Friday, June 22, 2007


Someone asked me if I had a pattern for a chatelaine and I didn't at the time. Traditionally a chatelaine would hold the keys to all of the valuables in the house and it would be worn either around the neck or on a belt at the waist.

I don't like the idea of something hanging around my neck, so I wanted a design that could be hung from a belt or a belt loop. I was also thinking that if you are sitting and tatting (not many of us stand to tat) that something at the waist would be closer to your work anyway.

I figured that if I was making a tatted chatelaine, it would probably be for a tatter to use. I suppose different fibre arts would use different tools, but I only included those things that I use all the time. I have a pair of scissors, a fine crochet hook and several needles for hiding ends. My scissors are the folding variety and quite heavy, so I wanted the tatting to be strong enough to hold the weight and not break.

I needed a base medallion to attach the various "ends" to so I came up with the idea of tatting onto a plastic curtain ring and attaching a spring clip like the kind on a dog leash, to the plastic ring. That way most of the weight is on the plastic ring, not the lace. The spring clip attaches easily to a belt loop or can be slid over a belt. I also wanted the design to be flexible enough that it would be easy to add more ends for more tools, like picot gauges or magnifying glasses, or whatever else people might need. The simplest way to attach these tools was a jump ring and lobster claw clasp. The lobster claw allows you to remove the tools when necessary.

One of the tools I use the most and always have to go look for, is a needle to hide my ends. I use several different needles, depending on the size of thread I am working with at the time. If I'm using size 80 thread I want a very fine needle that will let me hide the ends without pulling the tatting out of shape. Very fine needles don't have an eye big enough for threading size 10 thread into, so I need a larger needle for that. I want to be able to carry the needles around with me and not get stuck with them. My solution was to use a piece of felt the same colour as the tatting. The end with the felt sewn onto it folds up and secures with an invisible dome fastener. The needles are slid into the felt and the felt is folded over and snapped closed. Even tatting needles could be secured this way.

I did a sketch using beads and the sketch kind of reminded me of a flower with a light colour in the centre a darker colour outside and then green on the chains. Unfortunately I didn't have enough beads of the right colours to do the whole thing, so I made the one pictured without beads. I did the sample at right with beads to see what it would look like. I like the idea of beads on it and I may do another at some time with beads.
I don't didn't use a chatelaine until I was making the little beaded black amulet bag shown in a previous post. Every few stitches I needed to use a fine hook to make a bead join. I had a very fine size 16 hook and I lost it. Since I had just made the chatelaine it seemed like a very good idea to attach it to something big enough that it wouldn't get lost again. I asked Rob to cut it off at the flat bit and drill a hole in the end. Now it's on my new chatelaine and I'm not likely to lose it again. (just in case I bought 2 anyway LOL) When I started the amulet bag I used the chatelaine continually as I alternated using needles to thread on beads and the hook to make bead joins. Now it has become a standard part of my tatting stuff. I know that if I grab my shuttles thread and the chatelaine I'll have everything I need to work on any of my projects.
The pattern for this design is in the latest Tatted Lace Pattern Collection newsletter.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Decorating Dilemma

I have my jeans selected for the Tatting Treasures from Trash challenge. I was thinking I could just zip a seam along the bottom and I'd be done. I used to sew a lot, but I haven't done much machine sewing for years. Since I started this challenge, I feel obligated to actually make a bag out of jeans rather than using an existing bag. But I have this problem.......

When I'm out an about and I need to carry more than just shuttle and thread I use one of 2 fanny packs. (My apologies to those of you from other parts of the world that object to the term.) I'd show you the other one too, but they are identical.

When I'm teaching and I need to carry books, several types of thread, handouts and all kinds of paraphernalia, I use this large heavy duty craft tote. It has a couple of pouches on the outside and another zippered pouch on the inside and it's big and durable.

When I'm away from home and need to carry several projects to keep me busy I use this intermediate size bag which is roomy with a couple of pouches on the outside and a zippered gusset in the bottom that opens it up to be a little larger for when I over stuff it.

Notice a recurring theme here? All of these bags are basic black, that goes with everything. I never worry about being co-ordinated, I just always use basic black. Notice the jeans? They're basic black too. All of the jeans in my closet are black except for the blue pair with the ripped out knees I keep for painting in.

