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,

Thursday 8 October 2015

Splits are a Tatter's Best Friends

Split rings and chains that is!  I've said it before but I felt I needed to say it again after tackling this pretty star motif from a "Tatting by Penelope" booklet.  The instructions say to tat this in three rounds, cutting and tying after each round… who wants to do that when you can tat the whole thing in one go with the use of two split rings and one split chain.  Perfect.

I saw this motif on another lady's blog (apologies I can't find the blog again at the moment) and thought it looked so pretty I went on the search for the booklet.  Luckily I found it for a couple of dollars on Amazon.  The booklet is entitled "Tatting by Penelope - Book 3".  I only think it's a bit of a shame that these little booklets have no author or date of publication. 

I tatted this in Anchor Liana, a ball of thread I found hiding away at the bottom of a craft bag in the attic.  I had previously used this to crochet (many years ago!).  I find this is now discontinued - shame, as it's a great thread for tatting.

I didn't realise quite how large this would turn out:  it measures 5 ½ inches from point to point when tatted with size 20 thread.  A lovely design.

Best wishes,

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,