Sunday, December 31, 2006

Blueberry? How about Cranberry Tea?

Having experimented with some left over cranberry sauce, I thought I'd try out some blueberry jam and see how blue it left the lace. The thread ends are more blue than the lace is. The lace is almost the same colour as the cranberry sample. How weird is that? Of course all of the additives made to the jam might be responsible for the reddish purple colour. Or maybe blueberry really is red!!!???
Notice the rings attached to the central ring? See that one of them is larger than the others? When I'm designing something new I start with a stitch count I think will work. If it doesn't I have the choice of starting again, or correcting the stitch count and continuing. If it's a scrap bit like this, I just keep going because I know it's going to have to be done over again anyway. Sometimes, you just need to do a test piece.

I made a double batch of cranberry sauce this year. Half of it was meant to go with the turkey and the other half formed the base for orange cranberry raisin filling for some Christmas cookies. I made the sauce with orange juice instead of water and that may have affected both the overall colour and the staying power of the cranberry colour. I had a lot of cranberry sauce and filling left over so I did some more experimenting.

I have done some butterflies that will be added to a plain T-shirt and one of them got dropped into a cup of tea. Brown isn't really a pretty butterfly colour so I dunked it into some cranberry sauce and mashed the berries into it. Here's Cranberry Tea:
I like it better than tea colour, but I mashed it hard enough to cut the thread. Either I sew it down fixing the break by tacking it in place or I cut out the break and re-do the chain after first matching the cranberry tea colour. Who am I kidding? I'm totally going to sew this mistake down.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


I like to wear plain cotton shirts. They feel good and they're more comfortable when I have "power surges". What I don't like is that:

A. Ladies cotton T's cost more than twice the price of men's.
B. I in variably splash tomato sauce on them.
C. The parrot's claws go right through the fabric poking lots of little holes through the shoulders.

That being the case I either walk around in tattered and stained clothes or I replace my shirts more often than the average woman. Which brings me back to A. So I have been buying a lot of men's T's and adding tatting to them. Since I splash a lot of whatever I'm cooking onto my shirts anyway, I was wondering what it would look like if I used natural dyes on fabric and or tatting.

Want to see Cranberry?

For how very red the fruit is, the lace looks kind of purple. I mashed a couple of berries into this little bit of white tatting then rinsed the residue off and washed the lace in a bit of dish soap. The colour isn't even and while I like how it looks on lace, I'm not sure what it would look like on a shirt. Of course if I ran the cranberry sauce, minus the sugar, through a blender, strained it and then left the shirt soaking in it for a good while I might get a darker and more even colour. Judging by the way the cranberry stains aren't coming out of my clothes even with repeated washings, I can be reasonable sure that this colour won't ever run.

The lace is just a little doodle of something or other I was designing so it was a scrap bit. Now that it's such a pretty colour I'll have to do something with it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Back to Blogging

I suppose it's typical of the season that people are busy doing lots of seasonal activities and consequently we don't have a lot of time for blogging. I've managed to keep the 25 motif challenge blog reasonably up to date and at long last the November newsletter has been sent out. That's right, here it is in the middle of December and I've only just sent out the newsletter. I usually put lots of Christmas-y patterns in the November newsletter, but I realize that a lot of people like the Christmas theme designs earlier so that they can actually tat them as Christmas gifts. Consequently some of the designs were in the August issue.

Here's a picture of the snowflake I sent out this year with my Christmas cards. Does it remind you of anything? It should, it's another variation of the same snowflake. More stitches on the inner rings and the chains, extra little rings in between the chains and some beads added in, but still the same general idea. Since my last posting I've done over a dozen of these flakes as well as re-tatting the pink doily and various other small snowflakes and earrings. The pattern for these are in the newsletter and those of you who subscribe to it will find it in your in-box.
Now, I'm going to take my aching thumbs and give them a rest, right after I update the challenge page.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

More things to do with snowflakes

One of the easiest things you can do with a snowflake is join several of them together. Snowflakes are supposed to have six sides as that just happens to be the natural shape of ice crystals. When you put a grouping of hexagons together in a round shape you use 7 hexagons, one in the middle and one attached to each of the six sides.

Several years ago I needed to create a doily in a hurry. My inspiration was nothing more than I just needed a quick gift. Having crocheted a lot of granny squares, knew that 7 joined hexagons would make a doily and I had 8 different hexagon shapes to choose from. The largest of the 8 designs was Snowflake 4, so it was my obvious choice. I tatted the 7 motives and joined ten together by their points.

That made a nice little grouping, but the motives were very pointy and they didn't have a nice smooth outer edge so the doily looked unfinished. If you have ever tatted a doily, you know that the further from the centre you get the longer it takes to tat a round and I didn't have a lot of time.

The simplest method of bringing it all together was just to tat a row of chain around the circumference of the motives. At the point where 3 motives were joined there were 3 cloverleaves. On the outer edge that meant that there were only 2 cloverleaves, so for continuity I tatted a cloverleaf of matching proportions at that point. Where there was just one cloverleaf, I tatted a single ring and joined them together by a chain.

The chains of the first row were deliberately made long both to save time and to separate the edging from the motives. The less connected it was, the less I had to figure out as far as matching the motif design. I could have worked the edging around each ring of the cloverleaf and followed the outer contour of the motives but it would have taken a lot more tatting and a lot more thinking. As it was, the negative space added a design element and made it easier to work the edging.

The single row had no depth or substance to it. It was just a big floppy chain. Adding the second row with more connecting points made it more solid and gave it shape. When you add an edging to something you want to repeat part of the theme to make it match and look like it belongs. The sparse 2 rows of edging added to the motives is kind of skimpy because I was short of time and had to make this in less than a week, but it still works.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Turning a snowflake into a heart

One of the basic things you need to think about when you are designing something is it's shape. What is the general outline? Is it square? Round? Oblong? A snowflake is mostly round with some points, and the little parts that make up the whole fit together like pieces of a pie with each piece of the pie being a single pattern repeat.

If you want to make a heart, how would you describe the shape? Hearts kind of look like triangles. Some are short and fat and some are tall and skinny, but all of them are wider at the top than the bottom and all of them have a point at the bottom.

If you want to start with a snowflake and turn it into a heart, what part of a round snowflake could you fit into a heart? Are there bits that hang over the edges? Are there areas you have to fill in?

Take a look at this picture. Does it give you any ideas? One of the smallest heart shapes you can make is just a simple cloverleaf surrounded by a chain. If you take a look at a lot of the heart patterns available, you'll see that may of them use a cloverleaf as their base. In a simple cloverleaf heart the central picot is often made longer to accentuate the heart shape.

Let's say you want to make a heart that's bigger than a cloverleaf. Do the circles in the picture suggest anything else? How about 3 snowflakes?

When you create a snowflake, you want a six sided shape with points at the tip of each side. For the purpose of creating a heart the points just get in the way, so the extra bits that make a round motif into a snowflake are just omitted.