So here's my problem. Do I decorate one (or all) of these bags for the challenge? Heaven knows I have enough bits, pieces and half done laces to completely cover them all. The stuff I showed here was just a part of the collection. Or do I make the jean bag?

I obviously don't need another black bag, so I was thinking about making a back pack so that I had something to use when we go bike riding, except that bike riding is one of those times when I don't usually carry any of my tatting with me. Between needing to concentrate on riding and juggling the parrot, I don't have free hands for a shuttle. Carrying the parrot while wearing a back pack is an invitation for the bag to get chewed. Lace and bag alike are likely to get ripped.

Also, making a backpack out of this pair of jeans is going to be awkward because of where the wear spots are. I can do it, but it will mean taking it apart and salvaging usable bits to re-assemble. That makes for a lot of machine sewing and spending tatting time fussing with other stuff that I don't want to do.

On the other hand, since I started this ball rolling I feel obligated to go through the process.....What do you think? should I make a bag or go with an existing bag?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More FPs than WIPs

This little amulet bag is one of the designs from the latest TLPC newsletter. It was such a stinker to do mostly because I was working in black thread, doing split rings and adding in beads. I have no idea what someone would use one of these little bags for, but a while ago someone said they were interested in a pattern for one, so I designed one.

Actually, the bag itself wasn't that hard to do except for the first bottom row where the front and and back are joined together. The first time around I tatted all 4 rings of the first pattern repeat and then I couldn't climb up into the next row. The black thread was hard to see and doing the bead joins with a teeny tiny hook, I kept splitting the thread and having to carefully untangle it without shredding the thread.

I created it with a fold over closure and to keep it closed I added a see through dome fastener which doesn't show up in the picture. The pointed section could be omitted and it would just have an open top.
The fringe was added at the end. I simply took a long length of the thread, strung on the blue beads, added one black bead at the end and then ran the needle back through the beads. I played around with doing a design in the fringe and after drawing up a few possibilities I scrapped them all and went for simple.
I make an effort to create new and different things for the newsletter. Several people have said they really like doilies so I design some doilies, but other people have said they don't care for doilies at all so it becomes a challenge to come up with new interesting and different things for each issue. A number of people in the 25 Motif Challenge decided to join the challenge just to see if they could tat that many items in a year. Doing the newsletter, I know what I do each year as many of the articles find their way into the newsletter.
Some of the things I create are intended to be gifts, but other things, like the amulet bag I have no use for, they were created solely because it was a pattern someone requested. They go into my stash of completed items and when I find an appropriate person to gift it to, it's gone. Consequently I'm getting quite a collection of Finished Projects rather than Works in Progress. The only WIPs I have are the ones I am currently working on and as soon as a WIP becomes a FP I start another one.
By the way, if anyone has ideas for patterns they'd like created, let me know. As soon as my current WIP is done I need another idea!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Square Motif Play

I created this square motif for the 25 Motif Challenge. I had seen a picture of a crocheted something or other on the internet and I took the general idea of it and recreated it in tatting. Since I like to see the pattern within pattern created when you join motives together I did 4 of them. They were pretty enough but 4 little joined motives don't look like much of anything. I kind of liked the negative space in the middle and wanted to recreate it on the outside border. I also wanted to repeat the arches used in the corners so that I could carry a design element of the motif into the outer border

This was my first attempt. A week's worth of tatting time just to see that it looked like crap. Grrrr! The arch between the motives ruffled like mad and just wouldn't lie flat. The chains around the corners took away all of the square definition and made the corners round. Really ugly and no way to fix it except cut it off.

Once I cut the offending border off I had an arch section of the exact proportions that I could play around with. I didn't want to do anything elaborate on the corners because I wanted the focal point to be the arches, but I also didn't want them rounded.

Here's the final result and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. The negative space created pattern within pattern so that the joined motives look more like a planned whole than just a collection of motives. Your eye is drawn to the X created between the motives and it takes a moment to see that it's just 4 motives with a border.

Sorry to burst the bubble of those who think that designers just "get it right" the first time. The truth is that sometimes it's just a lot of slow slogging doing it over and over again until you like the results.