Friday, December 31, 2010

My New Saguaro

Happy New Year's Eve! I'm enjoying a quite, relaxing end to 2010. In fact, I'm sort of making a point of it. It feels good to spend a couple days without creating my mental lists of things I want to accomplish. Of course my mind goes there anyway out of habit, but then I tell it to hush!

I have another Christmas show and tell for you. This adorable crocheted cactus was one of my presents. I was tickled because I had just been admiring some patterns for these little guys. They're so cute and I totally love the fuzzy yarn she used to represent the thorns.

The talented crafter who made my new saguaro plant can be found on Etsy at Catzilla Crafts. She taking a few days off right now, but she'll be back and then you can check out all of her designs.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Scrolled Yarn Wall Art

Okay, so it's actually tatted yarn wall art. I just can't stop playing with this idea of over-sized tatting mimicking scrolled metal. The trick is the yarn thickness to needle size ratio. The finished forms need to be structurally sound enough to support themselves and maintain their shape. I think I have that issue solved after a few test pieces and now I can experiment with larger and/or more elaborate designs.

Perhaps this is just crazy, buy as a yarnie and a lover of all things fiber related, going vertical appeals to me. What could be better than to look up and see a cool yarn design hanging on the wall? After all, that's what macrame is all about. I've never really explored macrame, but just from looking at it, I suspect that it has a few stitches in common with tatting. At the end of the day, it's all knot tying. I'm just using yarn and a really big needle!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Earrings

This year my mom and sister sent me some really cute earrings for Christmas.

These fiber earrings are so cool. They look great on and in spite of their deconstructed appearance, they seem to be sturdy and well fashioned.

I love their funky look and wanted to be able to promote the artist, but my search came up dry. All I have is the name Ma Su Ke. The best lead I can give you, is that if you live in the northern Virginia area, look for her at your local craft venues!

My next show and tell are these cute little Peace Crane Earrings. My photo doesn't really do them justice. It's hard photographing birds! I should have hung them, but now I'm digressing...

I'm happy to report the the creator of these little cuties is on Etsy. You can find your own pair of Peace Crane Earrings and other origami art at Origami Crafts.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tatted Wall Art

One of the things I've been thinking about since I started tatting is wall art. Many of the tatted pendant and medallion designs remind me of metal sculptures. My goal has been to get good enough to make larger scale models of shapes I like and then hang them on the wall just like a piece of sculptural art.

This is a picture of my first one. The yarn I'm using is variegated, so the finished product has a two toned quality. I carried six strands at once to get the thickness I was after and I used my homemade, super-sized tatting needle. The finished piece measures 14 x 14 inches.

Although there are a couple things about this design that I want to tweak (there almost always are), this pattern is a new accomplishment for me as a tatter. I made this by simply looking at a tatted image. I didn't have any sort of written pattern to guide me. This is exciting because it means that my brain has learned how to translate what it sees into the stitches. I've become much better about knowing which side I should have facing, if I need to reverse my work, in what direction my chains will curve; that sort of thing. In short, I'm gaining the confidence to start a little designing of my own.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Felted Photograph

Prepare to be inspired! Here's the Christmas present one of my customers created for her parents this year. She put her felting talents to work and made two incredible felted photographs. The one I have pictured here is her mom. I think she did an amazing job capturing her likeness.

It started a few weeks before Christmas when Angela contacted me in search of natural, black and gray roving. I was delighted when she came back to share her finished art. If you're wondering how she was able to reproduce the pictures in such detail, I'll let Angela explain:

"...I altered photos of my parents using a graphics program to give them a "mosaic look" (3 colors only). I then drew a grid on the printed pictures and copied that grid (with the mosaic shapes) onto a piece of flat felt. I then needle felted using the 3 colors you sent me. As a final step, I added tiny details (like the white around Mom's eyes) and those details are what really brought out the likeness. I then cut the image away from the felt (but, of course, left the felt on the back of the fiber) because there were still pen marks on the felt from my grid pattern. I then felted the mosaics onto a clean felt background, cut around the edges, and framed in shadow boxes."

I think framing the finished felted photos in shadow boxes was a nice touch. What an amazing gift and what a sensational idea! A big thanks to Angela for generously detailing her project and allowing me to share it with you!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

It's quarter past 11:00 here on Christmas day. I've already been up for over five hours which feels a bit of a struggle given the fact that late night chores.... ahem.... kept me up into the early morning hours.

