Tuesday 22 December 2015

Last Post of the Year

Merry Christmas everyone!  Thank you so much for another wonderful year of blogging and sharing with all of you.  Your contributions are invaluable and I so appreciate all your comments.

For a bit of fun, I made a collage of 2015 in tatting. This is not everything by any means but I chose just one photo from each month of the year.

And here is 2015 in "other crafts"
again just one photo from each month

Have a wonderful holiday everyone!

With all my best wishes to all of you as always,

Thursday 17 December 2015

I Still Love Squares!

…so when Sophie from "La Navette aux Bijoux" contacted me to ask if I'd test-tat her pattern, I was happy to oblige.  Isn't it nice?  I like the play of chains in this celtic design and how they wind in and out of each other.  She has made even prettier versions with beads but as I am very short on time, I tatted mine without and also to see how the size would work out as I didn't have the thread she recommends in the pattern.  You should go see the beaded versions on her blog, they're beautiful.

Not sure what made me choose two shades of grey… I should have gone for something a bit more cheerful!!  I definitely plan on trying it with beads too…. but when I have my Christmas presents done!

I wish Sophie all the best of success with this lovely design.

As always,

Sunday 13 December 2015

And the Random Number Generator Says….

Comment number 43 is Kathy Niklewicz!
I'm very pleased to be sending you the shuttle.  

The church clock is striking midnight as I write this.  I really wanted to do the draw on Sunday as I'd said and I worried I'd run out of time!  Phew.  Where did the day go??  But we have a winner and thank you to everyone for taking part.

I'm making progress with my GIPs and have now completely finished the owl blanket (eyes, beaks and all) and have also today finished a pair of nice thick hiking socks and started another yesterday.

Going back to the tiny snowflakes of two posts ago, I'm really enjoying them and have made more.  I particularly like this version (the regular rings and chains one) with one Swarovski crystal in the middle.  Looks just great and a perfect tiny snowflake… especially when stiffened with a bit of diluted Sparkle Mod Podge.  The 4mm crystal is just the right size for the snowflake and I do like the extra sparkle too.

Rather sweet, aren't they?

So if you're looking for a really quick little snowflake to make for cards or to decorate gifts, I hope you'll enjoy making this one.  You do have to block it to get the nice snowflake shape:  I pin mine to a little piece of cardboard with a blocking guide on it and leave it on the radiator for a short while.  It doesn't take long really and the result is well worth it in my opinion.

Best wishes,

Monday 7 December 2015

My Gift….

… to you!  Yes, it's that time of year again, time to share joy and happiness with family and friends.  Well, I try to do that all year round but now is a good excuse for a little extra.  I'm having a draw for one of my shuttles.  All you need to do is to leave a comment to be entered.

I've chosen Holly & Wild Rose.   I hope the winner will like it.

I think I will leave it a whole week and hold the draw on Sunday the 13th of December.  
Then I can ship straight away on the following Monday,
hoping the winner will receive it in time for Christmas!

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who visits my blog for your comments throughout the year, I really appreciate it and all that I learn through our interactions.  

I have started decorating the house and playing Christmas carols on the piano (I like to play the first one  on the 1st of December)… I have also made our "Stollen" (a quarkstollen based on a recipe inherited from my mother-in-law who had it from a German friend a long long time ago).  It's a favourite in our family and I always particularly get pleasure in seeing all the lovely ingredients in my huge Mason bowl.. all the fruits and nuts and lemon, and vanilla, and rhum…  Mmmmm!  Smells great even before you bake it.

On a last note, I'm starting to feel rushed now as I have many unfinished GIPs!  (gifts-in-progress).  Some of them are very nearly done but some I am just starting… how many days are there left??

I'm sure I'm not the only one and many of you are in the same boat, furiously knitting, crocheting or tatting away!

Here are some of my GIPs… plus some that are not even started yet!

I hope you are all enjoying your holiday preparations… and don't forget to leave a comment to be entered for the shuttle draw!

