Archive for February, 2011

Need a Couple Test Tatters

Last night I finally finished my write-up for my earring and necklace class for Shuttlebirds and NEARLY finished my write-up for my split-ring bracelet class.  Looking for a couple of test tatters for both.  The split-ring bracelet obviously requires knowledge of split-rings but the necklace and earring one is ring and chains only, though one necklace variation can use a lock-chain if you would like.

Anyone interested in checking out my handouts for accuracy and ease of use?  Let me know in the comments with your email address or send me an email to jessica (at)


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Just One More Section Left on the Star Doily

I suppose I shouldn’t get too excited about it because even once I’ve finished the tatting I’ll still need to figure out how to attach the piece to the center fabric.  Still, it’s nice to see the doily taking shape.  If I keep up at the rate I’ve been going I should have the tatting portion finished.

I’ve also been working on writing up the handouts for the classes I’m teaching at the Shuttlebirds workshop this year.  I’ve got 5 classes and want to finish up the handouts for the 3 easier ones this week.  The other two are going to take a lot more experimenting to get right so will take longer, but if I can get the first three done I’ll feel like I’ve got a handle on everything for the workshop.

One of the classes that’s going to take more time to prepare for is the one called “Blocking, Starching and Care of Tatting”.  I proposed it as a class largely because it’s something I want to learn a lot more about myself.  I have a final for class on Saturday and I plan using some of my new extra free time the rest of the weekend for some starching and blocking of snowflakes.  Anyone have some blocking, starching or care of tatting tips for me to try out?  I also want to mess around with figuring out a portable blocking system that I can take with me to the workshop.

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A Little More Progress on the Star Doily

This week seems to be a week for working on bigger projects.  I’ve been fairly busy with work and school so haven’t had the mental focus needed to pull out the Priscilla books and work through some new patterns.  I have a feeling I’ll be l be lacking that ability until at least mid-March when our pledge drive is over and I hit the road heading up to Spokane for the Shuttlebirds tatting workshop.  Luckily I’ve still had a bit of time for tatting and have been taking advantage of it to work on some of my projects.  Finished the sash belt on Sunday, but I spent few hours last Saturday hanging out at Wildfiber, a yarn store in Santa Monica and working more on the Star Doily.  The tatting portion of it is about half done now!

The picture above only shows the main part of it that I’ve got finished.  I’m trying to do it in pieces as much as possible so I don’t need to hold the whole thing in my hands while tatting.  So for each of the 5 points the process has been to tat two wheels, unattached to anything else.  Tat the third wheel, joining to both of the first two wheels and then make the little negative-space filler in the center, attaching that to all three.  When that’s done I end up with the picture on the right.  I add a 4th wheel to make what becomes the main part of each point (the neck picture) and after that I’ve got to sit down which the rest of the doily and make the next wheel while attaching it two pieces together.  The nice thing about this pattern is that because the last round is made completely of chains it goes pretty fast.  You can tat most of the wheel without worrying about how and where you’re going to attach it to the others.

That’s about all that’s been going on here tatting-wise. I’d hoped to work on the bonnet a bit more this week, but that hasn’t happened so far.  Maybe this weekend.

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Sash Belt is Finished!

It’s so nice to finish large project and it’s amazing how having a deadline will actually force you to do it.  I wanted to wear my new belt for Valentine’s day so I finally sat down over the weekend and finished it off.  Doesn’t it look lovely in my co-worker’s office?  (Had to take it there because she actually has a window and real sunlight.)  Finishing off the belt didn’t actually take too long because I’ve had the main part of the belt tatted for over a month now.  The next step was to attach the ribbons that would tie in the back and add tatting to them to make them look  little fancier.

Adding this little bit of tatting to the bows also gave me a chance to check off 4(!) more patterns in the Priscilla books.  Technically, it’s two, but their both very simple patterns repeated in both the 1st and the 3rd book.  Maybe that’s sort of cheating, but hey, my project, my math.

