Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I am not a Professional Tatter!

Why do I let myself get talked into tatting items to sell?  It all started when I gifted a earring/necklace set to my friend. This is the pendant.

  She wore her tatted jewelry to Square Dancing (yes, some people still square dance in Texas).  All of her friends complimented her on her accessories and asked where they could get a set.  My friend then approached me with a proposition to make and sell them.  I was so flattered that people would pay good money for something I made that I agreed. I was also still very enthusiastic about the pattern and wanted to try it out in different colors.  Well, for the last month, I have been doing nothing but tat pendants and earrings in the same pattern, and I could just scream.  I have gone down this path before with the same result.  I get all excited about earning money from my tatting, then get bored with the project(s) before the obligation is over.  I think that is the problem:  the obligation.  I tat for fun and enjoy the freedom of moving from project to project at will.  I have a lot of obligations in my life: work, family, housework.  I don't want tatting to be just another obligation where I can't choose the pattern or colors that I want to work with.  As soon as I get stuck with a project, the tatting Muse leaves and all inspiration goes with it.  For this reason, I will never become a professional tatter.

Okay.  Now that I got that out of my system, let me show you some Christmas tatting that I have managed to squeeze in.  This is a snowflake by Renulek.  The pattern is here.

And this red beauty is from Jon Yusoff's  book "Elegant Tatted Gem's."

And finally, one completed Christmas tree earring.
This is a pattern from Jane Eborall and can be found here.  My version of the pattern has a variation without the button, which is what I did here, but her current pattern only has it with a button in the middle.  I wonder where the button-less version went???  (Update: Jane sent the link to this pattern.  I don't know why I couldn't find it.  Here it is.  Thank you Jane!!) 

And to all my American friends, have a Happy Thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Working on Jewelry

I have made several more pendants and earrings based on Ewa's pattern found here (with my modifications found here.  These are the earrings

that match this pendant:
The thread is Perfect Quilter in red and beige.  I really liked how it came out in the smaller thread, so I make another set in size 70.
The purple set is done in vintage Coats and Clark purple size 70 and Oren Bayan color #4433 (the dark purple).  I love Oren Bayan threads.  They are very smooth and easy to work with, not twisty at all.  I also added silver seed beads to this set, but they don't pop on the scanner like they do in real life.

And finally, this lovely pair of snowflake earrings.
The pattern is called Mirabelle and I purchased it here on Etsy.  It is designed by Joelle Paulson, aka Frivole.  It's done in size 80 Lizbeth thread in white.  (I know there's a boo-boo in the left earring.  I missed a join on the last ring, but it's not very noticeable when I wear them).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Chain Tension Challenged

While reading blogs the other day, I came across a beautiful pendant pattern on Ewa's blog. Here's a direct link to the pattern.  I thought that would be a beautiful pattern to tat up as Christmas presents for a few family members.  So I tatted up the pattern and this is the result:

 I couldn't get the tension tight enough on the long chains between the trefoils. (There are three elements to this piece.  The trefoils are woven in between the ring and chain centerpiece and then the outside rings are added last, kind of like Celtic tatting.)  I tatted that trefoil part a second time and still couldn't get it right.  Here is the back side to show how loose the chains are:
It looks nothing like the beautiful picture that Ewa  has on her blog, but I wasn't ready to give up yet.  I thought I would try to incorporate those trefoils into the existing chains of the center element.  This would eliminate one round (and the thread ends that go with it)  and hopefully the tension problems.  I had to adjust the stitch count a little bit, but here is the center motif as one round.
   That little motif is beautiful by itself as a pair of earrings.  When I added the outer round, here's how my version of the pendant turned out.
I used Lizbeth Christmas Green and white in size 40 and silver seed beads on the outer chains.  It doesn't have the Celtic weaving that I like so much about Ewa's pattern, but this version is easier for me.

Here's another one tatted in Perfect Quilter red and beige.  I like it a lot in the smaller thread, too.
I think the solid colors work best with this pattern.  I did my original experiments in a variegated thread because that was what I had on my shuttle at the time.

Ewa has graciously granted me permission to post the modifications to her pattern.  Here is how I tatted round 1.  Round 2 (outer rings and chains) does not change at all.

