tatting

Keeping busy

I can’t help but think people with hobbies are the lucky ones. People who can get absorbed in something they love for hours at a time, figuring out how something works, how to get something right, or just building up to a steady rhythm. Doesn’t matter what the hobby is, if you can do it in your own home and you have the equipment, you’re one of the lucky ones.

I took up crafting again as an adult for various reasons. But I kept it up for my mental health. In the past my partner travelled for work a lot, so I’d go for weekends, half a week, or a week or two without seeing people outside of work. Not talking to anyone from a Friday night to a Monday morning. Crafting, making things, helped give a rhythm or focus to what sometimes felt like a never-ending stretch of time.

And despite the fact that he stopped travelling a few years back (right around the time I started – although I too have now stopped) I’ve kept the crafting up, more or less. I like having a focus outside of work. I like starting things and finishing them. I still think the daily grind of an office job provides very little satisfaction when it comes to finishing things. Making stuff of your own helps with that.

Even if the things you’re making aren’t that useful… I haven’t tatted anything in ages, but I made this at the weekend:

tatting

I enjoyed it, although the mistakes are a bit annoying. I really love the rhythm of shuttle tatting. Such a nice motion. I got a bit obsessed with the brilliant tatters on instagram for a while – they’re all very good, and so much more talented than I am. But at the end of the day, this is a job for a lot of them. It’s not a job for me. There’s no harm in settling down in a cup of tea and following someone else’s pattern. What I want isn’t to be the best ever pattern designer, it’s just to feel the motion of the thread and the shuttle in my hands. I’m still amazed I can make something like this at all. And all just from a ball of thread and some knots! Amazing.

And there’s still knitting. This one still needs the rest of her outfit. She has a really sweet face that I’ve not managed to capture in this photo, but I’m really pleased with her actually. And I like her white ear.

spare_pair

While I was making her some trousers I made another pair too. I have other animals to make as gifts, so I thought I’d go into batch production mode.

messy

The kitchen table is a mess. That’s 4 pairs of arms, one body, one finished foot and one foot in progress on the needles. For some reason I thought making multiples of each body part would be a good idea. I’m not sure if it was or not. Jury’s out. I think I need to make 2 rabbits, but then I had the idea that I’d like to make a silver fawn. Felt like the grey and the white together would look nice. We’ll see.

I’m still looking for the perfect shawl pattern. I can’t believe how much I’m enjoying wearing the shawl I made. I’d still like it to be a faction bigger, but now it’s been worn a bit it’s loosening and softening up nicely. I like this cowl – it looks like a decent kind of length, but I’m not sure about colourwork in the round. I’m half tempted to just try it with some stash yarn for a few rows and see how annoying I find it. I like this patterned cowl too – literally that one, I think the colours are great. But again, I’m still not sure how up for that much colourwork I am… We’ll see.

What are you making? Whether you’re super productive or super unproductive I hope you’re finding a rhythm that suits you. Stay safe and well.

 

 

Fidgeting

I can’t think of a better word to describe my current crafting status. After a year of knitting lots of toys from Little Cotton Rabbits patterns, I’ve free fallen (is that a phrase?) into a few months of not being sure what to make next.

tatting_1

I decided I should sew some of the pieces of tatting I have lying around on to fabric – an example of which is shown above.The creases in the fabric are a rather desperate attempt to sew this on straight. Honestly, sewing really is not one of my main skills. (I think my main one is eating, to be frank.) This actually looks better in real life – it’s almost perfectly monochrome, which I really like.

tatting_2

This is wonkier. It’s ok – but I think I would be happier if it were a little more regular. One exciting thing though, I had to travel for work the other week and had a free Sunday in a foreign town. I took my jet-lagged self off for a long walk to a craft shop and bought myself some beading needles! The one in the photo is a regular needle, and it only fits through 40% of the beads. I have higher hopes for the beading needles!

tatting_3

This is actually a project I took on the plane for the trip. In the end I slept (badly) and only got 10 minutes to work on this in the hotel one morning. It’s finished (not in this photo) but I’ve not done anything with it yet. If you’re the tatting type, the overlapping rings were made alternately, (back ring / front ring / back ring etc). Previously I’ve made the back rings first and tatted the top rings second. It’s neater doing them alternately, but much tighter in the centre if you make the back rings first/ front rings second (is this making any sense?). It’s not a major revelation but… thought I’d share it anyway.

