Monday, March 29, 2010

Crocheted Socks Complete ..... Hiatus Over! Plus Some Tatting

I finally finished the socks this weekend. I'm actually quite pleased with how they turned out.

Well, almost. I really don't like the crocheted ribbing that is used in the pattern. What I'm thinking I might do the next time (there WILL be a next time; I still have three more balls of this sock yarn, not all in blue, however) is to knit the ribbing and then crochet the rest. That's not a lot of knitting, so I think I can manage it. I'll provide an update if/when I decide to try this. You can also see what is left of the ball of yarn I was using. The pattern said I'd need a second ball to complete a pair of socks in the size I was making. I am also announcing that my hiatus from tatting is now over. I have a number of things that I want to tat, and I can't wait any longer.

I wanted to make something for Easter this year. I picked out a few motifs to make and have begun tatting them. Here is the first one, tatted in two different colourways:

These are Motif 2 from Festive Snowflakes & Ornaments For Needle and Shuttle Tatters edited by Barbara Foster. I'm not sure why, but I expected more from this book. Don't get me wrong, there are several pretty motifs in the book, as seen on the cover:

I don't know for sure, but it seems to me that many of the patterns were written for needle tatter with modifications in brackets for shuttle tatters. And no, I'm not picking on needle tatters. Some really amazing work is coming from the needles of needle tatters. And in all honesty, if I had heard of needle tatting when I was learning to shuttle tat, I may have gone the needle tatting route first. I'm just saying that the book is a bit biased. But since Ms. Foster and Handy Hands promote needle tatting, I'm not surprised. What does this have to do with the above motifs? Each pattern in the book has a specified technique to use, ie: needle and thread, shuttle and ball, etc. A shuttle and ball was recommended for this pattern (the needle tatting technique is irrelevant here). There are twelve (12!) SLTs (shoe lace tricks) used in the motif. Two shuttles would have worked better, and the results would look better too. I want to make at least one more motif from this book, so my opinion might change about the book. I also need at least three more of the above motifs as well. Thread stats: Lizbeth size 20 thread in colour #105 (on the left) and #122 (on the left).

You may be wondering what I need these motifs for. It's a secret. I'll show you on Thursday. As a side note, I have ordered a few ounces of sterling silver rings and will offer a few pieces of jewelry in this metal. I have also ordered some rings suitable for making a chainmaille bag. I think it would make a cool tatting bag, if only for myself. I'm pretty sure they would need to be lined, and I don't know how long it would take to make one. So, I may not be able to offer them for sale, but we'll see.

That's all for now. I'll see you Thursday. Till next time.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Wee Bit of Tatting, Digital Tatting, and More Maille

I'll begin this post by saying that I didn't get the crocheted sock done. I know, I thought I'd be done by now, but something else came up. But we'll get to that later. Hopefully I'll get to the other sock soon.

I may have missed St. Patrick's Day by a few days (OK, four days), but I did manage to tat a shamrock:

The is the shamrock that Betsy Evans shared on Here-Be-Tatters. I think it is really pretty, and very generous of Betsy for sharing the pattern. Of course, I think any and every tatter who shares their patterns with the rest of us are very generous. Someday I hope to be one of them. Thread stats: Flora size 20 in colour #230. This will be motif #22 of my Third 25 Motif Challenge. As you can see, I made the stem by encapsulating the thread ends, however, I'm not sure how to finish it. Can the ends be hidden somehow? Any suggestions?

Speaking of sharing patterns, I have been working on diagramming some of my own designs. Back in December, I bought a newer copy of the DrawPlus software that we were using for the Design-Tat course that Sharon was running. I hadn't really done much with it until now. The first design I am currently working on is my Male Betta. If you are new to my blog, you can see the Betta here. While I like (well, really, really like) the way it looks with the block tatted fins, I had an idea that I could simplify the pattern a bit. I figure that I could replace the block tatting with small rings and chains and make the pattern easier to tat for advanced beginners, and still look good. This will take time to accomplish. I have a few of the new style fins diagramed, but I will need to tat it and work out the stitch count. Hopefully I will make progress on this.

Finally, I have been working on some more chainmaille. This is the reason I haven't been working on my socks. I finally figured out a weave that I have been wanting to try this one for a while, but I couldn't get the hang of it till recently.

