Sunday 21 December 2014

Running Late, Running Late … and Merry Christmas!

Oh yes, I feel like I'm running at the moment!  Trying to enjoy Christmassey (is that a word?) things but still rushing a bit too much trying to finish things.

As a result, I'd forgotten I was out Friday night and was very busy yesterday and didn't have time/forgot to do the draw!!

There were 50 comments in all but two were replies and Fox didn't want to be entered so that made 47 to draw from.  Here is the result, drawn with the "True Random Generator":

And number 16 is…. Michelle!  Who's "messed Italy" comment made me laugh (thank you auto-correct).  The Santa shuttle will be on its way to you in Monday's post.  Congratulations!

This will be my last post of 2014 I think.  Thank you to everyone for all your comments throughout the year and for sharing the joy of tatting, and creativity in general with me.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas:  joy, peace, happiness, and love with all your friends and families.

I managed to finish the mini polar bear… but not his coat yet so he had to borrow's his friend's.  I shall have to knit the red coat during the holiday.  I'm getting better at making the face and this one is much better than the first I think.  And I found the gorgeous sparkly snowflake brooch in a local shop yesterday and just had to treat myself - I love snowflakes!  So today I'm wearing my tatted snowflake earrings and my snowflake brooch.

And just a little bit of our Christmas tree.
Though you can only see one,
there are many tatted snowflakes on it
and I add new ones every year.

And finally here's our angel
(her wings are not that wonky really,
I didn't place them right for the photo)

I made her out of a magazine many many years ago.
But I'm still pleased every time I unwrap her again
at Christmas time.

My very best wishes to everyone!

Joyeux Noël!



Wednesday 17 December 2014

'Tis the Season to...

be wearing snowflake earrings!  I just had to take a short moment to make myself a pair.  This is Elizabeth Zipay's pattern and they are very quick to make.

I have now stiffened them and added a few sparkles too… and they look really nice on… really "snowflakey!  :-)

If anyone knows of a product that would make fabric (or thread) completely hard, I'd love to hear about it.  I used PVA glue but that still leaves them bendable.  Is there anything that goes really hard?

Best wishes,

Monday 15 December 2014

I failed...

Sorry guys, I wanted to provide you with a new snowflake pattern for this Christmas and I just ran out of time!  I was full of good intentions but just had too many things on my "to-do" list.  Including many handmade presents that are taking up my time… very enjoyably I might add but then there are only so many hours in a day… aren't there?  I'm sure I'm not the only one wishing there were more than 24 hours in each day!

I got close with my remake of Minuet but I've still not properly written the update.  So, it is with sadness that I abandon the idea and will hopefully publish the pattern in the new year instead.

I will make a few of Minuet 2014 for my family but I also decided to tat my Criss-Cross Snowflake which I had not tatted since I wrote the pattern in 2011.

I'm not overly keen on the bead arrangement on this one
so will have to tat another and show the criss-cross effect instead…
though I do like a few sparkly beads on snowflakes.


Here is my Christmas gift to you:  I'm having a draw for one of my Christmas shuttles.  It's Santa climbing chimneys to make his deliveries while his reindeer wait for him on the snowy rooftops.

Notice I didn't put it in the title of this blogpost that I'm having a draw so that my faithful visitors will get more of a chance of winning because not everybody will know that this blogpost contains a draw!  Sneaky, eh?  But it is open to everyone!  Anyone can win and I will ship to wherever the winner is from.

Please leave a comment to be included and I will make the draw on Friday which does mean that you probably won't receive your gift in time for Christmas but as with many other things at this time of year…  I'm just running behind!!

Best wishes,

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Duncan & Jamie

I first saw Duncan at our local wool shop…  he immediately appealed to me and I kept thinking I wanted to make him.  A Christmas present for my niece was the perfect opportunity.

Duncan is only 4½" tall.
He wears a lovely hooded jacket.

His arm and legs are articulated...

So he can wave hello!
And he can stand up or sit down.

He's not perfect as I couldn't completely figure out parts of the pattern and the tiny pieces are quite fiddly to sew up and I've not done that perfectly.  I also need more practice on making his nose and mouth.  Anyway, room for improvement as always but I LIKE HIM!

