"But, really, why does anyone create? You feel a... a restlessness inside, a need to make something new, something no one has ever seen before. You want to add to the beauty and the richness of the world with a gift, an offering that is uniquely yours. It's an act of selfishness and generosity, all rolled into one."

-- Bruce Coville,
The Last Hunt

Sunday, September 27, 2015

More of Marilee's

I needed a little break from the doily, so I made some more jewelry from Marilee Rockley's book Beaded Tatting Finery.

The earrings are called "Melange", and the pendant is "Cloudburst". The thread is Lizbeth color 607 Charcoal Medium. The round and pear-shaped beads are Swarovski pearls in colors Petrol, Blackberry, and Powder Rose; the seed beads are Miyukis in the Blue Iris color.

I've never tatted anything quite like these, and they were pretty fun. I think it would also be interesting to try them in a subtly shaded thread.

Now I'm ready to get back to the doily.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Problem Solved!

Tatters are such smart and creative people, always thinking of new uses for everyday objects! When I asked for help on caps for the tiny crochet hooks, I got some terrific suggestions. Sarah suggested the caps from medical needles. I work in a hospital, for heaven's sake, why didn't I think of that? I picked up a few at work last night (the caps themselves stay clean because we don't recap needles, but they would go in the trash anyway once the needles are used).

Martha suggested cutting up coffee stirrers. These have a different diameter from the needle caps, so I thought I'd give them a try too. I picked up a couple of them at work, too (they didn't give us raises for four years in a row, they can spare me two coffee stirrers). I didn't bother taking pictures of them because I figured everyone knows what a coffee stirrer looks like.

Muskaan suggested wrapping my homemade caps in tape to reinforce them, so I did that with both the needle caps and the stirrers, after cutting the stirrers in half. Again, I used stuff from work-- the nurses use these colored tapes to label their IV lines and keep track of what's going where.

I brought them home and tried them out, and they work great! The needle cap fits perfectly on the crochet hook that has a plastic handle. The ones with metal handles are thinner, and the coffee stirrers work on those; cutting them in half made for a good length so that when they reach the part of the handle that's thick enough to prevent them sliding down any further, the tip of the hook will not be sticking out (I also sort of closed them by twisting the tape to a point at one end).

Success! They're not beautiful, but they work, and that's all I care about. Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful ideas!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Change of Plan

First, I have to report a Tatting Sighting. If you live in the US and have Netflix, you should definitely watch the show Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. If you live in Australia, I assume you can see it on TV, or telly, or whatever you call it down there. For the rest of the world, I don't know how you can see the show, but you should definitely find a way.

Anyway, in Miss Fisher's 1920's house there are a number of doilies that I have often suspected were tatted, but there was never a clear enough shot to be certain. For some reason, the camera tends to focus on the actors instead of the doilies. But a new season of the show just made it onto Netflix, and in the very first episode there is one very clear, focused close-up of the doily in the middle of Miss Fisher's drawing room-- and yes, it is most definitely tatted!

Now, on to the change of plan with my own doily. I was planning to make it round, with one central motif surrounded by six others. I wasn't really happy with round, since it's going on a rectangular box, but I thought if I made it oval it would be too long for the box. That's because I was thinking of making it oval by starting with the round and adding just two more motifs at opposite points of the circle. Then I realized there is another way of making it oval: a row of three motifs, then a row of four, then another row of three. This oval will be just a little shorter than it would have been the other way, and will fit on the box. And by oval, I mean elongated hexagon; it will truly be a miniaturized version of what's in the book.

This means tatting more motifs than I originally planned; I now have three left to do. That's the advantage of a doily made of motifs over one made in the round: you can easily change the size and shape as you go. Think of Jeff's Windmill doily (is it still a doily, Jeff, or does it qualify as a tablecloth yet?).

The last three motifs shouldn't take too long, but then there's the edging. I always get bored with edgings.

Finally, a plea. Does anyone know where I can find more plastic crochet hook caps like this?

I can't find them online anywhere, but maybe I just don't have the right search terms. I e-mailed Lacis, but they said the caps aren't available. There's nothing on the Clover website. I tried knitting needle caps, but the small size was still way too big. I have three crochet hooks small enough that they really need caps so they don't stab their way through my tatting bag-- sizes 0.4mm, 0.5mm, and 0.7mm. This is the only cap that hasn't gotten lost, and you can see the sorry condition it's in. So if anybody knows a source for these, I will be eternally grateful!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Hey, No Blip!

I haven't made any further progress on the doily. Well, I started the next motif, but then one of the threads broke in a place where I decided I'd rather start over than try to fix it. I do intend to work on it today and tomorrow, though.

In my last post, I said that I had tried Jane's method for joining without the color blip a few times in the past, but I never managed to eliminate the blip. I consider myself a pretty good tatter, and I can't stand being conquered by any technique, so I decided to give it another go. I have no idea what I was doing wrong before, but this time it worked perfectly on the first try.

This makes me happy. The current doily started out with blips, so of course it will have to continue with them. But it's good to know that I can use this technique for future projects. Sometimes the color blips can enhance a design; sometimes, as in this doily, they don't much matter one way or the other; but sometimes they can be very distracting. It's always good to have options.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Slow Progress

I was making great progress on the doily, but then the work week started up again, as it will do. And then by today the housework had reached the point where leaving it undone would be more unpleasant than doing it, so that also ate into the tatting time. So I've only completed one more motif since the last time I posted.

