Monday, March 29, 2010

CTC - Big boys and their toys

When you need to buy something for a youngster, you head off to the toy store, but when you want something for the big boys you head off to this store. At least, in Canada you do. No matter whether your sweetie is into building decks or electronic consoles, cars or hunting, fishing or skateboarding, you'll find what you need under this sign.
When the flyer with the familiar logo arrives, the table gets cleared off so that each and every page can be carefully reviewed. My particular sweetie has many talents and interests and this is the one store we visit every week. He thinks I'm being a super understanding wife, but truthfully his lifelong accumulation of hand and power tools means that anytime I need something done, he has the tools for the job and the knowledge to use them. I'm a powerful enabler. If he can make do with the little version, I almost always suggest the bigger, more powerful one. I'm not stupid. I know that if I want a professional job done, he'll need professional tools.

Over the years it has paid off well. Honey, could you move that phone line over here? Sweetie, the washing machine quit. Darling, I need a trellis over there. How about making a bracket for this gizmo? Can we replace this sink? Whatever I've needed, I just ask for and eventually I get just the thing, custom fit, made to order, perfect.

Of course the downside, is that I get to spend a lot of valuable tatting time browsing the shelves of his favourite store. I can't complain. I got the blue screen of death on my PC last week. He had it back up and running in about 10 minutes, during which time I just switched over to the laptop. Last night the dryer quit just as I put a load of towels in to dry at about midnight. Half an hour later it was running again. I could resent the time spent examining the benefits of this tool or that, but what repair company is going to drop in and fix my dryer at midnight?

The store? Canadian Tire, of course, but you'd know that if you were Canadian.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

If you tat long enough...

I was doing an update yesterday on the 25 Motif Challenge and noticed a comment made by a newer tatter about how she thought she was finished with a pattern and cut the thread, only to realize seconds later that the design wasn't quite finished. It got me thinking about all the little "I can relate to that." episodes that we all have experienced at one time or other.

Things like:

  • The aforementioned, cutting the thread too soon.

  • Snipping through a picot while trying to cut off the finishing ends

  • Joining to the wrong spot.

  • Missing a picot.

  • Skipping an entire pattern repeat.

  • Running out of thread at the very last ring.

  • Hiding ends and having them pull back out.

  • Starting CTM so that you don't have ends to hide and then making a mistake at the beginning that you have to cut out so that you now have 4 ends to hide.

  • Using an entire ball of thread like a shuttle to avoid having to wind the second shuttle.

  • Unwinding a full shuttle to add beads in because you miscounted when you started.

Now if you can't relate to any of these things, just wait, you will eventually.

Here's something you won't see in my upcoming snowflake book.

As you can see, this design that started with the typical 6 points of a snowflake has devolved to where it would have only 3. What was I thinking?

Monday, March 22, 2010


Just about every tatter I know personally, is someone I taught to tat. It's kind of like teaching someone to drive. Your habits, good or bad, become theirs.

I've been tatting rather prolifically, for a lot of years, over 30 anyway. There aren't enough tatters nearby to have a regular frequent get together. Once a year, isn't enough to effect changes in the way I tat. I'm pretty set in my ways. I'm not a granny sitting in a rocking chair that's too old to change. I'm also not too stubborn to change when I see a reason to.

Since I don't have a local tatting group to bounce ideas around with, a lot of what I know and what I learn comes from the on-line community. Sometimes I see different aspects of tatting being presented in such a way that it suggests that tatters who don't do things that way are doing it wrong.Being a very independent sort or person my reaction is 'who says?'

So just to give equal time to people who may do things differently, here's my perspective.

Front side/back side - I don't do it. I personally don't think it looks any better than tatting it half and half. I just don't. So I'm not about to jump through hoops to keep all of my stitches the same way around. To re-train myself to switch each time I RW would slow me down and I have too many designs spinning around in my head that need to get tatted and put down on paper. Besides, do a 3D Daffodil and which is the front, the inside of the outside of the flower? The top of the bottom of the base. How about a carnation? See? it gets nuts trying to figure out which side it up.

Sometimes I do front side/back side tatting (confused? so am I). When I'm working a design with multiple split rings joining together I work them so that they are all the same way up. The juxtaposition of multiple rings connecting to the same point with some of the rings, or some parts of some rings not all the same way around drives me nuts.

