"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, August 30, 2013

Tatting Improv

For starters, I have to say I really don't understand why people complain about jury duty. My experience of it so far, for the two days that I've actually had to be there, was that I got paid to sit in a room and tat for a few hours, then the defendant plead guilty and we all got to go home. I can see how it would be annoying if you didn't have enough sense to bring something to do, or to be grateful you're not at work.

Here's a little something I whipped up last night (I wouldn't tat something like this at jury duty-- no bead work when I'm not at home). I think I know a certain librarian who might like it...

I wanted a necklace in blue. I'd say I succeeded. The threads are Lizbeth colors 703 Sky Blue Light, 704 Sky Blue Dark, and 185 Arctic Waters, all in size 40. The Arctic Waters colorway matches the two sky blues, as well as the Periwinkle color that I didn't use in this piece.

The large doodad at the top is one I've had for a while, waiting for inspiration to strike. Naturally I wouldn't expect to find a published pattern for such an unusual finding. I had to simply decide on the shape I wanted and do it. Normally, I would be annoyed with a piece that requires as many cut and ties as this one, but in an improvised design of this nature, I found it was actually better to tat it in small bits, so that if I didn't like the way something came out I could just cut out that little bit. I only had to do that a couple of times though, and in both cases I got it right on the second try. I'm very happy with the results, and the more I look at it, the more I like it!

The doodads all came from Artbeads. If you go to their website and type the word "components" into the search window, you'll find more doodads than you will ever know what to do with. I accept no responsibility for any resulting damage to your bank account. Additionally, I used an assortment of seed beads and a clear teardrop.

As for what I tatted during jury duty today, it's not done yet, so you'll just have to wait.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Insect Repellent

As promised, I've completed another sachet to repel insects in my apartment. This time I used the medallion from Jon Yusoff's "Sweetheart Set". Here's a link to Jon's blog. There used to be a link to buy the Sweetheart Set; I can't find it anymore, but I'm sure you could e-mail Jon if you're interested. The set includes this medallion, a snowflake, a bookmark, and an edging.

The colors are Lizbeth 606 Charcoal and 137 Berry Burst, size 20.

This is another example of a design where the use of two colors brings out a whole new aspect of the design. Well, not really new, since Jon shows it in two colors on the pattern, but you can imagine how different it would look with just one color. I think the dark gray outlining the bright variegated thread also gives it a stained-glass sort of look, and I was pleasantly surprised at how symmetrically the variegated colors fell out.

As with the Fandango motif, I sewed this to an organza drawstring bag, which I then filled with bay leaves and rosemary to repel insects. If you sew your tatting to these organza bags, I recommend using invisible thread. That way you can just move from one picot to the next and not worry about the sewing thread showing. As noted recently by Carollyn, it's also easier if you pin the tatting in place then turn the bag inside out to do the sewing. (By the way, do check out Carollyn's blog; she has lots of interesting projects going on.) Then just be sure not to pull the stitches too tightly so the bag doesn't pucker.

It's kind of hard to photograph these bags, they are so shiny. I had to play around with the brightness and color saturation quite a bit, but in the end I managed to get a couple of decent pictures.

Here it is in my kitchen, hanging from the spice rack, which has a row of Shaker-style pegs along the bottom. The way it's hanging from two pegs here is only a pose for the photo. Really, I have both drawstrings looped over one peg (the one on the far right), since the other oven mitt hangs on the other peg. For some reason, the bag simply won't hang straight with both drawstrings on the same peg (the one I put in the bathroom hangs just fine that way). I've decided not to let this bother me as long as the sachet is doing its job, but I did want to be able to take one picture of it hanging straight.

By the way, when I say bay leaves, I am talking about the dried leaves of the bay laurel tree. I gather that in some parts of Asia, there are other leaves than might also be called bay leaves. I don't know whether these other leaves also have insect repellent qualities, but the bay laurel leaves in combination with rosemary work quite well.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tatting for Klara... Almost Ready!

I got the two pieces I tatted for my great-aunt Klara mounted and ready to frame last night.

Linda Davies' Star Attraction Doily, mounted on a cream background. I honestly would have preferred it on a darker background, but this will match the sofa; my mom agreed with me that this is the better choice for the room.

Mary Konior's Large Cross. I ended up choosing a soft blue-green background for it. I had planned on a light blue; but when I saw it, the blue, burgundy, and ecru together gave it a sort of country-Americana look that wasn't really what I was going for. I bought two different colors because I couldn't make up my mind in the store, although I was leaning toward this one. My artist neighbor and her boyfriend both confirmed that this one looked better than the other with the colors of the tatting, so I feel confident with my choice.

I put them both on those adhesive boards designed for mounting needlework for framing. The boards are acid-free and designed not to do any damage to the work itself.

The cross is on a 5x7 inch board; since this is a standard size, I think I will save some money by framing it myself. I'm not sure it needs a mat, either, but I'll see if I can find one that works, just in case.

