Monday, September 24, 2007

Tatted Dress

Laura recently posted a picture of a tatted dress, hat and purse that had been acquired by the Mobile Alabama Tatter's Guild and it reminded me of another tatted dress. Some years ago a few of the Toronto area tatters joined together in an email list for a brief time. One of the participant's mentioned that her mother had tatted a dress many years ago. Since my computer has had the files migrated through several different drives a lot of the older data has been deleted, so I am working from memory.

The woman who tatted the dress was Sheila Dusome and at the time I heard about it she lived in Barrie, Ontario. As I recall, her daughter said that the dress was tatted one winter without the aid of any kind of a pattern. Sheila worked on it in the evenings and did the shaping entirely by varying the size of the rings used. The dress wasn't made for any particular purpose, Sheila just wanted to tat a dress to wear. Years later the dress was also worn by her daughter who is the model in this picture and I think the daughter's name is Sharon. The dress was taken to the Maple Leaf Tatter's workshop and anyone who attended that year might have more information on it.
I have lost all of the contact information I had for Sharon or I'd just write and ask her for the details. Her mother didn't have a computer, so all of the contact we had with Sheila was through her daughter.
Sharon sent me this picture of her wearing the dress. I don't think it was floor length, it was probably mid calf, but still and enormous amount of work. If anyone attended the workshop or was a member of the Toronto Tatters email list and has more information, please feel free to share the details.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Five years of creating newsletters

I have been doing the Tatted Lace Pattern Collection for that last 5 years. I've designed snowflakes, doilies, necklaces earrings, edgings, motives and a lot of 3D stuff like flowers, snowflakes, and Christmas angels. Here's a review of the designs from the past year:

There were 2 doilies, a snowflake, 2 pairs of earrings, a heart frame, 2 bookmarks, 3 3D flower designs, a motif turned into a V-neck collar, a chatelaine, an amulet bag, 2 edgings, a necklace, and a snowman family.

I can see my tatting progress each year because it's all recorded in the newsletter. I know how much I tatted, what kinds of things I've made and relatively how long they took. I know that none of them took more than 3 months because every 3 months there's another newsletter. I don't look back over the year and think, "What did I make this year?", I know what I made because it's all recorded in the newsletter. At least, most of it is. I tat more than what is represented here but this is a big chunk of it.

One of the benefits of the 25 Motif Challenge is that it give people an opportunity to keep a record of their own progress. A lot of people when they started out, didn't think that they could tat 25 motives in a year. Maybe for beginners it is a bit of a stretch, but piece by piece your skill and your speed improve and suddenly you realize that you are doing it, you are accomplishing that impossible goal of 25 Motives.

Over the last 5 years I have designed and executed an average of 19 patterns per Volume. It started out as a black and white publication that was mailed out 4 times a year. Now it is a colour publication emailed out 4 times a year. The subscription price when I started was $20 Canadian and 5 years later it's still $20 Canadian.

If you are interested in ordering the newsletter, or if you are interested in past volumes, click here for the order form. If you want past volumes, please specify. The pictures for the projects in each volume can be seen here.

Volume 1 Edition 1, Edition 2, Edition 3, Edition 4

Volume 2 Edition 1, Edition 2, Edition 3, Edition 4

Volume 3 Edition 1, Edition 2, Edition 3, Edition 4

Volume 4 Edition 1, Edition 2, Edition 3, Edition 4

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A new look

A couple of years ago I tatted a lace collar for my sister for her birthday. I used a basic ring and chain base, several rows of mignonette, and a very frilly floral edging I had designed, to create this ruffled piece of loveliness.
I had envisioned the floral edging being flat, but a gross mis-calculation resulted in a bzillion more repeats than necessary. However, by the time I had completed about one third of the final row I knew that the only way to fix it was to cut off the last 2 rows and redo the penultimate row with single large outward facing rings to space out the floral repeats in the final row. This realization occurred at the same point at which I knew there were not enough hours in the day to cut off the rows and experiment with an alternate variation and still have it completed in time for her birthday. I tatted on with this gloriously full ruffle and completed it as shown.

Some time later my sister admitted that while she liked the ruffles, the collar was too large for any of the clothes she owned and that she much prefers her dresses and blouses with the neckline - at the neck. Consequently she wondered if the collar could have a piece cut out of it and made smaller so that the neck opening was smaller.

I did mention that there are several rows of mignonette, didn't I? It's really hard to hide short ends in the bare threads of mignonette. I was really loathe to try retro tatting 4 or 5 tiny mignonette rings to give me enough thread to hide ends and I suggested that a better alternative was to add more rows at the neck to decrease the circumference of the opening. It sounded like a good plan at the time and the collar was returned for re-working.

The first problem occurred when I pulled out a ball of thread to start working on it. The thread I had was a different dye lot. I know it's white, but there are shades of white and this collar used a bright white and the ball of remaining thread in my stash was creamy white. The little bit of the bright white thread I had was insufficient to finish the collar so I put the collar aside while I considered what to do.

