Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's not "Fair"

I am always intrigued by the yearly furor over tatting things to be judges in the annual fair. I have never visited our local fair. I might enjoy it, but my beloved other half wouldn't and to drive more than half an hour and pay to get into an event that he doesn't want to see just seems silly. However, I thought that this year I would check it out just so that I could enter some tatting and keep the subject in public view. I eagerly anticipated dozens of ways to enter tatting into the fair submissions. That was, until I saw the entire listing under "Homecraft". The whole list is 12 items long including 2 items specifically listed under woodworking, a picture of which is included here for your amusement. There are 2 PAGES of classes for quilted items. I guess that's what happens when there's a quilt guild in town.

I don't have time to design and tat a realistic 3D rose which is what I would have done if I had known that roses were going to be this year's theme. The tatting that I have done this year, a lot of which were snowflakes, don't fit into any of the categories. So I think I'm just going to give it a pass especially since there is a $10.00 registration fee and the "prize" in any of these categories is the fantastic sum of $4.00 for a first prize. (The prizes in the quilt category start at $8.00.)Kind of makes you feel like a poor cousin, doesn't it?

If these categories were posted earlier it might be possible to do something inventive for each category, but as I only have a couple of weeks, I think I'll forget it.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Pineapple Cake

This cake may not look wonderful, but it tasted yummy. The last time hubby asked for a lemon cake and I made a lemon cake with lemon icing. Then I discovered that he said lemon but meant orange. Orange? So the next cake I made was chocolate!

This time for a tangy cake, which is what I discovered my honey meant, when he said lemon, I went with pineapple, and it met with his approval. Since we have been experiencing a heat wave I wasn't interested in being in the kitchen with the oven going all day, so I opted for a basic white cake mix, instead of working from scratch.

The filling is pineapple and the basic buttercream icing is also pineapple. Both recipes are included here for your enjoyment.

Bake cake in two 8 or 9 inch pans and cool thoroughly.

Pineapple Filling
1/2 cup white sugar
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg
1 cup pineapple tid bits packed in pineapple juice
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon butter

In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, combine sugar and flour. Stir in egg, pineapple and pineapple juice. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture has thickened. At this point it tasted a little too sweet so I added a few drops of lemon juice. Stir in butter. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Pineapple Frosting
1/2 cup butter
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons well drained crushed pineapple
1 to 2 teaspoons pineapple juice

Cream butter and sugar together. I drained the crushed pineapple through a strainer and used a large spoon to squeeze out most of the juice. Stir in crushed pineapple and blend thoroughly. Add
just enough pineapple juice to make it spreadable. How much juice is needed depends on how thoroughly drained the pineapple was.

The cake, while it tasted wonderful, was a stinker to ice because of the bits of pineapple and it dripped excess pineapple juice over the cake plate and onto the table after it was done. For the day or two it sat on the table before we gobbled it up we had paper under the cake plate to keep catching the puddles. I'm not sure if the juice was dripping out of the filling or the frosting, just that it made a mess. The reason for baking a cake in this heat? Our anniversary of course. My honey is definitely a keeper.

If I make it again, and I probably will, I'll do a sheet cake, remove it from the pan, split it in half lengthwise and put the bottom back in the pan before adding the filling. Then I'll put the top on and ice it keeping all of the mess in the pan.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

There's a new book coming

Some of you saw the choker that Fox test tatted for me. In putting together the patterns for the book it occurred to me that this design had a couple of  features that might have caused some concern and my description might have added to the confusion. Thankfully Fox was able to identify the areas where I needed to tweak my drawings and make them more understandable. The new book features designs for summer that can make bracelets, anklets or chokers. Here is the Triad design as an anklet:

And here it is as a choker:

This book will have 10 patterns that can be used several ways  and without beads or finidings several of them will work as bookmarks.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thinking out loud and looking for answers

When I started the design class a few years ago I waffled between thinking that I had a lot to teach and thinking that it was presumptuous of me to think that I had anything to share. Then I started the first class and had to cut off the participants when the class grew to over 60 people almost over night. I ran a second class for the handful of stragglers that didn't make it into the first class but again had to cut it off at 60 more participants, when the group got larger than I thought I could reasonably handle. As I started writing out formal lessons I kept thinking, "I should mention this", or "How do I explain that situation?" and little by little it expanded so that now, to adequately cover everything it takes about 6 months and the "stragglers" just keep on coming.

I structured the classes so that each lesson builds on what went on before in a logical progression so that even if you haven't ever designed anything before, you can successfully create your own pattern. For some people designing comes as easily as falling off a log, but for others it's a little more challenging. But whatever your starting point you CAN make a successful design just by following the simple steps we take in class.