I don’t have the books in front of me so I’m not going to do the normal pictures of the figures in the books and the pattern as written.  Maybe I’ll write it up in a future post, but I don’t think that’s really necessary.  They’re pretty standard.  Here’s the basic process I used to make them.

NOTE:  I consider this whole piece just a proof-of-concept piece to get a rough idea of what would be involved in making some belts like this so I just used fabric glue on the ribbon.  Normally I’d sew the tatting to it, but I was just looking for quick and dirty.  I got both.  🙂

I think this was the second pattern in both the first and the third Priscilla books.  The rings are all 3+3-3-3 with the first picot joining to alternating rows (so the 3rd ring joins to the 1st, the 4th ring joins to the 2nd, the 5th ring joins to the 3rd and so on).  The only change I made was to leave out the first picot on the first ring of each row and the last picot on the last ring of each row.  Then I folded the piece of tatting over the end of the ribbon and glued it down.

I wanted something that would cover both sides of the ribbon because it will flip around while your wearing it and this seems to work, though I don’t actually care much for the pattern.  I’m just not generally a fan of uncovered threads and it was especially hard to get them to lay flat in this situation.  But as I’ll say many times in this post, this was just a proof-of-concept version of the piece and in the future I’ll pick a more interesting pattern to use to cover the ribbons.

Attaching the ribbon to the tatting was also pretty easy thanks again to fabric glue and a really simple tatting pattern. Like the ends above I first folded over the ends and glued them down to get rid of the rough edges.  Then I passed the ribbon through the loop on the end of the tatting and glued it down onto itself.  Added a another piece of very simple tatting just to cover the edge.  This pattern is the very first pattern in both the 1909 and 1925 books. Rings of 3+3-3-3 with about 3/4-1 inch of thread between them.  Hate the way the uncovered thread looks (and the glue), but once again, this was just the proof-of-concept so it works for this.  Attached both ribbons the same way.

The original piece of tatting that makes up the main part of the belt is about 27 inches because I didn’t want the ends where it attaches to the ribbon to show from the front.  Now that I’ve got a finished version though I’m re-thinking this.  I actually think it work out pretty well and the ribbon attachments could be on the side or even a little bit on the front.  A fancy motif over the end of the ribbon would be a nice accent to the sides of the best.  AND that would have the added advantage of meaning less tatting would be needed for the main part of the belt.  Instead of 27 inches next time I’m going to try something more like 18 inches.

I forgot to take a close-up of the necklace I’m wearing in the first picture, but it’s actually the center part of the motif from the star doily I’m working on.  I made it out of the same size 3 thread that the belt is made of so it’s pretty big and loved the way it came out.  It’s nice to have such a bold piece of tatting.  I wore it again on Tuesday with a red dress and got lots of comments on it.   I think I may have to start doing a lot more tatting in size 3.  Originally, I picked size 3 for the belt just because I wanted it to work up really fast.  As a proof-of-concept piece I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on this first “draft” and figured that when/if I made more I’d make them out of a smaller thread and more complicated pattern.  I actually think now that size 3 totally works for the belt.  I do plan on trying out some other patterns for belts but I think I’ll stick with the size 3.

Amazing!  Once I learned how to tat nearly 10 years ago I used size 80 almost exclusively for many years.  I switched to size 30 when I discovered and fell in love with Altin Basak thread and now I use mostly size 10 and 20 and am thinking of moving up to size 3 for a lot of stuff!

Actually, I may even try working with Koigu’s merino yarn for some. Wildfiber, the yarn store in Santa Monica where I love to hang out and tat doesn’t carry any thread other than a small amount of embroidery thread.  But they do have a really comfortable area for hanging out and knitting/crocheting/tatting so I wanted to find something I could buy from them.  That way I wouldn’t feel too guilty about just coming in to hang out and use the couch space for tatting.  :)  I bought a remnant of the Koigu yarn to try tatting. I made a bracelet out of it a while back and really liked the way it came out.

