Craft, Tatting

Another Swatch but Still Decisions to be Made

So, in my last post I talked about the various options that have me stumped in working out what my next big tatting project will be.

So after a few days of mulling things over I’ve made some decisions but there’s still some deciding left to do.

1. Pattern
The coffee table mat has been removed from the options. Even though that is the emotional choice, being the first big project to catch my eye. It measures 19 inches in diameter in Coats 10, but I think I will enjoy the other two more.

The Fujito doily has a couple of rows that feature motifs which can be tatted separately – this makes the project more portable, which is a big plus. Done in #10 Cordonnet it measures 72cm (28.5in), which is huge. Anyone know how the Cordonnet compares to Lizbeth??

The Renulek doily is still a contender as well. In size 30 it appears that it is about 19 inches across in DMC 30, so the same size as the coffee table mat. It has quite a few different designs for the rows so it will be enjoyable to do, but not as portable as each row is complete.

And then another option appeared today. Enter the Stawasz monster doily. A stunning item which has already been done by a couple of InTatters members – it took Karen a year to do! It’s 75cm (30in) in diameter done in Red Heart 30 thread.


2. Thread size
A few people have recommended that I do the finer thread. I agree, finer threads look amazing, but they do take away from final size. So, I did a swatch to see what the difference would be.

Here you can see with the size 20 swatch on top of the size 10 that the difference is noticeable. In fact the size 10 is 3.2cm across vs the size 20 at 2cm. I’d estimate around 20cm difference by the time I finished a full doily.

However, another thing that had not occured to me came out of swatching. I really didn’t enjoy tatting the size 20 thread. It was fiddlier and most importantly, my hands were stiffer just doing a small motif. A whole doily will be too much so I’m more likely to give it up. So, for that reason and that reason alone, I’m going with the size 10 thread. Sorted!

3. Needle or Shuttle
After playing with my needle and shuttle swatches for a couple of days I’m sold on the shuttle. It’ll give me closer to the finer thread effect while allowing me to use the thicker threads that are less strain on my hands.

Also to consider is the portability of the project. I’m off on holiday soon and that holiday will include a short plane trip. Now if I’m honest I know that I’ll be juggling a baby and will be unlikely to get any craft done during the journey, yet if I opt for the shuttle there may well be opportunities to do a little here or there. Also shuttles can be taken on planes whereas needles certainly can’t.

Decision made!

Screenshot 2014-06-20 21.11.37

4. Colour
The consensus seems to be solid colour, with maybe a row here or there in a contrast to give visual interest. I’m tending to agree. Now to work out exactly what the colours will be. I don’t want to do white – I need colour! To help me to sort this question I’ve set a deadline for ordering thread. Hopefully that will help!

Screenshot 2014-06-24 21.48.58

So that’s where we are at the moment – of the four questions I started with 2 and 3 are decided but 1 and 4 still to go. Can you help me narrow things down?

Craft, Tatting

Crafter’s Block

I’ve got crafter’s block. Yes, I know I have a number of WIPs but you see I’ve been wanting for months and months to start a BIG tatting project. The problem is that there’s just too many options. Every now and then I start to work my way through to finally make a decision and get started, but then I find that I’m neck-deep in calendar days and I’m paralised by the options.

So today I thought I’d let you in on my options in a hope that someone might have some insights to help me to get a little closer to actually have a WIP instead of a dream.

1. The pattern
I want to do a BIG doily. I’ve been wanting to do a big doily ever since I first started tatting and I have done some fairly large ones, but they have generally been gifted (the ex-MIL got a particularly nice piece which I’ll never see again and which I suspect is either tossed away or buried in the back of a cupboard grrrr).

My first thought was to do the one that originally caught my eye – the coffee table mat from The Basic Book of Macramé & Tatting but then I found the large doily in Tatted Fashion which I “think” I like better, or at least it has a few more interesting rows. Then everyone started doing Renulek’s Spring Doily which is absolutely lovely.

2. Thread size
I want big. I want the “wow” factor. I want it to be impressive to a fellow crafter. I want to love it and for my grandkids to love it. I’m thinking size 10 thread, solid and durable but still a lot of choices in colours. But then maybe size 20 would look better as it’ll be finer… argh!

The following examples are taken from a Coats and Clark book and show the difference that diferent sized threads can make.

3. Needle or shuttle
I enjoy needle tatting, I’m convinced I’m faster with it plus it has the added bonus of being able to easily open rings. However, it it looser than shuttle and I wonder if that will affect the long term durability.

Screenshot 2014-06-20 21.11.37

You can see the difference here. These are both tatted using size 10 Lizbeth thread (col 680). The needle tatted piece on the right took 21 mins to create. It’s got that padded look to the stitches that is typical of needle tatting and is floppier, it’s also slightly bigger. The shuttle tatted piece looks tighter and is. It’s also much stiffer naturally. It took 25 mins so slightly longer, not counting the time to load the shuttle (not long cos I use an aero style). The needle tatted piece is much easier to weave ends into, I’ve always had difficulty with my ends!

4. Colour
And the final piece of the puzzle will be colour. I love the look of single plain colour for these huge doilies – they look amazing and you can see the intricacy of the design, whereas colour can detract from the design. However, I need colour. I prefer working with colour and I’m always drawn to the variegated threads. I know which ever one I choose it’ll look great in a bold colour, but I keep thinking that I will get bored… maybe I need to combine some variegated thread with some plain thread.

