Archive for the ‘tatting’ Category

Beadsmith Chroma. Chain and flat nose pliers.

Well, ten sets and counting. I’ve been assured by other maillers that I haven’t gone overboard on pliers yet, so it’s not really a plethora, but it’s working toward becoming one! Currently, I have short nose, chain nose, needle nose, armorer’s, and a couple of others, all by various companies. The ones pictured are the Beadsmith Chroma pliers, and I freely admit it: I bought them more because they were pretty than that they were practical.

Don’t get me wrong; in a pinch, I can actually use them for chain maille, and I have, because I had to try them out as soon as they arrived, right? So they do work, but the grip is very, very slippery. I spent as much time picking them up as I did using them, because they would shoot out of my hands. If I can find some slip-on grips for them, they’ll be a lot better. I suppose I could always wrap the handles in some kind of self adhesive tape, but then they wouldn’t be pretty anymore.

I’ve found that each set of pliers works for me for different things. For example, for smaller rings, I love my Xurons. They have angled heads, so you can get more plier on the ring without the two pliers really messing with each other. My chain nose are my second choice for smaller rings. For larger rings, I like my Tronex flat nose pliers. And I haven’t tried it yet, but my thought is to use my armorer’s pliers for the titanium stash I’ve got. I did a Byzantine chain in titanium, and I used my flat nose pliers for it, and titanium being as strong as it is, it was very hard on my hands. With softer metals, I can maille for hours, but with something like that, I’m taking breaks every fifteen minutes. I’m hopeful that it’ll be better using the armorer’s pliers. They have the widest short nose of all my pliers…thus far lol. I have no doubt that I’ll gradually add more pliers to the herd!

A herd of Dreamlit shuttles

Moving on to tatting shuttles here, I’ve finally given the new Dreamlit shuttle a good run. My overall impression is that I like it, but I don’t love it. For one, it doesn’t carry as much thread as many of my other shuttles, so if I want to do a larger piece with fewer joins (which is always my preference, as joining on new thread is a pain for me), I’m going to go with one of my higher capacity shuttles. And it could be just me, but I seem to catch the hook at the end a lot more often with the Dreamlit than I do my other shuttles with hooks. That may be my fault, though, and not an issue with the shuttle at all.

I like how the shuttle comes apart to place or remove the bobbin. The magnet is just right, not too strong or too weak. Everything about the shuttle is easy, which is nice. If it had more thread capacity, it’d be perfect. For smaller projects, it is perfect.

And I should clarify my comments on thread capacity: the thinnest thread I use is size 20. Anything smaller is going to require me to have new eyeballs. Meaning that those who use size 40 and 80 thread may have no problem with the load it can carry. So, overall, I like it.

So there’s today’s two cents. Hope you enjoyed! Happy crafting!


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A soon to be done chain maille bracelet in rainbow niobium.

Nope, I’m not a Game of Thrones fan. Before anyone who is flips out, I did read the books, years before the series, and didn’t like any of the characters. I’ve gotta be able to connect with a character, and pretty much none of them were really likable people. I re-read them again after the series began, and tried the series itself, and just couldn’t do it. The only characters I liked were the direwolves. Sorry, no converts here.

But the post is more about the fact that winter is coming, which means the holiday season, which starts with Halloween in this house. And which honestly didn’t occur to me until just this second. After I’ve started on the Yule-themed tatted bookmark. Well, it won’t be the first time I’ve had more than one project going at once! Time to find my Halloween thread!

I started Yule shopping for the kids a few months ago, so I’m just about done with that, except for two items. Which I’m not going to mention, as Aneira is now more internet connected and may read this! I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m done a couple of months early, actually, and now I’m thinking in terms of handmade things I can add to the mix. Fall, winter, and holiday themed things maybe. Some amigurumi toys. Bracelets and necklaces. Bags, although I did that once already. Fortunately, they’re girls, and we can never have too many bags, bracelets, necklaces, or stuffed animals. And don’t think I don’t have my own stuffed animals, because you’d be dead wrong!! There’s a whole box up in my bedroom waiting to be unpacked as soon as I make enough room for them! And I’ve no shame in admitting it; I even sleep with a Stitch pillow, and no one better touch him!

