Sunday, December 26, 2010

Greetings from the Deep South!

...ya THINK? 

We don't get much snow here - if we get anything other than rain, it's usually sleet.  Last night, however, one last gift for Christmas - SNOW!  It's the first white Christmas here I can remember, although David says he can remember "a dusting" of snow when he was a very small boy.  I haven't been outside yet - just been enjoying the sight from inside the house (with a hot cup of tea). 

I think I'll work on some snowflakes later - got a new idea in mind that might make a fun class for "Tatting in a Winter Wonderland" in September, 2011.

UPDATE: The snowfall ended in the early afternoon and the sun came out.  There is still some snow on the ground, but the streets are just wet.  It's supposed to be about 20 degrees F tonight and up in the 40-degree range tomorow, so the snow will all be gone by tomorrow night.  I just hope the streets aren't icy in the morning!  The snowflake idea I had worked nicely - now to decide about beads!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Catching Up!

This has been a very busy month so far - and it's just a little over half-gone!  I had my last vacation day for 2010 on Friday, and I spent it being sick - a sinus infection.  It's better now, but I'm still alternating between not being able to breathe through my nose and my nose running (a lot).  My voice and I parted company late yesterday afternoon, so today I've tried not to talk much.

DeeDee's Butterfly - X4 -- these four went out in the mail to DeeDee in MN.  She received them and really seems to like them!  Hopefully they'll give her a touch of spring up there in the snow!

The ceiling that fell -- the contractor came and said the roof is fine, there's no evidence or appearance of a leak (whew!), and it looks like a bad patch job that finally just gave way.  David said that's exactly right, and recalled that around 1970, that part of the ceiling came down.  His mother got somebody in to fix it, but it's doubtful that the person was a licensed and bonded contractor.  It did hold for 40 years, though!  Our contractor said his work will last as long as the house, so that sounds good.  As a bonus, he's going to floor the area above the ceiling and install a disappearing staircase, so we'll finally have a proper attic.  The floor will go down right after he's reinforced the beams and put in the insulation.  And -- it's nowhere near as expensive as I was afraid it would be! I need to get to work on patterns for Palmetto Tat Days in September, as I hope to teach again in 2011.  Since the theme is to be "Tatting in a Winter Wonderland," I'm thinking about snowflakes!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Snowflake Time!

It's that time of year again -- yes, it's cold, but we don't get much snow here in South Carolina.  But it is time for snowflakes -- of the tatted variety!

I like to give my department co-workers a little tatted remembrance of the season; last year, I tatted and gave out about a dozen of Marilee Rockley's Joyful Bell.  This year, I've been thinking about what to tat, and time is running out - so I need something that will work up quickly!  I looked back through some tatted samples I did several years ago and decided on this star -- needs beads, and since I can't find where I wrote down the pattern, it's back to the drawing board (hmm...why does that sound so familiar???)

Hiding ends is not fun for me - I sew through the caps of the double stitches, and that's time that I could be tatting!  I will re-engineer the star so I can exit through the top of the center trefoil on one of the points, and use the ends to tie a self-hanger so it's tree-ready right out of the baggie!  And...since it's a star, I don't have to use white (they come in all colors!).

I also give a larger, beaded ornament to my boss each Christmas -- this year he's getting a snowflake.  I used this pattern of Jane Eborall's - but adapted it slightly as I didn't have any rings for the center and I couldn't find my really tiny hook that will go through beads.  I showed it to Jane and asked if she minded me posting it and talking about it -- it is, after all, her pattern and not mine -- and Jane, gracious as always, gave permission and asked if I'd send her the pattern for the adaptation!  She plans to put it on her pattern page, which I consider an honor!

I'm tired of winter already and ready for spring, which could last at least 6-7 months; spring and fall are my favorite times of year nowadays because there usually aren't temperature extremes.  Winter's too cold and summer's too hot -- can't tat if fingers are too cold or too hot!  Once all my little tatting chores are out of the way, I need to start thinking of springtime -- and dream up a pattern!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Evolution of a Butterfly (Pattern)!

