"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, December 31, 2012

The Deadline Approaches...

Good news: Today is much sunnier than yesterday, and upon holding yesterday's snowflake up to the window, I found that the metallic thread does retain most, if not all, of its sparkle despite the lemon juice treatment. Yay!

Today's flake also has sparkle, this time from lots of seed beads.

This is Jon's Rings Only Snowflake with Beads. I printed this pattern out a long time ago, but for some reason I never made it till now. I'm glad I finally did. It's a pretty little design that's lots of fun to make.

I used Lizbeth size 20 in white, with Miyuki delica seed beads in pearl white.

If you want to make any snowflakes for Sandy Hook Elementary, remember that they need to be there by the 12th, so you'll need to get them sent off soon.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Working with Doubled Threads

Here's the latest snowflake, "Angels in the Snow"; see sidebar at right for pattern information.

You can't tell in the scan, but I used a doubled thread for this one. The main thread was DMC tatting thread (size 80), and I wound it onto the shuttles with a Coats and Clark metallic thread. The metallic is also white, so all it does is add some sparkle. It's a very fine thread, so you have to have really good light to see it; unfortunately, it's cloudy today. But I know it's there.

As metallic threads go, this Coats and Clark is pretty nice to tat with. As I said, it's very fine, so you definitely want to double it with a cotton. But it's very smooth, not excessively stretchy, and doesn't kink up like some metallics do. If you just want to add a subtle sparkle to a piece this would be a good choice.

When I wind a doubled thread onto two shuttles CTM, I always find that there is some difference in the lengths of the threads between the shuttles, no matter how carefully I have measured them and tried to wind them together.

I deal with this by simply cutting the slack thread halfway between the shuttles.

I then start tatting as normal and tat over the tails of this one thread.

This way, at least one of the threads is CTM, so I only have one pair of tails to cover instead of two.

As I was working, I found that a small section of the cotton thread was slightly discolored, just enough to look dingy compared to the rest of the snowflake. I went ahead and finished, and when I was done I soaked the flake in a baking soda solution. That didn't work, so next I tried lemon juice, on the theory that if a base doesn't work, try an acid. Well, the lemon juice got rid of the discoloration, but I'm afraid it took a little of the sparkle off the metallic thread. Or maybe it's just the clouds today; I'll check again later when it's sunny. Now I know what works on a cotton thread if I ever have the discoloration problem again; but if there's also a metallic thread involved, I'll either cut that section out or start over, depending on where I am in the pattern. Live and learn, and the snowflake looks fine regardless.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

And Another

Today's flake is the "Criss-Cross Snowflake" by Frivole.

I often think that Frivole's snowflakes look more like real ones than most tatted snowflake patterns, and this one is no exception.

I used Lizbeth Blue Ice, number 163, in size 20.

I want all these snowflakes to be as close to perfect as I can possibly make them, so I've been using LadyShuttleMaker's very useful blocking template to block each of them. When using a template, you can get multiple uses out of a single print-out by covering it with waxed paper before you put the tatting on top of it. That way the template stays reasonably dry and doesn't get all wrinkled the way wet paper does.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


So fcddddddddddddddd=]]]]]]]]]]]]]]][-p

-- says Squijum

What I was intending to say was that so far, I seem to be putting blue accents in all my snowflakes for Sandy Hook. Makes me think of Diane. :)

This one is Jon Yusoff's "Quantiesque". It's such a pretty design, and this is the type of Celtic tatting that even a beginner could manage (although with this particular pattern, you do have to be comfortable with two shuttles, but it's all just rings and chains). You make the first two rounds separately and insert the one into the other, then add the third round to hold it all in place. Much easier, and in my opinion, more enjoyable than the other kind of Celtic tatting, where you have to weave a long chain around itself to form a Celtic knot. Well, to each their own, but I think we can all agree that Jon's design is gorgeous.

I used Lizbeth size 40, in White (601) and and Wedgewood Light (655).

I've also started a new knit, this time for myself.

Don't worry, I'll straighten out the curl in a couple of rows. And although there is a knitted hat in my near future, this is not it.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Snowflake for Sandy Hook

The National PTA is asking for donations of snowflakes for Sandy Hook Elementary School. They want to have the new building they will be using all decorated for when the students return. If every tatter could send in just one snowflake, that would be a lot! And of course, they want flakes in all sorts of media, so tell all your crafty friends! They need them by the 12th, so you'll need to send them off by the first week of January. Full details can be found here.

