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 🙂 )

 

 

Been and gone!

bunny

I finished this little lady yesterday afternoon, and by midnight (or thereabouts) she was comfortably established in her new home. This is actually the third one I’ve made, but the first one that is fit for public viewing! They’re very fiddly to put together and I’ve never managed to get the others as neat as this, but I tried extra extra hard as she’s a mother’s day gift. I must admit, I was super happy with the way she turned out. Its the ‘Tiny Knitted Toys‘ pattern, from the brilliant Little Cotton Rabbits.

bunny_2

I know it looks a bit odd, but I do love this shot. A little work in progress…

bunny_3

The rabbit is knitted in some spare white cotton I had knocking about. I *think* it’s the cotton I had from the baby blanket all that time ago. Its actually a bit stiff, I think something more wooly could be easier to knit at that size.

bunny_5

The dress pattern is lovely. It’s actually got armholes and does up at the back with a tiny button. This was made with what I think is some red Rowan Cotton Glace. It has a tiny sheen to it – very good for small decorative things, and is a lovely deep colour.

I must admit, I think crochet is potentially neater for toys. Crochet feels made for creating three dimensional objects, and knitting seems to struggle a bit with that – but to be fair, this is a tiny toy. While I took a lot of care sewing this together, it’s never going to be as neat as a larger crochet toy, and so the dress does help with that a bit – covers up the mattress stitch at the back etc. That said, I feel like making another one. Right now.

hmm.

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!

 

Quilt Two: done!

QuiltSo, I’ve finished my quilt at last! It was so close to being finished last Sunday night. I had about 20 cm of hand binding to finish, but needed to reload the needle, and it was just too late in the evening. I finally managed to get the time today.

There are some spectacularly wonky lines on it, which I’ll try and avoid showing you, but despite that I actually really like it. Don’t get me wrong, it really does have issues with wonky quilting, but I know for a fact that I just couldn’t’ve done it any better on the little machine I was using. And more to the point, I really enjoyed making this, which is the point of it all… right?

quilt close upThe colours are very different to the previous one — that was all browns and more natural colours. I’ve used up some of the brown from that one on this too, but mixed it with turquoise, pink and grey. I actually had most of this fabric knocking around the house — except for the dark outer border, which I bought after a rather stressful search at the knitting and stitching show. Who would think it would be THAT hard to buy dark grey fabric with a subtle pattern? Sheesh! You’d think I was looking for the still-glowing feathers of a flaming firebird! (I’ve been reading Russian fairytales recently). Thankfully my shopping buddy spotted it right at the end of the day and solved all my problems.

quilt distanceWhen I planned this out, it was more evenly tonally spaced, but every time I packed up sections after a session, I packed it differently, so every time I had to lay it all out again from scratch! (I know, I know. Can’t be organised *all* the time.) It was patched together using the 9 patch block umm… plan. So three rows of three and then stitched up from there. I like this as a technique – and there’s a million tutorials on YouTube for it.

back

This is a rather terrible shot of the back — but you get the general idea. I was doing everything I could do use up what I had. I’m not 100% sure the blue-grey goes with it, but quilts are supposed to be a *bit* mix and match… aren’t they?

bindingThis is the ladder stitch I used to hand bind the back. I came across this tutorial, which is so simple, obvious and great. Previously I’d just used whip stitch or ‘tiny stitches’ as some tutorials say, but this is so much better! Seriously, you can hardly see the stitches. I’m not sure what it is, but binding is my favourite thing about the look of quilts. (Not the making of). There’s something about a quilt’s binding that just makes it look extra cosy:

binding 2

This is both quilts together – I use the pinwheel quilt a lot in the evenings when it’s a bit chilly. Slightly worried that my boyfriend has started calling the new one ‘his’. I did say I’d make him one – not sure this is it though…

bothNow – the reason I made this quilt in squares is because I bought this at the quilting show earlier this year, with some birthday money from my Mum:

fringe maker

Sorry – terrible photo, the light’s been all over the place today. It’s a fringe maker, and I got mine from the quilting show, but it looks like you can get them on Amazon too. Oh my god – if you’re anything like me and can’t measure things or hate measuring things—or if by the time you’ve cut it it’s nothing like the piece you actually measured, this is AMAZING. It’s got a slit for your rotary cutter every 1/2 inch. Just line up the edges with the edge of your fabric and away you go. I love it. (They’re not paying me to say this, but I wish they would.) It made chopping up the squares for the quilt super-easy. So there you have it. Get one.

Other things learnt while making the quilt:
• Quilting straight lines is harder than quilting wiggly ones. I reckon people quilt wiggles as a get-out-of-jail-free card 😉
• If you’re rubbish at quilting, all-colour quilts make life harder. The pinwheel quilt looks neater in real life, because I quilted in cream, on the cream sides of the pinwheels. This time, there was no colour thread that was ideal as it had to cross both light and dark colours. This means that when your lines are wonky, they’re more noticeable.
• Use ladder stitch for binding.

blanketNow I need to get back to knitting a baby blanket. This has been a real pain. The cotton is really splitty, and… I dunno. It’s just been misbehaving. Trust me.

Also, like a lot of tatters at this time of the year, I’m furiously tatting christmas snowflakes! Panic!

See you soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not everyone loves tatting…

Treeson
It looks like someone has been playing around with my tatting. He does look rather happy about it though, basking in the sunshine. This little fella is called Treeson. He’s been sitting on the shelf for ages and begged to be included in the photos at the last minute. What I think he really wanted was to be dusted. Ahem.

Moving swiftly on, this little lady is clearly horrified with the very idea of tatting. Either that or she just hadn’t realised beads were a *thing*.

unimpressed

But a *thing* they are. I think the ones she finds so horrific are my favourites actually. They look really glassy – they’re really pretty. I like them with the ecru thread too, even if they are a tad large.

glassy

When I bought those it was on a whim — I was actually looking for tiny pearls (well, fake pearls). I was at the Creative stitches and Hobbycrafts show at ExCel. It was packed though, and I couldn’t really find what I was after. I bought these, which I’m in two minds about:

white

They’re a bit hard to photograph. I like the subtlety but these are clearly tiny pieces of tube, so they’re not rounded at the edges, if that makes sense – and I think they’d be nicer if they were. I think this will actually look nice sewn on to linen (was just going to make a bunch more lavender bags or something). It’ll be subtle, but pretty  – not quite as girly/pretty if you see what I mean. A bit more understated. We shall see.

Here’s a not very pretty shot of some green Japanese beads…

green

Same pattern – I used these beads on a bag I made for my mum – and they’re actually tiny (the thread is size 80, so quite thin – close up photos are a bit misleading). For the bag, they’re actually sewn on, rather than tatted in. You can just about see here though, how nice they are compared to the white ones – they’re rounded at the edges. I think on the whole, they’re too subtle on the green thread – too good a match actually, for things bought independently. Lovely beads though. Might try them tatted in to the ecru. (Apologies, I have no idea where on earth I got them from.)

So yes. Been a busy few weeks tatting on the train, which I’ve really enjoyed. There’s something great about having a pattern committed to memory so you can relax your brain to and from work – while being productive at the same time. I’m a strong advocate of repetitive craft as meditation, I think. Keeps the stressy part of your brain busy, and leaves the other part free to concentrate on the bigger things.

Now, if i could just get this one to calm down…

stay calm

Have a good weekend – and if you’re in the UK, a good bank holiday!