"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, May 28, 2010

Halfway There

Here's how far I had gotten on round 7 a little while ago:

I'm one repeat further on now, halfway through the round. As you can see, this round nearly doubles the diameter from what it was before, so that's why it's taking a while. As you can also see, I'll definitely need to do some blocking before I proceed. Some of these chains are really long and don't like to lay nicely.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just Checking In

First off, I would like to say to the miserable $%&*(@#$%@$! who stole my credit card number this week, if you're smart enough and persistant enough to do that kind of hacking, why can't you just get a real job???

Of course, I'm always careful about how I use my card online, but it just goes to show that no security is perfect. Fortunately, my credit card company spotted the fraud right away (maybe the thieves weren't that smart after all- they tried to go WAY over my credit limit) and called me. So I haven't actually suffered any loss, but now my credit card is cancelled and it will take the usual 7-10 business days to get the replacement, so that's pretty annoying.

Progress on the doily has been slow this week due to an odd work schedule, but I hope to get back on track in the next couple of days. Round 7 is indeed taking a while owing to its sheer size. I may have to show you a pic of the partially completed round at some point.

I'm really enjoying making this, and as I work on it, I'm also envisioning it in a different color scheme. I think when I'm done I'll have to do another one for me. Didn't I say I don't have space for big doilies? But I want it so much that I'd be willing to make it just to frame it and hang it on the wall. However, it will have to wait not only until the current one is finished, but also until the size 80 Lizbeth becomes available (soon!).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Everybody please stop by LadyShuttleMaker's blog to send her good wishes, either as a comment or private e-mail. I know when I was sick, getting lots of emotional support from my friends made a HUGE difference. Even if it didn't actually fix anything, it gave me the energy to keep going. Right now Sherry needs it a lot.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Doily Progress

Here are rounds 1-6:
For this round, I used slope-and-roll joins instead of lock joins to avoid the little color spots that would have occurred. There are times when I don't mind those color spots, and even use them as a design element, but this is not one of them. Since the previous two rounds were all chains, which I did CTM using only the green thread, they had no color spots at the lock joins; thus having little spots of pink on this round would have looked goofy.

For any new or occasional readers, I'm making this doily as a wedding present for a friend of mine. The pattern is "Rising Star" by Janet Carroll, from her book Elegant Tatting Patterns. The threads are "Peace" and "Leafy" by Yarnplayer.

So far, it measures about 6 1/2 inches (17cm) across. The book says that the finished doily is 16 inches (41cm) in size 30 thread. I'm using size 40, so it should end up just a little smaller than that.

Only four rounds left, but the next one will probably take the longest.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Random Ramblings

First, a correction. The butterfly in the last post is called "Nora", not "Norma". Sorry about that.

Diane's blog post today asks, "How did you learn to tat?" There are some very interesting stories in the comments. If you haven't already done so, you should surf on over there and check it out, and add your own story.

While waiting at the Coumadin clinic the other day, I was doing some work on the "Rising Star" doily. When my nurse came out to call me, she got very excited that I was tatting- she remembered her grandmother doing it. Who knows, maybe I can inspire another new tatter.

Finally, most of you know that my other love besides tatting is playing the harp. In case you're wondering what I sound like (and I know you all are), the answer is: not like this! But a girl can dream, can't she? Google "Deborah Henson-Conant" and "Harptallica" to hear more of what I don't sound like.

Off to do some outdoor tatting this afternoon!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Norma, and More on the Doily

The overwhelming majority of commentors yesterday favored the blue background. I also decided that it was more in keeping with the mood I wanted to create, so that's what I went with.

This card is for a friend. As far as I know, she doesn't read this blog, but I won't mention her name just in case she does. I had to keep this one simple, partly because my friend really needs a card now, so it needed to be finished quickly, and partly because I do have to keep going on the doily. The pattern is "Norma" from the book Tatted Butterflies by Adelheid Dangela. The threads are DMC size 80 in colors 798 (blue) and 397 (lavender).