So it's a bit bleary eyed that I sit to write my post today. It's been a lovely morning. The kids are both happy which is all I want in the world. What's better is that they are hanging out with each other, enjoying themselves and taking turns politely with the video games. Who raised these boys anyway? ;~)

I know this holiday means different things to different people. I think what I appreciate most about December 25 is that for 24 hours, the world around me seems to slow down, take a collective breath and exhale slowly. It's like a fabulous, contented stretch and yawn or a deep felt sigh. I feel at peace.

So whoever you are, wherever you are and whatever your traditions may be, I hope this day brings you a bit of the same calm and peaceful feeling. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Jacob Horn Buttons

I must have been a pretty good girl this year because I received an awesome present from my friend Peg of Sweetgrass Farm. Peg is a breeder of Jacob sheep. I first discovered her and her farm when I went on the hunt for beautiful Jacob roving. She was the only one I could find selling wool that had been processed to showcase all of the gorgeous colors of this breed. It's appropriately named Jacob Swirl and is my favorite among the roving I carry.

Before I talk about the buttons, let me just say that any Jacob sheep who finds a home on Sweetgrass Farm lives a good life and is well cared for and loved. Sometimes they break off a piece of their horns, or as with all living things, life comes to and end. As their horns are so magnificent, they are saved and now Peg is looking into possible applications for them. Right now, with the help of a friend, she is making some Jacob horn buttons.

The horns seem to contain the same gorgeous range of colors as does the fleece. Still, it's incredible to me to find so much color in the cross section of a horn. The inside is hard as stone and perfectly smooth. The outside edge is textured as it is the outside of the horn.

They're so striking and the overall shape of the buttons is so appealing. I am going to have to search for the perfect garment on which to showcase these very special accessories!

Right now, Peg is not sure how many buttons she'll produce. If she decides to sell them, I'll be the first in line so I can carry some at Wind Rose. For now, I'm just enjoying the look and feel of my unexpected Christmas present. I thought you might enjoy seeing them too!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Big & Bold Necklaces

Okay, it's safe to say that I have gone absolutely crazy making my big and bold, tatted necklaces. I don't know if I can explain why they are so fun to make, but I guess I'd better try.

I like how they are sort of free form. I've come up with a basic order of shapes I like, but once I'm making a necklace, if I think I need one of the rings or chains to be larger or smaller, I just change it on the spot. I do what makes sense for the yarn I'm working with. It's always fun to let go and allow the project dictate the outcome.

I'm also loving the completed necklaces. They are long, from 30 to 36 inches, so they don't need any clasp. This means that you can choose the focal point and wear the necklace with say a row of three rings in the center for a symmetrical look. Then again, you can go asymmetrical, my fave, and have the shapes hanging off center.

You can also layer them and be super bold. How about letting the length fall to the back for a choker look or even better, a few strands to the front and a few to the back for a funky layered look. Who needs a scarf when your necklaces can keep you warm?

I told you I was going crazy! Oh wait, one more! How about wrapping them around a brimmed hat? Uh oh, more ideas are coming... you could interlock a couple for a belt or coil one on your wrist for a chunky cuff bracelet.

Okay, I'm stopping now. I get a little over excited when I can imagine multiple uses for one design.

What's terrible is that I'm showing you this and I haven't even listed any in my shop. I want to make a few more so I can offer a big variety of color and fiber choices and then I'll start listing. Of course I'll come back and let you know when they are available for purchase. At the rate I'm going, this shouldn't take very long!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tatted Sea Turtle

Here he is! My little tatted sea turtle. I was trying to wait for the sun to come out so I could take a good picture, but it looks like that isn't going to happen for a couple more days. I guess a few shadows never hurt anyone.

So this is the pattern I was talking about. I couldn't quite manage it when I first started tatting. I didn't even really know how to read tatting patterns yet. I guess I thought I'd just jump in, but this little turtle made me realize I had to learn the basics first.

I found this pattern online at Handy Hands Tatting. The pattern they have listed is for Tortoise Earrings. I thought the tortoises were cute, so I wanted to try to make one. I chose to make mine more of a pendant size. Mine measures 2.5 by 1.5 inches. I also chose disc shaped beads to give him more of a sea turtle look. I think it would be cute to thread a necklace through one of the front flippers so that the turtle would hang at an angle.

