"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, June 30, 2011

Pretty Posy Pendants

The first is another of Marilee Rockley's "5-Petal" pendants, in another of LadyShuttleMaker's HDT's, "Old St. Nick".

Given how difficult it can be to match reds, I was rather surprised to find that I had the perfect match in my stash.

Next up is a pendant made from Jane Eborall's "Small Motif" with beads added.

This time time I used Krystledawne's "Wine Berry" HDT. I couldn't match the burgundy, so I went for total contrast instead with dark and light blue beads. I put the dark blue seed beads on shuttle 2, and joined the light ones during the tatting. In order to put the large bead in the center, I changed the center ring to a mock ring because I find it easier to tat around a bead this way than with a true ring.

To make this into a pendant, I had to join a jump ring using this method. (If you're going to do this, please be sure and use a closed jump ring.) But I still wanted a seed bead there so this petal would match the others, so I slid the bead up after making the first half stitch and before the second join. Unfortunately, this made the bead sit crooked, and after several tries I couldn't find a way to straighten it within the tatting. The solution I found was that when I was sewing in the ends, I ran the thread through the bead in such a way as to pull it in the opposite direction, thus straightening it.

Note the difference in style between these two HDT makers: Sherry has very carefully made sure that the entire skein of thread was equally saturated with dye for her solid, while Krystle has equally carefully made sure that some parts of the skein received more dye than others for a shaded look. This is what I love about HDT's, no two maker's threads will ever be the same.

Monday, June 27, 2011

On This Harvest Moon

Once again, tatting has gotten a song stuck in my head. This time it's all Sherry's fault, with her HDT called "Harvest Moon". At least I like Neil Young, so I'm more or less OK with being stuck with this song; when it was "Bohemian Rhapsody" stuck in my head, I was about ready to strangle myself with my own hair.

Here are two patterns by Marilee Rockley. First is the aptly named "5-Petal Pendant". Next is a pair of "Vision" earrngs. Does anyone else see a clown face in this pair of earrings? 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Do the Fandango

Really, Jane, did you have to name it the Fandango motif? Because now I've had "Bohemian Rhapsody" stuck in my head for days, thank you very much.

This is another motif that inadvertently forms an equal-armed cross when worked in two colors. It works up very quickly, the pattern is easy to learn, and it's just the right size for a pendant.

The threads are all Lizbeth. Left to right, the colors are 656 Wedgewood Dark and 621 Dusty Rose Light with gray rainbow-finish seed beads; 681 Pistachio Green Light and 633 Purple Dark with the vintage pink seed beads I picked up at a yard sale; and 644 and 657 Ocean Turquoise Dark with gold seed beads.

The major problem right now is that I have way more ideas than I have time to tat. Hopefully I'll be able to get to a bit more this evening.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I've Got Photos!

Much better photos, too, with my new camera. Happy Birthday to me, and thanks, Mom and Dad!

Every September my parents volunteer at the Peach Cobbler Mennonite Relief Sale in Georgia. This year I've decided to send along some tatting for the sale-- nothing grandiose enough to be in the auction, just little things for the craft area. Everything you've seen in the last couple of weeks, and most of what you will see for the rest of the summer, is going to the sale. All this is by way of explaining why I keep doing several of the same pattern in different threads, and why I've been making more jewelry than I could possibly ever wear, and why I sometimes use colors that don't necessarily appeal to me-- because none of it is for me.

Today's pattern is "Lacy Treasure" by Marilee Rockley. Marilee calls it a pendant, but then she also calls for size 10 thread. I never go bigger than 20 because it's too hard on my hands, and I also don't find large threads attractive. In size 20, the piece turns out to be better sized for an earring.

Here it is in LadyShuttleMaker's "Swamp Flower" HDT, with brass focal beads. I found the pattern rather addictive, so I did it twice more.

The blue pair is LadyShuttleMaker's "Icicle" (one of my favorite HDT colorways), and the green is Lizbeth color 681.

Before I made all of the above, I made these.

These are "Elegance" from Marilee's book Boutique Tatting. The large beads on the side are a little bit too big, but I have a pretty limited selection of beads in these colors. Anyway, I found the "Swamp Flower" colorway interesting and decided to do something else with it. That was the first pair of "Lacy Treasure, and one thing just lead to another.

