Tatting—no monkeys!

tatting with beads

So, yes. After having itchy fingers but no opportunity to tat for weeks, I finally managed to wrangle some time over the last few days. It’s been lovely actually, I really do enjoy it. As you may or may not know, I usually tat in the train, and recently there’s always been something stopping me. No seat, person’s elbow in my face, hands too cold, too rushed, need to do reading for work, always *something*. On Thursday I had a two hour train journey to visit another city for work, and on Friday the return journey home. I was a little nervous about the trip, but I’d prepared everything I could and so decided it would be good to tat on the train. Best of all options; relaxing and productive.

no_beads

I bought another Japanese Tatting book a while ago, and decided it would be a good chance to try this pattern out. I thought I’d add beads as I bought some the other week which were a good match for this thread, so I packed the beads and a needle with my usual kit, congratulated myself for my forward planning and off I went. Obviously the needle was too thick for the beads, and so what you see directly above is attempt number 1, sans beads. Doh!

beads

 

On the way back I had a seat to myself, and room to spread out. The train was moving quite slowly to I managed to thread the beads on — after some thought I kept them on the ball thread, rather than the shuttle thread. Another rookie error! What I *wanted* was the beads going through the picots on the outer rings (the groups of three little sticky-outy loops)… not really on the chains, as you see here. Sooooo, at least I now know:

• beads on ball thread if you want beads on the picots of your chains (as seen above)

flush
• beads on shuttle if you want the beads *flush* to the chain (as seen above). This is how I’ve always done it in the past, more by accident than design. This is just a little test piece.

picot
• beads stored on shuttle and moved around to the back of the ring thread until you need them if you want beads in picots on a ring.

Phew! A good lesson though. Always good to learn by doing. Couple of other things – that pink doesn’t go with anything! It’s hard to photograph – looks awful on linen or ecru, weird on colours, harsh on white. The beads go nicely with it though! I also think that while the pink can handle the beads that size, they look a bit big on the ecru/natural thread above. Both threads are size 80, but maybe it’s the colour that makes it seem bigger on the natural. That said, I do think the beads are really pretty.

It does make me laugh sometimes, making things like this. I looked at the curtains earlier as they were tied back to let the fresh air in. I thought ‘you could tat an edging for the tie backs, seeing as you keep wanting to make an edging pattern’. Then I thought ‘Are you nuts? You hate flowery stuff!’

Love making it though 🙂

Hope you had a great weekend.

A speedy getaway

Blue monkey

I went to Barcelona for the weekend! Just got back earlier this evening. I was staying with friends who moved there about 8 or 9 months ago, and they have a little boy. When the baby was born (about 2 years ago) I had the best of handmade gift intentions, but what actually happened was that I made a pair of booties that I didn’t think were up to scratch. In the end I didn’t gift them and they’ve been sat in the cupboard ever since…

This time I decided to go for something I’d made before and had a better chance of getting right. Yup, another monkey. I finished it at 1am on Thursday night, and it was wrapped and gifted by Friday evening – and very well received!

This one is made in simple Rowan Dk, and actually he turned out rather nicely. He looks a little bit unsure of himself, but I think he’ll settle in well. (He was wrapped again every evening, so they had the excitement of opening him again each morning 🙂 ). I think for children, something softer and more ‘wooly’ works better than the cotton I used on the green monkeys.

Ahem. Yes, the green monkeys. If the red scarf on the blue monkey looks familiar, it’s because I swiped it off the green monkey. But hey! They’re all friends. I’m sure they wont mind…

wedgewood 2And now to get ready for work tomorrow. Before I go though, the lovely Tiny Inc is having a giveaway! If you’re in the UK, check out her blog (and the amazing cushion which is part of the giveaway!).

