Thursday, December 31, 2009

Snowflake and Jingle Bells

I'm still designing snowflakes. Here's yesterday's flake. I found some jingle bells and I know a couple of weeks ago I was making something and wishing I had some bells to add to it. Of course now that I have the bells I can't think of what it was that I wanted them for, so after I finished the snowflake I started another and morphed it into a bell. I think I'll add more to the bottom and make it taller. Or maybe I'll just start over.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Look! It's not a snowflake!

I'm still in a designing snowflake mode, which will probably last until January when I need to come up with some new designs for the seniors class. To give readers a break from the flurry of white stuff I thought I'd show you something else I designed. This one was done a couple of months ago when I was trying to think of ways to incorporate beads that didn't have to be strung on to start with. This worked, sort of.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas Snowflake with pattern

Here's another snowflake that just fell off the shuttles. It starts with a basic 6 ring daisy and requires 2 shuttles. It uses 2 split rings to climb from the daisy into the second row, but other that that it's all just ring and chain and I think it turned out kind of cute. For those of you in need of a quickie snowflake, here's the pattern. For anyone who doesn't know how to do split rings you can complete the daisy and cut the thread, then start again with ring "G" as a normal ring and just follow the pattern. There are normal joins from the rings on the second row to the top of the daisy petals and shuttle joins (lock joins) where the chains join to the tops of the daisy petals. There is 1 stitch which is easy to miss going from one petal to the next. So it's shuttle join on one petal, 1 stitch and then shuttle join on the next petal. The outer chains on row 3 are broken up with a ring and then a chain joined to the tip of the ring.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

No Rings-For real this time

Can you see the difference? The bottom snowflake is the original which I though I had done entirely without rings except for the one in the middle. The first row is actually ring and chain but the rings are tiny. I re-tatted it last night and the top picture IS made without rings. The centre ring is a mock ring, but at first glance they are identical. The second snowflake appears to be a tiny bit bigger, but that may be due to some more aggressive blocking as the first was pinned to my blocking board and air dried, while the second was pinned to the ironing board and pressed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yet another snowflake

This is the latest design finished at 3:00 AM.

This one needs some tweaking on the chains. I should have made the first row 1 stitch longer so that the last one was equally divisible, but I didn't and had to add an extra stitch on the last row so it doesn't sit with each row neatly snugged up. It's an OK design but not anything really special. I have to get cracking on writing out the patterns for these designs. I only have 2 or 3 done so far. I can tat while sitting with hubby in the evening but drawing the patterns means being at the computer so it takes a little longer to get finished.

Writing out patterns is faster if it's done right after you completed the design because you can remember all of the stitch counts. Of course when getting to creating the drawing takes a while, there's usually a new design on the shuttles so the stitch counts get replaced by the new set. There are always a few where you have to go back and count the stitches. There will be a book eventually. I was hoping to have it done before Christmas and I might yet if I can get the computer time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No Rings!

Well...there is one, but it could be a mock ring. I just wanted to see if I could make a snowflake shape without using rings. Not especially dramatic or particularly interesting, but it is lacy.

Like the previous snowflakes, this one can have a bead added to the centre for interest and it would probably make this one more attractive. It's also an ideal design for the lovely variegated HDT's since it's just one long continuous chain.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another Snowflake

This is another of the same type of snowflake which can be used as is or have a one inch bead added to the centre. You'll see the beaded version in the composite picture posted a few days ago.
This is the snowflake I showed earlier but this time it's been blocked and it doesn't look like the design needs to be modified.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

More Snow

Today's snowflake design, unblocked, hot off the shuttles.
This is another design that can incorporate a one inch Bead, Button, Picture or be left plain. I didn't like the way the design was going and then suddenly on the last row, I love how it looks. I think I might tweak the penultimate row a little, or not. I'll know better after it's blocked.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


I haven't blogged in ages. Well, that's not totally correct because I have been keeping up with the 25 Motif Challenge blog, I just haven't been keeping up with my own blog. Now that I'm all caught up I can show you what I've been tatting. I found these one inch diameter beads, the package calls them Rhinestones and I've been incorporating them into tatted snowflakes. A couple of them got extra large.

All of these designs can be made without the stones and some of them have 2 stones back to back so that they look the same from both sides. You could use any one inch size stone, bead, button or even a picture like the small wallet size photos they do for kid's school pictures. I think they'd look cute as Christmas ornaments.

I was thinking of doing a book of them, but then wondered if other folks would think they looked chintzy, inelegant and clunky with this big beady thing in the middle. So I modified it yet again so that the one inch bead cand be replaced with one inch of lace.

So what do you think? Can the world take one more book of snowflakes?

