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Friday, April 20, 2018

Ready for Spring

I'm ready for the temperatures to stabilize so I can plant a vegetable garden in the back yard. The poor plants have been sitting inside under grow lights for months, as I wait for the freeze warnings to dissipate. In the meantime, I've tatted a flowery bookmark in bright spring colors:


This bookmark is made in Lizbeth size 40 thread, Coral Splash and Leaf Green Medium. The design is something I came up with earlier this week. As I was tatting this, I couldn't help but think that it is reminiscent of the Priscilla bookmark. The placement of elements is similar, however this pattern uses self closing mock rings while the Priscilla bookmark has regular rings. 

I have some other bookmark designs that I am working on as well. Between bookmarks and the table runner, I will be plenty busy with tatting for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

100 Trefoils

My table runner is up to 100 trefoils now. It's about 20% of the way finished:


In the photo below, you can see the end of the table runner in the bottom left corner. This will hang over the edge of the table. I'm tapering it to give it more visual interest. The tapering is hard to see right now, but will become clearer as I progress with the design.


Here's a view from further back to get an idea of how the project will sit on the table. As you can see, there's still a long way to go:


Earlier this week, I received my order of Liz Metallic thread. I got Rose, Raspberry Pink, Sea Foam, Silver, Sand Dollar, and Gold Dust:


I thought it would be fun to make a flowery bookmark with metallic thread, and that's why I bought the Raspberry Pink and Sea Foam. I'm still not sure what I will make with the other colors.

I also wanted to continue my thread size comparisons for the Liz Metallic. In my last blog post, I found that the Liz Metallic is noticeably larger than the size 20 Lizbeth. At the time, I didn't have any size 10 thread to compare it to. Well, a few days ago, I managed to find some size 10 Red Heart crochet thread while I was out shopping. I still don't own any size 10 Lizbeth, but am hoping that the size 10 Red Heart is close enough. Here's how the three samples stack up:


The Liz Metallic is right in between the size 20 Lizbeth and the size 10 Red Heart. I'd call the Liz Metallic a size 15, if such a thing exists? 

One final thing before I close out today's blog post. In my last blog post, a few of you said I should submit my color idea for the Liz Metallic thread. Here's an update on that. In response to my suggestion to add a black metallic to the available colors, I was told that Handy Hands is not taking any color suggestions for the Liz Metallic. I was reminded several times that the thread is a metallic (and not a cotton) and therefore they cannot make any color they want.

I also took the opportunity to ask if Handy Hands is planning to expand the metallics to a smaller thread size in the future. The answer to this is also no.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Liz Metallic samples

Yesterday, I finished tatting up the samples of Liz Metallic thread that Diane sent me. I wanted to try the more muted colors in the gold and silver range. Pictured below, top row: Iridescent, Sand Dollar, and Gold Dust. Bottom row: Silver and Frappe.


Here are my overall thoughts about the thread. Firstly, it sparkles a lot more in person than the photographs will show. However, it is slightly less bright and less sparkly than the Oren Bayan gold and silver thread I talked about in my previous post. This is only noticeable if you put the two samples side by side, and is not something I can capture very well in photos.

The Liz Metallic is a really strong thread. It's six cord, and thick. I cannot break it with my hands. (The Oren Bayan is only 3 cord, and I can break it with my hands, though I had no trouble with breakage when closing rings).

When compared with cotton threads, the metallic thread is stiffer and rougher. I tat a little more slowly to compensate for that. I tried five different colors, and four of them were easy to work with. The exception is the Iridescent color, pictured below:


The Iridescent thread looks and feels different than the other metallics. It's not as sparkly, and has more of a pearl look. As for feel? Well, I can only describe it as gummy or gluey. It doesn't have any residue or anything like that, but the thread gets stuck, especially when closing rings. There were a few times I didn't think I'd be able to close the ring and had to put a lot of force into it. Due to the difficulties, I cannot recommend this color for shuttle tatters. If you are a needle tatter, it might work because the stitches aren't as tightly wrapped onto the core thread.

