Tuesday, December 21, 2010

From our house to yours - Recipes for yummy cookies

These are some of our favourite cookies because they not only taste yummy, they look good on a plate. The round balls are Chocolate Carousels, a peanut butter ball full of fruit and nuts topped with chocolate. No baking and simple enough for kids to make. The white looking Lemon Squares are a shortbread base with a lemon topping that can be thrown in the blender whirred and poured over the crust. I keep a bottle of lemon juice on hand so I can whip these up whenever necessary. The pretty mincemeat poinsettias, are a twist on the usual mincemeat tarts that make a festive addition to a cookie plate.

Chocolate Carousels

1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon soft butter
I cup icing sugar
1/2 cup (scant) chopped dates
1/2 cup chopped pecans or filberts (filberts were used)
1/2 cup drained maraschino cherries chopped
Cream together the peanut butter, butter and icing
sugar and fruit and nuts and form into 1 inch balls.
Melt 4oz of semi sweet chocolate and drip over balls.

Lemon Squares

1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup powdered icing sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
Cream butter and sugar together then add flour until
thoroughly mixed and press into a 13x9 inch pan.
Bake at 350 F 20-25 minutes until just starting to
brown as it will be returned to the oven when the
topping is added.

Beat together
4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled), if using fresh
add the grated lemon zest for extra flavour.
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup all purpose flour
I do the topping in the blender adding the ingredients
one at a time as it's running, finishing with the lemon
juice as the blender starts to have difficulty working.
Return to the over for another 25 minutes or more
until the top is set. I time it for 25 minutes and start
watching until the centre is set and firm to the touch.
Sprinkle with icing sugar, cool and cut.

Mincemeat Poinsettias

1 cup margarine
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
bottle of mincemeat
maraschino cherry pieces
Cream together butter and cheese. Beat in eggs and
vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder. Stir into
mixture. Form a stiff dough. cover and chill. Roll out
half of mixture into 1/8 thick rectangle. Cut into 3 inch
squares, slit from corners. Put a dollop of mincemeat
in centre, and fold down alternate corners and press
a cherry in centre. Return excess dough to
refrigerator. Repeat with second half.
Bake at 375 for 12-14 minutes.

Guaranteed to add on pounds, but it's a celebration and now and then, we're allowed to splurge. By the way, the holly in the corner of the placemat is a larger variation of the pattern for the skates done in size 10 thread.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A gift for you

This year I decided not to send snowflakes in our Christmas cards and I tatted ice skate ornaments instead. Eight pairs of teeny tiny skates were made. One thing I've noticed with tatting is that the details can often take as much time as tatting the whole project. Tatting skates takes a whole lot more time than a snowflake, mostly because we have 2 feet and need 2 skates. I thought I'd make these skates wearable instead of as ornaments, so I added a tiny pair of holly leaves to hide the bar fastener behind them. An extra pair of tatted holly leaves with red beads for berries and an itsy bitsy bell. I would have rather used 2 bells so that they jingled more and I could have put them on the skates, but I didn't have enough bells and couldn't find a store that had more of them that tiny. (I'll bet that after Christmas I see them everywhere I go.)

I expect these to be worn, maybe on a coat and they may get wet, so I thought the usual paperclips that form the blade of the skates might rust. When I found these red plastic coated paperclips, I thought they were perfect. Making tiny blades for skates, lacing up tiny little boots, tatting minuscule holly leaves and sewing on the bar fastener took almost as much time as tatting the skates, but finally they were done. TA DA! Tatted ice skates.

I thought you might like to tat a pair of your own, so here is the pattern. The whole thing is mostly rings of 4-4 and chains of 2 except for the chains at the toe and heel on the first row, and at the toe on the second row; which are 3.
Corrected pattern

An experienced tatter probably doesn't need anything more than the diagram, but some people might find a little more instructions helpful especially with the shaping of a 3D object. The first 3 rings at the toe all join into the picot of the first ring and when you are finishing and inserting the paperclip blade, that's where the paperclip is inserted, so make sure the picot isn't too small I used all same size picots. The three rings at the heel are made the same way, so make sure that picot isn't tiny either. Then when you make the second side of the sole of the skate the rings are joined to the matching ring on the first side. End with a shuttle join, and split ring to climb into the second row.

On the second row join each ring into the base of the ring on the first row. End with a shuttle join and split ring to climb into the third row.

The third row shapes the top of the foot. After the split ring, (no chain) tat another ring joining it to the base of the ring at the tip of the toe, then tat a third ring joining it to the base of the next ring. Think of it like a clover leaf. Then tat a chain of 2 and one ring joined to the base of the ring on one side of the foot and switch shuttles to tat the ring on the other side of the foot. Chain 2 and tat the next pair of rings, one on the left and one on the right. Then chain 2 and continue tatting ring and chain around the top of the shoe finishing with chain 2 shuttle joined between the last pair of left and right rings.

Row 4 begins the boot with a split ring. This split ring marked with an asterisk is the new front of the boot. Chain 2 and tat the next ring joining it to the base of the ring along the side of the boot. continue working around the boot ending with chain 2 shuttle joined into the top of the front ring. You should have 10 rings and 10 chains.

Row 5 and 6 begin with a split ring and are just a repeat of rings joined to the base of the ring on the previous row and chains. Make sure that you have 10 rings and chains on both rows.

