Rather than use the B-word (because aren’t we all?), I’ll tell you that this semester I worked full time and took two classes. I spent spring break tatting, and not studying, just to clear my head. Then I thought about tatting some more and identified how I get in my own way and what I’ve been doing about it.
There are two things I don’t like about tatting:
- Hiding ends
So I tat away (lots of these Flowering Quatrain bookmarks and motifs and doilies). They end up in a drawer, waiting for the next step, and they can be waiting for a long time. Those doilies, especially—I’ll tell you more about them someday.
So I came up with a simple workflow that I do every day, soon after I get up:
- I hide the ends for one item from my end-hiding drawer.
- I block one item from my blocking drawer.
- I tat up one piece of leftover thread from one of the thread drawers. One of those bits that’s too long to throw away but too short to make something with. I look at it as deliberate practice for improving my technique. Usually I do a simple ring-and-chain repeat, but I also might tat up a bit of cloverleaf edging—I don’t like tatting cloverleafs AT ALL, which means I avoid them when I can, and that’s not necessarily a good thing, being that cloverleafs are a helpful design element.
Samples of the tatting exercises I do each morning.
After I do those three things, I do these other things:
- I set up the next three things for the next day: one piece that needs end-hiding, one piece that needs blocking, and one length of thread.
- Then I set up my portable project box for the day. These days it might have one of the doilies, or a bookmark, or a piece I’m developing.
Without tatting anything new, it would take me a while to work through everything in the end-hiding and blocking drawers. But! I am tatting new things! Bookmarks and scarves and doilies and hair ornaments.
During the time that I’ll work on the outer rounds of the four current doilies, I might even clear out those two drawers (or so I can hope).
My second motif is from Rozella F. Linden’s Easy Tatting. I used a crochet hook as the picot gauge on this project (for the outer round, at least—in the center you can see that my picots are quite small). As I’m making two pairs of these, I may use something a little larger for the picot gauge on the second set.
The first motif of the year is taken from page 11 of Anna Valeire’s My Book No. 3 Tatting Craft: A Real Sampler, over 100 Designs [pdf]. Here’s the original:
I followed the original instructions, blocking before the last row and after. Here is my result:
You’ll notice that the picots on the center rings are longer than that of the original. I’m no fan of using picot gauges, but I like the results. So I used the barrel of a ballpoint pen. The longer picots seem to have led to no open space in the center and an outside border that might could use a few more double stitches.
I’m going to tat up another one using the same size picots but with adjustments and see how it turns out. Pictures to come.
Over the holidays I ordered and received a couple of new books for my tatting library.
The first is Rozella Linden’s Easy Tatting. My tatting teacher had this book, and from it I learned how to join the first ring to the last ring in a circle. Also, they’re one-shuttle patterns, and I’ve always been a one-shuttle kind of girl.
The second book is Judith Connors’s Tatting: Adventures with Beads, Shuttle and Needle. I bought this one because of another Judith Connors book I was able to get through interlibrary loan and from which I learned about downward joins. And also because the title included the words “beads” and “needle”. I need more bead experience.
Which is why I also ordered a size 15 steel crochet hook. I have a dozen or so crochet hooks I picked up at a local antique store. The smallest one in that set is size 14 and isn’t quite small enough for some of my beads.
So I did some tatting in 2011, and then I stopped for a while. Romantically, one might be inclined to call it tatter’s block. And then a couple of weeks ago I picked up a needle and some thread, and now there’s tatting all over the house. Needles are flying out of my needle filing system. Tatting books are piled on the coffee table.
If I had to make any tatting resolutions for 2012, they would be these:
- Every day, tat for one hour. Not organize, or design, or read tatting blogs, or look at tatting patterns, or even hide ends or block. Only tat.
- I’m going to tackle the 25 Motif Challenge this year.
- You might see a blog post from me each day this year.
Do you have any tatting plans for this year?