Going nowhere fast…

MonkeyI don’t know what’s going on at the moment, but it’s taking me forever to get anything done! These poor monkeys have been waiting so patiently to be finished, I feel a little bit guilty. The joy of making two monkeys at once kind of hit a snag when I realised I had to make EIGHT LIMBS. E I G H T. And then sew them on. Every time I get to the sewing arms, legs and heads on I remember what it is I *don’t* like about amigurumi. That said, it is nice when they’re whole.

two green monkeysLook at them! They’re a really nice size actually. They fit comfortably in your hand, and feel oddly delicate, but firm. The fabric this cotton crochets into is pretty sturdy, but there’s something about the size of these fellas makes you feel a bit protective towards them.

One has a scarf, the other has a scarf-in-progess. The scarf in progress is a simple 2×2 rib. I do love the fact that I can knit them scarves now (Thank you, Mum!) It always felt like a bit of a cruel blow that you spend so much time making them and then you’re still not done – you have to crochet them a scarf as well. (Monkeys always need a little accessory. It’s a very unloved monkey that gets sent into the world without one).

familyUmm, yeah. This is a little family, it seems. The littlest one is here to stay, the orangey one does fit rather well on the bookshelf, although is considering leaving home, and the two green ones will be going somewhere, when I’ve decided where. I started making the green ones some drawstring trousers, but there was a hiccup with the sewing machine, so I need to do a little maintenance work first. These are all cotton, where as the yellow one I made recently was wool. Gawd. I said a long time ago that this blog should probably change its name to ‘Occasional Monkey’, perhaps I was right.

Anyway. Yesterday I went to the Creative stitches and Hobbycrafts show at ExCel, in London, because I was lucky enough to be  given a free ticket. (Thank you, Mum!) My friend and I had fun – but it was nowhere near as good as the Alexandra Palace show, which I still think is the best of those kind of events. The stalls were all okay (not widly exciting) but I did enjoy the Royal Schools of Needlework display, which had examples of students’ sketches and works in progress. (My friend Jane took a lovely photo of the blackwork). I keep a sketchbook / notebook for work, but I’m starting to think I should work out a way to make one for fabric / thready things…

sketchThen I’d have somewhere to put the odd things like this which end up stuffed in various boxes around the house. This was me trying to work out a smaller version of a vintage pattern, and then switching to something else entirely (above).

oopsAnd this is me being an idiot and mis-reading a pattern. What do people *do* with things like this? Do any of you do scrapbooking, or have kids that would like less-than-perfect things to collage with? I dunno. Let me know. Anyway, I digress.

As well as the Royal School of Needlework display, there were some lovely quilts on show. I loved the rich colours on this one, which is actually evenly lit, but has a natural gradient in the fabrics, making it look like its moving from shadows to sunshine:

colourThere was also a display of smocks and smocking, which I think was from a collection owned by the WI. They were absolutely beautiful, my favourites being all one colour, natural linen. It was hard to get a photo as the weren’t well lit, but this is the kind of thing:

smockingSmocking is actually on my list of things to try. (It’s a long list, mind you). Oh – would you look at that, a nice tutorial! It was the work of this lady, who made me realise just how beautiful this kind of thing could be. Actually, looking at it now makes me want to chuck everything I’m working on out of the window, take a week off and learn how to do this *right now*.

We left the show, had lunch and then headed back to Somerset House for the the Walpole Crafted: Makers of the Exceptional 2013 show. (I say ‘headed back’ as we were only there a few weeks ago). This was a nice afternoon mooch – in the same space as the previous show we’d seen. Again there was some thought provoking work on display. I did love the colours on this Fair Isle Knitting, by Mati Ventrillon:

faire

fair_blueThere’s so much stuff to try, isn’t there. Gah! As always, so much to do and so little time.

There was one other thing that was a feature of yesterday – and today. Sunshine! We had some sunshine. Yesterday finished off with a lovely long walk in the sun, through central London and Green Park, and today a lovely walk in the country side – I spotted primroses, daffodils and even a few lambs. I thought I should make note of it here – at least then if we don’t get any more for a while I can look back and remember how nice it was.

Actually, despite the worrying title of this post, I’ve had a lovely weekend. I hope you have too.