"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, July 29, 2011

A Bookmark for Frodo

LadyShuttleMaker must be as enamored with Middle Earth as I am; she's got threads named "Treebeard" and "Helm's Deep".

So if you happen to be reading the Red Book of Westmarch and have to take a break for second breakfast, this would be the bookmark for you.

The pattern is Jane Eborall's "Flowery SCMR Bookmark". This is not a pattern for the faint of heart, but once you get the hang of it, it actually goes fairly quickly.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

So Maybe I'm Weird...

Does anyone else go through their shuttle collection when starting a project and select the shuttles that will look best with the colors of thread they have chosen?

At the back left are two shuttles that are in every respect the equals of the other three, but have been rejected for this particular project solely because they didn't look quite as attractive with the threads. Should I get help for this, do you think?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fire and Water

We've certainly had plenty of fire in New Mexico this year. We're starting to get a little water in the form of rain, but not enough yet. It's been especially hard on the farmers. The largest apple grower in the state, for example, lost their house and barn to fire, so if you see an apple grown in NM, please buy it!

I actually didn't have any of this in mind when I chose the colors of today's bookmarks. I just thought they looked good with the pattern, and also that they might appeal to male customers, especially the "water" colorway.

This is Jon Yusoff's "Chinese Coin" bookmark. I really love this pattern and can do it from memory by now. Jon puts a tassel on it. I'm not good at making tassels and don't enjoy it, so instead I always add a tail finished with a final coin motif. No matter how many times I make this, I invariably forget how much thread it takes. For a bookmark 5 motifs long plus a tail and 6th motif, it takes about 15 yards on shuttle 1 and 8 yards on shuttle 2.

The "fire" colorway is Tatskool's "Flame Lantana". I never expected to find myself enjoying this colorway so much. I'm really not a fan of orange and yellow. I bought it because I figured I should try to make some things for people with tastes different from my own. But these colors are so bright and happy looking that I really love working with them. A certain Bear of Very Little Brain (although he was actually very wise) once said, "Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon." Likewise, nobody can be uncheered with Tatskool's threads.

The "water" colorway is "Sea Glass" by Krystledawne. This colorway never ceases to amaze me. The way Krystle blends the colors makes it look like it's really shimmering, even though it's just ordinary cotton thread. Scans and photos never do this colorway justice.

I still need to block these bookmarks, but only slightly. The pattern is well-designed, so any little wrinkles are entirely due to my own variations in tension.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I've started making some bookmarks, also for the sale. First up are two of Nancy Tracy's bookmarks.

The bookmark on the left is done in LadyShuttleMaker's "Hosta Leaves" HDT and Lizbeth color 685, Evergreen Dark. I think the dark green looks nice with the lighter greens in the HDT. The one on the right is Lizbeth colors 632, Purple Medium, and 633, Purple Dark. I like how you can make this pattern look different by using colors in different places.

Both bookmarks are the same size; they just came out different on the scanner.

This is a nice pattern that a beginner could do easily. I always add a tail to it, because I think a bookmark should have one. For both of these, I just used a lock stitch chain ending with a simple motif based on the stitch count of the bookmark. The motif is R 3-3-3-3-3-3, C 3-3-3-3-3-3; repeat for a total of 7 rings and chains, joining each ring at the 2nd and 4th picots.

Nancy says that she was trying to design a bookmark that would resemble a small doily, and I think she succeeded.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Finishing with SSSR

A lot of the earrings I've recently made have been finished with single shuttle split rings so as not to have any ends to sew in. Here's how you do it.

First, learn how to make SSSR's. It's easy! I recommend Anne's video, or if you have a slow connection, Jane's instructions.

To end with a SSSR, first cut off the other thread.

In this case, the second thread was last used on the second half of a regular split ring. Therefore, it is already knotted and there is no need to tie an additional knot. If I'm cutting off the core thread of a chain, as in Sherry's Treble Clef, which I also end with a SSSR, then I do tie the threads in a square knot before starting the SSSR.

Begin the final ring, tatting over the tail that you just cut off.

When you reach the last stitch of the first half of the ring, continue tatting over the tail for the first half of that stitch (did you get that?) Then bring the tail through to the back of the ring and make the second half of the stitch without tatting over the tail.

 Now tat the rest of the ring as you would any other SSSR.

Bring the shuttle through the ring to the back.

Pull the loop to close the ring.

Wrap the loop around and pull the shuttle to tighten the loop.

You can see that (a) this earring needs blocking, and (b) by making a SSSR, you have automatically tatted over the tail of the shuttle thread as you were working. This is the only technique I know of whereby you can tat over the tail of the same shuttle you are working with, while you are working. Cut the threads off and you're done.