The second problem was to design some inner rows that would bring the neckline up the required distance. I sat down with the drawing program and sketched out the existing pattern and several variations of inner rows to see what I could come up with....................

The third problem was that everything I tried looked awful. A single row of ring and chain large enough to fill the gap was too big and heavy for all the delicate rows of mignonette. It made the lace look clunky instead of light and airy. Two rows of ring and chain either filled in too much of the neckline or not enough. Rows of chains didn't match the design and more elaborate edgings detracted from the elegant and lacy floral edging.

I put it away to think about how to resolve my problems of no thread and no pattern, which, when you think of it, are pretty basic problems. That was in Feb 2006 when I drew out the pattern of the existing collar to put it in the newsletter.

The other day I was rummaging around in one of my storage chests and I found a bag with some tatting bits and a ball of thread. Not just any thread, the thread, the thread that is the exact size and dye lot for the collar. I had put it away for safe keeping, so safe that I couldn't find it. Since none of my drawings had worked I figured I might as well just attach the thread and "wing it".

It worked. The collar now has a smaller inner circumference. There are 2 more rows of mignonette about half the depth of the lower rows and one top row of mignonette/small ring. It's still light and airy, the rows gradually and naturally decrease so that it lays flat and it looks like it was designed that way. I'm quite happy with the results.

All that's left to do is finish up the sides and modify the closure slightly. I still haven't decided whether I should stay with the single closure at the top or use 2. The original, and another at the new top. Either way, the collar is done now, and I can block it and send it back to my sister.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Buttertart Squares

One of the recipes that keeps them coming back for seconds. Buttertart Squares. Ooey, Gooey, Yummy. I've tried a lot of recipes and then I took the best parts of all of them to make this one.

Buttertart Squares

1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 cups flour
Cream butter and sugar together then add flour and press int well greased oblong pan.(Mine is a 13 1/2 x 8 3/4 glass Pyrex dish.)
Bake 10 min at 350

4 eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3 cups raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
Beat eggs and sugar until frothy.
Add the rest of the ingredients and pour over base. Bake at 350 for 25-30 min or until done.
Cool and cut into squares.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Catch up

I feel like I sort of dropped off the face of the earth blog wise. This last month or so has been kind of crazy. Hubby over worked himself and was consequently in pain so I got him a hot water bottle. Heating pads are nice but there aren't always electrical outlets in reach. While filling the bottle it "burped" spilling boiling water over the back of my hand. I had blisters right where the tatting thread lays across the back of my hand.

My sweety was diagnosed with Meniere's and some days he gets to feeling pretty dizzy. On a scheduled trip to the hospital we took a cab and the cab driver closed the door (not just pinched, the door actually latched) with my hand still in it. My left hand was swollen for a while so not much tatting or typing got done.

Then I got news that my brother was in the hospital and we kind of hung around the phone/computer waiting for updates. So again, not much got done. Then we got the news that he had passed away. The first funeral was in Connecticut where he and his wife have lived for that past 11 years. Some of the family made it down to the States. His wife and kids and 3 of my siblings were there. My BIL officiated and had some of the service taped.

The following week there was a service up here in Canada and we saw the taped portion of the service from the week before. It was interesting that his boss from IBM was at the funeral and he spoke of Bob in quite glowing terms and mentioned that the team he was working with set up programs for IBM globally and each person knew their own section well, but Bob was the only one who understood how all of it worked together. He seemed at a loss as to how he was going to replace Bob. I can understand it. Bob was brilliant, capable and well able to organize other people and encourage them to tackle and surmount any obstacles.

There was some talk at the funeral on Thursday of cancelling the family reunion, but we decided to go ahead with it and the whole tribe except for Bob's family attended. Sue probably wasn't in the mood for a festive occasion, but had she attended, the mood would have been more subdued, but we would have just closed in around her and comforted her. I think 2 funerals after a month of camping out in a hospital was just too much for her and I expect she just crashed with the kids.

Knowing that I'd have a long car ride going up to the camp where the reunion was held, I decided it was a great opportunity to sew some tatting onto my bag. I mentioned in an earlier post that my jeans are black and the 2 craft bags I use are also black so I figured that I would eventually add tatting to all of them. The other day I was cleaning up and had to move some tatting aside, so I slid it onto one of my bags and decided that it looked pretty good. I used the ride to sew it all down. I had intended to attach this to a pillow, but in 2 years I haven't attached it yet, so a bag is as good a place as any to display it.
Attaching tatting to a bag already filled with lumpy stuff makes it difficult to do anything neatly or accurately. I noticed after I had it all sewn down that there was a big blank spot in the middle so I filled it in with a butterfly that happened to be stuffed in one of the bag's zippered compartments.
It doesn't show very well in the picture, but the flowers are 3D. I tacked them down around the edges but left them so that they still stand out. One bag done, 2 more to go.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


The Snowman Family

Tatting for the Christmas season.