Finish by breaking off the excess part of the paper clip and insert the remaining overlapping section one end in front and one end in back. Then use a strand of contrasting thread and lace up the front of the boot and tie a tiny bow at the top. Repeat for the second boot and tat a chain of about 30 stitches to join the two skates together.

Just an additional note, these were tatted with size 20 thread and measure about 1.25 inches.

The holly leaves that were used as an excuse to hide the bar pin at back are just cloverleaves joined together. You tat the first cloverleaf and do a shoelace tie before doing the next ring or you end up with a wreath shape instead of holly. Tat the next 2 rings, one with each shuttle and the last ring as a split ring. If you want to add 3 beads between the leaves the beads need to be on the shuttle before you start. They're tiny leaves that take only a small amount of thread, so you could unwind the shuttle and add them on in the middle. Slide the beads into place and do another shoelace tie, then tat the split ring starting the second leaf and tat one ring with each shuttle, joining the 2 leaves together at the side, followed by another shoelace tie and a final cloverleaf joining the last ring to the first cloverleaf of the second leaf. This same design can be made larger just by increasing the stitch count to 3,4, 5, 6 etc. and it still seems to work.

Friday, November 26, 2010

It must have been fate

When you "have your finger in too many pies", there comes a time when you really have to sit yourself down and give yourself a good talking to. There are just so many hours in a day and when you start avoiding things like sleeping, eating and carrying on normal conversations with your other half, it's time to realize that not EVERY challenge to tat something new and interesting has to result in a finished project. So when the Fringe Element, tatting exchange for something from The Place I Call Home I reluctantly realized that I just didn't have the time. Then there was an online challenge to make a set of earrings and pendant and again I closed down the web site and kept plodding along with the "jobs I had to do". I even resisted IsDihara's challenge to decorate your chocolate box with tatting, or I sort of resisted, until this happened.
I was pulling some coin rollers out of the top shelf of the closet and this fell on my head. I couldn't manage a full size box, but what harm would it do to make a little something for such a tiny box? So first I covered it in pink paper.
I had visions of doing something Victorian in deep red and yellow, but was prevented by my lack of yellow thread. I have some yellow, but not the deep dark yellow-y gold colour I was imagining. For that matter I didn't have the dark red in my pallet either. So knowing that I really didn't have enough spare time to play with possibilities I turned to the boxes contents and thought I might see if I could make some lace chocolates for my box. That's when I realized that brown is another colour I don't have. I turned to my embroidery threads, but splitting skeins of thread wasn't something I wanted to do for any but the tiniest of projects. So I almost gave up until I remembered that I had been given a mixed bag of size 10 crochet cotton which happened to include a ball of brown. A little brown cloth and a little bit of tatting and I had the contents taken care of.

Then I turned my attention back to the box. With the box covered in pink I had effectively cut down some of my options and since I didn't have a lot of ideas percolating in my head, I settled for plain old white since it would let me keep my other options open. I made a simple ring and chain band to go around the side, but it looked skimpy. So I turned my attention to the top and began to cover the lid with more ring and chain tatting adjusting for the corners. It wasn't too long before I realized that I might end up with something weird happening in the middle, so I switched to doing rows of split rings.

That gave me a very uninspired box covered in plain white lace. It needed something to finish off the outer edge so I added a border of gold chain which finished the edge nicely and then I though a matching gold ribbon would be just the thing the box needed. One band of gold looked off balance so I tatted a second to cross in the other direction. That gave me a plain white box with a gold ribbon, but that wasn't really what I had been imagining so I took a look online at Victorian chocolate boxes and when I saw the flowers I knew what I needed to do.
Delicate violets with yellow gold beads in the centres. A single leaf and matching stem and I had the topping that my little box needed. I removed it from the box so that you can see it better here, although neither shot shows the gold edge along the bottom.

At least this was one challenge I didn't have to forgo entirely, but now that it's done I need to hurry up and get my Christmas card tatting done. I know my hubby, the first Christmas card he gets, he'll be wanting to send out ours. My niece has a habit of sending hers out in November, so we have this ongoing battle about when is the right time to send cards. I'd rather it were later to give me more tatting time. He'd rather it were sooner so that they don't arrive late. I'm off to tat snowflakes.

One more picture to show you a view of the gold border along the edge.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I had to share

I received an email from Coletta when she ordered the Tatted Flurries book, and attached to it was a picture of her entry in the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival. She's the only tatter and her work was judged against the other heritage artists and she took the 2nd top award. I wrote and asked permission to share the picture with you:

The basic pattern is the tulip pattern from Linda Davis which she had memorized after making two of the four petals. The other flowers were from the same tulip pattern. She made two flowers from the basic pattern and  set one inside the other at an angle. The top part was a simple ring with chain work going round and round with lots of double stitches and picots to make the fluffy center. One of the leaf patterns was from Linda Davis' page but she's not sure about the other.

The Tsumami silk rose buds and two other buds were already done from when she used to do Tsumami which is the art of folding squares of silk. Each flower petal, buds, and leaves are separate squares going through 7 - 9 stages of folding. It dates back to the Edo Era of Japan about 1640.

She had a few stems already but had to do several more as she didn't have enough for the flowers. There are no wires in the stems - the stems are made by rolling the inside material with a glue/paste mixture and then rolling the outside material over that. The outside stem material has been dyed to the color needed and she still had some stamens made from years ago.

The arranging and tacking down took about four hours as she kept re-arranging the flowers. None of the tatting is glued down. She took a push-tack and push the tack into the mat board. Using a large needle with monofilament line, she took the needle from the back to the front catching a picot and going back down in the same hole.

