"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

Monday, September 30, 2013

And Another...

I've started another flower pot. I never do anything halfway, do I?

This is Flower Pot I again. I will be doing this one in technicolor (and then I'll do a monochrome version of Flower Pot II...). This time I'll be focusing on autumn colors in the flowers. The vase is in Lizbeth color 673 Terra Cotta.

Careful observers may notice a slight difference in this one. According to the pattern, there should be an additional chain on each side of the vase. Here's the original:

Now the thing is, the chain circled in yellow can't be made on the same pair of threads using traditional tatting techniques-- by which I mean rings and chains made of flipped double stitches. (There is no problem for the matching chain on the other side; the second round starts at the ring circled in red, so when you get back to that point, you simply continue with the final chain.) There are two ways to do this yellow chain. You can skip it, then come back to it at the end and tat it separately on a new pair of threads; this is what I did on the white one.

On the colored one, I decided to use the other option, which is to do it as a split chain. "Split" is really a misnomer here, since the whole chain would be done in the same technique. But you know what I mean: leave a bare length of thread, make a lock join to where the other end of the chain goes, and work your way back over the bare thread with unflipped double stitches. The challenge is always to leave the right amount of bare thread. Well, after a couple of failed attempts, I got tired of unpicking it and decided to go back to option A, so I skipped that chain for the time being.

Then as I was tatting along, I realized that the design without the side chains also makes a very attractive vase shape. So in the end, I was glad the split chain hadn't worked out, and I simply left both of those chains off. What do you think?

As for the TIAS, I tugged on the outer chains to make it flat, and after Day 4, I know what it is. It's definitely a gourd; that's why it's a Fall TIAS.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Flowers with Flutters

Here's the Flower Pot II all mounted and ready.

The vase and flowers are from Jan Stawasz's book Tatted Treasures; you can read about them in several previous posts. The two butterflies in profile are Jon Yusoff's Flutters. They are both tatted in HDT; the one sitting on the flower is size 40 "PTG Surprise" from Tat-ilicious, and the other is Yarnplayer's "Night Wind" in size 20.

One detail you probably can't see in the photo is that the fabric background is not actually a plain white. I do have a scrap of plain white fabric, but it was just barely large enough to cover the adhesive board and would have left me no margin for error. Well, when it comes to me and sewing things down straight, a large margin for error is necessary, so I looked around to see what else I might have. I actually bought a fair amount of fabric back when I got an employee discount at Jo-Ann's, and also had wild dreams of learning to sew some day. In my stash I found a fabric that was a white print on a white background. From the front, I was concerned that even this little bit of a print might detract from the tatting. But when I turned it over, I discovered it worked. The print is still visible, but just barely. It's very subtle. If you look closely, it's just an interesting detail; and if you don't look closely, it's not there at all.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Finished Flower Pot

Flower Pot II from Tatted Treasures by Jan Stawasz. When I sew it down, I will of course make sure the flowers are properly spread out and aligned; that one second from the left just wouldn't go where I wanted it on the scanner bed.

The stems are tatted in Lizbeth color 167 Jungle Greens. For the other color numbers, see this post and this one.

The first flower pot fit nicely on a 5x7 inch card. This one is a little bigger. A 6x8 inch card would be perfect, but the manufacturer doesn't seem to make one. I could cut the 8x10 inch card down, or I could use it whole and add a small butterfly or two to prevent there being a ridiculous amount of white space. I think I'll go with the latter option.

Just as I was getting ready to post this, I noticed that day 3 of the TIAS is up.

It looks like I still made my picots a little too long, even after I changed the orientation of the gauge. Unless it's supposed to be cupped, of course.

 At this point, it still looks like a flower, but it won't for long. The next section will not be symmetrical, since there are joining picots on only the last three chains of this round. As to what it is, I still have no idea.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

TIAS Day 2

Day 2 of Sherry's TIAS. I had to unpick and retat Day 1's work, because I hold my picot gauge differently from Sherry, so my picots were twice as long as they should have been. Thank goodness she clarified that early on!

I still have no real ideas at this point. Now here's the thing. I know that we must eventually come back to the point where today's section started, because there is a VSP there just waiting to be joined. But will we continue going around the circle, or will the next installment branch off in a different direction, only to arrive circuitously back at the first chain?

Monday, September 23, 2013


Here are the flowers to go with the blue vase.

I was going to use slightly more sedate shades of pink to go with the purples, but somehow they got away from me. Actually, I like this color combo a lot, and they look surprisingly good next to the sober navy of the vase, as you will see next time.

