Sunday, October 26, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Review #2: "Mastering Tatting"

Since nobody seemed to mind my first book review, I've decided to continue to manufacture them. If nothing else, it legitimizes my owning so many books!! :)

Today I've decided to review a book I seem to return to over and over, "Mastering Tatting" by Lindsay Rogers. I actually have 5 of Rogers' books ("Mastering Tatting," "Tatting Collage," "Tatting for Special Occasions: Edgings", "Tatting Miscellany", and "Tatting for Special Occasions: Flowers" Also, I'm still looking for a copy of "Tatting for Special Occasions: Mats", if anyone out there has a copy they'd like to pass along for a reasonable price or swap for a Russian book or two!) 

It's a relatively new book in the tatting world, and, I think, the best of Rogers' books so far. The patterns are relevant, the directions clear and concise, and the possibilities suggested are seemingly endless...

Title: "Mastering Tatting: Advanced Designs Using Basic Techniques"
Author: Lindsay Rogers
Year of Publication: 2013
ISBN: 978-1-86108-950-2
Number of pages: 111
Number of patterns: 15 (Well, the table of contents lists just 15 patterns, but almost every named pattern either a) incorporates multiple motifs/elements that can be uses on their own [ie: rows of doilies made of motifs or edgings] or b) multiple uses of the same pattern [ie: taking an edging and making it into a variety of bookmarks, motifs or mats]. Some of the patterns have both a and b!) The variety of ways to use the various patterns shown and suggested are astounding and, perhaps, a bit overwhelming (but in a good way, I assure you!) This book is so well organized; even though the same pattern is "repeated" in various ways over a series of pages, the way each representation is presented makes it feel like an individual and new pattern. There are even suggestions of "Further ideas" not already included in the set of patterns...It's lovely!

Here is the same pattern used as motif and edging/last row on a doily

Type of pattern notation: Long notation with abbreviations (ie: Ring - 5ds, P(J), [2 ds, p] x 4, 5ds) and labeled diagrams that correspond with the long notation descriptions. Most patterns cannot be tatted from the diagrams alone.
Types of patterns: Again, so many of the basic patterns are "re-used" in so many different ways it's kind of hard to describe all the types of patterns in this book! For example, the last pattern of the book "Millennium" is presented as a mat, an edging (with corner!), a second edging AND (bonus!) a cross-stitch design! Another pattern, "Rose and Thistle," is at once a mat (doily), two different motifs, an edging and suggestions for two types of bookmarks! 
Rose and Thistle Doily (Above) / Motifs (Right)

Almost the only type of pattern you won't find in this book is jewelry, but if you really wanted to, you could probably quite easily adapt some of the patterns into necklaces or collars.**
**Note: Some of the patterns do seem to be repeats of patterns she has used in her other books, but don't let that stop you from getting this one, as well. The variety offered here is worth the price of admission.
Illustrations: Color photos, black and white diagrams
Notions: All but one of the patterns are shown in the book worked in size 20 cotton thread (the one being made with linen thread). I have worked these patterns mostly in sizes 30 and 80, and have had no problems with the patterns not lending themselves to the smaller threads. Several of the designs are accented with ribbon, and there is the cross-stitch design at the end. Some of the bookmarks are made with just tatting (and/or a ribbon addition) but some are shown with motifs appliquéd to a bookmark-sized piece of fabric. The edgings included are shown attached to both square and round cloth. A series of Christmas decorations are shown using beads (although I haven't added any in my own versions below.)
(Christmas Decoration) Motif A