Edited to add

Here is a large picture of one of the pieces with a double stone. The blurriness is due to the depth of the stones being much greater than the flat lace. And yes I know it's still a bit of a tease, but what else will keep you wanting more? :-)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

All that glitters isn't beads

I really challenged the ladies by throwing split rings at them last week and split rings with beads at the same time was way too much too soon. So taking a step back I rethought the process and came up with this:

It's the same basic idea with rings off the top of the chains added. In place of the beads we have size 10 thread with a metallic filament. Sparkle without hassle. Each of the ladies managed about one third of a snowflake during class. If they work on it at home, they should have one finished or nearly finished, by next week and we'll do another the same. Not spectacular, but at least it is something that they will be able to do and display on their Christmas tree.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Square Daisy

A round daisy in a square motif.

This is one of the designs in my new book Marvellous Motifs. I was playing around with square motifs, but I wanted a daisy in the middle of one and this was the results. When I had tatted it the first time I did it again in size 80 thread and it looked like it would work well as either earrings or as a pendant. The heart shaped bead was a perfect match and all I did was take the end of the ball thread on the last chain, feed it through the heart around a small pearl and back through the heart before I finished the chain. I quite like the way it looks and although I don't wear much tatted jewelry, this is one I will be wearing.

Still no web page for the book but the pricing in Canadian funds is:
Canada $20
USA $21
International $23

If you are interested email me and I can send you a PayPal invoice for it. My email address:
tatdlace at gagechek dot com.

Friday, October 23, 2009


For the last 8 weeks I've been teaching a beginner's class in tatting at the local (well it's not so local, it's on the other side of town) seniors centre. It's a 2 hour class and for the first class some of the ladies thought it was just a social gathering. Sorry folks, I'm getting paid to teach and that's what I'm going to do. After some initial grumbling about, I'm too old for this, and nobody told me I'd have to think, we got down to tatting.

Day one we did chains in 2 colours of thread. Day 2 we started the beginner pattern flower bookmark in the sidebar. It's still mostly chains. Most of them came back the next week with a creditable bookmark and I started them on a small beaded zipper pull. It was just 4 rings with beads and they had it half done in class, but most of them failed to finish it. So I went back to a plain ring and chain edging. They got the flip down so that they're tatting OK, it's the joins that seem to be causing them grief.

I want to get them to the point of knowing rings, chains, split rings, split chains and beads so that by Christmas they can do this:

Sorry for the crappy picture, it wouldn't stop spinning. We did the beaded snowflake in class. It's just ring and chain with 3 beads in the centre of the chain to make a point. Most of them got it. One of the ladies really got into it, finished one snowflake and made another on her own.

Last week I showed them this ball without the middle band of split rings. I showed them that it was just 2 snowflakes laced together. They were quite impressed and it gave them something to work toward. When I pushed the middle band on the ball it really wowed them and gave them the desire to get split rings. I think the idea that they already had the skills to make it really helped give them the incentive to keep going.

Next week I'm going to get them to finish the second snowflake, although for some of them it may be just the one. We only have 4 more classes and I want them to know that they CAN tat on their own. Some are really trying to learn, but others, I think, just want the company.

They've asked if I'm going to do another class for the winter session. I've agreed to it although they may not run the class unless there are more people signed up for it. Most of the ladies want to come back for more so I guess we'll see.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Failed Designs

For the Design Tat class here are a couple of doilies created from pictures. The first is called Elephant Flake because this attempt at a snowflake came out in huge proportions. It's 10 inches from point to point and big enough to be called a doily, but it's really too open.
The second one looked good on the drawing board but failed in execution. The flower shapes are apparent t the points only because the open chains take nothing away from them. Of course the open chains lack the structure to allow it to hold it's shape and the method of tatting withe chains in the middle of the flowers worked but it was a sloppy way of achieving the design. Which is why it's not been blocked or drawn because I consider it a failed design.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Look what Wendy did with the design from Marvellous Motifs

When I created the Irish Rose Motif in the Marvellous Motifs book I knew that it and the companion design would fit together. The original pair shown on the front cover made a pretty little pin cushion so I knew the motifs would fit together but I didn't know how they would look done as a checkerboard style mat and I was really curious, but didn't think I had the time to tat up a sample for the book so I asked some of the folks on the tatting lists if they would like to try it out. Wendy was one of those brave enough to give it a whirl. She chose 3 different yellow/gold colours for the roses and a pale variegated green for the background colour.

While everyone was busy tatting away, it occurred to me that I tat pretty fast and maybe I could tat it. The other thing I realized after I had sent out the appeal for help, was that if it needed adjustment I wouldn't know where or by how much unless I did it myself. So I started whipping through the design, just doing the base rose so that I could see the shape/size results.