I’m in the middle of remaking this in red thread. It’s a fantastic colour and looks great on black, but my phone camera has no idea what to do with such intense colours. I’ll work out how to take a photo if it ends up looking ok when it’s finished.

blue

I did finish this chap’s trousers. He’d been waiting a long time as I made him when I was living in Athens! The jumper was made at new year. He’s quite nice, even if I do say so myself. Trying to work out where he should live.

experiment

This one was a bit of an experiment, combining bits from different patterns really. I want to make a small rabbit and felt it (just in the washing machine). I’ve not felted this as it was made from old stash yarn and I can’t completely remember what it’s made of. The head was made on DPNs and I *think* I made the body flat and stitched it. I say ‘think’ because the join is so good, I sort of can’t see it – and seriously, I don’t think I’m that good at mattress stitch. It possible pixies came in over night and sewed this one up for me.

small_bunny

A confession: I hate this orange cotton.
A fact: so does this grey rabbit.

I tried so hard to work out a jumper that might fit him, but I have no idea how jumpers really work. Eventually I managed to make this dress, and the grey rabbit absolutely refused to wear it. After all that effort, someone had to wear it, so the other one finally got some clothes.

But what next? Well, tatting, but that’s just small odds and ends at a time. The next project is going to be a human sized jumper. I don’t have high hopes actually but I will try. This one is top down (ages ago I tried something which was bottom up, and didn’t finish it). I’m hoping that being able to try it as I go might mean I can make something human-wearable. We shall see. I needed to buy a new length circular needle which I’m hoping might arrive in time for the weekend. If not… maybe another Little Cotton Rabbit?
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

 

 

Another catch up!

tatting_red

Sooooo… it’s been ages. I keep wanting to write something and then also wanting to spend my spare time as far away from the computer as possible. But I decided to bite the bullet – which also means on 23 Jan 2017 (which is my time zone, but clearly not WordPresses!), I get to wish anyone who is still out there a very happy new year!

This is a whirlwind tour of general stuff to get me back into the habit of posting again. Above is a little motif I made just before Christmas. I had some red thread already on a shuttle waiting to be used up. I didn’t like this thread originally (the pink really is pink) but it’s grown on me at last.

scandi_santa

This is a Scandinavian Santa (Ravelry link) that I made before Christmas. Actually, for me personally he’s harder than he looks! I’m not great at intarsia, but I really like him. I made a tiny alteration to the pattern in that I continued the top of his head as an icord and carried it over to make a hook. I like it. I did not like the one I made in red acrylic and ironed though. Especially not after he melted. Ahem.

roxy

After Christmas some friends and I went away for New Year. It’s become a tradition to get together, watch films, eat nice food and play board games for a few days. To get away from the world, relax and not worry about the horror that is new years eve and have to work out where on earth we’re supposed to go for the best time EVER. There’s a weird pressure for NYE and this takes it all away.

I think I really needed the break this year. I really relaxed and enjoyed every minute of it. I can’t say I didn’t check work emails, but I left the responses that were longer than a few lines until I got home.

cinema

The place we rented was amazing. It had its own private cinema! Above is a picture of the bar and above that the entrance to the cinema. It’s actually open to the public as a not-for-profit cinema at certain times of the year, but when it’s not in use, guests at the house can use it.

library

And this is a slight panoramic view of the library. It’s actually not original – all put in by the current owners, but it was such a lovely room. A proper mix of old and new books (which looked like they’d been bought to be read, not for show) and a comfy sofa and chairs. I snuck in there late at night for a bit of quiet time on my own and did a little knitting…

aran

Little being the operative word. I made this jumper (above) as I have one bunny that is still waiting to be clothed. (Ravelry link for the pattern.)

