Archive for the ‘nalebinding’ Category


Joined rings–finally got it right!

Learning to tat is challenging me quite a bit more than anything else I’ve tried. It has taken me days, actual days, to figure out how to make and flip the loops correctly, make a passable ring, and then join the rings together. I’ve watched innumerable video tutorials, read tons of written tutorials, and still it took days, but finally, I’ve figured it out enough to make the two small pieces pictured. Not much, I know, but quite a bit more progress than my first attempt!! For me, at least, it’s proving difficult to learn.

Now that I’ve (sort of) got the hang of rings and joins, I decided to try chains. As of right now, I haven’t yet found a tutorial, video or otherwise, that makes sense to me. I’ve nearly thrown the shuttle across the room in frustration a number of times. A couple of things have stopped me from following through on that desire. One, it would be childish. Not that I’m totally above childishness by any means–I do have two young children and occasionally find myself sinking to their level–but I have to draw the line somewhere. Two, I refuse to be beaten by a teeny-tiny piece of plastic. That’s just not an option here.  And three, if I threw it, as cluttered as this room is, and as small as the shuttle itself is, I might never see it again…until I step on the pointy end. I have a feeling that though it may not hurt as much as stepping on a Lego (if you have kids, you know exactly what that feels like!), it is still bound to be an unpleasant experience.

So, in the interest of maintaining my sanity, I have put the shuttle down for a few hours.

Honestly, I think I had less trouble learning the basics of naalbinding! Part of my problem lies in using the #10 crochet thread, I’m sure. The stitches are so small they’re hard to see. On the other hand, I don’t understand the chain concept no matter what I use!!! For instance, the book and the tutorial all mention the “ball thread”. Okay, I understand that there’s a thread that is attached to the ball, and another thread that leads to the shuttle. What I don’t understand is how and where the ball thread enters the equation, and can you make a chain with just the shuttle thread? If not, and you have to use the ball thread, where is it and how is it attached while you’re creating the ring? I’m completely at sea here. I’m still hunting for a video that I actually understand. Eventually, I’ll find one, I’m sure. There must be that one person out there that’ll have a video that finally makes that “click” for me, I’ve just gotta keep digging.

One of the nicest things about tatting is the cost of materials. A ball of crochet thread is well under $5, as well as the plastic shuttle. I finally figured out how to use the Aerlit shuttle, and I love the hook at the end for pulling thread through the picots, but the vote for ease of use goes to the Clover shuttles. The bobbin of the Aerlit can get hung up, which doesn’t happen with the bobbin-less Clover version.

And, oh, my, the number of really cute shuttles available on Etsy is just mind boggling! But I had enough willpower to limit myself to just one that I ordered from a shop in Budapest, Hungary called Banyek (As a side note, it seems that all of the wood creations I like most come from overseas. I wonder why that is?). His shop has a ton of good reviews, so I’m looking forward to seeing the shuttle I ordered. I’m hoping he’s as good as Ampstrike, which is still my favorite shop for weaving tools. And now that I’m thinking about it, I wonder if he can make tatting shuttles as well…now I’ve gotta ask him!


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Andean plying tool from Straddle Creek Spins.

Andean plying tool from Straddle Creek Spins.

It has been almost two weeks since Smoky left us to cross the Bridge, and we’re all still trying to deal with the change. There have been some bad moments, such as the night I needed to run to the bank. After dark, normally Smoky was the one I would take with me on such an errand. She was the watchful one, unlike the other three, who are far too friendly – or submissive, in Mac’s case – to guard anything. The realization that I’d lost my girl hit again and resulted in crying in my hubby’s arms while standing at the front door, ready to leave. I went alone that night, and thought about Smoky the whole way to the bank and back.