This was such a fun pattern and it makes me want to design my own little creatures. I'm keep forgetting that I'm new to tatting. I sit down thinking I'll just whip out a design and then I keep having to frog my work. Slow down Jenn. It will come!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Oversized Tatting

I've been getting back to my tatting now that my house is fully trimmed and all preparations for the holiday complete. It feels good to sit cross legged on my studio couch with movies playing on my laptop and just tat.

I had a little triumph yesterday. I picked up a pattern that I tried when I first started tatting. At the time, I had to set it aside realizing that I wasn't quite ready for it yet. So I decided to try it again and got through it without any trouble at all. It was such a good feeling! The pattern was for a tatted turtle and it's really cute. I forgot to take its picture, so I'll have to do that tomorrow. I'll come back and show you. The light is pretty bad for taking pictures today anyway.

So after my turtle triumph, I just started goofing around when I decided I wanted to make a giant tatting needle. I happen to be the weird sort of craft woman who just happens to have a vise set up and a drill plugged in, not to mention an assortment of
wooden dowels handy. I started out with a 1/4" dowel. That's what I used for the green tatting in the photo above. I don't keep super bulky yarn around, so I had to twice double my yarn to make it thick. Even so, I decided my quarter inch needle was a little too giant.

Back to the drill I went, this time with a 3/16" dowel. I still had to layer up my yarn, but the width was much better. I sat down and tatted this chunky, asymmetrical necklace. I'm going to have to spin some super bulky yarn, because the hardest part of this project was working with four strings at once.

I have to say that oversized needle tatting is a little too much fun. It's amazing how fast the afternoon flew by. I always feel a bit guilty when I indulge in my hobbies all day. I guess I am on Christmas break and the kids seemed happy to have a chill day.

So before I go off and make a nice dinner so I can feel like a proper mom again, here's a couple more pics from my playtime:

Have a great night!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Love Felt? I've got a blog for you!

This little fiber star is from one of my own nuno felting projects, but I'm actually writing today with a blog recommendation. If you love felt, there is a blog that I think you'll enjoy. It's name is Wool love-functional fiber art.

I've been following this blog for a little while now, and I always enjoy seeing what this fiber artist will post next. She is nothing short of prolific in her devotion to felt.

In her latest post, she's creating a Christmas stocking, but don't stop there. Take a minute and scroll through some of her work. She makes gorgeous pillows and purses. She is simply always up to something!

For a long time now I've been thinking that I should share this blog with others. I have so many people come to my blog to see some of the nuno felt artists I have featured, so now I'm promoting a whole blog full of fabulous felt. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Claudia Chavez ~ Santa Fe Bead Artist

It's been a little over a year since I first discovered the work of Claudia Chavez. This is one of her necklaces that I purchased on a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was excited to come home and share her work here on my blog.

Today I recieved and email from Claudia letting me know that she has launched her website. Now you can visit any time you like and see her beautiful Flower Garden necklaces. I think my favorite right now is the Burgundy Flower Garden.

Claudia's beadwork is impeccable and her designs original and enchanting. I'm very pleased to be able to share her new website with you. I love my trips to Santa Fe, but I'm so happy that I can now see Claudia's art whenever I want!

Checking In With a New Bracelet Design

My blog posts have become infrequent over the last two weeks. This is due to the fact that if you want to send handmade gifts for Christmas, at some point you have to hunker down and make them! Now that my gifts are all in the mail, I can start to resume more normal life patterns.

I sat down today and made this needle tatted bracelet. My son has art class tomorrow and I thought it would be nice to make something for his teacher. I like the look of several strands together so I decided to try to create that look with one continuous thread. All in all, I'm happy with my result.

Well I just had to check in. I didn't want anyone thinking I'd fallen off the face of the earth or anything. I've just had a case of busy holiday-itis.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Yarn Bombing? Art Installation?

Whether you call it yarn bombing or a form of art, all I can say is that it's totally fun!

Yesterday I took a field trip to The Fiber Factory in Mesa, Arizona. Ruth, our project leader, was already there with a few other fiber enthusiasts. Members of our guild, the TelaraƱa Weavers and Spinners, and friends of The Fiber Factory contributed remnants of their own knitting and weaving. There were also pieces of crochet and felt on hand so the fiber arts were well represented!

