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.
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.
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.
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…
Talking of which… I’d better get on with it :-/
Hope you’re having nice weekends!
Filed under: lace, tatting, learning, commutercraft | 15 Comments
Tags: tatting, lace, mistakes, commutercraft, learning, tatting thread, decoration, sketching
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*.
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.
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:
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…
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…
Have a good weekend – and if you’re in the UK, a good bank holiday!
Filed under: commutercraft, lace, learning, tatting | 9 Comments
Tags: beads, commutercraft, cotton, lace, learning, linen, tatting, tatting thread
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.
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!
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)
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.
Filed under: commutercraft, lace, learning, tatting, Uncategorized | 13 Comments
Tags: beads, commutercraft, lace, tatting, tatting thread
I went to Barcelona for the weekend! Just got back earlier this evening. I was staying with friends who moved there about 8 or 9 months ago, and they have a little boy. When the baby was born (about 2 years ago) I had the best of handmade gift intentions, but what actually happened was that I made a pair of booties that I didn’t think were up to scratch. In the end I didn’t gift them and they’ve been sat in the cupboard ever since…
This time I decided to go for something I’d made before and had a better chance of getting right. Yup, another monkey. I finished it at 1am on Thursday night, and it was wrapped and gifted by Friday evening – and very well received!
This one is made in simple Rowan Dk, and actually he turned out rather nicely. He looks a little bit unsure of himself, but I think he’ll settle in well. (He was wrapped again every evening, so they had the excitement of opening him again each morning ). I think for children, something softer and more ‘wooly’ works better than the cotton I used on the green monkeys.
Ahem. Yes, the green monkeys. If the red scarf on the blue monkey looks familiar, it’s because I swiped it off the green monkey. But hey! They’re all friends. I’m sure they wont mind…
And now to get ready for work tomorrow. Before I go though, the lovely Tiny Inc is having a giveaway! If you’re in the UK, check out her blog (and the amazing cushion which is part of the giveaway!).
Filed under: amigurumi, commutercraft, crochet, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: amigurumi, commutercraft, crochet, crochet monkey, finished, toys
I 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.
Look 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).
Umm, 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…
Then 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).
And 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:
There 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:
Smocking 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:
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.
Filed under: amigurumi, crochet, embroidery, knitting, lace, learning, Needlework, quilting, tatting, Uncategorized | 15 Comments
Tags: amigurumi, broomstick lace, cotton, crochet, crochet monkey, embroidery, knitting, lace, learning, linen, needlework, quilt, quilting, sewing, tatting, UFO
Hello? Hello! I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post. And so long since I’ve *finished* anything. Life’s been getting in the way a bit – a weekend visiting family, a couple of weekends working. A lot of work-reading on the commute, or worse, snow-chilled hands too cold to do any tatting. My tatting fingers are itching to get back into it, so hopefully this week I can pick things up again.
I have had these chaps on the go for a week or two. They’re made in Rowan siena cotton, which I really love. It’s got such solid, strong colours, and it does make nice tight shapes. I would say these aren’t really the most umm… I dunno – they’re not the softest monkeys, this kind of tight cotton crochet feels much more like it’s creating toys for the shelf of an adult, or perhaps just slightly gentler fingers. They’re quite small too, which I like. I’ve been meaning to make a pair of monkeys in opposite colours for ages, and so these are being made at the same time. Non-identical twins.
Unlike the yellow monkey, who looks rather uncertain I think, these fellas look pretty confident. They actually look a little bit like trouble, if you ask me. We’ll see what they’re like when they’re finished…
Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to Wool House, a showcase of wool at Somerset House, in London. It’s a collection of rooms, each decorated and designed by different designers. There’s some lovely work there, and it’s a nice place for a morning’s mooch. The first room by Kit Kemp was my favourite I think – or actually, that’s not strictly true. It had lots of things in it I liked, and was perhaps closest to my taste. Lovely colours, and a few nice things I could happily of run off with, like this chair and cushion:
And this was the wallpaper, which I also liked. (The ceilings were very high, and the repeat on the pattern isn’t too dense, so it wouldn’t drive you nuts). Again, nice colours, machine embroidery I guess:
The other room that really caught my attention was by Anne Kyyrö Quinn. Lots of interesting folded felt, creating textures and patterns with light. Also, bright vibrant colours that grabbed you by the throat and made you feel a little bit more alive:
Filed under: amigurumi, crochet, embroidery, learning | 7 Comments
Tags: amigurumi, commutercraft, crochet, embroidery, knitting, machineembroidery, somersethouse, wool, woolhouse, yarn
Ok, I take it back about yellow. At the end of my last post I said that if you buy yellow thread you’re hardly ever likely to use it. This post disproves all that I guess. Also, I really love that golden sunshine yellow, purely because it reminds me of sunny days, so lord knows what I was thinking. Sorry about that.
I had a little adventure last weekend. A friend and I rented a cottage for a couple of days. I arrived with a sewing machine, cutting board, various yarns, half a monkey’s head and wine. She arrived with weaving, fabric, different yarns – and scones and clotted cream. To be frank, I’m not sure its possible to arrive armed with anything better! We had a lovely weekend where she conquered (I think) her fear of sewing machines, and I made myself do some embroidery – and finish the monkey. This is our little front room – and on the sofa you’ll spot a blanket beautifully crocheted by my friend’s mum, which came along for the ride. (I can see where my friend gets her super-neat and even stitches from.)
I decided to fill the middle of the wreath I’d tatted with french knots. The joy of a cottage in the country complete with wi-fi means a quick look on You Tube and you’re off in no time. Then I kind of carried on – and actually I think, got carried away. I added the pink on a whim – the skeins of yellow and pink looked so good (and clashy) next to each other that I thought it would be alright. I think it’s a bit too much in reality, perhaps sticking with the yellow and blue alone would’ve been better? I dunno.
It’s all pretty messy, but I quite like the mix of embroidery and tatting, so I’ll try it again I think. This is the size 50 tatting thread. I think it works well for this kind of thing. I usually tat with size 80, but I think that could be too small. We’ll soon find out as I’m halfway through another version of this wreath.
This was the other option incidentally. I crocheted this rose ages ago, I think with DMC Perlé thread and found it in a jar! Good colour match, but I thought it really was Time To Tackle Embroidery. (That said, it looks rather tasteful by comparison. Oh well.)
The monkey in question arrived as a head and left as a fully formed monkey. It was him that took most of the time, to be honest – it’s amazing how long thy really take VS how long you *think* they take. I couldn’t get his mouth right AT ALL. This is probably the 4th or 5th mouth. In the end I used some linen thread, which was a bit random, but I’d tried embroidery thread and wool and both of them looked awful. Now he’s done, I think he’s quite sweet:
He looks kind of hopeful I think. I’ve said it before, and will no doubt say it again, but the placement of the mouth and eyes is everything when it comes to toys. Get that right and I swear it’s half the battle. And that’s a knitted scarf! The first ever scarf I’ve knitted for one of my toys. This monkey is a gift for my friend’s daughter who is one year old this week. She’s the one I crocheted a blanket for a year ago. I mentioned that it might be an idea for him to sit on the shelf for a bit, as I’m not sure how he’ll take to being chewed, but we’ll see
Right. Better get on with the weekend. Enjoy yours!
Filed under: amigurumi, commutercraft, crochet, embroidery, knitting, learning, Needlework, tatting | 21 Comments
Tags: amigurumi, crochet, embroidery, knitting, linen, sewing, tatting