Sunday, February 27, 2011

Cross My Heart!

In progress - not happy with
the bottom part.

I found another cross pattern in Mary Konior's work - Tatting in Lace has two lovely crosses, one of which I really like: Rockingham.  It's a very easy pattern - and quick to tat - and it works well in one color, two colors, or even more (think variegated or double-bobbin shuttle).  The only thing I don't like about it that she designed it to be tatted in two passes.

I prefer to start at the top, work my way around, and end at the top - then I can tat a lock-stitch cord and finish in any number of ways.  I'm still working out the bottom part - I'm just not happy with it yet.  I have a couple of other ideas to try - maybe one of them will be exactly what I want!
In other news, I found a lovely David Reed Smith shuttle on eBay, which I bid on and won.  It's exactly what I wanted!  Judging by the "00" engraved on the inside of one of the blades, it's an "oldie but goodie" - and I'm using it now (on a cross, of course) and it tats very nicely.

Last week was a tough week - we had a Monday holiday, so we had five days of work to do in four days.  As I have said before, any week that begins on Tuesday is already ruined, might as well take the rest of the week and be done with it! 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Exciting Finds!

I like to window shop; I always have.  There were some times, all through my life, when window shopping was the only kind of shopping we could afford.  Early in our marriage, it was our Sunday entertainment, back when the only things open on Sunday were churches, the grocery store (for a few hours), the police station, the hospital, and the fire station.

Now I'm older, and now I do most of my window shopping online.  Sometimes I find a deal; most of the time I don't.  I did find two just recently, and I'd like to show them to you.  This is a Mary Konior book, one of two I didn't own; now I'm going to be looking for the last one.  I suspect it will be hard to find at a decent price, as the cost of most of her books, even before her death, was pretty steep (now it's mostly astronomical).  It must gall some members of her family to know that someone else is making money off Mary, and they're not getting any of it!

The other find of the month is a tatting shuttle off eBay.  The seller listed it as an "estate find...made of metal with monogram etching on marks like 925...not sure of the metal."  Other bids came in, but finally everyone except me had dropped out, so I won the bid.  It arrived, and David asked what kind of metal it was.  I told him that despite the seller's conviction that it wasn't silver, it felt like silver to me.  It had some old thread wound around the post; I unwound it (Spooky was delighted to paw at it as I pulled it from the shuttle) and found some hard-to-see markings.  I borrowed David's big 'ol honkin' magnifying glass (you think I'm kidding, I have used skillets smaller than this glass) and found the word on the post that I was hoping to find: STERLING.

Baking soda, water, and elbow grease will do a pretty good job of cleaning silver without damaging it.  If you use a glass container, aluminum foil, baking soda, table salt, and boiling water, you can pretty much save the elbow grease for something else.  Here are the "before" and "after" pictures of the monogrammed side:
Quite a difference.  David thinks it looks brand-new!  I'm just tickled that it's clean and shiny again, as it looked when the monogram "L A D" was engraved.  We were also able to identify the hallmark as being that of the Charles Thomae Company, which surprisingly, is still in business.  They opened in 1920 in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and still make "fine gifts, jewelry and appointments for the individual, home, and office made of high quality sterling silver and karat gold."  They included contact info on their homepage, so I will be contacting them to ask what information they can give me about tatting shuttles made by them.

Tomorrow is a bank holiday, so I will have a much-appreciated day off.  I'm looking forward to it!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

More Mary!

I’m still fascinated by the work of the late, great tatter, Mary Konior.  I’ve got two of her books – Tatting Patterns (Batsford: 1989) and Tatting with Visual Patterns (Lacis: 1992, 2002).  My all-time favorite of her patterns is Queen of Hearts, found in Tatting with Visual Patterns.
Last post, I talked about the little motif that is the basis for Queen of Hearts; it’s an easy, yet intriguing little motif.  I’ve found it in other works by other designers, and while the stitch count may vary, it’s still the same little motif:

There is a variation on it in her earlier book, Tatting Patterns: “Cross,” p.64-65.  In this variation, the large center ring has only three picots, all used for joins, although two are large enough to easily see.  The stitch count in the surrounding chains goes from 2DS between picots to 3DS between picots on the side chains.  The middle chain, always a bit larger than the side chains, also has 3DS between picots; and there are six picots instead of five.

When I ran across it, I was just looking through the book for the eye candy; I was at home from work, with a stomach virus (after an initial scare that it might be the flu), and didn’t really feel like doing anything strenuous – even turning the pages was a chore!  But the cross leaped out at me and I put a bookmark there, determined to come back to it at some point. 
By yesterday afternoon, I felt more like myself again and ready to look at the pattern.  I still like the motif as she used it in the Queen of Hearts, though, so when I did tat it, I used that version instead of the motif as written in the cross pattern.  Here is my version, tatted in Lizbeth size 20 (Caribbean):

I will tat this one again, as I like the pattern (and it’s quick ‘n easy).  I think, though, I’ll make the joining picots very small; I think the motif would look neater.  I did start with one of the small rings at the top and finished with a split chain so I wouldn’t have to worry about dealing with the ends, as I usually do a chain to finish it.  Notice that this one ends with a double chain – I like how it turned out, but I still had two ends to hide!  Next time, when I make the ring at the end of the first chain, I’ll make the picot very long – then when I finish the other chain, I’ll do a split ring and clip the threads.  I’ll clip open the long picot on the first ring, and both will match.

I just had another thought for a finishing chain - split rings, but uneven ones, alternating.  Hmm...I'll try it and let you know if it works!

Sunday, February 6, 2011


I love the pattern, "Queen of Hearts," by Mary Konior.  I can do it from memory now, I've tatted it so many times!  It's in her book, Tatting With Visual Patterns, which is still in print in the paperback edition.  It's one of my very favorite books! 

If you're familiar with this pattern, you'll have no problem following my line of thought.  If you've never done this pattern, it's all repeats of one simple little motif.  Where you join them and how long the chain separating them determine curves and straight edges.  The little repeat is simple enough:
R1     (2 -)10X, 2 cl R, RW
Ch     (2-) 4X, 2  RW
R2     4 + (9th picot on R1) 4 cl R, RW
Ch     (2-) 5X, 2 RW
R3     4 + (7th picot on R1) 4 cl R, RW
Ch     (2 -) 4X, 2 + (5th picot on R1)

At this point you would switch shuttles and work a chain, then switch shuttles and start the motif again at R1.  A completed heart is pictured above.  The upper curves are very tight, and I wondered what it would look like if you tatted all the motifs this way.  I think it made a pretty little wreath; I can picture this in red and green for Christmas, although in these colors, it's very Spring-y.

I started playing with the straight edges, wondering if it would make a nice edging.  I think it did, and I used my magic mirror to see how a corner might be done.  I think it needs a bit of tweaking, but overall, I'm pleased with it.  All these samples were tatted in Garden Space thread (size 10) by Nazli Gelin - it's a
Turkish thread, 3-ply.  It's soft but holds the stitch beautifully.

I'm going to tat the edging again in size 20 and see how it does - maybe I'll do a handkerchief!