"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

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mallorn Leaf

"There lie the woods of Lothlorien!" said Legolas. "That is the fairest of all the dwellings of my people. There are no trees like the trees of that land. For in autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold. Not till spring comes and the new green opens do they fall, and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the roof, and its pillars are silver, for the bark of the trees is smooth and grey. So still our songs in Mirkwood say. My heart would be glad if I were beneath the eaves of that wood and it were springtime!"
J. R. R.  Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Here is how I've always imagined the leaves of the mallorn trees in autumn.

The pattern is Jane Eborall's leaf. I had a problem with the tension, though. Jane's seed beads must have been smaller than mine, because the first time I made it, the long beaded picots were way too long for the outer chains and it wouldn't lie flat. I ended up having to use the instructions for the medium leaf on the inside and the large leaf for the outline. The thread is Lizbeth 170, Pineapple Parfait.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Another Maple Leaf

I realized that I forgot to talk about how I tatted the stem of the maple leaf in the last post. Here's the picture again so you don't have to scroll down.

The pattern calls for ending with a simple chain for the stem. I didn't do it this way for two reason. First, I don't care to end with an unattached chain if I can avoid it because then you have to hide both ends in the same chain, and I can never manage to do this without looking sloppy. I want to hide each end in a different ring or chain. Second, I needed a way to attach the finding. So I left a short length of bare thread and made one DS over the finding just like you would over a plastic ring; this basically amounts to making an "up" lock join followed by a "down" lock join (it's also the same movements you use to make a split chain), and is much more stable than simply making one lock join to the finding. Then I used encapsulation technique (which also uses similar shuttle movements to a split chain) to cover the bare thread and work my way back to the main part of the leaf. I was then able to hide each end in a separate chain.

On to today's leaf. This time I made Tammy Rodgers' maple leaf for the first time.

In this case, I started with the stem (and I think I should have made it a little longer, but it's OK). I made the first few stitches in balanced double stitch, also known as double double stitch. Then I made a few stitches in half BDS, where I did the first half stitch like normal and the second half as for the BDS; this was inspired by a comment made by Sharren on Isdihara's blog. Then the final few stitches of the stem before starting the main part of the leaf are normal double stitches. This resulted in a thickening at the far end of the stem like you would see on a real leaf, although it's hard to see in the photo.

The thread is "Autumn Medley" by LadyShuttleMaker in size 80, and obviously I added beads.

In all honesty, I like the way Karey Solomon's maple leaf looks better. However, Tammy's leaf is also very pretty and much easier to tat; it could even be done by a beginner. And isn't it neat to see how two completely different methods and styles can be used to tat the same thing?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Maple Leaf Pendant, Doped up Kitty

I got the next in my leaf series done.

This is the maple leaf from Karey Solomon's book Tatting Turns Over a New Leaf. I really like the way it came out in Yarnplayer's size 80 "Sugar Maple". As you can see, it's going to hang at an angle as a pendant. I like that, too.

I highly recommend this book of Karey's if you enjoy tatting shapes from nature. I've made many of the designs in it, several of them more than once, and they are all lovely. Karey really took the time to capture the shape of each leaf and get the stitch count just right. She also explores a number of different techniques; this one uses roll stitch at each of the points.

Poor Squijum had to have a tooth pulled on Thursday. He is very young for such a thing; the vet said that when cats get periodontal disease at this young an age it is usually genetic. They gave him a narcotic that is supposed to last for three days, so he spends a fair amount of time just staring into space...

He also keeps rubbing my legs and demanding to be petted (not that that's a hardship for me, of course!) and giving much harder head-butts than usual. All this is basically the feline equivalent of a person high out of their mind going, "I LOVE YOU, MAN!!!" And needless to say, he is thoroughly enjoying his current diet of all canned food!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Autumn Necklace

I'm generally not a fan of seasonal jewelry. It's usually much too cutesy for my taste. Moreover, I don't care that much for autumn colors-- on trees and flowers, yes, but on things to wear and decorate my house with, no.

But I decided that in tatting, seasonal jewelry can actually look elegant, and I don't have to wear it myself. The annual relief sale held by my parents' church is at the beginning of fall, so I bet that autumn leaf pendants would sell well there. So right now while I'm in the fall mood, I'm going to make a few fall necklaces and save them for next year's sale. Here's the first one.

The pattern is the hackberry leaf from Karey Solomon's book Tatting Turns Over a New Leaf. To my knowledge, I've never seen a hackberry tree in my life, so I have no idea whether they turn pretty colors or not. However, I think it's a generic enough leaf shape that it doesn't really matter. The thread is "Knitty Gritty" by Yarnplayer, in size 50, and I added a few seed beads. I just bought some satin ribbons in fall colors for these necklaces; I'm going to use a kind of amber colored one for this one.

I'm pretty excited about this autumn necklace series, and I hope to be able to do another one tonight. I don't know if I'll be able to, though, because Squijum is at the vet getting some dental work done today, so he'll need lots of extra attention and cuddles tonight.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Another Pendant, and More Knitting

Yes, this is still a tatting blog!

This is an adaptation of the "Melur" pattern from Jon Yusoff's book Tatting with Rings. Obviously, I didn't tat over a plastic ring for the center; instead I used split rings to move from one trefoil to the next in round 1. Aside from that, and the addition of a few beads, it is exactly as Jon wrote it.

I originally wanted to do something different with this doodad. As with the last Swarovski embellishment I used, this one has 8 little holes in the back that I intended to work with. That didn't work this time because the outer petals of this embellishment are filled with filigree, and there wasn't enough space to manipulate the thread to join to those back holes. I was therefore forced to choose a pattern with six repeats that I could join only to the outer petals of the doodad.

The thread is Yarnplayer's "Midnight Oil". I used some dark gray iridescent seed beads between split rings on round 1; the beads I used to join round 2 are also Swarovskis, so when I get this outside in the sun, it's really going to sparkle.

I'm still working on my knitting, too.

This is the start of a scarf. You can see from the fact that the lines aren't straight that I'm still figuring out my tension, but it's getting better.

I actually haven't worn a scarf since I got old enough to refuse, so this one is going to a friend who won't mind the imperfections.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

First Knits

Knitting has definitely become an obsession. Don't worry, I will always be a tatter, but lately it's all about the knitting. I have completed my first two dishcloths, and although they are far from perfect, I am quite proud of them.

This is the first one I did, in a simple garter stitch. You can see my stitches becoming more even the farther along I got. This looked on the ball like it was going to be a self-striping yarn, but it turned out to be a bunch of different solid colors tied together; there was a knot at each color change that I had to work around. This was OK too, as it gave me practice joining a new yarn and working in the ends.

This one is in a basketweave design, using this pattern. I miscounted row 5, so the basketweave pattern is messed up at the bottom, and if you look very closely you'll see one or two other wrong stitches. Again, though, you can see improvement as I worked my way through it. I think it's really cool that even a beginner can do textures like this just by mixing up the knits and purls. In fact, I am so enamored of the basketweave look that I have started a scarf in it.

It is International Balloon Fiesta week in Albuquerque. Most years, at least one day out of the week the winds push the balloons right up my street. Today was that day for this year.