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.

 

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.

 

Sketching out a tatting pattern

blue_1

Tatting is a funny one. Really, I should be designing my own patterns by now. I am a designer, after all – and one that happens to love repeat patterns too. That said, I often think tatting for me is like smoking for other people. I need a quick fix, there and then. Something to calm me down, occupy my brain, keep my fingers quiet.

There’s also the fact that I like to see a finished ‘thing’ at the end of it. Something I can look at and see as complete – maybe use it, maybe not, but know that I’ve started and finished something. Like a lot of people who work with computers, the work I do in my day job may change. Things aren’t ever completely ‘finished’ with the work that I do. Or at least rarely. Things gets signed off—but before you’ve had time to acknowledge it, it’s on to the text thing.

Which means that I like tatting other people’s patterns. You can choose one you like, learn it, know that it’ll look good at the end. That someone has worked out the stitch count, fixed all the niggles. A quick win. No stress. Ok – some might be trickier than others, but on the whole you’ll probably end up with something passable.

white sketch

After making the beaded wreaths (I made five in total!) I had spare thread on my shuttles. This time I forced myself to try something out.  To be honest, the main reason was that I’d seen some beautiful forget-me-nots at Chartwell and I love their tiny bright yellow middles with the blue petals (not grand flowers, but I really like them). I also keep thinking of simple daisies.  And sunshine.

As the beaded wreaths were flower based, I was wondering if I could make something that would have a yellow centre (in theory) and a blue outside. So above is my sketch. I actually don’t have any yellow thread. I should have an order going out in the post on monday!

It’s not the most original design, I do know that. (The central ring with smaller rings is relatively well established). But I worked on the stitch count – decided to make it less leafy and to keep it simple this time around.

edging

edging 4

When I loaded up these shuttles I’d sort of promised that I’d keep evolving the pattern, but the addictive part of my brain kicked in and so I carried on from where I was and stuck with that as a pattern. I’ve not worked on an edging pattern before and it feels oddly different. Its a tiny bit clumsy as it gets longer, but quite satisfying too. You can very easily see the progress you’ve made.

edging 2

This is size 80 DMC thread, so it’s quite like a length of lace. Very flimsy – would make a pretty bracelet but it’s just not really thick enough. I like that it can stand up on it’s own though. Made for some nice photos while I was avoiding work…

edging 3

 

Talking of which… I’d better get on with it :-/

Hope you’re having nice weekends!

 

 

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!

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.

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.

Speed-tatted wreath

wreath

 

One of the things I like about crafty stuff is the seasonal rhythm. It seems to happen more in Autumn and winter with tatters perhaps, but I love that around september tatters often switch to autumnal colours, and tat leaves and pumpkins and other things. In the winter of course everyone switches to snowflakes, because if there’s one thing tatting seems to be made for it’s snowflakes.

I’m not sure what’s happened this year, but time has run away with me completely! I’ve either not had a seat on my commute or  it’s been really squished, or my hands have been too cold. I’ve been working late for the last month or so too, and so maybe I’ve just not had the right bit of my brain available by the time I get to the train. Anyway. No snowflakes. I also realised that I’ve not posted a single card as yet, and there’s one friend of my Mum’s to whom I usually send a snowflake. This year I thought I would finally get around to tatting this in green with beads and send this instead. It’s unblocked in this photo – I must admit I do like the organic shape of it like this. You can’t see how lovely and glowly the beads are in this photo, but they’re a really nice ruby red.

It’s tatted in size 80 dmc, and so there’s not stacks of beads. I know other people make this pattern with beads at every join, but it’s too hard to get a needle / double thread in a bead like this to attach beads to a joining picot. (I know if you don’t tat, that makes no sense, but just incase you do, that’s what’s going on).

Anyway. Just the one photo, as I need to get this blocked and try and see if I have any Xmas cards in the house at all. (It’s generally a blessing that I work away from shops, but occasionally a curse).

Happy Sunday! If you’re Christmas Crafting, hope it’s going well.

Race against the dark

photoshopped photo

It’s almost dark, so I had to race to take these photos – and I must admit, I’m not quite ready! That one above is a massive cheat in Photoshop, but hey, it looks pretty at least! It’s a little piece of test tatting I’ve squeezed in this week on the occasions when I’ve managed to get a seat on the train. Not sure what’s up these days, but seats are becoming a bit less frequent.

super nice

Look at these! A huge treat and such a kind donation from  lovely Katy at Creating Misericordia. They arrived in the post last week, so I got home at the end of a very long day at work to find them waiting for me. Instant smiles! I’m not 100% sure what sizes they translate to, but I’d say perhaps maybe 50? They’re not as thin as 80, but not as thick as 40, so I think something like 50 or 60. Anyway, super nice, and I love the more beige-y colours with the ecru…

realistic

This is a bit more of a realistic shot – I quite like the very subtle mix of the two colours together. This is a doodly pattern, but so enjoyable to do. I’ve started adding picots to every flower petal, which makes it more flexible to make up a pattern as you go along. Without them you get to the point where you quite fancy adding a join but have nothing to join to. As always, I could actually *plan* this, but… where’s the fun in that?! Hmm. I think  I might actually plan the next one… perhaps. Thank you so much Katy, a donation very much appreciated 🙂

autumnAll the hard work on this is done – had it not been about to get dark, there’d be a shot of it finished. I just need to stuff it and sew up the side. It would also benefit from an iron too. For this one, I stitched three sized of the square and then sewed on the tatting. Much better idea on slightly larger pieces as there’s more chance of getting the tatting centred. It’s a bit fiddly stitching the tatting on, but I am pleased with the way this has turned out. I worked really hard to get it looking as neat as possible, and I think it’s paid off. (This is a very close up shot – it wont be this wrinkly by the end! It’s Valdani thread incidentally – slightly smaller than 80 but not as thin as 100. I went off it for a while and have no idea why. I love it on linen.)

wrap

I’m still knitting every chance I get, too. This is the wrap – don’t worry, blocking will fix the edges. I bought some blocking wires in preparation and I’m so desperate to get this finished! It’s been really cold at work, and if nothing else, I just want to wear it. This is a rubbish photo, but it does look nice is real life. A great pattern – and really good for beginners. It looks quite complicated, so you get all the satisfaction of that, but it’s just knitting and purling. I’ve got about 74 rows left… The plus about this is that it’s not too bad as a TV pattern, if you’re careful. (That said, I’ve unpicked a few rows!)

All this aside, other big news is that I changed the blade on my rotary cutter. Have you got a rotary cutter? When did you last change the blade? SERIOUSLY. It’s like the fabric just jumps up and cuts itself. Why did I leave it so long? Two things in life you probably shouldn’t skimp on. A taxi late at night and a new blade on yer knife. (Especially when it’s only £3.00).

Have a good week!