It has to be either a relatively simple pattern or one that I know really well because it’s a pain in the butt to retro-tat with, but other than that it’s surprisingly easy to work with.  It’s kinda expensive though (at least compared to tatting thread which is hours and hours of tatting time for under $5), so I’ll be test tatting a couple other belts before I make that plunge.  I think it should work out to approximately the same size as size 3.

So stay tuned for that!  I think with the right pattern, some beads and the Koigu yarn I’ll end up with some really elegant belts.

P.S.  I promise in the future to come up with better names for big projects like this.  “Sash Belt” is still bugging me, I think because it sounds like “Slash Belt”.

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I really, really want to make one of these.

I found the most fantastic piece of tatting ever and now I really want to make one for myself.  I’ve got quite a lot of other projects to finish first, but this is definitely going on my “One Day I’ll Get Around to This” list.  I’ll be thinking about the basic design as I flip through the Priscilla books.  Hopefully, I’ll find a pattern in there that I can modify for it.  Maybe one of those yoke patterns.   In the meantime, I’ll just have to sit at my computer and drool over Orsi’s.

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Earring and Necklace for Shuttlebirds

One of the classes I’m going to teach during Shuttlebirds this year is a necklace and earring design.  I’ve finally gotten around to tatting up the samples and taking the pictures for the Shuttlebirds website.  The necklace pendant is the original motif from my Variations on a Theme class from last year and the earrings are one of the simpler variations on it.  This little motif is AMAZING.  There’s so many different things you can do with it. It’s also the basis for a number of my different cuff and fingerless glove patterns.  I’m also working on some bigger pieces from it.  One will be a shawl and I think one will end up being a tablecloth.  The most amazing thing about these is that they’re all done in one piece.  NO motifs that need to be joined together.  These are very similar to Jean Younkin’s wedding shawl.  I tried finding a link to it.  It used to be hosted on Georgia Seitz’s website, but the link doesn’t seem to work now. 

I sell the booklet from my Variations on a Theme class from last year on my Etsy shop.  Depending on how much time I have before Shuttlebirds (OMG, less than 10 weeks until the workshop!) I may get around to writing up a bunch of other variations and having the expanded booklets for sell at the workshop.  If I do that what sorts of patterns do you think people would be interested in?  Fingerless gloves? Bracelets?  Small motifs like the necklace pendant and earrings? Should I write up the shawl?

Since the pendant is the original motif I’ve got that one all written up and ready for teaching.  Next step is to do the earrings and maybe tat up a couple of samples with beads.  (They look super awesome.)  Then I need to tackle the prep for my other classes.

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I just wanted to post quickly today to remind everyone that registration for the Shuttlebirds workshop is OPEN! Mark your calendars for April 15-16 in Spokane, WA.

Somehow I’ve ended up agreeing to teach during all 5 class periods and I just heard that one of my classes (on tatting an awesome coin purse) is already full.  I should take that as a really good sign it’s time for me to get off my butt and tat up my samples and write up my patterns.

I suspect that the next couple weeks I’ll probably be focused on that and most of my Priscilla tatting time will be working on the doily and the baby bonnet.  Hopefully, I’ll still have the time to work out some new Priscilla patterns.  I’ll definitely want to teach something from the Priscilla books next year so I want to have some options to show people at the workshop this year and get feedback.

The Shuttlebirds workshop is always a ton of fun.  I love getting to hang out with other tatters.  April 15th can’t get here soon enough!

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In Which Threads are Cut and a Few Tears are Shed Over the Baby Bonnet.

I did know there would be problems in putting together a piece with so little instruction to go on (I am not THAT naive), but I must admit I didn’t expect to hit them this early.  The instructions say that for the first 6 wheels you join them by two rings at a time while tatting them so that’s what I did. It looked like the more difficult part would come later so I figured I just tat those first 6 wheels and sort through the next part when I got there.