I do want to share something I've been doing with these motifs to make hiding the ends a little less noticeable (I hope). This would be a moot point if I were starting the outer round CTM, but since it's in different colors that doesn't work.

The first ring of the outer round is very small, and of course I tat the tail into it.

Tatting over tails necessarily adds a little bit of bulk to that section of the tatting, but it's usually not noticeable. However, because that ring is so tiny, I don't want to add even more bulk by working the final thread into it as well. Too many threads in too small a space is what it boils down to. If there were two or more rings side by side it wouldn't be a problem; I'd just work the final thread into a different one. But since they are just single rings, the only way to avoid having two ends worked into one ring is to end in a different place than I started.

I accomplished this by cutting the ball thread off, a bit long, after the final ring, threading it on a needle, and wrapping it through the base of the first ring.

Then I used split chain technique to work my way back to the last ring. In this particular pattern, it's a very short chain, so it's easy to do.

The tatting is now complete, and after tying the two threads together I can sew the shuttle thread into the last ring instead of the first for a smoother look. The ball thread can be worked into either chain (I choose the longer one because I don't feel three stitches is sufficient to secure the end).

It's true that if the last chain were much longer, I wouldn't bother with this method; I would just finish with a normal chain joining to the first ring and live with the extra bulk in the first ring. But the option does exist to do it this way when it's appropriate for the particular pattern you're working.

And yeah, there are color blips in my joins. With a larger thread, I can usually tension those out, but it's harder with a size 80. I've also tried Jane's "blipless" joining method a few times in the past, but I must be doing something wrong because it never works for me. For this particular project, I've decided to call the blips a design element.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Next Box

Squijum has been going around with an unmistakable air of smugness since I wrote about him in the last post.

Of course, I didn't even mention (because it goes without saying) that he is also extraordinarily cute and snuggly!

Here's what I'm working on for the second box to protect my earrings from the ferocious tiger.

Same scan, different backgrounds. In the top one it's harder to see that the shuttle thread on the outer round of each motif has some splashes of pale pink, but in the bottom one it's harder to see those rings at all-- but the pale pink shows up better. The solid threads are Lizbeth 647 Purple Iris Dark and 618 Magenta Dark; the difficult to scan but very pretty IRL variegated thread is a HDT by Tatskool called Raspberry Ripple with Real Vanilla.

The pattern is from Jan Stawasz's Tatted Treasures. It's going to be a miniaturized version of Doily VIII on page 46. It's miniaturized both because I'm using size 80 threads and because I'm making a lot fewer motifs. I'll just be doing three more after this, plus the border. The repeats in the border align with the motifs, so it should still work out.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Use for the Peacock

This is how I've been storing my earrings. You see the problem.

They need to be hanging up so I can see the pairs and remember what I have without having to root through the jumble in the box. So I started looking around for an earring organizer, but the most important thing was it needed to be Squijum-proof. This is a whole different standard than ordinary cat-proof. Squijum is agile, inventive, and determined; all cats have these qualities, of course, but he has them in greater abundance than most. I have been owned by cats all my life, and I know what I'm talking about.

When he was not even fully grown yet, about 8 or 9 months old, Squijum broke a cat tower. Literally knocked a whole tier off of it. One time I woke up at 4:00 a.m. feeling something wet and cold on my face. It turned out he had gotten into the covered kitchen trash can, pulled out some potato peelings, carried them into the bedroom, and was dropping them on me. Another time I woke up to find eggshells strewn all over the bed; I don't know how I slept through that one. One summer there was a particular abundance of moths, and several of them would get in every time I opened the door; no problem-- Squijum caught every single one.

Here's a picture I posted once before. Both those balls of thread became his.

So it is clear that my earring organizer must be a cabinet type of thing, with a latching door. He can open unlatched cupboard doors quite easily, but the one thing he lacks is opposable thumbs; a simple latch is about the only thing that can defeat him. Most of the earring racks I found were just open, with no door at all. There were a few jewelry cabinets with doors, but most of them only held a few earrings, and the ones that held what I needed were hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Apparently I'm the only non-wealthy person on earth who both wears earrings and has a cat.

Nothing for it but to make my own. I started with the reasoning that a cabinet is nothing but a box turned on its side, so I went to Jo-Ann's and got a couple of these boxes, some paint, and a package of aida cloth. From Walgreen's, I got thumbtacks and adhesive picture hangers.

I sanded and painted the boxes (doing some tatting between coats of paint)...

... cut the aida cloth into strips and hemmed it (on aida cloth, even I can manage to sew a straight line!)...

... thumbtacked the strips in place...

... and applied the picture hangers.

This is more hangers than required for such a light box, but I like to be sure.

It works just like I intended.

Having the aida cloth in two strips rather than a solid sheet makes it easier to reach behind for the earring backs. I put those little silicone backs on all my earring hooks so I don't have to worry about losing them; tatted earrings are so lightweight I might not notice if one fell out.

And what does all this have to do with tatting, aside from the fact that many of the earrings are tatted? Oh yes, I left out the part about how I decorated the front of the box after painting it.

The end result is really just perfect for my needs. It doesn't hold all the earrings. There were two boxes, remember? I'm working on the tatting for the other one now.