Tuesday, 20 December 2016

3D Christmas Tree Earrings – barely in time for Christmas…

Actually, it's not quite ready yet. It's freeform and unconventional, so I've been uncertain how to write it up. But a few people have said that they're waiting for the pattern, so I will just put this out as is. I'd welcome any feedback – then I can continue to improve my description of this pattern. So, here it is! :-)

3D Christmas Tree Earrings - November 2016

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Better late than never — the pattern for the Dagmar Cross

In April 2013, the Danish Tatting Association sent out a call for tatting designs. They were celebrating their 20th anniversary, and they wanted to put out a commemorative issue with new designs. I heard about this through Craftree/InTatters (here's the discussion thread). I decided to try doing something for them.

I cogitated for a while. I felt I ought to design something Danish. The first thing that occurred to me was a Viking longship. But I felt it ought to be 3-D, and I didn't feel up to tatting that. Then I thought about Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales. Swan? No, that had been done. Mermaid? That had been done, too. Tin soldier? Yeah, he was steadfast, but he didn't seem compelling. Then I thought that, just as there was a Celtic cross, there might well be a Danish cross. I Googled "Danish cross", and found the Dagmar Cross (have a look at it here — scroll down to see a picture of the original two-sided Dagmar Cross and read its story).

So I designed a tatted version of the side with the five medallions. And here is how my design looks:

I submitted this pattern to the Danish Tatting Association in July 2013, in good time for them to include it in the December 2013 20th anniversary edition of their magazine, Orkis Bladet.

After that, with their permission, I started getting the pattern ready for publication on this website. I did the instructions and the diagrams and got them test-tatted. And then... well, I didn't like the tatted models I had. One (the green and pink) was in Milford Mercer thread, which is rather sticky. When I retatted it in better Lizbeth thread (Herbal Garden and Autumn Spice) the ring sizes came out a bit different. But then, I didn't use flat colours for the Lizbeth model, so the construction of the cross wasn't so clear. I thought I ought to tat another model. But — I will confess to you — this pattern was no fun to tat! And none of the flat colours I had seemed right, anyway. So I kept putting this task off, since there were lots of other things that were more fun to do.

But, tonight, I finally looked at my pattern again. It's really all right! The instructions are test-tatted; they are clear enough, and mistakes have been fixed. My two models do show quite well how the cross should look. So why am I making such a fuss? It's not perfect, but it will do.  So, all I did tonight was to add the watermarks to the pictures and diagrams, and at long last, HERE IT IS. :-)

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Celtic shuttles from a laundry jug

As I explained in my previous post, none of the Celtic shuttles I had on hand were quite right for the Japanese Twisted Clover Doily, so I ended up making my own.

How to make the Celtic shuttles

I started with a laundry detergent jug. Initially I tried cutting narrow flat shuttles from its sides, but these turned out to be much too soft. Then I noticed that there were ribs on the bottom of the jug:

Ribs on the bottom of a 5-L / 1 gallon laundry jug

The ribs are only found on the larger sizes of jugs (five litres or one gallon). This particular jug seems to be made partly of recycled material, and it is quite soft and easy to cut, so the ribs are needed for stiffening. So: 

Step 1. Cut off the bottom of the jug. I'd actually recommend that you include a bit more of the side than I did here.

Ribbed bottom of a gallon jug

Step 2. Cut strips from the bottom of the jug. One rib in each strip, two strips for each shuttle. Match the lengths of the strips — the outer ribs are shorter, the inner ribs are longer.

Cut along the sides of the ribs

Step 3. Trim the strips so that they're no wider than the ribs, and cut the ends so that they taper a bit. For these particular jugs, I found that a sharp pair of scissors worked better than a knife or box cutter.

Notice that the tips point upwards from the table top

Step 4. Use an awl to drill two or three holes along the middle of the ribs. Nest the ribs so that they lie close against each other, then drill a hole about one inch from each end, and another halfway along the length. Drill through both pieces.

Rib strips with awl

Nested strips after the holes have been drilled
Step 5. Turn one strip over so that the convex surfaces of the ribs face each other. The holes should still be nicely lined up. See how the tips of the strips now come together? :-)

Convex sides of the ribs now facing - tips come together

Step 6. Sew the two strips together with sewing thread. For longer shuttles, use a figure-8 method of sewing. Sew through the holes several times and tie off securely.

