Saturday, June 29, 2013

Struggling With the Shuttle...Day 3 (Also Motif #15)

In case you are wondering, no, this blogging thing is not really going to become a daily husband has been out of the country all week at a training for his job, and I've had a lot of time on my hands. I don't sleep very well when he's gone, but he comes back tomorrow, so hopefully I won't be doing any more late night blogging!

During a random Internet troll other day I found a blog whose author says she tries to do a little practice tatting every day...I doubt I get to do it every day, but it seems like a good idea so I'm going to try it out.

It will also be fun to switch back and forth between the needle and the shuttle, see how long it takes me to make motifs using each style, see how similar or different they are, etc...

Anyway, today I started out just practicing the ring and chain, ring and chain until I ran out of shuttle thread.

Maureen gave me a great tip about starting each chain with the second half of a stitch which has really helped me get rid of those pesky holes from yesterday. I initially was a little worried what that would do to the stitch count on the pattern, but then realized that doing that was basically the same thing as when I "tie down" the ends after reverse-working when I needle tat, and didn't worry about it anymore.

 After reloading the shuttle I decided I might as well try to make an actual motif. I had a few fits and starts with it (I got about halfway through one try when my shuttle thread ran out again) but I finally managed to make my second-ever shuttle tatted motif, the "Small Rosette" from Easy Tatting by Rozella F. Linden (chosen purposefully for the "easy" in the title).
Motif #15! Halfway to 30!
It's not pretty, but it's better than my first ever shuttle tatted motif, this gem from last summer:
Either way, I still seem to be having picot problems. When I needle tat, I can see the picots on the needle, so I can usually tell by sight if they're not the same size.

With the shuttle, the picots are hidden under your thumb when you're making them, so it's impossible to see if they are the right size (unless you are Superman, which I am not). If I keep up with this shuttle tatting thing, I can tell I'm going to need this:
I bought this in Honduras, of all places, and never have actually used it.
While I was going through my tub-o-tatting stuff (my way of trying to keep my various tatting paraphernalia from taking over our apartment) to get out the measuring gauge I realized that, for an until-now all-needle-all-the-time tatter, I have a remarkably decent shuttle collection. 
Of course, you should see how many needles I have! I'd guesstimate I have at least 6 needles for every shuttle...there are many different sized needles, you know, for size 80 thread all the way up to heavy yarns.
Believe it or not, the progression below (front to back) is how I obtained the shuttles, which might be another clue why the shuttle hasn't caught on with me until now...
White bobbin bought in Des Moines, silver "lanzadera" from Honduras, and the green Clover was from last years' Iowa State Fair...I need to find a челнок (pron. chel-nook) before I move away from Russia!
 From what I've been reading, using a shuttle with a bobbin isn't the easiest way to start, although in my left to right switch it would have been nice to have just been able to pop out and reverse the bobbin instead of having to completely unload the plastic Clovers (the blue one with the scotch tape is still wrapped for a leftie so I can remember how not to do it--I'm a visual learner).

So with another motif under my belt, now my main problems seem to be the picot sizing and how to hide the ends. With the needle, hiding the ends is easy, you just run the needle back under the thread and you're done. I think I'm going to use an embroidery needle (big eye) with my shuttled motifs...unless someone out there has a better suggestion?? :)


Friday, June 28, 2013

Struggling with the Shuttle...Day 2

OK, so.

I'm still not loving the shuttle, but thanks to some helpful hints (and videos!) from Sharon and encouragement from mb duke, I decided to "keep calm and tat on".

On Sharon's advice I decided to give right hand shuttle tatting a chance. After last summer when I took the tatting class at the Fair, it made so much sense to stick with the side that "clicked" (literally, when the thread flips it sometimes makes that cute little clicking noise).

But then last night when I was getting frustrated about the tatting being "backwards", and today after reading Sharon's comment about converting patterns in my head (I can't do mental math, so I'm not sure mental conversion would be much better) I decided that teaching myself to shuttle tat right handed might be easier in the long run than thinking backwards...

So I sat here and practiced. I put on some episodes of Murdoch Mysteries (are you Canadian tatters watching that show? It's so good! I'm dragging my feet through season 4 because Netflix and Amazon aren't streaming season 5 yet. I think it's better than Downton Abbey...) to distract myself and here's my progression:
From little white rings, to joined rings and chains, to two colors...three episodes worth!
So ok, I can shuttle tat right handed. Hooray.

But it's still not as nice as when I needle tat.

For example:
 What is the deal with the extra white thread between the green chain and the white ring? I swear I pulled that ring as close to that chain as possible, but every time there is extra white thread...

And why are there holes at the base of the ring on the other side?