From left to right, the colors are Lizbeth 162 Purple Iris Fusion; 157 Raspberry Frappe; 631 Country Purple Light with Krystledawne's "Twilight Grape" HDT; 618 Magenta Dark with 623 Pink Raspberry Light; and 165 Grape Splash.

All that remains is to tat the stems and join them to the vase. The pattern actually calls for the stems to be tatted continuously with their respective flowers, but of course that only works if you're tatting in monochrome. When using different thread colors, you obviously have to cut them off to switch to green.

I have to admit, when I saw the piece in plain ecru in the book, I did not care for the two flowers on the right. I thought the block-tatted bud looked too chunky, and the one next to it looked too spiky. Seeing them in colors, I have changed my mind. A variegated thread gives the block tatting some depth, while two bright, solid colors make the spiky flower look bold and cheerful. But if I tat this pattern again in monochrome (which I think I will), I will replace these two flowers with something different.

Today is the first day of Sherry's TIAS (pattern here, everyone's photos here).

So far, this one also looks rather floral. I see a pollinating insect (the small split ring) approaching a flower (the larger ring). All those long picots look like petals and wings to me. Of course, it's only day 1, so this is not a real guess yet, just practicing seeing pictures when I don't actually know what I'm looking at.

Sherry did say that any color of thread would do, solid or variegated, so I went with this colorful Manuela thread. I hope it won't be too much! It's a fun colorway, but its usefulness is limited, so I thought I might as well try it when I don't know what I'm tatting anyway. In fact, I had completely forgotten I had this thread till Carollyn used it recently. The label with the color number is long gone, but I suppose it's moot anyway since you can no longer buy it. It's been a long time since I tatted with Manuela, and I had forgotten how nice it is. I do wish it were still being made!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Blue Vase

Here's a little more of what I started yesterday. Now you can actually see what it is.

It's the second Flower Pot from Jan Stawasz's book, with the flowers not yet made. As I was analyzing the diagram for the second round, I realized that I did make a slight mistake on the first round. Two of the outer rings should have had a different picot configuration. However, this was purely for decorative effect and didn't affect the joining at all; anyone not looking at the original pattern would never know. In any case, I was not about to tat the first round yet again. Besides, I'm also going to vary the flowers a bit from the pattern.

I really like the shape of this. It does need just a little bit of blocking before I start on the flowers. One nice thing about living in the desert, things dry quickly, so blocking doesn't take very long.

I used size 20 Lizbeth in 649 Baby Blue and 654 Navy Blue.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Don't you just hate it...

I was on the very last chain, and determined to finger tat it to the end. But since that chain also carries a floating ring, there was simply no way. There just wasn't enough thread.

I also didn't want to add on a new thread at this point. Hiding that many ends so close together never looks right. Only one thing to do, when you're going for perfection. Rewind the shuttles, using more thread this time, and start over.

Not a very good photo, but this is only the start of the project. I'll get good scans when it's finished.

It's from the Stawasz book, if you're wondering.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Now These Colors I Like!

Here's Jan Stawasz's Flower Pot again, this time sewn down onto the backing fabric.

I've always liked the look of white on royal blue. I'm extremely happy with this piece (although I have to admit, my double picots could use a little more practice).

Tatted in size 20, this is mounted on a 5x7 inch card. If you're interested in doing something like this, here's the card I used:

Jo-Ann's carries it in several sizes in the stitchery section, and I'm sure the other major craft stores would have it as well.

As with any sewing project, you'll need to make sure your fabric is well-ironed first. Then I recommend using an embroidery hoop to give you better control. Align your tatting with the grain of the fabric. I didn't pin it down, as I wanted to be able to make small adjustments to the placement as I went along. I used invisible thread, which is nice because you can take it right over the tatting. The only thing about invisible thread is it's nylon monofilament, which doesn't always behave as nicely as cotton, so make sure you knot your first and last stitches securely. Don't be afraid to use big stitches; one or two stitches per ring is plenty, then carry the thread to the next ring. As long as you don't pull it too tightly, it won't be a problem.

Once you have the tatting sewn down to your satisfaction, peel the paper backing off the card to expose the adhesive surface. Place the fabric on the card, but don't press it down all the way till you're sure you have it straight and centered. Once it's positioned how you want it, just press the fabric with your fingers onto the card, working from the middle out in all directions. Trim the fabric down to about an inch beyond the edge of the card, fold the edges to the back (mitre the corners), and glue them down. Your tatting is now ready for framing!