Step 7. Trim the sides and ends to make the shuttle as smooth and slim as possible. But don't cut the ends shorter, or the tips won't meet. The shuttle is now finished! :-D

The finished size is about 4 in / 10 cm long. It has a square cross-section, about 0.4 in / 1 cm wide across the diagonal. The exact length and width will depend on the jug you use, and which part of the bottom you cut the strips from.

Completed shuttle

Completed shuttle - tips come together

The shuttles in use 

For the Japanese Twisted Clover Doily, I used two of my homemade shuttles. I was able to wind about nine armspans on each of them. The fully wound shuttles were just narrow enough to pass through the spaces below the clovers (as explained in my previous post).

Japanese Twisted Clover Doily with homemade Celtic shuttles

My homemade Celtic shuttle passing through the chain space in the clover round

So, these shuttles were just right for this project. Narrower than regular celtic shuttles, but wider than the super-slim acrylic Celtic shuttles. For me, it was important that their tips came together so that the thread didn't unwind every time I dropped or laid down the shuttle.

I hope my instructions have been clear; please let me know if you need any further clarification. If you try making similar shuttles, I would love to see some pictures! ;-)

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Japanese twisted clover doily by Sumi Fujishige

Here I am, after a break of almost a year. I will try to fill out all the things I promised to show you - or at least some of them!

So, item 1 - Japanese doily. This is Doily 11 in Tatting Lace by Sumi Fujishige. She has at least one other book with the same title, but this is the one with the biggish doily on the cover. Here's a listing for it.

Doily 11, Tatting Lace by Sumi Fujishige
This doily is very pretty, and it grows quite fast. That's why I decided to tat it as a gift for my friend's mother. However, it proved tougher to do than I expected.

First problem — it really ruffles a lot!

Rounds 1 & 2

Actually, I had problems in Round 1. The clovers were quite squashed together. Never mind, I said, it will flatten out in Round 2. Well, it didn't …

Round 3 in progress
 Round 3 didn't fix it  either; it seemed even worse …

Rounds 1, 2 & 3 done

Yes, I am really impressed at the ruffling…

So, for the first time, I blocked a doily while it was still in progress.

Being blocked after Round 3
Did that fix it? Not really; the succeeding rounds were still ruffling…
Ruffling after Round 5

Ruffling after completing the doily
 So of course I blocked it after I finished the six rounds of the doily. Then it finally lay flat!

The finished doily after blocking
So then I rolled it into a tube with wrapping paper, and it went into my suitcase, and it travelled all the way from Singapore to Ecuador, then right across South America, and finally, in Buenos Aires, I presented it to my friend's mother, as a thank-you for hosting us. To my relief, it was still flat! She put it into her drawer of treasures, with her pieces of beautiful linen. And I fervently hope it's not ruffling up as it lies there quietly…

If I were to do this doily again, I wonder how I would reduce the ruffling. Was the ruffling so bad because there were too many clovers for the diameter of each round? Should I make the chains in the clover rounds a bit longer, then? I'd be interested in your ideas.

Second problem — the twist in the clovers 

The instructions show how the twist in the necks of the clovers is done — first you tat the chain after the clover, then you pass the shuttle through the window made by the previous chain and, voila, there's the twist. Ms. Fujishige used Size 10 thread and a Clover shuttle. I had some Size 10 thread, but it felt coarse and I hated tatting with it, so I switched to Lizbeth Size 20. But then the shuttle was too fat to pass through the window!

So I said, ok, I will twist the clover inside and through that window, tat the chain, then untwist the clover. But that didn't work very well. I ended up putting too many twists on the neck, and they didn't sit very well, and I couldn't seem to make them look consistent. I realised that I needed Celtic shuttles. I had a regular Celtic shuttle (shaped like a post shuttle, but longer and narrower), but that wasn't narrow enough. Then I tried the super-narrow Celtic shuttles made by Tony and Patty Dowden (e.g., here). These were certainly narrow enough — but I found them a bit annoying to use. Either I had to do a half-hitch of the thread on one tip and then it didn't unwind nicely, or I didn't do the half-hitch and then it would unwind every time I dropped the shuttle. I had never noticed before how often I drop the shuttle!