Best wishes,

Monday 30 November 2015

Quick Knitting

I don't know why but in spite of all the things I have on my "to-do" list, I suddenly felt the urge to make this chunky jacket.  It's made on 8mm needles so I thought it'd be really quick and keep me warm and cosy as the weather is getting miserable and cold (lots of rain and wind here!).  I started it on Thursday and finished it last night.

The wool is Drops Andes, a wonderfully soft and comfy blend of wool and alpaca.  The colour is a bit brighter than I was expecting but I do like turquoise and wear it often.  It's just a bit bolder than my usual turquoise.

What I really wanted to write about in particular and share with other interested knitters is that I made this in the round first of all (I always work in the round with circular needles wherever possible) BUT the best part is THE SLEEVES!  I tried a new method for the first time:  top down with short row shaping.  It's wonderful. What a revelation.  No sewing, easy and perfect fit.  I'm a total convert and will definitely be knitting more sleeves with that method.  I highly recommend anybody to look this up. Especially with chunky yarn like this where a seam would be bulky, picking up stitches and knitting down from the armhole looks much better.

(Apologies, not great photo from my phone above)

Pattern is Berroco "Nimbus"
(A free pattern)

Sleeve work in progress

Finished sleeve and how perfectly it fits the armhole.
You can't even see where I did the wraps.
It just looks smooth and fits so well.

If anyone's interested, this blogpost by Knittyprofessors
explains how to convert the whole pattern to knit it in the round
and to use the top-down method for the sleeves.

So that's it.  I just felt I had to share my discovery and possibly inspire knitters to try something new.  It's well worth it!  I'm wearing it now and it is wonderfully warm and cosy.  Happy.  :-)

Right, back to shuttles and gift crochet and knitting and tatting!

Best wishes,

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Tiny Snowflakes

As I mentioned before I wanted a tiny snowflake and here is what I have come up with.  They are a bit fiddly to make due to their small size but I like their shape.  Can you see how I managed to get an hexagon in the centre again?  Just like a real snowflake.  These really benefit from being blocked to stretch the picots at the end and give them their pointy shape (a few pins and a quick puff of steam from your iron - quickly done!).  I placed the shuttle in the photo for size reference.  They are made in size 20 thread.  Two of them have an added metallic filament and two don't.

I won't be making an "official" pattern for those… it's hardly a pattern really… when you want something that tiny, there's not that many stitches you can put in there!  But if you'd like to make some, here is how:

Wind half a metre or so of thread onto a shuttle, do not cut from the ball:

SCMR2-1---1-2 (the first and third picots should be quite small and the middle one longer)

Repeat 5 times.  That's it.  Simple, n'est-ce pas?  You must make sure to pull everything really tight so there is no floppiness and no gaps anywhere. Join the last chain back under the first SCMR.  It helps if you put a paperclip before starting the first chain so you can find a little space to join to.  I've just tied these with a tiny reef knot at the back, I didn't sew ends in.

Using SCMRs instead of rings is what helps make an hexagonal shape in the centre.

After writing this up, I thought about it again and wondered what would it look like with just normal rings and chains… and guess what?  It's nice too!  In fact, using regular rings and chains produces a little star in the centre instead of an hexagon which is also life-like and pretty.  So there.  Incredibly simple if you want to make tiny snowflakes:

R2-1---1-2, rw
C2 (BUT, make it like this:  2nd half, 1 full stitch, 1st half as when tatting FS/BS, this fills the gap under the ring and makes for a neater finish).

This is what it looks like blocked above,
and unblocked below.
You can see how stretching the centre picot
really helps give it a more "snowflaky" appearance.

Don't pull them too much though
or you'll stretch the centre
and the "star" will be less obvious.

I even tried it with a crystal in the middle (centre row right in the photo below).  To conclude, both versions are pretty but I think most people will find the simple rings and chains version easier to make than the SCMR version… though I'm personally partial to the latter because I like the hexagon, and I think perhaps the SCMR version is just a little bit "sturdier".

I hope you'll enjoy making these tiny snowflakes, really quick and easy.

Best wishes,

Saturday 21 November 2015

And the Winners are...

Beth, Maria, Happy Dogma, Moopsee and Julie!  I have emails for Julie and Happy Dogma but Beth, Maria and Moopsee, can you please contact me with your emails so I can send you the pattern!