The threads were DMC pearl 8 and Lizbeth thread but she doesn't remember the size. (I'd guess 20 as that seems to match the perle 8) She wanted to do a presentation bouquet that would lay on a table but then
remembered that people love to touch. She had two old frames an oval and a round one and decided that the round one was the one for the look that she wanted. What she liked the most was the different textures that were achieved from the two fiber arts.

I think Coletta created a wonderful work of art with her tatting It's the kind of thing anyone would be proud to hang on their wall and it just goes to show what can be done with tatting. I love seeing people push the envelope and do things with tatting besides making doilies.

Monday, November 15, 2010

And the winner is................................

There were 80 people who added their comments,with awesome ideas of what to do with snowflake patterns whether they are done in white or in colours. Several people reported problems with commenting, but I included them too. Since I thought everyone might like to see the ideas I put them in a list.

Join together as a choker or necklace
Hang on tree, in door frame, IV pole, ceiling, in window
make dreamcatcher
make bookmark with joined snowflakes
make flowers
hanger for earrings
doily or mat
make purse
appliques on sweatshirts, coats, purses, Christmas tree skirts, quilts, scarfs, little girls dresses, cummerbund
zipper pulls or fobs
decorating quilts with snowflakes
tree covered only in snowflakes
decorate book cover
invitation for a winter wedding
gift tags
runner edging
border a skirt
Santa's hat
pill box
line with fabric for a purse.
ornament drape
centerpiece when placed on satin balls and placed in a clear bowl or vase
scatter them randomly on your holiday table
use the smaller ones on your place cards at dinner
on lamps shades, ceiling fan pulls
in live or artificial plants
Arrange them in the shape of a tree on a wall above a table so that it looks like it is sitting on the table
clock face in place of the numbers
decoupage them on plates or tins and fill with cookies to use and give as gifts
decorating a holiday wreath for the front door
holiday place mats
hostess gift
edgings on pillows and on pockets
made 2 alike and put a bit of tulle with potpourri to put in lingerie drawer
tacked to the walls of cube at work
tatted snowflakes in the "V" on shirts
decorate a picture frame

There were so many great ideas, I think I may have to tat all of the designs over again in colour just to try out some of them. If I'm going to do a blitz of snowflakes, I think I may as well join the 25 Motif Challenge again just to keep track.

Add of course, the thing you are all waiting for..........the winner of today's draw. The names were all printed and put in a hat and hubby pulled out a name. The winner is:

Rose Anne B

Please contact me with your address so that I can mail your book out to you. If I don't get a response, another name will be chosen.

Friday, November 12, 2010

When is a snowflake, not a snowflake?

Answer: When it's an ornament cover.

Like this Peek-A-Boo Daisy done in size 20 thread over a 2.5 inch ball. You can do this with any snowflake just by tatting 2 of them and joining them at the tips of the points. You can measure for a snug fit - and it does need to be snug - just by tatting one snowflake and laying the tips along the seam of a plastic ornament or from the hanger to the navel on a satin ball. If the tips just touch along the seam or opposite points just reach top and bottom, them you have chances of a good fit. If the snowflake overlaps the seams or top and bottom points, look for a smaller snowflake or a larger ball.


When it's flowers.

Like Polly done in size 20 Lizbeth Violet Pink Dk #635 and Violet Pink Med #634; Inverted Heart done in Raspberry Pink Med #624; and Phaedra done in Raspberry Pink Lt #623. Each picot on the outer edges of the snowflake has been sewn down. I expect that fabric glue would work, but might not wash as well. The "stems" are green ribbon and the leaf is one from one of my earlier pattern books, but it could have been made with ribbon too. Another alternative would be to use fabric paint.


When it's a shooting star.

Like Starburst done in size 20 Lizbeth in Christmas Red #671 and Red Burst #147. Each picot on the outer edge is sewn down. Since I used 2 colours I had 2 starting ends and 2 finishing ends. I ran out of thread just at the last outer point and had to add more thread in, so I had some extra thread ends. I was trying out different things with the snowflakes and when I saw the way it looked with all the trailing ends I thought I'd just leave them. so a did a crocheted chain on each end and then sewed them down. The ribbon with the gold edges was added for some extra pizazz. You could just sew the ends in and use fabric paint for the trail.


When it's a bookmark.

Like Phantom Star done in size 80 DMC in green and red. A split ring tail was added and a tiny matching ring and chain motif at the end instead of a tassel.

Do you have other ideas of where to use tatted snowflakes? Don't forget to add you comments to the entry below for your chance to win your copy of Tatted Flurries

I was asked earlier for pattern names on the pictures which I have provided on the initial posting below

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Win your own copy of Tatted Flurries

This is a snowflake standing on it's tippy toes. Yes, it really is STANDING on the picots.

I don't usually stiffen snowflakes, I just wet block them and leave them to dry. If they get droopy I wet them and just roughly block them again. The picture is crappy because it was taken in late afternoon light and my camera battery was dying. The blob it the middle is a heart shaped crystal and the little copper section at the bottom is the edge of a penny that wasn't as close to the snowflake as I thought, which was put in for perspective, but only about half of the penny shows. This snowflake got blocked and kicked around a lot before I got around to taking it's mug shot and it wilted, so I had to block it again.