One thing, if you're going to do this. The plan is to decorate the school as a "Winter Wonderland", so the snowflakes need to look like snow; in other words, white, with maybe some silver or blue accents, but not rainbow colors. In Tatland, we have a tendency to call any 6-pointed motif a snowflake, even if it's tatted in green and purple. Nothing wrong with that for yourself; but if you want other people to recognize it as a snowflake, you should probably use snowflake colors, don't you think? Otherwise, it's just a motif.

I've made one flake already, and hope to do several more.

This is Frivole's "Regal" pattern. I used Flora size 20. The larger beads have tiny little bubbles in the glass, which gives them a nice sparkle if you see them in person. The seed beads are Miyuki Delicas.

This is a beautiful pattern in many ways, but my favorite part is how she changes the direction of the chain at each JK. I think this makes for a very elegant, flowing line.

I'm planning to make as many more as I can. I don't know how they plan to display the snowflakes, so I think for each one I'll put a length of thread through a picot. That way they can use this as a hanger if they want to, or they can cut it off if they don't need it.

I hope you'll all join me in making at least one snowflake!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Last Hat Done

This is the last hat for Christmas. I still want to make one for myself, but that can wait. The yarn is Berroco Borealis, color 5025.

Now I'm going to work on snowflakes for a while.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Squijum's Presents

This post is really for my mom, so she can see her grandcat playing with the toys she sent him. Yeah, I know. We've always spoiled our pets in our family, but we've never given them Christmas presents, till now.

And no, there's not usually this much trash on my floor; I just got a lot of packages in the mail yesterday.

He actually plays much more enthusiastically when the camera's not on, but there you have it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Carrying on with Caps

I finally finished the green hat last night, just in time to get it in the mail. It won't get there before Christmas now, but that's OK, the recipient is not really particular about celebrating Christmas actually on the 25th.

Isn't it sweet of Squijum to guard it for me?

This is my first textured knit, so I'm quite proud of how it turned out. It uses bamboo stitch, which is actually pretty easy to do, and also kind of fun. It also makes the hat a little thicker and more cushy. The pattern is here. The yarn is called "Calmer" by Rowan Yarns, but I couldn't find a color number on the label.

At the last minute, I decided to make one more hat.

This one will be in plain stockinette, and the yarn is a bulky weight, so it should go pretty quickly. I've already finished the ribbing and started on the main body of the hat. Thanks to Kathy for warning me I would need to cast on extra loosely for ribbing! I'm not even using a pattern for this hat. I just knitted a small swatch to find the gauge and multiplied the stitches per inch by my desired circumference to determine how many stitches to cast on, rounded off to a number that will be easy to decrease evenly when the time comes. I've been reading the online knitting instructions, you see.

And since this is still a tatting blog, I will let you know that I am planning to make as many snowflakes as I have time to do for Sandy Hook. Thanks to LadyTats for letting us know that they want snowflakes!

Finally, and I'm very sorry to have had to do this, I have turned word verification back on for my comments. I hate Blogger's new style of showing the words just as much as you do; they are often so blurry that I can't read them and have to try several times before I get it right, and I assume others have just as much trouble. But since I turned it off my spam comments have reached an intolerable level. I want comments, but only from real people who are actually reading my blog!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Working on the Hat

I'm about halfway done with the second hat, and hope to finish it up this weekend.

The light is better today, so I got a much truer representation of the green this time. The sharp-eyed among you may notice that I've switched from a circular needle to double pointed needles. I felt like it was getting stretched too much on the circular. I don't know why; it was the same length of needle as I used for the last hat, and the hat is the same circumference. The dpn's feel a little awkward to me and are definitely slower to work with, but the tension feels much better.

You may also notice that the ball of yarn is not nearly as neatly wound as previously. Naturally, I try to secure all my yarns and threads before leaving home, but sometimes I just don't do it quite thoroughly enough. I came home from work the other morning to find that a certain feline had unwound the entire ball during the night. But you can't get mad at this face, can you?

I'm not sure if I care for the diamond center on this new background. What do you think?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Headway on Hats

I actually finished this on Friday, but I didn't get around to taking a picture till today. After much trial and error, I found that the best way to take the photo was to put the hat over a medium-sized round kitchen canister.

The pattern is called "abc hat- Alison's Beginner's Cap".  It was very easy to make, even for me.

