Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Look at all the threads to play with

I recently received a wonderful package from Terry Wynn. No. Seriously. A really, really wonderful package. Terry has found that she can't use the really fine threads now and she decided they should go to a good home.

See this glorious palette? There are over 75 balls and partial balls of vintage threads. In addition to the typical vintage J.P.Coats, Coats and Clark, Lily, and Star Tatting cotton, there are brands like Bucilla and Collingbournes "Texazilk". The last couple are names I have seen in ads, but not in thread before this. All of these vintage threads are size 70, 80 or just labelled tatting thread.

There was also a ball of Lizbeth size 80. One thing I noticed, is that the vintage threads came mostly in spools of 60-75 yards, but the newer Lizbeth is 185 yards. I like larger spools of thread for when you're planning on making a nice wide edging for a hanky or a delicate doily in fine thread. Running out of thread for a project is not something that makes me happy. I know from experience, that a wide hanky edging will use up the greater part of one of these small balls of thread. Partial balls mean that you have to play mix and match with the colours to make sure that you have enough thread.

You'll also notice that Terry included a couple of lovely shuttles with the package. The one with the stripe is a wooden shuttle and the cream coloured one is a bone shuttle. I haven't had a chance to try out either of them yet. I feel so blessed to have received these treasures and I'm already into making the thread into lace.

What I did first was grab a couple of the balls of thread and make this bookmark as a thank you for Terry. I think it turned out rather well. The whole thing was done with one variegated thread in mauve/white/green and one solid thread in mauve. It's worked all in one pass, right down to the tassel. I got to the end of the bookmark, tied a knot, then did a crochet chain to the end. The left over thread on the shuttles was used to make the tassel, so there were no ends to hide. I used my, "adding in new thread" technique to both hide and secure the starting ends, so all I had to do was snip them off when it was done.

Making the first one was so much fun. I did another one as a birthday gift for my sister. For that one I use a solid deep blue with a variegated blue/white/yellow.

Now that it's done I've selected a yellow, orange and a variegated yellow/orange for the next bookmark. These are all partial balls and I figured it would be good to use up the littler bits first.
I have the other batches of thread kept separately. I know some of them have labels that say they are the same brand, same colour, and same dye lot... but they aren't. See the 4 balls of burgundy thread in a column in the lower middle? They are all labelled Star Tatting Crochet, they all say ART. 25 and SHADE 130, but you can see in the picture that the bottom 2 are lighter than the top 2. I figured that since all of these threads came from different sources, there was a better chance that 2 pinks or 2 greens from the same source would actually BE the same colour.

That was a good idea in theory, but I know from playing mix and match holding one colour against another, that I've already put the odd ball in the wrong box. My solution for this problem? TAT FASTER!!! LOL

Saturday, March 29, 2014

New bookmark

The other day hubby was reminded of the bookmark I'd made for him and wondered what had happened to it. That bookmark was made in a 3 strand Opera thread size 20, which is soft enough that it's OK for a regular book, but too thick for the typical onion skin pages of a Bible. So I made him another one is size 80 thread.

I looked through my stash and noticed that most of the colours are pastel and not very masculine. The best I could do was a solid black with a variegated black/white. I had in mind a centre row of 4 ring motifs to form a column of diamonds in a solid colour with an outer row to finish it. The black, black/white combo was too somber, so I went with a centre row in white.

I entertained lots of possibilities for the outer row, but in the end settled on an understated row of black rings and a variegated black/white chain.

I finished it off with a lock chain in the variegated thread with a couple of diamonds and a tassel that used up the unfinished bits of thread on the shuttles.

Hubby seems happy with it and doesn't seem to mind the lack of any eye popping colour. If I'd had a bright robin's egg blue (his favourite colour is blue) I'd have used that in the middle, but the washed out pale blues I have just didn't have enough punch.

Edited to add:
Here's the pattern for anyone interested. I haven't proofread it, but the rings are all 5-5-5-5 and the short chains are 3-3-3-3, the long ones are 3-3-3-3-3-3. Let me know if you find any errors and I'll fix it.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Variegated thread edging

or Pink hanky, part 2. You may have noticed a duplicate posting about the trials and tribulations of tatting with variegated thread. That's what happens when hubby is trying to hustle me out to the store and I don't pay attention to what I'm doing. What I meant to post was this part about the finished hanky.

When I finished the first row and started the next round I used up that left over bit that had been wound around the ball and of course when it ran out I had to join in new thread, but fortunately the splice happened in the long pink section.

One thing I wasn't thrilled with was that in the section where the green pooled and I had green on top and bottom, it pooled again on the second row. There's not too much that can be done about it except maybe ripping it out and starting again. Thankfully, I missed out on the perfectionist gene and I'm OK with letting it sit.

All of the angst over how to handle the corner turned out to be a non-issue. I just repeated the same thing on the second row and it worked perfectly. I had started the second row at the green bit and when I came around to join into it, I just happened to hit another green bit, so there wasn't any need to adjust it at all.