blue_bunny

And FINALLY this one has been gifted. I finished her late last year but only got to give her to her rightful owner last week. She’s a wedding gift to an old school friend. She got married last summer, with dyed blue hair, wearing a studded leather jacket and carrying a Lulu Guinness disco ball handbag. Admittedly her handbag was a little more sophisticated than the bunny’s but you can’t have everything. She has a little skull bead on the front go her dress as my friend’s engagement ring has a skull either side. She was very well received and I believe is happy in her new home! (Incase you don’t know the bunny pattern is Little Cotton Rabbits.)

cable

I received Norah Gaughan‘s Knitted Cable Sourcebook for Christmas (it’s really nice). This is my first attempt at a scarf using one of the cable patterns. As it happens, the cable was fine – it’s really not a hard repeat even though it looks a little complicated. I hate the edges though. Also this isn’t wool so I don’t think any sense can be blocked/knocked into it. It’s half frogged as I type. I’ll come up with a better plan for the edges, and do a basic panel either side, I think. Just needs 10 minutes of concentration to come up with a proper plan.

colours

I took this photo over new year, because I really like the colours. It’s one of the first times I’ve had a photo in the back of my mind when deciding what to do with my tatting:

beaded

I know – not the same but sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got! The photo inspired me to pick the black beads for the centre, and actually I think they work quite well… even if I do say so myself.

So there we are. All caught up… Ah, except for one thing. Remember my first Little Cotton Rabbit? The one I couldn’t quite part with? He’s finally found a new home. Gone to live with a little girl who needed a bit of friendly company. He’s been named. She’s called him Starlight 🙂

Happy new year. I think we’re all in for a bumpy ride, but we can get through it together, right?

Knitting and tatting roundup!

new dress

I am still in Athens and still knitting! Just not looking at my laptop that much at the weekends, hence the silence. I finally managed to make the new Greek elephant a lighter dress (on the left). It’s made in cotton, which I bought from a great yarn shop in Athens. I had a weekend to myself a while back, so packed up my elephants and took them on a walking adventure. The yarn shop was wonderful – but so was the owner, who took one look at the elephants and said ‘Little Cotton Rabbits!’ He’d actually spoken to Julie (the pattern creator) via Flickr quite a few years ago. I bought some cotton just to try out, and it’s very nice. I’m undecided as to whether or not this dress suits this elephant, but we shall see.

small rabbit

I also made this small rabbit. He’s actually made on DPNs, which always ends up being way more stressful than a hobby should be, I think—but I do really like him. He’s very solid. I’m thinking he needs some clothes, but not entirely sure where to start with that. Maybe I’ll scale down some clothes from the Little Cotton Rabbits bunny pattern? Not sure. Never having gotten around to making human clothes, I’m not 100% sure how these things work!

scale

Just for scale, here’s the small rabbit next to just the feet of a Little Cotton Rabbits rabbit (Which is still a WIP as a type).

THIS is just the head of a new bunny with a piebald patch, made with/by/via (?) intarsia. As you can see, I’m not great at it – so I think I’ll keep this as an experiment:

intarsia

It’s annoying actually, because it’s very cute really – but I’ve managed to make the body much neater than usual, so I don’t want it to have a messy head! I’m making these as gifts, so I’d like them to be as neat as possible. I’ve got two bodies with legs sitting next to me as a type. It’s a bit of a production line at the moment. Slightly worried that I’ll run out of stuffing soon, but I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

I’ve also been thinking about tatting a lot recently, as I’ve only been knitting. For a moment I did wonder if I was forgetting how to do it, so after getting back from a huge walk yesterday to / from Athens central market (via the wine shop) I relaxed on the sofa with some tatting thread:

tats

I was feeling too lazy to attach beads but might do that next time. This is my own pattern, so I’m glad it worked out. Could do with a bit of adjusting but I think it’s quite pretty. I’m not sure why, but I got into the habit of tatting all the bottom rings first and then the upper rings on top after. If you do them alternately as you go it’s much neater. Looking back at old photos, I think I’d changed my technique for the worse, for some reason? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ fixed now, hopefully! Will adjust it a bit and try it with beads next time.

