Tatting, biscuits and running

small tatted rings

I haven’t had a chance to tat for *ages*. I’m not sure what on earth is going on with the trains but since the new year they’ve been late and/or overcrowded, which means no seat—which in turn means no tatting. I can, and have, tatted standing up on the train before, but recently the journeys have been the kind when you’ve needed to hold on with all your might and all your limbs.

tatted close up

That said, I’ve gone back to an old tactic over the last week or so. If there are two trains heading for home in the evening, I take the second one. The extra wait occasionally means there’s a slight chance of a seat. All of this is almost a moot point though, as I’m in the middle of changing jobs, so who knows what my new journey will be like..! We shall see. Anyway, I did some tatting!

size and scale

The one above is a tester. Forgive my horrible hand, but I thought it would be useful to get a sense of scale. As much as I love closeup shots, you can’t tell how big they are at all. For the record, they’re pretty small. This is size 80 thread. They’re lovely and solid though. In all but the testers, the rings interlock, which makes them feel quite sturdy. The one directly above was when I was wondering how to fix the last ring. The answer? Not like that! It needs to be a self closing mock ring.

thread and shuttle

Something about them makes me think of sea urchin shells, not sure why. Not even sure what I’ll do with them yet, but they’re really nice to tat (mindless, until the last two rings which is just what I need at the moment.)

So that’s that.

tatted experiments

In other news, I sent a little package of older tatting experiments off in the post to a friend and his three children. I dropped him a quick email to ask if his children were still at the gluing and sticking stage, and he replied that they were. These odds and ends are nice, but not perfect — just experiments with different threads, things that are almost ok but not quite… you know the kind of thing. Feels awful to throw them away, but you can’t think what to do with them. I think they’ll be great for collaging or scrapbooking or something, so off they went. He received them yesterday and seemed very happy, so that’s all good.

biscuits

Now, if you can work out what these are I will be AMAZED. Any ideas? No? Well, they’re biscuits baked in the shape of Nürburgring, which is, broadly speaking a race circuit in Germany. My boyfriend bought ‘me’ a cookie cutter in the shape of the track when he went on a visit for work. He finds it hilarious to buy me domestic gifts because, well, I’m just not that domesticated.

I do not bake — seriously, I am not a baker. I am however an eater. These are the first cookies/biscuits I have ever made, and they are delicious. The simplest recipe ever — but if I can help it I’ll never bake again. The main reasons for this being:
1) I know how much butter is in them
2) there would’ve been more had I not eaten a stack of the dough in the process (don’t panic, there are more than shown in the photo!)
3) see point 2

I have a lot of hobbies. I make all kind of things. A hobby that produces surplus sweet food seems like madness to me, I’ll end up the size of a house! (These were biscuits for his birthday.)

ON THE OTHER HAND, I went for an 8k run on Friday and a 7k one on saturday. Last year I completed my first, second and third 10k races. It was hard work, a lot of fun, and really good to have something away from work to strive for. I don’t think I’ve ever felt quite the sense of achievement as when I ran my first 10k. It was, frankly, amazing, and possibly the highlight of my year. This year it’s been harder to get out there. I was ill for a few weeks, I was injured for a few weeks, then I was ‘too busy’. A chance reading of this point from Night’s Watch made me buck my ideas up though. She’s running in ice and snow, and yet I can’t run in a slight chilly wind? Sheesh! So. I’m back on that again. I’m running super-slowly just to get out there and enjoy it at the moment. I’ll worry about speed in a month or so.

So that’s me up to date. (There was knitting but I frogged it. Hopefully next time).

Hope you’re well. Thanks for stopping by!

 

2013; tatting, sewing, travel and monkeys

tatting with beads
Well, hello! Happy new year to you and yours!

If you’re a WordPress user you’ll’ve received an end-of-year review of your blog. I was shocked to see that I’d only posted 19 times last year! I thought surely I’ve been busier than that? I’ve never done my own end-of-year post before, but as it’s nice and warm inside and horrible out there I thought today might be the time to start, so here goes. A quick look at what I actually did do last year…

Tatting
As you can see above, this was the year of the bead! I found a hook small enough to work with seed beads and size 80 threads, and there’s been no stopping me! I also finally worked out how to get the beads to pop above the chain rather than in them. It seems once I’d started, I couldn’t stop.

r_self
I also decided to try and work on my own patterns this year. Admittedly I only ever got to do this on the work commute, and refused to use a pen to plan things out first, so I only got this far, but I had fun anyway! I finished an edging pattern, which I made available here – and I even spotted someone using it. I do plan to continue working on my own designs this year, so we’ll see how that goes.