The other moment was a typical, everyday moment: the fire department across the street  sent trucks screaming, and all the dogs, both inside and out, started howling. Mac and Thor were in the backyard, so their howling wasn’t as ear-shattering, but Bandit, inside because her Houdini-like ways are not to be trusted, about exploded my head. She sounded so much like her sister that it was an easy, knee-jerk response to yell, “Shut up, Smok–” and then break off mid-name because I had just realized I was yelling at someone who was no longer there to make the noise I was yelling about. Of course, this meant more tears while hiding from the kids in the laundry room. The transition from four dogs to three is not proving to be easy.

But life doesn’t stop. There is still homework to be done, children to feed, dogs to groom, a house to clean, and so on. While I can’t bring myself to do much with it yet, even during the few minutes I give myself between assignments and housework, it has been a good month for fiber arts.

The Black Pearl

The Black Pearl

The Saturday before Smoky’s departure (sorry, right now life is divided into Before Smoky Left and After Smoky Left), I scored a beautiful Schacht Mighty Wolf floor loom from a very nice lady who is no longer weaving. The loom, now christened the Black Pearl, is fifteen years old and has barely had any use. Other treasures included an entire library of weaving books, some of which I already had;  a bobbin winder, extra heddles and shuttles, and a drum carder. I also scored a 14″ triangle loom from Hazel Rose Looms, and the Andean plying tool and Mayan spinner arrived this morning from Straddle Creek Spins.

The drum carder, the plying tool, and the spinner did get tried out. During one of my breaks, I made a batt of Sibe fur with the drum carder. I’m told it looks right, although I didn’t expect it to be as big as it is. I love the Mayan spinner, though I’m still trying to get the hang of it even though the actual use is really easy. As in, “the kids will love this” easy. And the Andean plying tool is a work-in-progress, as I haven’t yet finished winding on the yarn from the spindle. That may take some time. But I love them both and many thanks to John for the beautiful work!

I also forgot to mention the naalbinding needles I got from a friend of mine in the Netherlands. He does awesome and arcane things with ivory. I bought two needles from him, carved from mammoth ivory that is 15,000 years old. Holding them gives me a chill, in a good way. I’d love to post a link for him, but when I last spoke to him, business was brisk and very nearly overwhelming, so I will leave it up to him to post a link in comments if he’d like to!

Sibe fur batt

Sibe fur batt

Mayan spinner from Straddle Creek Spins

Mayan spinner from Straddle Creek Spins

Drum carder

Drum carder

14" triangle loom from Hazel Rose Looms

14″ triangle loom from Hazel Rose Looms

Naalbinding needles, made of 15,000 year old mammoth ivory, made by a friend in the Netherlands.

Naalbinding needles, made of 15,000 year old mammoth ivory, made by a friend in the Netherlands.

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I’m beginning to think that that’s what I love the most: the process of making something. Having a finished, useful object is nice too, and a bonus if I can get it, but what I really enjoy is the process and seeing something come together as a fabric. There’s a rhythm I get into with weaving. Lay in a shot, change sheds, beat, lay in a shot, change sheds, beat…if you’re quick enough, you can dance to it! Or do each step along with music!

With beading, it was all about the finished object. It was about design. And yes, it was and continues to be fun for me. But with weaving, knitting, crocheting, if I’m really unsure of what I want to do, I can just keep going until I have a scarf or a blanket or potholder or washcloth or towel. Or a bag. Bags are always good! You can never have too many bags.

Now I find myself wanting to try nalebinding. I’m discovering that I’m curious about almost all the fiber arts, or maybe it’s just an excuse to buy another wonderful wooden tool. Yes, my favorite Etsy store, Ampstrike, sells plum wood nalebinding needles. How did you know?

I think it is just as much about the tools as it is the process of making something. There’s something about the feel of well-crafted wood. It’s smooth and satiny feeling, and almost feels soft. If you’ve ever kept a tumbled worry stone in your pocket, you know what I’m talking about. Wood can feel the same way, if done right.

Maybe I’m overanalyzing things. Maybe I should just say that I love what I do and not try to figure out the “whithertos and whyfores” and just enjoy it!

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