Suggestions? Hints? Sympathy? ;)


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Struggling with the Shuttle

I don't understand why anyone would tat with a shuttle.

No offense. Truly.

But seriously, in my opinion, shuttle tatting is the absolute most confusing and frustrating thing ever, and needle tatting is so beautifully easy!

I get the theory behind shuttle tatting. I can make the stitches "flip" with no problem. I can even make a decent looking chain and/or ring, whichever I start with...and then I RW and suddenly I'm in shuttle tatting hell.

With the needle, I can see every stitch I make, right there on the needle. Before I commit myself to a ring or chain I can think:

Did I add or leave out a double stitch? Is one picot larger or smaller than the rest? No problem! Just slip the stitches off the needle and start again.
Oops! I made a mistake! Lucky for me it's SO easy to see/fix them!

Did I leave a small space between the ring and chain when I reverse worked my motif? No I did not, because I can actually see what I am tatting! (If you are tatting to the point you are pinching between thumb and forefinger, how can you see what you are doing?!)
The beginning of a picot in needle tatting. You can see everything.
This is actually the second half of a picot from the shuttle...can you tell? Of course not! All the tatting I've done is hidden behind my fat thumbs!
Even after I have committed myself, and, sometimes even two or three rings/chains beyond, if I suddenly notice a mistake, all I have to do is take the end of the thread off the needle, undo the half knot at the end, and everything just slides back out. When I shuttle tat and make a mistake? Forget it, I have to cut it out and start over. You can't un-tat with a shuttle because there is no thread "end"!
Just find the middle thread and...
...slide off the mistake!
To be fair, I learned how to needle tat first, and have been regularly practicing since 2009. I only learned how to shuttle tat last August, and I have barely practiced at all since then, mostly because I find shuttle tatting to be so frustrating and hard.

Ok so far...
Where did my ring go? I can't see it!
Ooh, a ring AND a chain...amazing. Except the double-stiches are backwards, so I have no idea how I'm going to join to that picot. GAH!
Why, if I'm having such a trouble with this, am I torturing myself, do you ask?

Well, shuttle tatting seems to lend itself to two-color tatting much more easily than needle tatting does. And I haven't been able to figure out all those two+ shuttle patterns for the needle yet, and I'd like to stop automatically skipping those patterns in all my books.

But seriously. Grr. I have a mountain of "mess-ups" around my chair and I'm pretty sure my blood pressure is severely elevated right now.

I wonder if part of the problem is that I shuttle tat left handed. I discovered last summer that shuttle tatting with the right hand (the hand I write and throw with) didn't work for me, because with needle tatting I'm used to most of the movement coming from the left hand, not the when I tried to use my left hand to build the lace and my right hand to manipulate the shuttle, it was a knotty disaster...

So I tried left hand tatting and, voila, I could actually make a decent double-stitch.

Trouble is, now everything is backwards and confusing.

SO, I think I'm probably going to stick with the needle. Some people say there is a big difference between the two, but I don't really see it...

Do you? Which is which?
(Can you even tell? The picture quality isn't all that wonderful)

Also, any pointers you shuttlers out there have for a poor struggling needle tatter trying to crack the shuttle code?


Friday, June 14, 2013

A Lot of "Wasted" Thread, New Books (and Motif #14)

So I'm slowly plodding along toward 25 motifs, just over halfway there...

Actually, I turn 30 in October so I'm going to shoot for 30 by 30, just for fun (and much more fun than what my brother-in-law did, which was lose 30 pounds by the time he was 30...)

Anyhoo, I'm still somewhat adrift in the "What Should I Tat" waters...I just can't seem to settle down to a project...also I've been busy at work, so I don't have as much time or energy to tat as I did before...

A couple weeks ago Jane Eborall was giving away a few books on her of them I already have, but the other, "Projects in Tatting" by Sheila York, I didn't have, and was disappointed (but not surprised) when my name wasn't drawn to win it. Of course, I still wanted the book, so I got on my friend the Internet and found a "like new" copy of the book for just over 2 Pounds on ebay. Done and done. With shipping I paid less than $10, one of the cheaper hard-to-find tatting books I have purchased over the past few years.

What made me really want the book was the pretty flower insert/edging shown on the front. I thought it was the perfect thing for a new project I had in mind...

You see, my mom is totally awesome, and started quilting a few years ago...she started by making a small quilt for herself, and then, as her grandchildren came along, started making quilts for them...(and her granddogs, too, I might add!) She also wants to make quilts for all her children.