Once you have created a design, you then have to get it down in a formal manner, and the second section of the course deals with using drawing software to create a pattern. For this purpose I created a step by step tutorial that shows you how to find the necessary features in drawing software and use them to the best advantage. Learning how to effectively manipulate a drawing program can have a steep learning curve.

The third section of the course deals with more advanced things like, using drawing software not only to draw your pattern, but also to actually create new designs. Then to take ideas and push the boundaries to see what more you can accomplish.

More recently, some of the folks who have joined the class are already able to design their own patterns, and they are more interested in the latter sections of the course. That means that while the rank beginners are struggling with learning to walk, these folks are champing at the bit to get running.

That leaves me with folks who want to slow down and take it easy and folks who want me to hurry up and get on with it. As the class is structured now, it isn't possible to do both. I have noticed that for the first couple of lessons about 90% of the class posts their homework. By about half way through the course only 50% of the class posts their homework and by the last lessons only about 10 % of the class gets their homework done.

On the surface, that suggests that people aren't getting enough time to do everything, so the last time around I tried giving people more time, but that doesn't seem to be the answer. The numbers of people getting their lessons posted still stays the same.

So, for the last year I've been kicking around a different idea. I'm wondering if it might be a good idea to break the course up into 3 separate courses. One course, just for how to start designing, a second course for learning to use drawing software and an advanced course for people who want some design challenges and some direction on where to go from here.
Since these would be less encompassing courses they would be of shorter duration and since they would cover different subject matter people could just take the section they were interested in. All 3 courses could even run simultaneously.

This would let me expand what's covered in the individual courses to cover more details on a narrower scope of information which might allow for more people being able to get their homework done, without feeling like they are getting further and further behind. It would also allow those eager to push ahead to progress at a faster rate.

It would also allow me to go beyond the basics and give suggestions as to how to push the envelope and come up with new ideas. Designing in a vacuum isn't nearly as much fun as working on projects together and sometimes just kicking around ideas can stimulate all kinds of new possibilities that you wouldn't have even considered otherwise.

The down side of this proposal is that it would cost more. The current course is at a very modest $20.00. By splitting it into 3 separate courses, to cover the same material may end up costing 3 times as much, if I charged $20 for each section. I'm still thinking about that part of it.

At this point, it seems like the logical thing to do, but I'd appreciate hearing what other people think.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

12 days and counting

These guys and I have been hanging out together for a while now. I don't really like them and they have certainly overstayed their welcome. At the end of May I had mostly finished up the tatting I needed to do. By the beginning of June I had most of the diagrams completed for a small book of tatting patterns. Then about 2 weeks ago I started with a sore throat which rapidly escalated into stomach heaving. Things have settled down into non stop coughing and wheezing. I am so fed up with this.

I have made several attempts to bring all the tatting and pictures into book form, but it just isn't working. My brain just doesn't want to get into gear and this book of summertime tatting projects may end up waiting until Christmas at this rate.

And that's about the end of my energy. I think I'll go back to bed.........Zzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

No more mayhem

I have been tatting, quite a bit actually, enough for a book. The tatting is done and I just need to get some good weather to do a proper photo shoot in and I can pull everything together. In the lulls between blog posts there have been a lot of posts started, left languishing unfinished, and finally deleted as what felt important enough to say one day fizzled the next.

Today you get to hear all of those things that I've been storing up, none of which are tatting related. Last summer Toronto was part of the G20 summit and some folks thought it would be a good idea to assemble and protest anything and everything. I have no objection to peaceful protest. It sometimes shines a spotlight on an otherwise unknown ill. I am a firm believer in the idea that you can't fix what you don't know is broken, so sometimes a protest is the only way to be heard.

That said, there was absolutely no excuse for the car burning, building trashing mayhem that ensued. I have absolutely NO sympathy for the people that were strong armed as the police endeavored to control the crowd. People were asked to avoid the area unless they absolutely had to be there. Some people were peaceful while some were thugs. In a massive crowd of people there was no way for the police to distinguish and no time for niceties. A lot of people got hurt. TOUGH. They chose to be where they were asked not to go. They did not restrain their compatriots. They got the consequences. I say, take your lumps and shut up.

Then there was that mess in Vancouver after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup. I'm a Canadian born and bred, I understand the pain, but I am totally embarrassed that it was Canadians behaving this way. Where is the sportsmanship that says we tried but we lost to a better team and next year we'll be back? Scratch that. It wasn't the team, it was the morons who assembled to watch the game, who drank to excess and then behaved like cavemen when they didn't get the result they wanted.

