Hey monkey! Show us your sock…

I know you’re supposed to put the most enticing photo at the top of a blog post, but it’s been a long day and this one made me laugh the most. Hello! There’s been a bit of a pause on posts recently as I’ve had no chance to take photos of anything I’ve made. I leave for work in the dark and it’s dark when I get home, and my stroppy camera hates anything but sunshine. I did manage to grab a few snaps this morning though, and so here I am.

I made the monkey up there years ago. It’s the second toy I ever crocheted actually, and sits on my boyfriend’s desk. The sock I made about a week or two ago, and it’s a mini Christmas stocking, from the bottom pattern here. It’s so cute in real life! It’s probably not the best knitting you’ve ever seen in your life, but it’s the first time I’ve used DPNs and I actually managed to make a decent job of mattress stitching it together. If you’re a good knitter, I think you’ve have it done in no time. I know the colours aren’t very xmassy, but it was a test really, to see if I could do it.

I made another version of the pouch of pain. Still not great, but better than it was. Annoyingly this one seems to show up the tightness of the colour changes more than the other one (it’s actually a little better in real life than it looks here.) The pattern suggests that you go up in needle size when you start the leafy design, but I don’t have that many knitting needles yet, so I couldn’t do that. It’s quite a bit smaller than the first one… I was tempted to line it with fabric, but it’s just not that great, so I don’t think I will. Anyway! Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Oh – and I did the increases this time, so the base is rounded a bit. Again, looks better in the flesh.

I treated myself to these lovely hand dyed threads from Yarnplayer recently. They’re size 80, and for tatting. I’m really looking forward to using them, although I’m undecided yet as to what I’ll make. You have to be a bit careful with variegated threads – if the pattern is too complicated it can end up looking really confusing. I still think this is one of my favourites. That said, it’s getting to snowflake making time again. Gah! I was going to start early this year.

 

I’ve been making this again on my commute. Almost there, and then the ends to sew in. It’s in the Valdani quilting thread, which I do have a certain affection for. Occasionally I panic as I think it might snap, but that aside, I like the fact it’s ‘dull’ – there’s no sheen to the thread. I made a lavender bag earlier this year with the same pattern, and actually I love it. Something about this colourway on linen works really well.

Aside from all that, I’m still knitting my Guernsey Wrap (you can see the beginning of it here). I’ve become a bit desperate to get it finished now as winter really feels like it’s arrived, and I’d like to wear it! I’m over half way, but I need some dedicated time on it. I was hoping today would be the day, but I got sucked into day-job work instead. Haven’t managed to fit any sewing time in either, but I did buy some beautiful fabric a few weeks ago.

So much to do, and so little time! Better get on with it.

Odds n’ ends

hippy

Hello! I’ve had a few days off, weekends away, and various house guests, which is why I’ve been a bit quiet recently. I have been tatting a tiny bit, although not as much as I’d like – mainly as I can’t always get a seat on the train, which is where I usually tat. Spare evenings are still taken up with The Knitted Scarf, which is coming along nicely. (Although not without a fair bit of unpicking, whilst trying to watch Alien in the dark. Unpicking knitting is quite frustrating, isn’t it? Not so with crochet.)

Above is the trusty Stormtrooper, engaged in a bit of a scrap with some train end-of-shuttle doodles. I do like these daisy chains…

daisy chain

These are size 80 thread… I’ve not really decided what to do with them yet.

daisy2

They’re not that big. Perhaps the right size for a bracelet or a necklace, but a bit delicate. I’ll stitch them on to something, I think. Not sure what yet, but it would be nice to use them for something.

piggy post

This little piggy is currently in transit. He lived on the shelf for a little while, and then decided it was time to head out. I love making things for people – but I just can’t make them to order! Ages ago, after a lot of not-so-subtle hints, I made my friend and elephant. Her mum and I were with her when she opened it, and her mum really seemed to love it. I always meant to make her one too, and then time wore on and I forgot. As I was wondering what should become of the pig, it dawned on me that maybe she would like it, so off he popped in the post. Hopefully she’ll get it next week. It’s always a bit tricky as they’re not *that* sturdy, so they’re not really toys for very little kids. They’re shelf dwellers really, but they do like to be loved. I hope she likes him.