Look at the area of the heart shape not covered by the circles. Notice that there are 2 small triangular areas on either side and another at the bottom. To create a heart from 3 snowflakes you need to add a little bit of tatting in between each top motif and the bottom one, and another little bit at the bottom to accentuate the heart shape.

Attaching motives together gives you the right general outline, but if you want an unmistakable heart you need to tie it all together by adding a defining row of chain.

That's what I did with this heart. I used the centre part of Snowflake 5 and omitted the outward facing rings. The 2 top motives are joined along the flat side of the hexagon shape and the bottom one joins at the point of the hexagon shape. That arrangement meant that the top motives were rounder and the bottom one had a point at the bottom.

The shape suggested a heart, but it really became a heart when the outer row of chain was added connecting to the middle of each chain on the motives and adding the cloverleaf to fill that space between the motives on each side. Since the bottom motif already had a downward point, adding a cloverleaf would have been too much. A single outward facing ring was enough to finish it off.

If the motif had been more round and not quite so pointed, a cloverleaf could have been used.
The same thing can be done with any round motif. Just select a design you like, attach 3 of them together in a triangular shape and then fill in the spaces to make your own heart.

A closer look at snowflakes

Take a look at the picture of the original snowflakes again. Now that we have examined some of them in detail, let's look at them all. See how snowflakes 1, 2, 6 and 8 all have the same centres? The variations come on the outward facing rings.

Snowflakes 3 and 4 have the same centre ring with inward facing cloverleaves attached to it, but different outward facing rings. Snowflakes 5 and 7 are different again. Instead of all rings or all cloverleaves in the middle, these 2 designs alternate a single inward ring with a cloverleaf. That presents a problem. Did you notice it?

In these designs all of the rings have been the same size (3-3-3-3-3-3 for a total of 18 stitches) A cloverleaf has 3 rings and it's bigger than a single ring. The middle ring of a cloverleaf is taller than a single ring of the same stitch count.

Take a look at the picture of Snowflake 3 shown here. A line has been drawn through the cloverleaf showing where it joins to the cloverleaves on either side. See how that connecting line is below the base of the middle ring? If the cloverleaf with the line through it is removed and replaced with a single ring, something has to be adjusted. That single ring will have to be much larger than that middle ring of the cloverleaf in order for the cloverleaves on either side to join to the centre of it.

You can see snowflakes 5 & 7 have alternating cloverleaves, and larger single rings (3-3-3-3-3-3-3-3 for a total of 24 stitches). This allows the joining picots of the cloverleaf to join to the second and sixth picot of the larger single ring.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Choker - 2nd try

We already looked at my first attempt at making a suitable medallion. While I was doing the next medallion I had time to think about how to make the basic snowflake #3 a little bigger, but not as big as my first try.

I know I haven't fully dealt with the medallion yet, but as a designer you need to think of the whole project as well as the individual pieces. If you have 2 parts that need to fit together you have to design them both together so that the connecting parts - connect.

My second step was to create a band for the medallion. It needed to be something similar to the medallion so that they looked like they belonged together, not too skinny, and not too wide. I also had to think about how to attach the band. I could easily just tat them separately, but there are fewer ends if you can do it in one piece. The medallion was going to start with the snowflake so I was using both cloverleaves and individual rings and cloverleaves are a bigger shape for a wider band.

You want to think about the profile of different elements of tatting when you are designing a piece of lace. The diagram at the left shows nose to nose cloverleaves. It makes a nice wide band, but it is kind of ordinary and boring.The point where the 2 middle rings connect makes solid bars and where the side ring of one cloverleaf connects with the next cloverleaf there is an empty space. Visually it gives a ladder effect, which wasn't quite what I had in mind for the band.

I had used the inward facing cloverleaves to keep the small outer rings in place on the medallion but I really didn't need anything that large. As I looked at my first try I realized that I could just add in more little outer rings and that would give me the size I needed and it would still give me the filigree effect. So on the next snowflake I put some picots on the chain on either side of the small ring and I did a second row with chains and small rings filling in the spaces.

The partial drawing on the right is the design I ended up with. There is no stitch count and only part of the drawing. This is a design primer after all, you're supposed to be figuring this stuff out.

As I was making the outer ring and chain row, I realized I could just continue the chain right on out to the band doing chains and cloverleaves, then turn it at the end and come back doing more chains and cloverleaves and just continue around the rest of the medallion, repeating it on the second side, doing it all in one piece. I like things that are all in one piece, that means fewer ends to hide.

Those cloverleaves really are boring. So I dropped off one small side ring and ended up with a whole cloverleaf sandwiched in between 2 partial cloverleaves. It gave the same width to the band, but it broke up the ordinary cloverleaf shape and as an overall visual effect, resulted in solid blocks of colour separated by negative space in the band.

And again here is the drawing of the band without the stitch count.

Sometimes designing means that you do some things by planning and some things by trial and error. You can see the final results here. The picture shows the medallion and one side of the choker.

You can easily create your own choker. Select a snowflake you like, add a row to make it round or square or diamond shape, or whatever you like and add a matching row of edging for a band.

If you have and questions or comments, go ahead and ask and I'll try to answer them

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Where do we go from Snowflakes?

When you talk about designing there are a lot of aspects to examine. We've been looking at how you might gain some experience by modifying an existing design.

One of the other aspects of designing is just coming up with ideas. Where does the inspiration come from? It comes from lots of things. Previously we looked at snowflake 8 and how it grew into a doily. In this instance, my inspiration came from a crocheted hexagon. There are lots of things that might catch your attention and provoke you into thinking about ways that you might turn it into tatting. Sometimes you go looking for inspiration, and sometimes it comes looking for you.

A few years ago I saw a commercial for a fashion show and the black choker worn by one of the models intrigued me. I only saw it briefly as the model walked down the runway and off screen. It was a round black medallion on a black band and it looked somewhat like a tattoo. The medallion was quite dense in the centre with some filigree toward the edge. As soon as I saw it I thought I could do it in tatting.

The first step was to create the medallion and I had to do a little planning before I started. I selected snowflake 3 as a base since it was the one most like the choker. A snowflake has 6 sides and you can turn it one of 2 ways.
You can have a single point on either side and 2 points top and bottom like the example on the left. If you attach the strap part of the choker this way it has to be skinny because you only have one side to join on to.

Or you can have 2 points on either side and one point top and bottom like this picture. That allows you to use a wider neck band, but then the top and bottom of the medallion only have a single point so the shape looks less round. Either way it wasn't quite what I was looking for.

Another option is to work with an 8 sided shape like this one shown here. 8 sides or pattern repeats allowed for 2 on top and bottom and 2 on each side. 8 repeats also made the snowflake that much larger which was another plus.