I really should go ahead and tat the five bookmarks in the navy and green - it's a falling-off-a-log easy pattern, and she wants them all identical, and she wants the green for the rings and the navy for the chains (my eyes are grateful!)...but instead, I've been working on DeeDee's Butterfly.

It started with this butterfly - I used to have a wee bit more time than I do now, and I would "doodle" with shuttles and thread.  If I liked the results, I'd make some notes and later write them up.  I liked this one, and remember writing up the pattern - but can't find it anywhere! 

Back to the drawing board. 

I tatted a model by the picture and sorta liked it, but something about it just made me want to "fix" it.  I wanted to streamline it and make it easier to tat.  So - I worked on it and came out with this model, from which I wrote a pattern.  The small ring in the center is replaced with one big one, and the two stacked rings thrown off the chains are now just one ring each.

I can't leave well enough alone - I kept tinkering with it and came up with Revision 1.  The big center ring bothered me - it seemed to "ruffle" because I tat so tightly.  I thought about Jane Eborall's Double Double Stitch and decided I'd use it.  It takes up a lot more thread, though, and the ring is a lot bigger - so I just tatted the second half of the stitch as a DDS.   Much better!

Now the wings seemed kind of - angular.  I tried one with all the small rings the same size.  Much better!  But there's still something that's not quite right...

It was the other two big rings that bothered me -- they both were showing "ruffle" tendencies, so I'm doing the half DDS on them as well as you can see on this butterfly in progress.  I think we'll call this one a keeper.  If you're keeping score, the final version is Revision 1.3.

I'm planning on loading shuttles to tat later on today - hopefully I can get a few of these done and ready to mail to DeeDee.  That's the goal - Monday's outgoing mail!  I want to spend some one-on-one "just us girls" time with my granddaughter today; it's a little cool outside, so I'm thinking McDonalds (she's a big Mickey D's fan!) for something to spoil our supper!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm On a Tatting Mission!

Someone from a different office in our company stopped by a week or so ago, and asked me if it was tatting that I did all the time.  I told her yes, that I enjoyed it and she told me her great-grandmother did some kind of needlework a lot.  She was young and wasn't sure what it was, but told me she had a bookmark she would love to have "duplicated" - would I look at it and copy it for her?  I told her yes, I'd be glad to look - I've always liked looking at needlework, especially old items with a story - but until I could see it and tell what kind of needlework it was, I couldn't promise to copy it. 

She brought it in yesterday.  I only needed a glance to tell her it is tatted!  She was really glad to hear it, and asked me again if I could copy it.  I told her I believed so, and what colors would she like?  She asked for navy and green - which I have; she wants five of them, all alike; and she doesn't need them until Christmas. It's a simple bookmark pattern:
R1:  3-3-3-3 cl r. RW
Ch:  5-5 RW
*R2:  3+3-3-3 cl r. RW
Ch:  5-5 RW

Repeat from * for length desired.  Turn the corner by joining the center picots in addition to the first picots on your next two rings.  Keep the pattern going for the second side.  Turn the last corner, and join your last chain in the beginning of the first chain (the base of R1).  Tie and cut.  Weave a ribbon down the center and trim even with the ends of the bookmark.

Navy thread!  I'm going to need to do most of the tatting on Saturdays and Sundays, when I have daylight, or use a really good, daylight-type lamp!  At least I don't have to have them finished by Friday...

I also got into a discussion about butterflies with a work friend in Wisconsin.  At the end, I told her I'd send her a butterfly if she'd tell me where it needed to go.  She thought I was going to email her a picture; I said, no, I want to send you a tatted butterfly.   She gave me her address and I told her I'd let her know when I put it in the mail, so she'd know to be looking for it.

But which butterfly?  There are hundreds of nice butterfly patterns out there!  I've even designed a few myself.  I started looking through pictures from my old computer (miss you tons, HP! <sniff, sniff>) and found one I liked -- but no pattern was with it!  I remember tatting it and writing it down - but whatever became of the text file I have no idea.  So -- I'm working on it, going by the picture, and trying to improve it here and there.  This isn't blocked, and it's not the final version - but what do you think?  Is DeeDee's Butterfly a winner?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Shuttles, Shuttles!