I was raised to understand that I wouldn't always get what I wanted. I understand respect for other people and other people's property. I understand logic. What mental connection does someone make that says "my team lost I ought to go turn over a car, smash store windows, loot and set things on fire"? There is no logic. It is simply totally unprincipled behavior. It is letting go of all self control (and self respect) and just being totally destructive.

Today I ran across several blogs talking about swearing and when and where it is appropriate. I read a variety of comments on the subject, but the bottom line is that it's all part of the same malady. A lack of self control and a lack of good moral upbringing.

When I was a teenager (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth) someone told me that people who use a lot of profanity only do so because they have nothing else to say. After that, I paid attention to the people around me and I found that it was true. If you removed all of the profanity from some people's dialogue you realize that their mouth is moving but they aren't really saying anything. On the other hand, people who rarely swore usually had a lot of interesting information to impart.

I had gotten into a bad habit of repeating the profanity I heard around me but after that, I made the effort to remove it. I replaced "shit" with "sugar" just because once the -sh- sound was out of my mouth it was the only short word I could think of that fit. It stuck. I still say sugar when I get mad. There are a lot worse garbage words out there, but they don't really add anything to your vocabulary or your conversation and it's easier not to start using them, than to try to get rid of them after they are ingrained.

Controlling your language means disciplining your mind and it's the first step to living an ordered and orderly life. Some people seem to believe that total chaos is a good thing. The Bible begins with the words; "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void;..." Literally, there was chaos and out of it God created order.

More and more these days it seems that people need order. As a Christian I know that what they really need is God to help them create the order they need. Only with the kind of order He provides can we have the kind of society that's worth living in.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Not in my garden

Yellow is not my colour of choice. You may remember when I tatted the cover for the chocolate box, that one of my problems was the lack of yellow thread. Yellow, orange and green aren't colours that I gravitate toward. If fact I have bought, in my entire life, exactly 2 balls of yellow thread and 2 balls of orange, one of which was purchased to crochet a pumpkin for somebody else. I have bought more green, only because flowers need leaves.

When we went out to the garden centre I was looking for some perennials to perk up the garden. So tell me, exactly how did this happen?

Then a couple of days later, this appeared on my lawn. Not only is there a plethora of yellow and orange, they're all stinky marigolds. I HATE the smell of marigolds. I tolerate them in my garden in small quantities just to keep the cats from using the flower garden as a little box. The cats like them about as much as I do.

Me beloved other half, on the other hand, absolutely adores large yellow and orange flowers. So after creating and filling one garden with lots of yellow and orange, immediately went out and blew the budget on buying twice as many of the stinking things for the second garden. The only perennials in the whole bunch where a couple of Asian lilies. I don't hold out much hope for the lilies making it through the winter as the squirrels love to dig them up and eat them. They can have the yellow and orange one, but they'd better leave the burgundy and white one alone.

The other day we came across a new garden centre and had to peek inside. I was looking for something blue or maybe a new rose in red or pink. Guess what we came home with? More stinking marigolds and a bunch of packets of marigold seed so that he can grow more of the wretched things.

But today, today we bought this, much more in my preferred palette of pink and purple and blue. Not a yellow or orange to be seen. The blue clematis has gone to the back yard, and if I get a chance I'm going to grab some more rose bushes, NOT in yellow.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hurry quick

Need. to. work. quick. before. flea brain. gets. distracted. again. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blue this time

When my sister and brother in law were visiting on the weekend they thought I ought to make lots of bracelets like the one shown in the previous post. Sounds like a good idea in theory. Then I pointed out that it takes a lot of time to make and it wouldn't fetch the necessary price. When pressed to say how long it took I figured 4 or 5 hours. That particular bracelet had been done with beads from a tube of mixed beads that I had separated out to get the shades I wanted.

Just out of curiosity to see how long it would take, I thought I'd do another one although I wasn't about to spend another evening separating beads. So I went through my meager stash of beads and matched up 2 colours of beads with a solid and variegated thread, and set out to remake the bracelet.  Right after I tatted the first ring I twisted my hand in an awkward position that made the muscles in my thumb and wrist cramp up.  I thought about tatting left handed, but even holding the thread caused my thumb to hurt.

Between the pain in my hand and the excitement of the hockey game, I only got about half of one side done before I put it aside and went to bed. I picked it up the next evening and finished it. So I guess the real answer to how long it took is probably a leisurely 8 hours.

Of course there were some little interruptions along the way like having to ice my hand, pulling the hook out of my shuttle while doing a bead join and nearly shredding the thread a couple of times doing a really tight join. When there aren't a lot of bead joins to do, I position the bead and hold it in place with a safety pin until I need to make the join. When there are a lot of bead joins like in this pattern I just guess at the needed picot size and sometimes it's really tight. Then, when I use a very fine hook, it's easy to split the thread and only grab half of it. At that point it's as likely as not that the hook will tear the thread. I didn't want to deal with broken thread, so I just worked very carefully when that happened. Then there was the search for the second half of the barrel clasp that somehow became detached and got lodged down the side of the couch.

