! Using this template, I spent a lot more time than usual placing the pins because I could see everything that was out of alignment, but it is going to result in a much nicer snowflake. Thank you, Sherry!

This is "Ice Crystal" again, done in two colors again, but this time with Dora Young knots instead of split rings. I definitely need to work on the DYK's, as you'll see tomorrow.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ice Crystal Revisited

Remember this snowflake?

It is now in the possession of Martha Ess, who won it in my 100th post giveaway. This weekend, I retatted it, with a slight difference.

This time, I did it in two solid colors, in size 20 thread. The purpose of doing it this way was to illustrate the shuttle changes, so I intentionally allowed that one spoke of bicolored split rings. This scan will be enlarged and cropped to illustrate the written pattern. I can't make a diagram to save my life (although I'm sure it's just a matter of finding the right program to do it with), so my patterns use pictures of the actual tatting, large enough for the stitches to be visible.

I didn't think it was going to look good in two colors, but it turns out it does. At least, I think so. I'm going to do another one in a variegated thread, and then I think I'll do another in two solids. I will be able to avoid that mismatched spoke by using Dora Young knots, which function like split rings but show only one color, even when you're tatting with two. It will just be a matter of paying attention to which color shows where so that that spoke matches all the others.

I would like to thank Trayna for test-tatting my written pattern. I should have the final version ready to share in a couple of days.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Winners!

The winners of the pattern giveaway have been selected. They are #6, Tattin' Kat, and #2, Trayna. Congratulations to you both! I will send you each an e-mail with the pattern right away.

Thank you to everyone who entered, and of course thank you to the anonymous donor!

And don't forget, the pattern is still available for purchase-- it's cheap and for a good cause.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Quick Little Giveaway

A tatter who wishes to remain anonymous has made a very kind offer. This person has donated the cost of two copies of the "Angels in the Snow" pattern, and wishes me to give these two copies away to two readers. If you wish to be entered, just leave a comment on this post. It is currently nearly 8:30 a.m. Mountain Standard Time on Saturday. This giveaway will close in 24 hours, at 8:30 a.m. MST on Sunday. At that time, I will draw the two winners. These patterns are delivered by e-mail, so you MUST include a working e-mail address in your entry. If your Google profile includes your e-mail address, that's fine, but please check to see that it does. If it doesn't, or you don't have a profile, you can tell me your address in the form of "yourname at emailprovider dot com" so that the spammers don't pick it up.

A great big THANK YOU to the person who made this donation!!!

This is the latest one I've tatted. This time around, I changed the inner rings to LTR's so that I could add those beads. The thread is "Forest" by Yarnplayer. I really like this colorway; you don't often see these dark greens in a variegated thread, and I think it's perfect for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Angels in the Snow" Update

Well! Since the last time I updated you on this, just a week and a half ago, purchases of my "Angels in the Snow" pattern have raised an additional $69 for the Brain Injury Association of New Mexico, including one very generous tatter who bought enough copies for her entire tatting group! This makes a total of $114 so far! Thank you all!

I've been touched by the number of people who have told me that they are purchasing this pattern because someone they know has experienced a brain injury. Traumatic brain injury has gotten a fair amount of press lately due to the number of soldiers who suffer it, and the lack of support they get from the military and VA. Tragic as this is, we should remember that TBI occurs not only on the battlefield, but also in car and bicycle accidents, sporting accidents, and assaults every day. Also remember that not all injuries are caused by an outside force; a stroke is a brain injury, too, just not a traumatic one. When you think about this, you will realize that nearly everybody knows someone whose life has been impacted by brain injury. Services for these people and their caregivers are appallingly underfunded, and many people who need services don't even know they exist. So get on Google and see if there's a brain injury association in your own area, and find out if they can help you or your loved one-- or if you can help them!

And please, please, please, always wear a helmet when riding a bike, motorcycle, or skateboard, make your kids do the same, and don't get drunk. Not just don't drive drunk, but don't ride a bike drunk, don't walk drunk, don't talk drunk. I have seen severe injuries resulting from all of the above. In 9 years working at a level 1 trauma center, I can count on one hand the number of traumas I've seen that were not alcohol-related. OK, lecture ends.

So, a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has purchased the pattern so far!!!!!!!!

I've made it easier by adding a PayPal button. I didn't want to do this because I don't want my blog to look like a commercial site. However, I've had e-mails from several people who were confused about how to make the payment, so hopefully this will clear it up.

Thanks also to everyone who has made the pattern and shown it on their blog! I love seeing all the different colors people use for it!