I can't believe it's been so long since I've been able to post - thanks to all who inquired about my health, and yes, my back is better.  I have some bursitis in my shoulder that makes life...challenging.  Oh, well, it's always going to be something -- at least this isn't really, realllllly awful (mostly just annoying).

I have some more shuttles to show you today - I hope you're not tired of looking at them!  First up - an English Aero, probably from the mid- to late- 1970s.  It's another eBay purchase, one I lucked out on -- because it's still on the card, together with the original extra bobbin.  I've tried to remember if I ever saw these in the stores, but no such luck.  Even if I had a clear "a-ha!" memory of them, learning to tat was over a decade away for me.  Notice the price - $3.00!  Wow...good luck even finding the German Aeros at this price now!

Next up is another English shuttle, the Milward.  I'd heard tatters talk about these for years: how hard they were to find, how ecstatic they were when they found one, how depressed they were when the dog chewed it up...  I've been on a mission ever since.  Now I've got one - it was in with a bunch of sewing-related items on eBay, and barely visible.  I won the bid and when the package arrived, sorted through all the items to find it.  It's not on the original card and doesn't have the little hook with it, but the label is still shiny and I'm pleased with it.
I could probably get another entire post out of the Justrite shuttles, with all their variations - but as it's been well over a week since I've been able to write here, I'll just make this entry a long one.  As I understand it, the earliest Justrites had four dimples on the reverse side; later versions have two.  There are at least two different sizes, and some have a pick and some don't.  I've been fortunate in that most all the Justrite shuttles I've bought have been well taken care of and are still shiny.  Unfortunately, shiny = reflections!  Bear with me in these pictures.

Next time, which I hope will be Wednesday, I should have some tatting to show you.  I've been working on ideas for small Christmas ornaments to give as gifts to folks at my job.  Last year, I tatted Marilee Rockley's bell (told you about that already) so I want to do something different this year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Turtle! Turtle!

Most everyone is familiar with the name Teri Dusenbury - she's a published author of tatting books (Tatting Hearts, Tatting Butterflies), a prolific designer, and an excellent tatter.  She also has a blog and currently is featuring Dream Turtles - if you haven't seen them, please go take a look.  They are absolutely beautiful! 
I have several of her little beauties - I wore one to work the other day, and everyone wanted to know where I got it - some thought jewelry store, other thought artisan shop.  I told everyone who asked where to find them, and most were amazed that they are tatted.  I just smiled and reminded them - "It's not just about doilies anymore!" 
 I'm also trying to decide what to make for this year's ornament that I'll give to my co-workers in my department.  Last year, I gave this lovely bell - designed by Marilee Rockley - and everyone really liked it.  I've given out snowflakes and angels - anybody have any suggestions??

Sunday, November 7, 2010

More of My "New to Me" Shuttles!

Late in the ‘90s, or maybe in the early ‘00s, I learned about Aero shuttles.  Now, these were the German-made shuttles, but they were still better than the metal shuttles with the metal bobbins I had been using, so I bought one…or two…several.  They were great! …that is, until the bobbin and the notch inside the shuttle stopped playing nicely together; then the bobbin would free-wheel, and that was aggravating.

Then I learned that the German Aero shuttles were not the originals – they were copies.  The originals had been made in England, and rumor had it that they were superior to the German versions.  I started looking on auction sites and finally found one – at least I was pretty sure it might be one.  The seller was really selling a quantity of thread, and was “throwing in” this old grey shuttle marked “Alko – England.”  Alko?  I was pretty sure the seller was misreading “Aero,” so I put in a bid.  I was the only bidder, so I won.  Sure enough, when the package arrived, it was an Aero – England shuttle.  Then I bought some later Aero shuttles (still made in England) from Jane Eborall, and on occasion would win another of the older Aero shuttles.  Then came this find:
It’s a metal Aero.  I found a wonderful book on tatting shuttles by Pam Palmer (which deals with European shuttles primarily – it’s a great addition to your tatting library, and an excellent companion piece to Heidi Nakayama’s book Tatting Shuttles of American Collectors.) which discusses all the various Aero shuttles.  This one is indeed an English Aero made of metal – and it has a pick tip; Palmer states that this particular model was aimed at the American market.  It is a post shuttle; here is a side view that shows the post: It’s very lightweight and I enjoy using it.