I am a runner.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at me. The last time I regularly ran was eleven years ago, although I’ve made periodic stabs at it since then. I’m making another stab right now. I even joined a running club. Our first run was yesterday morning. It was 4 degrees Fahrenheit, and we ran anyway. I was so far in the back I ran (and walked) mostly by myself. Today there’s a pleasantly sore feeling in my quads and calves.
The only thing that makes me a runner is that I run. Twice a week right now, and more soon to come. I’ve never been very fast, and I don’t expect to be fast in the future. But when I run, I am a runner.
See that tagline up above? “Diary of a tatting artist,” it reads. I certainly tat, but calling myself a tatting artist is a stretch. All anyone (me included) has to do is go on Etsy and run a search on tatting. See the amazing stuff? None of my tatting is at that level—yet. Still, in a few months I hope to list my first item on Etsy, where I already have a store. There’s a lot to be done between now and then. Some is about business, and a lot is about tatting.
Saturday night I tatted and tatted while working on a design for a friend. There’s a simple design I can do right now, and there’s a creative design just beyond my reach. While working on it, I stumbled across two new ideas—my own designs. They’re still in the creation process, but I’m excited about where they might go.
I’m a runner because I run. I’m a tatting artist because I tat, and because I create.
I made progress on all three doilies this week.
Friend doily with four rounds
Cousin doily with a partial fourth round
Cousin doily with three rounds
I’ve now completed four rounds of the friend doily. I’ve completed three rounds of the pair of cousin doilies, and I’ve started the fourth round on one of them. You should know that they’re intended to be ruffled doilies.
You know this thing that’s going around Facebook, the Pay It Forward for Creative People meme? One of my friends asked for a ring. I know I could do a simple ring and chain ring and be done with it. Instead, I tatted up a number of failed experiments last night that have led to ideas for two future pieces. Nothing for the ring, so I’ll keep working on that.
Tatting output was down last week, since I returned to work. I’m glad to have some steady projects to work on. I’m tatting at lunch as well as most evenings. I also received a jury summons in yesterday’s mail, for next month, and my first thought was “Extra tatting time!”
The doilies have reached the point where I feel like I’m stuck at the halfway point on the round forever. Until they’re completed, I think I’ll aim to find one round of one doily each week. That will both allow me to finish (someday) the doilies as well as give me space for other tatting endeavors.
Those doilies are but the tip of an iceberg. I’ve promised bookmarks and scarves—yes, plural—and a table runner to a variety of people. I have bookmarks made and rejected (by me). I’ve worked on several squares of a table runner, and I clearly need to develop my technique. I’ve bought three kinds of yarn in order to tat the scarves, and I’ve never been happy with my results.
While the doilies remain at the top of my project list, I’m now confident enough that I’ll be able to knock out the bookmarks soon. I may take another stab at the table runner in the near future. I’d nearly given up on the scarf idea for now, until I saw this picture in an eBay listing. The moment I saw that, I knew I could do scarves. I won’t be using either of the patterns (found in Tatting Lace), but I’ll be designing my own. Not right this instant—just whenever I need a creative break from the doilies.
I’ve been reading tatting blogs ever since I started tatting. One of the first I encountered was Jane Eborall’s Tatting and Not a Lot Else. She’s starting a new Tat It and See (aka TIAS) next week, and I’ve decided to join in.
Theoretically, I can do all of the techniques required to complete this project, although I can’t visualize the purpose of the continuous thread join; I have a lot of beads but have rarely used them; and for some reason I’ve stayed away from two-color needle tatting, although I had no issues with it in shuttle tatting. It should be an interesting experience.
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I learned to needle tat using Learn the Easy Art of Needle Tatting and More. I still refer to it from time to time, but it’s frustrating to find the exact technique I’m looking for, since there is no chapter listing. There are chapter breaks every three minutes, but they have no titles and come in the middle of whatever is happening.
So, for my benefit and yours, I offer a document that tells you where to find things. I hope you find it helpful and I welcome suggestions for improvement.
Learn the Easy Art of Needle Tatting and More: Techniques with Time Stamps [pdf]