Monday, March 19, 2018

The tech behind the lace

How do you keep track of patterns and tutorials that you like and find yourself coming back to again and again for reference?

When I started out, I used a notepad file of links. Lots and lots of links and I usually didn't label them properly, so I often forgot what to look for when searching for something in particular. My own notes and patterns were in separate notepad files. Back when I started, I had to rewrite every pattern in my own "style" so I could follow it easily.

Coming back to tatting after a somewhat longer break, I decided it was time to clean and organise my library or it would become unusable.

So, being the semi-nerd that I am, I decided to make myself a database. I have done this several times in the past for school projects or for fun, so I knew quite well how to do it. I installed some servers on my laptop to act as the host and used a web-based GUI to create, edit and view my database.

The concept is quite simple, with a few tables for patterns and techniques, and the GUI really makes it easier. I can insert a link to the site and also upload a small image to let me know what the link leads to.

The tutorials section

I know it is not perfect by far, since I can only view the database from the laptop itself (or another computer in the same network) but I like it, it is my silly little ambition to swim against the stream. Plus, I don't quite like Pinterest and it doesn't do all the gimmicks I want it to.

Now, the only problem remains the access from my phone when I am away tatting. I have thought of an Access file stored in the cloud, but I am too lazy to port all my database there. Maybe later. No time for that now, there is tatting to be done!

Sunday, March 4, 2018


I have had a few "design" attempts in the past, usually modest and not too spectacular, more often than not, minor adaptations of patterns to make them sit better. I only have a few patterns that I can say are somewhat my idea, but not really noteworthy.

I have thus far made a ring (using an edging), a free form "rasta" bracelet (really, just coiled chains and beads), a necklace (my proudest achievement, but I am still working on improving it) and now a snowdrop.

One of our friends asked me to make him a snowdrop for his mother and I started thinking of the shape.

My first idea was enclosing the flower inside a heart formed by the stem and a leaf:

I had so far hidden most ends too.

I also cut off the flower and tried a few other arrangements and sent our friend the pictures. He liked the first one, so I remade it (because I had already cut the flower off). He just wanted a somewhat different flower.

The design is not really perfect, as the flower tries to shift away from the center of the heart, but a little wood glue helped it stay put.

The final version. The dark ugly gray thread is in fact emerald green, but my lighting is not good for photos.

If anyone cares to try this idea, here are my notes (I am a terrible pattern maker but they work for me). Any improvement or criticism is welcome.

Curved stem (Josephine chain)
Long narrow leaf from bottom connected to flower top
Two shuttles

leaf  + top and bottom rings: green
ch1 40
r1 1-3-1-3
ch2 30
r2 5

stem: green
jch1 84 half stitches
connect to last p of r1

3 full petal flower: white
r3 9-4-5
r4 5+4-4-5
r5 5+4-9


2 petal flower and small petal peeking between: white
r3 9-3-3-3
r4 3+3-3-9
ch 3-3 (I cut before this chain and made it separately; there must be a better way, but I don't know it yet...)

alternative with split ring for flower version 2 (thank you Muskaan):
r3 9-3-3-3
sr1 3+3/9-3
ch 3-3+(join to p1 of r3)

Friday, January 12, 2018

The emperor's new coat

Ever since the periods of low income for me and my husband, I have been in the habit of fixing our clothes myself by hand rather than buying new ones or going to a tailor. Yes, I was also stitching up holes in socks too (I only later learned what darning is). Our doggie Aschiuta also contributed to those sock holes getting larger and more numerous...

We are now doing better with money and can afford to throw away socks with holes, but I still like to repair clothes on my own and sometimes even embellish them. After learning how to tat, that also meant appliques. In fact, this is one of the reasons I learned tatting.

Thus, my knit vest got a tatted rose in the front, my beret (after getting elastic on to fit better) earned its little red maple leaf and poochie's little coat got a snowflake. I also made myself a belt, but that is a story for another post...

My mom bought me a winter coat last year, long, warm and navy blue. I wanted to customise it, of course and I was originally going to change the plain black buttons, but I couldn't decide on a button design. So, instead, I made up my mind to add tatting instead. And what works best with a winter coat? I'd say snowflakes.