And here’s a little story to finish. I ended up showing photos of some of the toys to my team at work. As I get a bit embarrassed about it (not everyone gets knitting!), I usually end up saying something kind of self deprecating. I said ‘I should probably make something useful – like a jumper or something!’. To which one of my team replied ‘NO! Why would you do that? You can just buy a jumper, you don’t need to make things like that. It sounds too stressful, you’ll get burnt out. You should use your time to make nice things that you enjoy, it doesn’t matter if they’re useful!’. And actually I do agree. It’s a hobby, right? It’s supposed to be fun, and you *should* be making whatever makes you happy. Pointless toys are less pointless when the point is enjoying yourself 😉

Hope wherever you are you’re enjoying what you’re making too.

Oh! And PS: I haven’t told anyone this (much like I’ve only told about 2 people that I have a blog) but I’ve got a crafty instagram account. If you have too, I’ll see you there: I’m occasionalcrafter
(
sorry about the duplicate photos!)

 

 

Bearly there

bear

I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last post. I was so productive, and then suddenly it all went to pot! Not entirely sure what’s been going on. This is just a quick catch up, really.

I finished off this little fellow a couple of weeks ago. He’s sitting in an egg cup (a gift for ‘me’ from by boyfriend… While I like it a lot, I can’t help thinking this was’t entirely selfless giving).

When I finished this I wasn’t 100% impressed. I didn’t knit him that well, and to be honest, his body ends up a tiny bit pointy at the top, which gives him a weird neck. I tried to get around that when I stitched his head on, but it’s not great. Also, I made the scarf way to long. NO idea how that happened, because it was SO tedious to knit.

But… but…

bear 2

Despite all that, he’s actually *really* cute. Not neat enough to give away, but I really like him. I keep picking him up to have a little look. Might knit another one, but neater this time. Here’s the pattern on Ravelry. (Sorry about the quality of late night iPhone photos.)

tatting in colour

These are some rating experiments I’ve also been doing. I treated myself to some new threads (always DMC size 80 – just different colours). The colours are lovely. I’m trying to work out using beads in different ways and also, folded rings. In the ecru example I managed rather excellently to put the beads on the bottom row of rings rather than the top! This means you can’t see them. At all. That’s what happens when you start something new on a train after a day’s work, while not quite thinking. I like the beads in the centre of the folded rings though, so will persevere…

Right now, in fact.

Hope you’re having / have had a good weekend.

 

Tatted sketches

beads

I’ve been working from home a lot recently, which has meant getting three hours of my day back. It turns out the commute from upstairs to downstairs is a lot quicker than the 3 hour round trip to the office. In the first few weeks I picked up a good habit, which I’ve swiftly lost — taking that time for myself. Starting the day with a cup of tea and some tatting instead of standing in the queue for a bus. Must try and pick that up again this week.

beads_2

I was working on a pattern for earrings. It’s still not right really — but trust me they look much nicer in real life! The grey thread makes the silver-lined beads look like water droplets; it’s a really pretty combination. That said, I had shuttles full of ecru thread so carried on experimenting with that.

beads_3

I’d really rather tat with size 80 thread, so I ended up adding lots of beads to see if that made the earring feel more substantial. It does make it a bit stronger, but I think more experimentation is needed. I do love the patterns of some of the bigger tatted earrings out there, but the finished size is just too big for me!

beads_4

This is what it looks like on – horrendously wonky, but I’m guessing changing the stitch count will help. I’d like to play around more with layered tatting too, as that will make it more sturdy. Trick at the moment is not to go up a thread size and see what I can do with what I’ve got.

We shall see.

Crochet, tatting, knitting, patchwork, secrets and lies

Little man

You know some weeks, nothing seems to work? I got so frustrated finishing this chap on Friday that I threw him in the bin. My boyfriend spotted him in there yesterday and took him out – then gave me a telling off for being mean.