Trips abroad
This was another year where living in Europe brings huge benefits! Nice places to visit and nothing to far away. I was lucky enough to visit (clockwise from top left):

Barcelona –  A lovely, relaxed trip with old work colleagues who have become friends. A visit to the Sagrada Familia was a real treat; it’s the first time I’ve been back since the new windows and roof were finished. The colours and shapes are really breathtaking.

Skelleftea, Sweden, for work. This was a beautiful place, and the first time I’ve experienced 24 hour daylight! I was made so incredibly welcome too, met some really interesting people and had some great food.

r_travel
Venice – one of my best friends lives in a town just outside Venice, and so I spent a week with him. A great week of hanging out, visiting the Biennale, and enjoying/melting in the boiling sunshine.

France – my partner’s family live here, and so we visited his family for Christmas. The photo is taken in Villebois-Lavalette. I love this chateau – it looks a little bit like one you might draw for a children’s book.

Monkeys
Yes indeed, where would we be without crocheted monkeys? They continue to be my go-to gift, although I have a feeling I might’ve made everyone I know a monkey soon! I actually made 5 in total, I think – there’s a twin for the one on the top right. I also made two bears.

r_monkeys

Sewing
The reason I started using a sewing machine originally was to try and make use of my tatting. My obsession with lavender bags didn’t abate in 2013 as you can see! I’m still not sure there’s a straight edged one among them.

I also tried my hand at embellishing with embroidery, which on reflection, I like a lot. I used the piece on the top right for a bag.

r_sew

And finally, I managed to shorten a very light pair of curtains, and finish my second quilt. Phew!

Maybe 2013 was busier than 19 posts suggests? If you stuck it out this far, thank you for indulging me. And now, I *think* it’s stopped raining for 5 minutes. I’m going to rush out for a short, damp run, while I can. When I get back, I still have a friends baby blanket to finish.

RUN!

Speedy tatted snowflakes

tatted ring

I know everyone says this every single year, but really… Where does December go? It’s there one minute and a minute later it’s the last Christmas post and too late to make anything! Every year I plan to make snowflakes to send and it’s always stressful as I leave it so late. I did manage to send out three – which I didn’t have time to photograph (two were Jon Yusoff‘s patterns). The extra one above I finished this morning.

I think I said this last year; that I would make a surplus of snowflakes over Christmas and save them to send *next* year. I might actually do that. We shall see. That said, I’m still trying to knit that baby blanket. It’s grown a little bit since I last posted, but not really enough to write home about. It’s going to be my Christmas/New year project — I should be able to work on it and chat at the same time. I hope so anyway.

So this is just a speedy post as I wont get a chance to post again before Christmas. I just wanted to say a quick thank you for the lovely comments and likes of the last year – it’s so nice to know people are out there! Thank you for your encouragement.

Hope whatever your religion you get a chance to rest and relax a bit, and if rest isn’t on the cards, then I hope you get to enjoy some family time (which I think we all know is rarely restful!) Happy holidays.

 

 

 

A quick tatting catch up

red snowflakeHello! It’s been ages since I last posted, but not for the lack of activity, mostly for the lack of light to take photos with. I’m supposed to be working on a presentation right now, so of course seeing a little bit of sunshine pop out makes this an excellent procrastination moment.

Above is my first snowflake of the year, using up that slightly odd variegated thread. This is one of Jon’s patterns, from her snowflake book – apologies, I can’t seem to find a direct link to it on her site, but her patterns are all well written and beautifully put together. You’ll see that now I’ve got a bit more experience with beads they’re on everything!

port isaac

In the time since I last posted, I did manage to have a few days away. We went to Port Isaac in Cornall, which was lovely. Above was the view from our bedroom window. Fans of British TV might find it familiar; the building on the left is the school in Doc Martin, and loads of the show is filmed around here.  That said, we appreciated it more for its general loveliness as a village than a TV set, having never seen the show…

I’ve been working on a few different things – a quilt, which I’ll talk about in another post, a knitted baby blanket (beyond frustrating, and it’s not even a difficult pattern), and some more tatted motifs.

pinkThis is the correct version of the motif in the previous post. I stitched on the beads here, rather than add them to the tatting as I went along…

greenIt’s amazing how different the same motif looks in different colours, I think. The dark outline isn’t ideal – I think it relies on very strict blocking to make it work (something I haven’t done!)