And here is the progress on the doily:

This is rounds 1-5. I was able to work rounds 4 and 5 continuously by changing the starting place. I'm noticing that each new round really helps to pull the previous round into shape, so this part will look a bit different after I make the next round. From here on out it also gets a bit more intricate as far as what joins where. I also have to be careful to leave a small space, not quite a picot, but just a tiny little space to join to between all the chains.

I should have the next round ready to post in a couple of days.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Opinions, Please!

OK, so I lied. I did have to take a quick break from the doily, though I am still making good progress on it. Now I need your opinions, please.


or this:

Which looks better, the blending in, or the contrast? I need to know, so please leave a comment! Thanks!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Peaceful Garden

I've finished the first three rounds of Janet Carroll's "Rising Star" doily. Since the threads I'm doing it in are called "Peace" (after the Peace rose) and "Leafy", I've decided to call my version "Peaceful Garden".

If you compare the four spokes around the bottom with the ones on top, you'll notice something interesting. The bottom ones are the first four repeats I worked, and the variegations in the "Peace" thread matched up perfectly. This was not something I could have predicted or planned; it just worked out that way with where I started on the thread, the length of the color repeats, and the stitch count of the pattern. Then I ran out of thread and had to refill the shuttle. I tried to start in the same place on the thread so that the pattern could continue, but it turned out I was just enough off to completely throw the whole thing off. After the fifth repeat I thought about undoing it and trying again to match it up, but at that point I had already cut the old thread short, so joining to it again would have been tricky. Plus, there's another round later on with clovers facing each other like this; since that round will be much bigger, I don't think the thread will do the same thing again. Since that round will most likely end up looking random, I decided it's OK for this one to also look random.

The next two rounds should go pretty quickly, as they are all chains.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Leafing Out

As promised, here are the first two rounds (out of 10) of the "Rising Star" doily, made in Yarnplayer's "Leafy" HDT:

If you enlarge the picture, you'll see a few cat hairs as well; I'll have to trim those off. How I managed to glue everything down on the card without getting it all full of fur remains a mystery to me.

The first round took a bit longer than I expected. You have to twist the chains; you wouldn't think that would take a lot of extra time, but I had to slow down to check that I was on the right side before I started each ring. There's no more of that, thank heaven, but of course the rest of it will take longer just because it's bigger.

I was able to tat these two rounds continuously by starting with the second ring, ending with the first ring, and converting this to a split ring. Alas, I can't start the next round in the same place, and anyway I'll be changing colors on the shuttle now. [EDIT: Just to clarify, I didn't bother winding a second shuttle just for that one split ring. Instead, I used the floss bobbin that serves as my ball as if it were a shuttle. There won't be any more split rings, so this whole piece is really a one-shuttle pattern.]

This is the first time I've used "Leafy" for anything other than "representational" tatting. What I mean by that is that I've always used it to make pictures, specifically plants, up till now. I really like the way the subtle shading looks in a non-representational piece.

The next round will also include the "Peace" colorway.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Got the Threads

The threads for the doily arrived today:

These are Yarnplayer's "Leafy" and "Peace". I don't actually expect to use all of these skeins for the doily, but the last thing I want is to run out.

Just as a reminder, here's what the doily will look like, from the book Elegant Tatting Patterns by Janet Carroll:

It's hard to picture from this scan, but the first round will be all in Leafy, and thereafter, the rings will be in Peace and the chains in Leafy. I'll get started tomorrow, right after I play for the Alzheimer's Association.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Small Disappointment

I just got the threads I ordered for the doily, and... they don't look like they did on my monitor. I've never had that happen before. I think I'll hang on to them anyway; I'll find a use for them, and maybe give one or two away. Meanwhile, I've ordered some different threads, ones that I know what they look like. I'll show you when they arrive.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Secret Revealed!

