Saturday, 7 October 2017

Several More Samples Later...

Oh, you can keep fiddling forever!  But I think I'm happy with this most recent version.  I needed to space the centre rings more as there was some tension in the design but then I felt the circle right at the centre ended up too big so I decided to fill it.  Yes, I think I prefer that.  I lengthened the arms by a couple of stitches.  I also found that starting on a ring on a point enabled me to tat the whole thing in one pass without that awkward split ring I had in the previous post.  I added a few extra picots (I may change those a bit again)... to make it look more frosty!  I also added a bit more space between the chains as I thought it made it look a bit "heavy" when the two chains touched.  which lightens up the design.

Here are most of the samples I tatted pinned to my board.  I like to look at them as I work and let them speak to me as to how I should proceed!  :-)  Viewing designs from a distance also gives you a different perspective; it lets you see the overall shape, rather than the detail, and the play of positive versus negative space in the motif which helps me decide what modification to try next.

I hope I can come to a definitive version soon!

Best wishes,

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

About Josephine Knots...

I've been making lots of Josephine knots as I was working on this new pattern.  I wasn't happy with the way they were lying...  I really wanted a perfectly round shape that sat neatly on top of the chain.

So I tried different things:

I'm posting this image really big so you can see all the detail.  From left to right, here is what I did:

1. Josephine Knot done with the first half of a double stitch (10 halves). When I was first making JKs, I used the first half of the double stitch repeated.  For some reason it took me ages to try it with the second half instead!  Anyway, the first half is much more difficult to work with, causing lots of twisting and making it difficult to achieve a nice looking, regular JK.  So second half is definitely the way to go (I bet you knew that already!).  But just to show you, the first JK is done with first halves.

2. Josephine Knot done with the second half of a double stitch (10 halves).  A much smoother, rounder looking JK.  But the last half stitch twists towards the back too much I find and it appears to lean left.

3. JK done with second half of the double stitch but adding a full stitch at the beginning and at the end (1ds, 8 halves, 1 ds).  Yes, that's better.

4. KJ done with second half of the double stitch and just an extra first half of a double stitch added at the end (10 second halves + 1 first half).  Trying to prevent twisting again but that didn't do the trick.

5 and 6. JK done with second half of the double stitch but before closing the ring, pass your shuttle through the ring from front to back. Yes, that did it.  Passing the shuttle through from front to back means that the thread now exits the back of your ring so the next stitches pull slightly on the thread and help bring the stitches in line for a much more round and full looking JK. 

I'm happy with those last two versions and that's the way I'll be making my JKs in future.  Here is the new pattern I'm working on with lots of JKs!  It's evolved quite a bit from the very first version but I felt the centre was too crowded and the whole thing was quite tight with three rounds so I opened up the centre and changed the second round a bit.  Any good?  Criticism welcome!

I'm still giving it some thought, trying to get spacing between the chains more even, I'm adjusting that on the next sample.  I'm also not too happy with the split ring I used to make this a one pass design.  It ends up having a strange shape and I wish I could find a better way.  I really don't want to cut and tie and make this two rounds.  Can I live with a slightly strange shaped small ring?  I don't know.  I'm sure you can spot which one it is?  It's the one to the left of the top point.  Oh!  I got it!  I was just re-reading myself before publishing this blogpost and looking at the photo above, I just found where I need to start so that I won't have the problem of the misshapen ring.  Quick, I'll tat the next sample and post again.  

The photo below shows some of the gradual evolution:

Best wishes,

Friday, 22 September 2017

Earrings and New Snowflake?

I'd forgotten how much I like these layered flowers.  I made several at some point and then forgot about the pattern.  I wanted to make some new earrings for my daughter so I made her a pair in green:

Idea from Edwige Renaudin's Book "La Frivolité aux Navettes"

I might change the size of the rings slightly on the next pair as there are three rows but the middle row is lost a bit so I'll try adjusting the number of stitches just a bit.

And I found a snowflake design I'd been working on a while back and which I never finished to my satisfaction.  I decided to have another stab at it.  I think the shape is interesting but it's still not quite right... and I want to find a way of working it continuously, in one pass.  At the moment, I can't link the 2nd to the 3rd round without a break.  I'll keep working at it.

Best wishes,

Sunday, 17 September 2017

A Bit More Giant Tatting, Needle Lace, and Gifts from the Garden

I had another go with a different yarn.  The blue one from the previous post was a cotton yarn where the strands were quite loose and it was easy to catch the strands with the hook when trying to close the rings.  This time I used a thick wool yarn in aran weight and a 5mm crochet hook and it was much easier to work.