A quick google search of one of my favourite motif designs – Spinning Wheel by Mary Konior will show the results of using variegated threads and solid threads. I grabbed this screen shot from those results –

Screenshot 2014-06-20 21.30.58

Left is by Laurette and right is by Vanessa.

I’m thinking that the final piece will likely be a spring/easter table centrepiece – mainly because we already have enough decoration for Christmas, it would be nice to have something that comes out specially for other times of the year.

So… that’s where I’m at and what I’m pondering and why I currently have Crafter’s Block. I’m interested in knowing what you think of the options, why you think that and what you would choose so please do leave me a comment!

My Week in Pictures

Week 13.11 – Isabella’s Birthday

Week 11 from March 11th to 17th featured the first Edinburgh Yarn Festival which warranted it’s very own post. Ilze and Paul came up from London to visit – was so great to see them. Aside from that we also celebrated Isabella Beeton’s birthday. I did some tatting, working on a new necklace from an antique pattern.

Slightly chilly in my street this morning
130311 – Slightly chilly in my street this morning

Just hangin'
130312 – Just hangin’

Happy Birthday Isabella and thank-you
130312 – Happy Birthday Isabella and thank-you

We ended up cancelling dinner but I did get some lovely flowers for my first mothers day
130312 – We ended up cancelling dinner but I did get some lovely flowers for my first mothers day last Sunday

Work in progress #tatting
130313 – Work in progress #tatting

Celebrating the first Edinburgh Yarn Festival #edinyarnfest
130314 – Celebrating and looking forward to the first Edinburgh Yarn Festival #edinyarnfest

Bar Boda
130316 – Bar Boda, taking a break from the Yarn Festival

Like these colours, must try to source!
130317 – Like these colours, must try to source! I often play with colour

Craft, Finished Projects, Shopping

A Baby Rainbow

In amongst the great long list of “essential” items for a newborn child that you will see these days is muslins. When I first came across it I was confused – isn’t muslin the cotton cloth that you use to strain jellies in the kitchen? What on earth would I need those for? Apparently they make great burp cloths – but how is strained baby chuck on your shoulder any better than non-strained? Why can’t I use cloth nappy squares like we did for my sisters when they were babies?

Well, it turns out that cloth nappy squares are nolonger in fashion and as such aren’t that easy to find. Muslins are all the rage at the moment, and apparently I will need anything between “more than I have” and “about 100 should do”. Fair enough, they can’t be too expensive I think, after all they’re just hemmed pieces of lightweight fairly open weave pure cotton. A quick search shows that you can buy unbleached muslin fabric at 125cm wide for about £2 per metre. So imagine my surprise when I came across this on the John Lewis website:

Yep, that’s £28.95 for 7 squares of cotton, 60x60cm each. It’s not hard to do the math and see how much you are paying for some cheap dye!

Now anyone who knows me knows that I love colour, bright and happy colours being the best. I would absolutely LOVE to be able to afford to kit out the nursery with these gorgeous cloths, but £30??? And if I wanted a modest amount of them, say 28-30, that would cost £120. I can’t do it – the difference in price would pay for Christian, Bump and I to go to Dublin to see friends, MUCH more important!

But then Aldi had a babywear sale. I picked up £30 worth of muslin cloths – 30 of them! Some were patterned, but most were simple white cloths, 68×68 (yes, bigger than the fancy JL ones) and I had a brainwave. A search on eBay, another £30 and very soon a nice selection of machine dyes arrived in the post. Cue evil laughter….

Now each pack of dye will do 600g of cotton cloth, which is more than I had, so I gathered up some of the towelling nappies I had also purchased as well as some of the small white baby clothes that we’d found thanks to similar issues as the cloths, the coloured ones being ludicrously priced. I washed it all and I got started with my plan.

I divided up all the cloths, nappies and clothes into six piles, weighed each and then it was a simple matter of following the instructions on the dye packet. (you also need salt, but don’t worry about the brand salt from the dye company – I had a couple of packets of that but also used normal table salt for the rest at 46p for 750g!). Each colour took two runs through the machine, followed by a short run to wash the machine afterwards. After a few days I had finished and this is the result:

The end result, for the price of 14 muslin squares from John Lewis, I have 30 in a rainbow of happy colours. I have also transformed 12 towelling nappies and an assortment of boring white baby clothes to match. I call that a win!


My First Socks

I started my first ever pair of socks yesterday. I’m using a pattern I found on Ravelry called “Socks That Fit” – so hopefully that’s what they’ll do when they’re finished! I’m doing them in crochet which works up thicker than knitting so instead of the following the pattern I’ve decided to stitch into the back loops for the main fabric of the sock.

The yarn doesn’t really show up that well in the light that I took this photo with, it’s a very intense orange with other colours through it. Quite crazy, no pattern – perhaps it patterns up better if you knit it. I picked this up at a discount store in Germany. The line of colour at the top of the picture is my little gauge swatch and the background is my project page for this one.

So far so good, managed to do half of one foot length. Of course second sock syndrome is in my near future so no breath holding!