Blocking 3D snowflakes is a bit of a challenge and I didn't want to have to do it a third time. So this time around I wet the snowflake thoroughly and then took a bottle of white, washable school glue that has a pointed nozzle and went over the snowflake, mostly along the bottom side of the stiches so that I didn't get lumps of glue in the picots. I expected it to be stiff. I didn't expect it to be able to stand on it's own. It isn't something I'd recommend doing to lace and I have no idea if it will wash out or not. Considering that the reason I used it, was so that I wouldn't have to block this sucker again, it will probably be a long time before I find out whether it really is washable or not. :-) This is the Magnus snowflake from the book Tatted Flurries and it's 5 inches across from point to point.

This time of year I always end up tatting a lot of snowflakes and because it's winter and I have snow on my mind I tat them in white to hang on a Christmas tree or give them away. When the weather warms up I tend to tat the same designs in colour to put on T-shirts. There are lots of things you can do with snowflakes. What are some of the ideas you have for using snowflakes? Just to give you an incentive to think of ideas, I'm going to have a contest. Add your comments to this blog post for a chance to win your own copy of Tatted Flurries. The contest will run until November 15th when all of the names will go into a hat and hubby will pick a winner. (Note, if you have already purchased the book, I'll refund your money just to be fair.) Get your thinking caps on, What can you do with a snowflake motif?

Just some additional information. This is Harmony, Magnus's little brother. This snowflake can be tatted several ways. The blue version shows it tatted with a centre motif. The white version has the centre motif and an encapsulating round that holds the one inch rhinestone in place. Magnus doesn't use the centre motif or the rhinestone and it has some connecting rings that bive it more stability, even when it isn't stiffened.

Friday, October 29, 2010


It's finally here! After more delays than you can imagine, I've finally got my latest book done and I'm ready to take orders. If you want a tree full of snowflakes, this is the book for you. A month of snowflakes. Thirty-two designs. Four 3D snowflakes. Everything from little 2 inch snowflakes to large 5 inch snowflakes that can be used as small doilies. Eight of them can be tatted so that a one inch rhinestone can he held in the middle for some extra sparkle.

As a beginner, it frustrated me to see a pattern that I liked, but I couldn't do them because of the way it was written. All of the patterns use visual format with instructions for climbing from one row to the next, but I've also included the alternate written instructions on how to tat it one row at a time. So experienced tatters and beginners alike can make these designs.
I'm not satisfied that the pictures do the snowflakes justice, so the cover may get changed because even after several tries what looked good on screen didn't print the way it was supposed to. I expect it has something to do with the printing equipment darkening the background, so I may change print shops and see if different equipment makes it look better.

Hubby hasn't been feeling well, so it's taken quite a while to get things done. The page with the order form isn't up yet and I'm still thinking about whether to do an e-book. At the moment I can send you out a PayPal invoice if you want the book. The pricing in Canadian currency listed below includes shipping.
CAN      $21.50
USA       $23.00
INT        $26.00

Setting up the web page for downloading an electronic book in PDF format has to wait for a day when hubby is feeling better, but the file has been created, so it will be available electronically soon, maybe even this weekend. It's been done and the E-book is now available.

PDF E-book $19.00   
Anyone interested in ordering the book please email me and let me know if you want the printed book or the E-book. If ordering the printed book, please let me know the country as shipping is included in the price:

Friday, October 22, 2010


It's coming.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's almost here!

Just a little more tweaking. Aren't I a tease?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A honey of a day

Today I was really pleased with my progress on the snowflake book. I have a few pictures to take of 3D snowflakes and 2 more to get into the book, before I do the final proofread and make sure it's OK to publish. I was hoping to have it all done except for pictures tonight, but due to unexpected events, that's not going to happen. I had a couple of snowflakes I was going to include, but I've decided to scrap them instead.

This afternoon's mail brought a lovely surprise. Well, not too surprising, since I knew it was coming. I am the fortunate recipient of Ann's delightful tattting press and she even included extra fabric so I could make a matching bag. She already displayed this one on her blog, but what doesn't show so well in the picture is the absolutely perfect workmanship. I can't believe how precisely this is made. I think the soft inner flannel may be hand stitched, but it's so precise it might be machine done, although I can't think of how it could be done on the machine. I have sewn clothes, but my corners and joins where multiple sections come together are always "iffy". If I'm lucky, they work first time, and if I'm not, I give up. I could retrotat 20 minutes worth of work without any problem, but I can't stand to rip and re-sew seams. Which explains why most of the patterns I used were super simple.

I was reminded that I hadn't added any pictures, which was because the light was too poor to take any yesterday after the fiasco with the honey. Although it's cloudy today, I still took some shots so that you can see how pretty and functional the press is. The bow unties to open the press. On the outside I have 2 shuttles tucked in on one side, and on the other side I have my chatelaine with scissors, needles for sewing in ends and a wickedly sharp tiny crochet hook which I normally stuff in my pocket. They fit right in, but I left them peeking out so that you can see them. I am forever getting stabbed in the leg with the hooks on the Aero shuttles and the hook on my chatelaine. They can't stab me any more, and until I get the piece finished and blocked, it will stay neat and tidy closed up in the press. What a brilliant idea! Thank you Ann, I love it!!!

Before I got to do much more, hubby reminded me we needed to make a quick run out to get baking soda from Bulk Barn. It's the store with all the bulk baking supplies and we buy a couple of pounds of baking soda at a time so we can use it for washing and neutralizing acid. We popped into the store and grabbed the baking soda and hubby reminded me that he wanted an oatmeal cookie. They sometimes have the really big 4 or 5 inch cookies and he likes to grab a big cookie to munch on. So we walked around to the back of the store and WHAM I hit the ground smacking my hip and elbow.