You can't see in the photo but I actually drilled a hole in the bottom of my hook (pictured in photo) so that I could use it like a tatting needle and thread my yarn through it at the bottom.  I tried like that and I tried the cro-tatting way but I preferred the look at the bottom of the rings when made the cro-tatting way and then there is also the great advantage of working from the ball too.  Except I've not yet figured out how to make "tatted" chains that way so the chains are actually crocheted.  You can see how large this tatting is compared with the tatted leaf in the middle which is made in size 20 thread.

Anyway, I don't know if I'm going anywhere with this.  Perhaps that's it for now and it was just interesting to try very large tatting.  I think it could be interesting to tat a shawl or something like that but I'd have to practice some more to get more even rings because at the moment, it's not satisfactory to me!

Then I saw a video on YouTube that caught my eye and I had to give something new a try.  It's a bit of needle lace...

The bottom motif is my first attempt (rather wonky!) and the green one is my second attempt (already much better).  It was interesting to make and it looks pretty.  Some of the edgings I've seen done with this technique are really lovely.

And lastly, just a photo from my garden.  We had a go at growing a few vegetables this summer with very mixed results.  Tomatoes and green beans were a bit of a disaster but this weekend we dug up some potatoes and beetroot which are very nice, a few stunted ears of corn (not a huge success) and we also collected the remainder of the apples from our trees (we have two).  The photo shows some of what we collected and I just thought the fruit and veg looked appealing in the sunshine...

Best wishes,

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Giant Tatting, Miniature Knitting and More Socks

Just been having a bit of fun with a few things lately.  A friend of mine showed me some amazing miniature sweaters so I gave tiny knitting a try with some pins and tatting cotton.  It's not difficult to knit in that size really, the only thing that's difficult is finding a way of holding on to the needles!  What you'd need is a needle that is fine but much longer so you could grasp it.  After that I saw some big tatting somewhere and went on the search for a set of japanese crochet-tatting needles I'd got a few years ago and which were gathering dust in a drawer.

I added the tatting shuttle in there to give you an idea of scale.  As you can see my cro-tatting skills are still leaving much to be desired!

Blowing the next image up so you can see how small the knitting is!

I'm still finding it really hard to make a neat job of needle tatting though not doubt it's just a matter of practice.  I kind of like the idea of oversized tatting though and I think (if I can get my technique up to scratch) it could be nice to make a bold necklace in a thicker yarn.  I might give it another try.  

And then I also have more socks on my needles which will be gifts.  A pair of fun, extremely fluffy ones with cookie monster eyes for a young person:

And another pair in my current favourite sock yarn (Cascade Heritage) with nice fine cabling, a pattern by Wendy Johnson.

That's it for now.  Tonight I'm working on the green doily.  I'm over a third of the way around the last round so just more of what you've already seen.  That's the problem with big projects isn't it.  You feel like you don't have anything new to show for a while.

Autumn is definitely in the air already.  It's been cool, wet and windy!

Best wishes,

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Basket Case!

We did have some fun with our basket making!  I'm back now but was a bit sorry to have to leave my unfinished last project behind... for the next holiday.  I'm definitely keen to make some more baskets at some point (and even try some different kinds).  These coiled baskets are really easy though and anyone could have a go at making them.  They are inexpensive as you don't need to buy any materials (apart from some string maybe but any cheap natural fibre string would work - well, it doesn't even need to be natural fibre of course, but I just think it's nicer to go with the dry grass and the whole theme of it.).

After the first larger basket, I decided I wanted to make one with a lid.  This time I used a different, finer linen string to make it.

I decorated the lid with real acorns and some crochet oak leaves.
I loved the tiny one I found which I drilled
with a fine drill bit so I could attach it.

After the lidded one, I decided to try using raffia as my 
tying/covering media and completely covered the dry grass.
I looks really nice and makes for a more "professional" looking basket
which is smooth and tight.

The only thing with rafia is that the lengths are shorter
so you need to refill your needle and join more often.
Raffia is a natural fibre which is also inexpensive.
It's really thin but really strong.
I had never worked with raffia before and I like it.

I asked my son to make me yet another needle for this project,
one that was flatter to be more easily inserted between the tight coils.

He made it out of elder (the others were all made of oak) and it works
a treat.  Sadly it eventually broke but he promised to make me another one.

Here are the various needles he made for us:

And lastly, a photo of our collective first effort
at basket making - there are even more unfinished items
that I didn't show in the photo.

I made a couple of videos on this which I will upload over the course of the next couple of weeks.  I really enjoyed this holiday activity with my children.

I hope you all had a nice time too.  Can't believe it's September already!  Time to buy new school shoes and get back to the routine.  