All of the other colors tatted just fine. Rings were easy to close, and some of the metallics slid better than a cotton thread. For these, it's really up to what colors you prefer. I like Silver, pictured below:


I also like Sand Dollar (pictured next to Iridescent for accurate color representation):


Gold Dust is okay, but has a slight greenish undertone to it. I still ordered a ball of Gold Dust so I could finish my motif:


Frappe is a cross between silver and gold, and also has a slightly greenish undertone to it:


Lastly, I'd like to mention the size of the Liz Metallic thread. It is supposed to be comparable to a size 20. However, when I tatted a sample in Lizbeth size 20 white, I saw that it is not the case:


This star motif is from the doily on the cover of Jan Stawasz's Tatted Treasures. As you can see, there is a pretty noticeable size difference between the Lizbeth 20 white (above left) and the Liz Metallic Iridescent (above right). I don't have any size 10 thread to compare this to, but I would guess that the Liz Metallics are somewhere between a size 10 and a size 20. (Just for reference, the other Liz Metallic samples I tatted were exactly the same size as the Iridescent sample pictured above).

Overall, I found the Liz Metallics to be enjoyable to work with and a fun alternative to cotton thread. I ended up ordering six different colors and I'll have to figure out some small projects to make with them. I think this thread has a lot of potential. I'd love to see it in a smaller size in the future, as it might be more suitable for jewelry. I also think a black metallic would be interesting, though I don't know if they have any plans on expanding their color line.

If you have any questions about my experience with the Liz Metallic thread, feel free to ask in the comment section below.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Testing Threads

Over the past few days, I've been testing out some different threads. Linda sent me some Turkish thread and Diane mailed me some samples of the new Liz Metallic thread. I also decided to try out Aunt Lydia's Metallic crochet thread, which I found locally.


I tried the light blue Altin Basak first because I thought it was the prettiest on the spool. It is wound with a strand of silver thread which gives it a sparkly look, but unfortunately I've heard that this thread has been discontinued. A close up photo shows the sparkle well:


This thread is a little difficult to work with, due to the fragility of the silver part. The blue thread is strong, but I did break the silver strand when I wasn't paying attention to closing a ring. It was easy enough to weave back into the next ring though. The woven silver thread makes it bumpy when closing rings, but not too bad. Size wise, it's a little smaller than Lizbeth 20, which is why my six pointed snowflake turned into a seven pointed motif. The central beads which usually pull it together turned out to be a little too big in this case.

Next, I tried size 10 Aunt Lydia's Metallic crochet thread, because it was the closest thing I could find to the Altin Basak locally. There is a very big difference between the two threads, and I wouldn't recommend using the Aunt Lydia's. It's too large for my taste and the silver strand has a tendency to bunch up when closing rings, making the task nearly impossible. Here's a side by side photo of motifs tatted with Altin Basak (left) and Aunt Lydia's (right):


Linda also sent me some metallic Oren Bayan thread, which I was pleasantly surprised with. From the look of it, I thought it would be difficult to use and that I wouldn't like it. However, it was easier to work with than the Altin Basak, and the colors are nice too. First, I made a little flower motif in silver, and because I liked the thread so much, I made a rosette snowflake in gold:


You do have to tat a little more slowly when using the metallic thread, as the stitches need to be carefully slid into place. The thread is much stiffer than cotton, so it tends to kink when stitches are formed. It makes for a very solid snowflake, which keeps its shape well. The thread is strong and did not break when closing rings. Rings close very smoothly, and the stitches slide more easily than they would with a cotton thread.

Yesterday's mail contained samples of the Liz Metallic thread from Diane, which I was eager to try. I tatted a motif with color #327 Gold Dust. Since it was only a sample, I didn't have enough to complete the motif, but it was plenty for me to understand the look and feel of the thread. Here it is next to the Oren Bayan snowflake:


It's really difficult to photograph the sparkle. If you scroll back up to the second photo in this blog post, you can see the sparkle a little better (though the color is too yellow).

As for tatting, the Liz Metallic feels very similar to the Oren Bayan Metallic. It is strong and the stitches slide with ease. The Liz Metallic is thicker (around size 20), while the Oren Bayan feels more like a size 50. The Handy Hands website mentions that the colors may bleed, but I didn't notice anything on my hands after using it. I think the Liz Metallic is a tiny bit easier to use than the Oren Bayan, maybe because the thread is thicker and it doesn't kink when forming stitches. However, I still had to tat a little slower than I would with cotton thread.