Someone had opened the spiggot on the vat of liquid honey without putting a container under it. Liquid honey poured all over the floor and one of the staff had just moved the "caution wet floor" sign around the corner and out of sight while they went to rinse off the mop. I slid through the honey and got soaked from head to toe in the stuff. My shoes and jeans were wet and sticky with it as was my jacket, my purse and my hair. My elbow took the brunt of the impact and to a lesser extent, my hip. I think the layers of jeans and jacket helped to cushion it a bit.

Consequently, now that I've done laundry to wash my jacket and jeans, taken a shower and washed the honey and dirt out of my hair, I'm feeling too bruised and battered to do anything but put my feet up and vegetate.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A bookmark and a half

I haven't really dropped off the planet although you might think so is you were reading my blog. I haven't done much tatting either. I had plans to tat bookmarks for my siblings and send them out on their birthdays. I managed 2 out of the 8 so far, gave one to my sister, when it wasn't her birthday, just because so I did a frame picture of tatted flowers instead (which I still haven't given to her because she was away for the summer. The next birthday was in September and I forgot about it until it was too late and I was busy sewing tatted edgings on placemats for another gift and just didn't have time.

The 8 edgings were completed before I had the placemats and had to be shortened by one pattern repeat to fit. That required cutting off part of the last repeated and retro tatting enough of the design so that the ends were long enough to re-tat the edge and sew in. Tedious and time consuming. And after it was all done I forgot to take a picture!

Before I got distracted by that little episode I began a bookmark in 2 shades of pink but I cut off the shuttles because I was too lazy to run upstairs and get another one for the edging repair. Now so much time has passed that I can't remember what I was doing with the pattern and I'm too lazy to stop and count stitches to find out what it ought to be so I can tat the other side. Before you judge me on this, it's harder than you think. I was designing on the fly and started with what I thought would work, but I could tell that it probably wasn't going to sit straight even with blocking so I know that somewhere along the line I modified what I was doing. So now I have 2 ends that have been apparently cut off and without counting the stitches in the pattern repeats at both ends and comparing, I have not way to be sure where I was going with it. and I'd still have to do something more to it to make is wide enough to be a decent bookmark.

So I started over again in a solid and variegate blue. It too wasn't wide enough but I wanted to use more than just blue anyway, so this one has a band of yellow down the middle. I'm thinking of shipping this one off with a belated birthday card, or not. I haven't decided.

Most of August was shot trying to get things sorted out in the garage. It's one of those situations where things weren't what they should have been and things had to be redone so that you could safely work out there. Over the years my sweetie has repaired almost everything in the house, but that often means needing to take it out into the garage to work on it. 30 years ago he built a bench with 16 drawers in it to hold all the bits and pieces he uses. To fix some things we needed to get behind the desk, but it's too heavy to move full, so we had to empty things out, move the desk, work behind it and put it back. While it was out the drawers sat on the floor, so the car sat out in the driveway and we picked our way around the clutter within. It's amazing the number of jobs that you just can't complete without making a trip to Home Depot or Canadian Tire for a 50 cent part. It's especially amazing that you didn't know you'd need that 50 cent part the last time you were there.

August was a good month, health wise for my sweetie. The weather was good and he was good able to do things. So he did, while he could. September the weather got colder and he's back to feeling miserable. He's spent the last week hardly able to get out of bed. It's so frustrating for him to feel like being up and working one day and feeling barely able to stand the next and never knowing from one day to the next which it will be. So needing to do what could be done while we could, I took my usual place as a lamp stand or third hand. That of course meant that I was needed to tag along for every trip out for a 50 cent part and every few minutes I was needed to hold said 50 cent part while it was assembled into whatever it was.

Not a lot of tatting got done and I was too tired to concentrate much on getting this snowflake book going although I did manage to reformat it. Now I just need to get my nose to the grindstone and get it finished. I did manage to keep the 25 Motif Challenge page updated and the new Design-Tat course is up and running, so I guess I have been doing some things tatting related. Too bad this eating and sleeping stuff has to interfere so much ;-)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Slow, Sluggish, Stagnating

That's kind of how I feel. Summer is a great time for getting lots of things done, except, apparently not tatting or tatting books. I've done nothing at all on the snowflake book for over a month. It has been mostly too hot to work in my office for anything other than the immediately necessary jobs. Then there have been "issues". Irritating things like computers not working properly. Frustrating things that have required my attention elsewhere. Annoying things like necessary power outages for some necessary re-wiring. Creative things like not liking the whole "tone" of the book so far. Drastic things like the possible re-formatting of the entire book.

Here's a minor issue. I was doodling and this snowflake appeared. On the first one I neglected to join one of the clunies to the central motif so I just tied it on after the fact so that I could see what it should look like. Then I thought I might include it in the book too. I re-did it in colour using a variegated Valdani thread matched with a solid burgundy that looked like a good pairing in the evening light.
In the cold light of day it seems a bit off to me. Or maybe it's me that's off. I started it again in white and on the first cluny the thread broke. I contemplated just attaching more thread and continuing, but opted instead to do it right and start over. The second time it waited until the 8th cluny before it broke. If it's going to be included in the book I need it done in white. which I can't do because for the first time in my life I'm all out of white thread.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Changing domains

We are slowly but surely changing over to our new domain and the GageChek domain is about to be removed. That means that anyone who has bookmarked the old address with the tatting demos and tips and the link to the tatted headpiece that I did are about to disappear.