In other news, I went to Yorkshire for a few days which was lovely. I had a brilliant time (seaside, countryside, cream teas and brilliant company!). We went to Nunnington Hall, and spotted this lovely crewel work:

crewel

There were three panels, all quite large and they were beautifully done. They had chunky stitching and felt quite free-form, although they were carefully planned out with lighter stitches before they were filled in. I loved the feel of them though (visual – I didn’t touch them!) As I’ve said before, I’m not a needle worker, but I would potentially make an exception for something like this… Like I need another hobby!

Doing something (else) with my tatting

Bag close up
(side note – clicking any of these photos will make ’em bigger.)

Last year, when I decided I was producing a lot of tatting and it was about time to do something with it, I made some lavender bags. A complete sewing novice I thought they’d be a good place to start. Actually, they were… Tiny practice pieces, all a bit wonky, none of them with the motif actually in the middle. Luckily lavender smells lovely and if you squint a bit the wonkiness fades, so they do the job quite nicely.

After my quilting adventures, and an earlier attempt at a drawstring bag, I decided it was time to try something new with my tatting. Still all straight lines of course, but, you know – no point rushing in to curves!

Drawstring bag

I’m quite pleased with this. Made a few mistakes but learnt a bit too. I did have to unpick the sewing that holds in the drawstring about 5 times – it’s actually very tricky at that size on the machine. Next time I might do it by hand. I’ll also plan to sew on the tatting in advance rather than in the middle of everything, because I got so impatient with it!

I mentioned in my previous post that I finally sewed in the ends of a few pieces of tatting I’d had sitting about, including the Mary Konior pattern made in Valdini thread . I must admit, I really wasn’t that keen on the colours of it at all, but after blocking and sewing, I’ve changed my mind.

valdini bag

In the end, I just wanted to use it for something – anything really, and so I bashed out another lavender bag. I think I overstuff them usually, but this time I was a bit more sparing, and it makes it look a lot more professional! I think the linen knocks a bit of the garishness out of the colours – generally mutes it a bit. Now I’ve actually gone from not liking it much at all, to loving it!

So, all good. Room for improvement, but ok for a Sunday afternoon.

Back to the tatting chat

Finished

What with all the quilt euphoria, you might think I’ve not been tatting, but I’m still clicking along in the background. When I can get a seat on the train I always tat – it’s a bit like meditation for me. Stops me getting angry that the trains are always late, and gives me time to mull over the day ahead or just gone. Sadly, the above Storm Trooper refused to sew in the ends, and so I had to finish this off alone. The pattern is from here, and I must admit, does benefit from some beads or other embellishment. It’s a bit plain as it is. (The Storm Trooper helps.) I’m tempted to make it in green though, with red beads, as it does make a nice little holly wreath. Perhaps nearer Christmas.

pile

While we’re talking sewing in ends, this is the pile I’ve forced myself to deal with this week. The beaded one on the right I only made a week or so ago, but the others have been lurking about for ages. In the end, I left them on the kitchen table, and forced myself to do a tiny bit of sewing when I was waiting for a kettle to boil or something to cook. Bit by bit it wasn’t too bad. As a person who crochets, I’m always reading about the chore of sewing in crochet threads – but seriously! Wait till you have to deal with size 100 tatting thread!

half done

This is 4/5’s of a Susanne Schwenke snowflake. I love this pattern when it’s complete – while it’s a single section on repeat, theres something about it that feels a bit erratic, reminds me of sparks flying off a sparkler.To be honest there’s absolutely no way you’d see that from the above, but trust me, it’s nice. Anyway, This was the first attempt, but I wasn’t thrilled with it. It’s a tricksy pattern, and there’s the tiniest bit of bloc tatting in there, which I’ve never done before.

