"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

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Just in Time

I managed to get the horse picture done just in time. I knew the recipient was planning to leave for good at around 3:00 today. I got there at 2:55, having stayed up all day finishing it. In fact, I've been up late every day this week working on it. Luckily, I am off for the rest of the week and can catch up on sleep. I finished the last of the tatting yesterday morning; today I just had to sew it down.

I've already talked about how I modified Martha Ess's "Rearing Pegasus" pattern to make the horse. It is tatted in Lizbeth colors 611 Gold and 692 Mocha Brown Dark.

The fence is also taken from Martha's Flights of Fantasy book, from the "Tapestry Unicorn" tableau. The great thing about this pattern is that it is what you might call a modular design. Each fence post and railing is tatted separately; while this does make for a lot of ends to hide, it also allows you to alter the fence to whatever shape and size you need it to be. Martha's fence is circular, being based on the famous "Unicorn in Captivity" tapestry. I made only the front sections of it for a straight fence.

I made the fence using one of the new Lizbeth Twirlz threads. This is color 407 Midnight Mist, which consists of three shades of gray twisted together. This was just perfect for a weathered wooden fence. This was the first time I've tatted with a Twirlz thread, and I found it to be far twistier than other Lizbeth threads; I had to let my shuttles dangle a lot more often to take out the extra twist. I also found that the multiple colors made it harder to visually judge the evenness of my stitches. As a result, some of my rings are slightly larger than others even though the stitch counts are the same; however, for an old split-rail fence it is actually appropriate for the tatting to be a little rough. My overall impression of the Twirlz is that it is great for creating certain very specific visual effects, but it would not be the best thread to use when you want your tatting to look very smooth and even.

The bird is the "Wren" pattern from Lindsay Rogers' book Tatting Collage. I did decrease the stitch count a little, because as written, the bird was way too big, even though I tatted it in size 40 and all the other elements are in size 20. I used color 671 Christmas Red. It's not intended to be any specific type of bird; the color just happened to be what went well with all the other colors.

Finally, the grass is simply rows of split rings with long picots on one side. I used SR 1-1-1-1/4 for each ring. In the same Lindsay Rogers book, she recommends making grass as a long chain with a long picot every stitch. This does work and I have done it in the past. However, a chain gets difficult to control beyond a certain length, so I opted for split rings instead. I find that by making it in short sections that are thoughtfully distributed, I can give a clear impression of grass without having to make (and sew down) a row of grass the full length of the picture. When each section was done, I stretched it out with my fingers to make the rings longer and narrower. You can, of course, make the picots any length; I chose to deliberately and randomly vary the lengths to resemble a horse-cropped field instead of a nicely mown lawn. I used color 138 Leafy Greens. I chose this sage-y shaded colorway partly because a brighter green would have been too distracting with the other colors; and partly because I wanted the scene to look like it could be in New Mexico, and these are the shades of green that plants tend to be around here.

The whole thing is sewn down with invisible thread on a light blue cotton fabric, and framed with an oval Flexi-Hoop.

This is why I will (probably) never be one of those tatters who are constantly trying to whittle down their stash. When I have a sudden need to tat something very particular, and I have a deadline to finish it, I never have to worry about not being able to find the right colors because I have about half a million to choose from! I didn't have to buy a single new thing for this project.

The recipient was very pleased with it, and others who saw it were also impressed. I'm mainly just proud I got it done, with so little time to work on it!

Now that I am fully back in tatting mode, I will return to the pillow I started a few posts ago. I will get down to serious work on it tomorrow, after I've had a good night's sleep.


  1. In the nick of time! Looks great and I agree that the twirls in tatting have there place, it gives another medium in a way. This looks excellent, rest easy :)

  2. It turned out beautifully! I especially like the grass!

  3. Really great tatted picture!!! :)

  4. What a fabulous 'finish'! How naïve of me to think you had 'completed' the project a few days ago! And you were on an even tighter deadline - with not just tatting but being innovative as well! The details can really be seen on the enlarged photo - the Twirls thread and the grass! And the bird is adorable! It's so helpful to read opinions on new products and to learn new techniques - and to see the results of such amazing creativity! I would loved to have seen her reaction when she opened the gift!

  5. Great project well done!

    I admire your ability to knock off these full, interesting posts. Brave!

  6. Superb artistry !
    Especially love the little bird ... you do have such an eye for detail - grass et al !