And since I now have a camera, I can show you photos of a couple of earlier pieces that I was only able to show blurry scans of before because the beads didn't allow them to lay flat on the scanner.

The first thing I notice about this camera is that it shows color much more acurately than the previous camera, or even the scanner. It's going to take me a bit to get used to the settings, but I think I'm going to be happy with it. And if I'm not, I know where the sales guy lives! Turns out the guy in the shop who sold it to me is the husband of one of my harp friends; I didn't even know he worked there, and it took us a few minutes to figure out where we knew each other from. Then we had a grand old chat, and he was able to home in on exactly the camera I needed.

After my wild and crazy birthday weekend (if only), I have to go back to work tomorrow night. That means tonight I need to try to stay up as late as I can. Let's see, what else can I tat?

Monday, June 20, 2011

More Hosta Leaves

I said yesterday I felt the need to make a bookmark in LadyShuttleMaker's "Hosta Leaves" HDT. As I was contemplating which pattern would best show off the thread, my glance happened to fall on Mary Konior's Tatting with Visual Patterns. Eureka! The "Anniversary" edging, of course!

This is a great pattern for a variegated thread. You can watch the flow of the color changes, and the colors don't detract from the design. It's also a good pattern for beginning tatters; it just uses ball and shuttle, with regular and lock joins.

To make it a bookmark, I used a split chain at the end and went directly into the tail, which is a lock stitch chain ending in a motif that matches the bookmark. (If you didn't want to do a split chain, you could keep it as a regular chain, cut and tie, and start the tail by joining in the picot.) When I posted a whole series of bookmarks last year, a couple of people asked me about lock stitch chains, so I'll explain it here for anybody else who hasn't used them. A lock stitch, in shuttle tatting, is just like a double stitch except you don't flip one of the halves. It doesn't matter which one. By not flipping, you "lock" the core thread so it can't slide. The most common use for a lock stitch is when you use a mock picot to climb out of a ring; a lock stitch is used so the mp doesn't disappear. Another use for a single lock stitch is if you want to create a sharp angle in the middle of a chain; in this case, locking the core thread breaks up the curve of the chain. I did this in my cardinal to make his crest nice and pointy.

A lock stitch chain, then, is a whole chain made of lock stitches. A normal tatted chain, as you know, is curved and stiff. A lock stitch chain is straight and flexible, which makes it ideal for a bookmark tail. If you are using two colors, they will both show in the lock stitch chain, which makes for a very interesting look. I was a little disappointed that the ball and shuttle both happened to be showing the same color when I did this LS chain. For some reason, making a LS chain tends to twist the thread, so you will have to let your shuttle dangle periodically.

I'm not quite done exploring the "Hosta Leaves" colorway yet, but now I do feel like I can move on to something else. I had time for another quick tat last night, so I made another pendant.

This is Marilee Rockley's "5-Petal Pendant" from Up and Tat 'Em, in LadyShuttleMaker's "Icicle" thread, with these amazing blue and silver beads I recently bought.

I just got my birthday money today (have you noticed how many tatters are born in June?), so I should have a new camera pretty soon. Then I'll be able to show you a clearer picture of this one.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer Hummers

One of my favorite things about summer is the huge number of hummingbirds around. I haven't even gotten around to putting out my feeder yet this year (shame on me!), and I still see at least a couple of them a day.

These are from Heather Johnston's book Tatted Earrings and Things. Once again, the earring findings had to wait till after the scan to be added. From top to bottom, the threads are "Sea Glass" by Krystledawne, "Forest" by Yarnplayer, and "Hosta Leaves" by LadyShuttleMaker.

Edit: There were a couple of things I meant to say about these hummingbirds and totally forgot about before I posted this. First is that I absolutely love this pattern, because you can tat a pair of earrings in an hour. Second, I should mention that I used a tiny dab of Elmer's glue on each one to stiffen the beaks so they won't untwist. Otherwise, they are unstiffened. End of Edit.

I have to admit that when I saw the picture of "Hosta Leaves" I was not entirely convinced I would like it. I went ahead and ordered it because I wanted to add some colorways to my stash that were different from anything else I had. When I saw it in person, I was really glad I had bought it, and as I started winding the skein onto a floss bobbin, I decided I really really liked it. I think I feel a bookmark coming on.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Visions of Butterflies

These are Marilee Rockley's "Vision" earrings, done in her "Snowflake" HDT, with these cute little butterfly beads added. This took a couple of tries. At first I thought I should omit a few seed beads due to the width of the butterflies, but it turned out they didn't hang well that way, so I ended up adding the butterflies to the beads in the pattern.