I did actually tat something else yesterday, but I'm not ready to show it yet.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Not My Colors, But...

I thought I'd make a bookmark in autumn colors. Not for me, because I really don't like them (other than on the trees, I mean). I'm planning to save this one for next year's sale. There certainly are people who like oranges, and for the sale I try to make things in a broad range of colors so there will be something for everyone.

This is the "Sunrise, Sunset" bookmark from Martha's Playing with Picots book. It's probably my favorite design in the book, and I'm sure I'll make it again in colors I like. For this one, I used Lizbeth 694 Harvest Orange and 685 Evergreen Dark.

I think the color interplay in this design is very clever, especially since it is all done without cutting the threads. I think it's also a design that, in the right colors (perhaps even including these), is equally appealing to men and women. It's graceful but not frilly, and has very visually interesting patterns. I always try to include some items that will appeal to men at the sale as well, so all around, this one is a winner.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Starting with Stawasz for the Sale

The annual sale held by my parents' church was this weekend. I didn't tat as much for it this year as I normally do, but that's probably a good thing as there were several items leftover from previous years. Several of those items sold this time around.

I find it's best for me to start making things for the next year's sale around now, when I'm thinking about it. I wanted to try something from Jan Stawasz's book that I just got, too. It occurred to me that I could make a few small pictures, stitch them onto fabric, and put them on those self-adhesive cardboard backings like I did with the two items for Klara. The buyers will of course have to frame them themselves, but I will make sure they are all standard sizes so they can use ordinary inexpensive frames you can buy anywhere.

So the first thing I've made from the Stawasz book is the Flower Pot I.

Here I've just scanned it with a piece of construction paper behind it. I'm planning to sew it onto a piece of royal blue fabric I happen to have. It's tatted in white size 20 Lizbeth, and will fit in a 6x8 inch frame.

I'll probably do another one (or maybe the other flower pot in the book) in colored threads, but I kind of like the way it looks in simple white. I've also got ideas about using some designs from Lindsay Rogers' book Tatting Collage, and probably some freestyle tatting of my own as well. We'll see what really ends up happening, but this is a nice start.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Canopy Bookmark

Here's another from Martha Ess's Playing with Picots book.

This is the "Canopy" bookmark. I used Lizbeth color 159 Easter Eggs, and I think this pattern looks terrific in a variegated thread. I probably should have scanned it with a darker background, but I think the pastels look very fresh and pretty.

I usually put my tail at the top of the bookmark, but I wanted to do it without cutting the threads, so this is how it ended up. OTOH, it also looks pretty good upside-down.

When you turn it this way, my tail looks like a thistle head. Kind of cool, huh?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Found It!

I found the ball of Wedgewood Dark in size 20 that I was looking for a few weeks ago. And it was in a place I had definitely looked in at least three times already. I would blame the Borrowers, except they don't usually return things.

So naturally, I had to immediately put it to use with the Blue River Glades. I was going to make a Fandango bookmark in this combination, and I still will someday, but for now I needed something that would work up a little faster. Also, I wanted to get into Martha Ess's Playing with Picots book that I just got.

The pattern is "Mirror, Mirror", which I thought was apropos as I've been watching the show Once Upon a Time on Netflix while I tat lately.

As I usually do with bookmarks, I added my own tail and improvised the end of it with a little doo-bob inspired by the pattern. Mostly it came out well, except for the very end. I decided to finish it with a double-core SSSR so I wouldn't have to work in the ends. Well and good, but I also decided I should knot the threads together first so the second thread would be more secure. The knot ended up just being another lock stitch, so the SSSR doesn't sit right against the rest of the doo-bob like I wanted it to, and it's a little off-center. It doesn't look too bad in the scan, but in person it looks kind of silly. Next time I'll take the risk and skip the knot.

On a different subject, does anyone know what this is? It belongs to a family friend, but she doesn't know anything about it. My first guess is hairpin lace, but I don't know whether that can be made round.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I Love This Pendant!

I'm really quite proud of the pendant I designed a couple of weeks ago. I just tatted it again (yes, Diane, I did go shopping, I had to get more of those embellishments :)) in different colors.

The threads here are "PTG Surprise" HDT from Tat-ilicious, and Lizbeth color 659 Periwinkle, which turns out to be a perfect match for the HDT. They are size 40.

Do you know how to tell when a cat has fully reached adulthood? You can untwist a skein of HDT and wind it onto a bobbin while he sleeps on your lap.

