"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

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Wow, it's been three months since I last posted-- and today's post will make you cry. The things I'm showing today have actually been ready for a little while now, but I wanted to wait until my mom received them before posting, even though she knew they were coming.

Earlier this year, a good friend of my mom's had a baby. The friend's own mom had recently passed away, so my mom stepped in and became the baby's grandma. Sadly, Alana was born premature and with many birth defects. She lived her entire life in the hospital and had many surgeries, some successful and others not. At age 5 1/2 months, she was taken off of life support and died quickly and peacefully.

Despite all her physical problems, Alana's cognitive and behavioral development were normal. She loved when people would make her stuffed animals dance for her. She responded to her name and other important words like "Mommy"-- this is especially impressive since Mommy never actually got to be her primary caregiver, but Alana still knew how important Mommy was.

My favorite story was when my mom came in to the hospital, and the nurses were playing a CD for her. "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" came on the CD, and my mom started singing along with it; this was a song Alana knew well because my mom sang it to her a lot. The CD player was on one side of the crib and my mom was on the other, and Alana started looking back and forth, making the connection that the sounds on both sides of her were the same.

After Alana's death, my mom wanted a special box to keep her mementos in-- footprints, a cast of her hand (or maybe it was handprints and a cast of her foot, sorry I can't remember), photos, and especially a pair of stuffed tigers she had bought her. I offered to decorate a box for her and another for Alana's mom.

The boxes needed to be a certain size to accommodate the tigers, and at first I had a hard time finding something big enough that wasn't completely hideous. Finally, I found a pair of nice plain white hat boxes at The Container Store.

I decorated them with a combination of tatting and "boughten" items (as my great-grandmother would have said). Then my good friend Laura painted Alana's name on them, which I could never have done.

The theme for my mom's box was butterflies, with some little ribbon flowers. The hearts on the top are the "My Fluttering Heart" pattern from Teri Dusenbury's book Tatting Hearts. Other designers whose patterns I used include Jane Eborall, Ruth Perry, Jennifer Williams, Joelle Paulson, Adelheid Dangela (from the book Tatted Butterflies), and the Palmettos Tatters Guild (from the book Butterflies Migrating).

Apologies for the quality of a few of the photos; I had to take them quickly because Squijum really wanted to help.

I glued everything down before Laura did the paint work. I love how she worked the final "a" around the butterfly. The little pink satin bows on the top are reminiscent of the ones that were always in Alana's hair-- judging from the photos I have, the kid owned more hair accessories than I do.

For Alana's mom's box, the theme was roses. My dad wrote a poem, which my parents had framed for Alana's parents; it was decorated with pink gingham ribbon, lace, and ribbon roses, so I made the box to match. I included a few yellow roses as well to keep it from getting too Valentine-ish. There is less tatting here, largely because I wasted a lot of time on a pattern that ended up not working. I've never been good with the type of rose pattern where you make each petal separately and sew them together. I just don't do well with positioning them as I sew. So after I had finished that one, I threw it away in disgust. I ended up using Mary's Roses by Suzann Does It All; for each one, I did make the optional center, in a different color of thread. For the smaller roses, I used the rose from Marilee Rockley's Eternal Rose Cross and Sharren Morgan's Jessica Rose. The leaves are the "Simple Leaf" pattern from Karey Solomon's book Tatting Turns Over a New Leaf.

I arranged the roses on two of the little pre-made crocheted doilies you can get at Jo-Ann's. With the smaller ones, I also included a pre-made gingham bow. I really like the way these arrangements look.

For the box itself, I ended up using only pre-made ribbon roses. I'm only showing one side plus the front, because the other side is identical.

I learned a fair amount about different types of glue while working on these. Tacky glue, which of course is nice and easy to control, worked great for the strips of ribbon and lace. Unfortunately, it didn't work at all for the ribbon flowers and most of the tatted pieces-- not enough surface area, I think, plus the surface of the boxes is fairly slick. I tried "3-in-1", which bonded extremely well, but was very stringy and therefore impossible to control where it went (that's why there are a few spots of visible glue on your box, Mom, sorry about that). I finally went with "Fabri-Tac". This is very similar to the 3-in-1, but slightly less stringy-- still stringy enough to be challenging, just not quite as bad. I found the best technique was to squeeze a dollop of glue onto a sheet of waxed paper and dip the flower into it, rather than applying the glue directly from the bottle. It is too bad that I couldn't find a glue that both worked really well and was easy to work with.

Here are Grammie Tiger and Alana Tiger.

And here is Alana herself, at a little over 4 months. She was doing relatively well at this point.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Halfway Done

Cats are so funny sometimes. I know many of them instinctively try to bury their food to protect it from theft, but Squijum is the only cat I've ever had who does this (I don't know who he thinks is going to steal it). He will paw at the floor, and when the linoleum doesn't rise up to cover his food, he will drag anything else he can over it.

I just wish he wouldn't put the fuzzy toys in there. And of course, he then can't uncover it very well, so I have to take all the stuff off the food so he can eat it, which probably only contributes to his paranoia that I might steal it.

Or maybe it's his attempt at modern art.

On the tatting front, I'm now halfway done with the first round of edging. It's time for another shuttle refill, so time for another photo shoot.

Hey Frivole, just look at all those squares! How's yours coming along?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Turning a Corner

Well, I seem to have the edging right now.

I've done a little bit more than this now, but this seemed like a good place to stop for a photo, because the shuttle needed refilling anyway. I'm happy to say that this round of edging is going a lot faster than I anticipated.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Take Two

As I was just finishing up the second repeat of the edging, I realized I had joined wrong on both repeats, and if I kept doing it, it wouldn't sit right.

Here's one repeat of the corrected version.

On the inward-facing point, I was joining the rings to the wrong chain on the outer part of the edging, but I've got it right now.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Dash of Color

Before starting on the doily edging, I wanted to briefly work on something else, something with some color.

These are Jane Eborall's Multi-Beaded Earrings, tatted in Jess's "Winter Jewels" HDT. I have to say, these earrings are quite fiddly to work, though a lot of fun. The second one was definitely easier than the first, but I still can't imagine how Jane has been cranking so many of them out lately. I'm very pleased with these earrings and can't wait to go show them off.

I have also made a little bit of a start on the edging.

I like how the edging has points that come inward to fill in the spaces between motifs.

I'm also glad I thought to order a new ball of thread a few weeks ago.

This is all that's left after making the inner part of the doily. I'll use it to refill the shuttle.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Last Motif Done!

It's lying a little more nicely now too, because I dampened it and ironed it dry. Still not perfect; after I add the two rounds of edging, I will still need to pin it out properly. This was good enough for now, though.

After I finish it, I also plan to wash and dry both the doily and the pillow cover before I sew it down. I want to be sure that both are fully shrunk before I sew them together, so that if I wash them later there won't be any puckering.

And I have a sneaking suspicion I might sew the doily down this way:

I haven't decided for sure yet.

Squijum has no preference.

If you look at his arm, you can see he's still licking himself a lot. At this point, though, I think it's just habit rather than actual itching, like a person biting their nails. Anyway, he's only licking now, not biting himself like he was before, so that's an improvement even though he's still pretty bald on his back half. And bald or not, I think this is a really cute picture.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Just One Left

Just one motif left to make, plus the edging.