I'll add the earring wires now. I didn't want to scan them with the wires attached. Sure miss my camera....

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wild Flowers

I've started on another jewelry-making kick.

This is "Belle", from Marilee Rockley's book Up and Tat 'Em. I've made it before, but it was easier this time because I now have a better selection of focal beads, including teardrops, so I didn't have to fiddle. The thread is "Wild Flowers" by LadyShuttleMaker. I still need to add a satin cord for wearing; what do you think, white or light blue?

Next up, "Grand Aura" earrings, from the same book, in the same thread, but not made to match.

The pink seed beads came from a vintage necklace I picked up with some other beaded jewelry for a few cents at a yard sale. The bicones are Swarovski; anyone who has worked with these will know that a photo can never do justice to the way they catch the light.

Incidentally, "Wild Flowers" is the second HDT name that I know of where Lizbeth now has a thread with the same name, that looks completely different. (The other is "Berry Burst" by Tatskool.) I know Lizbeth is not intentionally stealing anybody's names, and their colors are also perfectly well described by these names. But it goes to show that when we're talking about a color name, we've got to be careful to clarify who made it.

I realize I haven't shown a picture of Squijum lately. He's all grown up now, over a year old, and still as cute as ever.

Well, this is it. My camera has died. And no, it's not the battery; immediately before it shut off for good, the computer stopped recognizing it, so it's definitely a problem with the camera itself. Luckily, today's photos were saved to the removable memory card, which I was able to plug directly into the computer. But I can't take any more pics till I get a new camera, so anything with large beads or other 3D components will look a bit blurry on the scanner till then.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sweet Success

Do you ever want to throw your shuttles across the room when you're working a perfectly lovely and well-written pattern, because you can't seem to follow the directions? That's how I felt while working Jon Yusoff's Sweetheart Snowflake. Jon's directions are perfectly clear, but I still kept trying to join the long chain in round 2 in the wrong place. I would work a whole point and then have to undo it because I realized I had nothing to join to as I was coming out of the point, having made a join that I wasn't supposed to going into it. I finally got it right, though.

Then, thanks to the influence of Fox, I decided to add beads.

You would think that it would go better the second time around, but it didn't. I still had the same problem, which was all about me not paying attention, nothing to do with Jon's directions.

Since the beaded version is all white, I decided to finish it a little differently. Instead of starting between points, I started on the side of one point. This allowed me to finish by making a split chain at the top of that point, and then a split ring. After the split ring, I just left the ends long to make a hanger. You can only do this if you're using a single color; in two colors, the SC and SR will both end up showing both colors.

If I had been paying attention, I would have joined the first point of round 2 in the right spot to make the center bead stand upright when the whole thing was finished. I didn't think about that till it was too late, but I still think it's OK.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sweetheart Medallion Again

I did Jon's Sweetheart Medallion again.

I really love the other one I did because of the colors in Krystle's threads and the sparkle of the beads, but I think that from an actual tatting perspective, this one is better. The two solid colors make the equal-armed cross stand out more, and even if you're not looking for the cross itself, the whole design just "pops" in solids. Also, the beads I added to the other one, while pretty, made me have to stretch it just a tad excessively when I blocked it so the beads in the middle wouldn't crowd each other; not having beads allows the piece to lie naturally.

I'm very happy with this result. Now I can keep the pretty sparkly one and give this one away instead!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Tatted Rose

Connectivity problem solved. It was, as I suspected, a loose connection outdoors that kept getting jiggled in the wind. Usually it would pop back into place when the wind died down, but this time it didn't. It's supposedly good and tight now, so hopefully no more problems. And the tech even showed up within the expected time frame!

So, a tatted Rose. No, not the flower, my friend's daughter. In a few months, they will be moving to New York so that Rose can go to dance school, having already learned pretty much everything the schools here have to teach her. It was my friend's birthday this weekend, so I made Jane Eborall's ballerina.

Jane makes it all in one thread for a more impressionistic look. I decided to go for more detail to make it look as much like the real girl as possible; this meant I had to make a few changes to the construction, with a few more cuts and ties. All the stitch counts end up the same as Jane's, but a couple of things are done in a different way.

