Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dresden doily

I think that my favorite doily of all time is the Dresden tatted doily by Roger aka Freedman. Its very simple to make and tats up quickly. I made 4 of them in 2 months a few years ago for a friend of mine. I altered it a bit by adding beads to the picots on the outside round and Nina Libin style bead leaves periodically on the outside round. I don't have any pictures of the ones I made and I couldn't copy the picture over from Needle tatting two but here's the address:
Take a look, its a very easy doily, you can make it as big as you like and it looks lovely when finished.

How do I assess the difficulty of a doily? Well, I take a kiss (keep it simple silly) approach to tatting so when I assess the difficultly level of a doily I look at a few aspects of the pattern:

1) basic techniques required- anything with plain old rings and chains I consider easy, start adding in split rings, SCMR, clunnys and you are looking at a different level of difficulty whether you are comfortable with advanced techniques or not. I'm very comfortable with many of these techniques but its just one more thing to think about. I recommend that if you are not familiar with a technique in a large pattern that you practice the technique first. It really sucks to finish a pattern and realise that there's a big difference in quality between the split rings or clunnys you started making and the ones on the outside round. However, I don't believe that advanced techniques alone make a pattern difficult.

2) length of repetitive elements- if you have to constantly consult the pattern because the repetitive element is too long to memorize then its more difficult. You have to keep stopping to check the pattern and you risk skipping a line. This is doubled when the ds counts within the repetitive element change. There's a UFO in my pile that initially looked very very easy. Just rings and chains. HOWEVER, its never going to be finished because the repetitive element is too long, the ds counts change every ring and I keep reading the wrong lines, making the wrong rings and then cutting it out. I'm very bitter about this pattern.

3) number of repetitive elements- when a pattern changes in each section you run the risk of making the wrong element. You tend to get a flow going so its really easy to miss a change or a transition area. If there's 1-2 variations its okay but more than that and it gets dicey. Of course these patterns are impressive once finished so are more than worth the time and patience. What's the difference between #2 and #3? Not a whole lot.

4) the lines of the pattern- huh? well, some tatting patterns go with the flow and curves of the rings and chains while some constantly change direction. This means that you may have to finesse a bit and the pattern may only lay properly once you pin it. It also means that tension may be an issue and you have to tat it very consistently. How annoying if everything is perfect except for one sloppy chain. I never, never, never tat anything without a picture.

This may sound very serious but its not. I'm just sharing one way to look at doilies based on my own experiences. I'm sure everyone will tell you something different and they'll be right. I've had alot better time doing projects once I figured these things out. I don't get frustrated trying to finish a long project in a short time. I also don't have the urge to hurt someone with a sharp shuttle when things go wrong. (my fault? no, never my fault- better to blame someone else) The Dresden doily rates low on all 4 aspects but it looks very nice when finished. Its a good first doily to make.

If a doily rates high in any one of these 4 it doesn't mean I don't do the doily, it just means that I don't work on the doily while watching TV or on car rides. Challenge and change isn't a big deal in a small motif but its a little more serious if its a large doily. There's nothing worse than finding a mistake at the end of a large doily or after hours of work. Believe me that I've done every stupid mistake possible... and some that didn't seem possible at the time. If a doily pattern rates high in all 4 categories then I try to get someone else to make it! That way I can see the results without pulling out all my hair!

However, in a final word there's nothing more beautiful than a well tatted doily, the larger the better. Some of the most beautiful works I've seen were simple patterns done well.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!
I love Halloween, its always fun to dress up. Sadly, I don't have children so Halloween has been a bit hit and miss the last few years. This is the first Halloween in my very own house and I'm excited about giving out candy. I hope to give out most of the candy I bought. I'm not a big candy eater and I don't want to start a new habit. On the other hand, I'm terrified of running out of candy- I don't want my house egged.

On a completely different note, my sister picked up this bag of thread for me for $5 dollars in August. I think there were over 30 rolls of thread in the bag. Some of the thread was damaged and broken due to rubber bands being used to hold the thread and it smelled. At a suggestion from someone in the threads of a tatting goddess group I put fabric softener sheets in the bag. This really worked well to get rid of the smell. The thread is pearl cotton in size 8 and 12 which isn't perfect tatting thread but works for me. I learned how to tat using mostly pearl cotton so I'm familiar its little quirks. Its very soft compared to regular tatting thread. Its great for everyday use. I made of couple of these thimble holders (left) one day at a seminar. The picture doesn't really show it but I really looks like an egg. I thought at Easter I could make a bunch for an Easter tree.

