Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Third Trial

Another square motif. This one was done in size 8 perle cotton just because I had to test out the thread and see if it was any good to tat with. I came across some 10 gram balls of size 8 perle crochet cotton in my local dollar store, and at 50 cents a ball I couldn't resist. Having bought it, I had to try it out to make sure it tats. It does, and so far the colour hasn't bled on my fingers, which bodes well for it not bleeding when it's washed.

I'm not impressed with this motif either. It was a quick rendition of a snowflake design adjusted to have only 4 sides. It will be too open and flimsy in size 10 thread and it isn't very big. The bigger the motif the fewer repeats I have to do. Here's a quick photo of what 4 might look like together. It will definitely make a pretty corner join, but I'm not going to tat more just to prove it, as the design is too small for my needs. It's 2 inches across in size 8 perle and that works out to roughly 4 inches in size 10 thread, but look how open and flimsy it is. Those open spaces would be enormous in size 10 thread.

I really think a nice 12 inch square would make a nice motif. Before you say anything, I know that a 12 inch motif constitutes a doily, but think how much faster it would work up and how many fewer ends there would be to deal with. I can easily do a 12 inch doily continuously climbing from row to row. Actually if I design 2 different but similar 12 inch motifs, with matching picots on the last round, I could alternate them for a very interesting effect.

Does anyone else get bored with tatting the same thing over and over again? I tatted a vest using a simple one round motif and there were so many of them that I barely got it to the wearable stage. So much repetition nearly drove me bonkers.

Of course, I could also design the shawl as one long rectangle. Imagine a whole shawl with only 2 ends to hide!!!!

Motifs X 4

I always like to know what a motif will look like when joined to others of it's kind. The pictures kind of give an idea, but photgraphs don't behave the same way that thread does. I am trying out designs for a possible shawl so I want some good all over coverage for some warmth. I want something that draws the eye to the whole motif and not just a tiny repeated central focal point.

I'm working in size 10 thread of some kind. It doesn't have a label, but it feels like South Maid. Here are all the ends from adding in new thread. This is what I cut off before I hid the 2 final ends for each motif. One of the things I've realized is that I'm going to need to use a larger shuttle so that I don't have to add in thread quite so often.
The first design does have a central focal point, but the corners are solid enough that they draw the eye too and the vision dances between both the centres and the corners. You can see each motif, but when you see it as a whole cloth might look, you don't instantly see where the motif begins. For one moment you think the centre might actually be where the corners meet. I joined the centremost rings and the side rings to one another. This would make a good design for any large project like a border on a square neckline or around a cuff, or as an edging on a guest towel.
The second design doesn't appear quite so square. It almost looks as if there are large round motifs joined together at the corners by a smaller motif of joined cloverleafs. It carries the same pattern segment throughout and is more like a whole piece of cloth than individual motifs. I joined it at the corners only by the central ring as I wasn't sure if joining the side rings would pull it out of shape. Now that I've done the 4 I can see it too could have been joined at the side rings. It looks like another motif that would work well for any large project, but it gives me the impression of a more solid and formal design.
I don't think I want a shawl done out of either of these designs though, so I will have to try something else.

Is anyone interested in playing along with me?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Second Trial

I started making the first square motif in sewing thread but gave up. The first motif was done in size 10 and changing the thread size so drastically takes a while to adjust. My favorite Aero shuttles were already tied up on another project and I was too lazy to go get another set, so I was working with a pair that had worn out bobbins and using them was driving me nuts so the motif in the smaller size has to wait until I got some proper tools for working.
Just so that I could see what the corners would look like hubby, who can do this sort of thing on the computer faster than I, put 4 of them together so that I could see what they look like. Not bad. They will definitely join at the points and maybe at the middle picot on each chain.

However, one small ring in the middle of the outer chains might pull it all together better like the graphically enhanced version shown below in the lower left. That would mean putting the rings on alternate chains, which would look odd for an individual motif, but when they are all joined together it will look good. Right now there is a big bare space that might be OK in size 80 but not in size 10 where it's a 3 inch motif joined only at the corners, like the upper right.