Now that it's done, I don't think I like this one as well as the purple bracelet, although it's the same pattern and I'm not sure why.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A bracelet finds a new home, and the world goes on

The purple bracelet I did in April has found a new home with my sister.

She came for a visit today and admired it enough to want to wear it when we went out for dinner. I didn't think they were colours she would like or I would have mailed it out in her birthday card instead of the bookmark I sent. Her birthday's not until next week and she hasn't received it yet so I couldn't really say anything except take the bracelet with my blessings, I can always do another one. She and my BIL thought that bracelets like that would sell really well. Maybe so, but not likely for how much time they take to make. I ought to sit down and time the next one to see how long it does take.

On another note, was anyone surprised that the world didn't end? Anyone who knows their Bible could have told you that foretelling the exact time of the end is an exercise in futility. When Jesus was on earth his disciples asked
"what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" Jesus gave them a lot of information, pointers to when that day would come most of which were, - things will be bad, they will get worse both in natural disasters like floods, earthquakes and famines and in increased wars and conflicts and all of these things will increase in frequency and magnitude like birth pains before the end comes. You can read it all in Matthew chapter 24. BUT, one of the things he also said in the same chapter in verse 36 "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."

Because of that, I always think that when someone makes a exact prediction of the time of Jesus' return and the end of the world, I can count on it that they are wrong. Of course that same chapter of the Bible says that an increase in false prophets is another forerunner of His return. The Biblical standard for a false prophet is anyone who predicts an event that doesn't happen. Camping has already blown it by his 1994 prediction which didn't come to pass and of course having it happen twice just tells you he has really missed the mark. I feel sorry for the people who follow his teachings, but God doesn't ask you to park your brains at the door when you believe in Him. He does ask you to look into things for yourself. You are supposed to use that organ between your ears, not just blindly follow any and every teaching that is out there.

I get really annoyed, when people who have rarely, if ever, cracked open the Bible, talk about what they think the Bible says. What some people know about Christian beliefs they have learned from Hollywood movies. Guess what? Movies lie. You want to know the truth? Read the Book for yourself.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The attention span of a flea

I think that must be the problem. Waaaayyyy back here I was working on a bunch of 3D flowers for a new book. It got stalled when this mess here just wouldn't co-operate. I can make it work, but one of the things I was aiming for was something realistic, life size, hold it's own shape without a lot of tatting. It's that making it fit into the predetermined mold that has me momentarily stumped.

So I wandered off into making a tatted cross, and meandered through a beaded bracelet. Then I got waylaid by sequins. I drew a design that I haven't tatted yet but I did want to see what the flower would look like as a pendant. So here it is.

But before I could get to the one I drew, I got sidetracked again......
Like I said, the attention span of a flea.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Still playing with sequins

I just had to try it again, this time without having the sequins lining up in a row. I'm not sure if I like using sequins or not. I might be falling out of love with the idea.

The hole in the sequin offered enough resistance that it pulled the hook right out of one of my shuttle. It was an older shuttle that has been broken and repaired several times, but it's an English Aero, so I just keep using it. I love my Aeros.

Here's what's happened so far. I might have one more idea to try.....

Friday, May 06, 2011

More Sequins

After I did the sequin bookmark, Fox and I had a couple of emails about using sequins in tatting and I thought one possibility might be a an amulet bag. Fox dared me. So I did.

The start of it was the sequined flower, which I suppose might just be used as a simple pendant, but I was aiming for a bag, so I wanted rectangular. I started with the flower shown in the previous post.

I drew the pattern SmartDraw. I use Serif's program because it's free for the design class, but I've been using SmartDraw for years and I just stick with my old version 4 program. I prefer it's preformatted curved line that I can drop and drag, to the straight line you have to add nodes to, in a lot of other programs like Serif. Once I had the basic shape I tried several methods of adding chains in order to give me the rectangular shape I needed. Then before going to sleep I printed it off and tatted the first row.

As I was nodding off to sleep I started thinking about tatting a back for the bag and how I might attach it to the front. I thought that the back could be quite plain and rows of ring and chain would do the job. Then I thought a row of split rings in the shape of a rectangle around the flower, would frame the flower and give me a base for attaching the back to it.

So when I woke up, I cut off the chains I had added around the front and just tatted a long string of split rings. I laid them around the flower, tying them where the frame and flower touched and when I knew what I needed, I cut off my trial bit of ring and chain and did it again, joining in the appropriate places.