Counting the join as the first half of the next stitch. - I don't do this one either. To me, a join is a join and a stitch is a stitch. I have been successfully tatting anything and everything for years making a join and then a full stitch and my lace looks just fine, thank you very much.

Posting the shuttle through the ring before closing it. Tried it once. My other closed rings looked fine, the one where I posted the shuttle through looked twisted and I had to open the ring up so that I could put the shuttle back through. I have too much tatting to do to try that one again.

Tatting proficiency? Hmmm. Definition PROFICIENT skilled or expert. 30 years of tatting and teaching others to tat, 10 years of designing and publishing patterns, I guess that qualifies.

If not, I'm sure the tatting police will soon be at my door for spreading sedition. They're welcome, I'll just put the kettle and while they're peacefully sipping tea I'll wrap them in tatting so they can't get away. I'm sure they'll come around to my way of thinking eventually.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I love my iron

Now don't think I've gone all weird and am in love with doing laundry, far from it. BUT, as a tatter, my iron is a pretty special tool. Case in point. Yesterday I finished a snowflake design that I though was looking pretty good until I finished that last join and I knew that this design just wasn't going to work without some serious blocking. Blocking is not my favourite thing to do. I accept that as a tatter, it comes with the territory, but I don't have to like it.
As I slapped the snowflake down on my ironing board and pinned it out it occurred to me that this little job is made easier by the cleaning feature on the iron. Since the kettle is usually hot from making a cup of tea, I usually just pour a little of the already hot water into the iron and by the time I have my "cotton tea towel that doubles as a pressing cloth" on the board and the lace pinned in place, the iron is steaming hot. A quick swipe of the iron across the board to check it out and then the cloth gets folded over the lace and the iron on top. A quick push of the cleaning lever and a spray of boiling water hits the cloth covered lace. The feature is meant for cleaning out the iron and I use it for that too, but in short spurts it works gteart for wetting the lace. Then I leave the iron on it for a few seconds to mostly dry it out. I pull the pins, cover it again and give it another quick press. Instant blocking. I love it. I always use a pressing cloth on lace because I've used steam irons before that spit out scale. If I anything goes wrong the damage happens to the pressing cloth and not the lace. I've overdone the pressing before too. The pressing cloth has the scorch marks to prove it, but the lace is fine. The ironing board has 2 covers and 2 pads on it. That's because I scorched the first one. My old board had an asbestos cover, made back before they knew the dangers of asbestos, could tale any amount of heat, but the new one couldn't and I forgot. The double padding makes for easier blocking. I just angle the pins in and with the pressing cloth between the pins and the iron I can zap it with a lot of heat without scraping the finish off the iron or damaging the lace.

The iron was a gift from my honey about a bzillion years ago. I wondered about it when he got it for me since I was single at the time and all my clothes where the non-iron variety. I suppose when he saw me steaming hair ribbons with the kettle he figured I needed an iron. I guess he didn't know that velvet ribbon can't be ironed. At any rate, here I am, years later, very thankful that it makes blocking lace a 5 minute job.

Upon hearing that other people are using this technique, I reflected on the times NOT to use this method. It's fine for cotton threads. Don't use it on tatting that incorporates blending filaments. They are plastic and they melt. Don't use it if your tatting includes plastic beads. I always use glass. I didn't once. Thankfully I was using a a paper towel as a pressing cloth, so there was no harm done, except to the tatting.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


This house is getting older and so is what's inside it. For years now the bathroom sink has needed replacing but my dearest and I couldn't agree on what to do with it. My disagreement stemmed mostly from the fact that I hate the hideous green counter top and flooring. Those are the bits that aren't showing as much wear and the pieces that I'd like to be rid of.
A couple of years ago I tried to persuade him that a one piece moulded sink and counter would be a great idea and I was delighted that he agreed and after careful measuring to see if it would fit, we brought one home. After ripping the counter top off of the cabinet we laid the new unit it and it was wonderful. It got rid of both the ugly green counter top and the disintegrating sink. There was only one problem, the position of the drain hole didn't match up with the drain in the house and while we could move it, we ran into some additional problems because the perfectly square counter top didn't fit neatly against the less than square walls. So the counter top sink went back.

Fast forward a couple of years and the subject came up again. One of the issues with the old sink is that it was glazed metal and around the edges the glazing had worn away leaving bare metal that rusted. We covered it periodically with enamel paint, but it needed to be replaced and my sweetheart was all for going with a material that wouldn't rust. So when a ceramic sink came on sale he thought we should take a look.