The pattern is basically a rosette made by increasing by 1 ds each section in each row and this forms a tube. I was in the middle of making a pink one when my friend started to giggle- she thought looked like a different sort of pink tube. She said if I was resorting to making pink lace penises then it wasn't healthy for me to be single anymore. I told her it was going to be a cosy (yeah like a tea cosy) for sex toys. Keep in mind that the bag is meant to hold something small like a thimble. This is how much was done on the pink thimble holder at the time. The thread I was using at the time was a variegated pink. My poor innocent thimble holder...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Black hats

Inspired by the onset of Halloween I picked up some black thread, orange beads and tatted. Any ideas what to do with these? I was thinking maybe bookmarks or sewing them onto something? I tried tatting a moon to sit behind the hat but I'm not sure that I like how it looks. I'm not sure its clear that its supposed to be the moon. I think there's a bat pattern around on the Internet that would look much better on the moon than my hat.As you can probably guess by the number of hats made, the hat is very simple to make. The only tricky part is that I used Martha Ess's folded rings to make the peak on the hat. If you are not aware of this technique she generously shares it on her website Tat's Amore. I've also used her method of notating the folded ring.

Beaded Witch's Hat Pattern

The hat is made of a fold ring followed by a series of chains. Sting 10 beads and wind about 6-8 inches on shuttle, CTM. All the beads will be used on the ring. All joins are ball thread joins.

R 3- (3 beads on picot) 1 vsp seta 6 setb vsp 1- (3 beads on picot) 1 vsp seta 6 setb vsp 1 - (3 beads on picot) 3 close ring with one bead still on the ring thread to get captured at the base of the ring.

Ch 4 + (between 1st and 2nd bead of 1st picot of ring) 6 lock stitch 6 + (to previous join) 6 + (at center in the space between chain and ring) 4 + (between 2nd and 3rd bead on 3 rd picot of ring) 6 lock stitch 6 + (to previous join) 6 + (to center) cut and tie.

Whew! Just remembered why I never write out patterns. So difficult to communicate something as simple as the hat.
For me, witches hats and pumpkins symbolize Halloween the best. I made one more hat but I think it looks more like a wizard's hat than a witch's. I think it would look better in purple with silver beads. What do you think? If I turn the picture around, it kinda looks like a monkey's face.
Sorry, one more question. Do you think that black hats are like black socks- they never get dirty?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tatter's best friend

When I first started tatting I used a metal shuttle with the hook on the end and for many years I wouldn't change. Why you ask? 2 reasons, the first is that I'm embarrassed to say I didn't immediately grasp how you got the thread on the post style shuttles. Please keep in mind that I was using a bobbin style shuttle where you removed the bobbin to wind it. The second reason I wouldn't change was that I was not entirely convinced that a crochet hook would be easier to use than the hook on the shuttle. It just seemed like it would take too long and was one more thing to carry around.
I can't remember why I finally started to use the post style bobbin but now I wouldn't change from my clover tatting shuttles. It seemed onerous at first to use that crochet hook- you have to drop the shuttle and find the hook and it seemed to take so long to do. Now, I don't notice at all and in a very unhygienic manner I keep the hook in a place I won't forget, my mouth. I know, it's gross- can you say orally fixated?
Why am I thinking about this? Because I'm filling in time tatting with my shuttle and hook thinking how much harder this would be if I just had the pick to do joins. Now, I'm sure that there are other tools some tatters use more but I would argue that some sort of hook is an essential tool for tatting. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Queen of Clunny

If you ever wondered why learn to clunny tat you should check out by Elisa Dusud. Elisa must be the Queen of Clunny because I've never seen anyone use them so much and with such ease. Personally, I've never really been all that thrilled about clunnies but Elisa brings them to a whole new level. If you don't read french don't worry, just look at the pictures! Its definitely worth your time. One the same note, do you think the plural of clunny is clunnies or clunnys?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

lost but not forgotten

I am just about to re-send my Summertime exchange package. It did not make it to Singapore so I'm trying again. I rarely have issues when tatting anymore but every once in awhile things go really wrong. Trying to remake this project was one of those times...what I ended up doing is not what I started doing. Here is the what I originally created and tried to reproduce but was waylaid by my overactive hands.
So the amulet bag is out and something else is in...thank GOD it worked out. In fact, I think what I ended up with is quite lovely. I can't share a picture here until my very patient partner receives her package but I will later. I can tell you that the theme is very similar just that my hands decided to follow a different pattern then my brain. I have a habit of tatting and reading which maybe the cause of the detour.

As a point of interest the major thing wrong with the bag above was that it tipped forward due to the daisy. IF I do the pattern again I will add something or change the handle placement to even out the weight distribution or maybe not...