I'm going to continue testing the samples of Liz Metallic that Diane sent me, and I'll write more about them later. The Sand Dollar color looks promising, and so does the Silver. The Iridescent color is a little confusing as it looks more like a shiny rayon than a metallic, but we'll see when I tat something with it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Gifts from Linda

Earlier this year, I received a message from Linda Williams asking about the doily I had been working on. We got to talking and she emailed me some pictures of Ice Drops that she had made, some with a sparkly light blue thread (I mistakenly thought it was blocked with glitter glue at first). The thread is Altin Basak, and unfortunately it is being discontinued. Linda surprised me by saying she could still get a hold of the thread, and generously offered to send me a ball. Well, I wasn't expecting all of the other goodies that came along with it!


She sent a ball of the sparkly blue Altin Basak, and some spools of gold and silver Oren Bayan thread:


I also got a couple of Ice Drops which I will be hanging on my Christmas tree this year, and two pretty bracelets:


The silver bracelet has a magnetic clasp which I love. It snaps on and off so easily. If I ever start tatting jewelry, I'll have to look into those magnetic clasps. I didn't know they existed!

Lastly, she sent me a few cards, both of which say "Happy Birthday" on the front. Coincidence, or did she know it was my birthday a few days ago? Thank you Linda, for all of the wonderful gifts.


It was great timing as I had just come back from a birthday trip to Breaks Interstate Park to find Linda's package in the mail. The park has wonderful scenic overlooks of the Appalachian Mountains, but photos fail to capture the feeling of actually being there:



While at the park cottage, I got a little more tatting done on the table runner. Here's what it looks like now:


You can see more of the pattern emerging, though the finished runner is still a bit of a mystery.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

50 Trefoils

The table runner is getting bulky and awkward to work with, even though I'm only 10% of the way done. It's going to be much larger than this:


Here it is on the table. I've completed 50 trefoils, and the finished runner will need around 500:


Friday, March 16, 2018

The start of a very long project

I adjusted the stitch counts for the midline of my table runner, and I think I found something that will work. It's very close, so I should be able to block it into place if needed. I've now started on the actual runner. I had to coil the long end to take a close up photo (looks like coiling a tatted edging could make a flower too):


It's going to be a very long project, and I need to make around 500 of the trefoils. So far I have 25 of them. I began in the middle of the table and then worked my way to the edge before turning. If the table didn't have a line down the middle, I would have started from one end and worked my way to the other end.

I want the runner to drape so that's why the sample hangs over the edge. This end will taper into a point instead of running straight across. More on that as I continue with the project:

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Adjustments needed

I got my shipment from Lacis yesterday, containing the cone of size 20 Lizbeth thread. Looks like this will be plenty for several large projects:


However, I can't get started on the table runner just yet. As suspected, the midline of the runner is difficult to get right. My tatted sample (pictured above) curves inward in the middle instead of forming straight lines down each side. I have a few adjustments in mind, but will have to tat a subsection to see if it works. I hope to have that figured out by next week.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Table runner design progress

Here's where I'm at with the table runner design. First, I needed to make a tatted draft where I could experiment with different stitch counts, edge options, etc. I took this photo while sitting on the couch and you can see all of the tatted scraps on the corner table.


After this draft comes a final sample, so I can make sure everything fits together before embarking on the larger project. It's still a work in progress, and I need to come down the right side and then tat the bottom half. I'm using gray thread because it shows up well in a scan which will be useful to include in the finished pattern.


Of particular importance is the bottom edge of the tatted sample in the photo above. It will become the midline of the table runner and needs to line up with the center of the trefoil in the lower left of the sample. Here is the line that I'm talking about:


I won't be certain that it works until I loop back around and finish the sample. Even if it doesn't work it will be close enough to gauge the adjustments needed for the actual table runner.

It might be a couple more weeks before I get this sample finished, and collect enough white thread of the same dye lot to begin the table runner. Handy Hands is all out of the size 20 Lizbeth cones, so I've ordered from Lacis and am hoping it will ship (rather than be cancelled due to lack of stock). If not, I might have to order the individual balls from Handy Hands and see if they can send me 6 in the same dye lot. I'll keep the blog updated as I progress with things.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

From bookmark to table runner?

I thought some of you might be interested to see me turn a bookmark pattern into a table runner. I'm at the beginning stages now and will be working with this design:


A little backstory: Ever since I made a magic square, I wondered what other shapes could be tatted infinitely, in one pass. I thought about making a magic rectangle, and drew some possible paths for it. Since a bookmark is rectangular in shape, it seemed like a perfect building block for a magic rectangle.