Ewa's Pendant, modified
2 shuttles

Sh 1     R  8-4-8
Sh2      R  10-10
Sh1      Ch 8
Sh2       R 8-2
Sh2       R2+4-4-2
Sh2       R 2+8
Sh1       Ch 8
Repeat until you have 4 trefoils, and 4 inner and outer rings.

Thank you, Ewa, for sharing your beautiful pattern and allowing me to play with it a little.  Happy tatting everyone!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Completely Illogical

I am generally a very logical and practical person.  When I go to the grocery store, I buy only enough for one week.  I don't have a million shoes or clothes or purses.  I like to keep things simple.  But when it comes to tatting, I go completely nuts (crazy).  I have at least 30 shuttles even though I only use 1 or 2 shuttles at a time.  And my thread stash?  Let's just say I have more than enough for this lifetime and maybe half of the next one.  But my biggest weakness is patterns.  This is a picture of all my pattern books.

And those three binders on the left side? They are filled with free patterns that I have printed off the internet.  I just printed a new one off yesterday that I'm working on (I'll blog about that when I'm finished).  So how many patterns do you think this represents?

I would say the number is in the thousands of patterns.  Will I be able to finish all these patterns in my lifetime?  Of course not.

But I still want to have more patterns.  This collection does not include all the patterns I have on my computer in a folder labeled "Tatting Patterns," the ones that I have not yet printed out but have every intention of working on as soon as I have more time.  And my next tatting purchase will include at least one or two more pattern books that are on my "Must Have" list.  I guess you would call this an obsession.  But at least I'm admitting it.  And the first step to fixing my obsession is to admit it, right?  But I'm not sure I want to be cured.  I love every one of my pattern books, even though there are many that I have not tatted a single pattern from.  But I will.......someday!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Working on WIPs

WIPs are Works in Progress.  Some people call them UFOs (Unfinished Objects).  I should be starting Christmas tatting now to give myself plenty of time, but I have two WIPs that I want to try to complete before I start more projects.

I think I am the only one in the world who is still working on Renulek's Spring Doily, but I am finally on the 13th and final round.  Yay!!  Here's how it looks.

Back at about row 9 or 10, I misread the pattern and neglected to tat a thrown ring.  I didn't realize it until I had finished that round, and figured that since it was consistent all the way around, it wouldn't make much difference.  Well, the outer rows are ruffling a bit, but I think blocking will flatten them out once the doily is completed.  But as a result of that mistake, I'm having to modify the pattern for round 13.  I've had to add six ds between the scallops.

Renulek's pattern just calls for two adjacent rings between the scallops, but that made the edges ruffle even more, so I'm hoping that by adding those extra ds, I'll be able to block the doily flat.  This is by far the largest project I have ever taken on and I can't believe I am almost done with it.  It's only taking me about 6 months (and counting).

Another WIP that I need to finish is this hanky edging.
I'm actually a little more than half way around the hanky, but it wouldn't fit on the scanner.  I really love how this edging is turning out, but I can't work on it for long because it is soooooo boooooring and repetitious that I lose concentration and start making mistakes.  So I put it away for a few days and come back to it with fresh eyes.  I would have finished this weeks ago if I could have kept my concentration.

Friday, September 19, 2014


I am finished making crosses for now and have moved on to making snowflakes. I love tatting snowflakes.  There are many beautiful patterns and the lacy, delicate look of tatting mimics a snowflake well.

This snowflake is a Jan Stawasz pattern done in Altin Basik 50 metallic gold.

I was a little disappointed in the final product.  It seems a little dense, not enough negative space for a stand alone snowflake.  It is a motif from a larger doily pattern from the book Tatted Treasures.

This next one is a design by Robin Perfetti called First Snowfall.  You can find this and all her other free patterns here.

I really love this pattern and will tat it again in a larger thread.  This one is done in Finca Perle Cotton # 12 in color #8728 which is a silvery/gray color.

Another beautiful pattern by Robin Perfetti is called "Design Tutorial Snowflake" and can be found from the above link.  I think this is my favorite of her snowflakes.