Best wishes,

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Holiday Project Completed

I wasn't too sure what final shape I wanted this to take... shall I go higher and make a handle for it?  In the end I decided to keep it as a shallower basket as I hoped we'd get more use out of it like that.

I enjoyed making it.  And I wouldn't mind making another - perhaps taller and with a handle next time.  I don't think it will be for this holiday though, sadly...

We weren't able to find any more of the same sisal twine we had been using but I found some linen string which worked well although it was quite rough!  Next time I wouldn't mind something a bit smoother.  You can see in the last photo where the bottom of the basket is a lighter colour than the sides where I changed from sisal to linen.

My son is still working on his.  He understandably got side-tracked by other holiday occupations.

Did you notice the edge?  I just couldn't help myself!  A little bit of tatting had to be involved.  I made a video of working the edging which I will upload when I'm back home.  Happy Holidays!

Best wishes,

Monday, 21 August 2017

Holiday Project

My son and I had been wanting to try basket weaving for ages.  Summer holidays is the perfect time to give this a try, isn't it?  We looked things up and then searched around to see what materials we could use.

We found some sedge and I used this in the first attempt.  It was not very easy to work with, many of the blades breaking as I wove but I managed a tiny basket.  It's starting to dry now and turning straw colour.  I will show you another photo when it's all dry.  I don't know how well it'll hold... perhaps it will all fall apart when dry but we'll see.

Some of our first tries in progress...

For the second attempt, we decided to try using sisal which wouldn't break like the sedge blades and dried grass for the coil.  That was much better.  My son carved us some fantastic needles from a piece of oak to push the sisal between the coils - sooooo much easier!  

I also decided to incorporate a few sprigs of lavender into my basket so that it would smell nice too.  I don't know if you can see the pale purple flowers in the photo below.

By afternoon, we were making good progress on our respective projects.  I'm planning a bigger basket so was still working on the flat part of my base, whereas my son is making a smaller, taller one so had started going up the sides already.

And this is where we were at by the end of the evening.  We have now run out of sisal so need to go on the search for some more today before we can carry on.

I love "gifts of nature" like that...  Just as we enjoyed picking blackberries and elderberries from the hedgerows a couple of days ago which we made into a crumble.  Delicious!  

I hope you are all enjoying a lovely August.  

Best wishes,

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Here Be Dragons!

Still working on the green doily but got side-tracked by another pair of socks.  I should have had a change of colour but I had a skein of Cascade Heritage sock yarn that was waiting in my basket... so green it is again!  These are "Here Be Dragons" by Rachel Gent.

I'm just a few rows away from the ribbing on these and then I'll be done.  The interesting stitch appealed to me... as well as the name!  They look great in purple on the original.  

Not worth showing any progress on the green doily as it's just a bit more of the same from the previous post.  Still have a long way to go before I complete that last row!

Best wishes,

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Last Round!

How exciting!  Yes, I'm on the last round!  I must admit I didn't think I'd get to the end of this big project so quickly.  I've not shown the whole thing for the last few posts as I'm saving it for the big reveal when it's all completed.

Best wishes,

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Slowed Down a Bit...

After my last burst of activity, I have slowed down a bit as I work on the penultimate round of my green doily.  This is another simple round of tiny rings connected with 8-8 chains.

🌿 🌸  🌿

And I finished another pair of socks.  These are "Ribbed Ribbon Socks" by Wendy Johnson, from her book "Socks from the Toe Up".  I really love working with Cascade Heritage sock wool, it's beautifully soft and a joy to knit with.  It's the second time I've used it but the first pair I gave away so I'm looking forward to wearing this one to see how the wool performs with wearing and washing.  The cascade sock wool has a fabulous range of colours so I'm already looking forward to knitting the next pair.  

They don't look like much in this "relaxed" state... and I nearly took them apart when I first started because I wasn't sure I liked them at all but I persevered and in the end, I think they're interesting looking... when worn!  I finished them off with my picot crochet cast-off which does look a bit frilly when unstretched (in above photo) but looks great when worn and is really stretchy and comfortable. I tried many different cast-offs for toe-up socks and this is my favourite at the moment.  I decided afterwards I should have carried on with the pattern a bit higher up the leg but never mind, it'll be for the next pair.

Best wishes,

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Soldiering On... and Meeting!

One more round completed.  Just two left!  It looks like I might make it to the end of this doily quicker than I expected.  Still, you don't know what can happen before completion of these two final rounds...  I could easily get side-tracked by something else...

And I'm delighted to say that I tatted some of that last row whilst sitting with Michelle of Telamagistrae!  She was in the UK visiting a friend and we found out we were not so far from each other.  We arranged a get-together and had a very enjoyable few hours together, chatting, tatting, sharing tips, eating and drinking!  It was lovely to meet her.

