"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, November 21, 2010

Autumn Bliss, and a LTR Edging

Can you think of anything better on a chilly night than sitting in a cushy recliner, under a cozy blanket, with a kitten in your lap, a good book in one hand, a cuppa in the other, and your favorite Pandora station playing? Despite the book and the kitten, I did manage to do a bit of tatting last night, just a few little samples.

In my recent tutorial on loop tatted rings, I showed this as one example of the usefulness of LTR's:
The design itself is a perfectly simple one that anyone could have thought of, and I'm sure someone else already has. The use of LTR's allows you to dress it up with beads to make it really special. I made up a few more samples to show how you can give the same pattern any "mood" you want depending on your combination of thread and beads.

Just a few examples of different ways the same pattern can look.

The pattern for this is R 6-6-6-6. *C 6, add beads to ball thread, LTR 4-4, C 6. R 6+6-6-6. Repeat from * for desired length. Make just a few inches of this and you will be an expert at LTR's!

More autumn bliss: I've got some pumpkin bread in the oven right now, and my apartment smells like heaven. Of course, poor Squijum couldn't fathom why anyone would be beating together cream cheese and eggs if they weren't planning to give the entire bowl to their kitten.

Thanks to everyone who responded to the last post! I never would have thought of a netting shuttle.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What Do You Make of This?

My parents found this shuttle a few years ago in an antique shop in England.

One has to wonder who they thought would be using it, for a shuttle 5 1/2 inches/ 14 cm long to be even remotely serviceable. And the really funny thing is, it is so narrow that it doesn't hold any more thread than a normal-sized shuttle.

I have considered the possibility that it might have been intended as a knotting shuttle, as those were generally much larger than tatting shuttles. On the other hand, knotting shuttles were large so that they could hold a lot of thread, so this doesn't really fit the bill. Plus, knotting shuttles were usually very ornate, since that craft functioned as much to show off the knotter's elegant hands as to actually make anything.

I'm thinking that it may be a sort of "transitional" shuttle, made during the time period when knotting was declining and tatting was ascending. In this case, it would be understandable that a shuttle maker might not know what a knotter/ tatter really wanted from her shuttle, and he might have been trying to make something that would be useable for both crafts, if not ideal for either. I'd be interested to hear other people's ideas.

I believe it is ivory.

It came wound with this horrid yellow and green perle cotton.
In addition to being, as Jane would say, grotty colors, these threads are stiff, rough, thick, and full of knots. I certainly hope that some poor soul wasn't trying to learn to tat with this shuttle and these threads-- that would be enough to put you off tatting forever!

I'm giving the thread to Squijum. At least he can get some pleasure out of it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Quick Update

This is to say a huge thank you to everyone who has purchased the "Angels in the Snow" pattern. So far, we have raised a total of $45 for the Brain Injury Association of New Mexico. Tatters are awesome people!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Squijum's Day

I haven't really done any tatting this week, but I wanted to stop in and say hi.

Thanks to Jeff for showing the flakes he has made from my "Angels in the Snow" pattern (see sidebar at left). I love seeing all the different colorways that people choose for this!

Sunday, I played the gig I mentioned a few weeks ago at Weems Artfest. Since, in addition to tatting, I have stated that this blog is "sometimes about my harp, sometimes about my cat", I thought I'd tell you how the day went from poor Squijum's perspective. This was the first time I've gotten dressed up since Squijum acquired me, and I played first thing in the morning. First, I had to shut him out of the bathroom while I did my make-up because he likes to pick up the brushes and run off with them. Then I had to shut him in the bathroom while I got dressed because he kept trying to grab my pantyhose. I left him in the bathroom until I had carried the harp outside because I couldn't deal with him trying to run out the door while my hands were full of harp. As soon as I let him out of the bathroom, I left the house for 2 1/2 hours. When I got back, I shut him in the bathroom again to bring the harp inside. This time after I let him out, I went straight to bed, then got up and went to work for 12 hours. He was mad at me for two days, and I can't say I blame him. He's over it now, though, and back to his usual cuddly self.

The gig itself went great. This was the kind of thing I like to do, just background music. I never get stage fright at this type of event because I can convince myself, whether it's true or not, that nobody's really listening and it's just like playing at home. Can't trick myself like that at a wedding. My playing was really "on" that day, too. Lots of people picked up business cards, so I'm hoping to get a few more gigs from it.

I also wore my new dress and matching tatted earrings. See, there's always something tatting-related.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Loop Tatted Rings-- How and Why

A couple of days ago, I posted my new earring design, which makes use of loop tatted rings (LTR's). I said I might make a tutorial on LTR's, and here it is. I wanted to make a video, because I think it would have been easier to follow. Alas, it turns out I only have two hands, and that's not enough to tat and focus the camera at the same time. So until I recruit a helper, this is the best I can do.