The next few hours were spent with needles and ladders as we wrapped and sewed our fabric to the Palo Verde trees in front of The Fiber Factory. I myself was up on a ladder working on the left arm of this tree from the yellow on up. There is something so satisfying about hugging your arms around a tree and sewing it up in a nice wool sweater. I'm also quite sure that the trees appreciated our sewing over the use of staples or anything painful like that.

We had fun embellishing the trees with flowers and furry scarves. The yarn clad trees will be on display throughout the holiday season, so if you're local, go for a drive down to 216 West Main Street in Mesa.

Thanks to Ruth for being the creative force behind this wonderful project. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part and I know everyone else did as well. It makes me want to wrap everything in warm, woolly goodness!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Now that the calendar reads December, I have embraced the holiday season. My mind has turned to decorating, shopping, baking and cards.

Wind Rose Fiber Studio has been busier than ever this year. Between filling orders and getting my home ready for the holidays, I've found little time for anything else.

Still, I can't neglect my blog, so I thought I'd at least say hello today. I hope everyone is enjoying the excitement that seems to come with this time of year. It's especially fun with kids in the house. Their eagerness becomes contagious.

Today's picture is by my son Wes. He drew this in an art class. His teacher had them use watercolor paints. He said the brushes were too big, but I kind like that it's a little sloppy. I think it adds a touch of whimsy. I also love that when they were told they could draw something under the tree, he chose a Star Bunny from Super Mario Galaxy.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tatted Trio Bracelet

Well hi! I haven't blogged in a few days because I didn't want to bore you to death with day after day of tatting.

Of course here I am with another tatting picture, but remember, you had a few days off! :D

The reason I'm showing off this Tatted Trio Bracelet is because I'm actually selling this one at Wind Rose. It's my first tatted item for sale, so I'm excited.

You can see that it has three chains that are attached so it wears like a set of bangles. The rings and spirals are spaced out just right so they compliment and not overlap. This bracelet is perfect for a 7 t0 7.5 inch wrist. I know that's a little large for some. As time goes by, I want to make more for the shop in different colors and sizes. Right now the bulk of my production is focused on holiday gift giving.

I've also been playing around with more tatted shapes. I've gotten into the habit of trying out patterns with bigger yarn. It gives me a practice run before making it up in thread. I've also found that if I like it in the big yarn, I know it will look even more cute in small thread. If I'm not wild about it in the larger size, the same holds true for the smaller size.

So basically, making a large prototype is not only practice, but it saves me some time and effort. I get frustrated if I spend time tatting a tiny shape only to find that I don't really like the finished product.

This dragonfly is a case in point. He's kind of cute, but I'm not wild about the pattern. I think he needs antennae or something. He seems bald to me. I don't think I'm going to bother with making small ones although I'll probably use this guy as an ornament for the Christmas tree. I think that's what will become of all my larger shapes. It's a tatted Christmas here at Wind Rose Fiber Studio!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tatting Ribbon

I spent part of my Thanksgiving weekend reuniting with my yarn collection.

When I have a four day weekend, I feel like I should be getting things done. Much to my family's chagrin, I sort of feel like they should be using the time to advantage too. These two notions merged to become a garage organizing project.

Now I probably shouldn't admit this, but a big part of my yarn stash was living in the garage in plastic bags. I know it's shameful, but my studio is only so big and a lot of this yarn is leftover from projects. I don't really use it very often, but I can't bring myself to let it go. You know how it is.

So I found myself sitting on the living room floor surrounded by yarn. In my sorting, I came across old favorites. I had some gorgeous, hand painted ribbon (pictured above) left over from a shawl I made a few years ago. I thought it would be fun to see how it looked tatted into bracelets. Then I got hooked on the idea and started looking for other ribbon yarns.

I found a whole skein of ribbon in pretty sunset colors. This ribbon is only about 1/4" wide, but it has fun little eyelashes on either side. I really like how this one turned out.

I just did a chain of split rings starting from a small, six stitch ring, then ascending to a large middle ring. Then I decreased the rings back down again to a small ring on the other end of the chain.

I need to keep hitting the books with my tatting so I can get comfortable with more elaborate patterns. I guess I've been taking a short break to explore yarns and find out which ones tat the best. I'm discovering that you need yarn or thread that has some strength. A tight twist seems to be a good thing too. Now I'm definitely adding ribbon to the list. In fact, tatting with ribbon might just be my favorite!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tangled Up

It's been a couple days since my last post. I've been a little tangled up around the house. In fact, when I'm done writing, I'll be heading into my studio to organize this yarn. Why is it that no matter how neatly I put away my yarn, it always ends up looking like this?