I did have a bit of frustration at the end. I had completely finished it, including clipping the yarn end short, and was admiring my work, when I found that while weaving the yarn end into the last row of stitches, I had missed one stitch. It hadn't started to ravel yet, but it soon would. I started trying to unpick the woven-in yarn end to get back to that stitch and pick it up. Well, you can imagine how well that went. The yarn just got increasingly fuzzy, and the little fuzzies actually started forming knots, and I ended up with even more stitches coming unraveled. I ended up frogging back to before the first decrease row, cutting the now unusably frayed yarn off, and and knitting the whole crown over. And you can bet I was extra careful finishing it off the second time!

I've also made a good start on the second hat.

I've been having a really hard time photographing this yarn accurately. I ended up using the foliage setting on my camera, and then played around with the colors on the computer, but I still don't have the green exactly right. It's not quite this bright in real life.

This one is called "Bamboozled", so named because it is done in bamboo stitch. I chose this pattern mainly because I wanted to branch out from just knit and purl, but I also think it's a good match for the yarn (I chose the pattern before the yarn). Since the yarn is just a cotton-polyester in a light worsted weight, it's not particularly warm, but I think the sort of waffle texture of this pattern will give it more insulating power. And the texture also adds interest to the solid color. Of course, it does also take a little bit longer, but it still should be done in plenty of time.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


My first hat is almost completed.

I have just a few rows left, but it's getting a little too small for the circular needle, and I want to try double pointed needles. Wouldn't you know, the yarn store had every size of double points in stock except for 7, so I had to order a set online. They should be here tomorrow, and I'll be able to finish.

The yarns are Brae Tweed, a blend of sheep wool, llama wool, and bamboo. This hat is for my sister, and this shade of green will be a near-perfect match for her eyes. The pattern is here; it's very easy for a beginner.

I'm finding that my stitches are much more even in this yarn. The slight elasticity of the wool makes it much  more forgiving than the cotton yarn I'm using for the scarf-- as I'm sure any seasoned knitter could have told me if only I'd asked.

While waiting for the new needles to arrive, I'll go ahead and start on the next hat tonight. That's assuming the gauge works as expected and I can use a size 8 needle; if I have to use a 7, then it will have to wait until the first hat is done.

I had to go back to the yarn store for this next hat; I thought I had all the yarns I needed, but then I remembered the person I'm making it for is vegan, so the wool blend I had chosen wouldn't be appropriate. Naturally, they mostly have wools in stock this time of year, but I did find a nice cotton-poly blend in green, which also happens to be the recipient's favorite color.

The wool blend I had originally chosen is a beautiful shade of blue, so I'll use it to make myself a hat.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Looks Like Spring

Inspired by Fox's recent addition of tatting to finished brooches, I purchased this on Etsy.

It's lovely as it is, but everything needs a little tatting, doesn't it?

I knew it would need a very special thread, but as I looked through my HDT collection, I realized that any variegated or even ombre thread would be too distracting. However, LadyShuttleMaker's "Weeping Cherry" colorway did make me realize that a pink thread would go well with the blue. I'm not normally a pink person, so I probably wouldn't have thought of it otherwise. I decided that a solid color silk thread would be ideal for this piece, so I ordered one in pink and one in cranberry to see which I liked better-- see the previous post.

I ended up choosing the pink.

There is not a particular brand name on the thread, or if there is, it's printed only in Japanese. I ordered it from Superior Threads, which has a very nice selection of silk threads. This is the buttonhole silk #16; I found it tats up about like a size 40 cotton. It is color number 150, Pink Fluff.

I found the silk a little bit challenging to work with, but not too bad. I definitely had to slow down to keep my stitches even. The thread is so smooth and, well, silky, that the rings closed almost like magic; however, I did have to give each ring and extra little tug to make sure it was fully closed. I also found that this thread prefers slightly longer picots.

This is going to be for my mom, either for Christmas or her birthday, which is Dec. 26. I think it feels more like a birthday present than a Christmas present.

With its lilies of the valley and the soft colors, I think the brooch looks like spring. Now here's some winter stuff.

The scarf is about 1/3 of the way done.

My stitches are still not completely even, as you can see from the way the basket weave pattern is not always quite straight. I do think I'm improving, though.

The scarf is going to be a gift, but not necessarily for Christmas. As I was thinking about what to give various people, it occurred to me that I could make some hats. I think I'm ready to try knitting in the round. So I picked a couple of easy patterns from Knitting Pattern Central (Did you know there's also a Tatting Pattern Central?), and off I toddled to the yarn store.

This afternoon I shall get out my new circular needles and see what happens...