Then I needed to try out another variation of the first motif while the idea was still fresh in my mind. Here's the second trial. again not what I was looking for, but it has possibilities. It's square, although it doesn't look as square as the first trial and the mistake I made on the lower right corner certainly doesn't help!
I accidentally omitted picot, chain 3 and didn't notice it until I was at the next corner. and I wasn't about to retro-tat 6 rings and 2 chains in order to fix it. I had enough of that on the large doily, where on several occasions I ran out of thread and needed to retro-tat several rings and chains in order to have a neat place for adding in new thread.
This one has a nice balance of open and solid spaces and I think four of them will join together well without any adjustment and I can't tell from the picture, but I think the corner where they meet will look interesting, and the sides should make an interesting join as well. Some motifs when they are joined together, just look like a bunch of joined pieces. Some motifs blend in together and make an interesting overall pattern. I think this is one of the latter designs. It's still not what I had in mind, but getting closer. I think I may tat 4 of each of these and then do a matching border to finish them up. They'd look OK just joined but a border will give them a more finished look. By the way, for those interested in stats, both motifs were done in South Maid size 10 and unblocked the first is 3 inches across and the second is 3.25 inches across. Both motifs are 3 rounds of tatting.
One of the other things that occurred to me was that if I make a very large motif, like 12 inches across, that I would only need to do about ten of them in order to make a long narrow shawl. Fewer motifs mean fewer ends to hide. The 15 inch doily that just kept growing was done continuous from beginning to end so the only ends to hide were the final 2. The other ends were all from adding in new thread, and they were hidden as I added the thread using the method shown in my tutorial.
I can imagine tatting 10 doily size motifs in order to make a shawl, or 12 to make a 3 foot by 4 foot table cover. Somehow making the individual pieces bigger makes it easier to make. Small motifs work up quickly, but then you have to make so many of them and you have so many ends to deal with. Can you imagine making a tatted shawl 2 feet by 5 feet long and only having to hide 20 ends? I like that idea.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Wow Tatting

Have you ever seen a piece of tatting that's just breathtaking? NO? Then take a look at the wonderful pictures sent to me this morning. Patricia Estrugo sent me these photos of a wedding veil she tatted, that was so glamorous it took part in a fashion show.That picture is a tease, because as we all know, tatters want to see the lace not the model.

Better? No, I didn't think you'd like this view either.

How about this one? Isn't it Gorgeous!?

Here's the view with the front of the dress. Spectacular aren't they? Finally a picture of Patricia taken at the show with the designer of the piece.

Patricia speaks Spanish and her note to me in Spanish doesn't include much more information than that the pictures were taken at the fashion show and that she had tatted the veil. For those of you who do speak Spanish, this is the entire email.



I have written to her asking for more information, but with the language barrier I'm not sure how much more information I'll get.

Edited to add:

I got the bsic information on what Patricia was saying by using the internet translator. HJ added the full translation in the comments.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

First Trial

I decided that I want to work on a project that uses a square motif so I sat down tonight and did this one. I want something that is sort of uniformly dense with even amounts of semi solid tatting. I want the focal point to be both the centre of the motif and the corners where 4 motifs meet.

This one has some semi dense bits in the centre and at the corners, but 4 together doesn't make for an interesting join. I'll have to scrap this one and try another design. By the time I find a design that I like, I should have enough pretty designs that don't quite fit my plans, to fill a book. This one is done in size 10 thread and I think it's about 3 inches across. I should re-do it in 80 to see what it would look like as a bookmark especially if I do the rings in a solid colour and the chains in a variegated colour.

I mentioned some ideas for tatting books on one of the tatting lists and one of the members wrote to me off list and remarked that I shouldn't share my thoughts because someone else would take the ideas and use them to create their own book. The thought that someone else would take my idea and run with it doesn't really bother me, although I do think about it from time to time when I mention an plan for a book. I suppose anyone could take the idea, but they aren't me, and they won't come up with my designs. Does that sound conceited? I don't mean to be. If I do provide an idea that someone can springboard off of, then the tatting world is all the richer for it.

There are several books of snowflake patterns available. Does that mean that the possibilities for snowflake patterns have been exhausted? Seems to me that I read somewhere that the could be millions of real snowflakes and no 2 would be alike. So it seems like there could also be lots of different snowflake patterns.

What about hearts, or butterflies or bookmarks, do we have enough of those? And doilies, there are lots of patterns for those too. Does that mean that we shouldn't expect any more patterns for those either?