Well, it's the weekend after Thanksgiving and the neighbors are starting to decorate their houses for Christmas. My email inbox is full of ads from any retailer who's managed to procure my address. Blockbuster movies are filling the theaters. Ready or not, it seems the holiday season is here.

As for me, I'm not thinking about the upcoming holidays just yet. The approach of early December represents something different to me. It means that the anniversary of Wind Rose Fiber Studio is coming. This year, on December 8th, I will have been in business for 3 years.

Really, December 8 could come and go and change nothing but the date on the calendar, but for some reason, the anniversary affects me significantly. I start to think about what I should change and what I should keep the same. I end up organizing and planning. How do I make Wind Rose even better in the upcoming year?

I can get seriously caught up in organizing. My brain starts to look a bit like this yarn photograph. I stay up late at night with notepads and my laptop as though I were running an empire and not a small craft business. The results of my efforts are usually minor, but worthwhile.

Last year I expanded my inventory and took my accounting online. This year I've decided to commit to keeping a group of core colors in stock. I like the idea of being the place where you can find a huge variety of hand dyed colors any day of the year. When I was writing down the colors I had to have, the list grew long. For every color of the rainbow, I want a cool and warm represented as well as a light and dark shade. I also want to include the earth tones not to mention grey and black. By the time I was done, I narrowed my list to 40 colors. These are just core colors mind you, there are others I'd like to include if time allows.

I don't think it would be practical to undertake this goal with every fiber I sell, so I've decided to keep my core colors in Merino wool. Merino is by far the most popular fiber I carry. For two other favorite wools, Falkland and BFL, I'll keep smaller, more primary selections. I'll try to do the same for soy silk if I can ever get enough back in stock. There is one more fiber dear to me and that is Firestar. I will keep a selection of colors in stock for this fiber too. As for blends and silks and all the other wonderful wools out there, I'll keep stocking them in ecru, but will probably only dye them upon request. This makes sense to me as the demand for them is much less.

So, with my anniversary looming, I'll be dyeing pounds of wool in all of the core colors I have chosen. This should take me a couple weeks to accomplish. Then the real test will start. The goal is to keep these colors available consistently throughout the year. I suppose it won't be long before I know if this is a reasonable goal or if I have chosen too great a number of colors. I'll be back another day with that color list so you know what you can expect to find at Wind Rose in 2011.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tatting ~ Bracelets & Earrings

I didn't write a blog post yesterday, but that doesn't mean I didn't tat. Quite the opposite. I have now become absolutely obsessed with tatting. I have this idea that I would like all the women in my family to receive something tatted for Christmas. I'd like to send them each a bracelet and a pair of earrings.

I'm having a great time coming up with simple designs. The bracelets are just a combination of split knots and Josephine chains. While this is hardly advanced tatting, I think they're cute and they're fun to make.

One of the things that I find myself devoting a lot of time to is yarn choice. I have a studio full of different yarns, many of them my own handspun. Every time I make something, I want to make five more just to see how it would look with different sorts of yarn.

The earrings on the far left may be the goofiest, but I love them because they are made from yarn I spun years ago when I was just getting into spinning. My husband came in and asked if anyone would wear earrings made from yarn besides me. I gave him the only answer I could, "I don't know, but I'm have fun making them!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tatting Little Shapes

This is beginning to look like a tatting blog! When I get into something new, I really get into it!

Yesterday I began to play with tatting small shapes. To get me started, I purchased a pattern book from a fellow Etsy seller, Heather A. Johnston. Her collection, Tatted Earrings & Things, looked just like the kind of little motifs I wanted to try.

This pair of earrings shows her pattern for side view butterflies. I love how delicate they look and the variegated, size 20 tatting thread worked out well. The do look a bit like hummingbirds though. She has another pattern for hummingbirds which is very similar and of course gives the birds tail feathers. I'll try that one next.

I've also been playing around with a few shapes of my own. Well, there's one more butterfly in there, but the rest are mine. So far, the silver earrings are my faves. I love making the Josephine Knot chains. The spirals make me happy.

I used both shuttles and needles when I was working on these. I found myself liking the shuttles better for the butterflies, but I used tatting needles to make the other earrings. I'm getting more and more comfortable as time goes on. I think what I need most now is just plenty of practice. I plan to keep picking out patterns so I can become comfortable with the way they are written. I think it's good to be able to follow a pattern even if my goal is to create my own designs.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Needle Tatting ~ Here I go!