When it came to doing the back I thought about adding more sequins and what I was hoping for was loose floppy sequins that shimmered together in rows. I went looking for sequins with a single hole along the edge, instead of the ones I have with a hole in the middle, but I couldn't find any. So I had to use what I have. Pinned in the middle, these sequins don't shimmer and shake. Since my foundation frame row was in split rings, it just seemed practical to continue that way and I very carefully tatted my first row, starting at the top.

About 2 rings in it occurred to me that if the sequins needed to be hung from the top, then I'd be doing joins and adding sequins at the same point which might be awkward and difficult. So I retro tatted everything and started again at the bottom. Of course the bottom of the bag has to be attached as well, so that just made the first row that much harder to do. I was being very careful not to repeat the same mistake I made on the bookmark so I was quite particular as to which side I was spearing the sequin on so that they all laid in the same direction.

When I hit the end of the row, I needed to join to the bottom, join to the flower frame on the side, add a sequin and, of course. climb out right where the sequin was, to the next row. I was adding the sequins in the same way you'd do a bead join and it needed a stitch after it to hold everything in place. There ISN'T a stitch after when you are climbing out. So I removed a stitch before the sequin join, made the join and added the last stitch. Which means that the sequins where I climbed out aren't exactly in the middle of the side of the ring.

As I was doing the next row, I realized that I could either do a lock join on the split side of the split ring, or I could do it the normal way. The lock join on top of the sequin looked ugly, so I went for my normal join. Several times the split rings snagged and didn't want to close. It might have been the sequins or it might have been the thread. The Mocha Brown Lizbeth is the first Lizbeth thread that I have had that has slubs. Most of them have been tiny loose excess bits of fluff along the thread, but a couple of them were bigger and made for less than smooth ring closing.

After I'd done a few rows, I noticed something. Not all of my sequins were facing the same way. I think it was when I had to climb out through a split ring while adding a sequin that threw me off, or maybe it was tatting in the dark while watching TV, or the fact that my little container of sequins got spilled all over the couch. After the first backward sequin, 2 rows back, I stopped caring. I just wanted this thing finished. When I got to the end I decided I wanted a little something along the top of the bag to cover over the picots that were folded down to make the sequins lay over the rings. So I added a row of chains along the top and a long row of split rings for a hanging chain.

I could have re-worked the front so that there were brown rings connecting the flower to the frame, but I'm done with this so I cut a length of ribbon and tucked it in the bag. If I were going to use it to hold something I'd sew the sides of the ribbon closed, but as it is, I'm done. Nothing left but to sew in ends and scan it.
Here it is, front and back.

That's when I noticed THIS.

Give me a break. What is a pink sequin doing in a container of yellow ones? And why didn't I notice it until I was scanning it?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Credentials? 210 plus

In the last couple of weeks I've had emails from people that seem to suggest that they are trying to find out what kind of tatting credentials I have. The simple answer of course is NONE. I don't pretend to have any kind of qualifications except that I like tatting and I tat a whole bunch, all the time. At the table, watching TV, walking down the street, in line at the bank and the grocery store, in waiting rooms, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, lying down, standing up, sitting still, in my sleep. A lot of tatting.

Have I taught tatting? Yep. One on one, in groups, on line, on the phone, over the internet. If someone will sit still long enough I'll try to teach them to tat.

What makes me qualified to teach people to design tatting? Nothing much. Just over 210 published patterns  in 4 books and 24 newsletters and a whole bunch more like this one that may or may or become what it's intended to be.

This is just for Fox, a beginning possibility for that sequin project we were talking about. It might work. I'll just have to tweak it a bit to see.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sequined Bling

I was thinking about turning the very beady bracelet I did the other day into a bookmark, but I have too much respect for books to subject them to the spine killing treatment of beads. So the problem is how to get the bling without the hard fat lumps that beads present. Then I had an idea. How about using sequins? All of the shine with none of the fat.

Here it is, in all it's unblocked glory. The threads are size 20 Lizbeth Turquoise Lt #662 and Summer Fun #104 with pink sequins. The reflection from the sequins really inhibits acquiring a good scan and although I tried numerous background colours nothing really worked well. Can you spot the one upside down sequin?
Here's the little miscreant. I was trying so hard not to do that, and only noticed it as I was about to finish the bookmark.
I misjudged thread length - twice. I reloaded the shuttle the first time and measured out what I thought I'd need to finish and ran out again 2 measly rings from the end. Two. rings. However, as a designer these things happen frequently, so adding in more thread is no big deal. See the instructions on the sidebar for how I do it. The ends are hidden while I add the thread. So it's just a matter of cutting off the ends when I'm done and you can't even see where I added the thread.