I was also pleased with how the thread colour complimented the pink embroidered flowers. So I guess it was a success after all. I have a few more hankies to add edgings to, but right now I'm working on a bookmark which should be finished today or tomorrow.
Edited to add: One other thing I thought I'd mention, The 2 rows of edging took almost an entire ball of size 80 thread. I have a full ball of the same thread and the ball that I used looked to be the same size. I was down to the cardboard core when I finished. There's enough left to make a bookmark or something, but that's about it.  

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Are you a shuttle hoarder?

I noticed a thread on InTatters in regard to shuttles. Some people have a lot of them. Some people start out with a couple and then they seem to multiply like rabbits. Some people have hundreds of shuttles. There are times when you are making a project that you need pairs of shuttles for working different parts of a design so it's not that difficult for a serious tatter to require 6 or 8 shuttles.

I can see, when you are learning to tat that you need to try out different types of shuttles. You might love large shuttles, or you might have small hands that need a smaller shuttle. You might try out a post shuttle without a hook and then find that working with an attached hook is easier. Or you might use a shuttle with a hook and find that it gets caught in every stitch. So you try out a few varieties to see what you like.

If you fall in love with post style shuttles you will inevitably acquire a few more since pairs of them will be attached to projects and half full shuttles will require emptying. Bobbin style shuttle are emptied by popping them out and letting the thread unwind so fewer shuttles are required.

Some connoisseurs will want to have one of every kind, just because they are collectors. They will haunt antique stores and flea markets looking for that unique shuttle to round out their display.

Then there are the hoarders. They can't pass a rack of shuttles without buying one. Or 10. If there are shuttles available online, they need one in every colour. Decorated shuttles are bought for every occasion, in fact occasions are invented for excuses to buy more. There are shuttles all over the house. There are some by the comfy tatting chair and a few on the computer desk. Every craft bag a purse has some stuffed in it. There are some stuffed down behind the cushions and peeking out under pillows. There are boxes stuffed in cupboards full of them. Some are hiding out in drawers, some dangle by a thread from pockets. The cat chases others under the sofa, and the dog has left teeth marks in one or two. The hoarders never saw a shuttle they didn't like.

Better watch out, there might be a hoarder near you. Maybe it's time to go count your shuttles.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Pink hanky, or the trials of tatting with colour

I started the edging for this hanky and was coming up on the 3rd corner when the thread broke. I did a whole hanky with dimpled rings and the thread didn't break even once. With this simple edging that I think of as a vine edging, where the rings are small 8-8, and the thread seems strong so it shouldn't break. But it did. I'm a big girl and I know how to open closed rings, back up, bring the thread back in and carry on, so I don't usually mind. See, it's all fixed.

This however is variegated thread. It has a long stretch of pink followed by a short intense stretch of green. The pattern is worked with 2 shuttles in a ring of 8-8 followed by a chain of 8-8 and a ring of 8-8 joined to the first ring. Since I'm using a variegated thread wound CTM on both shuttles there is a section of pink lace followed by a short section of green on one side of the lace, then repeated and the green is on the opposite side of the lace. like this. See?

I was beginning to wonder if the travelling patch of green on the top was going to match up with the green on the bottom, which I don't want it to. Then the thread broke right in the green. I thought about cutting out a repeat of colour and moving over to the next section of green, but it seemed like such a waste of thread, so I just joined the thread where it broke and kept tatting.

Then the thread on the other shuttle broke. I'm a big girl and I know how to open closed rings, back up, bring the thread back in and carry on...wait, I've been here before. At this point, I have not 1 but 2 shuttles with variegated thread that have broken about half way around on the edging.

One of the nice things about variegated thread, at least in my opinion, is that you get a recurring sequence of colour just like the lace has a recurring sequence of pattern. In order to continue that regular sequence, you have to have the same pattern used in the same section of colour. Breaking the thread means breaking the sequence. So to try and bring the colours into sync again, I undid everything back to the first break. Pulled the thread off the first shuttle until I was at the beginning of the green section and added the thread in. Then I brought in the pink colour on the second shuttle.

Of course at this point I had to go around the corner which used a bit more thread on the first shuttle. You can see what happened. The green sections caught up with one another and I now have an edging with half of it pink with little bits of green and half of it with solid blocks of green. I don't like it.

When I started this project I grabbed what looked like a full ball of thread and loaded the first shuttle, only to find out that the thread had been cut and wound back on the ball. That's OK there was plenty of thread left on the ball, so I unwound it and started again. The design is simple and it makes a fairly narrow band of lace, but it's easy to do a second row to mirror the first row, which I was prepared to do from the outset. If you read this blog, you'll know I abhor skinny lace. Nor am I crazy about doing multiple rows of lace to make it wider. However, this one is repetitive, quick and easy, so it'll do.