The pattern is written to do the snowflake in two rounds, which is perfect if you want to do each round in a different color.  I chose to do the snowflake in one color, so I was able to skip from round one to round two by using split rings.  I started the first round on the third ring of an inner trefoil so that I would end on the larger middle ring, which I make a split ring of 3+3-3-3/3+3-3-3-3.  Then the first small ring of the second round was made 6/6 with a small mock picot between the two rings.  This is how it looks after the two split rings.
I then continued on with the chain, jk, and next ring when I notice that I had joined the second ring in the wrong spot.  But ignore that boo-boo and concentrate on my fancy-schmancy split rings to jump to round two.  Great pattern, quick to tat and looks beautiful in Lizbeth Ice Blue size 40.

And finally, we come to the last snowflake for today (but not for the season).

This pattern is by Renulek and is found here.  The onion rings in the center were a little tricky because I thought that the inner-most rings were thrown rings off the chain but they are not.  All of the inner rings are tatted with shuttle one as the working shuttle.  After a little fiddling, here's what I figured out.  Start with one of the inner most rings, then turn that ring upside down and tat the outer ring (the one inside the onion skin) next.  Then reverse work and tat the onion skin, joining at the intersection of the two rings.  Do not reverse work and tat the little chain going to the next ring.  Once I figured out that I don't need to switch shuttles, it was a piece of cake.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tatting as Meditation

I have heard other tatters mention that tatting is very relaxing.  It is relaxing for me, too.  I have a theory as to why tatting is more relaxing than other pastimes.  Tatting has a lot in common with meditation.  Meditation, at it's heart, is a process of focusing your mind on a simple element, say a syllable or chant or a breathing exercise.  By focusing your mind on something simple, you quiet the stream of consciousness that worries about money, or your kids, or tomorrow's plans.  And quieting that internal voice allows all the stress to melt away so you can relax.

Tatting focuses your mind on each knot as you count it:  Your mind can't think about tomorrow's plans or how to get your kids to eat vegetables because it's focused on a simple element, counting stitches.  If you start daydreaming or worrying while you are tatting, this is how you end up counting:, that was supposed to be a join, not a picot.  Un-tat two, un-tat

Here is my Zen tatting for this week:

  Yet another Mary Konior Small cross, this time done in DMC size 80 in black and white.  It is very small and delicate.  All these crosses I'm making are to be sold our church Harvest Festival coming up in September.

This cross is from Jan Stawasz's Tatted Treasures.  Not one of my favorite cross patterns, but I was getting tired of the Mary Konior pattern and wanted to mix it up a little.  This is done in Altin Basik #50 in gold metallic thread.  When I finished it, it looked more like a Christmas ornament than a bookmark, so I put a hanger on it instead of a bookmark tail.

I'm done with crosses for now and have moved on to snowflakes, but I'll save those for another post. Wishing you all relaxation as you tat.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Cross and Bookmark

I finished the Small Cross from Mary Konior's Tatting with Visual Patterns, and I love, love, love how it turned out.

I think it has a very medieval look to it.  Have another one in the works in the same colors, then it's off to try it out in different colors. (See the post below for details on the threads used).  It's a very quick and easy tat and my favorite of all the crosses I've done lately.

I thought I needed a break from crosses and found inspiration from this post from Muskaan.  I didn't have the pattern, but I found a similar flower motif in Martha Ess' Tea is for Tatting, so I used it for the flower.  For the stem, I used a bracelet that I saw on Pintrest.  I don't know who designed it, but it's a pretty simple ring/chain design.

I used the double/double stitch for the chain from stem to flower.  It gives the chain a lot more stiffness and stability.  This double/double stitch was really easy to learn.  All it is is two first half stitches followed by two second half stitches.  Jane Eborall has a tutorial on her blog here.  And the beautiful green variegated thread is thanks to the generosity of Diane at Lace-Lovin' Librarian.  She was giving away samples of this Omega size 20 thread and I received my sample last week.  Thank you, Diane!!  The flower is done in Lizbeth Yellow Light for the center and Country Grape Medium for the flower, both in size 20.  I like using two colors when making these flowers so that the lock joins show the contrasting color.  Can you see the little blips of yellow at each lock join?  I really enjoyed this little bookmark and I think I have enough of the Omega green thread to make at least two more stems.