When you start with a central ring, you need to have some idea of where you're going with the design before you start. The central ring needs to be big enough for what you want to arrange around it and it needs to have enough picots on it. If you're doing a six sided snowflake you need 6 joining picots, but an 8 sided medallion needs 8 picots. Thinking about what you want to accomplish helps you to make some essential decisions before you begin.

If you tat quickly and you have a lot of available tatting time, you don't mind doing a design several times to get it just right. When you don't tat quickly and you don't have a lot of free tatting time, a little extra time thinking things through will help you get closer to doing it right the first time. If you're a novice designer, thinking before you tat will save you a lot of frustration.

Note: Picots are really the spaces between stitches. So if there isn't a picot there, you can wiggle a hook in between the stitches to do a join. But, if your other joining picots are longer you may see a difference in the final piece. When it's in the centre of a piece it is more likely to be seen than if this action is taken on the side of a project. I tend to keep all of my picots a medium size. As a designer, this is a trick I often find useful. Tatting is a slow meditative process and I may change my mind about how I want to work a project several times while in the process. If I start out planning one thing but see that a slight variation will work better I'll change my plans and start wiggling my hook between stitches.

When you are trying to figure out how many picots to use and where to put them, remember odd numbers work best. Look at the pictures above. If you're going to join onto this first round of the snowflake and make another row where are you going to join to the chains? Typically, the next rowwouldd join to either the base of the chains on the previous row or to the mid point of the chain. If there was only one picot on the chain it would be in the middle of the chain.

Let's say you wanted to double the number of pattern repeats on the next row of a doily starting with a first row like snowflake 3. That would mean you'd have to do 2 pattern repeats for each chain. Where would you place the picots? The easiest way is to use 3 equally spaced picots on each chain and then do the join on the next row to the first and third picot, leaving the middle picot free. You could also do 5 equally spaced picots and then do the joins on the second and fourth picot leaving the 1st, 3rd and 5th picot free. Using more picots gives you more options on subsequent rows.

Snowflake 3 uses a typical cloverleaf where all 3 rings of the cloverleaf are the same size. Just like choosing to use an 8 sided motif rather than a 6 sided one, the size of the rings, the size and placement of the picots and the number of picots affects the overall look of a design. See the 2 cloverleafs at the left? It's only one small change but it has an impact on the whole design I chose to use a cloverleaf with smaller side rings, and I also used smaller outer rings for the base motif, since they would be more like the filigree edge on the model's choker.

I needed a bigger medallion than just the snowflake shape and I added a second row of inward facing cloverleaves attached to the tip of the outward facing rings. I had to use twice as many cloverleaves to stretch around the outside of the snowflake. Each alternate cloverleaf wasn't attached to the snowflake, which allowed the outer row to flex easily, but unattached parts of a design are able to twist and turn so I usually try to avoid them. That's another little consideration when you are creating your own lace. Most of the time you'll want all of the rings attached to something or they won't stay in place.

This was the design. It was almost 3 inches across and it was too big to fit nicely on the neck, but it told me what I needed to know about the size. This partial bit hasn't been blocked and it cups severely. The picture may look flat, but the real thing isn't. So I learned that it was too big and that the stitch count I used in the chains needed to be increased.

Sometimes even with a good plan, you still have to make a couple of tries.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Snowflake #3

After I completed snowflake #2 I knew I wanted something a little larger, but I didn't want anything too labour intensive and I wondered what it would look like if I faced the cloverleaves inward instead of outward. That presented a problem. The previous snowflakes all had a single rings facing inward. I knew that once I had cloverleaves facing inward I was going to have a big empty space in the middle and there wasn't going to be anything holding the cloverleaves in place .

The obvious answer was to attach them all to a central ring, but how big a ring did I need? Trial and error? I wouldn't know if I had it right until the whole motif was done. The motif with one ring inward and one outward took me about an hour to tat and with double the number of rings I could count on nearly 2 hours of tatting time just to find out how big that central ring needed to be.

This is where I used another designer's trick. I worked from the outside in. I knew what the outside was going to be, I knew that the chains had to be long enough to arch over the cloverleaves so I used chains with 3 picots (3-3-3-3). When you're doing something in reverse you have to think ahead a little. Take a look at the diagram. Remember this is how the pattern should be written, not how I tatted it.

I needed to be able to have all of the outside completed before doing the middle ring of the last cloverleaf. If I started at the cloverleaf, the last thing to be done would be the chain. In order to have the chain completed by the time I got to the last cloverleaf I had to start at the chain. When I got to the last cloverleaf I tatted the first ring with one shuttle the third ring with the second shuttle, then used both to make the central ring.

That positioned both threads in the middle of the motif and then I just started tatting a ring and tightened up the stitches, like you do when you close a ring. When I was at the point where I could join to the picot on the tip of the next cloverleaf, I had my stitch count of 4. Then I just finished the ring off using making 4 ds between the joins to the central ring. When I closed the ring, the motif was done.

This is a very simplistic version of working from the outside in. Take a look a Mark's post for September 28, 2006 and you can see that it's exactly what he's doing for the Geisha's sleeve. He's created a framework for the lace to give him a more precise way of establishing what he needs to do.

I was viewing an embroidery blogs and noted that the blogger had created her own stitch library as a reference tool. On the e-mail list I mentioned that I have a bag full of scraps from things I have tatted that didn't work. In a sense they are my reference library. If I want to know how big a ring is going to be in a certain thread with a certain stitch count, I can just look for a sample that size. I can fit different pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle and see what is visually appealing.
Don't consider a design that didn't come out the way you expected it, as a failure. You not only learned through the process what doesn't work, you've also gained another piece of reference material.

Now that you know the stitch count for the inner ring which is used in the remaining snowflakes, you have enough information to figure out the rest of them for yourself. As a way of stretching your abilities and your confidence, I'm not going to give you the rest of the snowflake patterns. You can do it without.

Next we're going to look at what else you can do with a snowflake, but that's for another post.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Answering Some Questions

There have been some interesting comments as well as some discussion on several of the e-mail lists. I'm going to try to address them here.

"I've always fancied designing and didn't know where to start." That's the way a lot of people feel. They seem to think that only a few people can design. That isn't true. The truth is only a few people actively try to design things. If you've followed Jane Eborall's blog you'll know that she started to tat a long time ago. She has the experience of a lot of years of tatting to just know when and how things will work. With that experience comes a certain amount of speed. As a beginner, struggling to complete each stitch, the idea of experimenting and just throwing away or cutting off a piece of lace is heartbreaking. For a novice a small motif might take several days to complete, but the experienced tatter might do the same motif in less than and hour.

One of the things you have to face as a designer is that things may not work as anticipated. Several years ago I designed an oval doily and the tatter who requested it wanted something simple and something with a lot of picots. Notice the centre? Does it look familiar? If you think it looks like snowflake #1, you'd be right. It's another one of the snowflake doilies.

