"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

Thursday, May 31, 2012


While we were in Colorado, my cousin Abby presented me with a bag of items crocheted and embroidered by our ancestors. There's no way of knowing exactly who made what, but all of it dates back to our great-grandmother or older. Much of it is stained or torn, but the quality of the work is beautiful. There are also a few pieces of machine-made lace, "boughten stuff", as they would have called it, which I didn't bother to photograph.

I must apologize for the quality of the photos; the window frame and the back of the chair created some unfortunate shadows, but there was no other place in the apartment that would have been any better. Also, I took the pictures in a bit of a hurry, as my feline overlord was most displeased at having been tricked into getting shut in the other room.

This is one end of a long embroidered table runner; the other end is the same.

A table centerpiece, with four matching napkins, done in applique and embroidery.

Another runner, with embroidery and a colorful crochet border.

Including the crochet, this piece is 9 1/2 inches wide and 49 inches long. The fabric is linen, and the unbordered edge is the selvedge of the fabric. The only thing I can imagine it being used for is a scarf on top of the parlor organ, but maybe someone else has another idea.

An apron with crocheted trim.

This is an interesting piece, a yoke that also has sleeves, or at least armholes. I assume someone was intending to make a blouse or nightgown to attach this to, but never got around to the sewing part. In any case, it seems like an unusual item for a Mennonite woman of over 100 years ago; they generally would have been much more plain in their dress, although they could have whatever decoration they wanted around the house. This makes me suspect that this piece was probably intended for a nightgown, because who would know?

There are several pieces where the end is joined back to the beginning, which were obviously intended to be sewn onto fabric centers to make doilies. Again, they didn't quite get to that part-- now I know where I get that from!

These two matching pieces must have been intended to hang off of something, because they don't lie flat. Lampshades, maybe.

A collar with tassels, and a short length of edging for unknown purpose.

This large doily or antimacassar in filet crochet has somehow managed to remain in pristine condition. Unfortunately, I can't put it out, because Squijum would not allow it to remain in pristine condition for long.

Finally, the one "boughten" item that I did choose to photograph, because of the card that was wrapped up with it. It's a silk scarf, but a very plain one, in keeping with Mennonite sensibility. Lois Windsor was my grandma, so Grandma Moyer would have been my great-great-great-grandma.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I'm Back

I've actually been back for several days now, but haven't posted because I didn't get around to transferring my photos from the phone to the computer till today. I actually took the camera with me, charged it up before I left home and took the charger along too, just in case, and I left it sitting in my room the whole time. Luckily, I never forget my phone, although it doesn't take pictures quite as nice as the actual camera.

This was a family gathering in Crested Butte, Colorado. The primary purpose was to bury Grandma's ashes next to her husband's in the place they had chosen many years ago. But Grandma wouldn't have wanted us moping around all weekend, so we also got in some hiking, rafting, and general sight-seeing. Here are a few photos of the surrounding area.

Aspen trees just starting to leaf out in the foreground, with the actual Crested Butte in the background. The town is just visible in between.

After the memorial service, a few of us took a scenic drive recommended by my dad's stepbrother, who lives there. I didn't take too many pics because I was driving, but I had to pull over and get this one.

 Mostly when I wanted to look at something on this drive, I would just stop in the middle of the road if there was no pullover spot, because there was no traffic-- hence the dearth of photos from the drive. Just take my word for it, the scenery was breathtaking. The road came to an end-- or rather was closed beyond a certain point because all the snow hadn't melted yet-- by the edge of a stream. There are so many rivers and streams in the area that I couldn't tell if it was the same one shown above or not, but it probably was. We got out and spent some time by it. Here's how clear the water was:

The solar eclipse was also that weekend. We were too far north to see all of it, but we did get some. If I had stayed in Albuquerque, I would have had a prime eclipse-viewing opportunity as ABQ was right in the path of it. You can't have everything in life.

I took a card that had been left in our rental house by the property manager, the back side of a map that I no longer needed, and a couple of gadgets from my tatting bag and used them to make a pinhole projector to watch the eclipse. I poked a hole in the card with a needle and enlarged it with a crochet hook, and projected the image onto the back of the map. This worked well for a while, but somewhere along the way I set it down and it disappeared. But my dad realized that by closing the blinds in the hallway, we could watch the eclipse in the patterns of sunlight passing through the blinds and reflected on the opposite wall.