Once I had the 9 motifs completed, it kind of looked unfinished so after a couple of tries I worked out a finishing row and sent it out to the various test tatters so they could have nice finished pieces too. Wendy sent me a picture of her partially completed piece and we discussed using the background colour or the rose colour for the edging. I used the background colour for the model I did. Wendy used the rose colour and I like hers better, but you can judge for yourself. Mine was filmed sitting on the rock outside which isn't flat and explains it's less than square appearance. Here's a picture of mine so you can compare.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Busier than a one armed paper hanger

That's how I've been feeling. I'm trying to tat all of the designs from the Design-Tat course and I don't have a lot of time for it right now. I've just returned from the tatting class I teach at the senior's centre. The ladies are all enthusiastic, although some of them are telling me that I'm giving them headaches. We're only working with simple ring and chain designs so it's hard to imagine that they'd find it difficult. They seem flummoxed when I tell them they CAN do it. I think they're used to people who dumb things down for seniors and I just refuse to let them quit.

We started with the Flower Bookmark, it's the Beginner pattern in the sidebar 3 of the ladies completed a bookmark and the next week we went on to working with beads. That seemed to be challenging, so the next week I went back to simple ring and chain edging, but that seemed to confuse them again. This week I did a simple ring and chain snowflake with beads and we got about a third of the way through it in class, so I'm hopeful that by next week they will have made progress.

I took my Marvellous Motifs in for them to look at, but honestly most of the designs are probably beyond them at this point. Still they all seem to want to buy it. There are 6 more weeks of class and they should have a good grasp of it by then, at least everything except clunies, but I'm hoping we get to them as well.

Speaking of Marvellous Motifs I was able to get to the post office and get the shipping costs so here's the price in Canadian funds including shipping.

Canada $20
USA $21
International $23

Hubby is working on a project for a client and so it's not up on the web site yet, but if you email me I can send you a PayPal invoice for it. My email address:

tatdlace at gagechek dot com.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm stuffed! We have had our Thanksgiving dinner, an enormous turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy, broccoli, cauliflower, corn and baked sweet potatoes. Both of us are replete with dinner and the apple pie and ice cream planned for dessert, will have to wait. I'm thankful for the abundance of food, for the luxury of being able to cook a festive dinner and enjoy it in peace. I am thankful that I live in a country where folks mostly get along. There isn't a war going on around me like there is in some parts of the world. I am thankful that I have the freedom to do things I enjoy doing like tatting. I'm thankful for a wonderful husband who supports my efforts in whatever I attempt.

As good as all that is, I am most thankful that Jesus laid aside His Divine nature and became a man showing us how to live. Then He died as a sacrifice for all mankind that whoever would choose to believe in Him could come under that banner of His love and forever be united to God. I am thankful that I made that choice and was accepted into the family of God. I am thankful that every day He is my source and my supply. He meets all my needs and his well of love never runs dry, He is never too tired to listen, never too weak to save. On the contrary, the same power that allowed him to take His life back up again after He laid it down as a sacrifice for all, works now in Him to bring all mankind to Himself.

Thank You God! You're the Greatest!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Marvellous Motifs

After what has seemed like an interminable amount of time I can finally show you my latest project. I started about a year ago working on square motifs that could be used for a larger project like a shawl. I wanted something that was not too open so that it could be made in a thicker thread which would work up faster and still be lacy. Then I got side tracked and started working on hearts and one thing led to another.

I've been trying to keep up with work and the 25 Motif Challenge and the Round Robins and the Design-Tat course and more recently I've been teaching the seniors to tat at the local rec centre, in between which we've had some fun going on with car repairs and the launch of new software and... Well, you get the idea.

Today I finally managed to get the first few copies of my newest book done. Marvellous Motifs containing 19 versatile patterns. Here's a sneak peek of the front cover. Ordering information will be posted as soon as I know what the shipping costs will be.
I was able to get to the post office and get the shipping costs so here's the price in Canadian funds including shipping.

Canada $20
USA $21
International $23

Hubby is working on a project for a client and so it's not up on the web site yet, but if you email me I can send you a PayPal invoice for it. My email address:
tatdlace at gagechek dot com.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I spoke too soon

Well I thought our car troubles were over, but it turned out they were only beginning. A few days after the new injector was installed the car started sounding rough again so we took it back for Fred, the mechanic to take another look at it. After a brief examination he though he saw sparks coming from one of the coils and anticipated that the housing was cracked. By this time we've learned the routine and head back to the parts store to get a new coil.

The garage and the parts store are on the same street just a few blocks apart, and this time, although the engine sounds bad, we can at least still drive it to get the parts. We are fortunate that Fred is willing to drop what he's doing to work on our car and he proceeds to remove the old coil. Sure enough, it has a couple of cracks in it, but when he attempts to use the new coil he realizes that we have been sold the wrong part and this one won't fit on our car so he has to pull one out of stock. That's all right because this particular part is only about $10 more.

The new part is installed and Fred starts plugging in the spark plug wires, only for some reason one of them doesn't make a solid connection. He pushes the wire further into the boot so that the connector inside is closer to the end. That's normally what you would do. While we are watching, he still has trouble getting it to connect so instead of fighting with it he sticks needle nose pliers inside the boot and pulls the connector up, which is good, and out, which is not so good. He gets the connector on and jams the boot over top of it. So half an hour later it's connected, but not very well.