Monday, August 11, 2014

More Crosses

I know, I just finished making a bunch of crosses to take as gifts to family and friends in my hometown.  (They were very well received, by the way).  Well, I'm making more crosses to donate to my church's Harvest Festival coming up in September.  They will have a booth with handmade items, and what could be more appropriate for a church function than tatted crosses?

This one is from Lena Bjorn's book "Tatted Bookmarks - Cross Shapes" and is done in Finca Perle Cotton size 12 in color 9725   .   I love how this thread captures all the blue hues of the spectrum.

This pattern is also from Lena Bjorn's book and is done in Finca Perle Cotton size 12 in color  ?? (the label fell out of this ball).

And finally, a cross from a different pattern book (gasp!).
This is the small cross from Mary Konnior's "Tatting With Visual Patterns."  I still have one more round to go, a chain around the outside, but I love how it looks so far.  The dark color thread didn't show up well on the scanner, it's a deep purple, almost brown color, another Finca thread, color 8756, along with a beautiful gold thread in color 8060.

I'm really enjoying these Finca threads.  The colors are rich and the texture is very smooth and silky.  It has a nice shine to it.  I wasn't sure when I bought them how they would work for tatting, but they've really grown on me.  I may have to get some more.  As long as I don't have to un-tat too much, this thread holds up really well.

Friday, August 1, 2014


I'm juggling several different projects right now. I started two new projects because I was excited to try out the new thread that I bought in Indiana.  This one is called "Heart's Desire" and you can find the pattern here  on Frivole's blog.  It is designed by Susan K. Fuller.

This was done in Finca Perle Cotten size 12 in color 1742.  There are a few tension issues with the chains, but I think a little blocking will whip it into shape.  Luckily, I tried this thread on a pretty straight foreword pattern that didn't require much un-tatting.  I can see where this thread could easily split and fray if it was un-tatted too much.  But I love the luster and feel of the thread and will use it again for other projects (since I bought like 10 balls of it, I'd better use it.).

While in Indiana, I also bought several handkerchiefs to edge. Here is the start of my very first hanky edging.

The pattern is called "Baby Lace" and is found in Mary Konnior's "Tatting with Visual Patterns."  It is done in DMC size 80 Lavender.

I'm still plugging along on the Renulek Spring Doily, even though it is almost Fall.  I'm almost done with round 12, the penultimate round!! Yay!!  I love this doily and can't wait to finish it.

And finally, this is why I love to give tatting away.  This is my niece wearing the t-shirt I made for her.  Doesn't she look adorable?

Photo: Emily is wearing a new shirt with tatting made my great aunt Mary Beth Mary Beth Collins Duke

Details on the tatted Cat pattern can be found  here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Back Home again in Indiana

I just got back from a wonderful vacation in Northern Indiana, about 100 miles east of Chicago, which is where I grew up.  I left Indiana almost 30 years ago, right after college, because I found Indiana boring, ugly and very cold in the winter.  Although I've returned for visits many times over the years, during this trip I gained a new appreciation for my home town.  One thing I realized is that tatting is much more prevalent in Northern Indiana than it is in Texas, where I now live.  Not only did I find vintage tatted handkerchiefs at an antique store in Mishawaka...

I found tatting thread in a store that did not say "Hobby Lobby" on the outside.

The balls on the left are Finca Pearl Cotton size 12, the larger balls to the right of center are Valdani Pearl Cotton size 12, and the smallest balls on the far right are DMC size 80.  This is the first time (outside of Hobby Lobby) where I have actually gotten to see and feel the thread in order to make my selections. Almost my entire stash of thread was purchased online using a picture on the computer to decide if I liked the color.  I purchased these threads in an Amish town in Northeast Indiana called Shipshawana. Shipshawana has a large Amish population and they sell a lot of their handmade items (especially quilts and woodworking), attracting a lot of tourists like me and my family to come and shop.  There are also a lot of shops that cater to the domestic arts: Knitting, sewing, quilting, crochet, tatting, cooking, canning, etc.

