Saturday, 3 October 2015

Starting Early

For a change, I started early on some Christ…. oh no!  I don't like to say that word before November if I can help it!  I'm always last minute and no doubt this will be the case this year too but I have started on some that require time to complete.  The first one is this red scarf (I won't say who it's for in case she sees my blog).

I always find reds incredibly hard to photograph and this scarf was no exception!
I must have taken 20 photos trying to get the right shade of red to show.
This was the best.  And it's pretty close I think.
I like a bright cherry red.
And I think it will suit the person it's destined for too.

Then I decided I want to make a blanket for my daughter who is away studying.  We have a couple of crochet blankets that reside in our living room and they have been well used and loved.  I thought she would like one of her own, to keep herself warm and cosy when she is studying.

I spent ages trying to decide on the pattern… and then the colours!!  I just couldn't make up my mind.  In the end, I chose this really wonderful colour-changing yarn which I am pleased with.  Each motif is like a little surprise as you don't know how the colours are going to work out.  I chose a burgundy red for the centre (a colour she really likes - not looking quite accurate in the photo again) and a petrol blue for the main colour.  I will pick up the motif colours in the widish border I plan to make at the end.  The motif is the "Sunburst Granny Square" pattern.  I think it looks bright and cheerful and I hope she'll like it.

In my madness, I also started another blanket - this one will be smaller - for a new baby we are expecting in the family in November (no, no, not me just in case you might be wondering!  It's for a cousin).  I really liked this Owl Blanket design and I thought it would be something different from the usual baby blankets.

Last but not least, I was disappointed last year that I did not find the time to create a new snowflake design for 2014.  I do like to send one to friends and family in their Chr*** cards.  I sent them one anyway but it was from a previous design I'd made.  I think it's nice to have a new design for each year.  So I'm working on one for this year.  Work in progress, not happy with it  yet but hopefully I'll have a new pattern done in time!  Cross fingers.

Best wishes,

Friday, 25 September 2015

Small Iris Doily Completed

Here it is.  This was definitely good brain gymnastics!  It does have a very appealing shape which I like a lot.  I'm not completely happy with everything.  Some elements overlap, particularly in the centre medallions where the six rings join in the centre; it's practically impossible to make them lie to each other there.  So I have left them to lie slightly on top of each other, rather than pull them out of shape to make them lie next to each other.  At least, I have placed them so the ones that are on top, all lie on top in the same way.

I still think there is too much contrast between my two colours but it's not as bad as I first thought.  It's acceptable.

I'm now wondering whether I could make a couple of small modifications for the next version, in particular making half of the rings in the cluster of six smaller so that they would fit better and places where three elements join in the same place are also a bit of a tight fit… but it's still a lovely design and very cleverly put together.  I'm impressed with how Iris's brain works!

I wasn't able to straighten my scan as my photo program has crashed and I cannot open it at all at the moment, nor access the thousands of photos that are in there!  I hope I can find a solution eventually.

I wish this doily had a name (instead of just TIAS 2009), it's too pretty not to have a name.

Best wishes,

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Wonderful Friends

Look how lucky I am!  Diane (Lace Lovin' Librarian) has very generously shared her large bobbin shuttles with me.  I started with the idea (see this post) of designing one myself… and Diane sprung into action and actually contacted shuttle makers and got some shuttles made.

I just recently received the second one and I wanted to take time to tat with both and see how they felt before I wrote a blogpost.

So here they are (as previously featured on Diane's blog).  The first shuttle is made by Banyek.  I really like the "stripy wood" effect and the shuttle has an attractive shape - although its roundness means it has a tendency to roll around when you put it down.  It is nicely made and unwinds well.  Although large, the shape around the hook still makes for easy joins as the thread slides nicely down the shuttle.  The main complaint would be its size and weight!  You'll see below in the comparison photo.

The second one I received is made by Elite Creation.  I really like it.  The finish of the wood is lovely… smooth like satin.  It is also substantially smaller than the Banyek shuttle whilst still accommodating the larger bobbin.  I could get used to working with the Banyek shuttle but the Elite Creation one feels nicer in my hand and easier to handle while tatting.  The tapered nose is great for making joins.

Here are the two shuttles side by side with an Aero so you can compare shape and size.  In fact, as you can see, there surprisingly isn't that much difference in length between all of them (I should have lined them up better in the photo!).  The Elite Creation and Aero are just about the same length and the Banyek is just a tiny bit longer.

Here is where the main difference is between the shuttles:  it's the thickness.  Of course, the thickness is not only affected by the fact that the two shuttles are made of wood but also because they contain the larger, thicker bobbins.  And to be fair to Banyek, his bobbin is 1mm thicker and a little bit wider too.