We popped into the local Home Depot and had the clerk haul one out and open it. It looked a lot smaller than our existing sink. At 6 foot 3, my sweetie is a lot of things, but petite isn't one of them. A tiny basin, just won't do. So we went back to looking at the metal one. It would have worked, I guess, but I didn't like the idea of all the work, just to have something exactly the same. Then I looked at the display and saw something with a bigger basin, but in ceramic. It looked like it might fit So we brought it home along with some new valves.

Another one of the things that puts me off working on the bathroom plumbing is that there are no shut offs for it. As soon as work needs to be done in the bathroom, all the water has to be shut off. So for the duration of the project there's no water and worse no toilet! I don't know whether it's just the fact that the facilities are out of commission or whether I have an uncanny knack for drinking a gallon of water just before, but I always seem to be in desperate need of them when I can't use them.

So the first thing that went in was the shut off valves. Some precision cutting, a little flux, a little solder, apply a little flame and in these babies go. Ah relief! I don't care how long the project takes as long as I have access to that one primary piece of porcelain plumbing.

The next problem was making sure that the drain hole on the new sink matched up with the drain in the house. It wasn't just a matter of having to cut a new larger hole in the counter top, it was essential that when the hole was cut, that the pipe coming up fit into the hole going down. Easy, right? Not so. To match up the existing pipe the sink had to be moved forward about as far as it would go. It was a near thing too because while the sink fit into the counter top, under the counter top a section had to be cut out of the cabinet framing.

All that holds this baby in is weight and a lot of silicon caulking so just to make sure that it does hold in it was clamped down for 24 hours to make sure that it was fully dried before we used it.

Once everything was in place we reattached the drain pipe, but it didn't sit flat down without applying a lot of pressure. Continual pressure on a ceramic basin sounds like an invitation for trouble, so we moved the drain pipe 11/16 of an inch. More precision cutting and a little sleeve slipped on both cut sides. Not much, but enough for everything to fit neatly together.

So here it is looking much like it did before we started. I still have that hideous green counter top, but I'll never see rust again ... at least not here.
It makes it sound simple doesn't it? Well, it was simple for me. All I had to do is watch. All of the hard bits were done by my honey. It sure helps to marry a talented and gifted guy. And he's cute too!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Design Leaks and Pretty but not Pointy Designs

You may have noticed that I haven't blogged much recently. That's not exactly true because I have been keeping up with daily posts on the 25 Motif Challenge blog. If they aren't done daily, it becomes almost impossible to keep up, so I've been putting other things on hold just to make sure that the challenge blog gets done. There is a team of people, but with regular things like work, families and other normal life stuff getting in the way we don't always have the time for it. Unfortunately, when several people aren't able to keep up on their designated day, it suddenly becomes an all day project. When that happened several times in a row, I just decided that I couldn't handle another all day update, so I started doing them daily.

So the challenge blog is on track and the Design-Tat course is up and running for a third term so I've been a very busy tatter, only, I'm not doing much actual tatting.

Remember how I said I was trying for 10 designs in 2 days? Want to know how many I got done? Come on, ask me. Never mind I'll tell you any way. I got 2 done. Two measly designs and one of them can't even be used because it doesn't have points, it has rounded lobes like a flower. Pretty, but not pointy.

Then there was last week which was more or less a write off on account of a cold. You know something? It really helps when you can breathe. Between having a tissue covering my nose to catch the drips when I was upright and having my nose plugged completely when I wasn't, breathing became an interesting exercise in futility. I knew I was done for when I sat for an entire evening with a pair of wound shuttles in my hands and didn't tat a stitch.

When I finally managed to get the design off the shuttles it didn't lay as flat as it ought to and I can't use it anyway. I realized as I was doing another update for the 25 Motif Challenge that the snowflake not only has rounded points, it's a whole lot like the Iris Niebach design Dale Marie was working on.

I can't look at other people's tatting when I'm designing or elements of those other pieces just leak into my tatting. See the similarities? I feel like I've plagiarized a design although that wasn't what I was doing, I was thinking about mignonette and decided it had too little structure of a snowflake, so I just used the Josephine knots and incorporated them with some dimpled rings, because, like it was February, and Valentines, and all that. So here's the 3rd of the 10 I was supposed to do, but it too, is being rejected. So of 10 planned designs I have exactly 1 that's usable.

If you hear screaming coming from the north, it's just me getting frustrated.