Jane has you do the head, body and skirt all in one pass, with the head as an SCMR and the body as a split ring. I had to make the head separately; in order to make the face and hair different colors, I made it as a split ring, making the JK bun with the second shuttle. Then I cut and tied and started fresh with the body; the body is a normal ring, and the skirt is as written. I added beads to the skirt. I found that using three beads per picot is too many beads for the space-- which in this case turns out to be perfect, giving it a nice bit of ruffle. I made the first and last rings of the legs separately to be the slippers, and the arms are as written.

The face, arms, and legs are in Lizbeth color 626, Shell Pink Light. For the hair, I blended DMC size 80 color 579, a pale yellow, with Tatskool's "Ginger" HDT, also in size 80. When I wind two threads on the shuttle, I make my stitches a bit looser, so two size 80's together work up about the same as a size 20. The tutu and slippers are Yarnplayer's "Night Wind" HDT. The beads are Miyuki delicas in a medium blue for the eyes and a light blue for the skirt.

What do I expect anyone to do with a loose ballerina? Well, you know any tatting can be turned into jewelry!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Good News/ Bad News

Good news: I have tatting to share. Bad news: My internet connection at home is down, and they can't get a tech out till Wednesday. Till then...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Equal-Armed Cross

I've gotten a few new shuttles recently.

On top, of course, is one of LadyShuttleMaker's ceramic shuttles with a hand-painted scene. Here's a closer look at it.

The truth is that ceramic shuttles as a working tool are not going to be to everyone's taste. But even if you never use it, I think that anyone interested in collecting shuttles should have one or two of Sherry's, purely for their artistic value.

The two wooden shuttles are by David Reed Smith, my all-time favorite shuttle maker. The darker one is pommele bubinga, and the lighter one is birdseye maple. I love the swirly patterns in these woods.

The first thing I made with my new shuttles is the medallion from Jon Yusoff's Sweetheart Set. I used Krystledawn's "Of Berries and Fairies" and "Fairy Faint" HDT's in size 40 and added a few beads.

By tatting it in two colors, this medallion forms an equal-armed cross (it's even more striking when you use two highly contrasting solids, as in Jon's sample). The equal-armed cross is a highly symbolic motif in cultures throughout the world; you can read about it here if you're interested.

Jon really just made this medallion as part of the set of patterns based on a simple motif she had created. As far as I know, she wasn't setting out to design something so deeply symbolic. But isn't it cool that it worked out that way?

I was planning to give this one away, but I'm not sure I can part with it. I may have to make it again.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hey, Tatting!

On a tatting blog! What a concept!

In case you hadn't heard yet, the theme for this year's Tat Days is "Tatting in a Winter Wonderland". Once again, a quilt and other items are being put together to raise money for scholarships. Tatters are asked to contribute snowflakes to help other tatters who would like to go to the event but can't afford it-- and despite what the date on the website says, it's not too late! Erin is still receiving snowflakes and stitching them down.

At the top left, of course, is "Angels in the Snow", which I can pretty much do in my sleep by now. I went with Lizbeth thread for a nice crisp feel, in size 80.

Next is another design of mine, "Crazy Daisy", so named because it uses daisy picots and the first several times I tried to make it, it just about drove me crazy! In fact, I gave up on making it for several years because I was so intimidated by my own design. This time it seemed easier, maybe because my manual skill is catching up with my ideas. It's really just a matter of paying attention to what you're doing, isn't it?

This is done in size 80 "Snowflake" HDT by Yarnplayer with DMC white. Marilee uses DMC for her base thread, so Lizbeth didn't feel like a good match for it. Besides, aside from the crispness of the Lizbeth, which I like, the DMC really is the better quality thread.

I love these colors! The pinks and lavenders are not snowflake colors at all, yet combined with the pale blue, this colorway makes me think of shimmering snowflakes more than anything else.

Finally, my "Ice Crystal" flake done in LadyShuttleMaker's "Vicki's Lilacs" colorway, again in size 80. They are mostly asking for the donated snowflakes to be in appropriate snowflake colors, go figure, but there is a runner being made in purples, so I am hoping that this one will work with that.

Wouldn't you know, I'm out of stamps, so these will have to wait till tomorrow to go in the mail.