"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

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Beginning the Dragonfly Journey

In my last post, I muttered something about dragonflies. My dad has asked me to do something with a tatted dragonfly for a friend of his; the possibilities are wide open.

Here's what I've got so far.

This gorgeous purple and fuchsia thread is "Purple Glory" by Yarnplayer. The pattern is Lisa's Dragonfly, designed by Lisa Reichert. I found the link to the pattern on Tatting Pattern Central. Do go check it out if you haven't already-- only you'll have to quit your job to ever be able to tat everything there.

The only dragonfly I have previously tatted is Jon's, which I've done many times. That's a quick and fun little tat, but not nearly big enough for what I have in mind here. Luckily, it turns out there are lots of other tatted dragonfly patterns out there. After looking at several, this one was my favorite. It was easy to make, too, just ball and shuttle with a few shoelace tricks for the JK's. In size 30 thread, it measures just over 2 inches long, roughly the size of many real dragonflies.

There will be more to this project. I don't want it to be just a plain dragonfly by itself, as in the current scan. This looks to me as if it had been sprayed with chloroform and stuck on a card. I want to create the look of a live dragonfly in its natural habitat. This means water and aquatic flora. Due to the design of the dragonfly, the perspective will have to be looking down on the pond from above. I have a couple of different ideas on how I might go about this; it will require some thought and a trip to Jo-Ann's to make a final decision, but there are other elements to the project I can get started on in the meantime.

Friday, September 26, 2014

An Eye for a Foot

One reason I haven't posted much lately is that every time I went online, my flash player would crash, rendering much of the internet useless. Blogger was one of the few sites that actually did work; I could have posted, except I simply wasn't turning my computer on very much because it made me angry every time. Several Adobe updates later, the problem finally resolved itself last week. The computer still frustrates me just because it is old and slow, but at least I don't want to throw it out the window anymore, so hopefully I will be posting more regularly.

I have a new hobby, one that I know I have in common with at least one other tatting blogger: belly dancing! I've only been doing it for a month, so don't expect beautiful videos anytime soon. It is lots of fun, though, and great exercise.

In class last week, I was having a really hard time with my turns, and my teacher said some people's feet just stick to the floor more than others'. I realized that was exactly what was happening: my body would move, but my feet wouldn't, resulting in a severe loss of balance. Yeah, that's right, I'm trying to learn to dance and I can't even manage to turn around. So I bought a pair of little footies designed for barefoot dancers. I wore them to class last night, and lo and behold, I could turn!

There's just one problem.

They're called FootUndeez. Yep, that's exactly what they look like, isn't it? That needed to change.

Believe it or not, this is an eye. Not the way I've tatted it, obviously, but it was designed as an eye. It is, in fact, Jane Eborall's eye pattern, tatted in decidedly un-eyelike colors, and with beads substituted for the long eyelash picots. I was looking for an ovalish shape, and with the eyelashes taken away, this design was perfect. The colors are Lizbeth 657 Ocean Turquoise Dark and "Winter Jewels" HDT from Tat-ilicious. (If you're reading this, Jess, I hope you're able to get your shop back up soon!)

I put the footie on to make sure it was stretched right, then I basted the motif to it, managing to accomplish this feat without stabbing myself or sewing the footie to my foot.

Then I removed it from my foot and used invisible thread to sew the motif on properly, and voila!

Just doing the one footie is enough to make me happy for now. I probably will do the other one at some point.

Right now, though, I have a special request for a dragonfly, and I am contemplating exactly what I'm going to do with it. Luckily, there are many dragonfly patterns available, but I don't want to make just a plain dragonfly by itself, looking like it's been chloroformed. I want to make it look lively, and I'm starting to get an idea of how. More on this in a future post.

Personal from Feline Agent S to Feline Agent G: Hey buddy, here's a good tactic. Lull her with cuddles, as pictured above. Then when she opens a tube of seed beads, grab the cap and run off with it. Fearing you might choke on it (as if!), she will chase after you, still holding the open tube of beads. Before she realizes what she is doing, she will have spilled half the beads all over the carpet-- she won't be able to walk barefoot for weeks! The best plots are always the ones that cause the humans to do the damage themselves.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Wow, it's been three months since I last posted-- and today's post will make you cry. The things I'm showing today have actually been ready for a little while now, but I wanted to wait until my mom received them before posting, even though she knew they were coming.