I had been making some snowflakes following the First Snowfall design by Robin Perfetti (she kindly offers free designs on her blog here) in a blue and white variegated pearl cotton thread. I really like this design, it looks very elegant. I thought I would sewa few of these on the hem of my coat.

So since spring and until December I worked on and off on the snowflakes until I had 11 of them. I then measured and calculated and measured some more to make them sit evenly, pinned them in place with safety pins and got to work on sewing them on. I added a few at a time and only finished during the Christmas week, while we were on holiday at my mother-in-law's place.

Since the thread is variegated and I did not care at what point in the colourway I would start, the snowflakes all look a bit different, but I really like that. I also got a few compliments from family, so I guess it doesn't look too bad.

The coat posing on the back of a chair.

Not sure if it shows very well, but they are in zig-zag positions. Also, my phone camera captured the light in weird ways.

Ah well, I like my new coat.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A little early for decorating?!

I have long known about shuttle collections and personalised shuttles. I always said I would not get the bug, because I prefer functionality over appearance.

My first proper shuttles are made by Milward. They are bobbin shuttles, with a crochet hook and a tail for winding the bobbin. People call them Aero copies. Bad Aero copies. They have all the symptoms: jaggy edges in the plastic, bobbin not fitting on the tail and some bobbins fitting a bit loosely.

But these were quite my only immediate choice. Most of the time the shop assistants had no other brands or no idea what shuttles were. Milward are great, don't get me wrong. Most of their needles are very good for tatting and they usually have good quality products. But these shuttles had to be adjusted.

I chopped off the tail and hook (it was too big for most of my threads and I had a lovely tiny crochet hook inherited from my grandmother or even great-grandmother and amazing things came from it) and filed it smooth. And as any beginner who can't figure which shuttle comes next, I had to decorate them to tell them apart.

I saw nice tutorials for decoupage and bought some cute floral pattern napkins, white and clear nail polish (yes, I hear the agonised gasps) and got some sandpaper and our big jug of wood glue (did someone faint in the audience?) and got decorating.

The result is of couse far from perfect but I can use them very well, so who really cares?

I only just started shuttle tatting about a month ago. A bit too early, eh?

My two customised shuttles and an heirloom crochet hook. Although the hook's handle was fixed with tape and is not pretty, I treasure it more than the shuttles...

Saturday, February 4, 2017

From needle to shuttle

I had been tatting using a needle for two and a half years and more often than not I ran into the problem of finding the right needles for my thread or even finding the right thread for my needles. It was getting very frustrating.

My little journey into tatting land began from watching people create their own cosplay clothing and especially one of the ladies make her own embroidery. I was fascinated. So, I decided to try and learn hand embroidery.

I practiced on an old bed spread and made quite a few cute flowers. I even have a favourite stitch that looks like a braid.

But then I figured I needed to make my lace first and then sew it onto the garments, to be sure I have the right measurements and not make any mistakes. I had a needle and thread, so off I went on the internet to research the options...

I found out about tatted lace, which looked very pretty and it could also be made with a needle. I learned off Youtube, using the tutorials made by Totusmel. She makes quite lovely jewellery, you can see her blog here.

I learned and explored and made quite a few pieces of jewellery and some snowflakes which I was going to sell, but most of them ended up being given as gifts in the end, even to strangers. Spreading the lace love, hehe.

I then saw people arguing about needle tatting versus shuttle tatting and I kept my ground, based on a few people who said they can follow any patterns and techniques using a needle as well.

But I became more and more upset at how bulky my lace was and how restrictive the choice of needles and threads (no I have not ordered off the internet, I don't have quite that much money to spend on a hobby). When I wanted to make overlapping rings, I became very frustrated at not being able to make the join properly having all my thread on the needle.

And so, I put my foot down and created two cardboard shuttles and proceeded to learn shuttle tatting from Youtube videos as well. I learned from Tatted Treasures. She has not been updating lately, but the videos are good for a newbie.

I keep learning a lot from everyone who was kind enough to share their own experiences and painstakingly learned lessons.

Shuttle tatted on the left - needle tatted on the right. Pattern by Tatting Box

I hope at some point I can become good enough at this to also inspire others.