Everything gets put back together and the car runs, but it's noisy and he assures us that it's just because the battery had been disconnected while he was working on it and the computer has to relearn everything. He suggests that maybe there's a problem with the spark plug wires (Well I guess, Bozo!) and maybe we ought to replace them.

The wrong part gets taken back to the store and we come home with the car chugging just like it did when we took it in. When we get home and inspect the old coil and see that although there is a crack in the housing, it's just on the surface and doesn't go right through. We test it with the meter and it appears to be OK. So it looks like we replaced a part that didn't need replacing. The only way to know for sure is to swap it out with one of the other coils and see what happens, but that's a lot of work and we already have a lot to do.

We check in with the garage around the corner and ask if they have an old spark plug wire we can use for testing. We put new wires and spark plugs on last year and we don't drive much so the wires should be OK. We use the test wire and use it to replace each wire one at a time. Everything checks out OK but just in case we bicycle back up to Canadian Tire and get a new set of spark plug wires.
I don't pay a lot of attention to car engines but I've seen some where the spark plugs are all lined up across the top of the engine. Ours aren't. 3 of them are along the bottom front, but 3 of them are behind the engine along the back between the engine and the fire wall. The only way to get to them is to remove the alternator which you can't do unless you remove the drive belt. Garages have a special tool for the purpose, but Rob has done this so often he made his own. It's like a metal yard stick with a bolt on the end that you can use to spring down the bracket and release the belt. Then it's just removing a few bolts and the alternator can be lifted out of the way. Rob's not a mechanic, but one of his first jobs was working on the assembly line building car engines, so he knows more about what makes cars go than the average guy.

We carefully test the continuity of each new wire to make sure they're all OK, then we remove the old set, clean and gap the spark plugs and replace each wire neatly fitting everything into the harness and wrapping the protective coils around them at the places where the wires lay close to the engine. The alternator goes back in place and gets bolted down, the battery gets re-connected and we give it a try. No change, it still sputters.

That means that we have another problem inside the engine. This time we've already seen the engine apart and Rob is confident that he can do the job himself so he started taking the engine apart. There's a lot of "stuff" attached to an engine that you have to remove before you can even unbolt the plenum and lift it off to look inside. All of the sensors and the intake manifold have to be removed and held out of the way while you work.

Then the wires to the fuel injectors have to be removed and the fuel rail unbolted. The hose ends are capped with rubber stoppers so that we don't leak gas all over the place. We have already tested and know that the spark is getting through to the fuel injectors so we take them off and test them one at a time. I don't know anything about this stuff, but my job is to be a third hand and hold things. Hold things out of the way so that other parts can be reached, hold bits and pieces as they are removed or replaced and hold parts or probes as things are being tested. The fuel injectors read 12 except for one which reads 8 and the new one just installed which reads 0. Zero, and it's new. We can tell it's the new one because all of the previously installed fuel injectors have black O rings. The new unit has a red O ring.
Rob takes pictures of everything. He scans the important information on the sides of boxes and takes pictures of all of the parts that he puts on. He also takes pictures of the things he takes apart. It's easier to take a picture and know which order things are in than it is to try to remember when you are reassembling. We know the new injector had the red O ring because we have the picture of it, in the box, that we took in the store, when we bought it.

The good news is that we know what's wrong and how to fix it. The bad news is that the store that has the parts is 7 km away and the engine is apart. Before we go back to the store we call to tell them what has happened and that we will be in to return it. In the interim a friend emails us to say that the company he works for has all the parts and he can get them for us much cheaper because he gets an employee discount. So we return the bad injector and get the refund then bicycle on to the next shop to pick up 2 new injectors and a couple of other pieces we need and back home again.

The new injectors get installed and we start replacing pieces in reverse order. Since we have the wires out of the engine we take the time to test each wire and carefully re-tape them and replace the old brittle wire coil with new. We get ready to hook the fuel line back up and realize we have a major problem. The flexible rubber hose that connects to the engine has a metal fitting, kind of like at the end of a garden hose, that screws onto the pipe going into the engine. It's a special kind of rubber hose that can withstand the high temperature and high pressure going into the engine and it has small split right at the fitting. If the split was in the middle of the hose we could just cut the hose, insert a connector and hold the pieces together with fuel clamps, but where it is there isn't anything we can do to fix it. No hose, no car.

This new problem is worse than all of the others combined because if we can't get a hose we can't repair the car. So we start calling first the dealer, because some things don't change and they might still use the same type of hose in newer cars. No luck there, they don't use that particular fitting any more. Then we try the after market stores, they don't carry it either, so we go to the recycling stores and see what we can find there. Our options are limited because most junk yards are on the outskirts of the city in remote areas and without the car working we only go where we can bicycle to unless we can get someone else to drive us out to get the parts in the middle of the day. One shop doesn't have anything but one of the guys who works there thinks he might have a hose and he's willing to drop it off at the house. He dropped by with a hose which was unfortunately too short, but after he sees the car and where it needs to fit he thinks he can get one. Thankfully he did, and after some adjustment the hose was attached.