I have also received another Kreinik thread which I can highly recommend:  it's Blending Filament 032 (Pearl).  It looks a bit "golden" on the reel but has a very similar effect when tatted up.

It's Kreinik 032 on the left, Kreinik 5760 in the middle, and DMC 4300 on the right in the photo below.  They all work well to add a lovely subtle sparkle to your snowflakes.

And with all this pattern testing (two snowflakes in quick succession), I've been tatting up a storm!  Which is good because I now have enough snowflakes for my Christmas cards.  I have even more than when I took the photo.  I've also been working on a mini snowflake design - that's the tiny snowflakes you can see in the photo below.  It's not quite there yet but I thought it'd be nice to have a really quick little pattern for when you have just a bit of thread left on your shuttles.

Best wishes,

Friday 13 November 2015

Crystals and Sparkle

Internet is down. Someone dug through a cable and we've been without internet for two days. That's when you realise how much you rely on it!  I really hope they fix it soon. I've been unable to list new items in my shop and even regular correspondence is very slow going having to type on my phone!

Still, grateful for my phone as I am making this blogpost from it - only for the second time ever.  Ah! Technology!

I received the new crystals I wanted to try for the star centre in Bentley. These are transparent but with AB coating. I love them.  Just the right look for an icy lacy snowflake. 

And I have an update on sparkly threads. I was so delighted to find DMC 4300... but when I tried to order some more, I was told that this thread has been discontinued!  Drats!  I managed to nab the last five reels that the shop had but that's it.  All is not lost though; with that order I also got a reel of Kreinik Metallics Blending Filament in shade 5760 (called "Marshmallow)... and found to my delight that this is incredibly similar to DMC 4300! Not quite the same texture - Kreinik is actually smoother and maybe a tiny bit finer - but it does give the same subtle iridescent effect when tatted up.  Kreinik was a bit less expensive for me to buy than DMC Metallic but it comes in a 50m spool whereas DMC is a 100m spool.  I'm waiting for another colour to arrive in the post (9032 - Easter Grass) and I will report on that when I have received and tested it.

Again, sparkle is really hard to capture on camera but I hope you can see it a bit in the photo above.

I don't know how easily available Kreinik is but they have a wide selection of colours in their "blending filament" range. I also have their silver which looks nice too but has that slightly "greying" effect which I don't like as much. Kreinik is made in the USA so should at least be easily available to my American friends. Please let me know!

I now have the pattern for Bentley written up but currently unable to send it to my testers... due to having no internet!  Really really hope they fix it soon.  Keep your fingers crossed for me please!

When I have it ready, I will make a draw for free Bentley patterns from comments in this blogpost.  So please leave a comment if you'd like to be entered!

Best wishes,

Monday 9 November 2015


A very kind lady sent me Wilson Bentley's book called "Snowflakes in photographs" - thank you!  I was thrilled!  I no longer need to search through internet for snowflake photos, I have all I need right there in that book.

Wilson Bentley is one of the first known photographers of snowflakes.  I am inspired by many of the samples in his book… this is the first one that came off my shuttles.  I was thinking of him and I was looking to create a bit of a bolder design because I wished to name my new snowflake design after him.  I also wanted it to be special in his honour and that's when I came up with the idea of giving it a crystal centre, in a star shape.  There is often a little star at the heart of real snowflakes so this seemed perfect.  I can't quite catch it in my photos unfortunately but the Swarovski crystals look wonderful and sparkly at the heart of this snowflake.  I've just ordered different ones with an AB coating and I think they'll look even better.

Of course, I know that not everyone likes to tat with beads (or even have any to hand) so Bentley can also be made without beads and I will provide both versions.

I wanted really straight "arms" to my snowflake so I used lock chains and also in the centre where, like in Snowdrop, I wanted to emphasise the hexagonal shape which is a feature of real snowflakes.

I added a silver filament to my cotton thread
and when I pressed it, it made the picots at the tip go a bit funny…
I need to sort that out but was too impatient!