L – R: beaded kumihimo, Byzantine in niobium, Byz in titanium, box weave in aluminum, JPL3 in aluminum, and three more JPL3 in niobium.

I’ve worked on a few things since we’ve been in the new house, all portable crafts, since I can’t justify tying myself to the looms just yet, until the house is fully unpacked, as much as I’d prefer not to wait that long. But I have to be a responsible adult for some things, so there you go.

I finally learned some beaded kumihimo, which is somehow both challenging and yet easier than I expected it to be. I learned a couple of new chain maille weaves, and expanded the tatting shuttle collection a bit. One day, I’ll have to photograph that as a group. And the plier collection has grown as well.

I honestly thought I was crazy with that one. I think I have about ten sets of pliers currently, and I thought I was going overboard with that many, but I’ve since discovered that many maillers have a lot more than ten!!

Dreamlit tatting shuttle

As much as I usually say something pro/con about my many tools, it occurs to me that I’ve never said a word about my pliers! Never even thought about it! I think it’s because the other tools I’ve talked about here have been tools specifically made for fiber arts, where pliers are a common household tool almost from birth. Yes, the ones I have serve a specific purpose, but still fall into the category of pliers, and I’ve never thought much about them. So that’s an idea for a future post.

There’ll be one about the Dreamlit tatting shuttle too…those are new, and I’m just trying them out for the first time.

Ooooo, and I learned to make tandoori chicken!!! What a hit that was with the kids! Not the hubby, so much, but the kids loved it. Aneira and I had gone to lunch at a little Indian restaurant while waiting for her eye exam, and it was the first time we’d had tandoori chicken. SOOOOOO good! And Aneira asked me a month later to try making it, so I did. I didn’t expect it to come out all that great, not the first time, but it tasted just like the restaurant! Needless to say, that’s been added to the repertoire!

Well, the dogs have just put in a howling appearance, so I’d better go see what’s going on with them. Happy crafting!

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While I try to organize the studio so that I can actually use it well, it’s good that some of the things I do are a lot easier to be done nearly anywhere. About the easiest thing to carry around with me is tatting. I keep a loaded shuttle, small crochet hook, and a picot gauge in a tiny Ziploc bag. I can chuck it into a purse and take it with me wherever I go, or just go into the living room and tat while we all watch tv.

Chain maille, crochet, and knitting are easy to move around as they don’t require a lot either, although crochet and knitting are quite a bit bulkier and require their own bags apart from a purse, in order to carry a skein of yarn. Chain maille is another I can do a small go kit for, since all I need for that is a two pairs of pliers and a supply of rings in whatever metal I’m working in at that moment. Pliers are still bulkier than a tatting shuttle, but not as bulky as a skein of yarn.

Having at least some portability is great, because I would lose my mind if I was completely unable to do anything until the studio is done to my satisfaction!

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It’s been awhile since I added new tatting shuttles to the herd! Four arrived within the last two days, and I had nearly forgotten about them entirely. One was another bone shuttle from SergKostyukovDesign. This one is an adorable bunny, and brings my collection of his shuttles to ten. I’ve done practice runs with all of them and found them to be very nice to tat with.

The other three come from The Knotted Vine, another shop from which I’ve bought plenty of shuttles. These came about because she had made a beautiful purple shuttle, my favorite color, and I ordered it back in January. For some reason, PayPal presented her with my old address rather than my new one, so it was shipped there. Naturally, when confronted, the people at my old address claimed not to have it and that they returned it. Needless to say, that shuttle has never been seen again. I never received it, and it was never returned to her. I’d like to say I was surprised, but I’m not.

All gorgeous, but I LOVE the butterfly!

So I received a new shuttle design she had been working on, in the shape of a butterfly that is gorgeous and tats very well, and two others of a type I’ve bought before. I can’t say I’m unhappy! But I’m hoping she makes another purple chandelier shuttle soon!