There are lots of designs for dresses and shirts and pants, but we keep seeing new variations of those things. They change around the designs for those things 4 times a year and there is always something new, so why shouldn't it be the same for tatting patterns.

Some people buy tatting patterns because they are collectors. Some people buy them because they want to make that one special item. Some people buy them because they find that a particular designer sets out patterns in a way that is easy for them to follow. Some people don't buy many books, choosing rather to make the things they like over and over again. Should a designer stop producing books because there already are some publications on the market with those things in it? I don't think so. I think there is room for old and new books, old techniques and new techniques. It's all good and it all has it's place.

Me? I'm going to whip up a bookmark, then I'll try another idea for a square motif. Happy tatting all.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It just kept growing

Want to see what's been taking up all my tatting time recently? This started as a simple square motif that I thought I might use to embellish a denim jacket. It kind of grew out of control and has been taking all of my tatting time recently.

When I got the first square bit done, the bits between the points looked kind of empty. When I fixed that problem, I created another. To fix the second problem I ended up with a chopped off point. By the time I had fixed the point I had created yet another problem. For a while there I thought I was going to end up with a tablecloth before I got the various problems fixed. 14 inches side to side and nearly 15 inches point to point. Done with Coats Royale size 20.

I may leave it white or give it a dye bath. I haven't decided yet. It doesn't really fit any of the spaces I have, being too wide for my end tables and too small for my dining table. Maybe I should have kept going....Nah, I'm tired of this one.

Now my problem is what do I tat next?

Friday, December 12, 2008


Many people, when you talk to them about tatting, see it as a frivolous activity. Hand knitting, while time consuming, does produce useful articles such as sweaters, socks and mittens. Quilting can make beautiful and practical bed covers, pillows and bags. Embroidery, including cross stitch can make beautiful wall hangings and embellishments to almost anything. Tatting on the other hand is woefully misunderstood. Mention tatting and the uninitiated will think only of doilies. Talk to tatters and you get a whole different perspective.

There are a lot of things that tatters make that aren't doilies. At this time of year there are a lot of snowflakes. Granted a snowflake could be considered a small doily, but as no two snowflakes are alike, neither are any 2 tatted snowflakes so there's a lot of room for variety. Then there are the things that make nice little gifts like bookmarks, hearts and butterflies. A whole lot of newer designs have shown up in the past few years for critters, "lions tigers and bears, oh my" to quote Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Just this past year we have seen a lot of Jane's hippos
and Anne's dragons (pdf). Then there's the jewelery, from quick little earrings to the spectacular pieces created by Marilee aka Yarnplayer.
Beyond all of that, which the uninitiated might consider typical for tatting there is a whole range of three dimensional tatting like the flowers done by Linda
or the gingerbread house and pirate done by Carol which tatters and non tatters alike find utterly awesome.

Isn't it interesting that if someone takes up painting, no one questions the validity of it, even if they consider the product 'bad' painting. No one asks, why do you bother doing it when you could buy a print of the same thing to hang on your wall. No one thinks that the time spent painting is a waste of time. No one would call a painting, even an inferior one, worthless. What is it about textiles that seems to give people the right to judge it as worth less value and less appreciation.

Is it because it involves thread or yarn? Is it possibly because it is seen as "women's work" and therefore people feel free to be critical of it? Is it because of familiarity since it is something that was done by almost everyone's ancestors so that there is no feeling of "uniqueness" to it? Is it because it is seen as something "easy" to do? Is it because of a lack of understanding in the skill required?

I could slap paint on a canvas and call it art. (I'm not saying that it would be ART, just that I could do it.) So if, without training or skill of any kind I could throw paint at a canvas and not be criticized for calling it art, why is it that people can freely criticize fibreart as if it is some lesser form of art. Fibre is a more difficult medium than paint. Colour, shape and texture and more challenging to produce in fibre than with a paintbrush. So why is it that fibreart doesn't get the recognition it deserves?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's your worst insult?

Time was, when every stitch of clothing was carefully, painstakingly, made by hand. The fibers were grown and harvested. Then they were carefully separated from debris, carefully treated and spun. The resultant strands were plied and skillfully, woven and knit into fabrics that could be shaped into clothing. Making a piece of cloth was a time and labour intensive process. Fabric itself had such worth that we have historic references of clothing being highly valued. Think of the soldiers sharing out the garments belonging to Jesus and gambling for the tunic that was woven in one piece. Or what about the reference in Dickens "A Christmas Carol" where the ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge a vision of the charwoman and the laundress selling his clothes and bed linen.