Below is the snowflake photograph
that inspired Bentley

Trying to show you the sparkly centre star;
This will look lovely hanging on a tree when the
light catches the crystals…
Very icy.

                                     Without crystals:                                    With crystals:

Again this is not a difficult design to tat.  I've even done away with the SCMR which I used at first to be able to throw the decorative rings at the tips of the snowflake.  Instead, I used a chain joined back which I have decided I actually prefer.  I think the resulting join is better and lays flatter than when using a SCMR.  I think SCMRs can sound daunting to new tatters but if you just think of it as a chain joined back at its beginning, then anybody can do that.

Best wishes,

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Gifts and Remembrance

A friend from afar very kindly sent me some thread to try, thank you so much, it was a lovely surprise.

It is made by Alenalea Design on Etsy.  A nice thread to work with and I particularly liked this lovely mix of colours called Guinevere.  I thought my little flower would be great to show off the colours… I made one earring and then thought of a friend who doesn't wear earrings so I came up with this necklace idea.

See how pretty the thread colours are?
I paired it with leafy greens by Lizbeth.

I think I will make one for my shop but may change the angle of the leaves on the next one.  I also tried something new and made a macrame knot closure which is adjustable.  It's great and there's no need for findings.

It's Remembrance this Sunday and although I showed this to you last year, I just took it out of the drawer today to pin it to my coat and thought how much I like this poppy, design by Jennifer Williams, so I thought I'd show it to you again.

I think I should probably change the plastic stem eventually but I really like the way this poppy looks and always get compliments when I wear it.

Best wishes,

Thursday 22 October 2015

Sparkly Threads

As you know from my previous post, I had been wanting to add a bit of sparkle to my snowflakes and said I would share with you the results of my experimentation.

I received the Sulky Holo (no. 6001) I was waiting for.  Wow, that is blindingly sparkly on the spool!  I think you can see how shiny it is in the photo below.

But I have to tell you that I found it disappointing when tatted up.  I did as I had done with DMC Metallic and added a strand to my favourite DMC Babylo in size 20.  It does sparkle as you can see in the blurry photo below...

But what I don't really like is that it makes the white thread look grey.  You can see in the next photo how the snowflake on the left is still very white with the added subtle sparkle of DMC Metallic and the little sample on the right doesn't sparkle much more but looks grey.  I don't like that.  It's funny stuff too, it's a bit like tatting with a thin strand of plastic.  

I also tatted Mirabelle in the DMC Diamant; that's also like tatting with plastic and I don't find it very enjoyable to work with.  It has a strange texture that is not smooth and makes it look a bit like… sugar? It kind of "glistens" but doesn't sparkle I would say.

My favourite so far is definitely tatting with one strand of size 20 thread and a strand of DMC Metallic added to it.  From any distance you don't really see the extra strand as it's practically transparent but sparkly.  I don't know if there are other things I can try, I wouldn't mind a bit more sparkle but overall I'm still pretty happy with that combination and it's easy to work with and to tat.  The rings close well although you occasionally get a bit of bunching of the thin thread but it's so thin that it's not really problematic and not very visible.

I've now tatted 10 of them and I wish I'd had DMC Metallic from the beginning as half of them are just plain thread and the other half are sparkly.  Still, I need to tat a few more yet!

p.s. Three winners of the draw from my previous post haven't contacted me with their email yet - please do so if you'd like me to send you the pattern!

Best wishes,

Monday 19 October 2015


Thank you very much everyone for all your comments on my previous post.  I decided to call this one...

I would like offer my heartfelt thanks my testers who returned some very useful comments

Testers are invaluable and it's amazing what other pairs of eyes can see that you hadn't noticed.  I'm always really grateful for people who give their time to test a new design.  

I'm having a draw for five copies of the pattern so if you'd like one, please leave a comment. This will be a quick one and I will choose names at random tomorrow although the pattern should be available in my shop from tonight.

UPDATE:  I said it would be quick, it's tomorrow already and I've done the draw.  There were 26 qualifying entries in the comments, so a good chance of winning!… and the random number generator chose… :   Kathy, Sandy, Mandatory, Cindy and Elizabeth - pattern will be on its way to you.

