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,

Saturday 4 October 2014

Another Love...

of mine is calligraphy:  nibs, fountain pens, gorgeous inks, smooth paper… the ink gliding on the surface and drying with patches of dark and light… lovely.

I also like to write in journals but lately have been struggling to find journals with ink-friendly paper.  Every time the disappointment of putting the tip of your nib on the page and seeing the ink spread and feather.  I purchased a few books recently in my search for a new journal and none of them contained paper suitable for ink.

So… I decided to make my own, with paper I do like!

This is a simple binding technique called "coptic binding"
Here you can see my four signatures sewn together.

What I like about this binding method
is that the book lays flat when you open it.
Makes for much easier writing.

I made covers for my book (which is size A6)
by covering some cardboard with decorative paper
(some of you may recognise this design)

Here is my book all sewn together, with the covers.
It's not perfectly lined up but it's not too bad for a first effort.

The holes in my cover are too big because I didn't have a hole punch with smaller holes so I will equip myself for the next book.  I didn't make too many pages for it because it's nice not to have to wait years to fill a great big book and instead be able to change and start a fresh one after a shorter period of time.  The beauty of this is you can choose everything about it:  the size, the number of pages, the type of paper, the covers - great!

The colour of the decorative paper is more accurate in this photo.

I started writing in my new journal.


Now I never need run out of journals with suitable paper… I can just make myself another when I've filled this one.

Best wishes,

Friday 3 October 2014

Lovely HDT

I have been asked questions about Mirabelle by a lady who is tatting it for the first time.  It's inspired me to tat it myself.

I have a box containing many skeins of beautiful HDT I have collected over the last few years.  Many I have not even tried yet.  I decided a little while ago that I should not buy anymore (best not to look at all the beautiful colours if you don't want to be tempted to buy!) and use some of my stash.  The thing I found though, is that unless I'm working something small, I don't want to use my HDT in case I run out and then, because they are one offs, I won't be able to complete my project in the chosen thread.  So I find, most of the time, I go for Lizbeth of which I can easily purchase more.

I thought Mirabelle would look pretty in one of those HDTs - this one doesn't have a name but is made by Monica Braxton of Nag Studio on Etsy.

It's a rather pretty mix of colours I think.

Working on this caused me to re-think again the problem of thrown rings.  In this case, the TR is made after the bigger ring facing the centre is made.  TRs tend to suffer from a bit of gap underneath and a tendency of being a little floppy.  I find starting the next chain with the second half of a double stitch helps stabilise the TR… yet it's not quite perfect to my taste yet.  On the Mirabelle above, I tried different solutions for each of the TRs around the snowflake.  It's not really that visible but there are tiny variations on each.  It still requires more thinking.  I don't know if there is a perfect solution but I'll keep trying!

Best wishes,