Both the pink doily and the oval doily have similarities. For sure their centres are similar and they are both just rows of ring and chain, but their shapes are different and while the pink doily has very few decorative picots, the oval one has hundreds. The lack of picots makes the geometric shape of the diamonds really stand out in the pink doily, there's nothing to get in the way of the shape. On the other hand, the picots on the oval doily make the lines of the chains appear thicker and really outlines parts of the doily.

The oval doily was a real stinker to create. Several times entire rows had to be cut off because the stitch count didn't work. If you are making a circular shape you can just repeat a pattern segment and it's the same all the way around. In an oval shape the sides have to stretch farther than the ends. I had a drawing that gave me a rough idea of how to proceed, but I had to abandon the drawing and go back to the simple trial and error method. Sometimes you just have to accept that the only way you are going to know if an idea will work is to try it.

So, where do you start? You start with what you know. For example, do you know what the impact of picots have on a piece of lace? Tat a length of edging doing three rings of 5-5-5-5 and chains of 5-5-5. Then do rings of 5-3-3-3-5 and chains of 3-3-3-3-3 then do rings of 2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2 and chains of 2-2-2-2-2-2-2. You can do even more variations and you can alter the length of the picots. See the difference? Now you know something you didn't know before, and you have a piece of tatting that you can use as a reference.

"Sometimes what I do is just cut and tie (at the end of a row) and after is finished then I study it to see a flowing path using split rings and chains." It's not unusual if you have just cut off a row that isn't working and re-attached your thread, to start back at a different point. If you're designing you may tat a piece one way, yet write instructions for it another.

For example, snowflake #8 starts in the centre, but for the doily it starts on the ring at the top of the chain. If you have just cut off part of a row, you may have to join your thread at an inward facing ring, (like the rings in the centre) rather than at an outward facing ring. Once you have the project completed, you know where you need to start and how you need to climb from row to row, so when you draw it, if you are using a visual diagram, or write it out, you will give instructions that tell people how to do it logically, not necessarily the way you worked it.

Actually, because you don't always know where you are going with a design, you sometimes end up doing some really awkward and bizarre climbing out. For example, you start a new row and think I wish I'd put an outward facing ring at this point so that I could connect to it. But you don't have an outward facing ring and so you do an SCMR to put a ring where you need it or maybe you do a combination of a ring off the side of a split ring in combination with a SCMR or something else weird. It's not what you'd normally do, but it lets you have something that looks the same and when you write out the pattern you write it the way you should have tatted it. Sometimes I find myself tatting bits and connecting them together. I might do a wing of a butterfly and the second wing just doesn't work. I cut off the offending bits and just tat the second wing not worrying about climbing out or anything just to see if an idea works. When I get something that I like, I start over again and do the whole thing properly using split rings or whatever I need to achieve the results I want.

If I'm doing a simple motif I might start with a ring of 4-4-4-4 but decide that a ring of 6-6-6-6 would look better, or allow for a more advantageous picot placement, I don't start again, I just keep going. I may end up with 4 or 5 different rings and as many different chains. It doesn't matter. Each one tells me something. Then I can start again and do the whole thing over again incorporating all of the variations I want to keep.

"I tried to enlarge the pattern because I can't read it very well." As you have probably noticed, the stitch count for the doily is almost unreadable. Blogger is shrinking the image to fit it into the space and while I might be able to re-do the diagram for part of the doily, I'm not going to be able to get much more to fit into the blog. I've decided that I'm going to re-make the doily so that I have a reliable stitch count for it and I'll include it in the next newsletter. If you are feeling adventuresome and want to try it from the information already given, I will answer any questions you have.

Jane made some terrific observations and while she described her approach to designing as hit or miss, we all know that her designs are always a hit. She also mentioned that when she's designing a particular animal she looks for a generic picture to use as a guideline for her pattern. So do I. It helps to have a visual reference to work with usually something without a lot of detail, but with the important parts clearly marked. Clip art is often more helpful than a photograph because it is stripped down to just the essentials. Kids colouring books can be very helpful for this kind of thing. Sometimes I bring the picture into my drawing program, stretch it to a large size and then draw the key points right on the picture. Then I can remove the picture and fill in the spaces with oval or round shapes representing rings or cloverleaves and link them together with curved lines for chains.

Jane also stated that she rarely sketches an idea she just tats and tats until it's right. I find it hard to do that with larger projects although the daffodils were created without a drawing. I happened to have a couple of reject pieces of tatting sitting on my desk and it gave me an idea. I loaded my shuttles and tatted the flower start to finish and it just turned out right. I didn't even need to draw the leaves, they just worked out but for bigger pieces I find a drawing gives me a framework to work with. I often do rough drawings without stitch count or picots to work from and I add the stitch count and picots after I'm done.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Snowflake 8, the second row

Where does a design start from? I have already told you that my inspiration for the pink doily came from a crocheted hexagon. There are lots of things that might interest you enough that you would want to re-create them in tatting. Sometimes it's just a matter of thinking about it. Sometimes you go looking for inspiration, and sometimes it comes looking for you.

Have you figured out the second row of the doily?. The snowflake starts with a ring in the centre and ends with the last chain joining back to the starting ring. That's OK for a snowflake, but when you are working on a doily you want to be able to continue on to the next row. In fact, if you have an idea of how the design is going to develop, as I did with this pattern, you want to think ahead not only for the next row, but several rows so that you can climb from one row to the next in the most efficient manner.

Sometimes designs just happen, especially smaller designs. You find yourself just tatting away and you try something a little different. Maybe the change is just adding more picots, or making a cloverleaf with small outer rings instead of all the same size or changing the connection point on a ring. Sometimes you like the results and sometimes you don't.

Sometimes, like with this design you sketch something out and work from your sketch. When you are designing something for your own use, it doesn't matter where you start or end, but if you are going to design your own pattern, you really ought to write it down. That way you can repeat the pattern again later. You may even publish your pattern so you want to think in terms of explaining what you are doing to someone else.

The central snowflake when used in the doily begins with the ring at the top of the chain. This allows the row to end back at the top of the chain where the snowflake joins into the transition row. Sometimes the best way to solve a maze puzzle is not by starting at the beginning, but by starting at the end and working backwards. Since this design was already drawn and I was just following the diagram, I just had to find a pathway that let me work from row to row.

That means looking at where the current row is going to end and then seeing what is the best way to climb into the next row. There are often several ways of climbing from one row to the next in a doily. Some pathways can require a single split ring, while others may require a split chain with a ring at the end working backwards into another split ring and it can get very complicated. Sometimes the required steps to move from row to row just aren't worth it. Especially on the outer rounds of a doily where you may find you have to stop and re-fill your shuttle anyway. Sometimes the best method of climbing out it just cut and tie. Don't be afraid to suggest cut and tie in such a case. Your the designer, you get to make the rules.