What exactly is a LTR? It was developed by Bina Madden as an extension of Matthew Takeda's single shuttle split ring technique. However, the LTR is not used as a split ring; it is a means of making the shuttle thread pass through a bead both before and after a ring, so that the bead will sit just below the ring without having a thread pass outside the bead. In one pattern, Bina also uses LTR's as a way to tat a ring on a ring. I personally still prefer to use the SCMR for this, but it's good to know that there is another way of doing it.

LTR's will be easier to understand if you know how to do a single shuttle split ring. If you are not familiar with SSSR's, please see Anne Bruvald's video demonstration.

I will show two methods of closing the LTR. The first is the original way, and is exactly like closing a SSSR. The second is a modification that allows you to make joined LTR's.

To begin a loop tatted ring, pull a large amount of thread off the shuttle.

Next, place a bead on a crochet hook. (You don't actually need the bead to make the ring, but there's not much reason to use a LTR without a bead). For most seed or bugle beads, I recommend a 0.5 mm crochet hook.

Grab the shuttle thread with the crochet hook and slide the bead onto the thread.

Put the hook down and enlarge the loop of thread above the bead.

Wrap this loop around your left hand, just like making a regular ring. I pinch my tatting with my middle finger instead of my index finger, but if you use the index finger, do it the way you're used to.

Continue to pull more thread through the bead, so that you have a small loop after the pinch. This loop will act as your shuttle thread while you tat the ring.

Finger tat the first double stitch using the loop. Make sure that the first stitch is snug up against the bead, but not too tight.

Now that the first stitch is made, the loop is secure, and you can adjust as needed. Pulling one side of the loop will cause the ring to start to close; pulling the other side will move the shuttle thread. You can thus enlarge the ring if you need to, just like you can with regular tatting.

Continue to finger tat the rest of the ring, using the loop as your core thread. Keep your tension nice and relaxed. If you tat too tightly, you will have trouble closing the ring. This photo shows the ring ready to be closed.

ORIGINAL METHOD for closing the LTR: This is exactly like closing a SSSR. First, pull on the side of the loop that will close the ring.

After closing the ring, you will be left with a very long loop.

Wrap the loop over the ring so that it sits between the base of the ring and the bead.

Pull gently on the shuttle thread to tighten the loop.

Continue pulling until the loop is completely tightened.

MODIFIED METHOD for closing the LTR: If you have joined the LTR at any point, you will not be able to wrap the loop around the ring. This alternate method of closing the LTR eliminates the need to wrap.

Pull one side of the loop, as above, to close the ring itself. Then insert the crochet hook up through the bead.

Use the hook to pull the loop down through the bead. The loop will now lie next to the shuttle thread.

Pass the shuttle through the loop.

Pull on the shuttle as before to tighten the loop.

I hope this tutorial has been at least vaguely comprehensible. Please let me know in the comments if you did or didn't understand. If it didn't make sense, I'll try to do better.

Here are a couple of examples of other ways you could use LTR's.
This is the beginning of the earrings I designed. Four regular rings and a split ring form the cluster. Then a bead and LTR, and the threads are in position to start the chain. By the by, I've now written up the instructions for the earrings if anyone is interested.

This could make a pretty edging. Even though these are technically rings on top of chains, you don't need a second shuttle for this, because the LTR's are finger tatted. In fact, I take back what I said earlier about there being no need for LTR's without beads. If you find yourself wanting to make rings on top of chains but don't want to wind another shuttle, just use LTR's. By extension, you could also use LTR's on top of self-closing mock rings, with or without beads, since the SCMR is really just a chain with the end brought around to meet the beginning.

Right, it's time to make lots of pretties with beads and LTR's. Get on it, all you designers!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rainbows and Kittens

Inspired by Melissa's rendition of "Angels in the Snow" in a rainbow colored thread, I decided to try it in the ultimate rainbow thread, Tatskool's "Rainbow Bright".
Now that gets your attention, doesn't it? It's interesting that the colors match up almost exactly on each repeat.

On a completely different subject...
...how is it that somebody who only weighs eight pounds can make such a mess????

And how can somebody who makes such a mess be so cute?????

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New Earring Design

Have you ever bought a dress because it matched some thread you had? (Mark, don't answer that.)

The thread is "Coral Reef" by Tatskool, which as always been a favorite of mine, and the dress is done in Indian embroidery. I wanted to make a pair of earrings to match, and I knew from a recent extensive exploration of earring patterns that the exact design I was looking for didn't exist. So I got to design them from scratch.

I wanted to create a design that would imply the female figure without being too literal about it. This is what I came up with:
This prototype is done in Flora size 50. I've learned my lesson about using the HDT before the design is finalized. The design process was actually a lot smoother this time, probably because I had a clearer idea of what I wanted before I started. It took me four tries to get the stitch count right on the 5-ring cluster, which is where I started. But once I had that, the rest fell easily into place.