Earlier this year, a good friend of my mom's had a baby. The friend's own mom had recently passed away, so my mom stepped in and became the baby's grandma. Sadly, Alana was born premature and with many birth defects. She lived her entire life in the hospital and had many surgeries, some successful and others not. At age 5 1/2 months, she was taken off of life support and died quickly and peacefully.

Despite all her physical problems, Alana's cognitive and behavioral development were normal. She loved when people would make her stuffed animals dance for her. She responded to her name and other important words like "Mommy"-- this is especially impressive since Mommy never actually got to be her primary caregiver, but Alana still knew how important Mommy was.

My favorite story was when my mom came in to the hospital, and the nurses were playing a CD for her. "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" came on the CD, and my mom started singing along with it; this was a song Alana knew well because my mom sang it to her a lot. The CD player was on one side of the crib and my mom was on the other, and Alana started looking back and forth, making the connection that the sounds on both sides of her were the same.

After Alana's death, my mom wanted a special box to keep her mementos in-- footprints, a cast of her hand (or maybe it was handprints and a cast of her foot, sorry I can't remember), photos, and especially a pair of stuffed tigers she had bought her. I offered to decorate a box for her and another for Alana's mom.

The boxes needed to be a certain size to accommodate the tigers, and at first I had a hard time finding something big enough that wasn't completely hideous. Finally, I found a pair of nice plain white hat boxes at The Container Store.

I decorated them with a combination of tatting and "boughten" items (as my great-grandmother would have said). Then my good friend Laura painted Alana's name on them, which I could never have done.

The theme for my mom's box was butterflies, with some little ribbon flowers. The hearts on the top are the "My Fluttering Heart" pattern from Teri Dusenbury's book Tatting Hearts. Other designers whose patterns I used include Jane Eborall, Ruth Perry, Jennifer Williams, Joelle Paulson, Adelheid Dangela (from the book Tatted Butterflies), and the Palmettos Tatters Guild (from the book Butterflies Migrating).

Apologies for the quality of a few of the photos; I had to take them quickly because Squijum really wanted to help.

I glued everything down before Laura did the paint work. I love how she worked the final "a" around the butterfly. The little pink satin bows on the top are reminiscent of the ones that were always in Alana's hair-- judging from the photos I have, the kid owned more hair accessories than I do.

For Alana's mom's box, the theme was roses. My dad wrote a poem, which my parents had framed for Alana's parents; it was decorated with pink gingham ribbon, lace, and ribbon roses, so I made the box to match. I included a few yellow roses as well to keep it from getting too Valentine-ish. There is less tatting here, largely because I wasted a lot of time on a pattern that ended up not working. I've never been good with the type of rose pattern where you make each petal separately and sew them together. I just don't do well with positioning them as I sew. So after I had finished that one, I threw it away in disgust. I ended up using Mary's Roses by Suzann Does It All; for each one, I did make the optional center, in a different color of thread. For the smaller roses, I used the rose from Marilee Rockley's Eternal Rose Cross and Sharren Morgan's Jessica Rose. The leaves are the "Simple Leaf" pattern from Karey Solomon's book Tatting Turns Over a New Leaf.

I arranged the roses on two of the little pre-made crocheted doilies you can get at Jo-Ann's. With the smaller ones, I also included a pre-made gingham bow. I really like the way these arrangements look.

For the box itself, I ended up using only pre-made ribbon roses. I'm only showing one side plus the front, because the other side is identical.

I learned a fair amount about different types of glue while working on these. Tacky glue, which of course is nice and easy to control, worked great for the strips of ribbon and lace. Unfortunately, it didn't work at all for the ribbon flowers and most of the tatted pieces-- not enough surface area, I think, plus the surface of the boxes is fairly slick. I tried "3-in-1", which bonded extremely well, but was very stringy and therefore impossible to control where it went (that's why there are a few spots of visible glue on your box, Mom, sorry about that). I finally went with "Fabri-Tac". This is very similar to the 3-in-1, but slightly less stringy-- still stringy enough to be challenging, just not quite as bad. I found the best technique was to squeeze a dollop of glue onto a sheet of waxed paper and dip the flower into it, rather than applying the glue directly from the bottle. It is too bad that I couldn't find a glue that both worked really well and was easy to work with.

Here are Grammie Tiger and Alana Tiger.

And here is Alana herself, at a little over 4 months. She was doing relatively well at this point.