"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, September 30, 2012

Knitting, and Some Tatting

This weekend I made my initial foray into knitting, using the yarn and needles given to me by the owner of the local yarn shop. Squijum wants to learn to knit, too

I have knitted three small swatches, but Squijum was too worked up for me to be able to photograph them. Knitters who have cats, how do you do it? In any case, I am now able to cast on, knit, purl, and bind off, but my tension leaves much to be desired. In particular, the stitches at each end of the row are always way looser than the rest of the row; any advice would be appreciated!

The yarn I have is an alpaca/ wool blend that is very nice and soft, but also very fuzzy. This didn't cause as much trouble as I was afraid of, but I'm definitely going to have to get some smoother yarn for further practice.

I got some tatting done, too. I wanted to make Fox's "Athalia" pattern using this Swarovski doodad.

"But that has ten loops!" I hear you saying. "How can you use that for a pattern with four repeats?" Here's the back side of it.

I won't pretend it was easy joining to these holes on the back, but I got it done. While I was tatting, I happened to notice that the thread I was using was a perfect match for the shirt I was wearing.

I've noticed I often do that; it's never intentional, but it happens a lot. Here's the finished piece.

I missed a picot on one of the large rings, but I don't think it's too noticeable because it's tucked behind the doodad. I'm going to wear it anyway. The thread is Yarnplayer's "Vibrato".

Friday, September 28, 2012

Finished Bookmark

Here it is with the tail and all, properly blocked.

To recap, I only had time to make a few bookmarks for this year's sale. A couple of ladies there looked at them and thought about getting one for their grandmother, but by the time they had decided, all the bookmarks were gone. Luckily, my parents know one of them from church, so they put her in touch with me. Thus, this bookmark will be a birthday gift for the two ladies' grandmother.

She chose these colors from several suggestions I gave her. I'm really glad she picked these, because I think it's a very pretty combination, so the bookmark was a real pleasure to make. The colors are Lizbeth 672 Burgundy and 650 Denim Blue Light.

The pattern is from Jon's Sweetheart Set. I really feel that this is one of the best tatting purchases I've ever made; I've done the bookmark so many times, as well as the snowflake and the motif, and it never gets old!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Almost Done

The main body of the bookmark is done; I just need to add a tail and block it. For some reason, when I make bookmarks a slight curvature almost always develops, but luckily blocking always takes care of it.

"Sweetheart" bookmark, designed by Jon Yusoff, tatted in Lizbeth size 20 colors 672 Burgundy and 650 Denim Blue Light.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Much Better!

I'm really just glad I saw that bad join yesterday before I had done any more; it could have been so much worse.

I've fixed it now and done a lot more. As of last night, I had turned the end of the bookmark, so I'm halfway done now, not counting the tail.

P.S.- Happy Birthday to Bilbo and Frodo!!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Progress Made and Unmade

Tatting along on the bookmark, I had gotten to this point...

...when I happened to glance at the previous repeat, and saw this.

"What is that odd thread?" I asked. I picked at it a bit and found this.

It's a loop from a join that got caught and didn't get pulled all the way up. I didn't notice it right away because it was lying so close to the previous ring. I briefly considered cutting the threads. At this point I had made both rings and chains with both shuttles after the goof, so cutting both would have been the easiest way to get back to that spot. However, that would have given me four ends to deal with, so that would have been just as much trouble as unpicking all the way back, and probably wouldn't have looked as good. Since I had only done part of one repeat after the goofy join, I decided that unpicking was worth it.

When untatting, I find it most efficient to make the threads much shorter than I do for forming the stitches. I also find that untatting causes a bit of twist to form in the threads, so I let the shuttles dangle frequently. Once I am done, I wind the threads completely back onto the shuttles and let them relax for a while. Letting the threads just sit on the shuttles for a couple of hours takes out the kinks so they are easier to work with when I do start retatting; plus, after untatting a long way I'm usually so irritated that I need to take a break anyway.

The ring with the goofy join happened to be right where I started this morning, so I literally had to take out every single stitch that I tatted today. Grrrr. But it is fixed now, and I am ready to retat and move on.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I'm still enjoying playing with doodads, and I love Frivole's new design, "Square Elegance". I made it once as written, and once with the 3-round version, which is how Frivole first tatted it.

As with most of Frivole's patterns, I feel this probably looks best in solid colors. That's not to say I won't make it in a variegated thread sometime, because you never know till you try! The one on the left is made in Lizbeth color 651 Blue Medium. The one on the right uses colors 631 Country Purple Light and 657 Ocean Turquoise Dark; for this one, I intentionally allowed color blips to show at the joins for even more visual interest.

I did make a mistake in the turquoise motif, but I don't think you can really tell. Because I was half asleep when tatting the second round, I forgot to make the rings with the second shuttle along two of the sides (top and bottom in the photo). I fixed it in the third round by doing a shoelace trick and making the rings facing inward instead.

What to do with these motifs? I think they would make pretty ornaments or pendants.