My old web page used to be http://www.gagechek.com/slb but it's new address is:


Clicking on the link will take you to the new page which is exactly like the old one. If you haven't visited the page you might want to take a look through it. There are pictures of the tatting I did for my wedding veil, useful information in the tatting Tips including a page on How to Read a Pattern which you are free to use for teaching purposes, and of course there are a variety of how to demos. Even if you have seen the page before, clicking on the link will help to register the new address with the search engines so that new tatters can find the demos.

The new address also included the information on FilePick which is the software my sweet hubby wrote to help keep track of patterns and other things. I found that when I had created a lot of drawings, it became hard to find the one that I wanted. If you make one heart it's easy to find, but if you've made a dozen over the course of several years, it may be harder to locate the one you want and it sure is tedious opening up one pattern after another trying to locate the right one.

FilePick will let you list the pattern or the PDF file or the CAD file and link the name to a picture. It doesn't have to be a picture of the diagram, it can be a picture of the finished product. It sure is a lot easier to scroll through thumbnails of things to find just the right one.

If you have a minute, I'd appreciate it if you clicked on the 2 links above. It will help to establish the new addresses in the search engines so that people can find us again.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jingle, Jingle, Jingle

I picked up some tiny bells the other day because I thought they were cute and could probably be used with tatting. I should have included something for size reference in the picture. They're smaller than a quarter of an inch across or about 7 mm.

I sat down with some black Opera size 20 and some size 20 Lizbeth Turquoise and tatted a row of edging adding in the tiny bells as I was going. I had an idea that tinkling little bells around the ankle might be kind of cute. After the first row I had intended on just making a chain across the top, but I could tell that would be too skinny so I thought of making a mirror row along the top and replaced the bells with tiny gold beads. I didn't like the space that left between the large rings top and bottom, so I added in some iridescent black dagger beads to fill the gap.
Overall, I like the effect and the bells do make a nice little jingle when you walk. I'm not the kind of person to wear ankle jewellery. Actually I don't wear much of any kind of bling. I have a diamond engagement ring, but I don't wear it. My ears were pierced and I used to occasionally wear earrings, but I'd gotten away from it for so long that the last time I tried to put them on I had to poke a new hole because it had grown over. I've decided though that I like this one. I think it might even make a nice choker.
That brings me to an interesting question. Do you wear one anklet or two? Earrings are generally worn in pairs, but you don't often wear bracelets on both wrists. So what about anklets? Ankle bracelets are usually only worn on one leg, but I've seen designs for ankle wear done in pairs and I've seen singles. Of course maybe I'm only seeing one displayed but there are actually two. Does it matter? Does it depend on the design? I was all ready to whip out a second anklet when I decided that I only want to wear one. What do you think?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bridal Tatting by Meme

I received an email this morning from Meme. She has been too busy for much tatting recently but she finally updated her blog with some bridal tatting she did a while ago. Go check out her blog for the full size pictures of this gorgeous dress back. The motifs are joined together in a diamond shape and three more motifs connect the lace back to the sides of the dress. The matching earrings were tatted in silver and white.
I not only find the tatting wonderful, but also the creative way in which it was incorporated into the dress. It isn't embellishment, it's an integral part of the dress itself. I find myself wishing I could be creative like this.

Meme sent me this additional information. The bride asked her to do the tatting and she was provided with a mold of the area where the tatting was to go. She tatted motifs in the general shape of a diamond ending with 2 motifs where it joined to the neck. At the sides for the underarm the motifs were elongated to join up with the front of the dress and a silver edge was added. It was tatted in Mercer Crochet thread, light ecru color (like butter), No. 20.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Random, Scatterbrained and Flustered

That's how I've been feeling recently and I'm blaming it on the heat. The air conditioning is working, but the extra warm weather means that it doesn't get all that cool upstairs where my office is unless the ceiling fan is also on. The constant draft is drying out my eyes and making me feel too tired to work and just plain cranky. I sit at the computer and something that should take 5 minutes seems to take hours. I'm at snowflake 25 of the 30 plus snowflakes and I can't seem to whip up enough enthusiasm to just get the last bit done. It's taking so long to pull things together that I'm starting to feel like I'm describing things differently from what I did at the beginning and I hate feeling like I'm cutting corners just because I want it DONE.

I've hardly held a shuttle in weeks other than to re-do several snowflakes in colour and there's this little bit. I was intrigued by the anklets I've seem on several blogs and thought I'd do one of my own. I thought it would be a good way to showcase tatting, but once I had it finished I remembered that I mostly wear socks and running shoes so that for me it's kind of a waste of time. The 25 Motif Challenge is beginning to take more time than I want to spare. Quite a few of the new participants don't blog in English so it's added another step having to translate the blogs. The translations sometimes don't make sense on key words so it requires getting creative. The heat has zapped my creativity so that adds to my frustration.

We're missing the bird and strangely, hubby is missing her more than I. Of course I'm not missing the hours of cleaning cages and caring for her, so maybe that's part of it.

We've had the Wii for about 3 weeks and I've lost 6 pounds which is good. Of course working up a sweat and then sitting in a draft from the fans has resulted in back aches, So I go around the house turning off fans and hubby goes around turning them on because it's hot and I think that brings me back to where I started.