Now it's just a matter of finishing off the re-assembly of the engine and we're good to go. Just to be safe Rob checks to make sure how tight the plenum needs to be and he finds that it should be torqued to 25 ft/lbs and he carefully torques each bolt in sequence. There is a specific order for these things although a lot of mechanics don't bother doing it properly, Rob always does. The last bolt is bolted the last clip is clipped and and the battery is re-connected. Then we get to turn the engine over and see if it runs. After a few little sputters as the air in the gas line gets moved through the system the engine roars to life. Success at last! I start supper and he takes it around the block to check it out.

After supper we decide to take it for a slightly longer drive so that the computer can re-learn the system. Rob starts the car and there's a loud clang and the car starts backfiring. That's not good.

Back under the hood again to see what's happening. Really, REALLY bad news. The plenum is cracked. The plenum is the top of the engine. It locks down over top of the engine and created the vacuum that makes the engine work. The backfiring is caused because there is no vacuum when the plenum cracked. At this point most people would give up. "Give up" isn't in hubby's vocabulary.

After looking at it he figures that if he can find some way to secure the broken piece back onto the plenum, that he may be able to get it working well enough to drive. He needs to be able to hold both pieces together accurately and tightly while he drills through both pieces. Then he has to use a drill bit long enough to drill through the side of the plenum without damaging the surface of it, because once the repair is completed the surface needs to be totally smooth and flat or it will leak air. Not having a drill bit long enough he first has to make one by inserting a bit into a rod and securing it with a pin through the side.
Once that is accomplished he needs to find a way of holding the pieces together. This gizmo is apparently called a chain grip. It's kind of like a vise grip with a bicycle chain where the gripping part is usually found. I wonder if the guy who invented it need to fix an odd shaped part like this?

It held the pieces firmly in place while two tiny holes were drilled. The holes were tapped and heat treated bolts inserted and tightened down. Miracle of miracles, it worked! The repaired plenum was bolted into place with some liquid gasket used along all of the seam lines of the repair. Once again we tried it out. Vroom, VROOM. We have car!
We're not stupid enough to press our luck, the next day we head out to the recycling yard, They used to call them junk yards, but we're so much more environmentally conscious these days. The have another Z24 with an intact plenum, we just have to disassemble the car to get to it. While we're at it we pick up all of the other little bits we need like hoses and clips that are broken on our car.
Hey, we're getting good at this,we can disassemble and reassemble the engine faster than a garage mechanic. We know where all the little bits go and the easiest way to get them in place....AND I HOPE WE NEVER HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


After days and weeks of feeling like I've been running as fast as I can, I think, I'm all caught up. In the spring I volunteered to teach the seniors at the local rec centre how to tat. After the open house several weeks ago I was told that they wouldn't go ahead with it unless there were at least 6 people signed up for the 12 week course. (12 weeks!, who came up with that number?) There were 5 signed up when I called last week so I didn't know if it was going ahead or not. They decided at the last minute that they would go ahead with it because they think more people will join once it's started. Yesterday was the first class. 3 got the flip for sure and the other 2 will probably get it after a few more tries at home.

I've done a review of all the designs posted in the Design-Tat blog. All of the participants have come up with wonderful designs. It's amazing at the diversity of designs all based on the same little piece.

With the first group I did a tutorial with screen shots showing how to use drawing software. This time the version of free software available has changed, so it meant re-writing chunks of the tutorial and taking all new pictures to match the new software. The first installment is done and posted now.

All of the designs are in the new book except that I need to juggle things around again because I've ended up with 2 blank half pages. I need some time with a clear head for that so I'll tackle it tomorrow.

After a really crappy summer weather wise, we've had a couple of nice days and today we took advantage of it and took the parrot out for another bike ride.She enjoys getting out and going for a ride. When I grab her leash she immediately puts her foot up so that I can strap it around her foot. The leash came with a metal clasp which I have replaced with a wide leather band. I know that parrots have ended up with broken legs from leashes, but I think that between the possibly of being scared and jumping into trouble like an oncoming car and being killed and the possibility of ending up with a broken leg, the broken leg might be preferable. She was wearing it when I was hit by the car in 2005 and both of us were thrown 20 feet down the road. I ended up with 5 breaks in my leg; she lost a tail feather. The leash does make it possible to take her with us on long bike rides down busy streets, which is more fun for her than being left alone at home.