I also want to thank the people who made suggestions about sparkly threads I could use and I think I found what I was looking for.  DMC Metallic thread in white (4300) has just the subtle sparkle I was after.  It's very fine and you can just add a strand of it to a strand of cotton and it works really well.  Sparkle is really hard to photograph but I hope you can see it in these slightly blurry photos - I find keeping the focus "unfocussed" is the only way to see the sparkle in photos.

I'm waiting for a Sulky holo to arrive and I'll report on how that compares to the DMC Metallic.  I also have a DMC Diamant thread which is really interesting and an unusual texture… looks a bit like frost!  I've not had a chance to tat a whole snowflake with it yet but will show you that too when I make it.  That's the reel on its side in the photo below.

This last photo was a bit of fun.  I photographed Snowdrop on a darkish background (it was green actually) and then removed the background but left some inside the rings.  To my eyes it gives it a look of "Broderie Anglaise" which I think is pretty.  It also highlights its snowflake-ness I think!  Yes?

Best wishes,

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Snowflake 2015

Yes, I think I'm happy with this one.  I went back to the drawing board and decided to start over again, looking for inspiration where I found it before:  by looking at photos of real snowflakes.  I love snowflakes.  They are just amazing.

I won't bore you with all the detail but obviously there were lots of samples tatted, different paths taken, lots of cutting and starting over again.  The image below, of a real snowflake, is the one that inspired this design.  

Because of the long(ish) free arms, I wanted to make sure the design was stable and using double rings for the arms fulfilled that purpose.  The tip is done with a chain joined back on itself instead of a SCMR (which I also tried) because that gave the design more strength.  Important to the look of this snowflake is the different length of picots.  I think I will provide a gauge with this pattern.  The picot on the very tip has been pulled because I blocked and steamed it and I like it that way but you could also leave it rounded like the others.  I was also pleased with being able to have the hexagon shape at the centre of the real snowflake incorporated into my tatted design by joining the chains on the side, otherwise the centre would have been round.

There are no complicated techniques in this one (not a split chain or SCMR in sight!) so it's tattable (can you make an adjective out of tatting??) by anyone, even beginners.  It's just rings and chains and best of all, it's tatted in one round!

This will be the snowflake that will go in my Christmas cards to friends and family this year.

Right, now on to pattern writing!

Oh, and I just need to find a name for it….

Best wishes,

p.s. I might need a couple of test-tatters if anyone is interested and has time?
Update 15.10:  Thank you very much for all the offers, I'm good now for test-tatters!  :-)

Monday 12 October 2015

Colours and Sparkle

I'm really enjoying working on this blanket with all its colours.  After working 30 sunburst squares, I decided I wanted to do a few rounds of granny stripes… but what colours to use?  That was difficult!

First I just picked colours that matched the ones found in the flowers.  There are quite a few (some not even on that photo).

I got started with what I thought would look nice but once I'd done nearly all of it, I decided I didn't like it:  no, that red-pink (pomegranate it's called) was just too strong.

Unravel, unravel….

I crocheted and uncrocheted a few times!  Before finally arriving at this colour combination which I think I'm happy with.  I still used the pomegranate colour which features a lot in the sunburst squares but only one round of it which I find is enough.

So now I'm going all the way around again with more sunburst squares.
This blanket needs to be quite a bit bigger yet.

On the tatting front, I've been tatting my little snowflake and wanting to add silver or gold to it for a bit of sparkle.  I used one strand of Lizbeth 20 and one strand of very fine silver or gold thread (sewing type) - you can see the strands on the top snowflake where I've not trimmed them yet.  It's a little difficult to tat with because both threads are so different and don't have the same stretch but it's worked out not too bad.  Unfortunately, the sparkle of the metallic threads doesn't show on the photo…  I tried scanning and photos and couldn't get it to show either way but it brings me to a question:  do you know of a silver thread that works well for tatting?  Is there such a thing?

Or should I just stiffen them and put glitter in the glue?  Do you stiffen your snowflakes?

Sadly not much progress on a new snowflake for 2015 yet.  I really hope I'll get there in time…  fingers crossed… inspiration will strike!

Best wishes,