Voila, no sewing, no magic threads, it's easy!

The only downside is that this technique can't be used if the final ring is joined to anything else. The join would prevent you from wrapping the loop around the base of the ring. So if the pattern ends with a chain or with a joined ring, you still have to sew in your ends (or use magic threads if you're one of those people who can make that trick work). A lot of Marilee's jewelry patterns end with a ring to attach findings to that is not joined to other elements of the tatting, so these are perfect to finish with a SSSR.

This was one half of one of the pairs of earrings I showed yesterday.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just a Few More Earrings

I have just three more sets of earrings to show, and then I'm done with jewelry for a while. I did Marilee Rockley's "Elegance" pattern from her book Boutique Tatting.

The thread is LadyShuttleMaker's "Helm's Deep" (not only do I love blue, but I'm also a sucker for anything with a Tolkein reference), with brass focal beads, Czech faceted beads, and an assortment of seed beads. I really like this pattern; some day I might make a pair for myself.

Then I made two pairs of Marilee's "Grand Aura" earrings from her other book, Up and Tat 'Em. And by the way, congratulations to Marilee on getting her upcoming book published by a "real" publisher!

The top pair is in Krystledawne's "Whisper in the Garden", and the bottom is in Marilee's "Night Wind".

You may have to enlarge the photos to see the different colors of seed beads that I used in these two pairs, although it's quite noticeable in person. This pattern is a bit convoluted, so the order that you string the seed beads on the thread doesn't quite reflect the order in which they appear in the pattern. This is no problem if you are using all one color of bead, but if you use more than one color you have to read the pattern through and count out which beads end up where. The three beads on the left side of the top split ring are the first three you string on, the one on the core thread of that chain behind the big ring is the fourth, then all the ones on the big ring, then the three on the second thread of that same chain behind the ring, then the three on the right side of the top split ring. Whew. Rather than count this out every time I make the pattern before I can even wind the shuttles, I wrote on the picture in the book, numbering the beads in the order that they are strung on the thread. This gives me a handy reference so that I can make the beads show up in whatever pattern I want them to.

I haven't put findings on any of these yet because I'm waiting for a new order to arrive.

My next phase is going to be bookmarks.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Pet Tiger

I may have to remove this post soon if someone notices how many photos I've "borrowed". But you must admit, the tigers are almost as awesome as Squijum.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


That's Quick Little Tats. I want to have a few things available at the sale for people who don't want to spend a lot of money, just little things that are quick and easy to make.

First up are Heather Johnston's "Chandelier" earrings from her book Tatted Earrings and Things.

This is a nice little design that takes only a few minutes to tat, and you can do all kinds of different things with beads. On the top row, the threads are size 20, "Flame Lantana" and "Coral Reef", both by Tatskool. On the bottom row, the threads are size 40; on the left is "Twilight Zone" by Yarnplayer, and on the right is "Of Berries and Fairies" by Krystledawne.

Next is Jon Yusoff's dragonfly pattern.

In the past when I have done this pattern, I've always done the second version, where you end with the head as a split ring, leaving the ends long for antennae. Why hide ends if you don't have to? But for these, since I needed to join the head to a jump ring to make earrings, the split ring didn't work; so I had to do them the other way, ending with the bottom right wing.

These are all done in size 20. The threads on the top row are "Coral Reef" and Krystledawne's "Sea Glass". On the bottom row are Krystle's "Vineyard at Dusk" and Tatskool's "Berry Burst".

Finally, a large bunch of earrings made from Sherry Pence's Treble Clef pattern.

This pattern is so quick that I can make a pair of earrings in 45 minutes. And if you start CTM and make the final ring as a single shuttle split ring, tatting over the tail of the other thread in the first half of the SSSR-- voila, no ends to hide! I should probably give a few of these the damp iron treatment, though.

The threads here are also all size 20. Top row, left to right: "Berry Burst"; "Raspberry Ripple with Real Vanilla" by Tatskool; "Harvest Moon" and "Wild Flowers", both by LadyShuttleMaker. Bottom row: "Night Wind" by Yarnplayer; "Icicle" by LadyShuttleMaker; "Coral Reef"', "Vineyard at Dusk", and "Hosta Leaves" by LadyShuttleMaker.

There are just a few more pairs of earrings I want to make, and then I'll start concentrating on other things, like bookmarks and Christmas ornaments.

Quick note to jewelry makers: Artbeads is having a nice sale on earring findings right now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Having Trouble with Blogger?