The practice run with the butterfly

I really need to sit down with my shuttle collection and organize them according to where I bought them so I can keep groups together. Maybe I’ll be able to do that while the kids are out for summer break. Wait, who am I kidding? I’ll have two kids home arguing, day in and day out. I’ll be hard-pressed to maintain some level of sanity in this house lol!

Practice run with the bunny

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Saturday was Distaff Day, a day when a whole bunch of spinners get together somewhere and spin all day, and vendors have tables displaying their various fiber goodies. And I went, but without my beautiful Anansi, my Kromski Sonata. I haven’t maintenanced him in months. Between being in storage, the move, the unpacking, and the children, I haven’t had time. So I attended my first Distaff Day wheelless.

On the other hand, I scored a bunch of silk fiber, targhee, and yarn. I can’t complain. Then, while waiting for my lunch to be ready at a downtown restaurant, I found several tatting shuttles that weren’t in my collection, some tatting thread, and a book on knitting cables.

I needed the break that day. Bryony has been home sick since last Friday, and the PIP has it now as well. I absolutely needed to be away from the house and family for awhile.

So. Many. Wheels. Quite a few spinners turned out with their wheels, and it made me really wish I’d done the maintenance on mine sooner. There were wheels that I had looked at in the past, before Anansi joined the family, that I had not bought primarily because they were expensive. No, allow me to rephrase: Anansi was expensive. The wheels I had looked at and not bought were way outside my wheel budget. As in over $1000. As in ouch.

I’m realizing, though, that I may actually need a second wheel. Anansi always has Siberian Husky fur loaded up, being my primary (read, only) wheel. I have a ton of other fiber I’d like to spin up (case in point, the quiviut sitting in my fiber box right now). A second wheel would come in handy. I would love to have the Golding Celtic Queen wheel, but the price tag on that one starts at $11,500. They carry floor looms too, and those start at nearly the same. I can look, and I can daydream, but reality dictates that I can’t buy. And I’m pretty sure that even used, they would still be prohibitively expensive. Le sigh.

But I am on the lookout for a reasonably priced secondhand wheel. Good thing I’m not in a hurry.

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Flat, carved bone tatting shuttles from the Ukraine

It’s review time!!! I found these fabulous-looking shuttles…okay, they were found by someone in the tatting shuttle group on Facebook, not me, per-se, but that doesn’t make them less fabulous, and I’ve been collecting them since I saw the first one.

They come from an artist in the Ukraine, who has a store on Etsy: SergKostyukovDesign. They’re carved of bone, and they’re flat shuttles, as opposed to most of my others. They’re mostly carved into animal shapes, as you can see from the photo: one carries two different colors of thread at the same time (I haven’t figured out how to use it yet!), then there’s a mackerel, an owl, a crocodile, and a hedgehog. He’s made others, but I haven’t ordered any more yet, though I plan to.

I’ve discovered there’s a learning curve here. I’ve never used a flat shuttle for tatting before, and I also generally tat with size 3 or 10 thread, and this shuttle is made for much thinner thread. I have one ball of size 20 thread, and it was almost too thick for the shuttle. But once I got the hang of

Crocodile shuttle, locked, loaded, and ready to rock!

threading it, I got the job done. It was slower going than with my other shuttles, but it’s the first time I’ve used a flat shuttle, so that could have been it.

Once loaded, working with it was no different than any other shuttle, and it works beautifully. I only did a little practice piece, a couple of rings, so I can’t wait to work with it for real!

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First mochila well underway!

First mochila well underway!

Now that I’ve brought the impending holidays to my own attention, suddenly the impetus to do and to make things is much greater. I didn’t honestly realize myself that the holidays were just around the corner. Ninety days is not a lot of time if you plan on making most of the gifts yourself.

With that in mind, I went looking for tapestry crochet and mochila tutorials last night after posting. The picture is the result of that search.