(Christmas Decoration) Motif E

(Christmas Decoration) Motif D
(Christmas Decoration) Motif B
Other inclusions: The book starts out with short (2-page) introduction explaining the author's theme "to show how the novice tatter can progress from the simplest of edgings through to more complex projects such as bookmarks and heirloom mats" (pg 6). It goes on to discuss threads and shuttles, then six pages of techniques (how-to-tat) including beginner directions (words and illustrations) for Making a knot, Using a shuttle, Making a chain, Making a join, and then a section for to "Test your skills" by Making a bookmark and Making patterns with two shuttles. Next a series of Handy Hints for some of the elements used in the patterns (working with two shuttles, fraying picots, Core Thread Joins (CTJ) and Split rings) are given and illustrated. Finally, a suggestion for keeping control of the ball of thread and a list of abbreviations finish the beginning part of the book. In addition, inserts for Further Ideas and (really useful!) Tips are scattered throughout the book.
Shuttle or needle? The book is written for the shuttle tatter, and although I haven't pulled out the needle to work any of the patterns, I think a reasonably-pleasing outcome could be had with the needle, especially for an experienced tatter. I think any novice would find most of these patterns challenging, and I think a needle-only tatter will struggle even more than a shuttle tatter.
This motif took me more than one try to successfully complete!
Skill level: Intermediate Even though the title says the techniques used in the book are "basic," I think a person newly new to tatting would struggle with many of the patterns in this book. For one thing, almost all the patterns are shown in two colors, and many use techniques beyond a simple ring and chain. Also, if you're not familiar with the longer type of pattern notation and rely heavily on diagrams, this book might be a challenge. I had to write in a few joins on some of the diagrams to stop myself from forgetting when to make them. Finally, at times the author seems to assume the tatter knows to execute a particular technique that has not been thoroughly explained or introduced previously at all (as when the shoelace trick (SLT) is needed to successfully complete the cloverleaf-and-thistle edging below):

Skills needed: Two-color tatting, two-shuttle tatting*, SLT, CTJ*, Split ring tatting,* applique, fraying picots*, using a picot gauge*, attaching tatting to cloth, lock joins, adding beads, twisting picots (*short tutorial included in book) 
Availability: Because the book is so new, it is readily available online both in the US: (Handy Hands, Amazon) and the UK (Amazon, Tatting and Design). I have seen it in at least one (locally-owned) crafting store in the US as well.
Price range: Between $12 and 25 (US Dollars)
Personal Notes: If you can't tell, I really do like this book! It has so many ideas and pattern iterations, it's one of those books that, every time you look at it, you see something new that you want to tat. Each of the fifteen patterns is so different that, whatever you're in the mood for, you can probably find something to tat in this book, and that something will probably be a pleasant challenge. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Some Little Nothings

Sometimes I'm too busy to tat, to blog, or both...recently it's been kind of both, but (besides my birthday cupcake) I have been pegging away at a few projects:

This is an antique motif (Snowflake) from the most recent Handy Hands newsletter, tatted in size 20 and kind of fun to execute:

And here are my attempts to learn interlocking SCMR rings (a BIG thanks to all of you with online tutorials for these techniques!!!! SCMR: Jane E and the Shuttle Brothers; Interlocking Rings: Umi & Tsuru, Muskaan, Kathy and God's Kid) in anticipation of joining the challenge to make Jane McLellan's magnificent "Under an African Sky" doily...
Size 20 (ecru), then size 30 Cebelia

Here is my best so far (for the first time all the rings interlock correctly, but of course I ran out of thread on the VERY LAST RING!!!):
Oh well...more practice :)
I have also been plugging away at a flowery Jan Stawasz pattern, one which made the rounds of Facebook a few months ago (and unfortunately seems to be readily available online in illegal to that.) Buy the book, people, it's totally worth it!

I'm actually having a bit of trouble with this pattern--tension trouble. Le sigh. I thought I was past this!

So, what's a girl to do but wet the offending doily down and pin it into submission!?

Bad doily! Stop cupping!!!

So, we'll see...

I did double-check, and I'm pretty sure I executed the pattern correctly, so it's probably more of an "I tat too tightly" issue rather than a pattern problem...??

Two rows to go, and hopefully no more tension troubles. *Hopefully.*'s a really cool tatting-esque shirt I saw the other day--I didn't buy it (but I kind of wish I's really cool!) Maybe I can figure out the pattern and make myself something similar instead...maybe!
Eh, we'll see! :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Yesterday was my 31st birthday, and while I was too busy working and decorating my edible birthday cake to get to tat, today I worked up another cake of the thread variety:

Awfully cute, and much better decorated, I think, than my real cake:

Yikes. :)

The cupcake pattern comes from Nancy Tracy's, and is a fun and quick birthday tat! :)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Post 100, Book Review #1: "Tatting Patterns"

Hooray! My 100th post!

Yes, I know there are some of you amazing people who post 100 times over the course of weeks, rather than years, but, I will take my small victories when I can get them. :)

I really wanted to come up with something "spectacular" for my 100th post, which is why I haven't posted in the past 4 weeks--I just couldn't think of anything spectacular to talk about!

So, in lieu of something spectacular, I've decided to substitute something practical...a book review!