But, I finally solved the problem by making my own shuttles out of a laundry detergent jug. That will be the subject of my next post…

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Way too many things I want to blog about…

Yes, I am back from a month in South America, and there are so many things I want to blog about! I may not ever do justice to all of them, so here are a few glimpses:

1. White doily I made for my friend's mother:
This is item 11 in Tatting Lace by Sumi Fujishige. I call it the "Japanese Twisted Clover Doily" because the twisted clover stems in Rounds 2, 4 and 6 are a major feature. I didn't want to show everyone until I had given it to my friend's mother. She has now received it! :-) We stayed with her while we were in Buenos Aires, 21 October–1 November.

2. Celtic shuttles I invented from a laundry detergent jug:
Necessity is the mother of invention — I found I couldn't do the twisted clovers unless I had celtic shuttles that wouldn't unwind every time I dropped them. Yes, yes — I do want to do a blog post showing you how I made them…

Actually, there should be several blog posts on each of the following.
A. Ecuador - Galapagos Islands:
Actually, I lost my photos because I lost my camera at the next stage of our trip. But I'll show a few pictures from my friend's camera:
Yes, giant tortoises. Definitely a highlight. More on them later…
Sierra Negra volcano crater. More on this later…

B. Peru - Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu:
Yes, Machu Picchu. We were there! We made it there and back! :-)

C. Argentina & Brazil - Iguazu Falls:
Many majestic waters. Yes…

D. Argentina - Buenos Aires. Much yummy barbecued meat. A day at a ranch. Evita's tomb. Lovely times with friends…

4. Also, now that I've finally resumed work on the Jan Stawasz Big Doily, I will probably at some point be doing a post about hiding ends — not exactly with joy, but with equanimity…

Okay, that's all for now…

Saturday, 27 September 2014

All my patterns are now watermarked

Some of you know that in the past few months there have been several instances of tatting designers having their patterns stolen from them — that is, published elsewhere without permission from them, or acknowledgement of them as the designers. Some of them have blogged about this — Jane Eborall, Corina Mayfeldt, and Marilee Rockley.

Back in March this year, I myself was alerted to a pattern in a magazine with a diagram looking quite remarkably like my diagram for my Cherry Blossom Hearts. But since it is such a very simple pattern, almost generic, I didn't really have much of a case for plagiarism.

I decided then that I would watermark my photos and diagrams (though I am not going to get them patented or registered with a copyright registry). However, because of my mum's illness and death, I didn't do much about it. Also, it took some time to find the right software to do the watermark.

But just a few days ago, it happened again — a designer's patterns, including her diagrams, popped up on a website without her permission, or any indication that they were her designs. That galvanised me into action. Since I have only a few designs, watermarking them was not too impossible a task.

So, it's now done. If you go to my pattern page (tab above), you'll see that all the photos on that page now have watermarks on them, and if you download the linked patterns, they all have watermarks, too.

If you have previously downloaded my patterns, I'd be glad if you could replace them with the latest versions. And if you're sharing the patterns to others, please refer them to my blog, because I might make further revisions to this or that pattern.

Thanks! :-)

My completed Renulek Spring 2014 Napkin; how I chose my colours

On 7 September, I was able to borrow my brother-in-law's camera and take a good picture of my completed, blocked Renulek Spring 2014 Napkin in natural daylight, and do some justice to the colours of the threads. Here it is at last! :-)

Renulek Spring 2014 Napkin, finished and blocked

It's 17 inches (or 43 cm) across after blocking. I feel really proud of it, of course, and I'm just sorry that there isn't any state fair in Singapore where I can enter it and have it displayed. Anyway, I have submitted it in an online competition. :-)

Several people have said that they really like the colours I used. I have listed them in my previous posts; here I will just tell how I came to have this colour scheme. There was a tat-along for this doily on InTatters earlier this year. I was watching as the other members tatted each round of this doily in various lovely colour combinations. I was at that time working on the Victorian Trellis Doily (in cream only), but finally I caved in and decided to join, and went to look at my thread stash and choose colours. So, I didn't buy any new thread — all the colours I used, I already had.

I should mention that, shortly before this, the Tatting Designers Online Class had discussed basic colour theory. Our instructor, Susan K. Fuller, showed us colour wheels at various websites, and we looked at complementary (i.e., contrasting) and analogic (i.e., similar) colour schemes. We talked about warm and cool colours, intense and dull colours. In particular, I remember learning that yellow was a very powerful colour.