To get started, I took a birds eye photo of the bookmark pictured above, and digitally spliced it together using an app called Photo Grid. I then drew missing elements using another app called You Doodle:


I soon realized that the magic square path would be too complicated for a rectangular project, and that it was much easier to zig-zag back and forth. Here is a sample of a zig-zag path, also drawn with You Doodle:


If you look closely, you will notice that the zig-zag path is not completable on the tatting pictured above. I have to redesign the midsection to create a continuous path which will allow me to travel from one "bookmark" to the next.

I often work with a lot of digitally altered images, which I keep stored in my iPad's photo album. It gives me a visual roadmap of where to take my tatting, and an idea of how the larger project will look. Next time, I'll show some of the redesigns involved in getting the zig-zag path to work.


Speaking of bookmarks, I've been talking to Dorothy Cochran over on Etsy (link to her shop), and she has sent me written instructions for the Priscilla Bookmark. I've updated the pattern to include these instructions, and you can find it on my free patterns page or directly by clicking here. Thanks Dorothy!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Tiny Tatting

I stopped by Jo-Ann Fabrics to look through their collection of sewing thread. They had some nice colors in the Gütermann Dekor embroidery thread, so I bought one to try it out for tatting. It's 100% viscose and color #9945. I used it to make a heart:


This is the first time I've tried tatting with something other than cotton. I was surprised because it was easier to work with than I thought. It's VERY tiny though. Smaller than size 100 tatting thread, and nearly impossible to see the stitches. The picots don't keep their shape very well (the thread unravels), but the heart pattern doesn't have any decorative picots so it worked out okay.

Here's a photo comparing the sizes. Size 40 Lizbeth on the left, Güterman Dekor in the middle, and size 20 Lizbeth on the right:


Overall a fun experiment, but I'm not sure how often I will make something so small. It's difficult on the hands because the stitches need to be snugged very tightly. The rings were hard to close at times and I couldn't really see what I was doing when I sewed in the ends. I do like how tiny it is though:


Friday, January 26, 2018

Doily

Well, I've finally finished the instructions and test tatting for this doily. I know why I don't tat many doilies now. They just take so long to make, and this one isn't even that big!


Instructions for the doily can be found in my Etsy shop (click here to go directly to the listing). I proofread and test tatted this myself, as I do with all of my patterns. I didn't feel comfortable sending out such a big pattern for others to test, so if you find any errors or confusing parts, be sure to let me know.

The doily above was tatted in Lizbeth size 40 thread, White and Wildflower Garden. Here it is next to the all white doily that I tatted as a prototype. (The white doily was tatted in size 20 Lizbeth thread):


It's interesting how the addition of color changes a pattern so much. The medallions are more prominent in the colorful doily, while the negative spaces are more prominent in the white doily.

In size 40, the doily measures 8.75 inches across and in size 20 it measures 10.6 inches across. Both seem to be suitable under a large vase:


I think that will be it for shop patterns until late summer or early fall. A couple of years ago I was asked if I would make a collection of bookmark patterns. I meant to work on that last year, but got distracted by snowflakes. Perhaps bookmarks will be my next project?

Edit: I forgot to add a thank you to those who voted for me on Craftree for best tatting designer! I get embarrassed by these types of things and try to pretend they didn't happen. But Diane has posted about her award and emailed me so I figured I'd better acknowledge it! So, thank you and congratulations to all of the other winners :)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Heart

Here's a photo of the design I created while taking a break from tatting my doily:


This pattern is inspired by a lot of classic tatted hearts, specifically designs that use an outline to represent the heart. As such, I've called this pattern "Classic Heart." You can find it in my Etsy shop by clicking here.

The sets of double rings have proven to be a really versatile tatting element. I've used them in several designs, including the doily from my previous post. By changing ring size and join location, a lot of different curves and angles can be made.

I tatted 12 hearts before I got the angles correct and finalized the stitch counts. While I was experimenting, I could see the potential for outlining several other shapes as well. Not that I would do it, but I bet the alphabet could be tatted with ring sets like this. Also spades, clubs, and diamonds to go along with the heart (as in playing cards), but I'm not sure how good those would look as just outlines.

So far, I've only tatted three hearts from the finished pattern:


When I get the chance, I'd like to try a few more color combinations to see how they look.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Round and round...

I've been battling a cold for the past few weeks, which is why I haven't been posting to my blog. I'm feeling much better now and just have a lingering cough.

In the meantime, I've continued to test tat my latest doily:


This round is particularly slow and tedious. I couldn't help but to take a break from it to create a new, much smaller design. I'll write more about that soon.