May I introduce Jens Pind Linkage or Jens Pind. The Jens is pronounced as Yens, in case your wondering. It is a type of spiral chain, and if you look you can kinda see the spiral. I'm not sure why I had so much difficulty with this weave. It's not that difficult once learned, but it needs a very specific range of ring sizes in order to keep its shape. Outside that range, and the spiral falls apart, so to speak. As you can see, I created two bracelets once I learned the weave. The silver one on the left is Bright Aluminum, and the one on the right is Nickel Silver. The aluminum bracelet will be going into my shop in the near future. I haven't used Nickel Silver much, but I decided to try it here. Nickel Silver is another copper alloy, and as it's name suggests, it contains a fairly large percentage (about 20%, give or take) of nickel. It doesn't contain any silver however. I'm not sure if it has the same problems as the other copper alloys I've tried, so I'm going to test on my self (I'm my own guinea pig!) for a few days to see. After the bracelets, I wanted to try something bigger with the new weave. This is the result:

It's a wallet chain for myself. I used Bright Aluminum here since its the only metal I have (besides the Nickel Silver) that works for Jens Pind Linkage. Once I got going, I was able to complete the chain in a single evening, and wore it to work the next day. I really like the way it looks, however, I would prefer it in stainless steel since that is what I have used for all the stuff I make for myself. I hope to get some rings in the right size in stainless steel, but it will probably be a couple of weeks before I will order. I have been thinking of buying some Sterling Silver rings and offering a few of my bracelets and earrings in this material. But we'll see. I also have an idea for a pendant with yet another weave and a Swarovski crystal button. Though I haven't gone past the initial idea with that one. I'm also considering making a necklace out of Jens Pind as well. So many ideas, so little time, and only one pair of hands.

That about wraps up another week. Hopefully I can get a few of the ideas and projects done and can get back to tatting full time. I am really looking forward to see the new and improved Male Betta. Till next time.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tatting Hiatus, Crochet Resurgence

It was bound to happen. I think I may have overdone the tatting lately. If I do too much of one thing, I tend to get sick of it and need a break. So, for the next two, maybe three weeks, I will be working on some crochet projects instead. But, don't go away. I will try to do a little tatting during this time; St. Patrick's Day is only a few days away. I do plan on blogging during this time, but it may only be once a week instead of twice a week, but we'll see.

The first crochet item on my todo list is a new pair of slippers. My old pair was getting pretty worn.

The pattern I used has become a favorite of mine, both for the ease of making them, but also for how nice they feel. The pattern is from Jane Davis' book Felted Crochet. The slippers are made using two strand of worsted weight (or one strand of bulky weight) wool yarn with one strand of eyelash/fur yarn. After they are crocheted, the back is sewed up, and the ends are hidden. The slippers are then tossed in the washing machine with a little soap (and possibly some baking soda) and run on a cycle or two of hot wash, cold rinse. They are then dried. Once dry, the slippers have shrunk and are now felted. As I said, I love this pattern, and since I really don't like wearing socks (when I'm at home, I have to wear socks to work), I go through at least three pairs a year. It's nice that I can make a pair in a couple of hours (usually closer to an hour and a half). I also generally keep some compatible yarn in my stash at all times.

The next item on my to do list, is, actually kind of surprising, based upon my last paragraph. It is, a pair of sox, er, socks.

Well, one sock anyway. As you can see, I'm working on the second one. I'm using a sock yarn, called Bernat Sox (no kidding!) and following a basic crochet sock pattern from the Bernat pattern book called Socks to Live In. This is the first sock I have made (crocheted or otherwise), and I think I did a pretty good job of it. I know that socks are generally knitted, but I chose to crochet these instead since I really, really, really, don't like knitting. I think that has been mentioned before. Anyway, as I mentioned, I am working on the second sock, which I think will be a bit more challenging, since I have to make it match the first one. Hopefully, I will be able to show the matched (I hope!) pair of socks in a few days.