In these days where fibers are spun by the thousands and fabric manufactured by the bolt, we can go from raw materials to finished garments in a single day. There are machines that can weave or knit, machines that can cut stacks of pattern pieces in one go and machines that can be used to assemble the pieces. What used to be a labour of months is now done in minutes, making the average person depreciate the value of things done the slow laborious way. Does that mean that the things which are done carefully and methodically by hand has no value, because that which is done by machine is faster?

We've all had it happen. We're merrily working away at our chosen craft whether it's tatting, knitting, crochet, cross stitch or quilting and someone utters a comment that just sucks all the joy out of it. Comments like, "No one has time for THAT." or "Only people that can't afford to BUY gifts, make them." or "It's not worth making it, I can buy the same thing at WalMart for a couple of dollars."

Years ago I was showing some tatting that I had done, when a lady came up to me and said, "People don't have time to bother with that any more." It made me feel about 2 inches tall. All I could think of saying in reply was, "What am I, chopped liver? I'm a people, and I bother with it." Afterward, I didn't know whether I should be embarrassed because I was wasting my time with something real people wouldn't bother with, or angry, that someone would thoughtlessly and ignorantly, denigrate a pastime that I enjoy, and use to create all manner of delightful articles for my own amusement, and for the pleasure of the people I gift it to.

What's the all time most insulting thing that anyone ever said to you in regard to your chosen craft whether it's tatting, knitting, quilting or some other endeavour? Come on, share the insults.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Doilies: Love 'em or Hate 'em

I'm not really a "frilly" sort of person, so I suppose that it's silly that I spend every free moment making lots and lots of lovely laces that I rarely use. I have made a lot of tatted doilies, but most of them I have given away to various deserving people. I am fortunate to come from a very loving family who appreciate all of the hand made articles I have given them. I DO make extra effort to create things worthy of appreciation and I believe that most of what I make fits into the art rather than craft category. Although I know that in the hands of a skilled person pasta stuck on a styrofoam base and spray painted in gold, could be very artistic, my hands are not that skilled. So I stay with the fibre arts where I know what I bring to the table is a modicum of skill and a large dose of patience which usually produces artful results.

I have seen recently an abundance of comments about doilies being old fashioned and out of keeping with today's modern decorating trends, which may very well be true. When you consider the Victorian era where decorative flair enjoyed it's heyday, you also had an assortment of beautiful and irreplaceable wooden tables, desks, sideboards and hutches which were easily marked with water or the placement of heavy, rough objects on their shiny surfaces. It was much better to protect these delicate surfaces with ornate laces that to suffer scratches on a tabletop or water stains on a piano.

The men of that day liberally applied Macassar oil to their hair in the same way that people today would use mousse and hair gel. The oil often left stains on the woven fabric of upholstered chairs and sofas which, unlike our present furniture, was not easily cleaned. To avoid permanently stained fabric, lace pieces were created to fit over the back of the furniture. Additional lace pieces were created to protect upholstered arms from wear, so that you often see patterns for sets of anti-macassars. These lace pieces, although beautiful in their own right, were essentially rags (pretty "rags", but rags none the less) used to protect valuable pieces of delicate furniture.
Fast forward to today and take a look around your own living space. Most dinnerware is stored in a kitchen cupboard, not in a mahogany china cabinet, The tables are often covered by sheets of shatter proof glass negating the need for any other protection. The piano has been replaced by an entertainment centre made out of plastic which requires no protection from watermarks and scratches. Modern hair care products don't leave greasy splotches on upholstery and even the furniture itself is said to have a "life span"

So do doilies and the like serve a purpose in our modern environment? Most emphatically YES! Doilies give a splash of colour, an element of interest, and a feeling of hom-i-ness to a sterile environment. We don't use them with the same abandon of the Victorian era, but doilies still have a roll to play in decorating our homes. Since they are no longer just rags used to protect more valuable pieces, it is all the more important that the doilies we use be especially beautiful, and particularly well executed. An assortment of doilies lets you give a quick lift to the room just by changing the lace on display. You could hide them behind glass like the art they are, but how much better to lay them out on a table and change them with the seasons.

So which are you? Doily lover, or doily hater?