I'm taking a little break from doodads now. At the sale, a pair of sisters was considering getting a bookmark for their grandmother, but by the time they had made a decision, all the bookmarks were sold out. My parents know one of them from church, so they put her in touch with me. She said she didn't want very bright colors, so I suggested a few non-bright color combinations just off the top of my head; from my suggestions, she chose burgundy and light blue.

The pattern is the bookmark from Jon Yusoff's beautiful "Sweetheart Set". The threads are Lizbeth 672 Burgundy and 650 Denim Blue Light. I think this is a really pretty combination.

I got an exciting package in the mail today. Because you can never have too many HDT's, I made some purchases from Jess! Her colors are so bright and happy-looking! I can't wait to use some of these.

Finally, I've always wondered... are cats cute on purpose, or can they just not help it?

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Sale

The Peach Cobbler Mennonite Relief Sale is being held this weekend in Perry, Georgia. My dad just sent me a photo of the display of my donated items.

You may notice that not all the ornaments I made are there; my mom kept 10 of them back to buy herself. Also, a few items are left over from last year.

And here is this year's feature quilt to be auctioned:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


This is Fox's beautiful "Lillian" design, which I had the honor to test tat. The pattern can now be found in her Etsy shop.

This is a very interesting design to tat. You can choose to make it 3D or flat, depending on the size of the doodad and the thread size; you can add or subtract beads; and if you use it as a pendant, you can add the findings to make it hang vertically or horizontally.

The HDT is Krystledawne's "Thunderheart", which is my new favorite colorway. As soon as I received it, I knew that I needed to use it for Fox's pattern.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Put Tatting Absolutely Everywhere!

Or at the very least, pictures of tatting.

This is my brand-shiny-new phone, with a customized skin from www.skinit.com. Note, I am not endorsing this site over any other site that sell skins for your devices, although I have to say they are so fast I got the new skin before I got the new phone. When I went to order a skin after ordering the phone, none of the ready-made designs really grabbed me, so I looked at the create-your-own option, and I'm pretty excited about what I came up with.

Did I hear someone say something about tatting being old-fashioned?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

For Me!

That's right, I tatted something for me!

The pattern is Jon Yusoff's "Rose Window", and the beautiful hand-dyed thread is "Laila" from Tatilicious, in size 80. I really like Jess's threads and was just thinking I should get some more of them, but I guess I'll have to wait till she gets home from Tat Days, the lucky girl.

I was able to tat this without any cuts and ties by substituting one split chain at the end of round 1.

So remember a couple of weeks ago, when I was all excited about having been able to borrow Elgiva Nicholls' book Tatting Techniques from a local yarn store? I returned it yesterday, having made photocopies of a few pages I really liked. Yes, I am normally the first one to talk about copyright, but I do feel that when the book is out of print and the author deceased, no harm is done.

It was interesting to note that some of the older techniques that Nicholls wanted to revive have in fact now been revived, because tatters have recognized the usefulness of them. These include front side/ back side tatting; mock rings, which we now take for granted; and "false chains", which we now call encapsulation. The latter is still not used as commonly, but advanced tatters who enjoy tatting images from nature should certainly be familiar with it. It was nice to see how our art has evolved since Nicholls' time, and largely from her influence.

The book also contains some of the best written instructions for making the double stitch I've ever seen. In many tatting instruction books I've read, I feel like you probably wouldn't understand what the author was trying to say if you didn't already know how to do it, but with this book I'm pretty sure an absolute beginner could grasp it (although of course it's always better with video instructions or someone there to show you).

One thing in the book that hasn't caught on yet, but which I think is a really good idea, is Nicholls' terminology for the two halves of the DS. She borrowed from knitting and called the first half of the stitch "plain" and the second half "purl". With the increasing popularity of front side/ back side tatting, talking about "first half" and "second half" makes less sense. Saying things like, "Make the second half of the stitch first and the first half second" is just confusing, especially to beginners. Likewise with Victorian sets, where you might say, "Make five of the first half stitch, followed by five of the second half"; how much simpler to say, "Make five plain and five purl." I'm going to adopt this usage from now on, although I will probably have to always preface it with a brief explanation, since it's not in common use yet and people won't know what I'm talking about. I hope it will be picked up by more people, though.

When I went to return the book, I got to meet the store owner, who wasn't there the last time I was in (at least I think she was the owner). She told me that she is also a tatter, although she hasn't done it in a long time; we chatted a bit, and she said she would be inspired to pick up her shuttles when she got home that night. Yay!

I also mentioned that I would like to learn to knit and crochet, so she helped me out.

The needles and yarn came from a stash of supplies that knitters in the community have donated to the shop when they're not using them anymore, for new knitters to use. How cool is that? The crochet hook was from the store's stock, but she wouldn't hear of letting me pay for it! Her theory, probably correct, is that once I become addicted, she will get plenty of my money, so giving me a free crochet hook is just an investment.

There's a pattern I've promised to test tat, which also happens to be something I really want to make, and then I'll be heading to YouTube for knitting and crocheting instructions. The woman also told me that on certain days of the week, expert knitters and crocheters come hang out in the store to help out beginners. Why, why, why did I never know about this place before????

Of course, in this household, there may be additional challenges...