If you already crochet, this is not really all that difficult, especially if you also have any skill in Fair Isle knitting, which I do not. This is all single crochet in the round, which I’ve done before, but what’s new for me is doing it in more than one color at the same time. Once you start working another color, you do not cut off the first color. You carry it inside your stitches and switch back and forth according to the needs of the pattern, without cutting any of the yarns you’re working with. Whichever yarn isn’t in use is along for the ride in the stitches, waiting to be needed again, and thus, no knots. This is actually really cool, but at first I thought, “That amounts to a lot of wasted yarn”, because it’s carried for the duration of the project. If you weren’t using it, it would be a lot of wasted yarn, but once I got into the pattern, I realized how much color switching I’m doing as I go, and if I cut the yarn and tied it off at every color change, it would probably cost me more in waste than just carrying it in the first place.

Charting the pattern wasn’t that hard either. After I figured out the number of stitches per row, I figured out how many pattern repeats I could fit into that window, then charted it based upon one repeat within that criteria. For example, each row has 126 stitches. If you divide that by 7, you get a whole number: 18. So my pattern had to fit within 18 squares horizontally across the graph paper, and there would be 7 equally spaced repeats around the mochila. I made my own version of graph paper with a piece of looseleaf paper–my printer still does not recognize its own ink cartridges–and plotted out a simple arrow design, and started the bag.

There are mistakes. Oh, are there ever! I must have been really tired last night, because I forgot about stitch markers and just relied on my own memory–never a good idea! So somehow I completely overshot my projected 126 stitches. I first noticed it a few rounds into the body of the bag, and when I counted them up–again, still without stitch markers–I came up with something like 140 stitches.

Clearly, I was foggy brained, because rather than ripping it all out, I went with decreasing instead, counting backwards in my head. Still didn’t remember to get the stitch markers.

Naturally, once the arrow pattern began, I wondered why there were a lot more stitches between the last arrow and the first one, when all of the others were evenly spaced. I shrugged it off and kept going. It wasn’t until I picked up the work half an hour ago that I remembered to get the stitch markers and count off every twenty stitches to place one. Guess what? 131 stitches. And guess what else? I am not ripping it all out. Nor am I going to decrease. I am going to brazen it out. Aneira is never going to notice anyway, and I’ll do better on the next one.

The current plan is to make a mochila for each girl, plus some micro-macrame jewelry, some kumihimo jewelry, tat some bookmarks in each of their favorite colors, and at least try to get their Night Fury stuffed dragons finished. I have my doubts about getting those done in time. I haven’t even begun on Aneira’s.

The mochilas being the largest projects, those are getting done first. Because the kids are so small yet, I can knock out all the jewelry pieces within a week, and I’ve gotten good enough with the two Mary Konior tatted braid patterns that I have that the same goes for those. A couple of gift boxes to wrap each of the smaller gifts, pile them all into each bag, and my contribution to the gift-giving process is covered. That’s the plan, and I get to practice my skills in a number of fiber arts while I’m at it. If I have any time left, maybe I’ll add some scarves to the lot, or some fingerless mitts. Ninety days? Pffft…I’m a mom, I can do anything…I hope!! And the only things I’ll have to buy are jewelry findings, which are fairly inexpensive. This will be a mom-win. Thank the gods I have a huge stash of everything I need to do this!!

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Mary Konior pattern Leaf Braid. I started too wide, and now have them where they should be!

Mary Konior pattern Leaf Braid. I started too wide, and now have them where they should be!

I was on Pinterest, and something new popped up on my feed. Not cool. I haven’t even tried the ply-split braiding or the Japanese hook-tatting yet, and here’s another thing coming along to pique my interest. This time it’s micro-macrame.

I wouldn’t have thought macrame. In fact, I’ve seen macrame pop up on my feed before, and I’ve laughed, because I tried it back in…well, never mind when. 🙂 The point is, my thought was that macrame was outdated. Then macrame jewelry started showing up on my feed. And it was gorgeous. And it was colorful, which it really wasn’t when I was a kid. It was always the rough brown hemp, and everyone had nets for hanging plants or decorative owls. That’s the extent of what I remember macrame being used for. But now there’s all this coming up, which necessitated the starting of another board. So what was there to do but start looking into it?