Several of the update team have been posting to the 25 Motif Challenge blog, so it's caught up and I have the evening free to tat. I think I'm going to go put my feet up, grab a cup of tea and my tatting and see what's on TV. So with that, I'll leave you with another snippet of tatting from the new book.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Bikes, Cars and all that

I ride funny. Not in the sense of ha ha, he he, but in the sense of peculiar. For many years I rode an old bike. It wasn't a modern rugged mountain bike but a narrow wheel bike that we used to call a racing bike, but it's now called a street bike. The only padding on the seat was the leather covering so I often rode side saddle with one cheek on the bike to make use of my own ample padding. I rode in one gear and if I needed to change gears going up hill, I got off and walked.

That was partly because I was usually encumbered and partly because the gears slipped. Just as I was giving it my all to reach the apex of the hill the gear would slip nearly throwing me off the bike. Having nearly taken a header over the handlebars on more than one occasion, I just gave up on gear shifting and left it in the one gear where it would happily stay in place.

That was OK, it suited me. I'm not a speed demon, I'm not in a hurry to get anywhere, I'm riding the bike to get fresh air and take the bird for a ride. I DID say I was usually encumbered.

You don't do anything fast while riding with a macaw. At any moment something might startle her into spreading her 3 foot wingspan and totally obscuring your vision. Or she might decide that brake cables look like good snack food. Or she might just dig her claws in and yell in your ear. After years of riding with her I have learned that I have more control over her when she's on my forearm. Not only that, but I'm more likely to get home and still have clean clothes instead of a shirt with little birdie deposits on it.

Of course riding this way means that you can only change gears on one side of the bike anyway. So I have become accustomed to only gear shifting on the right. The old bike got demolished when I was hit by a car a few years ago and I was sans bike until I persuaded hubby that I was quite able to ride again. The new one is 18 speed. I'm not too sure what I'm supposed to do with the left gear shift never having had occasion to use it before, but the right ones have the familiar slipping problem. Well, not quite the same. These gears don't want to shift at all. After much struggling they go all the way one direction or the other, with nothing in between.

Lately, with the car in the garage, we have found it necessary to do most of our running around using the bikes. These trips were on busy roads and needed to be done as quickly as possible so Dusty has been left home. Long trips with both hands free have left me the luxury of trying different gears and with hubby constantly reminding me to change to low gear going uphill, I tried to comply, without a lot of success. The stinker is so stiff I can barely get it to move and my wrist is starting to give me constant pain from fighting with the gears. So the other day he took a look at my gear shift. Sure enough there was no way the derailleur could shift into high it just wouldn't go. After a few minutes of looking at it he realized it was missing a screw which he cannibalized off the old bike, but it still wasn't right.

He checked out a few videos on the internet and saw a really nifty stand that held the working bits of the bike at eye level so he built his own stand. He got my bike up on the stand and started adjusting the gears. Then the phone rang. It was the garage.

Initially they thought it was one of the fuel injectors which was going to run around $175. Ouch. We've had them changed before and knew we could get them for less. So we called around and got a price of $49. Much better, but it comes from a competitor's shop so we have to get the part first and they would install it. At least both shops are on the same street. This time they called to say it's not the injector, it's a faulty ignition module at $285. We've had them changed too and know we can get the parts for less. Considering the time of day we have to hurry by bike to get down to the parts store and back to the garage before closing.

So without making any adjustments to the gears we rode off to the garage. Three times this week we have gone the 7 km there and 7 km back all the while I'm fighting with the gear shift. My wrist started screaming at me every time I have to use the mouse from all the abuse it's taken trying to shift the gears. Rob's bike has Shimano gears properly installed and his move forward and back with almost no pressure at all. Conversely mine almost take 2 hands to shift. Last night he got the bike up on his newly made stand and adjusted the gears. They now move forward and back through the full range. They're still a little stiff, but much better than before.

This morning the garage called. The car's fixed.

In case you're curious, it wasn't the module after all, it was a burned out wire leading to it. So we took the module back for a full refund. We did replace the fuel injector, because if it's ready to go, better replace it now while the engine's already apart. And the PCV valve that Rob's had for years but couldn't face pulling the engine apart to put it in, and the gas filter he had, that's easier to reach with the car on a hoist. So in the end they did a good job and it didn't cost us anywhere near what we had anticipated and certainly a lot less than a new car.

Tatting? Did I hear someone ask about tatting? Who's had time for tatting.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

In case you've been wondering where I've been....

I've spent a lot of time with hubby out in the garage recently. Not because I like the garage, but because we've been trying to get the car going. We made a quick trip out to the store to pick up a prescription for hubby and the car quit on us. In the left turn lane, at rush hour, at a busy intersection. We had to get out and push it around the corner and half way up the block before we could get it off the road. Thankfully a landscaper cutting the grass alongside the road helped us to get the car into the parking lot and out of the way.

Our car has served us very, very well. since we bought it in 1988. We checked the records and since 2001 we have paid $4298.00 in repairs or $537.25 average per year. That's above the regular gas, and oil change maintenance stuff that you'd pay on any car, but when you figure that the car is over 20 years old and it's been paid off for a long time, that's not too bad. What we've paid in repairs in a YEAR is less than one month's payment on a new car. This time however, we're not sure what's wrong with it and if it can be fixed. This time it may have well and truly, bit the bullet.