That's it for now. I hope everyone in North America who had to change to DST has gotten used to the change. This is one of those times that I am glad that Saskatchewan doesn't switch to DST. Though we're not immune to the change; all TV shows on non-Saskatchewan channels come on an hour earlier. Don't worry about me-somehow I'll cope. Till next time.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pop-a-Bobbin Shuttle, Tatted Filet, and Hope Butterfly

Here we go, another Sunday night. I'm amazed at how fast the year seems to be going by. I was playing around in my home automation software this afternoon (I was looking for its calculated sunrise time), and discovered that spring (the Vernal Equinox) is only 13 days away. I just hope we actually get spring this year. Though, so far I'm not complaining; we reached a high of 5 degrees C today. That's right PLUS 5. Actually, it's been above zero for most of the past week. I had a window open all afternoon, letting in some fresh air. I should probably go close it now.

On the tatting front, I am the proud owner of a Pop-a-Bobbin shuttle made by Sally's husband. Here it is, made out of Cherry wood:

These are really awesome shuttles. I am really glad that someone came up with an Aero-like wooden shuttle. These shuttles even use Aero bobbins, so it's easy to move the shuttle from project to project. Which is nice, since I only have one, right now anyway. I've already informed Jane (Sally's, um, distributor, and sister) that I am interested in getting an ebony one and one made of cocobola rosewood. Of course, Sally keeps showing off new kinds of wood on her blog; she recently mentioned getting some cedar (with a really interesting story behind it), that I may want a shuttle from as well. I really enjoy using this shuttle, which is about the same size as an Aero, only a bit thicker. The only thing I'm not sure about is the hook. Sally and her husband couldn't find any hooks to use without cutting up crochet hooks, so Sally's husband (not sure what his name is; Sally? Jane? Anybody?) made some himself. From my somewhat limited testing (I've only made one motif using the shuttle, another one is in progress) I have come to the conclusions that for normal to large size picots, the hook works quite well. However for small to very small picots, the hook is less than ideal. I'm going to keep using it though; maybe there's a special technique that needs to be used for optimum performance. If I can't get the hang of it, I may have to replace it though (I do that to my regular Aeros as well). And I think any additional shuttles I (may) get will have to be hookless, but with a hole for a hook. However, all in all, I have to say Bravo to the Kerson's for making a super wooden Aero facsimile.

This brings me to the first motif I tatted using my new shuttle.

This is a part of Mary Konior's Filet Panel from Tatting With Visual Patterns. You may not notice, but towards the end I was playing around with the rings inside the block to see if I could make them fit a bit better. I reduced the stitch count a bit for the last few rings. I used Lizbeth size 20 thread in colour #656 Dark Wedgewood to make the motif. It measures about 2 1/4 inches square (well, it's almost square). I think I'm going to free tat an edging onto it and then I'll count it as part of my Challenge.

Finally, as the title mentions, I tatted Sherry's Hope Butterfly:

Personally, I think I did a terrible job at tatting this beautiful butterfly. The pattern isn't hard, but I still had issues. The problem I found is that Sherry has a different notation/diagram style than I'm used to. I discovered this problem when I was test tatting for Sherry. I guess that means I'll have to tat more of Sherry's design so I learn her pattern writing methods. Thread stats: I used Lizbeth size 20 colour #656 Dark Wedgewood and #663 Dark Bright Turquoise. I think I tatted Hope last weekend, but didn't show it. This is motif #21 of my Third Challenge.

That's it for now. I really have to get back to movie watching and tatting. Till next time.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Windmills Doily, Round 2

I was hoping to post this yesterday, but I felt really bad when I came home from work. I ended up sleeping for the rest of the day; had a heck of a time falling asleep last night though....

Anyway, here is the Windmills doily, with it's completed second round:

A quick note: I am assembling the motifs into a round doily, they could be arranged in a variety of other shapes. The doily is not finished; ie: a few ends need to be sewn in, others need to be clipped, and it's not washed/blocked. In case you're wondering, there are now 19 motifs making up this doily. It currently measures about 10 1/2 inches in diameter (measured on the diagonal, that's five motifs wide). I think this is the largest tatted item I have made so far. And I don't think I'm done. I really want to make one more round. I'm going to put it aside for a while; next time I'm at my parent's, I'm going to have to do a test fit. Mind you, there is another reason I put aside for a while. I'm almost out of thread. Let me rephrase that. I'm almost out of the DMC Cordonnet size 20 thread that I used. I've got enough other thread to last me a lifetime or two (but who doesn't). I'll do an update on the doily if/when I decide to tat a third round. If I don't make the third round, I still need to do the edging, and to block it. And I show it again.

That's it for now. Hopefully, I'll have something to show for the next post. Till next time.