This version below is tatted with beads – can I get a good photo of it? Nope. But the red beads really glow in real life – you’ll have to trust me on that:

black

I wrote down the pattern as I made this, and then realised of course, I’d made two versions on the pattern. This one is not the same as the ones above. Not sure which I prefer really, and so I’m not really ready to share the pattern yet. Thank you for the offers of help with this though, very kind.

triThis version just has three repeats of the main motif. I’d like to say it was on purpose – it wasn’t, but it was an interesting exercise! I love these beads with this thread, incidentally. They were bought separately but go so well together. I bought them in a random craft shop, but they’re made by Mill Hill, and are ‘seed petite beads‘. They’re pretty small, but amazingly I can still get that tiny crochet hook through most of them.

This is the three motifs together. I love how ‘goth’ the black one is.

three motifs
These are all tatted in size 80 thread. I tried holding the black one up as a pendent to see what it would look like – and it’s huge! Seeing as most tatted jewellery tends to be in much thicker thread, its made me wonder if all tatted jewellery is gigantic?

In other news, I also managed to shorten some curtains on my tiny sewing machine (it’s a bit like this). I’d been putting it off forever, but actually it was no where near as bad as I thought it would be. No major incidents, everyone still has their limbs and digits attached.

curtainsHope everything’s good with you guys. Next time: the quilt. (I hope).

 

 

Hooked on beads

Lavender bag pink

After tatting a million versions of my own pattern, I sat down to make this a few weeks ago, missed off  a ring and ended up with a more open wreath shape than I was expecting. I stuck with it though, and I think it’s fine (not perfect, but fine). I added the beads to this as I stitched it, which in some instances, I think I prefer…

White lavender bagThis is my own pattern tatted correctly this time – you can see how much tighter it is, and again I added the beads as I stitched it. This is tatted in size 80.

mini cushionBoth of these are made with envelope backs, and both have a little strip of fabric across the opening, which I quite like. I think I like this method for lavender bags actually, but it does take a bit more time – and you have to make a little cushion of the lavender to go inside. I was really tired when I sewed these together though and managed to completely confuse myself. I made such a nice neat hem for the inside piece (the one under the coloured one), so tiny – and then stitched it on back to front so the hem is inside and the rough edge faces outside! You win some you lose some.

bagsI think they look fine though.  I worked on the pattern so much there’s actually another two to come in different colours! I just need to stitch them first.

flowers

I’d always thought that certain methods of using beads wouldn’t be possible as I like to use size 80 thread, and the beads that work best with it are tiny. Certain methods — like you can see in the picture here — require you to pull a loop of thread up through a seed bead, with a hook. How on earth do you find a hook small enough to go through a seed beed? The answer? By accident.

hook(Excuse my gluey finger – I’d previously been doing some DIY). I bought this hook from Jane Eborall. To be honest, when I bought it I don’t think I’d really grasped *quite* how small it was. If you try and look at it when it’s in your hand — really look at it — you go cross eyed! It’s absolutely weeny. It’s so tiny that when it arrived I wasn’t that  sure I’d use it, which is a massive shame, as I really like it. As a day to day hook it can split the thread, but I was thinking about beads recently and suddenly it hit me! I HAVE A HOOK THAT MIGHT WORK! And lo and behold, it is *perfect*. So, thank you Jane – thank you for emailing me when they arrived in your shop, and thank you for knowing what I needed better than I did!

Now I just need to work on some patterns with beads – but I feel like a whole new world has opened up! There is of course a downside — tiny tiny beads don’t mix that well with bumpy train rides, which is where I tat the most. But I’ll work on that.

Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instatatting

Train Sketch

Well – as you can probably see, that is not a photo of a quilt in progress –  nor a small crochet bear. It *is* an instagram snap of some tatting, taken on the train. I was sketching a new design, but I’m not sure it’s working. The green and white bit to the left of centre reminds me of snowdrops so that would be the best way to take it perhaps. We’ll see.

I’ve been working on a new quilt today, and so when the light was best for photographs, I was busy at the machine. Now I feel like telling you more about the quilt and the small crochet bear I’ve also made but it’s too dark for photos with my grumpy camera! Apologies.

bracelet

Again another Instagram shot. I made this yesterday from a Japanese pattern. I added the beads just to test something out – which worked. I’ve got a longer post to come about beads, but it needs more photos to explain, so… next time.

In other news, I ran my second 10k, and it was fine! I didn’t want to drop dead at the end of it, and I’m probably doing another one in November. It’s also the Knitting and Stitching Show next weekend, and I’m going with a friend, and looking forward to it immensely.