I already mentioned that the rings in the snowflake had a total of 18 stitches and the rings on the succeeding rows had to be either 16 or 20 stitches. If you figured out that they were 20 stitches, you were right.

Here's the diagram with row 2. Notice that some of the rings are shaded or partly shaded. The shading denotes the rings or parts of rings that are done with the second shuttle. This is a method I use to make my patterns easier to understand. You'll also notice some arrows along the chains or going through the centre of a split ring. They tell you the direction of the work.
That first block of 7 rings is where row 2 begins and ends. The first part of it is marked A,B,C,D then the design continues on to the next pattern repeat. At the end of the row it is marked AA, BB, CC. Then it climbs into row 3, which begins the base of the diamonds.

Whether you write your patterns out using long or short notation, or draw a visual pattern, try to think not only of what you want to say, but think about how someone else might interpret your instructions. Make the assumption the the person working from your pattern is a new tatter who doesn't have any experience. Some things that you wouldn't have to tell an experienced tatter, you do have to tell a beginner. Always write your patterns so that a beginner can follow them. If a beginner can work from it, then anyone can.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

What I've been doing

I haven't been doing much lace for the newsletter or for the 25 motif challenge mostly because I've been doing this. DMC gold thread on white satin, a gift for my brother and his wife who are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. The lettering is embroidered in chain stitch using 2 strands of the same thread. This heart has turned out to be a useful little pattern and I've decided to put it in the next newsletter.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Look what the snowflake grew into

Today we're looking at snowflake number 8. It's nothing really exciting is it? Pretty much the same thing as the first snowflake with 2 rings on the outside instead of one. When I had completed all of these snowflakes I decided that I'd use each one as a base or starting point for something else and that began what I call my snowflake doilies. Here's what number 8 turned into. With nothing more that the picture and the base snowflake you could probably tat this doily even if you don't think you could.

Can you see the snowflake in the middle?

I used to stare at my crocheted tablecloth pictured on the right and think those round shapes in it remind me of tatted rings. Then one day I sat down with the drawing program and started to build rings to make the diamond shape like in the tablecloth. I needed a large enough centre to start from to get the required size and shape to make it work and I decided that I wanted to use snowflake number 8 for the centre. After that I needed to make a transition row from the snowflake into the diamond shape I had already drawn.

Once I had the rings laid out in the pattern I wanted it was just a matter of tatting the chains long enough to stretch from one grouping of rings to the next. All the rings are the same size, so can you figure it out? I have given the doily away and the picture shown here is all there is to work from.

How would you go about tatting this? When we're tatting snowflakes we start with the rings in the middle. Now we're making a doily and we have to think a little differently. We need to be able to go seamlessly from one row to the next, so where do we start?

The second row, that transition row is a grouping of 7 rings obviously some of them have to be split rings. Here is a partial drawing without any stitch count or any picots. How would you solve this puzzle? Where would you start the snowflake in order to climb out of one row into the next? How would you get from the transition row into the rest of the doily.Try printing off the drawing and tracing the pathway you think ought to be followed.

The rings on the snowflake are 5 picots separated by 3 doublestitches. The doily has very few decorative picots what do you think the stitch count is for the rings in the body of the doily? The snowflake has 6 segments of 3, or 18 stitches in each ring . The body of the doily has rings with only 3 picots or 4 segments with X number of stitches. 18 does not divide by 4 so the rings have to be either slightly smaller (16 stitches) or slightly larger (20 stitches).

I'd like to see what answers you come up with before continuing.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Design Snowflake 6

The first snowflake was skimpy, the second was much fuller looking, but still seemed a little small. So I designed number 3. I have been thinking things through and in order to keep things simple, I'm going to change the order in which the snowflakes are presented. They are numbered on the original picture in the order that I tatted them, but for teaching purposes that isn't the best order to follow. So the next snowflake we're going to look at is snowflake number 6.

See the same inner ring arrangement for all 3 snowflakes? Look at the chain, it's the same chain with 2 picots. The outer edge has been changed by simply alternating a single ring with a cloverleaf. Small changes, but a totally different look.

Maybe you think you can't design. Could you have done this? Of course you could, you just have to have the confidence in yourself to try. Take a look at number 8 could you do that one? Does it look a little bit dopey to you? After 8 quick variations on a theme, I was running out of ideas and number 8 is the results. We'll look at number 8 next.

Are you enjoying this? Is it giving you ideas? I can see that a lot of folks have been stopping by, but I don't know if it's being helpful or not without feedback. Are there questions you want to ask? Don't be shy, others probably want to know too.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Snowflake 2

The first snowflake when compared to the lacy snowflake is kind of skimpy. So I needed to beef it up. Do you see how I did that?

There were 2 changes to this design. Did you catch them both? The obvious change was the replacement of the single ring on the outside of the chain with a cloverleaf. See how much of a difference it made? The first one looks naked in comparison and the denseness of the rings around the outside of the motif makes the negative space created by the chains really stand out.
Did you notice the other change? The chains on the first motif have 3 picots between the inner ring and the outer ring. The second motif has only 2.

Could you figure out what the stitch count was for the cloverleaves? If you guessed 3, you were right.

If you didn't, take a look at the inner rings. You can see that they are the same size in both motives and I told you what the stitch count was for the first snowflake. Now look at the rings on the cloverleaves, see that they are the same size again?

When I'm designing something flat like a doily I tend to stay with the same kind of stitch count. It means that in drawing software I can start with one ring and just keep pasting it. The design is uniform so I don't have major adjustment headaches. Not only that, when someone tats the design they can enjoy the process instead of having to check every ring to make sure they have the stitch count straight. I have used different sizes in a design especially where shaping is an issue. I just don't usually.

Designing isn't hard and the best way to get into it is to do something like this. Start with a known design and change just one element. Then use your new design and change one more element. Eventually you have a totally new pattern.

Here's the pattern for the second motif. How close did you come?

Next - Number 3 are you ready for the challenge this one presents?

Edited 2016: The purpose of posting these simple designs was to get people thinking about how designs are created, but over the years beginners have commented, asking how to tat these patterns and where to start. So I have now uploaded a modified version of the diagram, with the starting point marked and arrows for the direction of tatting.  The shaded rings are tatted with the second shuttle. This should make it easier for beginners to tat.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Designing Primer

Since I'm sort of the caretaker for the 25 Motif Challenge blog I get some dialogue about things that don't show up on the challenge page.
Here are some of the things that I think it's good for although I'm sure there are more:
  1. It keeps you tatting.
  2. It gives you a tangible goal.
  3. It gives you the opportunity to make mistakes and find creative ways to fix them.
  4. Group effort gives you the encouragement to continue.
  5. The challenge is personal. You aren't competing with anyone else, you are just challenging yourself to keep going.
  6. It gives beginners a reason to keep tatting and thereby provides them the opportunity to improve their skills.
  7. It gives designers a reason to design. (As if they needed it.)
  8. It has created many wonderful new laces which give others the opportunity to share in the design process and to see how designers develop their designs.
  9. It has given newer designers a reason to write out their designs.
  10. It has given tatters a greater sense of community.