So then I decided to also make his friend, Jamie.  Jamie doesn't have a coat but wears a scarf wrapped around his neck.  He is even smaller than Duncan and stands at only 3½" tall.  My daughters really like him and I think I'll have to make these tiny bears again to go in their stockings…

I bought some cream wool and am making a polar bear version next.  I think that one will wear a red coat.

Hope your Christmas preparations are going well.  I still have many handmade gifts on my list left to complete.

Best wishes,

Wednesday 3 December 2014

A New Bag...

for my mother-in-law.  I have made her a few of these crochet bags over the years (always slightly different) and her last one was starting to look a bit shabby.  So I thought I'd make her a new one for Christmas.  I found this interesting square-bottomed bag pattern and as I put it down, I thought how neat it looked, flower-like even…

I hope it ends up looking more like a bag by the time I'm finished though!  I'm waiting for more cotton to arrive.

Of course, I'll end up rushing because I won't have time to finish all the things I have to do before Christmas!

How about you?  Are you organised early?  Or a bit last-minute?

Best wishes,

Monday 1 December 2014

More on Minuet

Oh my, time is flying by!  Already the 1st of December, can you believe it?

Here a bit more on Minet (2014 version).  I tried it without beads.  I kept the same length of picots where the three beads were and in this version I have pinned them so they have a sharper angle but you could leave them soft and rounded too.  I also just made a picot on the inner round instead of the JKs.  Here it is in pale blue and ivory.

And here's a "Candy Cane" version.
This time I added a bead where the JKs were on the first round.
These are silver lined beads and I like the sparkle
they add to the snowflake.
Looks pretty glinting on the tree…

You can't see the sparkle on the scan
but it does look pretty IRL.

And now I'm not sure which I like best anymore!  Funnily enough, I look back at the first, gold version and I like it too!

How are you getting on with your Christmas tatting?  I need to get me skates on now if I want to tat a few of these to put in my Christmas cards!

I played my first Christmas carols on the piano this morning.  For me it's always the 1st of December when I truly start thinking of Christmas and getting into the spirit and I love getting the books out and playing the very first carol on the 1st day of December.

Best wishes,

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Revised Minuet and More Knitting

I've worked some more on Minuet.  I basically kept the same idea but played with rings sizes and joins to try to get a better fit.  It does lay flat now.  I also changed my threads so that the inside rings on the outside round are gold.  I kept the three-bead join and added another small delica gold bead on the join between small and large rings.

I'll try it without beads too as I realise that not everyone likes to work with beads (or has some to hand) so it's nice if patterns can be worked either way.

I may also try removing the inside JKs on the first round to see if it looks better with more space under the lock chains.  Perhaps I'll tat it in more "snowflaky" colours next time too.

As for the knitting, I have started on the back lace panel.  That's the part that most appealed to me about this pattern.  I look forward to showing you when it's done.

Here are the two fronts and one sleeve which are now completed.

This knitting project is interesting because it has led me to re-examine the way I knit.  Moss stitch (K1P1) is time-consuming so I've explored different ways to knit and hold the yarn as I mentioned in previous posts.  

Megan's comment got me to try Portuguese knitting which I enjoy (best for purling).  Searching for something to use to hook my wool, I looked in my very old Singer treadle machine's drawers and found this:

Amazingly, it appears I was already the owner of a knitting pin which I promptly put to use.  If someone thinks this is something else and not a knitting pin, I'd be delighted to hear from you.  

Then this week, I received some modern knitting pins from Megan.
Aren't people wonderful?
Thank you!

I have one pinned to my cardigan and as soon as I finish writing this, I shall be knitting a few more rows on my lace panel.

Best wishes,

Sunday 23 November 2014


Do you remember Minuet?  It is not one of my most popular patterns.  Yet I do like the basic shape of it and particularly the lock chains in two colours but perhaps it was missing something…

So I decided to play with it a bit.  Here's where I got to so far.  I'm not there yet.  It doesn't lie completely flat naturally and there's just a bit too much tension on those rings I've added.  I will be working another version of it.  It think Minuet deserves a re-design so that, hopefully, it can be better appreciated!