See you soon, I hope, with better photos 🙂

 

Doodling tatting patterns

pre blocking

There’s something about pre-blocked tatting that I really like. The slight shape to things makes it feel a little bit more alive… Maybe more like leaves or something you’d find in nature…

Hello! It’s been a while, and I’m not sure why. I think I’ve not had a chance to finish anything for ages and so I’ve not felt like I’ve had a lot to write about. That said, I ran my first 10k a few weeks ago, and I’m due to do another one soon – so I have finished *something* at least!

pink

I’m still working on my own tatting designs, and I’m enjoying it actually. I used to think it was more meditative working on other people’s patterns – something you don’t need to think too much about but you know will all work out, but recently I’ve been enjoying working on my own things; more like physical doodles. I can’t ever seem to get enthusiastic about drawing out tatting ideas before I start, and so I’ve really just been doodling in thread and developing the theme from the edging I made a few posts back. I found the pink (in my head I call it ‘ballet slipper pink’) thread above knocking about in my tatting box. It’s such a beautiful, delicate pink I can only think that my mum must’ve given it to me – I can’t think it would be something I’d buy – but I love it with the white.

alternate versionsHere’s some other versions of the same pattern. That yellow is a variegated thread – the one I’ve used and really liked before. (These are all tatted in size 80 DMC).

The one on the left here (below) was made by accident – a post bacon-sandwich induced haze I think. I missed off a ring on the first main flower so had to adapt the pattern as I went along…

oopsIt worked out ok I guess. There’s one other variation of this pattern too – more rectangular:

rectangleI just need some spare time to turn these in to finished pieces – I have a few ideas, but so many other things that need to be done first! Talking of which, I need to go for a run right now, come back and do some day-job work, so I’d better get gone.

See you soon, I hope.

 

Bags, packages and baggages

bag

Hello! How are you? Hope you’re ok and not too hot. If you’re not in the UK, it’s actually sunny here at the moment and it’s not really something we’re used to – or mentally equipped to deal with (!). Rain is forecast though, and so I’m sure normal service will be resumed shortly.

I made a bag, as you can see. I kept looking at the tatting plonked on top of that red fabric shoved in a box and I decided I should do something with it.

tatting

I started with just the border, then decided I actually really did need a drawstring bag to keep some stuff in, so  took the plunge and made the whole front piece – to match the size of a drawstring carrier bag I was using from Gap. Then I thought I should have some fun and I patchworked a section for the back too, and quilted them.

patchwork

It’s so cosy with the quilting I wish I could get *in* it. I must admit, I really did enjoy making this. It was something I wanted, with fabrics I liked – and as I was making it up as I went along it was really low stress. I usually enjoy all the crafts  I do (otherwise, why do them?) but often I’m learning something or testing something out. With this, I just made it for the hell of it and planned it as I went along. As a final touch I added interfacing to the fabric at the top to make it a bit stronger, and the cord is reused from an old in-flight bag, from Virgin airlines. I think I could do with an even bigger bag now, and so I’ll make another one when I get a chance. It was nice to be able to use that tatting too, I’ve had it for ages now and this feels like a good use for it.

I must admit, I was a bit fed up when I wrote the previous post. I think I needed a holiday, which is lucky, as I’ve just had one 🙂 One of my closest friends happens to double up as one of my most distant friends, and lives just outside Venice. I flew over last Saturday, and got back on Friday. We had a lovely time, chatting, watching a STACK of TV, eating ice cream, deconstructing our lives, finding no answers and drinking spritz. We also went to the Venice Biennale and saw some art. Well, a lot of art actually. And Venice itself is of course, beautiful. If you think it’s hot in the UK, boy is it hot there.

crane

It was also my birthday on Friday, and I arrived home to a brilliant and thoughtful package of crafty stuff from another good friend – this one a bit closer. Umm, I have an admission to make. I really like cranes and huge building sites. There’s something about them that just looks so alien – I think they’re fascinating. Often I walk through the city (of London) on the way home from work and snap some of the buildings-in-progress. The one above ‘The Cheese Grater‘ being a particular favourite. Why am I telling you this?

crane fabric

Because my friend bought me this fabric, which I think is hilarious! It really made me smile. I’m not sure yet what I’ll use it for, but something good! She also bought me some really lovely striped squares from deckchairstripes.com, a great looking book on bag making, some notecards featuring sloths (another favourite) and THIS:

measure

A beautiful bag she’s made (with seams far straighter than mine 😉 ) and a stitch counter, like the one I was admiring way back in March! I opened this part of the present thinking how nice it was that we’d made eachother bags, and nearly fell off my seat to find this inside. I’m really very lucky – not just for the gift, but to have a friend that would go so far as to notice I’d even liked this in the first place and to track it down. I still can’t believe it.