I promised that I'd start to show the design process I go through. I'm sure other designers probably do some of the same things. You've no doubt heard me mention before that I once did a series of snowflakes to go out in the Christmas cards to my family. I began with the lacy snowflake from the trio below. It's very pretty and I did enough of them for Rob's family but the lace is very dense and they took a long time to tat and I have 8 siblings! I needed something roughly the same size, but faster to make.

In the picture above you can see the 8 snowflakes I eventually ended up with. I've numbered them so that you can see how they evolved. The first one is a variation of the beaded snowflake from my web site, so I already knew the stitch count.

Here's the pattern for the first one and in case you can't read the stitch count everything is 3. Knowing where I started from, can you figure out the pattern for the next one? Experienced designers would laugh at the question, but if you haven't designed before, see if you can. Many times I have created a new design because I just made a mistake in reading a pattern. Designing isn't hard, but like tatting, it takes practice. This is a very forgiving design that's really hard to mess up, so it's a good piece to start with. And you know what? I'm still doing variations of this same design.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Newsletter Update

I am going to continue with the newsletter, although the format may change slightly. I have created 4 new drawings in the last 2 days, so I guess creativity is back in full swing. Maybe what I needed was a change of direction. Whatever, the reason, I will be continuing to produce new patterns as long as the Lord keeps giving me the ability to do so.

Want to see what I've been playing with? Here's a first draft.

Monday, October 02, 2006


For the challenge I want to do a design study in morphing motives from a simple snowflake into a heart and a butterfly. That's why I'm expecting to do 30 motives so that I have 10 of each. Like these:

Here's a motif that might work for the challenge.

One of the things I hadn't considered was that I could create a bunch of snowflakes that won't morph easily. Can you see this one as either a heart or a butterfly? I'm having a hard time imagining what it would look like. The rounded arches might make it for the bunps on a heart, but then I'll have to lose to of the inner points so it's do-able, I guess. Where do I make the butterfly body?

See what I mean about using these motives as a study in design? Drawing them out may help to see where I need to go. Or maybe not.

So either the challenge is to be that much more creative, or to create that many more motives that I have 30 useable ones. What have I gotten myself into !

One further note about the newsletter. I think I can! I see light at the end of this tunnel. I've decided to do the heart I did for my neice's wedding album in gold thread with thie names and 50 years in the open spaces. I have a couple of weeks so, Lord willing, I should be able to get it done. While waiting for some other stuff to get done on the computer, I doodled a drawing of a doily the other day that looks like it's a workable design.

All things are possible.

Saturday, September 30, 2006


This is a long rambling post about newsletters and deadlines and such. Several years ago I published my first book which a lot of people really liked. Here's a picure of the cover. The cost and aggravation of publishing it put me off doing another book. I had a lot of designs percolating around in my head, like the 3D snowflake Georgia has in her class pages that she called the Superbowl Sunday Snowflake. I think 10 is the minimum number of designs I would put in a book and I had a dozen or so already tatted and drawn.

I didn't want to go through all that bother again and I started to think that maybe a newsletter would be a good idea. I had enough unpublished works that I could fill up at least 2 or 3 newsletters and in the intervening months I figured I could do a few more to finish out the first year. My sweetheart hubby created a web page to show the pictures of the tatting in colour although the published pages were black and white.

Things went reasonably well for the first couple of years. Bookkeeping for income tax purposes was a bit of a headache with the newsletter running from November and the tax year running from January. After the first year I started having people subscribe mid-year and that was OK for a while. Then I had some people renew early, and a few who skipped a couple of issues then renewed and things got really wild. I think I've managed to get things back on track now. Maybe.

Anyway The accident last year really threw things off. My stack of already created designs has been depleted. My energy and creativity have been at low ebb for way too long. I just don't have the energy to start over again when a drawing isn't right. I get a perfect drawing, start to add in the stitch count and have to scrap the drawing and start again because there isn't enough room for numbers. The turtle in the last issue had to be done about 6 times just to get the head and neck right. I found myself going cross eyed night after night just trying to get it to work out.

This last quarter I did the wedding album, lace for 4 placemats (which I didn't use) and I need to do something special for my brother's 50th wedding anniversary. I'm one month into this quarter and I haven't started the lace for next quarter and what I really want to do is pull together the lace for a book. I'd like to use the 25 Motif Challenge to create snowflakes and morph them into hearts and then morph them again into butterflies, all while showing the designing process. It's the kind of thing that I don't think will go well into a newsletter, but maybe it would.

Creating the newsletter used to be fun, but lately it's become a chore and I panic each quarter that I won't be able to create as much lace as I need as fast as I need. While my sweetheart is very supportive he's inclined to tell me to quit if it stresses me. Doing things electronically took a huge burden off. He's such a stickler for precision that he insisted on doing labels for every envelope and made sure that the labels were straight and the stamps positioned precisely. Anything less than perfection, just wouldn't do.

So now I'm thinking can I still do the newsletter? Can I handle the pressure? Should I change the format to allow doing a series on designing? Would the subscribers go for that? What if something else slows me down like the accident did? What do you think? Anybody want to comment?

Friday, September 29, 2006

There's Life after a Newsletter!

This was a very hectic summer for tatting. When the May newsletter went out I was already thinking of the August one. As I've mentioned, I was going to use the pink doily, but when I came to doing the diagram for it I discovered that my picture was way too blurry. Rob likes to sharpen all the scanned images, but sharpening the image actually blurs the stitches. I try to do one larger project and several small ones for each newsletter and at the last minute I had to replace the large doily with an alternate project. The alternate project is this Turtle pin cushion. Isn't he cute?

I decided this year that I should put some of the Christmas-y stuff in the August issue so that people can tat them in time for Christmas. I really like how the snowman turned out and the little angel was a great way to use the face beads I found in the Dollar store.

I had in mind to tat a lot of butterflies this summer, but with doing the wedding album and yards of lace for placemats and being sick and going to the doctor for lots of pre-surgery appointments and back to doing physio 4 times a week, I just ran out of hours in my days and energy to do much of anything when I was home.

The 25 Motif Challenge is going well. I'd like to get a bunch of stuff done for that. Actually, it fits it well with a book idea I've been thinking about and I'm itching to get started. Of course doing daily postings for the challenge is another reason why I haven't had a lot of "free" time lately.