Yesterday I made the transition from shuttle to needle. What I discovered took me by surprise. I thought that once I started needle tatting, I'd never look back. I knew I'd be able to create double knots faster and I figured that if all the same design elements could be created with a needle, then needle tatting would emerge as my favorite form. I didn't expect to be missing my shuttles almost right away.

It's true that the rings and chains moved along quickly, but my mind almost immediately began to see limitations to working with a needle. I felt like I had less control in a way. I think that my feelings in large part were affected by my choice in books. Learn Needle Tatting was falling a bit short for me. Since I've already practiced the basics, I was thinking ahead and wondering how split rings and chains would be possible with a needle. I flipped through the pages only to find that this particular book doesn't go that far. It includes rings and chains and adding on a new color, but that's it.

Now, in all fairness to Learn Needle Tatting, I should mention that I went from there to The Complete Book of Tatting by Rebecca Jones to find that she too had only gone so far as rings and chains where needle tatting is concerned. Of course the Complete Book of Tatting states in the subtitle that the focus is on Everything You Wanted to Know but Couldn't Find Out About Shuttle Tatting. So in my tatting shopping frenzy, I clearly failed to supply myself with a good needle tatting guide.

What now? YouTube, that's what! Hooray for YouTube! So I have some new favorite videos. This one: TotusMel Needle Tatting Spilt Rings & Josephine Chains.MPG clearly shows how to create a split ring and a Josephine chain with a needle. Split chains are well explained is this turoial: needle tatting - split chain and split ring (kinda). I know the word "kinda" doesn't inspire confidence, but she's referring to the fact that she kinda covers split rings as well as split chains. One more video link for fun: Needle Tatting Flower Pendant.MPG. In this video, the tatter creates a flower pendant from start to finish in 7 minutes.

So now my enthusiasm for needle tatting has been revived. I'm ready to go back in my studio and see what I can create with my tatting needles. By the way, I haven't been taking the time to block my pieces before photographing them. I'm too impatient to go on to the next project. The Pink and silver samplers up above are two separate pieces, but I thought they looked kind of cute layered on top of each other for their picture. The little silver one will probably become a Christmas tree ornament this year.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tatting Class 8 ~ Split Chains!

I'm back today to show off my first split chain. You can see that I made things a little more interesting for myself by by my choice of yarn. When I say interesting I really mean difficult. I don't know why I can't stick with basic crochet or tatting thread. This lace weight yarn has a mild mohair quality that made it more challenging for me to see what I was doing. It also made it tough when I needed to frog a knot. Oh well, live and learn.

In spite of my slightly furry yarn, I made it through my first split chain. The most challenging part for me was remembering to hold my tension and keep my stitch placement close. On my first attempt, it looked like I had a picot right next to my joining loop and that was due to my failure to slide my tied-on knot into position and keep it there with a finger pinch. The interesting thing about learning to tat, is that your brain has to be focused on several new things at once. It's a good mental workout!

I'm now planning to move on in my tatting journey. Up to now, I've been using Learn to Tat by Janette Baker as my guide. This is probably the first time I've ever followed an instructional book from cover to cover, and in this case, it's been a good experience. I feel like this book has given me a strong foundation to build upon. There is actually one more lesson about front side tatting verses traditional, but there is such a minimal difference in technique between the two, that I'm not really going to worry about it for now. What I will do is keep this book on my shelf as a wonderful reference as I go forward.

Where to now? The next book in my lineup is Learn Needle Tatting by Barbara Foster. Just flipping through, it seems to use most of the same beginning designs only this time I'll be utilizing a tatting needle rather than a shuttle. I think having seen and tatted the patterns before will make the transition easier. My ultimate goal is to be able to move from shuttle to needle to crochet hook with relative ease. I love the idea of being able to incorporate lace elements into my future crochet projects.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tatting Class 7 ~ Split Rings!

Yes! I love split rings! Class number 7 in my Learn to Tat book made me very happy. Well, first it confused me and then it made me happy.

I've been using the dvd that comes with the book quite a lot. Seeing and doing is my preferred way of learning. So I was watching the pretty manicured hands make a split ring and I thought, "No problem. I've got this." Then I tried to mimic what I had just seen only to to find that it wasn't working. It didn't look right and I couldn't close the ring.