This is tatted in the new Lizbeth Harvest Gold colour way.
Quite an unusual colour, a bit "mustardy" I would say.

Perhaps it's a little too full and busy like that.  I can't make up my mind yet.  But I will be working up other variations.  I like the three bead points very much and will be keeping that.

The knitting is coming along very well - faster than expected in fact.  I have too fronts done and am nearly finished one sleeve.  I explored new knitting techniques in a bid to speed up the K1P1 stitch of my cardigan.  I modified my English way of knitting to stop dropping the needle so that moving the wool back and forth for the purl and knit stitches can be done in one movement and save some time.  I tried lever knitting with a long knitting needle under the arm.  I also tried Portuguese knitting with a pin which I am enjoying.  So at the moment I use both my new English way of knitting and the Portuguese way trying to improve on speed.  It's a work in progress but even after a week, I'm much quicker at both.

How about you?  What's your favourite way to knit?

Best wishes,

Monday 17 November 2014

Knitting & Tatting

We're getting into cold and miserable weather season…  lots of rain too!  This means it must be time for a bit of knitting.  I went back to the knitting group on Saturday morning - I had not been since before the summer holidays.  I had a lovely time knitting and chatting with the ladies.

I still have my Fair Isle Cardigan on the needles but as the group is held in a knitting shop, it's only fair I be knitting from wool I bought from the shop so I decided to start another project for knitting on Saturdays.  I had a Debbie Bliss pattern I'd been planning to make for a while so I got started on that once I spotted the perfect colour of wool for me… a gorgeous teal in pure wool.

The stitch is double-moss which give a really nice textured fabric but it's time-consuming!  It's like knitting a whole cardigan in ribbing.  I hope I don't regret my choice...

AND… I have only 7 repeats left to complete the butterfly doily!  Really nearly there.

Best wishes,

Saturday 8 November 2014


This Sunday is Remembrance.  I normally always purchase one of the paper poppies that are sold by the Royal British Legion whose work supports service men, women, veterans, and their families.

I bought one this year too and made a donation.  But I took it apart and kept just the centre to use in my special tatted poppy I will be wearing this year.

You may remember I started it this summer and had most of the elements completed.  Tonight I tatted the last leaf and put it together.

This beautiful poppy design is the work of Jennifer Williams and can be found here.

Jennifer's pattern is very comprehensive and explains how to make all the different parts and how to assemble it.  I didn't quite follow all of it (mostly the assembly bit) as I decided to use the centre from the paper poppy since I didn't have the right size black button or any floristry wire.  I also didn't make the stamens in the end as I was happy with the look of the centre with the black "button" and beads all around.

Here's just the centre with beads
I will very probably re-do the centre properly at a later stage
but for now, the plastic centre got me out of a fix!

Jennifer also used floristry wire on the leaves
but, again as I didn't have any, I sewed my leaves to the back of the poppy.

See how the pattern even includes a calyx
although you don't see it from the front.

I used my 1SSCMR technique to make the pointy tip on the leaves
instead of a picot as in the pattern.

The picots on the edge of the petals face both ways alternately
to achieve the "frilly" appearance.

I think this is a gorgeous poppy pattern and one I highly recommend.  My thanks to Jennifer Williams for creating and sharing it with us.

"Lest We Forget…"

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

The poppy display at the Tower of London.
We went to see it.
It was amazing.
It was moving.

Best wishes,

Tuesday 4 November 2014

38 Down, 18 To Go!

I am pleased to have finally got around to picking this up again.  It was a shame to have done all that work on it and then to leave it abandoned for so long…

If I'm honest, it's not my favourite design which probably explains why I didn't rush to complete it.  There are LOTS of chains and tiny rings which means that it has a tendency to "misbehave".  I've tried to press it as I went to keep it in shape but I can see it will be a nightmare to wash!

Also, if it was me, I would have made the butterfly motif with just two little rings at the top rather than three.  I know it's a stylised butterfly but it would have looked more "butterflyish" with either two small rings (for the tip of antennae) or one small ring with long picots (for a head with antennae).  Don't you think?

Still, I can finally see the end in sight of this really long-term project (I can't find the original post at the moment but I think I started this - I'm embarrassed to say! - two years ago?)  I now have 38 of the last round butterflies completed and 18 more to go.