He’s supposed to be a little mismatched, his ears and eyes are different, but really, his jumper was actually supposed to fit. I had to unpick half of the jumper when I realised I’d mis-counted due to a phone call. Then I realised that even after re-making, the dimensions were never going to work. The nice cuffs were going to be hidden as the sleeves need rolling up, and don’t even talk about the neck… (I’m so pleased I guessed it all correctly for the giraffe – looking back it’s a miracle!)

lil_chap2

In the end I stitched him into the jumper at the back, so it kind of fits, but it’s not ideal. I also made him some trousers – it’s not that easy making trousers, is it?! I just guessed the shape; imagine two pieces of fabric shaped a bit like an upside-down ‘V’. I ended up cutting them in half and re-sewing down the centre to get the right shape – but I think I might understand a little more about trouser construction than I did before!

lil_chap3

Actually after all that I really like him. In real life he looks like quite a gentle, bookish soul. It’s really the jumper that does it. Now I can actually knit I think every crocheted toy needs a jumper. Due to the slightly delicate clothing construction he’s definitely not for playing with, so I think he’ll live with me. I have a feeling he’ll be happy on a bookshelf though – I just need to be nice and apologise for throwing him away. (!)

Patchwork

Before I started fixing him yesterday, I got the sewing machine out and had a bit of a play. I’d already decided what I wanted to make, but I fancied playing with a few scraps first. These were all small pieces from my scrap bag, but I think they go nicely together. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet.

needlecase

This is not the most inspiring photo, but I decided to make a needlecase, loosely based on this tutorial. The tatting has been knocking around for ages… Eeek, since 2013 in fact! I thought it might be nice making something a bit less girly for a change.

inside

This is what it’s like inside – a little pocket front and back, perfect for the essentials (like a rabbit). Don’t look too closely at the binding. Ahem.

inside2

Just like the previous one, this is all made of scraps – which includes the dreadful, cheap, synthetic felt. So just like the previous one I stitched around the edge of the pages, but this time with darker thread on one side. (Yes, that rabbit is hiding a mismatched corner… thanks for asking).

prev

I love how different the new case feels when compared to the old one. And talking of the old one… I use it all the time.

You know what I’ve noticed? Everyone who makes a needle case and then photographs it does what I did up there ^. They show a perfect selection of pins or needles, perfectly aligned. Who keeps a needle case like that?! No one, surely? Certainly no one that ever uses their needles.

reality

 

This is what the old needlecase looks like now. Its all bent out of shape and a mess.

But I love it.

 

Stealing the sunshine

autumn tatting

I’ve got some time to myself today, so this is a speedy post. I’ve travelled a bit for work over the past few weeks (one train journey alone was 5.5hours) so I’ve had a bit of time to tat. I’ve been getting to grips with layered tatting (often called ANKARS, I think) and using the tiny beads I bought. This is made with coppery beads and one of my favourite variegated threads in size 80, bought from Yarnplayer. I love how autumnal these colours are. I must admit, it feels like work stole the summer, so I’m looking forward to autumn.

sunshine on tattingThis is a test tat. I found a Tina Frauberger vintage pattern and I’ve been trying to work out the stitch count. Basically the book is in German – and I didn’t have it with me on my travels, so I guessed what I could. It’s not bad. Having the image in front of me will help get it right though! The sun was starting to come out as I took this shot.

pink tatting in the sun

And the sun made it out for this one! Same pattern as the one above – also in size 80. Its interesting actually, the hand dyed thread is much more sturdy than this one, not sure why. I don’t know if it’s the same thread (DMC special dentelles) , and the dying makes it stiffer, or a different basic thread to begin with? Either way, I quite like the difference. I wish the regular undyed thread was a little stiffer.

Same motif tatted in different stitch counts

I decided to make the same motif in a different size. I have half a mind to tat another and then join them to make a necklace… except that I don’t wear pink, or necklaces. We shall see.

size of size 80 tatting thread

Here’s an idea of the size of the smaller one. I see a lot of tatted earrings about at the moment, and I know they’re done in thicker thread. I can only assume that they’re stiffer, but HUGE.