I also already knew that it's quite easy to overwhelm the design of a doily by using variegated colours that are too strong — as exemplified in this post by Jon Yusoff. I thought, I'm not very brave, I'll probably go with analogic colour combinations.

So, with all this in my mind, I put my balls of Lizbeth 40 side by side and looked at them. I had a vague idea that I wanted to create an impression of flowers on a background of leaves. Somehow I decided on Butterfly Breeze and Pineapple Parfait for Round 1. I think I picked Pineapple Parfait because I thought of Round 1 as a flower, and a flower ought to have a yellow centre. I had a few other colours shortlisted, but nothing firmly decided for the rest of the doily.

So, after tatting Round 1, I wanted some blue flowers for Round 2. Enter Arctic Waters. Blue flowers with yellow centres — Pineapple Parfait again.

In Round 3, I meant to start introducing Leafy Green. But, as I wrote in this blog post, I changed my mind. I realised that I had to use Pineapple Parfait yet again to make the flowers in Round 3 pop forward.

At that point, I realised that Pineapple Parfait was the powerful yellow foundation for the colour scheme of my doily. I decided to use it only for the rounds that seemed like flowers. At that time, that was only Round 8 — Renulek had not yet come out with the final rounds. But when I saw her Rounds 12 and 13, I knew that they needed to be partially or completely yellow, too. For the rounds that seemed more like leaves and vines, I planned to use green threads, but combine them with variegated threads to suggest little blossoms among the vines.

Round 4 needed to be a more receding colour combination than Round 3. Which green? I decided on Spring Green. It's weak compared to yellow, but it's a little stronger, more forthcoming and more spring-y than Leafy Greens. I had found out in Round 3 that Butterfly Breeze was not as strong as Fruit Fizz — so I now used it in Round 4.  I finally introduced Leafy Greens in Round 5, which I wanted to be still more receding than Round 4.

At about Round 5, I decided that six colourways was enough! I would not introduce more. So, Pineapple Parfait to accentuate flower centres or other important parts of the design. Three colourways for flower petals — Butterfly Breeze, Arctic Waters and Fruit Fizz. Two greens to give some variety to the cooler parts of the pattern — Spring Green and Leafy Greens. Also, I would try not to use the same colours for petals and leaves in successive rounds, but alternate between them.

That was my overall plan, but I didn't decide for sure on the colours for each round until I had finished the previous round and could look at the whole doily as it grew. For the final round, I was very tempted to introduce a seventh colourway — something with yellow and pink/red, for the edges of the big yellow flower petals of Rounds 12 and 13. I had a ball of Tropical Fruit Punch, and I matched it with my Pineapple Parfait. But then I realised that Butterfly Breeze also had yellow and pink. It was also particularly nice to finish Round 13 with the same colours that I had started with in Round 1.

I knew I was breaking the rules for colours in doilies — I had way too many! I would swamp the design! I kept wondering whether my experiment would work out. Would the design of the doily be clear? Or would it be a garish mess?

Now that it's done, I think I can declare the experiment a success! :-D I can see a few reasons for that:
  1. Three of my variegates are analogic colour combinations. That is, Pineapple Parfait is a combination of yellows, Arctic Waters a combination of blues, and Leafy Greens a combination of greens.
  2. Except for Pineapple Parfait, each colourway marched in only one round, then was switched out. This kept the multicolour variegated colourways (Butterfly Breeze and Fruit Fizz) from swamping the design.
  3. Both my multicolour variegates have yellow or orange as one of their colours. This gave them some harmony with Pineapple Parfait when I combined them.
  4. I had an overall intention — Spring Flowers — for the scheme of colours and the impression I was going for.
Lessons for future doilies? I think the main one is, use the stronger, 'popping forward' colours for the parts of a doily that you want to emphasise, and the duller, more receding colours for the parts of the doily that are more like background. I'm using this principle in the much more muted colour scheme I'm using for Jan Stawasz's Moje Robótki 8/2007 Big Doily. Also, look at the design of a doily and have an idea why you want to use a colour in this or that place. Also, yellow rules!

And finally… with perseverance, and good company on the journey — Yes, I CAN finish a big doily! :-D