I have more shuttles to show you, but it's been a rough couple of weeks (hopefully this will be the last couple of days I have to take medication for my back) and it's time for me to say goodnight.  Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Nuts About Tatting!

Yes, I am, and I have the nut to prove it!

This is my "official" NATA (Nuts About Tatting Association) nut, purchased from Gale Marshall way back when - possibly even the previous century, since I don't remember the exact date I got it (you'd think I'd remember something like this, wouldn't you?!)

It lives on a shelf of my bookcase, where I keep much of my tatting stash: books, threads, baskets with more threads and odds 'n ends (heavy on the odds), and a couple of tackle boxes.  Notice the hinge on the back? 

There's a tiny shuttle inside, made of rosewood - and I have tatted with it, tiny though it is.  Here is a side view:
I am amazed that it's already Wednesday - this week has been a very busy one, but I'm hoping it will slow down a bit - I have a day off Friday and want to enjoy it a bit!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I've had some health issues - back muscles and left knee - but I'm on the mend.  Currently, I'm taking medicine for the knee alone, and hopefully won't have to go back to the doctor anytime soon!  I'm working on some ideas for Palmetto Tat Days 2011 - Tatting in a Winter Wonderland - but don't have any show-and-tell at this point.

No, nothing new - other than new to me.  I can show you some old things:
My friends will tell you I like to look at eBay now and then (my family will tell you I'm addicted to it, but I'm really not).  Both these shuttles are old, circa 1915, according to Heidi Nakayama, author of Tatting Shuttles of American Collectors.  It's a very good book, full in information and eye candy, and IMHO a very worthwhile addition to your bookshelf.  She has a very interesting website and blog, too, which you might want to visit.
These shuttles use a very old-fashioned bobbin that, believe it or not, is still being made; I bought a pack of 10 at Hancock Fabric last year.  The top shuttle is the first one I bought; it came without a bobbin, so I figured I'd never be able to actually tat with it, unless I ran across some of these long skinny bobbins in an antique store (or an "ann-teek" - actually junk store).  I was pleasantly (ecstatically) surprised to discover a card of these bobbins on a rack in my local Hancock's.  This view is of the sides, which is where you snap in the bobbin (which is tricky) - note the really shiny bobbin in the top shuttle; that's the new one!
These are probably the oldest shuttles I have.  I tend to prefer the older metal shuttles to the celluloid ones, because celluloid can deterioriate more easily than the metal ones. 

Time to take my meds and put the ice pack on my knee for awhile.  Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Container Acquisition Syndrome!

Yeah, I've got it -- I admit it!  I collect all kinds of containers -- tins, boxes, plastics; if it will fit in my purse and hold my tatting, I'm going to collect it.  Even if it won't fit in my purse, I'll probably collect it!

Two of my latest containers: this one, made in England, is an octagonal tin with a hinged lid.  I found it in an antiques mall in Lavonia, GA -- we almost passed the mall on the way to Toccoa for our Girls Weekend Out.

Almost passed it?  Yes -- Catherine was driving and we had to stop for the traffic light.  The antiques mall is directly across, so you can't not notice it.  We swung through the intersection, and halfway into the parking log, she said she just had to stop and look, and hoped I didn't mind.  I didn't -- I'd passed it before and never had time to stop in, so I was glad for the opportunity.  We didn't stay too long - so we didn't thoroughly explore it, but there's always a next time.  I also found this wooden cigar box.  It's rather plain and boxy on the outside, but inside the lid is a treat: isn't it pretty?  I love the colors!  It's a nice size, too, and will hold a lot of tatting.  It's not old, though -- there is a 1997 copyright date at the bottom center of the picture.

I also have a wooden cigar box that my dad brought home to me when I was little; he lettered my name on the lid in gold leaf.  There's also a plain one upstairs, that my mom kept receipts and stuff in.  I have a wooden cigar box that was my grandfather's somewhere upstairs; it's full of tatting and several celluloid tatting shuttles.  If I'm not mistaken, the souvenir shuttle I got at IOLI-Atlanta's Lace Days in 2002 is also in there.