An Aero weighs a minuscule 2gms (yes, plastic is very light!)… the Elite shuttle weighs 11gms and the Banyek, 19 gms.  I think when the shuttle is heavy, you get too much tension on the thread (especially when making chains).  So for me the perfect wood-bobbin shuttle would be the lightest possible, taking the materials into consideration of course, as I'm well aware you can't make a wood shuttle as light as a plastic one.

The other reason why weight is so important to me is that if you use the "slip & slide" method of tatting, the lighter the shuttle, the better because you want the thread to slide smoothly and easily between your fingers and the shuttle as you go back and forth.  If the shuttle is light, that movement is more easily accomplished.

I am delighted to add both these shuttles to my collection - Thank you so much Diane!  But to work with, I definitely prefer the Elite Creation shuttle.  Sandi has managed to make it really not considerably bigger than an Aero whilst providing the capacity of a larger bobbin that I was looking for.

Best wishes,

Friday, 18 September 2015

On the 4th Repeat...

I normally can remember a pattern reasonably quickly so that I don't need to keep referring to it and can just tat away… not with this one!  Obviously my brain doesn't work like Iris's and I'm constantly having to check where I am in the pattern before I can carry on.

The colours are not right at all in this photo.
The blue is much greener IRL.

I'm now half way through.  I would really like to do this again with different colours as I'm still unhappy with too much contrast between my two choices.  I also find that there is overlapping of the elements here and there which will need coaxing into place to make it all look nice at the end!

Best wishes,

Tuesday, 15 September 2015


I think many of you will recognise the start of this piece?  I find Iris Niebach's designs to be feats of engineering.  Really interesting to see how she manages to wind her way around the piece so that she can create a whole doily in one pass.  Clever.

The pattern called for one light and one dark colour but I now wish I had chosen two colours that are a bit closer in intensity.  I think there is too much contrast between the two I have chosen.  Never mind.  I will complete this one and perhaps try again with other colours.

Muskaan tatted this design recently and wrote a great post about the pattern with valuable complementary information and it can be found here.

Best wishes,

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Not Sure...

Yes, I'm not completely convinced I like my new bag.  Well, there are things I like about it:  the colour, the yarn, the stitch… but I'm not sure about the closure I used.  I actually like how easy this type of snap closure is to use, so quick to open and shut your bag (better than a zip or a snap where you have to look for the other part and line them up) but it's the look of it… Does it look too…."old"?  I'm saying that with some trepidation, I don't want to offend anyone!  But fashions are cyclical aren't they, perhaps this style is coming back into fashion??  :-)  I can start a trend!

For the strap, I decided to use the same stitch which I crocheted flat like so:

(evening photo, the colours are off)

Then I sewed it up like a tube which makes for a nice firm strap with more body than if I'd just used one layer.  I wasn't sure how to attach it to the bag:  if I'd sewed it up at the ends, it would have pulled too much on the crochet fabric when the bag was full.  Sometimes these metal closures have rings to attach a strap to but this one didn't.  So I ended up sewing it as far down each side as I could (taking into consideration the curve of the clasp), sewing first into the crochet fabric and then right into the holes of the closure too.

I will be adding a plastic base to it as I did to my little black back.  I also want to line it but I don't currently have any fabric to match.  I shall get some this week.

I will use it and see how I feel about it.  My mother-in-law exclaimed how much she liked the bag when she saw it so I will have to make another one in green (her favourite colour).  She did say how wonderfully old-fashioned it looked and the kind of bag they use to have (which reinforced my view expressed at the beginning of this post!).

I think I'm going to search for a large square closure of that type too, wondering if that would look a bit more modern and up-to-date.   The closure really is very practical… maybe I just need to get used to the look of it.  We'll see.

Best wishes,

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Another Bag

I have been using my little black bag a lot.  As I mentioned before though, I thought I needed one in another colour… teal is always high on my favourites list.

Here is the interesting crochet stitch I wanted to try.  It's from a bag pattern by Creative Yarn Source called "Splendid".  For some reason it took me many goes to get this right but I got there in the end.

This bag will be a little bit bigger and I'm now wondering what sort of closure I will use for it.  A zip again?  A flap?  A metal closure?

I did get some nylon cord but I'm not enjoying working with it at all.  It feels like rough rope to crochet with.  I've put it to one side for now and am making this in an acrylic double knitting size yarn.  It's smooth and nice to work with and I'm hoping it will wear better than the cotton I used for the black bag.  Time will tell.

Best wishes,