It's kind of blurry, but you can see how the spots you would normally see have been transformed into a series of half-moons, especially at the top right.

And as promised, I did take some Lizbeth Peacock Blues thread along. I started this bookmark while there and finished it yesterday. The pattern is Jon's Bookmark with Overlapping Chains.

I added a tail of 1/1 zigzag chain finished with a small motif inspired by the bookmark.

Don't expect any further tatting for the next week. I will be busy practicing for a concert next Saturday night. Imagine 15 harps on one stage, all playing together. It's going to be pretty amazing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Quick Update

Well, the interview went pretty well this morning. There are a few more candidates to be interviewed, but she did say that I was one of the top applicants, so I am hopeful.

I'm going out of town tomorrow, so I am off to pack. I wasn't sure what color tatting thread to bring with me, space being limited, but IsDihara's post has inspired me to pack the ball of Peacock Blues that I haven't even touched yet.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Asters" Shirt

Finally got it finished and sewn onto the shirt. The shirt now needs a slight touch-up with the iron as it got a bit crumpled while I was stitching the tatting on, but I wanted to get the pictures taken while I still had a little morning light left. The pattern is "Asters" from Tatting with Visual Patterns by Mary Konior, and the thread is Yarnplayer's "Twilight Zone" in size 40.

I forgot to take a pic of the finished tatting before putting it on the shirt, but here it is last night, just pinned on.

Before putting the tatting on, I measured and marked the center of the neckline with a pin to help center the tatting. Then I pinned the tatting in place. I have been known to baste tatting on as well, but for some reason I didn't think of that in this case. Anyway, the pins worked just fine.

And here it is this morning after I finished the sewing.

The middle photo shows a close-up of the center, where I modified the pattern to make that dropped-down part. Basically, I turned a 3-ring cluster into a 5-ring cluster and lengthened the following chain a little bit, then did the same thing in reverse coming out of that section. For the dropped down section itself, I made 2 normal repeats, then used the corner from the pattern twice in a row to make the point at the bottom, then another 2 normal repeats joined to the previous bit. You got all that, right?

The bottom photo shows how I plan to wear this, with a short-sleeved shirt over it like a light jacket.

I said the other day that I would tell you why I decided to make this-- not that one ever needs to justify adding tatting to anything, of course! Lately, I have been getting really fed up with my job. It used to be a fun place to work, where everyone got along and worked together to get things done; now there is constant bickering over the pettiest little things, each shift accusing the other of not doing things, etc. So I started applying for other jobs-- still in the same organization, because I've got too much seniority to give it up and start over easily, but in different departments where I can hopefully be away from all that.

Then I realized I didn't have anything to wear to a job interview-- I have jeans and t-shirts, scrubs, and clothes for harp gigs, which are generally fancy party type clothes. I had one simple black skirt that would do, but no appropriate top to go with it. So I went out and found this plain white tank top and black blouse that will go with the skirt and look professional enough, but the outfit really needed some color. Thus, a tatted embellishment was born-- and just in time, I've got an interview tomorrow!

EDIT, a few minutes after originally posting this: Sheesh, I said all that and neglected to tell you the final decision I made about how to sew it on! I decided against invisible thread, because Fox's comment on the previous post reminded me of what a pain in the rear that stuff is. Not only does being invisible make it kind of hard to see, but it is stiff and uncooperative and keeps trying to coil itself back up like it was on the spool. I don't mind it for sewing down smaller pieces, but I decided that for something this size, I'd rather use something easier to work with. I found an eggplant-colored Gutermann sewing thread in my stash that blends very well with the tatting thread.

I also went against conventional wisdom in that I did not sew the picots down. I don't care for the look of a stitched-down picot, so I deliberately made all the picots small enough that they won't twist even without being sewn; besides, I plan to always hand wash this shirt, so I'll be able to keep the picots under control. Instead, I sewed through the stitch caps on the back side of the tatting, with the result that the sewing is practically invisible.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Modifications to Asters

Here's the progress I've made with Mary Konior's "Asters" edging. At one point I got so frustrated with the modifications I made to turn the corner, plus I found that I had miscounted a couple of rings, that I discarded what I had done and started over. I'm pretty happy with what I've got now.