Buying a car doesn't seem to be in the budget. I suppose it might be, but I don't like the idea of going into debt just to be able to run to the store when I want. We've been looking at used cars and looking at what we can afford, but what you can buy with $0, isn't much.

Holding the light for hubby while he pokes and prods the vehicle has been interspersed with collecting up tatting bits for display to be used at the open house Friday. It was apparently a roaring success. All I know is that I tatted and gave away a lot of 4 ring butterflies, and talked to a lot of seniors about taking tatting classes in September. This is a paying gig, but it doesn't pay a lot. Which is a pity because getting paid to teach tatting is my cup of tea. They have set a minimum of 6 people for the class so if we get 6 or more I'm teaching and if they get fewer, I'm not. I'll let you know how it goes. They've set it up as a 12 week course, so if they stick with it for 12 weeks they will be truly hooked. Mwahaha...

In between these activities I have been trying to get some patterns into publishable format. The patterns are drawn and I'm down to the "pull it into the publication" stage. I had a set order in mind, but I've hit a point where I either have to change my order around or I have to create some new smaller designs as filler because I've hit a point where the designs are taking up three quarters of a page. That will mean I either have to leave large bare spaces or try cut drawings in half which I don't want to do. I have been struggling with this book for far too long, partly because I took out a chunk of time in the middle of it to make replacement pieces for some folks whose tatting got lost in the mail, and partly because I have overextended myself taking on things I shouldn't have. I already had a full plate of stuff that I had to do when I took on a bunch of stuff I wanted to do. Now I'm paying the piper in having to push back the publication date of my book. In the mean time the new design course is off to a good start. It never really occurred to me that I had much to teach about designing. I know I've learned from some earlier mistakes and there were a few things that I've figured out. When I started the first course I thought I might get 2 or 3 people that wanted a few pointers. When 60 people signed up I was flabbergasted. Seriously, I thought I might do 2 or 3 lesson with some pointers to get beginners started, but when I actually sat down and started to write out the lessons, there was quite a bit to go through, so I guess I did have something to teach after all.

The pictures shown? They're bits of the new designs of course.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Heavenly Blue

It's the colour of these morning glories. Typically they come in pink and purple, so I think the blue variety must be some kind of a hybrid. Every day the vine is covered with blooms that die by evening. Then the next morning you are greeted with a whole new set of flowers. They are blooming so profusely that you can just barely see my outdoor tatting spot. Earlier in the year the clematis forms a large column of purple against the wall. The backyard is shaded by tall buildings behind and a large tree overhead, so very little grows back there, but in the front yard I can be surrounded by flowers all summer long. I wonder if I can bring this pot inside and enjoy these flowers throughout the winter? Failing that, I will save the seeds and start another one for next year.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

So close, and yet so far

6 measly stitches from the end of an all chain row and I've run out of chain thread. The only remedy is to back up to the last join and finish it using a very long split chain. And for all of that, I'm not even sure I like the design or that it's going to lay flat. Two or three more pieces to finish, photograph and diagram and the new book's ready.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Design-Tat course starting next week

As mentioned in an earlier post, I started teaching a basic course on how to design your own tatting patterns in March. I was overwhelmed by the response to the course which has recently been completed. I planned it as a proper course with lessons and homework and people jumped in and started creating their own unique designs. It's amazing how a group of people can take the same basic design elements and create totally different laces.

Some people found out about it too late to join in, so I am running the course again. The lessons are posted to the Design-Tat blog, but the follow up is all done in the Yahoo Group. To take advantage of the course you need to belong to the Yahoo group which is by invitation only. I made it invitation only not to exclude any interested tatters, but to keep out trolls and spammers. If you are interested in joining the course which will start next week, please send me an email at change # to @ and you will be sent an invitation.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Tatting Corner

KrystleDawn posted a challenge for tatters to show pictures of their tatting corners. I have to admit I'm a poster child for "tatting in my pocket". I tat anywhere and everywhere, I tat at the computer and I draw tatting patterns at the computer. The current tatting clutter on my computer desk is mostly comprised of the test tatting of the pieces from the Design-Tat course. The 3 balls of thread are for a bookmark I'm designing.
Most of my tatting supplies are stored in a 6 foot by 3 foot cabinet and in 3 drawer filing cabinet wedged in beside it. The filing cabinet holds the size 10 threads, that I don't use very often. People keep giving me bags full of size 10 thread and this is just the coloured threads. I have a garbage bag full of white balls stored in the closet. As you can see the tall cabinet holds several smaller containers with drawers for different sizes of thread, my small collection of tatting books , the blue chest in the middle holds embroidery threads and the boxes beside it hold miscellaneous tatting supplies like beads, bangles, findings, hankys and other things to put tatting in or add tatting to. It also houses the binding machine and supplies for book publishing.