It seems that a lot of people are still having trouble with Blogger, both in posting to their own blogs and leaving comments on other people's. Here's the solution I've found. Sign out of your Google/ Blogger account. When you sign back in, UNcheck the box that says "Stay signed in". This is what I've been doing for the last several weeks, and I'm not having any more problems. It just means that I have to sign in again every time I start a new browsing session, but that takes, like, 2 seconds, and at least I can do what I need to do on my blog.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Well Great, Now What?

It has happened.

Mr. Don't-Mind-Me-I'm-Just-Sleeping here has finally found his way to the top of the one tall bookshelf that he heretofore could not get to. This means that I no longer have a safe place to leave my tatting while it blocks. It's not the tatting I'm worried about, it's the fact that Squijum likes to pick up the pins in his mouth, and one day one of them is going to go down his gullet. He is a fairly intelligent cat. One would think that he could figure out the difference between Food and Not Food, but no, anything that fits in his mouth goes in his mouth. This means that from now on, I can't leave any tatting to dry while I sleep or run errands; if pins are out, I must be home and awake.

Despite the fact that half the pins got pulled out of it overnight, this blocked up very nicely.

This is Marilee's "Wondrous Window" set again, from Up and Tat 'Em, this time in Krystle's "Of Berries and Fairies" thread. Since I did the pendant with all the decorative picots, I added picots to match on the earrings. All the picots do make it look less like stained glass, but that's OK, it's still pretty.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Test Tat

Wanda recently asked for test tatters for her new bookmark pattern "Heart's Honor". I was looking for a new bookmark, so I volunteered. Wanda has given me permission to share, and I am eager to do so even though I haven't blocked it yet.

This was a very interesting piece to tat. I particularly like the design of the long part, the way the chains outline the rings. Wanda has done a terrific job of writing the instructions and making clear diagrams, and I know that this must have been a complex design to diagram. I highly recommend this pattern when she makes the final version available.

For the heart, I used Lizbeth colors 192 Western Sunset and 670 Victorian Red. For the body I used Victorian Red and color 642 Lilac Medium. The matching colors are my favorite thing about Lizbeth. And yes, we actually do get sunsets in these colors, which is one of my favorite things about living out here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Window Dressing

More from Marilee Rockley's wonderful book Up and Tat 'Em, the "Wondrous Window" pendant and earrings. You may remember I made this set for myself a few months back; now I've made it again for the sale, this time using some of Tatskool's HDT's. Tatskool's clear, bright colors are perfect for the stained glass look. I used "Flame Lantana" and "Coral Reef".

Hmm, looking at the picture, I may need to block the "Flame Lantana" pendant a bit more.

This is yet another motif that shows an equal-armed cross in the middle, even more noticeable in the beaded version. It's not that I'm obsessed with this symbol, it's just that it seems to show up everywhere.

I am planning to make one more set using the variation with lots of picots.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Les Belles

Today's pattern is "Belle" by Marilee Rockley. I swear she's not paying me to advertise her books; I just really like them, especially Up and Tat 'Em.

The top thread is Marilee's "Forest" HDT. Next is "Raspberry Ripple with Real Vanilla" by Tatskool. Finally, despite what I said in my last post, a commercially dyed thread, Olympus color M12 (I think); this thread may not have quite the character of hand-dyed, but it is still very pretty and delicate looking.

My goal for these items that I'm making for the sale is to make no two pieces alike, and not too many in either the same pattern or the same thread. So for any given pattern I'll make a few in different colors to try to cover a variety of tastes, but I won't make the same pattern twice in the same thread. Basically, I want people not to think they can "think about it and come back later", because they might not. I want them to realize that if they think they might want something, they'd better buy it right away because there's not another one. Besides, part of what you want when you buy something handmade is that it is completely unique.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Same but Different

This time the thread is "Weeping Cherry" by LadyShuttleMaker. I wish the blue hadn't ended up all concentrated to one side, but it's still pretty. I like the sudden bursts of more intense color in this thread.

The more I work Marilee's patterns, the more I realize that her designs really need to be done in hand-dyed threads. Commercially dyed threads will never have the subtlety or the personality that these pieces require.

I did a couple more pendants from Jane's "Small Motif" as well.

The threads are "Fairy Faint" by Krystledawne and "Twilight Zone" by Yarnplayer. I find the "Fairy Faint" to be a very difficult thread to photograph. It is so light that it looks washed out on almost any background other than purple, and on purple it looks blue. It's actually a very pale lavender.

I sure hope these flower pendants will sell well, because I do seem to be making a lot of them!