We're in the process of changing our domain name which will change all of our web site, email addresses, and PayPal set ups so this should be fun. I may suddenly look like I've dropped off the face of the earth, but trust me, I'll be back.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


A while ago my sister brought over her Wii system so that we could try it out. The idea that you could play a video game and get some exercise at the same time always struck me as a really smart idea. I have no objection to work. Lifting, carrying, and moving are all fine, but exercise for the purpose of exercise just doesn't make it in my book. I can run track, but running on a treadmill just isn't going to happen. Haul roof tile up a ladder? Sure. Stand around repeatedly lifting weights? Nope. I know me, I'm not going to do it.

Since the car accident I've gotten more and more out of shape. It took several months before I could walk again under my own steam and even when I could hubby didn't want me going anywhere unless he could come too. The problem is that he often can't leave the house because he's too dizzy. Consequently, I'm getting more and more flab and less and less muscle.

The other day I bought a Wii system with the balance board. Hubby thought I was joking when I said I wanted one. He insisted it was only for kids. Then we got it home and started using it. There's a lot of "anything you can do I can do better" going on right now, and all the while, we're both getting in better shape without having to leave the comfort of our own living room.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's time

I've had Dusty for almost 25 years. When I got her she was young enough that she had to be bottle fed. She's been a pet and a family member for a very long time and she could potentially live another 75 years.

She sits with me outside when I tat. She sits with hubby when he waters the lawn. She goes on bike rides with us. She sits with us at lunch time and plays with hubby.
However circumstances change and I know that I'm not giving her the care she ought to have. So, with great sadness the time has come to say good bye. The vet has found a client whose son is interested in having her. He's been over to see her with his Dad and a couple of days later he was here with his girlfriend and Mom. Saturday he's coming over so that my hubby can help him making a free standing play area for the bird. Something that she can climb on and off of from her cage like she does now climbing from her cage to the 6 foot swinging branch we have hung from the basement ceiling. Something that she can climb around, but not climb down from. Her cage is too small, but she isn't locked inside it, except to sleep. He's decided that it's better to make a stand than to buy a really big cage and have her locked up all day. I agree.

I've been on and off weepy for days knowing that she's going. I know it's the right thing to do. I can't give her the time and attention she needs. Hubby can't handle the sound of her screams when she doesn't get the attention. Meniere's can make him fall over if he hears loud noises and her screams ARE loud.

It's the best thing to do, but that doesn't mean I'm happy about this heart breaking change.

Bye Dusty.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Threads and Pop-A-Bobbin Shuttles

I thought I'd tat something with the Lizbeth Summer Fun paired up with a matching solid. It turns out that the only matching solid I had was Light Turquoise. In this sample the colour changes are a little more gradual because the change is only happening on one shuttle, not 2 like the other motif where it looks like a dog's breakfast. The motif isn't lying flat because I took a look at the pattern and then went out to run some errands. I memorized the pattern incorrectly and missed chain 3 on either side of the dimpled rings, so it cups horribly and of course I also miscalculated how much thread I'd need so I had to add more.
You may have noticed in the picture above my wonderful new Pop-A-Bobbin Shuttle. I love it! This is the first hand made wooden shuttle that I actually LIKE.

Just so you know hubby has all the tools to make these things in the garage. He has a background in quality control and when he builds something in wood, the pieces are so perfectly matched that they hold together without glue. He's a perfectionist and I'm used to things VERY
precisely and perfectly made. He doesn't make a lot these days just because his health won't permit it. So if you think any of my comments are overly critical you'll know why.

Years ago quite a few people on the tatting lists raved about the custom made David Reed Smith shuttles, so when I had some spare cash I ordered one. At the time, between the exchange rate and the shipping costs, it came to around $40 Canadian. I ordered a large shuttle because I figured it would be useful in tatting larger projects to have a shuttle that held a lot of thread. I think I've used this shuttle about 3 times. It's a post style shuttle and I hate it. That's no reflection on the maker, I just don't like post shuttles. As for workmanship, there are some edges that aren't as round as they should be and the wood finish is rather grainy like it needed a little more polishing. That may be due to the nature of the wood I selected. At any rate, the shuttle was a disappointment and after a trial run with a small motif it got stuck in a drawer. It's the top one in this picture.

The next shuttle is a double bobbin Silent Tatter. I needed a double bobbin shuttle and since I was going to be paying shipping costs anyway, I figured I'd order both single and double at the same time. The single is the 3rd one pictured above. The pair of them including overseas shipping from the UK were about $64.00 Canadian They're bobbin shuttles so I expected to like them. Unlike the post shuttle they are usable although just barely so. I have 2 complaints about them. First of all, there are all these little pieces. I often tat while sitting on the couch. When using an Aero shuttle, the bobbin comes out of the shuttle and gets stuck on the back for winding. When I need to put thread on the Silent Tatter I have to juggle 6 little bits which you can see on the left in the picture below. Actually it`s only 5, because the bobbin doesn't fit securely on the piece of dowel supplied, so it's just a useless bit of junk. The bobbin is secured inside the shuttle by a metal sleeve that fits over a tiny screw. In order to undo this screw to put thread on the shuttle you need a screwdriver, or this supplied T. So while you are trying to fill the bobbin there are a whole lot of pieces that can get lost down the side of the couch. Loose any one of those 5 little pieces and the shuttle is useless. They both appear to be reasonably well made although the finish on the single bobbin shuttle is a little grainy looking.