I don't usually use something as thick as size 20 for bookmarks, but as this one is probably going to be used in paperback novels it's all right. Not only that, the thickness of the thread will help to cushion the pages from the edges of the sequins better than size 80 would. Over time the sequins may cut through the threads, but it's a bookmark, not an heirloom.

Most of the time I block my work, even though I tat tightly enough, and pull it into shape enough as I work that it doesn't really need it. I don't go the -pin every picot in place- route, but I do generally pin out the major points before I hit it with a shot of super heated water from the steam iron. I wouldn't want to put the iron on this one, though. I expect that the sequins are made out of plastic and would, A- melt and lose their shine and shape, and B- stick to my iron and make one horrible mess.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tatting 101 - Filling a shuttle

I get asked so many beginners questions so often, that in defense of my time, I've decided to do a Tatting 101 with the basics and I thought I'd start with the one that is the simplest, but the one that I still get asked: How do I get the thread on the shuttle?

First, there are different types of shuttles. The most basic shuttle is a flat shuttle. Here is a template for one that you can cut out of an old business card.
The shuttles pictured here are the 3 basic shuttle types. The little one on the left is one my hubby made for me out of walnut wood. Some flat shuttles can unwind if you drop them. This one doesn't. The middle shuttle is a post style shuttle, this one is a David Reed Smith shuttle. The one on the right is an Aero bobbin style shuttle.
No matter what kind of shuttle I use, the method of putting the thread on is the same. I use a simple, practical slip knot. Start by wrapping the thread around your hand like this. Then poke a loop of the thread coming from the ball through the wrap like this.
Then hold the thread end in one hand and the loop in the other hand and pull apart.
You end up with a loop and the knot can slide up and down. Which is where it gets it's name slip knot from.
With practice you can arrange the knot close to the thread end, but for now you can just cut off the end leaving just enough to hold onto.

On a flat shuttle, take the loop and position it around the shuttle going into the hole on one side, around the back and out through the hole on the other side. Then holding the thread end in one hand and the ball end in the other hand pull and the knot will slip making the loop smaller and smaller until it's snug against the shuttle.
Then wrap the ball end of the thread around the shuttle in the hole on one side and out the hole on the other until you have the shuttle as full as you want. Some flat shuttles have fanciful shapes and only one hole at one end. These shuttles are often just curved at the other end so the the thread is wound through the hole and around the flat end.
On a post style shuttle the top and bottom sections are called blades that are joined with a post in the middle. They clamshell together at the tips which often look like the pieces are attached, but they aren't. This closeup shows you that the thread actually slides through between the blades.
For this type of shuttle take the loop and slide one end through the blades at the front. Then take the loop around and slide it through the blades at the back so that the loop is around the post as shown here. Pull on the short and and ball end of the thread until the loop is pulled tight against the post.
Then wrap the thread between the blades at the front and the back around the post until you have as much thread on as you want. If the loop isn't quite tight enough you can hold onto the short end until you get it started. You will hear a soft click as the thread passes between the blades. Repeatedly using thick thread can cause the tips of the blades to open up a little as the thick thread is continually passed through them. That will make the shuttle useless for finer threads. Don't overfill (filling it top to bottom of the post and outside the edges of the blades) a post shuttle, especially the more expensive ones. Overfilling the shuttle can cause the blades to separate too much and become "sprung". A sprung shuttle is useless.
Bobbin shuttles have a removable bobbin. Except shuttles like the antique detach a spool shuttles which twist apart to expose the bobbin. All of the modern shuttles have bobbins which come right out.
Take the loop and position it around the bobbin. Pull on both ends of the thread to tighten the loop.
If you have an Aero shuttle, the bobbin will fit on the end of the shuttle making a handle for easy winding. Cheap Aero look alike shuttles that have a similar shape have an end that is too fat to sit inside the bobbin.

Wind the thread around the bobbin and insert the bobbin back into the shuttle.
If you use a shuttle with a hook, pay attention to the direction the hook is facing. I like to wind my shuttle so that the thread comes out at the back on the same side as the hook. I found when I first began to tat that sometimes the hook got caught in my work and sometimes it didn't. Then I discovered that if the hook was turned away from the work it didn't catch but if it was turned the opposite direction it did. Something as simple as which direction you load the shuttle can effect the way you tat. Different people tat different ways so watch how you are holding your shuttle and you will find which direction works best for you.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Nothing much going on

There's not much going on here, mostly because we've been up to our arm pits in doing the taxes. What has been done is a bracelet, with lots and lots of beads. I used Lizbeth size 20 Purple DK and Purple Splendor with mauve beads on the rings and lilac beads on the chains. The beads on the joins are gold beads. I'm please with the way it turned out and I thought that the same design would work as a bookmark without the beads until I realized that without the bling it was just facing rows of plain ol' ring and chain. Unimaginative and boring.