Lo and behold, I already have most of what I need to play with this. The thread that I bought for kumihimo and discovered I hated for that purpose is suggested for use in micro-macrame. The design board I made for my stained glass class is perfect for working on it. I have a self-healing cutting mat. Scissors abound…there must be four or five of those in my studio alone. Really, the only thing I don’t have is head pins or T-pins, which are easy enough to find, and cheap enough to buy. And I do have all that thread in my stash to use up, after all…

Yup. Another rabbit hole.

Celtic tatting isn’t going all that well right now. It’s very confusing, in and of itself, and the first mistake I made was in the thread I was using. I had a sample of a tweedy, red-white-and-blue #10 Lizbeth thread that I’d gotten in the mail for free. The thread really doesn’t appeal to me, so I thought it was perfect for practice, and really, how hard could this possibly be, right? I mean, I use double stitches every time I tat. And after the number of times I did that bookmark, I’m really good at chains, so it can’t be that bad…

Yes, oh, yes it can! I was warned. I should have listened. Celtic tatting is weaving long chains together to make knotwork. I’m not making combinations of rings and chains, I’m only making chains. Very. Long. Chains.

I fought with that pattern until four am, at which point I ripped it all out in frustration. The mistake I made in the thread resulted in the fact that the very busy-ness of the coloration made it nearly impossible to differentiate between stitches, and then by line three of the instructions, the directions given were confusing to me. So I’m going to try again, this time with plain white thread.

The tatted braid projects are going very well, though. I’ve discovered that I really like doing the braids, and I’m trying to figure out how to turn them into something other than bookmarks. Not that there’s a thing wrong with bookmarks, but I’m fond of bracelets, necklaces, and barefoot sandals too!

I’m finding that tatting–other than Celtic, that is–is not so much about complexity. At its most basic, from what I can see as a novice, it’s mastering rings, chains, picots, and joins, and a design is maneuvering those same items into an aesthetically pleasing configuration. The complexity comes from how many of those things are used in the design, and keeping track of both them and where they go. Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!!! I freely admit that I’m a novice, and may be missing aspects of things! And even if I’m right, it doesn’t make it less of an art form. Sometimes it is gorram hard to keep track of everything!!

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Tatting hooks, lacquered shuttles, bone shuttles, and Celtic shuttles

Tatting hooks, lacquered shuttles, bone shuttles, and Celtic shuttles

I need an intervention, and I already know that I cannot count on all of you other fiber arts nuts out there to give me one! You will enable me, one and all, lol! My tatting shuttles bred again, like I mentioned in a previous post. Those shuttles and Japanese hook tatting tools arrived today, and after I oohed and ahhhed over these six items, I counted up my tatting shuttles. Forty-six!!! How did I lose so much control? Where did I go wrong? Did the rabbits rub off on the shuttles? What’s going on here???

I didn’t know, when I started this, how much I was going to enjoy tatting. In fact, in all honesty, I wasn’t sure that I would like it at all, but like all the other fiber arts I’ve picked up over the last five years, I underestimated myself. By no means am I great at it, but I’m having fun with it. With time, I’m hoping to get better at it.

Now that wrestling is over for the night–I had to watch with the kids, of course, and they never miss an opportunity to see Roman (Okay, neither do I)–I’m going to make an attempt at Celtic tatting. We’ll see how this goes. If you hear a frustrated scream in about a half hour or so, don’t worry. It’s probably me. It will almost certainly be me. I bought a book for beginners with this technique, and it looks a little daunting. So I’m going to try the first project in the book, since it at least appears to be the simplest.