The other complaint that I have, is that unlike the Aero which has the same tension each time I load it, the Silent Tatter needs to have the tension minutely adjusted using the T. I find I load the shuttle adjust it to what I think will work and find that it's either too tight or too loose, but I have already put the T away so that I don't lose it and I end up using an improperly tensioned shuttle which frustrates me. So these shuttles too have been put in a drawer and I only pull out the double bobbin shuttle when I have too, because it is the only double bobbin shuttle I own. I don't know what woods either of these shuttles are because when I ordered them the wood I requested was unavailable and I told them to just send what they had, and they came without labels.

The shuttle on the right in the picture above is the new Pop-A-Bobbin shuttle It's Purple heart and I know what it is, because that's what I ordered and, well, it's purple. This one cost me about $32 including overseas shipping. The Pop-A-Bobbin shuttle as you can see has 4 pieces. The popping tool has a tapered end at one side for popping the little cork out of the shuttle and one side which actually fits the bobbin. Unlike the Silent Tatter, the bobbin on this shuttle can be removed without using the special tool. I can pop the cork with my baby finger so I don't need to use the special tool. That means that while I'm winding the bobbin I only have to really pay attention to the little cork. That's one little piece instead of 3 to put the bobbin back in. Not only that, but once the bobbin is back in I can just start tatting. No fussing trying to screw together little pieces, no problems with tensioning, just delightfully smooth tatting.
I can't use the Silent Tatter without this screwdriver tool and even with it getting perfect tension is a stinker. The Pop-A-Bobbin shuttle really only needs the shuttle because even if my baby finger can't pop the cork, any small blunt object can be used. The workmanship on it is superb also and the finish is perfect, unlike the other 3. This one isn't going in the drawer. I've already tatted 3 motifs with it and if it weren't for the fact that the large 3D snowflake is in process with 2 fully loaded Aeros, it would be more.

The Pop-A-Bobbin shuttle gets 2 thumbs up. I hope "I'm in the garage" has a comfortable stool and a kettle for a hot cup of tea in the garage. I don't think tatters are going to let him come out of it any time soon.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Sometimes Snowflakes are Bookmarks

One of the snowflakes from the new book tatted in size 80 thread to be used as a bookmark. All but one has been drawn and almost half of them have been pulled into the publication. If things go the way I want it should be a book by the end of the week. I suppose I ought to think up a name for it, something a little more memorable that "Snowflakes". Any ideas?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Cluny Flower Snowflake

Since Fox has already let the cat out of the bag, here's the original Cluny Flower. The inner flower part was created about a year ago I did it in white and then re-did it with apricot coloured clunies. Both made pretty one inch flowers in size 20 thread. They've been kicking around the house getting moved from desk to desk. It's what happens to a lot of smaller pieces that I think look good but need to be part of something else.

The something else happened when I was working on snowflakes for the book. Here's the original cluny flower snowflake.
If I can get my act in gear it will be in a book by the end of the week. If you haven't already guessed, the white tatting on navy blue backgrounds are all different snowflakes from the book. Nothing like teasing people with tantalizing bits of lace.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

32 of 30?

I have 32 of 30 designs tatted and diagrammed. Anyone see anything wrong with that number? I've already started pulling them into publication and doing the usual checking it twice routine and adding the step by step instructions and it's about 20% done. Or not. That 32 out of 30 number is to blame.
Last night the guys were here again. You know, those tech guys who are supposed to make my Air go. When they put in the new furnace we asked specifically if the air conditioning would work with the new furnace and we were assured that it would. When they installed it we asked them to check and make sure that both heat and air would work. It's hard to make the A/C come on when the outdoor temp is -0. It didn't so they tried again rewiring it so the both heat and air could come on. Then they replaced the thermostat. After which they replaced the circuit board which threw out all of the original wiring. When we hit record high temperatures earlier this week we tried the central A/C and although the unit came on no air was circulating. So we called our friendly guys to come and take a look at it.

The fan, which should come on with heat or air or by itself; only comes on with heat. They were sure that it was wired right and that the problem was the circuit board so they ordered a new board and a couple of days later they came back and installed it. It wasn't the circuit board. so then they thought it was the fan and ordered a new one. Yesterday they came back to install the fan. It wasn't the fan. They don't know what it is.

While they were taking the furnace apart to install the new fan I had uninterrupted tatting time and I decided to re-do some of the snowflakes in colour so that I can applique them onto a shirt. In size 20 thread several of them are 3 to 5 inches across. The plan is to attach 3 in a group add either a tatted or embroidered stem although I guess I could use ribbon which would be faster and I'd have a bouquet of flowers on my shirt. The blue snowflake is the first one so I was looking for compatible colours to go with it so I thought I'd try out Lizbeth Summer Fun.
Here it is unblocked. Yuck! The colours are pretty but the colour change is too short. It may work better when matched with a solid. I kind of knew that as soon as I had it wound on the shuttle, but I was hoping it would work. Anyone besides me keep going when you already know it's a mistake?

That left me no no alternative. I re-did it in Raspberry and now I'm on to my 3rd snowflake. I love the way this design works. the upside down dimpled rings with the join in the middle are a bit tricky.

I also want to do a couple of the snowflakes in size 80 so see how they do as bookmarks.

I have more projects on the go than hours in the day. I guess that explains why I haven't done a 25 Motif Challenge update in a while.