Friday, September 08, 2006

There aren't enough hours in my day

Updating the 25 Motif Challenge Blog doesn't give me a lot of time for updating my own blog. Not that I've had much time lately. Rob has been back to the doctor for more tests. I've been back to the doctor to see about getting some of the hardware out of my leg. I'm at Physio 3 times a week trying to get a bit more mobility in the leg and back for massage a couple of times a week to see if some of the kinks can't be worked out. All in all, there aren't a lot of hours left in the day.
I washed the tatting and the fabric to do the placemats, then laid out the fabric for cutting. The label on the bolt of cloth said 60 inches, but it's only 45 and I don't have enough fabric to make 4 placemats. So I'll do something else :-( I got 3 of 4 drawings for the August newsletter mostly done. One is drawn but the 3D part is giving me trouble. One of them I haven't even drawn yet and tonight and tomorrow are a write off.
I need to do some cooking/baking tonight or we won't eat tomorrow at the family picnic. It's time for our annual family reunion and each family brings a picnic lunch and then we have a corn roast for supper. This year we are combining the reunion with the family shower for the recently married couple. Did I mention that half of the invitations didn't get out and therefore no shower was planned ahead of time? Instead of placemats they'll be getting a tatted doily, not this one, my sister has it, but the same design done in cream. It's one of the doilies that went into the newsletter.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

25 or 30 Motives

For some time I have been thinking I ought to do another book, but I want to do one that shows the design process of tatting. People will sometimes ask me how I come up with my designs and I think it's maybe easier to show the process than talk about it. So for my 30 motives I'm planning on doing snowflakes, hearts and butterflies and showing how one can lead into the other. So here are my first 3 entries.

The first is a motif that I made into a doily by joining 7 motives together. To produce a more interesting starburst shape I repeated the design in reverse from the side into the centre. Click on the picture to see the doily.

The heart is a variation of the snowflake and you can see the design repeated again in the wing of the butterfly. It may take me a while to get the next set done as I don't seem to have much tatting time these days.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Burns Bashes and Disasters

I didn't get anything useful done today due to a series of unfortunate accidents. The kettle full of boiling water got knocked over a splashed all down Rob's forearm. On the way out to the doctor the garage door got stuck and wouldn't close properly. Rob slammed the door to get it to close and the glass globe on the light above the door fell off, hitting him on the head, bouncing and shattering on the driveway. After a quick trip to the doctor's office where the burn was dressed and his arm wrapped in gauze from the elbow to the wrist, we returned home.

The shattered glass was vaccuumed up from the driveway so that we could put the car in the garage and again the door wouldn't close. It took a while to figure out what was wrong. The door is about 30 years old and the frame has rusted in places so that it doesn't fit squarely on the track. It's time for a new door, so Monday they'll be coming to replace the door.

Rob has collected tools ever since he was a kid. In addition to the wood lathe, band saw, drill press and other assorted pieces of equipment, he has a wall full of hand tools. Being the quality manager for a hand tool manufacturer, On several occasions the owner of the business sent him home with boxes of tools. Consequently Rob built a custom lock/door opener for the garage. The button inside the house that opens the door also turns on the lights in the garage and another signal light inside the house. We had accidently left the garage door open once and you can't see if the door is open from inside the house, so now we have a signal light.

The new door is a different style, so the opening/locking mechanism won't work on it. The old door left a space above it that we have used for storage. We're not sure if the storage area will be usable with the new door. If the space is needed for the new door to roll up into it, we may have to move the storage area. This area is chock full of lumber and other "stuff" that we have no other place to store. So this weekend we'll have to see about re-wiring the garage, maybe moving the lumber somewhere else and of course, replacing the broken light fixture. Rob has to do all of this while bandaged from elbow to wrist.

And a fun time was had by all. NOT.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Time for a change of direction

I've changed my mind. I think I'll change the patterns going into the newsletter and use a previously designed but as yet unpublished design for the newsletter. I'm itching to start the 25 motif challenge and I have too much still to go on the things I was planning to use. Some days it's easier to go with a whole new design from scratch than to fight with something that just doesn't want to co-operate with.

For about the zillionth time Rob has suggested I discontinue the newsletter. He hates to see me frustrated and he doesn't want to see me overworked. He still hasn't figured out that I do my best work under pressure :-)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

One job finished, 5 more to go

Yayyy. I finished my 8th strip of edging! Now I can get on to making these blasted placemats and finish of the stuff for the newsletter. I still can't decide what to do on the face of the placemats. I have some daisies done, but I may not bother, or maybe I will. I don't sound indecisive, do I?

I thought my turtle pincushion was done, but the more I look at it, the less I like it. It needs more work. Drat! I wanted to get started on the challenge and I have drawings to do yet. My snowman needs some touchups and my angel needs a halo and I still have to draw the patterns out.

I went back for more physio today and boy does my leg ache. You wouldn't think that one broken leg would cause this much aggravation, but I still feel like I'm playing catch up. I haven't managed to get one newsletter out on time since last year.

I would have been on time though if it hadn't been for the wedding album. That took a lot of my tatting time this quarter, so I guess I am getting sort of caught up. Each newsletter has been delayed which means I haven't been free to start on the next one until later in the quarter. I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I should quit doing the newsletter as then I could just take it easy and do a book, publishing when I'm ready instead of trying to keep to a deadline.

I was going to show a picture of the turtle, but I think I'll just keep you guessing till he's done.

I really did hope that I could get to work on the challenge. I have in mind to do a book of snowflakes, a book of hearts and a book of butterflies with at least 10 patterns in each book. That's while I'm doing the newsletter. Keeping up with the Challenge blog has caused me to neglect my own. How many hours are there in a day? Anybody got any extra they can loan me for a while?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

My Current WIP

Having talked about the 25 Motif Challenge, you'd think I'd be one of the first to sign up, right? I haven't yet, although I will eventually, but I have some big projects on the go right now and I can't get into it until I'm done. I have a newsletter to tat for and I've just finished the lace for a wedding album that took a big chunk of my tatting time. I still have things to complete for the newsletter.

I'm working on a set of mixed media quilted placemats with tatted edging on two sides, and I think tatted daisies, and maybe a dragonfly or a turtle or something in one corner. Then I'm thinking that I'll quilt it by sewing the tatting on to the placemats and add quilted bees or something. I'm madly tatting 8 edgings to fit along the narrow side of 4 placemats. All of the tatting bits will probably go into the newsletter, but I want one placemat finished to show how it all fits together. I want the tatting on the front, but the outline quilted on the back.

At the moment I have 5 of the 8 edgings done and I'm thinking daisies because I don't have a lot of time. I'm doing all of the tatting in white because the placemats are a bridal shower gift for a couple that haven't decided on their colour scheme yet.

I want to add tatting to the placemat and quilt it to keep the batting in place, but I know I'm going to have to space things so that I can hold the batting in place in strategic locations. I could just machine stitch a checkerboard pattern on a diagonal but that seems kind of boring. I originally thought of just a spray of 3 daisies with stems on the left side, but then the whole right side would be devoid of stitching. So I though of maybe a turtle in the lower right and a dragonfly on the upper right. If I use a turtle I could do some concentric circles reminiscent of ripples in water and that would take care of the quilting in the lower right, but I'd still need to fill in the upper right.