Anyway. On with the day! I’m off to try and make the most of it, for once 🙂

 

Making a (lacy, beady) mess

mess

My journey to work has changed in the last couple of months. These days I can’t guarantee a seat, and often I need to change trains. In the past I had an unbroken journey of at least 20 minutes within an hour-1.5 hour commute. This means no tatting time. I have missed it, mainly because I’ve watched myself become like everyone else… someone glued to their smartphone. I catch up on emails, reply to the ones I can, think about the ones I can’t, think about the work just passed and work out how the day will pan out tomorrow. To be honest, I don’t think it’s at all healthy. I think we could all use a break, but this is the future we have invented for ourselves. Always connected. Always able to think about work no matter where we are.

oops

Yesterday I had some time at home. I listened (somewhat ironically) to a BBC show, The Digital Human, while I worked on the tatting pattern I made a while back. I really love this blue with the yellow beads, and wanted to see how this would work out. Actually, I think the blue could be a little stronger, it’s very pale—and how did it work out? As I went to finish it today I spotted yesterday’s wrong join. Its not possible to save it, so it’s one for the chop. I’ll keep it for a few days and then cut it up I guess, to save the beads.

You know what? It’s no biggie. If there’s one thing about tatting with thin thread, it’s that you have to take the rough with the smooth.  I was definitely tatting this one for the process, not the product. I wanted to keep my hands busy and at the moment work is exhausting, so I didn’t have the brain power to work a sewing machine to complete anything more complicated.

simple

I had some thread to use up at the end of the shuttle so I tatted this. I love these tiny pieces. Just need to work out what to do with them…

more

I like them so much I made a couple more. Sometimes, small, simple and satisfying is what you need.

crown

I tried out a simple crown pattern too, still needs some work, and I may or may not work it out. We’ll see. I don’t need it for anything, just idle curiosity. I’m tempted to embellish them with embroidery maybe? Dunno.

So really, I have nothing much to show for a fair few hours tatting. This weekend it’s been all about the process and not the product. That said, I look at the mess in that photo, and I look at the sunny table full of thread, beads and lace where I was working and I think ‘that’s ok; its pretty, it’s my mess and it’s enough for now’. I’m pretty lucky.

And with that, I should go for a run. I’ve been putting it off  *all day*. (Although guys, cut me some slack, I did go yesterday 🙂 )

 

 

En garde!

Knitting with DPNs

Word is, there are actually people who *like* knitting with DPNs… that’s true, right? I didn’t make that up? All I can think is that it’s like your first taste of alcohol—you just can’t believe people get involved with this for pleasure. I am willing to believe that it could be possible, but right now it’s way more pain than pleasure. Give me the nice circular needles any day.

This is an iPhone sock, it’s me forcing myself to use DPNs but keeping it simple with a knit 2 / purl 2 rib. It’s also given me a wonderful chance to pick up dropped stitches with a crochet hook… Not exactly on purpose, but hey. Now I know it can be done. (And that knitting is just a weird collection of crocheted chains). I was going to say that if you never see this again, lets not mention it – but you know what? I should blog my terrible things too. Life isn’t perfect and it’s good to learn from your mistakes. Hopefully I’ll blog it good or bad.

crochet rose

This is a crocheted brooch I made for a friend. I like it actually. It’s a generic rose pattern, of which there are millions on the internet  – most of which are the same, but just start with a different number of chained stitches. The leaves are loosely based on those from Attic 24. I say loosely as I made this while watching The Shield (box set, we’ve just finished series 3), and I wasn’t really counting anything properly.

A while back I bought some brooch backs, but have yet to use them so this seemed like a good chance. Terrible photo and off centre stitching but…

brooch back

You can see that this is quite a nice back. It’s good and solid. It comes in two parts, one is a disc with holes in, to which you sew your fabric front and the other is what you can see here, which you attach to the first disc by folding little metal claws with pliers. I got the backs from eBay – must make more use of them.

tatting

I’ve had one long train journey this week, so I ended up making another of these—the beaded one. The other one I made just to see what it would be like with variegated thread. They are so nice to make I can’t stop. And they photograph so nicely!

tatting

Ahem. Anyway. Back to knitting and the gentle art of stabbing myself in the hand.