Now if you haven't tatted, you are probably wondering what I'm talking about. If you have, you are probably giggling at my rookie mistake. I started over. I watched the video again looking and listening carefully for what I must have missed the first time around. "Wait, what's that? Did she say reverse the stitches? ...and don't transfer the stitches???"

I cottoned on to reversing the stitches fast enough. Over then under instead of the other way around. No problem, stitches reversed. What gave me pause was the don't transfer your stitches comment. The pretty tatting hands just kind of threw that in there like it was no big deal. I've just spent a week getting really comfortable doing classic double knots, transferring my stitches. Can I convince my hands to go back in time?

Seriously, I had a moment in which I wondered if it was even possible for me not to transfer my stitches! Then my brain caught back up and I figured out that if transferring stitches was all about loosening the tension, then not transferring had to be about maintaining tension. My light bulb turned on. I was home again!

After that, it was all downhill for me and split rings. I found a nice skein of orange cotton and split ringed my heart out. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had enough yarn on my spools to make a chain that would reach around my wrist. I found a couple copper findings and added a clasp. Hello new bracelet.

Class 8 will have me splitting chains. I'm ready!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tatting Class 6 ~ Double Shuttles

Here's my little practice piece from tatting class number 6 in my Learn to Tat book. The new concepts were working with two shuttles and also making Josephine Knots for the first time.

I used size 8 tatting cotton and it was so nice to get back to a finer fiber after my class 5 project. Working with two shuttles was easy enough. I used two different colored plastic shuttles so I could tell them apart.

What I'm starting to realize after just over a week of tatting, is that I could end up with big shuttle collection. I wonder how many shuttles the average tatter owns? It's easy to have some thread left over after a project. I don't really want to unwind and waste all that thread, so I find myself looking for another shuttle to use.

I picked up a couple of these metal shuttles. They are nice because they have a bobbin that slides in and out. If you have thread left on a bobbin, you can just use a new bobbin. The extra bobbins are sold in four packs and both the shuttle and the bobbins are reasonably priced.

Another perk with this bobbin shuttle is that you can give it a little tug when you need more thread. You don't have to spin the whole shuttle around to unwind some length. A down side to using these might be double shuttle patterns. How would you tell one shuttle from the other? Maybe a cute little sticker on one of the shuttles or something like that.

Back to my sampler. The Josephine Knots are the little rings on the top of my edging. They really aren't hard to make. Now that I've gotten comfortable with the basic double knot and the handling of the shuttles and thread, the new concepts are coming easier. I'm actually really looking forward to the next lesson because it covers split rings. When I first decided to dive into this world of tatting, back when I discovered cro-tatting, one of the first things I wanted to make was a continuous chain of rings. Now I know that it's the split ring technique that will allow me to do that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tatting Class 5 ~ I'm Going Knotless!

That's right, knotless. There's not one knot in this whole piece! That's what lesson 5 in my Learn to Tat book was all about.

I started this exercise kind of late one evening. I chose a sport weight cotton mainly to be kind to my eyes. At about 9:00, my contacts want to call it a day and my glasses and I don't have a very good working relationship.

I feel I can say, once and for all, that shuttle tatting with Dk or sport weight cotton is ridiculous. Shuttles were just not made for such fat yarn. On the other hand, doing this exercise with a heavier weight fiber made for some good practice. I couldn't fit very much yarn on the shuttle which forced me to reload about five or six times. I now feel fully rehearsed in thread joins.

This piece is the Easy Bookmark pattern that the book provides. I decided to make it a little shorter and I may even sew on a clasp so I can wear it like a colorful cuff bracelet. I want to bond with my tatting.

The next lesson will have me tatting with two shuttles at once. Great googly moogly!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tatting Class 4

I'm working my way through Learn to Tat by Janette Baker. This is a book that comes with a companion dvd. So far I'm impressed with the instructions. They are in a very sensible order and easy to follow. I feel like I'm getting a solid introduction into the world of tatting.

Class 4 focuses on ring and chain instructions. You can see that I am working with two threads now. It's more practice in making those close joins, reversing my work and also how to handle the second string. I used DMC size 8 Perle Cotton.

Now I'm working on the 5th lesson and I feel like I'm getting down to the nitty-gritty. I'm learning how to have my tatting contain as few knots as possible. I'm making a practice piece in which I have carried the beginning threads along with my work to weave them in. I'm also about to find out how to join a new thread when it's time to refresh my shuttle. I'll show you how that goes tomorrow.

