Saturday, May 31, 2008

Supply Find

I've only lived here for 20+ years, yet this week was the first time I made a trip down to the Coats and Clark clearance centre. I've known it was there, I just never got around to making the trek, partly because it's in an out of the way place and partly because I didn't know it was open to the public. What prompted me to check it out was some folks on a local email list recommending it. When I did investigate it, I discovered that it is only open 3 days a week.

We had to visit a client about a job and they were just a few blocks away from the Coats and Clark location so I had to drop in. I was hoping for lots of different crochet threads, but what I found was rooms and rooms full of yarn and very little crochet cotton.

I was wearing a tatted collar so that I could show the staff the kind of thread I was looking for, but they didn't have any crochet cotton on hand. I did discover some spools of Dual Duty Plus which is suitable for bookmarks, but as this is the clearance location the colour selection isn't terrific.

The larger spools of thread are Machine Quilting and Crafts thread size #50. These were all plastic wrapped and it was hard to tell what size 50 would look like tatted up, but I was thinking I might do a doily with the thread so I bought enough for that purpose. I opened one of the spools and tatted a wee ring when I got home.
Size 50 is, well, tiny as far as doily threads go. It's fine enough to make bookmarks out of although they'd be a little thicker that I like. Size 50 wouldn't be my first choice for doily thread.

They also had both metal and plastic Susan Bates shuttles. Again not my first choice for tatting but at $1.50 I got one anyway. Even if I don't use it, it gives me a shuttle I can give away if I need to, or one to show students what is available and point out the differences between the metal and plastic shuttles.

If you look close at the base of the dark blue thread you'll see a tiny ring. I had to show the staff what these odd looking contraptions were used for. I left them with my business card and my email address so if they get in any crochet thread they can let me know.

Luster Sheen is 100% cotton and as you can see it does tat. I will either crochet a shawl and add a tatted border, or I'll tat the whole thing. I haven't decided which yet. It's going to take a humungous shuttle to tat with it, but with all those colours, it should go with everything.

I bought the cross stitch kits because they were very cheap and I thought my sister might enjoy them.

Not a bad haul for a place that didn't have what I was looking for!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tatting a wild rose

Roses are a common motif in tatting comprised almost entirely of chains and they are quite simple to make once you understand how they are done. You begin with a central ring and the length of your picot defines how much of an arch there is in your petal and how much space there is between the central ring and the rest of the rose. The last picot space is actually a mock picot. So you make the ring and begin the first chain of the rose with a lock stitch.
A lock stitch is just an unflipped stitch and because it isn't flipped, it won't slide on the core thread. Without the lock stitch the chain might start out with an open space at the beginning, but when you snug up the stitches at the end of the chain, the space will close. So begin the chain by measuring out a short length of thread the same size as all the other picots. Make the first half stitch and if it flips make sure to pull on the chain thread to unflip it again. After all that practice flipping stitches, it's sometimes hard to remember NOT to flip.

The lock stitch may seem to be a little unstable and want to flip. But as soon as the second half of the stitch is completed normally, that is, flipped, it will stay in place. The space that is formed between the ring and the chain will look like any other picot when the rose is finished, but it isn't a picot, it's a picot space formed by the shuttle thread on one side and the ball or chain thread on the other side. The picot space in tatting when it is formed by two threads is called a mock (fake) picot.

Continue tatting the rest of the chain in the normal manner. When you have completed the chain make a shuttle join into the next picot. Joins in tatting typically are made along the tops of the stitches because you are joining one section of tatting to another. In a cloverleaf you join the outer edge of one ring to the outer edge of another ring. When you tat a motif or a doily you join to the top of the preceding work. When tatting a rose you join to the BOTTOM of the work. So instead of a normal join you use a shuttle join. In a normal join, a loop of the thread over the back of the left hand (assuming you are tatting right handed) is pulled through an available picot and the shuttle pushed through the loop. In this type of a join, the stitches slide on the shuttle thread. In a shuttle join a loop of the SHUTTLE thread is pulled up and then the shuttle is pushed through the loop. In this kind of join the stitches no longer slide on the shuttle thread. Make sure that your chain is snug before making the shuttle join.

After you make the shuttle join and continue with the next chain you will notice that while the shuttle thread is attached to the picot below, the chain thread just lays across the top of the join. You will see why this is important later. Continue working chains around the central ring, and making a shuttle join into each picot, until you are back at the mock picot you started the round with.

Make the last shuttle join of the round into the mock picot. There is only one mock picot in a rose and it's at the end of the central ring.

On the first round of the rose you made the shuttle joins into the picots on the central ring. On the next rows there are no picots to join into. Instead you will use your hook to wiggle under the chain thread that lays across the top of the shuttle join. You may find you have to stretch the chains apart a little especially if you are working in finer threads.

Once you have gotten your shuttle under the chain thread make the shuttle join and continue around the rose.

Each successive row is joined into the top of the shuttle join of the previous row.

If you find that the thread space above the shuttle join is very tight, then loosen your tension as you tat the first stitch of each chain. That will give you a little room for the stitches to move when you do the joins on the following row.

If your tatting is so tight or if you are working in thread that is exceptionally fine you may have difficulty making the joins into the thread above the shuttle join. In that case you may choose to begin each chain with a very, very tiny (almost invisible) picot. This will give you something to join into and at the same time it will keep the ends of the chains neatly in place.

Consistent tension is what will make a nice looking rose. Each chain is slightly longer than the chains of the preceding rows and they need to lay neatly each one above the other. If one round has chains looser or tighter than another round, the chains will have gaps between them or they will overlap one another. If the chain is too tight or too loose when you do the shuttle join, undo the join and straighten it out.

Roses can be used in lots of tatting and they are too pretty a technique not to master them.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Transitions in Tatting order form now up

The Transitions in Tatting order form is now up and clicking on the link
will take you to the page. I've also added it to the links list on the right.
One of the first patterns in the book is one I like to use for teaching and it's pictured here on the right. The design is intended to be worked in size 10 variegated thread.

I created this pattern so that it could be done using all chains an using a variegated thread it works the same way as using 2 colours of thread since you rarely have the same patch of colour both wrapped over your hand and coming from the shuttle. The central ring can be tatted as a ring or it can be tatted as a mock ring so that the whole bookmark is done in chains.

I often cut out flat shuttle shapes out of card stock or plastic lids and prewind them with thread. For the "ball" thread I use my business card and wind the ball thread around it, holding the card and the shuttle together with a paper clip and that way everyone is starting at the same point. The paper clip is slid over the thread between the shuttle and the card and we can start with the mock ring in the centre. I explain the difference between a normal and a mock ring and show them how they are different, but I use chains in the first lesson and rings on the second lesson.

The tail of this bookmark is just a zigzag chain with a tassel. It's a simple enough project that beginners will be able to complete it easily. It gives them practice without adding in anything confusing so they can concentrate on getting the thread to flip and making their picots a uniform size.

There are several small bookmarks like this at the beginning of the book that use different techniques and let beginners learn things step by step.

If you are a tatting teacher looking for a simple pattern to work with, you have my permission to copy and distribute this pattern and picture.