During summer 2011 Mom and I shopped around a bit for the fabric for my quilt, but then grandchildren 1, 2 and 3 came along in rapid succession and (rightfully) my quilt got pushed pack in favor of the babies' quilts...until this past Christmas when she surprised me with my beautiful quilt!
The pattern is called "London Roads." The back of the quilt is made of the same fabric of as the brown squares.
 She had some of the backing fabric left over, and gave it to me as well. I decided I wanted to make a travel pillowcase out of the fabric, to match the quilt. And then, I decided that while I was doing that I would add an edging. (I maybe should have done an insertion, but I haven't done edging or insertion work before and I thought an edging would be easier to do the first time around...we'll see...)

So last weekend I hooked the old sewing machine up to the buzz box/transformer (ahh the joys of living with 220 electricity with 110 appliances!) and whipped up a not-entirely-well-sewn travel pillowcase, and then started in on the flowery decoration from "Projects in Tatting..."

It didn't go well...

 I'm not sure what's going wrong here, but the chains won't lay right, and everything's kind of turned around, and it's just a mess!! You should have seen the floor around my chair, it looked like a lawnmower had gone through a flowerbed. I just couldn't get the pattern right and it was SO FRUSTRATING!!
Apparently blocking is essential?!
So, I gave up.

Not forever, mind you, but for now. I decided to move onto something less awful.

What I chose was Motif #14:
This is actually one in a line of motifs that will (hopefully) make up the edging on my pillowcase:

I picked this pattern specifically because it is kind of vine and leafy, which mimics the vines and leaves on the fabric...right?

So now I'm working on that, and working on how in the heck I'm going to attach it to the pillow when it's done. My husband said I should have made the tatting first, attached it to the fabric and then sewed the pillowcase, but I don't think so...time will tell. :)

I also ventured out into the world of Russian Tatting books this week (when in Russia...right?) There are a couple of nice bookstores in the city center (one even has a whole shelf of English-language books!), so this past week on my day off I decided to pop down and see if there were any books on tatting (фриволите) for sale in the city.

I struck out in the first store, but did find one book in the second! Hooray!
Of course, I have to share space with macrame, but hey, something is better than nothing!
 Actually, it seems that tatting and macrame seem to go together, in Russian books at least...check out this list from Georgia Seitz's Bella Online site!

Of course, despite a lot of hard work (and actually living in the country) my Russian is still not perfect (hahahahahahahaha it's not even all that good!)...certainly not perfect enough to read all the text, but I was directed to this handy decoder sheet to help me figure it out!

So, next time I blog hopefully I'll have some lovely фриволите to show you (and a well-edged travel pillow as well)!  :)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

This Is Not An Announcement! (Also Motifs 10-13)

Just thought I'd get that out of the way... :)

 After The Big Doily was completed I decided to take a break from big projects for a bit...after trolling the Internet I decided to give Jane Eborall's 2013 "Tat It And See" a chance.

 Actually, it was a pretty timely TIAS, because 2 of my four sisters and sisters-in-law are currently expecting, and this years' pattern is perfect for a baby gift.
Motif #10
 Clearly, when a baby is expected, you have two obvious options for color choice, pink or blue. I know the sex of one of the babies, but the other one, the one I decided to make the gift for, is still a mystery...but its mommy really, really wants a girl, so I made my pram out of the most pinky pink thread I own to give her good luck in getting what she wants.

But, how to give it to her?

 Last summer I bought a really pretty baby's bib with the idea of adding some tatted edging, but every time I try, it looks silly. The bib has a white machine-embroidered cross on the front, but the back was lovely blank terrycloth.

So, I decided to put the pram on the back:

 After that, I decided it needed a little something else, and remembered an antique pattern of tatted letters sent to me by Wanda Salmans last year. (Thanks again!)

We don't know the sex, so of course we don't know the name, so I decided to stick with the what I know...for sure, it will be a BABY.

The letters were simple-looking, and relatively straightforward to tat...except for the "A"...
Try 1-- it's doing the splits... :/
Try 2--This is what it's supposed to look like (more or less) --very ornate...too ornate for me
Finally I decided to nix following the pattern and make up something myself:
Try 3--Just right!
Here is the finished product, as it stands today...
Motifs 10-13 (pram, B, A, and Y...yeah it's a bit of a stretch. :)
I'm not 100% happy with it.

 It's not terrible, but not perfect, either...the wheels are awfully close to the bottom of the pram, and the "B's" look a lot like "&'s"...

I attached it using invisible thread, and it's stuck on tight, but it looks a little...scrunchy.

 Does anyone out there have suggestions on how best to attach tatting to cloth? Do you tie down each free-floating picot, or just concentrate on the rings and chains?

I tied down the picots, but I don't think I like how it looks...luckily the baby's not due until fall, so I have plenty of time to get it right...

 All that aside, I'm proud that I came up with a way to make something I tatted pretty, functional, and will manage to give it away, too! :)