Also today, I want to thank Gina for her comment on yesterday's tatting post. She writes a blog called Threads of a Tatting Goddess and was kind enough to recommend some good practice threads. Her blog is a wonderful place to find tatting patterns, guides and tutorials as well as a long list of resources. She also offers plenty of inspiration. I love the autumn leaves she shares in her Oct. 31st post!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Skin Tone Samplers Are Back!

Okay, as promised, the Skin Tone Samplers are back in stock at Wind Rose. I carry two sizes. The small sampler has .25oz of each color and the large sampler has .5oz of each.

They both have all ten colors: Chestnut Brown, South Pacific, Golden Brown, Deeper Brown, Porcelain Fair, Sun Touched, Precious Peach, Pink Blush, Peach Glow and Mediterranean.

Tatting Class 3 With Size 80 Thread

Yesterday I shared my tatting progress in the form of a butterfly. Class 3 in my Learn to Tat book was all about making joined loops. The thing is, I've been teaching myself with size 10 crochet cotton and even some larger cottons. Technically, I haven't been tatting lace yet, not until today.

The last time I was near a Michaels, I ran in and purchased some size 80 tatting thread. I might have gone with a 60 or a 70, but Micheals didn't have a very good selection. It was size 8 or size 80 and nothing in between. I wanted to try my hands out on some real tatting thread. It doesn't get much finer than size 80, so I knew I was in for a challenge.

I decided to take a picture of my lacy little butterfly next to the larger size from yesterday. That way you can see just how great the difference is. Yesterday's butterfly was made from a DK mercerized cotton. It looks sort of bumbling and huge next to the teeny tiny butterfly made from the size 80 tatting thread.

I was pleased with how well I adjusted to the fine thread. My hands felt comfortable right away. I guess a double knot is a double knot. What was more challenging was getting the loops right next to each other. This little butterfly is actually my third try. The loops were okay in my first two, but even a tiny length of space between the them ruins the butterfly form. I had to keep trying until I got it nice and tight. I'm such a perfectionist even when I'm learning something new. I can be pretty hard on myself.

I'm sure I nearly went cross-eyed more than once this morning. I'm not really planning on making lots of really fine lace, but if I change my mind about that, a magnifying glass is in my future! For now, I'm just enjoying the learning process.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tatting Class 3!

I just mastered tatting class number three. The class wasn't actually about making a butterfly. The butterfly pattern was used to practice making joined loops. This seems like it should be easy, but it took me a few tries.

When I was cro-tatting, this wasn't even an issue. It was simple to start the next loop where the last one left off. With the shuttle, you have to be aware of which string to hold tension on so that your first stitch of the new loop stays in place.

The other thing I'm finding as a new tatter is that the quality of thread really does make a difference. In particular, I think you need a tight and well set twist. I was practicing with one brand of size 10 cotton and I kept having to let my shuttle hang and unwind. The cotton kept trying to ply on me which was a nuisance, not to mention the fact that it can spoil a picot.

I hope you don't mind coming on this tatting journey with me. In the meantime, I'm doing my best to not neglect Wind Rose Fiber Studio. I have 2 1/2 pounds of Merino drying out in the sun right now. They are destined to become my next batch of skin tone samplers. I'll be able to list them back in the shop tomorrow and they'll be ready to ship out Tuesday morning.

Related Posts: Tatting Class, Me & My Shuttle

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tatting Class

I'm excited to show you my progress! I went from awkwardly shuttling my first double stitches to making rings and picots with relative ease. I've now completed the first two classes in my Learn to Tat book.

I am doing my best to stay disciplined and take it step by step. Typically, I get overconfident and jump ahead or move too quickly. Then I ultimately find myself needing to go back and figure out what I missed. I think my tatting will be much better if I take my time and practice.

I just got my tatting needles in the mail today. I went a little tatting crazy on Amazon. I'm going to need a little basket or special place just for my tatting supplies. The presence of the needles is going to make it harder for me to focus on my shuttling. I want to do both, now. I'm such an impatient student!

One more thing, in my online travels, I came across this really nice crochet site called Crochet Memories. They have a wonderful page of Thread Information that includes terminology, thread varieties and even some recommended brands of thread. I just thought I'd share that with you. It seems like a nice reference to keep bookmarked.