And finally, the Little Blue Monkey went off to his new home the other week, complete with a nice red hat, and giant pom-pom, and was very well received. All is right with the world.

hat

 

 

My first tatting pattern…

Yellow and white tatting

Well, the good news is, I’ve got back to tatting on the train again. The bad news is that I decided to finish something off at home earlier and I messed it up! I was listening to a podcast and must’ve stopped concentrating; made and closed the wrong ring — and in thread size 80 I’m not sure I can face battling it open again. I’ll work out what to do with it later. There it is though, and despite me being an idiot, it does photograph well.

Variegated thread

The yellow is a variegated thread, which in this instance, I really like. I only bought it as Roseground where I buy my ecru thread didn’t seem to have a solid yellow in DMC 80 at the time, and it seemed silly to pay postage on just one ball of thread! But you know how that goes…

Red Variegated

I ended up buying some red too, and it’s horrible! I guess if you only use the red and don’t combine it with anything it could be ok, but yeuck. This was just a tatting test to work out a pattern, but it’s so hideous I can’t bring myself to finish it. If there’s anyone in the UK who really loves red/pink variegated thread and will do something much nicer than this with it, shout, and it’s yours 🙂 (And i wont judge you – I’ve probably just chosen to use it badly).

I had a little play with some other colours and shapes too:

Blue green

The pattern didn’t work out on this one but I like the colours. I was using up the ends of two shuttles…

tatted daisy

I had a play around with something more daisy-like too. I really love that yolk-yellow. Not sold on the pattern yet, but might go back to it another time.

Anyway. The outcome of all of this, is that I think I’m done with that pattern. So if you fancied making it too, it works in one or two colours and comes out like this (it’s not stitched on, in this shot):

curtain edging tattingHere’s the pattern – let me know if you try it – and if you spot any mistakes!

free tatting pattern

Phew!

phew

Not quite straight to the point

Waiting

Hello! It’s been a funny few weeks here. I’ve been preparing for a work trip to Sweden, which has been eating up both time and headspace, and so lots of crafty things have been sitting about waiting. Bits of tatting to house, things to finish off – AND a new sewing machine.

A friend and I kind of both talked each other in to buying our first electric machines. To be honest, she bought hers first, and then we found they were reduced to £35 (if you’re not from the UK, that’s insanely cheap) and so I bought one too. What kind of machine do you get for £35? A bright purple one! Hilarious. That said, we did a bit of research first, and the word on the street is that it’s made by Janome, who seem to know what they’re doing. Also it’s guaranteed for a year, so you can’t really say fairer than that. It’s tiny, really light, a lot like a toy, but has 10 stitches and seems to be doing the job quite well. Can I make it go in a straight line? Well… maybe three times out of ten, but I’m hopeful 🙂 If you know someone who wants to have a go with a sewing machine, I would recommend it.

Group

Remember all those attempts at tatting with beads? I thought I should try and do something with them. I also have last year’s lavender to use up – although it still smells as strong as ever. So I made these lavender bags. Some are neater than others it has to be said.

New fabric

I’ve tried out some new linen and cotton blend fabric, and it looks rather smart in grey. Of course now I’ve finished them all I’ve found that I had the perfect coloured cotton for it hidden upstairs, but it’s not too bad. I hand finished this one – still trying to work out the best plan for that.

back testing

The one on the right has a new-style foldover back — and idea I pinched off aforementioned friend. I added a strip of coloured fabric just for the hell of it – it’s really wonky, but I like the general idea! There’s a little removable cotton bag inside, so it’s like a cushion & cushion cover. I like it actually. It’s possible I might one day end up with a lavender bag that isn’t wonky, at which point I wont feel so bad about giving them to people.

found

I found this piece of tatting knocking about too, which  think I’ll make into another tester bag. See if I can get my lines right! (It’s not sewn on in that shot.)

Aside from that, I have also been working on my general tatted sketches. Actually now I’ve gone to the other extreme. Before I was worried that I wouldn’t make any finished ‘things’, I liked the idea of getting stuff done. Now I’m kind of worried I’ll never get anything finished again…I’m quite enjoying myself.

sketches

I’ll sort through this lot and show you some work in progress next time. Hope you’re all doing ok out there. I’ve missed you.