The doily is on a board that started out as 9x12 inches, which I cut down to a 9 inch square. This one definitely needs a mat, and since it's a non-standard size, I will have to get it professionally done. That will happen later this week, and then I'll finally be ready to send them off.

In the meantime, I've started tatting the motif for my next insect repellent sachet.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tatted Insect Repellent

Did that title get your attention? My apartment has lately become infested with a lot of tiny little flying insects. They don't do any harm as far as I can tell, but they are incredibly annoying, flying in my face while I'm trying to get ready in the morning. They just need to leave, but I wanted a non-toxic means of achieving this, since Squijum and I still have to live here.

I've read in multiple sources that bay leaves and rosemary are both good for repelling insects. I decided to put together some little sachets to give it a try.

I didn't quite manage to sew it on straight, but you can't really tell when the bag is full.

And here it is hanging on the bathroom wall, which is where the highest concentration of the bugs has been.

I hung it up last night, and this morning there were no bugs in the bathroom, so hopefully it's working.

I picked up these organza bags at Jo-Ann's yesterday when I went to get the fabrics to sew my tatted pieces for Klara onto; I had to get a larger size of bag than I had on hand in order to accommodate the joined Fandango motifs. I hope to get the pieces for Klara sewn down this afternoon, but it will be a few days till I have time to take them to the framing shop. Then I've got some more tatting I want to do, including making another sachet for the kitchen. Why do I have to go to work instead of just tatting all the time?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Now I Have One of My Very Own!

You see that Christmas ornament in my header? The dark red one with the blue-green diamonds? I've always really liked that one. I sent it last year for the annual relief sale at my parents' church. (Which reminds me, I haven't tatted much for the sale this year, but it's about time to get the things I have done in the mail.) I've kind of wished I had one like it for myself-- even though I don't put up a tree, it's just pretty. Then it occurred to me, I can make the motif for myself and put it on something else.

The thread colors on the ornament are Lizbeth  164 Blue River Glades and 656 Wedgewood Dark. I had intended to make mine in the same colors, but I could not for the life of me find the Wedgewood Dark in size 20. Obviously I have it, since I've used it, but do you think I know where it is now? I found it in 40 and 80, but I don't have the Blue River Glades in those sizes, so that didn't do any good. I guess it's time to organize my threads.

I finally settled on color 642 Lilac Medium to go with the Blue River Glades. You saw the results of my initial attempt in my last post. Here it is tatted correctly.

And here are four of them.

The first picture was taken with my camera, which darkened the colors a bit. The second was done on the scanner, which washed them out a little. The reality is somewhere in between.

The motif is Jane Eborall's Fandango Square. It's a lot of fun to tat, if you enjoy split rings. I do, and I really like the way Jane uses the two colors in a split ring to make patterns in this design.

If you look closely, you'll see that I did make one little mistake. I didn't notice it till I was pinning it on the blocking board, and it was too late to do anything about it then. It won't matter, though. When I sew it down, I'll tuck that extra picot underneath so it won't be noticeable. As for what I'm sewing it to, you'll find out in the next post.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tatting While Tired

Sometimes I like to tat a bit to unwind before going to bed, after coming home from my 12-hour night shift. You would think I would have learned by now that this usually does not end well. When I'm that tired, I can't seem to follow a pattern correctly. Case in point:

This was meant to be Jane Eborall's Fandango Motif, which I've tatted several times. I know perfectly well how it's supposed to go. But I just got my picots out of alignment and joined to the chain instead of to the corresponding SR. Nothing for it but to start over.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

More Tatting for Klara

You may recall that in addition to the "Star Attraction" doily, I also decided to tat a cross for my great-aunt Klara. Here it is.

This is Mary Konior's "Large Cross" from Tatting with Visual Patterns. I really like this design. When you tat it in two colors, the chains emphasize the simple cross shape-- especially if you use a solid for the ball thread-- and the rings add decorative interest, while the lack of decorative picots keeps it from being too frilly.

I used Lizbeth colors 672 Burgundy and 168 Latte Foam. I especially like the very subtle color variations on the latter thread. I used size 20 because that was the size in which I had these two colors on hand, and it does make for a nice large, visible cross; it's 5 1/4 inches (13.5 cm) tall. I would have preferred size 40 if I had had it in the right colors, though. After working with so much size 80 on the doily, I really found the 20 difficult to work with; it hurt my fingers, and it was harder to keep my stitches even.

I've decided to mount and frame the two pieces using colors that will allow Klara to choose which one stays inside the room and which will be on the door. They definitely need something on the door to help John remember the right room. Their sofa is mostly cream-colored, with a pink and blue design as in the doily colors. There's not really much other blue in the room, but there are a lot of burgundy accents. Outside the door is a small corner shelf, where Klara has put an artificial flower arrangement in pink and burgundy. So I'm thinking I will mount the doily on a cream fabric with a burgundy mat (or possibly vice-versa). I'm undecided as to what color to mount the cross on. I really like the way it looks on this blue background, but pink would go better with the overall color scheme. Anyway, it will be a few days till I can get to Jo-Ann's to pick out fabrics; I'll just have to see what they have when I get there.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Star Attraction

Designed by Linda Davies
Majestic Threads, colors 819 (pink) and 847 (blue), size 80
Diameter 5 1/2 inches/ 13.7 cm

I really enjoyed tatting this. I have to admit that, like Fox, I got a little tired by the end. This happens with any doily; as the rounds get bigger and more time-consuming, you start longing for a change. That's why I rarely tat edgings. However, the way Linda made one round interact with the next and made the colors play with each other was enough to keep my brain interested. This is definitely a good pattern to tat in two colors-- although Fox's multicolored version looks pretty spectacular.