I started this post with a tin; I have a lot of tins, too.  I had no idea that Whitman's made so many different kinds of tins!  Tins used to be hard to find; you could occasionally find big ones with cookies inside, but purse-sized were extremely hard to find.  A lot of my tins are packed away, but the ones I use most often are close at hand.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More Finished Projects!

FINISHED!  Isn't that a lovely word?  There's a lot of satisfaction packed into those syllables.  First up, Martha Ess' lovely half-ring bracelet she taught at Tat Days - this is the first one I made, but won't be the last!  She was right on target (for me) with the amount of beads to string and the length of thread to load onto the shuttle.

If I haven't mentioned it before, let me mention now - when you're loading a lot of beads, a bead spinner is a good tool to have.  I got mine on sale at Hobby Lobby a few years ago, and it's more than earned its keep!  This version of Martha's bracelet called for 260 beads, and mine were strung in just a few minutes using the bead spinner.  The thread, by the way, is Lizbeth #127 (Butterfly Breeze); the beads actually came with the bead spinner, and I'd never even opened them.  I thought they complemented the thread well, so I decided to use them.

Moving on.  I tend to like small projects, like bookmarks and bracelets, because they're usually pretty quick to make.  I have done a couple of doilies, though - here's one of them.  It's called "Springtime," and it's in The Tatter's Treasure Chest edited by Waldrop.  It's a Dover book, and full of patterns from the 1930s and 1940s. 

I found, in making it, that joining the side picots on round 3 was not going to work for me - it made the doily cup.  Not joining them allows it to lay flat.  I also am not crazy about cutting and tying after every round, so I climbed out of rounds 1 and 2 with split chains.  I climbed into rounds 2, 3, and 4 with split rings.  I didn't know how to climb into a round with a split chain, though, so I ended round 4 with cut, tie, hide ends, and started fresh on round 5.  Maybe it would work to do half the chain to climb into the round, and end with half a chain.  Something to ponder!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tatting in Toccoa!

...and did we have fun!  There were four of us: Catherine, Sandra, Karrieann, and me.  We stayed at the Knights Inn and enjoyed conversation and tatting, punctuated by chocolates, cashews, and wine!  We sat up way too late, ate way too much chocolate, and had way too much fun -- but it was so worth it!
Here is the gang at a little soda shop in downtown Toccoa -- (L-R) Catherine, Sandra, Karrieann.  The conversation was great, as was the tatting...too bad they kind of forgot we were there (I, for one, would have liked more Diet Coke).  This was Saturday afternoon right before we went our separate ways.  We're already planning our next get-together, next spring!  Hopefully we can work it out to Thursday, Friday, and Saturday -- more time, more tatting...and more chocolate!
I brought home a souvenir, too -- this lovely handmade wooden keepsake box I bought at a little art gallery in Toccoa.  It has a latch to keep it closed and even came with a tiny lock and keys!  And -- it was on sale (score!)  Also in the picture are the chocolates Catherine and I brought to the party -- everybody kept a Salmagundi tin and a Wynnewood tin as a remembrance of the occasion!

We had hoped to have time to decorate some shuttles, but it just didn't work out this trip.  Next time for sure!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Finished Projects!

Don't you just love the feeling of satisfaction you get when you finish something?  Big or small, a finished project is a joy!  I thought I would share a few of my finished items with you.

The bookmark in the middle I've shown you before.  The one on the left is one of my "go-to" patterns when I need a quick gift; it's not much more involved than the middle bookmark, and fun to do.  The motif on the right is an example of modern Celtic tatting; two elements (or more) are tatted separately, then joined together by weaving (or intertwining) the interoconnecting parts.  One last element is tatted which joins into all the other parts, thus holding it together.  Here it is in closeup:

And here is the other side.  I hesitate to call it the "back" side, as modern Celtic is meant to be reversible - and each side looks different.  I believe this pattern was designed by Sue Hanson of London, England - it was a lesson earlier this year at our Palmetto Tatters Guild regular meeting day.  I actually tatted the whole thing at the meeting - so you can tell it's not hard or time-consuming!  Still need to do something about those ends, though...maybe I'll use it as a hanger!