Then it was just a matter of adding the beads. I wanted, among other things, a bead in between the final ring of the cluster (which is a split ring) and the large ring which immediately follows it, but then the thread would need to pass through the bead again to be in position for the chain. Having no desire to unwind and rewind the shuttle, I deliberated on this for a bit. Then I remembered Yarnplayer talking about the loop tatted ring (LTR). So I went to her blog and found the reference, which in turn took me to Bina Madden's site.

After a couple of tries, I managed to tat a LTR. It's really just like a single shuttle split ring, except that the entire ring is tatted using the technique of the second half of the SSSR. You start by using a crochet hook to pull a loop of thread through the bead. Wrap the loop around your hand just like for a normal ring. After the "pinch", pull a bit more thread through the bead, enough to finger tat the ring with. Close the ring in exactly the same way as the SSSR. When you pull the shuttle thread, you will pull the loop back through the bead. The end result is a bead between two rings, with the two threads back together in position to continue tatting, without having a thread pass unattractively outside the bead. Clear as mud? I might do a tutorial on it sometime soon to make it easier to understand.

Once I had gotten all that figured out, the rest of the beading was easy, and here is the end result:

And a somewhat better picture:

There were several "firsts" for me on this. In addition to the LTR, this is the first time I've designed something that isn't symmetrical in all directions, and also my first time designing with beads in mind. I'm pretty happy with it. If I had a "do-over", I would put black beads on the core thread in the bottom section, but I think it looks OK as is.

One more thing I learned: when you're working with seed beads that come in a tube, it's tempting to leave them in the tube and fish them out as you need them. Don't do this; put them in a little dish instead. I found that if you handle the tube too much, at least with the Miyuki brand, the ink from the label will rub off on your hands. Not good for your tatting thread!

The beads I used are Miyuki Delicas in size 11, silk finish light purple, and opaque black; 3 mm silver rounds in a "Stardust" texture; and 8 mm black Czech beads. You can't really see what the "Stardust" beads look like in the photos, though enlarging will help; they have a rough texture that gives them very glittery look. I got these from Artbeads; the earring hooks came with a Stardust bead pre-attached and are available from the same site. I have no connection to Artbeads; I just think these are really pretty.

Oh, remember a couple of weeks ago I said my earring findings had disappeared? Well, they were right where they were supposed to be. I swear I emptied out the whole box of beads and findings and didn't find them, but when I looked again, there they were. I must have gnomes or something.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Someone Liked My Pattern!

Melissa B. sent me a picture of the snowflake she made from my "Angels in the Snow" pattern. It's gratifying to know that people like my design enough to want to make it, and that my directions are comprehensible. Melissa has kindly given me permission to show her flake.

She used Lizbeth "Rainbow Taffy", and I must say it looks very pretty. I hadn't thought to use a rainbow colorway on this design, but it actually works really well.

Lovely work, Melissa!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blogger Layout Question

You may (or may not) have noticed that I switched to Blogger's Picture Window template. I did this because I now have so much stuff in my sidebar that I needed a 3-column layout, and this was the easiest way to get it. If I had stuck with the Simple/ Minima template, I would have had to do a lot of cutting and pasting of HTML. This always makes me nervous, because I don't speak HTML and worry that if I accidentally paste in the wrong spot, my blog won't work, or I'll unintentionally type in the nuclear missile launch code, or something.

So, I've found with the new template that my header is aligned to the left instead of centered. Has anyone using this template found a way to center the header?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Snowflakes for Brains

A number of people have requested the pattern for my "Angels in the Snow" snowflake.

My response has heretofore been, sorry, but I used the pattern as a giveaway prize a while back, and if I started giving it out to everybody, then the winners of that contest (which was to name the snowflake) won't have gotten anything special. I did mention to all inquirers that I might someday offer it for sale. Well, "someday" has arrived. I've gotten enough requests that I'm going to do it. The price will be $3.00 US, and the pattern will be e-mailed as a .pdf file.

I don't have anything so organized as an online store; to order, just e-mail me at "luthien1 at comcast dot net" (obviously, you will need to substitute the appropriate symbols), and make your payment via PayPal to the same e-mail address. Do me a favor and e-mail me from the same account that you use for PayPal so that I can match up requests with payments. As soon as I have received your request and payment, I will e-mail you the pattern. Please bear in mind that I do occasionally have to work or sleep, and even when I'm home and awake I'm not always online, so please allow 48 hours before you start getting impatient. (It usually won't take me nearly that long, but I'm giving myself extra leeway, having learned from the experience of other people who sell their patterns online.)

All proceeds from sales of this pattern will be donated to the Brain Injury Association of New Mexico. For those of you who don't know, I work on an ICU with patients who have experienced severe brain injuries, whether from trauma or stroke. After these people leave the hospital, they still have an incredibly long road to recovery, and their lives will really never be the same. BIANM provides them and their families and caregivers with wonderful resources and support. The son of one current patient, after attending a BIANM workshop, said it felt like a 5000 pound weight had been taken off his shoulders.

Happy tatting!