I have been thinking that if I just scattered daisies and stems across the whole mat that would resolve the issue of spaced quilting, which may be a simpler solution, but not as creative.
Maybe a spray of daisies and a celtic knot quilt design? That's a lot of hand sewing and these things are needed for September 9th.

I'm still thinking of possibilities and what I decide determines how fast I can get the newsletter out, which determines how quickly I can join in the Motif Challenge.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

25 Motif Challenge

We've been talking about starting a tatting challenge and the more we discuss it the more possibilities there are. So that people can follow the progression of thought I thought I'd post about it on my blog so that people can offer their suggestions and input.
Here's the ideas we have been kicking around so far. We started out talking about a 100 motives. That's a lot, especially for people with busy lives. So we trimmed it back to 25 motives. We have discussed a time limit on this challenge and we considered anything from one month to the end of the year. I'm leaning more toward the end of the year personally just because of all the other things I have going.

Since the purpose of this challenge is to get as many people involved as possible we first of all need a really, really big turn out. One of the things that’s really helpful is to be able to show off what you have done and to receive encouragement from other people to keep going. For this purpose it has been suggested that each participant have their own blog where they can show what they are doing. That way everyone involved can check on each other's progress, comment on their work, offer suggestions and applaud their attempts.

Newbie tatters may want to participate but they are intimidated by the idea of creating even one new design so we have kicked around the ideas some more and here are some of the possible ways we could go.

We could break the challenge down into levels.
Beginner 5
Intermediate 15
Advanced 25
We could further add to the challenge so that for example advanced tatters need to do 5 motives one shuttle only, 5 ring and chain, 5 with 2 shuttle patterns, 5 with split rings, 5 with clunies or something similar. Intermediate could do a smaller number of the required designs.
For very new tatters, they could participate as well, not designing something new but just adding something to an existing design, such as adding beads or doing the pattern in 2 colours or other simple changes.

We haven't been talking about patterns just pictures of finished work so there's no copyright infringement to worry about. However, if we do end up with a tremendous response we could do a publication and include the designs much as was done years ago when a lot of the on-line tatters all contributed to a group publication. We haven't got that far in the discussion yet.
Where new tatters want to try modifying an existing pattern they can begin with any of the public domain designs without any concerns about copyright infringement.

What is a motif? We have kicked it around and considered that anything that is one round is a motif. So it could be a round, square, heart, cross, or butterfly shape or anything else your little heart desires. We could do 5 of each or whatever you want.

One of the other things we have discussed is that if the blogs all linked back to one another we could more easily see how each person has progressed. Blogs will let you add links down the side so each time somebody signs up, everybody else adds them to their blog links and they add everybody's links to their blog.

Anyway these are some of the things we have been discussing and I thought before a lot of mis-information started flowing through the tatting lists that it might be helpful to see what's been discussed so far.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Heart Bookmark

This is another small bookmark which can be done with size 10 thread. This design is just a little cloverleaf with a chain around the outside. The heart shape is more pronounced if you make the picot at the point of the heart a little bit bigger than the other picots in the outer chain.

The Doily that Didn't Make it

I haven't written much mostly because I picked up a summer cold. I have been working on some tatting though, mostly things to go in the newsletter. I was planning on including this geometrical doily I did some time ago. Years ago I did snowflakes for my siblings which were enclosed in their Christmas cards. I did one design which I loved, but it took a long time to complete and needing 8 snowflakes in a short amount of time I decided against it.

I started over with a much simpler pattern which worked up quickly but wasn't as lovely, so I did another variation. The second was more intricate and took longer to make. So I did a third variation and then I could decide which one to use. I had 3 of 8 variations so I either needed to make 7 more of one of the choices or keep going and make 5 new variations. Time was running out so I opted for 5 new designs.

I have a crochet tablecloth made up of motives that have a filled in wine glass shape the stem of which is created by a diamond shaped area of open work. This open work looks a lot like tatted rings and every time I looked at the table cloth I wondered if I could re-create it in tatting. What does that have to do with the aforementioned snowflakes? I drew out a possible working plan and selected one of the snowflakes as a starting point. Over the years I have taken several of these snowflakes and turned them into doilies which I call my snowflake doilies. This geometric design was one of them.

It isn't going to make it into the newsletter though. After taking several pictures of it so that I had the design recorded, I gave it away. Trouble is the pictures aren't clear enough to draw a complete pattern from. I'm going to have to re-tat it to get the picture written down and some other things have come up which have taken a big chunk of my tatting time. I suppose I will have to re-do it sometime, but it isn't something I'm looking forward to. Having enjoyed the process the first time through I'm not looking forward to repeating it.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

So That's Where It Went

I've been feeling for a long time now like I was missing part of my e-mail "conversations". It's kind of been like missing a sentence here and there in a dialogue. Very disconcerting.

Yesterday hubby was using the DVD burner on my PC to convert some home movies to DVD so I used his computer to check mail. Imagine my surprise to find that several of the messages from my e-mail lists identified as SPAM! Since our IP introduced spam filtering my husband and I have had far fewer ads for Viagra, mortgages and the rest. What a relief to be rid of all that garbage mail.

Some time ago hubby went in and changed our spam filtering from normal to aggressive. It was about that time that I started to feel left out of the conversation. My e-mail is set to delete spam off the server. I never see it. Yesterday I changed my e-mail settings so I could see what was happening. Yep. The system has been deleting my tatting e-mail.

The good news is, I'm not losing my marbles, people aren't talking behind my back, it's just a good old computer glitch.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Another simple book mark

Each of these little bookmarks allows beginners to learn new little techniques. This is another of the bookmarks that can be done using chains only, but it requires the use of a paperclip to make mock rings (MR). Begin at the base of the butterfly and when completed the end is used to make the optional long zigzag chain.

Slip the paperclip over the shuttle thread before you begin. A large paperclip gives you something that is easy to hold onto and it will hold open the beginning space so that you can close the mock ring. Start where marked, tat the required number of stitches and then pull on the paperclip. This pulls the core thread back through the stitches to open up a loop. Slide the shuttle through the loop and pull the MR closed. First mock ring completed.

Again slide the paperclip over the shuttle thread and tat the next MR joining it to the first. The tiny ring at the top has 2 picots for the butterflies feelers.

Repeat for the second side of the butterfly. Join to the base of the first mock ring and add a zigzag chain to complete.

A zigzag chain, is also known by the names ricrac and sometimes rickrack, sets or Victorian sets. A regular chain wil curve because the top of the stitches is slightly wider than the bottom. If you want a straight chain you do a zigzag chain. This is produced by tatting the first half of the doublestitch for 4 or 5 stitches and then doing the second half for 4 or 5 stitches. Each time you switch from first or second halves the direction of the top part of the stitch changes giving the chain a zigzag top.