block tatting

That’s me learning block tatting. It’s almost like you tat a chain on one side of the thread, and the next chain on the opposite side. Also, I finally learnt how to make a lock join – tatters, isn’t it hard *not* to flip the thread? Seriously, it felt like I was defying the laws of physics. All that time you spend learning to flip it correctly, and suddenly you have to unlearn it. Anyway…

doneish

This is the second attempt, and I remain unimpressed. The block tatting in it is only three passes, and in size 80 thread, it just looks like a bit of a mistake. Also, I’m thinking that the 4 rings at the end of each ‘arm’ would be much better as SCMRs. As it is, they’re standard chains, attached with a normal join, and it does look a bit messy. So I’m going to tackle it again, with a few alterations… Has anyone out there made this – and if so, any thoughts?

big pig

And finally, I’m making a bigger version of the Little Piglet! I love this pattern, the shape of the head is so cute. I hope I manage to make his body live up to it.

And that’s all for now.

Except, one last thing – look at this brilliant woven bookmark made by a friend of mine! Such a great idea, and I love the thought of a bookmark created for a specific book.

A half hearted Li’l Heart (from Birgit Phelps’ pattern)

pink heart 1

UPDATE: 20 Feb 2021 – sadly the pattern for this heart is no longer available online. / UPDATE 2: 26 April 2021 – Anke pointed out in the comments that you can still find this pattern on the Wayback Machine!

A little while ago, the lovely Katy commented on a post saying that she wished she could finish a tatted motif. I blithely commented back that she should make Birgit Phelps’ ‘Lil Heart’ because it was small and wouldn’t take long. Then I realised I’d never even made it myself!

Feeling guilty, I got on with it. Luckily, I was right – it doesn’t take long! Also, it’s really pretty – as you can see up there. As ever, I wound too much thread on to the shuttle, and when I’d finished, I wasn’t sure it was enough to make another one – so I thought I’d try something out. I halved the stitch count on everything, and made a smaller one (below):

small heart

It worked a treat! I must say, I did sit on the train congratulating myself for my sheer brilliance. I do appreciate it would be a bit more brilliant if I’d actually made up the pattern myself, but you can’t expect miracles at that time in the morning.

Two hearts

That’s what they look like both together. It’s size 80 thread, and so it actually makes quite a dense heart when the sizes are halved. And just to provide you with an odd photo finish, this is how big it is really:

Heart finger tip

Fits on the end of your finger. I’m not 100% sure what to do with them now, if I gave them to my other half I think he’d think I’d lost my mind. But I really enjoyed making them, and so if you’re a tatter and haven’t tried this pattern yet, give it a go.

Blocked and unblocked

I finished the little piece I was working on before. I was pleased with it actually – it blocked really nicely.

Doily in hand

It’s size 100 thread, and the pattern is from a beautiful Japanese book I bought via etsy. Look at the patten on the cover! It’s so nice. The whole book is beautifully photographed, and they’ve actually managed to make tatting look stylish, rather than like some kind of 70’s interior design horror, which is what most UK books seem to favour.

As ever with tatting, once you’ve made one, you might aswell make two:

two

This is one blocked and one unblocked — and I still need to sort the ends out. The second one I started on a week off, and finished on the train & bus when I got back. Once you know the pattern it’s not bad for commuting. (I sat next to a man on the bus who didn’t appear to look in my direction, but as I stood up for him to leave, he said ‘I just want you to know I think what you’re doing is very clever’. It confused me for a second, as i wasn’t sure what he was talking about!).

Anyway. I need a new pattern I think. Back to the books.

Tatting with quilting thread

I went to the Knitting & Stitching show at the weekend, in North London. I had a great time – and an unexpected companion. Originally I’d planned to go with my mum, but various things conspired against us, and so I ended up thinking I’d be going alone.