I must think of something else. I want to be tatting and the usual well of inspiration is decidedly dry at the moment. I know what will happen though, the second I launch into the next design class I'll have ideas come thick and fast, just when I have no time to tat.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Comments please

I frequently get asked things that initially make me want to jump up and scream NO WAY! Frankly my first reaction to some things is tell people to go - - - - - -. Well, you can insert your own favourite expletive. But I have this other inner voice that always makes me step back and try to see things from the other person's point of view. Sometimes when I've seen both sides as well as anyone can, I don't always see a clear road to follow.

I spend a lot of time thinking things through. I'm never happy just doing, I want to know why. Over the years I have read people's comments about not being able to design and I started thinking about the first efforts I made in designing. I thought about what I did, why I did it, what problems I had, what was helpful, and what was not. Lots of thinking. As time went on I ruminated over this information and began to direct the thought process into how to impart my learning experience to other people. I considered how to break it down into something that could be worked at by someone with only basic tatting skills.

Then I took all of what I had been thinking and wrote it down creating diagram and pictures to go along with it. Then I though of using software for the purpose and did the same thing taking step by step screen shots and added this information to it. Then I took it a step farther to show how the drawing software could be used to create.

It took weeks of planning, writing, creating images and editing to create a course that I only charge a modest $20 for.

Now that I've shown how it can be done, what do you think my reaction would be when someone asks if they could take my lessons and translate them so that they could teach them?

Comments? I'd like to know what you think.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rant about tatting....

...for no particular reason. Fox mentioned the other day that she wasn't doing the Catherine Wheel join correctly and it got me to thinking. I am mostly self taught and until I went to a tatting workshop, I had never seen another tatter, or another tatter's work. I learned tatting, like I learned to knit crochet and embroider. I was shown the first steps and then just ran with it. If a pattern said to do something I didn't know, I did whatever worked for me. So I don't get bent out of shape by people talking about doing what is "right" or "proper". In short, I don't worry about tatting police. I see so few tatters, it isn't likely to matter and when I do they mostly are impressed by what I have done.

I am personally not impressed by bazaar junk done by a half blind granny using rope like thread and beads designed for use by a 5 year old. My apologies to elderly, visually challenged femmes assisting in raising funds for worthy causes, it's just a personal preference. I like to think that when something leaves my hands it can stand up to the close scrutiny of the average person. Good enough, is not good enough for me, I expect excellence from myself.

That said, over the years I have heard numerous things about the "right" way to tat and I have to admit that I mostly ignore it. Things like front side back side tatting. I personally don't think that it looks better, it just looks a little different. I don't do it and I make no apology. I do a lot of 3D tatting. When you look at a tulip, which is the front? The inside, or the outside? I like knowing that when I pull a doily out of the wash and slap it down on the table, which ever way it lands is right side up. In designing this necklace I wanted a sort of netting effect where the motifs join the necklace band so I used just chains over that section. Which meant when I got to the end of the row I just finished it with a split chain and turned around to do the next row. The recipient will never know or care that I didn't do front/back tatting.

I like balance. When I do a join, a join is a join, not a stitch. It seems to me, that in a design where a ring has a lot of joins, that counting the join as the first half of the stitch means that I'm losing a half stitch for every join which will make the ring smaller than a ring of the same stitch count that doesn't have joins. I don't count the join as a stitch, I've been doing it that way for over 30 years and so far it's worked.

Tiny invisible joining picots. Baloney! Imagine a mat full of lacy motifs all connected together. Envision delicate picots evenly spaced around the edges of each motif so that the lace is suspended in a diaphanous spiderweb of picots. Now picture the same thing where each motif is jammed up against the next one because of tiny joining picots. In my opinion it's UGLY. I don't do it.

Years ago when I was tatting the flowers for my wedding I needed to tat a lot of carnations in a short amount of time. I was literally -tatting in my sleep. The pattern had a very short split chain at the end of each row. Due to tatting late at night I often skipped the split chain, just finishing the row and then doing a slip stitch back to the last picot. In the ruffles of the carnations it wasn't visible and I was waaay too tired to be picky. I wouldn't have done it in a place where it would show and I wouldn't have done it if I'd had more time and hadn't been tired. Can you see them?

There are a lot of little things the tatting police probably wouldn't like about my tatting. That's OK. I don't tat for them, I tat for me. I tat because I enjoy tatting and I enjoy the fruits of my labour.