Best wishes,

Friday 31 October 2014

31st of October

The blanket is done!  It seemed like a really long-term project when I started this a few months ago (in July).  My son had asked for this blanket to be even longer than the first one I'd made (the granny square one) so the strips had 100 repeats.  The finished blanket ended up measuring 175cm x 140cm, plenty enough to cover two people sitting cosily on the sofa together.

I tried to use up every last bit of wool I had.  I had some dark blue left over after finishing the strips so I used that to crochet four more rows of squares all around the blanket and then added a little colourful edge by making one more row of single crochet in olive green and one in turquoise.  I think that finishes it off nicely.

I like the nice scalloped shape that you get with these strips…
more zig-zag than scallop even!

And today of course is...

Halloween!  This is not as popular in Europe as it is in America and there will be no trick-or-treating where we are at the moment, but I still like to celebrate it in a small way… and my particular favourite thing is pumpkin-lanterns.

We brought a couple of small pumpkins with us... but were delighted to be offered two giant pumpkins by our farmer neighbour!  The colours and shapes are wonderful.  One of them as been cut by now and made into soup and will also be made into potato-carrot-pumpkin mash tonight… and there will still be loads left!

We continue to enjoy beautiful warm weather today - hardly feels like autumn at all.  The other project I took with me is this very long standing WIP:  the butterfly doily.  I've not touched it for months and months!  But now I've picked it up again, I'm making good progress.  Only showing you a little bit of it, I'll save the full view for when it is finally completed!

To finish, here's one of my pumpkin-lanterns:

Happy Halloween!

Best wishes,

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Aaah… Holidays!

It's school half-term at the moment and beautiful autumn weather… still warm, sunny days with just a little cool breeze.  I took a few projects with me on my hols, one of them is the crochet blanket I started a while ago - do you remember?

 Crochet in the morning...

Crochet at sunset…

Crochet by the fire…

I'm not doing ONLY crochet of course (some tatting too!).   But it's also time for invigorating forest walks, bicycle rides, collecting chestnuts to roast on the fire at night, leisurely meals with a little glass of wine…


Best wishes,

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Vintage Square - Take Two

I tatted the little square again.  With two shuttles this time instead of with shuttle and ball as in the previous version.  It worked out much better for me.  I didn't have trouble with gaps between the corner rings as Ninetta mentioned when she tried it with two shuttles (see her comment in previous post).  I tatted this FS/BS and attached all three rings where they meet on the inside.

I like it a lot.
A perfect little square.

Shall I try it again with traditional tatting?  Not FS/BS?  Just out of curiosity and for the sake of experimentation.  I sometimes feel like I treat tatting not only as an art… but as a science too!  All options to be tested.  :-)

Best wishes,

Sunday 19 October 2014

In The Pink

Ah, squares.  Love them.  Found this one on Ninetta's blog.  She made a collar based on this little square design.

Intestingly, she made it with just one shuttle and ball.  I tried it as she suggested and the result is not bad but I did wonder if it would still not be easier to make it with two shuttles.  For me there is a little bit of twisting going on where you would have switched shuttles though I must admit it's not too visible on the finished motif.  The one thing that is noticeable though is that I forgot to join the last chain to the starting one!

I think I'll try it again with two shuttles, just to see.

And as we're talking squares, here are some shortbread biscuits I just made.  I'd been looking for a long time for just the right recipe - they have to have that perfectly crumbly texture, that's how I like them.  I tried many different recipes but they were never quite right.  Then last week, I tasted some at a family gathering and thought they were just great.  I was sent the recipe and gave them a try.  Very happy with how they've turned out.  At last, I think I found the recipe I'd been looking for!

Do you like shortbread?
Join me for a cuppa and a biscuit?

Best wishes,

Sunday 12 October 2014

Motif #7 Completed

Here it is.  Motif #7 from the book "Festive Tatting" by DMC.  As mentioned in the previous post, I didn't follow the pattern instructions for the onion rings round (found them hard to understand!) and/but I'm not altogether happy with how they look… the top part is fine but it's where the rings join in the middle that is slightly unbalanced and not completely satisfactory.