Well, you've been hearing for weeks now about my Top Secret Project.

I've teased you

and teased you

and teased you

and told you nothing. So now everyone who reads this blog (both of you) is dying to know what it is, aren't you? Aren't you? Oh, just say yes.

Funny, all those teaser pics kind of look the same, don't they? That's because this project pretty much consisted of the same thing over and over again:

I did a total of 12 of these babies, plus three partial ones, plus a couple of little green thingies. When assembled, they make this:

Oh, did you want to see the front? OK, OK:

This is my gift to my mom.

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled tatting programming to say HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!!!! My mom always made home-cooked meals and home-baked bread; never let me eat sugary cereals or get cable TV; worked the night shift for years so that she could be home when I got home from school; didn't let me play with toy guns or Barbie dolls; did let me play with toy cars and regular dolls; taught me to love handcrafted items and folk music; taxied me to riding lessons, piano lessons, guitar lessons, violin lessons, and harp lessons; forked over the money to pay for all of the above; and still drops what she's doing to come take care of me when I'm sick.

We now return to our regularly scheduled broadcast.

The threads are all by Yarnplayer: the aptly named Purple Pansies and Blue Pansies, both in size 50; and Leafy in size 80. Everything is sewn together and attached to the barrette with invisible thread (which is a pain to work with, because it's kind of hard to see).

The pansy pattern is from the book New Dimensions in Tatting by To de Haan- van Beek, and the leaves are the "Simple Leaf" pattern from Karey Solomon's Tatting Turns Over a New Leaf. I highly recommend the latter book if you enjoy tatting objects from nature. The only real change I made was to move the last three stitches of the inner ring around to the beginning, so that I could finish the ring with a mock picot to work the whole thing continuously. I also used Catherine wheel joins (I'm getting pretty good at these) when I had an outward-facing chain to join to the round below it. De Haan- van Beek used needles and was thus able to just pass the core thread between stitches for these joins; I had to pry two stitches on the previous round apart to expose the core thread to join to.

The flowers are made with the technique pioneered by de Haan- van Beek. She called it inverted tatting because the chains are forced to curve in the opposite direction from how they naturally want to. Others have called it Dutch needle tatting because de Haan- van Beek was Dutch and used needles. (She actually used shuttle tatting technique; she just used needles because she didn't feel like winding shuttles for such small pieces. So don't let the term "needle tatting" put you off; it really is shuttle tatting.) I think the most acurate name I've enountered is picot lock joining. I could have sworn I saw this term on Tatman's site, but I can't find it there now. Anyway, picot lock join describes the technique perfectly, although I'll admit it doesn't have the same ring to it as Dutch needle tatting.

Whatever you call the technique, I think a lot of people have been afraid to try it because de Haan- van Beek's instructions, frankly, are nearly incomprehensible, at least in the English translation. (I'm curious whether it makes more sense in Dutch. Any Dutch tatters have the original version of the book?) But it's really not hard. You are just making lock joins with the second shuttle, so that you end up with two picots intertwined with each other. You do have to be willing to adjust your stitch count and picot length depending on your tension and the exact shape you're aiming for. Since you have to take the chain thread off your left hand so often to make the joins, I find it easier not to wrap it around my little finger; I just sort of pinch it in the knuckle of the little finger instead.

The result is a unique way to fill space that looks both light and solid. It also adds a bit of texture to your tatting, as the picot lock joins will form a row of bumps which can become a design feature. There are other patterns out there now that are easier to read than de Haan-van Beek's. So if you haven't tried this technique yet, I encourage you to try it!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Finished Card

Well, almost finished. I still have to glue the picture onto the card itself.