Just because the general consensus is that you ought to do things a certain way, doesn't mean that there might not be another equally effective way to do things. You can't always assume that because you do things differently, that you are doing it incorrectly. Who says you have to do things one way and one way only? You might be the person who finds a whole new BETTER way of doing things.

In case anyone is interested, here's a closeup of the assembled motifs and the little inset that I used to finish it off. I would have taken better pictures but it was late and it's already been packaged up and mailed off.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fringe Element Tatters Tat and Chat - are you coming?

One of the Fringe Element Tatters has arranged a Tat and Chat at the Eatonville Library in Etobicoke on April 17th. That's Toronto for anyone not in the GTA. I'm just north of Toronto, in Brampton and I don't usally travel too far from home. Firstly because I don't drive, and secondly because our car is 23 years old and I'm reluctant to be further than towing distance from home and thirdly, because hubby, who is my chauffeur, isn't always well enough to drive, or well enough to leave on his own. Meniere's can make him suddenly and without warning, too dizzy to stand, can make him see double, go deaf, and lots of other not nice things. But, if he's well enough, Etobicoke is close enough to make the attempt and it's only for a few hours, not a whole day or a whole weekend. So I think this is something we can attempt.

It's nice to meet local tatters, but it's even nicer to finally meet tatters that I "know" from the internet. Anyone else in the Toronto area planning on going? I've already called Fox and we've agreed to tentatively give it a try but it would be nice to see some other folks too. If we have a bunch there are lots of things we could try.

Friday, April 08, 2011

The picture in my head is nothing like the tatting in my hand.

I had this idea to take a 3D flower, just use part of it and add a bead in the centre. The purpose of this exercise is to create a necklace instead of a bookmark or hanky for my sister whose birthday is coming up. I have FIVE sisters, but this one shares my birthday and while none of the family bothers much with sending birthday cards and the like, this one sister does. And we share the same birthday so it's really hard for me to forget hers.  No, we aren't twins. Mom just happened to hit the same day 15 years apart. If you think that is novel, one brother was born on New Year's day and one brother was born on Christmas day. I think Mom was trying for Easter with Sis and I. For anyone who's keeping count, we used to have 11of us around the table. Mom, Dad, 3 boys, 6 girls.

Anyway I had this idea, but when I use just part of the design, I lose the central part that used to hold it all together. I started off with the large bead in the centre of a ring, which was wonderful, except that I needed to throw rings off the ring which was more problematic. So I switched to a SCMR with a large half inch bead in the centre, which worked but was very awkward to add the bead and close the ring. Once that part was done the big bead got in the way while tatting and to further complicate matters I did the rings including the SCMR in a solid colour with a variegated thread around the outside.

I have maintained some of the 3D effect even though changing the stitch count on the centre section flattened it out some. I opted for a larger flower shape in the middle and was going to end up with an upward facing point along the top edge or  with the side flowers pulled in toward the middle, which is what I finally decided on. I was envisioning a narrow tatted band with the flowers hanging off the middle of it with something nice and decorative bringing it all together.

What I have is 3 flower shapes that sit on top of one another if I stretch it out straight, or the side rings on the ends of a U shaped curve. I was thinking of hanging the flowers from a row of split rings, but I didn't like how chunky that looked. I switched to a plain chain, but that didn't look like anything. So I've decided I need to tat across the top of the U shape, add a bit that hangs down in the U and maybe a short chain into some graduated split rings. Or something. I need to get this done and mailed in the next day or so. It might be faster to tat a hanky edging. Or not.

This is SO NOT what I was picturing.

Pardon the crappy picture, may camera battery is dying.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Easter Cross

I'm in  designing limbo. I have lots of thing that need doing that I'm just not taking the time to do right now. Plus I have lots of things I want to design that aren't working the way I want them to. One of the designs that I am determined to get done is a 3D pattern that just isn't working out to my satisfaction. My criteria is that it has to be readily recognizable. It has to hold it's shape without support. It needs to have the minimum amount of tatting to acheive all of these things. What is irritating me about it, is that each permutation of the design takes about 10 hours of tatting, just to get to the point where I know that the design isn't going to work. That means that it isn't a quick tat and after 5 tries, I'm no further ahead, and it's getting frustrating.

On the other hand, I needed a new cross pattern and this one whipped out as fast as I could tat it. This one is done in size 50 or 60 thread, but this one didn't get labelled so I don't know which it is. I did 4 pattern repeats on the short arms and 6 on the long one. I ended up with an empty space in the middle and added a 4 ring motif, but if I was doing it again I'd just throw them off the chains in the middle.

Since it will soon be Easter and time for tatted crosses, I thought you might like the pattern so here it is. I'm running out of hours so I haven't even proofread it yet so there might be something wonky, just so you know.