The dresser is an in between station where pieces get dropped while I think about how to proceed with a pattern or where they sit until I can mount them on my 3 foot square blocking board which is stored behind the cabinet. Small things can be blocked on the ironing board, but larger items, like doilies, hang off the edges so they need a bigger area. The bed makes a large surface at just the right height for holding the blocking board while I pin things out. So finished tatting often sits on the dresser until I have the time to block it. It gets thrown back on the corner of the dresser until it can be scanned or photographed and again until the pattern gets drawn out if I haven't done that first. It gets put back on the corner when it's done until I either give it away or find some place to store it. That's what this mixed stack of stuff is doing here.

The corner where I do most of my tatting is here, on the love seat. The light is appalling, but I tat as much by feel as by sight, so it isn't a big issue unless I'm using size 80 an a dark colour. I mostly only need to see to do joins. I have 2 projects sitting there at the moment, a motif I'm working on in pale yellow where things have gotten to the point where it needs my undivided attention and the bookmark that requires less attention in pink. The white and green threads will get added later, they're still upstairs by the computer.

When the weather is nice I grab the parrot and go sit on the bench outside to tat so that both of us get a bit of fresh air, so I guess you could say that my tatting corner is really all over the house.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Little of This and A Little of That

I have been tatting, not that you would know it from reading here. Some days I feel busier than a one armed paperhanger with so many things on the go that require my attention it's hard to prioritize.Days always go better when I'm up before hubby because it gives me some quiet time to read my Bible and talk things over with the Lord before the busy of life gets in the way. We take time to read the Word and pray together daily, but I still need the personal time with God and really notice when I don't have it.
The 25 Motif Challenge can take up a lot of my time if it's not handled regularly. I thank God for the many volunteers who have stepped in to help. As the interest in the challenge has grown, keeping up with it went from a pleasure to a pain and without the wonderful folks who volunteer their time it wouldn't be nearly as much fun. We have recently added some new volunteers and that takes a bit of extra time sending them out the information they need and answering questions they have. The Challenge has clearly kept people tatting and created another point of contact for the tatting community.
The Tatting Round Robins have been popular and you'd think that once everyone has their partner information, that my involvement would be over, and most of the time that would be true. The very first group of round robins I co-ordinated ran into all kinds of hiccups. Some of them went off without a hitch and others experienced all manner of road blocks, some of which are still being sorted out 2 years later. Many of these little speed bumps have been related to unexpected accidents and illness that have hampered people from completing their obligations.

If you are someone like my sister who checks email once every week or two, sorting things out can take a very long time. In the interim I can get 5 messages from other participant who are online every day. Last year the individual groups had leaders that collected the pictures for posting on the blogs and helped herd everyone toward the finish line. The most recent groups have been plagued with not only illness but also technical problems due to crashed computers.
This year I started the Design-Tat group to help people create their own designs. I'm not an expert, but there are some things I've learned from doing it wrong the first time, that may encourage other people to spread their wings. I had though of doing it as a paid class because of the time involvement, but I didn't because A- I didn't think I had all that much to teach, and B- I didn't think that there would be that many people interested. I had anticipated that 2 or 3 people might want to know what I know and I had to cut the group off at 60 because there was no way I could personally answer the design challenges of that many people. Really, I think a lot of the folks that joined, just did so out of curiosity, but I have another dozen people that have emailed since asking if they could join. So I'll be doing another course soon.

On the work front, hubby has completed some new software and I helped out with Beta testing and writing the help manual which required setting the software up in a logical manner for doing screen shots that could be incorporated into the manual and the web pages. These had to be done twice. The first were done in a small size for the manual and the second set were done larger and created with transparent backgrounds for use on the web site. We have been fortunate to already have several users promote the software, so we are very encouraged by that.

Things have been especially challenging over the last few weeks as our high speed connection was out and a lot of my "normal" activities are very graphic and require that high speed connection.
In the in between minutes I have been doing some tatting that will go into an upcoming book. I have the designs done and I'm tatting up some additional samples for filming. That's one of the reasons that there haven't been any pictures, as it's all a surprise.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Garden bouquet

Yesterday we had this beautiful tall delphinium just coming into full flower. The top of the fence you can see here is just about the height of my nose. My sweetie took the pictures and I was hoping he'd get a full shot of the entire plant instead of just a close up of the flower. It's a vivid splash of colour that comes back year after year. I got smarter last year and supported the bottom half of the plant in a tomato cage because in full flower it's very top heavy.

Last night we had a thunder shower that blew it over. We tried tying it up to a stake, but what kind of a stake do you use for a pant that's nearly 7 foot tall? We got it tied up and I turned my back for a minute and it broke in half and fell over again. So today I have this gorgeous bouquet on my table. I'm hoping the rest of the buds will open. I don't mind whether the flowers are in the garden or on the table, just as long as I can get to enjoy them.