I seem to be one of a small number who actually ends up talking to people on public transport. Over the last 5 years or so I’ve acquired a few ‘bus stop friends’ and a ‘tram friend’. We’re a bit of a gang at times – there can be up to 5 of us on the way to work in the mornings. After a chance conversation I found out a while ago that my tram friend makes lace! Odd thing to find out on a tram. So, after another chance conversation last week, in which I found out my tram friend wanted to go to the show but not alone, we made a hot date and went on Sunday.

And a very nice time we had too. We walked our legs off. Me and a lady I’d never spent longer than 15 minutes with before.

Anyway. All that aside, I bought some quilting thread, which I assumed was around size 100. It looked like very shiny Valdani thread – especially as there was nothing else on the stall to compare it to.

When I took off the wrapper I couldn’t wait to get started and see if it was tattable – and so, as ever I started on the train on the way to work. (I have no train friend – the trains are too irregular, so the people are rarely the same!)

Thin thread

Needless to say, starting on the train doesn’t leave you with a ton of pattern options available, so I tatted a pattern that was already in my head – good thing about that being that I have alternate thread versions available for comparison..

comparison

So the white you see here is size 100. Looks huge by comparison.

After holding my breath and being very careful all the way round, the thread snapped on the last ring, so I had to join in new thread. It’s very shiny, so slips along easy-ish, but very thin, so breakable. You can also see the thread separating on the picots, which is annoying – and another problem is making the picot big enough to get a hook through.

Still, I enjoyed making it, and it’s nice to see it finished. I have a ton of this thread (it’s rayon) so if you want to try it for yourself, leave a message in the comments and I’ll send you some in the post.


ps – I did finish the piece in the previous post, will blog it next time!

Threadbare

tatting

Look! I actually managed to make a flat one this time. It’s not finished, there’s another round to go, but I was rather pleased with getting this far.

As always, I made it on the bus & train to work – a few different journeys. It’s size 100 thread. It still needs blocking and the ends sewing in, but I thought I’d post it now incase I manage to wreck it in round two.

Lets hear it for small creative triumphs for the commuter! It kept me calm while the bus was being diverted.

Commuter tatting

I’ve been tatting a lot on the bus and train recently. I decided to work on something that had the possibility of becoming a larger piece, while still being portable and easy to memorise. I have a terrible habit otherwise of not having a pattern in mind to start, and then faffing about – taking forever to find one, and in the meantime sitting bored, on the train…

in progress

If you’re a tatter – and you’re familiar with Mary Konior, you’ll recognise this design as one of hers, from Tatting with Visual Patterns…

try again

I really like this pattern – interesting enough, without becoming boring and… you do need to pay some attention too:

oops

If you don’t, you might end up switching from the train to the bus, and find yourself impatient to start- only to find you’ve made a wrong join, and need to adapt it into something new… (It’s pretty hard to unpick a ring in size 80 thread on a bus on London’s bumpy streets, so if I go wrong, I consider it lost). And thus we have Mary Konior’s little known triangle design right there.

All of which makes it fun when you finish up the very last bit. It’s like Russian roulette – the thought of going wrong right at the last minute is occasionally too much to bare.

blocked

In the end, I decided to make the group of four twice. I didn’t love the first version – wasn’t as neat as it could’ve been. Second time was much neater – although after blocking maybe you can’t tell? I think you probably can though, and besides, it was nice to just tat a pattern with out a big decision as to what to make next.

blocked

(Sorry for the dodgy colours on these photos, by the way).

I do have a plan for these. Now i have a sewing machine (Singer, handcranked, reconditioned from the 1930’s – an inheritance from a kindly neighbour), I’m going to… well. Make a few odds and ends. They will only be things that need simple stitching in straight lines, as that’s all I can do, and all the machine can do, but it and I will have fun together. I hope.

In the meantime, what to tat on the train? Same again but bigger? We shall see.