There are so many amazing tatting books floating around out there (and so many of them represented on my bookshelves!), but so few 1) easily found and 2) substantial book reviews about them (especially for the older books) available online.** 

In honor of my 100th post (and in an attempt to post more often) I have decided, in my own small way, to try to remedy that situation with a series of in-depth and hopefully helpful book reviews. :)

I'm going to start the series with the very first tatting book I ever owned, Lyn Morton's "Tatting Patterns"

I was given my copy of this book by my parents for my birthday in the early or mid-2000s. I was initially attracted by the beautiful colors and variety of patterns, but quickly found it was beyond my abilities at that point in time...but I'm getting ahead of myself. :)

One of two covers available (image via
Title: "Tatting Patterns"
Author: Lyn Morton
ISBN: 978-1-86108-261-9
Number of pages: 106
Number of patterns: 44
Type of pattern notation: Long notation with abbreviations (ie: Ring of 5DS, P, 5DS close. RW chain of 6 DS.) and labeled diagrams
Types of patterns: The book is broken into three sections:
     1) Patterns/Motifs: flower edging, motifs (mostly flowers, crosses and a butterfly)
     2) Jewelry and Accessories: earrings, necklaces, collar, 3D flower corsage, wedding ring bearer pillow
     3) Greeting cards: a variety of 2 and 3-round motifs are displayed mounted on greeting cards
Illustrations: Full color photographs and black and white diagrams.
Notions: The patterns are shown tatted in both beautifully-colored Turkish cotton and shiny metallic threads. Some patterns call for beads, or are shown with beads added. At least one pattern makes use of a center doodad, a few others are displayed as ornaments within a metal ring, and of course the greeting card section includes other practical applications for the motifs
Other inclusions: The book starts with a one-page history of tatting and short list of abbreviations used in the book. There are no "How to Tat" directions given in this book.
Shuttle or needle? The patterns are written for the shuttle (most patterns start with a suggestion of how much thread to wind or how many turns of the shuttle to make) and were quite trying for me when I tried to tat them with the needle...but with perseverance (and more practice than I'd had when I started working with this book) most of the patterns can be executed with either needle or shuttle

Pattern "Peggy" needle tatted in Perle 8
Skill level: Intermediate As a beginning needle tatter I struggled with this book. The author points out several patterns she considers to be easier than the others, but it took me a while before I could execute some of the trickier joins. As a progressing shuttle tatter, I find the motifs slightly easier to make, and using split rings and chains to climb from row to row will greatly limit the cutting, tying and hiding that originally turned me off to this book.
Skills needed: Addition of beads, split rings, lock joins
Availability: This is one of the more available tatting books. I have seen it in craft stores (my mom bought this for me at a big-box store in Des Moines, Iowa!) and is readily online at Handy Hands, Amazon, Be-Stitched, Tatting and Design (UK), etc. I even have a copy of this book in Russian!

I wonder in Lyn Morton knows this book has been published in Russian?
Price range: This book is available used from around $7-$14 new, depending on where you get it. It is also a compilation of her first four books (conveniently called "Tatting Patterns Book 1, 2, 3 or 4"
Personal Notes: Full disclosure, I have a large amount of nostalgia for this book due to it's status as my "First Tatting Book," but it took me a while to actually like it, mostly due to many early failures to execute even those patterns suggested to be "easy" buy the author. After a few years of practice, I have it another chance, and this book is now my go-to motif book. I would recommend this book for an intermediate or above tatter interested in playing with small motifs, especially if you are looking for a chance to practice "climbing out" from round to round, or repeating motifs to make larger doilies, mats or other items. These patterns are quick and cute, and the book does a great job of promoting practical uses for tatting, something which I know I struggle with!
Pattern: "Five-Point Snowflake Motif" shuttle tatted in DMC size 80
So there you go, my first book review. :)

Was this helpful? Did I leave something important out? Is there something I should add on my next review?

**Note: Here are some notable exceptions to the lack of substantive (and easily-found) online reviews:
•Georgia Seitz's page of reviews, including lists of non-English books, artist spotlights and one-off book reviews
•Davina-Marie from Shuttlebird's review of Jon Yusoff's "Elegant Tatting Gems"
•Fiona (OneMadTatter) T's review of "New Tatting"
•Krystledawne's review of Teiko Fujito's works "Tatted Fashion" and "The Tatted Artistry of Teiko Fujito"
•Hugs are Fun's review of "New Tatting"