Best wishes,

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Another One!

Yes, another row completed.  Those rings were quite small so it went pretty quickly.  Again, I did the rings with normal flipped stitches and the chains with unflipped reverse order stitches.

How exciting! Starting yet another round.

Best wishes,

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Magic Square Magic

Oh yes squares!  I do love squares in tatting.  So when I spotted Robin's New Onion Ring Magic Square, I had to take a break from my green doily to tat it.

Tatted in Lizbeth 20, "Harvest Gold"

You should go and check out the whole thing.  There are different ways of combining the design and two squares.  Robin is really clever in designing these.  I'm impressed.  She even describes the whole process of designing a magic square.  It's really interesting.

You can tat this as a magic square but you can also just tat it as is and attach on the sides.  I love the magic square idea... but sometimes I also just like tatting smaller motifs and attaching and letting it grow as you go instead of deciding in advance how big you'd like it to be.

I like the contrast the onion rings bring to the design.  The outside chain of the onion ring is attached with a Catherine Wheel Join.   I had to refresh my memory on the CWJ as I'd not had to use it for some time.

Thank you Robin.  Another great design.

Best wishes,

Sunday, 9 July 2017

SCMR Round Done

I made good progress on the last round with self-closing mock rings.  I only needed to refill one shuttle once (and even then I only used half of it) so I think it was a good plan.
Design is by Jan Stawasz
(from his first Book)
Thread is DMC Babylo size 20

Do the SCMRs look ok to you?  Or is it obvious that I "cheated"?

I'm even going to show you up even closer...

I think they look ok.

And I'm really getting into the rhythm with unflipped, reverse-order chains.
I can see I'll often be using that method from now on.
So nice not to have to reverse work.

And while I was at it, I also made a new video showing
this round of SCMRs, I'll be uploading it very shortly.

On to the next round!

Best wishes,

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Next Round

Here is the first of the rounds that make the whole circumference of the doily.  Again, I decided to use unflipped reverse order stitches for the chains but I also thought I'd try something different to not have to refill my shuttles so often:  I'm making the rings as SCMRs which means all the thread for the rings comes from the ball.  I'm not 100% convinced I like this method yet but I've gone so far in this round that I will complete it and then decide what to do for the next.  Ideally I'd like thread for both rings and chains to come from the ball and then you'd hardly need to refill.  It's do-able and I've tried it on a little sample.  You need to "cheat" a bit as after making a SCMR, the ball thread is not in the right place for making a chain next.  I need to experiment further to see if the look is good enough with that method to pass the test.

It seems a little bit more difficult to achieve very even, consistent SCMRs than it is with true rings but I don't think it's affecting the look too much overall.

Best wishes,

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Big Green Doily - Six Sides Done!

I'm so glad I managed to finish the separate sides (the right word for curvy sides keeps escaping me! - what would you call them?   Do you say "scallops"?).  The six sides had three rounds each which all needed cutting and tying.  No way to move from one round to the next seamlessly in this design I'm afraid - I did try!

Now it's time to make rounds that go all the way around the whole design.  So exciting!

I made a video of me working on this doily.  I decided to make the chains unflipped with reverse order stitches so I thought it might be interesting to make a video of it.  I called it a "tat-chat" video rather than a video about a specific technique... I just tat and talk about what I'm doing.  Still find it hard at times to keep talking clearly and not fumble on my words!  It doesn't quite feel natural and the camera still makes me a bit nervous although it's just me and the camera, no one else is watching or listening!  Silly really, isn't it?

It's only small if you view it on this page
but you can see it larger by clicking on the Youtube icon
after you've pressed "play".

Best wishes,

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Interlocking Split Rings and Crochet Top

Jeanie Schekel sent me a tutorial on how to make interlocking split rings.  I gave it a try.  Not quite perfect, but I'm getting there...

Do you have any ideas where/how you would use this technique?  What would you make with it?  I need to play a bit more and see if I could shape it into a nice centre for a motif perhaps?  It could make a neat little bracelet as is I suppose...

Once I get a better hang of it, I plan on making a video tutorial.  Oh, which reminds me, I have just made a new video on how to make the thick body for my butterfly.  If anyone's interested in viewing it, you can find it here.  I'd been meaning to make a video for it for a long time so I've finally done it!

I now feel like I need to go re-visit interlocking rings with one shuttle which I played with back in 2012 (can it really be five years ago already???!!) but not sure I will do that just this minute.  I want to keep making progress on the large green doily.

And my daughter is really pleased with how the little crochet summer crop top has turned out.  It fits her really nicely but I'm sure you'll understand why I won't show it modelled by her!  :-)

The back is more simple and I chose matching flower buttons.

Best wishes,