It's not too bad looking at it from a distance but if you look up close, you'll see what I mean.  There are a couple of things I'd like to point out (if you're interested!) :-)

First is what I said about all the rings join at the base of the onion ring.  It's a bit messy when you look at it up close, isn't it.  You make the small ring, reverse, make the large inner ring, reverse, make the chain that goes around the inner large ring, join, make the last small ring, reverse, make the chain that will go to the next motif.  The particular example I'm showing you even suffer from "gaposis" - shock, horror!!  Anyway, I wasn't sure how else to complete this particular series of elements so that's how I ended up doing it.  If anyone can suggest a better solution, I'd love to hear it.

The second thing I'd like to mention is the little ring at the tip.  There should be two stitches either side of it.  But when I tatted the first one like that, the gap looked bigger on the left of the tiny ring than on the right.  To make it look balanced, I ended up making 1½ stitches on the left and 2½ on the right (actually starting with the 2nd half of a stitch first to pull the ring in and give it stability and then two full double stitches).

I think that way, it looks visually balanced.  

Ok, enough of my ramblings?

Best wishes,

Friday 10 October 2014

The Difficulty of Old Patterns!

Following on from my previous post, I have continued with the second round of the motif (from the book Festive Tatting by DMC).

First of all, I found the way the second round was written to be incomprehensible!  I had a couple of goes and then decided to ignore the instructions and re-write my own.  I also found the chains which join to the first round were too short and I had to add a few stitches to make it fit.  This is a problem I often find with older patterns:  their tension was much looser, especially in chains.  I like tight and neatly-curving chains but in old patterns they were often so loose they could be straight or nearly like spaghetti!  These weren't so bad but obviously looser than mine because I couldn't reach with the stated number of stitches.

And for once, I didn't forget to add a magic loop at the beginning!
(which is the fine bit of black thread you can see in the photo)

I like the shape of the onion rings on the outside.  There are 14 repeats so I don't think I'll have time to finish this today!

Best wishes,

Thursday 9 October 2014

The Importance of Joining Picots

I started another motif.  The pattern stated "small" picots (marked by -) in places and "medium" picots in others (marked by --) which is a notation I also use.  Working this pattern has made me realise how problematic this notation can be!  The first round of this motif has 14 repeats.  As you can see from my first attempt, after 10 repeats, I realised there was no way I was going to close the circle even after I made 14.

This was due to the picots on my large rings being too small.  I started again with longer picots and this time it works.

Small, medium, large is a subjective definition, isn't it?  What's small to one will be someone else's medium, and so on.  It's made me wonder whether I should be more specific when stating picot sizes, as in giving an actual measurement.  What do you think?  Is it a problem?  I guess I'll often just look at the picture and gauge what size the picot should be although in this case, the picots on the picture in the pattern didn't look as big as I ended up having to do mine to make this fit.

Best wishes,

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Star - Motif No. 20

I liked the look of this one in the book… but I'm not so sure I like it now I made it.  This is Motif No. 20 from the book "Festive Tatting" by DMC.

I like the shape of the "arms"… but I'm not so keen on the centre part I think.

Best wishes,

Monday 6 October 2014

Handmade Journal

Of course, I couldn't leave it there.  I had to make a second one.  I like the coptic stitching and open spine but I wasn't completely happy with the execution, with too much movement between the covers and the book… I had to have a go at a complete cover with spine.

I realised I had too many sheets in each of my signatures for the first book so I made more for this book with fewer sheets in each.

Here they are, stacked up, holes punched through,
ready for sewing

About half-way through the sewing process.
I got myself a curved needle which makes it easier
to sew between the signatures

Book block completed.

For some reason though, I forgot to take pictures as I was making the cover!  You have to cut two pieces for front and back covers and then another piece for the spine.  You place those on a backing thickish paper and glue everything in place before covering with your decorative paper.  Then glue the fly sheets of your book block into the cover.

And… TADA!

(oh yes, Jentle with a "J" because it's the name of the ink…
in case any of you thought I can't spell!  :-))

Knowing me, I'll no doubt get the urge to make yet more of these journals - I think one with a cloth spine would be cool to make next…

But I have to many other things to get on with!  And it's Monday morning so I better get to work!

Best wishes,