Except. There's always an exception. I like how I've done the corners on the first row. I'm not sure I'm going to like it when I add the second row. So I could just do the sides and join the row to the existing corner which will mean a lot of ends to sew in on teeny tiny thread. Or I could just do a chain over the corner, not really doing much of a corner treatment at all.

There there's that other exception. What do I do about the pooling of that block of colour on the second half of the hanky? If I just do the sides, I can start the variegation at any point and separate the green more for the second row, on the side where it's pooling, or deliberately match up the greens on the section where it's not. Of course that means all those ends to hide.

I was leaning toward spreading the colour out on the side that's pooling and doing a new corner. I've come to the end of the last side and realized that I either have to undo a section to join the lace to the beginning or crown in another pattern repeat. I'm thinking undoing will be a better fit and the last ring is being stubborn about re-opening and the thread is starting to look frayed.....

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Another hanky in the works

When I went through my stash of hankies I realized that I'm out blue flowers, so I got to thinking that I ought to do matching edgings for the hankies I have and finish them off, so I can buy more with blue flowers. Here's the current assortment.

I'm thinking that I'll use a double bobbin shuttle for the pink and blue flowers so that I can repeat the colour on the edging. I haven't come up with a design that I like that I can do that with so I selected a hanky with a single flower to work with.

I chose this pink flower and then went looking for threads to match. Out of the threads I have none of them are quite right. There isn't much of the deep pink and the pale pink thread is a little off. The pink flower has a bit too much yellow in it.

The variegated pink might work, but then I'd have to pair it up with a green to match. The green leaves are a yellow/green and not a blue/green like the thread. The best match in the greens is a yellow/green variegate. I don't like mixing 2 variegates together. Too often they don't quite work and I don't want to tat 44 inches of lace that doesn't look quite right.

You'd think that with nearly a 100 partial balls of thread, finding a match would be easier. Nearly running out of thread on the last hanky has me wary of starting another one without being sure of enough to complete the job. One of the other options I have is a pink green variegate that on the ball looks like a perfect match.

Once I had the thread chosen, I opted for using a traditional design, just to get things going. Designing edgings isn't my strong point. When I do an edging I want it to be fairly wide. I don't like skimpy edgings. Of course wider edgings take longer to complete and use more thread so it's a bit of a balancing act.

I've started, using what I think of as a vine edging, which is just a variation of a ring and chain edging, but it's skimpy. The edging makes a wider design if it's mirrored back to back, but that will mean playing around with the corner treatment which I have already done for the first side. I like the corner the way it is.

My options are to put the mirror image on the inside, and play round with how it connect to the first corner, or mirror it on the outside and just follow around the outline of the existing corner. Of course I could always just repeat the edging part and just join it to the existing corner.

Decisions, decisions, what shall I do? I don't know, I guess I'll have to wait and see how I feel when the first row is done. Yet another reason why I don't like multi row edgings.

Of course it's February and I really out to design another heart.

Have I mentioned before I have the attention span of a flea?

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Lesson learned: Make sure there's enough

You may remember that I won some thread on ebay. It was a lot of size 80 thread which I use mostly for bookmarks, like the one in my last post, and edgings. Winning a batch of partial balls lets me have a wide variety of colours, although not necessarily a lot of thread. Bookmarks don't take a lot of thread so having only partial balls is OK.

I decided since I have a nice palette to work with that I'd add an edging to a hanky. I happened to find a lot of cotton hankies with machine embroidery in the corner and I bought a bunch on them in different colours and designs. It seems that most often I want to make these as bridal gifts so I generally use the hankies with the blue embroidery like the one shown here.

If I can't have plain white on white, blue at least goes along with the "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" tradition. Of course, unless you know ahead of time what the wedding colours are going to be, the lace is best left white.

Consequently, the white drawn thread hankies and the ones with blue embroidery are gone and I still have those in pink, purple and mauve. So I decided that I should just tat matching edgings to some of the others and keep them on hand for quick gifts. (I don't know how it happens, but things just barely get off my shuttles and they're walking out the door, sometimes before I even take a picture.) Anyway, since I had lots of lovely colours to play with I thought I'd just choose a hanky and give it an edging.

This one has a mauve flower with a darker mauve ribbon and mint green leaves. One of the variegated balls of mauve thread was a perfect match, as was the solid green. I filled my shuttle and merrily tatted away. Guess what? You don't have to guess do you? You know when I started out talking about partial balls of thread, what was inevitably coming.

I ran out of the variegated thread half way down the last side. (Why is it always the last side? Couldn't it happen half way through?) Fortunately in the other batch of partial threads there was another ball of the same dye lot that I won. Good thing too, because the thread was vintage Lily brand which isn't being made any more and the balls of DMC and Coats aren't really a match for it.

At any rate, here is the finished hanky using my Hearts and Flower edging and I have a wee giftie  ready if I need it.

NOTE TO SELF: Next time you make a hanky edging make sure you have enough thread before you start!