Or at least I’ll try it if I can tolerate the hordes of gnats that have gotten into the house through the screens due to all the rain we’ve been having. Gah!!! How do you get rid of these little pests?! They’re everywhere, and I don’t want to close the windows because it’s too hot, but they’re driving me nuts! I feel like they’re crawling all over me, and I’ve got the heebie-jeebies. Everyone in the family is complaining about them, but what can you do? They’re small enough to slip through the screens. There were tons of them in the rabbit cages tonight, and I’m just hoping they were all gnats and not something else. There’s a cloud of them by my lamp right now, and there isn’t an ounce of bug spray in the house. Guess what I’m buying tomorrow?!

Definitely time to distract myself. I’m so grossed out. One of the best things about living in states with four actual seasons is the fact that you get several months of the year almost entirely bug-free. I wish that applied to spiders, too, but there’s no escaping those. Okay, I’m out of here before I give myself a worse case of creepy-crawlies!

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I couldn't get a better photo, but isn't it a pretty pattern?

I couldn’t get a better photo, but isn’t it a pretty pattern?

I finally got the pattern for the Corn and Chaff design by Mary Konior!! Apparently Corn and Chaff is considered a braid and is worked from side to side, so the “RW” in the pattern, which means “reverse work” and generally means to flip it upside down, in this case means flip from left to right! Good thing someone informed me of that, because I would never have gotten it right otherwise!

I had a very hard time getting this pattern going. According to the pattern, there are four rings labeled A through D. A and C are exactly the same, and B and D are exactly the same also, so really, it’s only two rings, and you’re repeating the pattern until you reach the length you want. I had to rewrite the pattern to grasp it in my head, because when it said to attach a ring to ring A, it threw me off. Which ring A? Because as you’re repeating the pattern, every other ring is ring A. I know it seems stupid that I didn’t automatically assume it was the ring A that I had just completed, but I really couldn’t grasp the idea until I re-labeled the rings A through H and rewrote the pattern using those designations. In hindsight, now that I have the pattern working right, it’s not a difficult pattern at all and it’s very pretty, but because it was worked differently from everything I’ve tried up until now, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

This is a single-shuttle pattern. Now, everything I’ve done up until now has technically been a single-shuttle pattern, but has included a ball thread. Because I have so much trouble with working thread right off the ball, I’ve adopted working from two shuttles instead, with the second replacing the ball. This pattern really is single-shuttle!! There is no ball thread, only the one shuttle and whatever thread you’ve loaded it with. That’s another reason I had so much trouble; it was so not the way I had gotten used to working!!

I’ve also found a few Celtic tatting projects I’d like to try, which essentially means lots of chains made and woven into the work, so it’s actually Celtic knotwork. It looks beautiful, and it looks complicated as all get out, so I’m dying to try it, though I’m pretty sure I’m going to be frustrated sooner rather than later!

My gripfids for ply-split braiding came in yesterday too, along with some cord, and I can now see that when I make my own cord, it has to be a good bit tighter than I’ve been making it. I was also advised that when I do make my own cord, I need to put the aglets on each end while the cord is still under tension, and the end that is anchored should have all four cords on cup hooks in the same configuration as my cordmaker. The configuration can be more spread apart than the cordmaker, but not closer, so once I find a way to create an anchoring end, I’ll be giving that a try. As skeins go, the cord I bought is expensive, so it’ll be much more cost effective to make my own. I’m looking forward to trying it. It’s not rocket science, but there’s still more to doing it than I expected. When I say expensive, I’m speaking relativity. The skein is only $3.25, but it’s not very much cord when you look at the length. On the other hand, what I’ve been using, the perle cotton I already had in my stash from my cross-stitching days, is a little over $1 per skein, and you need four of them to make a cord. Of course, after you’ve unwound the skein in order to make the cord, lengthwise you get more out of it. It’s really a case of 6 on one hand, half a dozen on the other. In other words, I’d probably break even no matter which way I go on this. The biggest plus to making my own cord, though, is color selection. The online store I ordered the cord from has a selection of eleven colors. I’ve got to have more choice than that: enter the perle cotton!

So, since I’m up so early today (okay, I haven’t gone to bed yet. Or rather, I did, but couldn’t sleep), I’m going to work some more on Corn and Chaff until I finally get sleepy! If I’m lucky, it won’t be long!

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