MK did design a corner to turn this edging inward, and I used this corner twice in a row to make the bottom point. However, I also needed to turn it outward in order to drop down and make that point. For this, I had to change a cluster of rings and a chain to make it turn. All that's left is to finish the second side, dampen and press it both to make it flat and to pre-shrink it, and sew it to the shirt.

So what would you use to sew it onto a white shirt? My first thought was invisible thread, but the shirt is cotton and will probably require occasional ironing at relatively high temperatures, so I'm concerned that the nylon thread could melt. Does anyone have any experience with this? Would it be better to go with a poly/cotton thread in purple? Any advice would be appreciated!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Next Project

This is "Asters" by Mary Konior, from Tatting with Visual Patterns. The thread is Yarnplayer's "Twilight Zone" in size 40. It's going to go on a new top; more on why later.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Swords Into Plowshares Completed

My Mother's Day gift is complete: Marilee Rockley's "Swords Into Plowshares" necklace. Luckily, my mom only reads my blog when my dad shows it to her.

Here's a (somewhat blurry) close-up of the flower section. I like the effect of the doubled strand of variegated thread.

I intended for both beads to be purple, but the second one turned out to have too small a hole for two strands of size 20 thread to pass through, so I went with this silver one from my stash instead. Other than that, the tatting of the purple section went very smoothly and I only had to do it once!

Here's the whole thing.

The threads are Lizbeth 165 Grape Splash for the flower, 676 Leaf Green Dark for the leafy part, and 605 Silver for the sword/ plowshares. It closes with a magnetic clasp.

The colors in these photos are not exactly accurate because I couldn't wait till daylight. However, between the Ott light and some editing on the computer, they are pretty close.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Correction to the Connection

See, I told you it wouldn't take long. The green part is now joined to the correct place on each plowshare. The place where I joined before is actually one of the places where the flower is suppose to join. It will all make sense when you see the next part. Hopefully I'll pay enough attention that I'll only have to do it once.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Marilee's pattern. The instructions are very clear and accurate. It's just that I'm apparently not reading on a 5th grade level this week. On the upside, I'm getting really good at adding a bead to the center of a ring.

Getting Connected

Here's the next bit of the necklace, with the two plowshares connected by the leafy bit. All that's left is to make the flowery part and add findings.

The green thread is Lizbeth color 676 Leaf Green Dark.

I added more seed beads than the pattern calls for because the leaf beads I used are so wide that they really needed longer picots to hang on. If you make this pattern, be sure and string your leaf beads on the thread so they are all facing the same way.

UPDATE: Just noticed I joined to the wrong rings of the plowshares. I'll have to cut the green part out and re-do it, but it won't take long.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Corrected Version

Here's the corrected version, with the sword part the right length.

If you compare this scan to the one in yesterday's post, you can see how the sword on the left yesterday curved too much at the base; this was the result of the chains being too short. The one on the left in this pic sits much better.

Despite my complaints about the thread size, this really is a fun pattern to work. I think it's very clever how Marilee uses sets of half stitches to move the working thread around the core, thus enabling you to make floating rings on both sides of the chain. This way the line down the middle of the plowshare remains smooth because the core thread is not interrupted by having to make rings with it. Very smart design idea; I'll probably steal it someday!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I finished the mirror-image part of Marilee's pattern, only I have to do it again.

The one on the left is the new one, and I thought it wasn't quite sitting right. When I put the two of them together, I realized it was because I made the sword section too short by one set of 3 ds. I'll rework it tomorrow and then be ready to start on the center section.

The thread is Lizbeth color 605, silver. The pattern calls for size 10, and it really does have to be for the finished project to be big enough. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you've probably seen me say that I can't stand working with anything larger than size 20 because it hurts my hands. Therefore, I don't own any size 10, and I wasn't about to buy three balls of it for one relatively small project, when I would never use it again. What I did instead was to double some size 20, and it's working very well (and yes, it does hurt my hands just like a size 10 would, but I won't have to do it for long). The double thread technique will be especially interesting when I get to the section that uses a variegated thread.