When he was a kitten, I would have to shut him in the other room to be able to prepare a new skein of thread. This is much nicer. But don't worry, Gian, he did borrow a tube of beads yesterday. He loves the way the beads rattle around, and the way the tube rolls on the bathroom floor.

Oh, and did you hear? LadyShuttleMaker is hosting a new TIAS! For anyone new to the online tatting community, that's Tat It and See. She'll release the a little bit of the pattern at a time, every few days. You don't know what you're tatting till it's done. Part of the fun is guessing what it is, and reading everyone else's guesses. It starts September 23, so get ready!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bookmark and Books

Holy cow! Many thanks to the 768 people who have visited my new pattern page in the last 40 hours! And to the 697 of you who couldn't actually get to the patterns, I am so sorry! I have now fixed my settings on Keep and Save so that my patterns are publicly shared, so you'll be able to see them now. If you couldn't get to the patterns before, please try again!

A few weeks ago, I posted this bookmark, and I commented that the Tat-ilicious HDT would also look great in Jon's Chinese Coin bookmark. I still think so, but I opted not to make it at this time, because I realized I already have a Chinese Coin bookmark in a purple variegated thread-- a pastel set of purples, but still. I decided it would be better to choose a different pattern.

This is "Interlocked" by Karey Solomon, from her book Tat Marks the Spot. I altered the second end (top) because I was running out of thread. Not that I don't have more of it, but I didn't feel like winding more on the shuttle. According to the pattern, the top should have looked just like the bottom, and if I had done that I would also have added a tail. Instead, I improvised a sort of crown at the top which I think makes it look finished enough, and took almost exactly as much thread as I had left.

I have to admit, it took me a while to finish this one. It is all rings, and all of them except at the two ends are identical. I think it looks very nice in this particular thread, but to be honest, it wasn't that much fun to tat. I like more variety in a pattern when I'm working it. It was worth it, though. I really like the end result.

I got a couple of fabulous packages in the mail yesterday, one from Handy Hands and one from Martha Ess.

I think I might be able to find a pattern or two to tat.

Friday, September 6, 2013

New Pattern Page

I've been meaning to do this for a while. I've gotten all my patterns uploaded as pdf's, and created a page where you can download them all. See the "My Tatting Patterns" tab at the top of the page.

"Angels in the Snow" will still be sold by e-mail. As I learn my way around the pdf hosting site, I might be able to figure out a way to make a file accessible only after a payment has been made; or I might have to be a business user to do that. For now, e-mail is still the easiest way to do it.

Everything else is free, so far.

Update: I fixed it so the files are publicly shared, so now you can actually see the patterns! Thanks, Ladytats, for pointing this out.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What I Did at Jury Duty

I was only at jury duty for a couple of hours on Friday, so I didn't get that much tatting done. Then I had other things to do over the weekend, but the tatting did eventually get finished and blocked, and is now ready for presentation.

I wanted to make a gift for my neighbor, who has done several nice things for me lately. I immediately thought of the little sachet bags I've been making, although instead of the insect repellent variety, I decided to fill it with things that smell nice just because (although the bay leaves and rosemary I've been using for myself certainly smell good too).

Here's the motif I used.

Obviously this scan was done before blocking, but I wanted to show what a single motif looks like before joining more. It is from the book Tatting Together Square Motifs by Iris Niebach, although most of the motifs in the book, including this one, are not designed by Iris. The designs come from a class in tatting design that Iris taught to a group of Danish tatters. This one was designed by Allis Norby Jensen.

Honestly, I had never really looked too much at this particular motif before, simply because the colors used for it in the model in the book are very drab and uninteresting to me. Usually when I'm choosing a tatting pattern I can see past the colors and just look at the design, but in this case it took me a very long time to be able to do that. I'm glad I finally did. The use of shoelace tricks in the second round makes for very interesting color play, even in a single motif. And the class assignment from which all the designs in this book are taken included a requirement that additional interesting patterns emerge when multiple motifs are joined.

So here are four of them together. The two colors now form whole new square and diamond patterns. I think it would be fascinating to extend it beyond four motifs. Nine or 16 of them could make a nice doily. It would depend, I suppose, on a person's attention span; too bad mine isn't that long....

Anyway, here it is on the bag.

Oh yeah, the thread colors are Lizbeth 624 Raspberry Pink Medium and 686 Seagreen Light. I went with size 80 to end up with a final product that would actually fit on the bag.