A herd of tatted lavender bags

tatted lavender bags

Do you think you could call them a herd? Not entirely sure, but they’re certainly gathering. Things have changed again work-wise for me, so I’m back to a regular commute. Even better, I’m back to a regular commute that more often than not affords me a seat, which is great news. It’s also exceptionally slow, due to engineering works, which is less great (but very British, to be honest). This means I have more time to tat.

Tatting on my leg

There you can see an over processed iPhone photo taken while I was tatting on the train. I’ve been working on my own patterns a lot, using the ANKARS technique of overlapping rings. I must admit, I’m really enjoying it.

Adding beads

This bit is always less fun – not sure why but the sewing drives me a little nuts. Some beads I add as I tat, others I’ve started sewing in at the end…

Waiting...

Last weekend I finally had enough time, and enough semi-complete pieces to get out the sewing machine. What I *didn’t* have is any fresh lavender. The stuff I have is getting on a bit now, and I was a little concerned. That said, it’s performed admirably, and the corner of the house where they’re currently all piled up smells amazing.

Envelope back

I decided to go for envelope backs on the bags – partly due to the concern of the lavender not being fresh and needing to be replaced, and partly because it gives me a higher chance of finishing the edges neatly. If you do it like this, there’s no need to hand finish the edges! They also look kinda cute – but I neglected to take a photo… sorry about that.

result

In the end I made six complete bags. I have another two that still need to be stitched on to fabric – and I got some new thread at the weekend, so there could be more to come. Not 100% sure what to do with them all right now, but… well… as I said, that corner of the house smells amazing.

collection

And there’s still more tatting knocking about that needs to be ‘dealt with’… But as it goes, there are worse things to worry about.

Catching up

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Well, time certainly flies. Or at least it moves on, whether you’re having fun or not! I haven’t meant to leave it so long between posts, but work and weekends have intermingled a bit this summer, and I haven’t had a lot of time for myself. Also, the change in my morning commute has affected my productivity much more than expected—I’ve barely had any time to tat. I did manage to make this with a few snatched minutes while waiting for a lift to the station over the last week or so though, and I’ve enjoyed working with these petite seed beads. This is size 80 thread, and so the beads are smaller than regular seed beads.

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When I have had time to make things, for some reason I’ve gone for the mainly useless! I’ve made a few more stress  bunnies to give away — often to people who are stressed themselves, and last weekend I made a little time to try out this strawberry pattern. (Yes, hers are much neater than mine!) I actually tried this some time ago, but couldn’t get the hang of it at all. This time around it went much better – they’re not perfect, but there’s something about them that I really like. Lots of people make the cord stalk really long, so the leaf pokes out of the top of a book and the strawberry the bottom, but I decided the yarn was too thick and I got a bit bored Icording – so…

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What I have instead is a cord long enough to tie a little strawberry bundle. No use to anyone, but it makes me happy.

A few months back I did manage to make something more useful. I had a weekend to myself and so made this bucket-style drawstring bag

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The striped fabric is upholstery weight, bought as a cheap remnant. Its great for this kind of bag as it stands up on its own…

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I’m using it as a knitting bag, it’s big enough to keep quite a few balls of wool, needles and a printed pattern inside. Its also the kind of bag you can leave the ball of yarn in while you knit, to stop it rolling off.

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I was really pleased with the colour of the drawstring too. I saved it from a paper carrier bag – I can’t even remember which shop it was from now, but it was the perfect match! I always save these cords, they’re great for things like this.

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And finally, this is one of my sunflowers. I’ve grown about 8 this year and I’ve really enjoyed watching them grow. As I’ve been away for work quite a lot, every time I get home I’ve rushed into the garden to see how they’re doing 🙂 I’ve also grown chillies and tomatoes, and I’ve loved that too. I don’t know why I had a few summers off the sunflowers, but must remember to grow them again next year.

Hope you’re all well out there and have had a great summer. With any luck I’ll be back again soon.

Tatting, embroidery, colourwork and a swatch

urchins

Hello! Just a quick and varied update… I actually made this a while ago, but haven’t had a chance to post it here. It’s a lavender bag — of course — made with the little tatted ‘urchins’ and some simple embroidery. I often think this kind of fabric is too open, but it’s perfect for a lavender bag as it keeps the lavender in and lets the scent out.