While in Shipshawana, we visited the grocery store where the local Amish shop.  There were a lot of items sold in bulk, like 10-20 pounds of flour and sugar, or 5 pounds of baking powder.  I don't think I could use 5 pounds of baking powder in 10 years.  All the decor in the store was farming related.  This picture shows a beautiful, colorful display of metal seats from farm equipment.
And this is a typical Amish buggy.  You see these everywhere when driving in this town.
Our last stop was to the local second hand store.  I wanted to see if there were any tatting treasures to be found.  There were not, but we found another treasure:  Used Amish dresses.  My sister, my daughter and I all bought an Amish dress and went home to play dress up.  How do we look?
This is me and my daughter in the picture above.  Below are my sister and my daughter.

And here are all three of us.
I haven't had this much fun playing dress up since I was a child.

More on my trip to Indiana and some actual tatting in the next post.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

One More Toddler Tee

Just a quick post before I go off to Indiana for vacation.  We are taking an Amtrak train from Fort Worth, Texas to Chicago, Illinois, a 23 hour journey.  I hope to have plenty of tatting time on the train, but with two kids, I'm sure much of my "free" time will be spent playing cards and entertaining the kids.

I managed to finish one last toddler t-shirt to take with me.

This is the "Dog" pattern from Inge Madsen's Tatted Animals book.  I really like her patterns for children friendly (especially boy) projects.  The designs aren't as frilly or feminine looking as many other tatted items. This pattern was pretty easy and straightforward, done in one round, with the only advanced technique being a couple SCMRs.  The thread is Lizbeth Acrtic Waters in size 40.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tie Dye and Hand Dyed Thread

I love using hand dyed thread for tatting and always wanted to try my hand at it, so when my daughter asked to do tie-dye, I thought this would be the perfect time to dye some thread.  We went off to by some Rit dye and white t-shirts and bandannas.  As you can see below, the tie dye turned out beautifully.

The colors are bright and the tie patterns turned out really well.

The thread, on the other hand, didn't turn out so well.
See how wimpy the colors are.  The one on the left is supposed to be purple, the same color as the big t-shirt above.  The middle one is variegated blue and fuchsia, and the one on the right is supposed to be royal blue.  I dyed the thread the same way I dyed the t-shirts: 3 gallons hot water to one bottle of dye, 1 cup salt, soak for 30-60 minutes.  Why did the thread not color as well?  I'm almost positive it's cotton (the label is missing, but it feels like cotton).  The dye seemed to rinse right out of the tread when I took it out.  The purple is a little darker because I didn't rinse it right away.  I let it sit for 20-30 minutes after taking it out of the dye bath.  Can anybody out there tell me what I'm doing wrong?  Is it the dye? the thread?  Should I add vinegar instead of salt?  Please help.  I would love to dye my own thread.

On the tatting front, I did manage to get one small motif done this week.
This is from the book Butterflies Migrating by the Palmetto Tatters.  It is done in Lizbeth Pink Parade and Tropical Punch, leftovers on shuttles from previous projects.  It ruffles quite a bit.  Maybe the picots on the inner rows are a little too big.  But I like the shape.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Toddler Tee and more Crosses

I got a plain T-shirt from Hobby Lobby and sewed the tatted cat onto it.  Here is the result.

The color choices for toddler t-shirts was pretty limited.  I took the tatted cat with me to find the color that would make the tatting really "pop."  Black was really the only logical choice.  My other choices were baby pink, hot pink, white, and gray. The pinks blended with the tatting way too much, the gray was just wrong and white is not the best choice for a messy toddler. I must say it really does pop on the black tee.

I completed two more crosses to take to my home town as gifts in July.  
I really love this pattern from Lene Bjorn's "Tatted Bookmarks - Cross Shaped."  It really kept me on my toes when it came to switching shuttles and reversing work.  Since the pattern is only diagrammed, it doesn't tell you when to switch from shuttle one to shuttle two or when to reverse work, or both.  But I have learned a lot about when and why to switch shuttles in the past year and really had no problems with this pattern.  And I really love the elegant complexity of the cross, so much so that I made a second one.  The one above is done in Altin Basik, color 366, size 50, which feels more like 20 or 30 in standard sizes. 

Here is the second cross:
This one is done in vintage Coats and Clark size 70.  I really love working with vintage thread.  Here are the two crosses side by side so you can see the difference in size.
As you can see, size really does matter.