Unfortunately, lacking any instruction to the contrary I assumed that they should be joined straight.  The two rings opposite the previous joining pair being the pair of rings that would join one wheel to the next.   Last night, MUCH closer inspection of the only picture of the bonnet showed that, sadly, this is not the case.  Here again is the only picture of this project in the book.  I’m going to make it super large so it’s easier for you to see what I’m about to explain.

I’m also going to give the instructions again so you can see what we have to work with.

I’m assuming that the “row of six wheels” they talk about is the front part of the baby bonnet.  There is only one picture of the “join by two rings” but I assumed that the following wheel would be joined by the two rings opposite the first.  This gives you 4 rings on either side between the wheels.  The problem came with I started looking carefully at the joining of the two wheels on the very top of the bonnet.  I’m calling the wheel on the first row wheel #3, counting up from the closer side of the row.

I assumed the top wheel in the next row would be joined to wheel #3 by two rings like the first.  There are 3 picots on each of the outer rings and it appeared that one pair of rings was joined by the center ring and one pair by two of the outer picots.  That’s what got me to look closer where I realized the two wheels were actually joined by 3 rings, not two.  Problem is, that if there are only 4 free rings on wheel #3 on the inside between wheels #2 and #4 this meant they would be pretty uneven.  You can see the negative space filler between where #3 is joined to #2 and where it’s joined to the inner wheel.  BUT on the very edge of the bonnet it still looks like there’s ANOTHER negative space filler between wheels #3, #4 and the inner wheel.

I don’t know if any of this is actually making sense.  It’s hard to write it out in a way that’s clear, but suffice it to say that the first row is NOT straight and my little set of 7 wheels was totally wrong.  So I stared at it for a while and then took the scissors to wheels #2 and 4 leaving me with two sets of 2 wheels and one wheel by itself.  So not TOO much lost (hence only a FEW tears).  I’ve also decided that since this is really just a practice run and I don’t expect the finish product to look decent anyway from now on I’m not going to join the wheels as I go.  Instead I’m just going to tat up a whole bunch of them (the pattern doesn’t even say how many the finished bonnet should have), then I’ll join them just by tying the picots together so I can easily rearrange them without having to tat more.  I’ll probably join the negative space fillers as I go though since there’s not much tatting to those and I don’t mind cutting them up.

It’s funny, the first line of the instructions say that “two balls of crochet silk will be needed”  I don’t know how big a ball of crochet silk was in 1915 so I assumed it must have been pretty small.  Afterall, it doesn’t look like this pattern uses very much thread.  Clearly though the authors were expecting that you’d have to re-do the pattern a couple times and extra thread would be needed.

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Getting to Know the Star Doily Motif Even Better

I now know that to tat the motif for the Star Doily I should have just under two wingspans of thread on my shuttle.  Start to finish without any breaks or mistakes it takes 1 hour and 15 minutes for each Motif, (including winding the thread).  But the second piece of data is only based on a sample set of one because it’s not often I have that long to sit and tat uninterrupted.  So let’s assume 1 hour 20 minutes.

There’s 30 of the large motifs total in the doily, so 40 hours plus some small change for the small motifs and mistakes, maybe 43 hours.  That’s the tatting portion of it and then there’s the actual sewing on and cutting off of the fabric center.  Add blocking and the photographing and let’s round up to a nice even 50 hours.

I’ve got 8 large motifs and 1 small one done so far so I’d guess I’m around 11 hours into it at this point.  That’s actually not too bad.

Forgive the OCDness of this post.  I like to know how long it takes me to do portions of patterns so I can better fit them around daily tasks.  Once I timed myself doing the motif I had to go and figure out how long for the whole pattern.

Course getting to know the motif doesn’t mean I’m not going to make mistakes here.  This was a fun one:

Forgive the poor picture.  It I took it at night so the color isn’t quite right.  I got half way around the last row before I realized I was doing the wrong picot count.  (I was doing the one from the second round).  Rather than picking out all those stitches I decided to just finish it off and throw a jump ring on it and turn it into a large pendant.

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