Here are the stats. As I already told you, the dragonflies are done in LadyShuttleMaker's Rainforest size 80 doubled with Coats and Clark metallics in silver and green, and the fish are done in Sulky Blendables color 4028. The dark purple flowers are also Blendables, color 4033 Grape Wine, and color 4021 True Teal for the stems. I learned that this thread is pretty difficult to control when making very small rings. All the other threads are size 80 HDT's: LadyShuttleMaker's Treebeard; Leafy and Golden Glow, both by Yarnplayer; and Vanilla Sky by Tatskool.

The pattern for the dragonflies is by Jon Yusoff. The cattails are from Lindsay Rogers' book Tatting Collage. Yes, it's just one ring, but I wouldn't have thought of it on my own, so the pattern was in fact necessary. The Vanilla Sky flowers are from the same book. You can also find the grass and the little yellow flowers in that book, but I did manage to think of these all by myself before I got the book. The fish are my own, and the purple flowers are just generic little 5-ring flowers that everybody does.

I should be getting the threads for the doily within the next few days. I've got a couple of weeks off in June, so I'll have plenty of time to work on it.

Tomorrow... the Top Secret Project revealed!

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Fishy Picture

For the pond in the wedding card, I wanted to convey the idea of minnows swimming just below the surface. I came up with a rather clever idea for how to do this, if I do say so myself:

As usual, my clever idea didn't photograph well, and the scan was even worse, but what I've done is to put a piece of navy organza on top of the fish, with a sky blue paper in the background to represent the, um, sky. In reality, the fabric is darker and not so sparkly- that's just the flash- and the paper is just a bit lighter. In the finished version, the organza will of course be cut to a more natural shape, with grass and flowers and whatnot around the edges, and the raw edges of the fabric will be covered up. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the fabric I used is the Casa Sheer from Jo-Ann's.

Here are the fish up close:

For the rest of the world, an American dime is about 1.8cm in diameter. The thread is Sulky Blendables 30 weight in color 4028, Storm Clouds. In case you ever have a desire to make some itty bitty little fish, the pattern is R 24ds. C p 3ds; 1 lock stitch; 3ds; j to p; 3ds; 1 lock stitch; 3ds; j to p again.

This is fun!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Start

I've made a start on the wedding card- just the dragonflies so far:

They are done in LadyShuttleMaker's Rainforest, size 80. I doubled the cotton thread with a Coats and Clark metallic machine embroidery thread, silver for one on the left and green on the right. As usual, the metallics don't look that great in the scan, but they're very pretty in real life. I originally wanted to use just the metallics, but they kept breaking. I knew they would, but I never learn. This particular metallic is actually pretty nice to tat with if you double it with a cotton, but if you try to use it alone, well, there are medications for that.

After looking at many tatted dragonflies, I decided that, as is so often the case, Jon's pattern was the best. I used the alternate instructions, which leave no ends to hide. (I just cut the metallic threads close, because they are stiff enough to get away with that.)

Now to just add some pond scenery and pick a background color.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Next Project

In my last post, I mentioned that a childhood friend of mine is getting married, and I'm going to make a tatted gift for her. After a bit of discussion with her mom, I determined that really anything in any color will be appropriate and appreciated, so I had to decide what to make. I've had a hankering to do an intricate doily lately, but really don't have a place to put one, so a gift-giving opportunity is welcome. On the other hand, I really enjoy making tatted pictures. What to do?

Well, I decided that, as much fun as it is to make pictures, tatting really does show to its best advantage as the lace that it is. So I'm going to do a doily, but will also make a card with a small picture on it. The card will feature a pair of dragonflies, because Laura likes them. I'm not quite sure what other scenery will be in the picture; it will evolve as I make it.

The doily I've decided on is this one:

I've always liked this pattern but never had an excuse to make it before. I just love the contrast between the dense layers of chains and open spaces. Plus, some of the ring clusters look like butterflies; I don't think that was intentional on the designer's part, but I find it charming. I think it will look even better in two contrasting HDT's.