I scanned it again with a piece of black construction paper behind it to help the light colors show up better on your screen.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Doily Show!

When I come home from work in the mornings, the one thing I do before I go to bed is go online and watch the previous night's episode of The Daily Show. For those who don't follow it, the regular host Jon Stewart has taken the summer off to work on another project; substitute host John Oliver has been starting each show with a deliberately corny joke about why Stewart isn't there. Well, on last night's episode, the joke was that due to a mix-up, Jon Stewart had inadvertently been hosting "The Doily Show" instead-- and they showed his face with, yes, a large tatted doily in the background. Crocheted doilies are also shown, but the tatting is most prominent! You can watch it here; the bit with the doily is 29-34 seconds into the show (not counting the commercials at the beginning), so you don't have to watch the whole thing if you don't want to. Yeah, that's right, tatting was featured on one of the most popular shows on American television-- probably without the producers even knowing what it was, much less most of the audience, but hey, it was there!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Wandering Path

Here is the penultimate round of Linda Davies' "Star Attraction" doily. (Note, this time I decided to link to Linda's blog, instead of directly to the pattern. If you scroll down her blog page a bit, you'll find links to lots of her patterns, including this one, in the right sidebar.)

I love the way the pink chains make a sort of meandering path around the doily, breaking up the blocks of blue. It occurs to me that if you used a variegated thread for the rings and a neutral colored solid for the chains, it would resemble a flower garden with a stone path wandering through it; or green chains would look like grass paths. I definitely think someone should tat it like this. Any takers?

I did have to block it after tatting this round. Those inward-pointing scallops all wanted to spread sideways, causing the whole thing to ruffle. Just a few pins and a little water brought them under control nicely. The next round has a ring that joins to the scallop to make it a complete circle (Did I mention how much I love the interplay between rounds on this doily?), so even without blocking the scallops would have been tamed by having that ring to hold them in place. However, the next round will be much easier to tat with this one lying flat.

At this point, it measures about 4 1/2 inches (11.4 cm) in diameter. The finished size will probably be a little over 5 inches. I was hoping for about 6 inches, so close enough.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Color Interplay

I wasn't going to bother showing round 5, because it's the same as round 3, just a row of split rings in alternating sizes. After I started on round 6, I changed my mind, because the color interplay between these two rounds is fascinating to me.

As you can see, the split rings of round 5 complete an oval of rings made in round 6; if the rings and split rings are tatted in the same color, it gives the illusion of being all one round.

I'm very happy with the way this is turning out. So far, it's about 3 3/4 inches (9.5 cm) in diameter, with two rounds left to go. Very small indeed for a doily, and a bit large for a motif, but it doesn't matter since it's going to be framed.

To see this doily in a much bolder color selection, head over to Fox's blog. She's tatted up to this point in a variety of pinks and greens, instead of just the two colors, and it looks great! I really hope she'll finish it despite the setback.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Next Round

I only got one round tatted today, and tomorrow will be busy. Still, I hope to finish the next round by the end of the weekend. Here is up to round 4 of the "Star Attraction" Doily by Linda Davies.

I'll have to remember to pick that cat hair off.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tatting for Klara

I've decided what to tat for my great-aunt Klara. It needed to be something small and frameable, since they're not going to have a lot of table/shelf space in their new room, and less wall space than they had in their house. After browsing a lot of patterns, I chose Linda Davies' "Star Attraction" doily. The pattern says it's about 9 inches in size 20; I'm using size 80 (I had a hankering to tat something in size 80, so I figured I might as well do it on a project that needs to be small anyway), so it will be interesting to see how small it ends up.

This is the first three rounds out of eight, and so far it is 1 1/2 inches (about 4 cm) across. The threads are Majestic colors 847 (blue) and 819 (pink). When mounted on a cream-colored background, these colors will go nicely with their couch.

I had a bit of indecision at first; I couldn't decide whether to make a doily or a cross. Well, today, after I had already started the doily, I got an e-mail from my dad saying that John could use something on the door to help him remember which room is theirs. You know how it is in these facilities; all the doors look alike. When my grandparents went to assisted living, I tatted them a picture of a hummingbird with a flowering vine for their door. So when I finish the doily, I'm going to go ahead and do a simple cross as well. The cross will go in a frame that they can either hang on the door or else stand up on a small corner shelf right next to it.

I've got jury duty coming up in a couple of weeks. I'm trying to look on the bright side and hope that it will give me plenty of tatting time.