Had to dig a little for this one - it was on the old computer.  A friend from work pulled off most of my files, and I've been going through them.  The shamrock on the left is just three big rings, not even joined together, with a dimple in each.  The rose is one I dreamed up on my daughter's birthday, so it's named The Jessica Rose.  The pattern is available on the Palmetto Tatters website, - look under "Favorite Patterns."  The heart -- ah, the heart!  It's named the Celtic Button Heart, and it was designed by the very talented Karey Solomon.  She taught this as one of her classes at the IOLI-Atlanta Lace Days in 2002.  As with other modern Celtic pieces, it's made of two parts that are interwoven, then joined by a third part.  The first part, under the 3D rose, is tatted onto a button.  I just liked the look of the rose in the middle, so I tied it in.  And I see there is a loose thread under it!  Good grief...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Shuttles From Nature!

I was asked recently if I could recommend any wood or bone shuttles.  I do have some of each, and like them.
These are wooden shuttles by Chris Hinton.  The bunny and rose are reclaimed ivory, inlaid into the wood.  The rose was the first Hinton shuttle I bought - he had it listed on eBay and I was lucky enough to win the bid.  The others are shuttles purchased from their webstore over the years.  I enjoy using them for demonstrating tatting - they're real eye-catchers.

Next, here are some bone shuttles.  None of them is old; I've bought them from various Tat Days vendors over the years.  Like the Hinton shuttles, they are eye-catching and fun to use to demonstrate tatting.  The fish are such an unusual shape for a tatting shuttle, it takes awhile for me to get used to tatting with one if I haven't used one in awhile!

The last ones I have to show you today are made from mother-of-pearl and abalone.  The MOP is contemporary; I bought it from a vendor at Tat Days several years ago.  Both the abalone are older, though -- but I don't know for sure how old.  The one on the left was an eBay find about 10 years ago; the post has a tiny sticker on one side advising that the price of the shuttle is 35c.  Maybe that was a lot of money to spend on a hobby when this shuttle was new - especially when you consider that abalone is a shell and can be easily broken.  That's the main reason I don't use these very much - I have been known to be very klutzy, and would hate to break them! 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rolling in Clover (Shuttles)!

When I learned to tat, in the late 1980s, there weren't a lot of shuttles available locally - so I started looking for shuttles every time we went to a larger city, such as Greenville.  At some point I found Clover shuttles; they were available in dark blue and dark red.  Later, I discovered Clover tortoise shuttles (and I still think they're a prettier tortoise than the newer Clover tortoise).  Then the only (so far) Clover shuttles without the point, the Clover Amber (or Gold, if you prefer). 
The neons were a pleasant surprise - but if you wanted one of every color, you ended up with two green ones!  I always have wondered why they didn't make a lavender one so you'd have a rainbow set.  Then I moved beyond the two-per-card to the sets of five per pack (but I still have several extra green ones!).

Now, Clover has introduced their pastel series - so pretty!  I like the new colors; I wonder what will be next.  Will they introduce five new colors in a few years?  Maybe someone will begin making "end of day" shuttles - lots of colors mingled together.  You can still find the celluloid version of these on the auction sites (but they're usually out of my price range),  and bid on them.  I think I'll be content with these...for awhile!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Among My Souvenirs!

My friend, Tabitha, recently took a vacation with her dad to Universal-Orlando - the highlight of which was exploring the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter park.  She really enjoyed it, and brought me back a souvenir - a chocolate frog!  Readers of the series are familiar with the sweet treat, and although the real-life candy amphibian doesn't jump around, it is impressive nonetheless.

The frog is a bit larger than my palm, and weighs over 5 oz.  That's a lot of frog!  It will take time to finish him off - but I'm up to the challenge!

In the meantime, just so you know, that empty box is going to come in handy.  Here's a test fit with most of the stuff from my tatting bag.  I count six shuttles, a pair of scissors, and a ball of thread!  And yes, the lid closed nicely.

Definitely the gift that keeps on giving!