While intricate, I don't think it will be quite as complex to make as it looks. It's all ball and shuttle. The directions are written out the long way. I generally find this tedious, but I guess I'll survive. The directions call for cut and tie after every round. I'll be able to avoid a couple of those with split chains or by starting one round at the same spot where the last one ended. If I weren't using two colors, I could avoid even more ends. But I am loath to do an SLT in the middle of a split chain just to make the colors work, because it makes the chain all wonky. Therefore I will just have to deal with the ends. I actually don't mind this as much as some people seem to, probably because most of what I tat is fairly small, so I have a high ratio of end-hiding time to tatting time anyway.

The pattern comes from this book:

If you like doilies, then you will love this book. I've only done a couple of things from it, because it mostly is doilies and I just don't have room for them. The designs are all well-balanced and interesting to look at.

I think it's also a good book for aspiring designers to study. Not because you should try to mimic anything Ms. Carroll has done, of course, but because of her use of picots. The use of decorative picots is an art form in and of itself, and Ms. Carroll is a master. So often, you see picots just plonked out at regular intervals because the designer thinks you're supposed to have them. The result is... not exactly boring, but definitely not inspiring. The patterns in this book have picots in exactly the right spots. Sometimes there are very few or none at all, sometimes they are placed thickly and graduated to help define a shape, sometimes they are clustered. However she chooses to use them they are always exactly right for the look of the particular pattern. We could all learn from how Ms. Carroll does this.

So, I've ordered my HDT's, because of course despite the size of my collection, I just don't have *exactly* the right colors. Besides, I ordered way more than I'll need because I'm paranoid about running out, since HDT's are by definition not reproducible. I figure I can always have another giveaway with the leftovers.

While awaiting the threads for the doily, I'll get started on the card. I will show it as it progresses.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Top Secret Project, and In Memorium

Yes, I am still here. Sorry I haven't posted lately, but I've been working on the Top Secret Project, so I really don't have much I can show you. Here's just a hint:

I finished all the tatting for it last night. All I have to do now is mount it on the, um, thing it's going to be mounted on, and mail it to the person I need to mail it to. I should be able to show you the whole thing next week and stop writing moronic sentences like that.

Just as I was wondering what my next project might be, I found out that a childhood friend of mine is getting married. They say they definitely want handmade items, so as soon as I get a few more specifics I'll be starting something for her.

I'm also prepping for a harp gig next Friday. It's going to be a benefit concert for the Alzheimer's Association. I am doing this in honor of my late stepgrandfather, Clifford "Duke" Windsor, who suffered from the disease. Duke was an amazing artist who was always trying new techniques and styles of art. My favorites were his abstract paintings. However, those of you of a certain age might remember a TV show called Winky Dink and You; Duke was involved with the artwork for that show. The last six months of his life were horrible due to Alzheimer's. When he and my Grandma moved to assisted living, he barely understood where he was, and certainly didn't understand why; but there was just no way he could have continued living safely at home, and Grandma couldn't take care of him anymore either. The last time I visited, we took them out to an art museum; he understood that and enjoyed it, but it was such a stressful trip for the rest of us. The minute we got out of the car, he sort of latched onto me. He acted like he was just giving me a hug, but then he didn't let go, and I knew it was because he was afraid of getting lost. Even when we got to the museum and got him in a wheelchair, we still had to always be aware of what he was doing and constantly re-direct him. Toward the end, while he still recognized people, he really had no idea where he was or what was happening around him. I'm just grateful that he had such a rapid decline, instead of lingering for years with the disease the way so many do, and that he and Grandma had 25 wonderful years together. He died in January.

I really didn't mean to say all that. I was just going to say that I might have a little less time to tat this week and next because of the extra harp practice time. Now I've got to go make a salad for the potluck at work tonight. It's the last night for one of our nurses- she's moving to Hawaii, because, apparantly, she is way smarter than the rest of us! And then hopefully I can be in bed by noon so that I can get enough sleep to make it through the night. Aren't you jealous of us night shift workers? I know you are.