lavender

Here’s a rather terrible picture of the whole thing. I used a linen strip at one end, and it’s also backed with linen. I quite like the more geometric nature of this, and when you see it in real life, it’s quite delicate. I was thinking of the running stitches of shashiko when I made it, which is yet another thing I quite fancy trying but haven’t had any time for…

beads

This was a quick experiment from this morning. The stitch count needs adjusting but it seems to work. Basically I’d not tatted around a central bead before so I wanted to try that. I think it’s ok on this thread (still the thread from Katy!) but anything thinner will probably be too much- it ends up disappearing inside the bead. These yellow beads I bought on a whim. They’re ridiculously bright, but they feel really ‘springy’ –  we’ve had daffodils and primroses recently, and there’s currently bright yellow dandelions everywhere. There’s also loads of bluebells in the woods, which are a complete delight:

bluebells

I’m using the bluebells as a bribe to get myself running regularly. It’s so lovely to run in the woods — we’ve had a little spell of sunny weather in the UK and the light through the trees, the bright blue flowers, and the smell of spring has been fantastic.

colourwork

That aside, I’m also doing a little knitting experiment. I thought I would try colourwork in the round as I need another case for a phone. I have an iPhone already and the new job insists I also have a Blackberry. It’s all very formal on occasion, and I kind of like to amuse myself with slightly terrible bits of hand knitting in my bag. I’m making this up as I go, both the structure and the pattern. Already I’m worried that the pattern is far too big for the size of pouch I need, so I’ll probably have to adapt it. I’m also worried  that the final thing will be too tight—but not *that* worried to be honest—if it doesn’t work I’ll use something else. The job itself is stressful enough with out worrying about hobbies aswell!

swatch

There’s also this, which I’m pretty sure is one of the loveliest things you’ve seen all day, right? I actually took this last week, its a swatch gauge for what *will* become my first knitted garment. I don’t know why but starting it seems terrifying and so I keep putting it off. It’s this Boardwalk pattern from Brooklyn Tweed. Everyone (on Ravelry) seems to find it really easy but… I’m just being an idiot. I just need to get on with it.

So there we have it. There is a bit more which I’ve not had time to write about, but nothing that can’t wait. Hope you’ve all had good weekends (long weekends here in the UK) and that whatever you’re doing is fun, tricky enough to be interesting but not tricky enough to make you worry about it 🙂

See you soon.

 

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.

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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!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monkey (and other) business

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I meant to post something here last week, but by the time I got around to getting started it was too dark to take any photos.

Another mixed bag this week – odds and ends of things. Above is my current train tatting – still on the daisies, but this time pink. I just loaded up the shuttles with what looked like a sensible about of thread, and will carry on until it runs out. It’s lovely to tat like this – there’s a few onion rings in there as leaves (not shown above), and a few standard daisies as well. It’s just a bit of meandering about, no set pattern, which is quite nice for a change. I was thinking about getting some gauze, the kind people makes scarves from, and tatting an edging for it… I thought it could be a good ongoing project, perhaps?

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In stark contrast, here’s a new drawstring bag I made! For christmas I received an extremely generous gift – a voucher for the Make Lounge. I spent a long time thinking about the type of class I’d like to take, and in the end, decided on screen printing. I wanted something that would be fun, but that I could possibly do at home. (I thought long and hard about sewing, but classes are all taught on an electric machine, and it felt weird being unfaithful to my Singer!) Then of course, I needed to think of something to print, so drew a monkey, and some elephants:

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Now, the thing with this type of screen printing is that you have to cut it by hand — and we didn’t have time to do repeat patterns, and so I adapted the characters a little on the night. (I prefer the planned monkey, but went a bit nuts and cut it differently by accident!) 

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Unlike everyone else, I took some calico with me, and screen printed a couple of extra prints. I wasn’t too sure – I’m still not too sure – what to do with them, but once you’ve got the screen working, seems a bit nuts not to make the most of it. I pre-washed the calico, and flippin’ eck, it’s not easy to iron, is it? Yes, I DID iron it while it was still damp, but to no avail. Amusingly, I saw that Patch had the same issues last week.

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They gave as a little bag to screenprint, which you can see on the left. It’s really cute – child sized. I also have a tea towel with a monkey on each end.

It was a great evening – amazing how fast you can relax and forget about work and all your troubles when you have something fun to do! I’m not sure if I will screen print at home – does require space, and creates a lot of mess, but it did get me thinking about lino printing, which I’ve not done since college, and used to love. I know you can do that with a roller for the ink and the back of a spoon for a press, so we shall see…

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And finally, I thought I’d use up a few scraps, and try a log cabin lavender bag. As you can see, this ended up rectangular rather than square as I decided it was getting too big. The patch with the ‘7685’ on it is the selvedge of the dotted fabric, which I quite like. It’s an odd little thing, but quite cute in real life. Now it lives in the monkey bag with the other scraps and makes them smell nice.

Hope you’re all having good weekends!

 

 

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.