Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blue Velvet

When I saw this blue velvet, I was smitten. I resisted for a while, because I have no need of blue velvet in my life right now. But I'm hoping that my granddaughter Isabel will have a party or two to go to where blue velvet is just the thing.

The pattern is the Snap Wrap dress from the Prudent Baby website. It's a simple pattern, but attaching the lining to the velvet turned out to be much less simple than I expected. Things seldom turn out to be as simple as I expect! I had planned to tat a motif to put on the bodice, but when I realised how difficult (and necessary) topstitching the bodice would be, I made plan B. The split ring braid comes from my stash of 'handbag tatting'. It holds the lining in place and contrasts with the velvet. I hope Isabel will like it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

One more

Before I drop the subject, here's one more food cover I made last October, for a wedding present. I bought the cloth at the back of the picture in Zimbabwe, then made serviettes, or table napkins, and a food cover to go with it. The motifs are from Jane Eborall's pattern page, fandango square, small motif and giraffe. I adapted the giraffe slightly, adding the light coloured edging to make it better fit with the giraffe on the cloth.

Food Cover!

Since my brother gave me a new sewing machine in April last year, I have experimented with combining machine embroidery stitches with tatting on pillowcases, food covers etc. It's fun to decide which stitch will best complement the tatting. Here I thought a  leaf pattern would go well with Anne Brouvold's design.

I attached dangly beads to each corner. They add a bit of weight that I hope will hold the cover in place.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Update on edging

Thanks to Isdihara I can tell you that the edging on my food cover is Spring Flower bookmark by Julie Patterson. You can read about Isdihara's experiments with the pattern here. I copied the pattern down and wrote the name of it, but didn't write the name of the designer, which was a bit dense. Thanks for the help Isdihara!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Here's one I made earlier

As the  cookery programmes say. It seems that my word 'teashower' is completely obscure and no one knows what I'm talking about! Food cover? Intended to keep flies and other nasties off the biscuits at the tea table or veges from the garden or whatever.  I usually make them to give away, but this one is mine. The edging is 'Spring Flowers Bookmark', though I'm not sure who designed it. Shout, if you know. The butterfly is Jane Eborall's very small butterfly, or SCMR butterfly, my all time favourite pattern. I will be putting some butterflies on the food cover I'm working on now too.

Using the thread

These are two of the thread colours I dyed yesterday. I'm working on a teashower. The motif is by Anne Bruvold . I will put one like this in each corner, and then join six of them to make a larger motif for the middle.

In my previous incarnation as a tatter, I used to use net to make teashowers. The problem was that they disintegrated rather rapidly, which was a shame after all the work they involved! So now I use organza. It is more robust, but has the drawback that it's slippery, so has a tendency to slide off whatever it is it's supposed to be covering. I'm thinking of using the dangly beads on a tape to make a weight for each corner. It will probably involve some experimentation, as last time I used the dangly beads.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dyeing Thread

I well remember my excitement when I read on Yarnplayer's blog, four or five years ago, that she was dyeing thread to tat with. Wow, why didn't I think of that? I got out the cotton dyes I used to dye handspun cotton knitting yarns, and gave it a go. I used the same techniques, in minature. It worked a treat.

Marilee started a revolution. Since then, hand dyeing thread for tatting has become an industry. So big that the product has been reduced to its initials - HDT.

It's  messy, even when you only dye a few skeins, but I love the dye process and the results . The wooden frame in front of the sunlight bottle is my niddy noddy, which I use to wind the skeins. The thread I used is Cebelia 20. It seems a bit thick for 20, but that's what the label says.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lock join heart

Even if I became expert at the Catherine Wheel join, the lock join has to be quicker and easier. It does give a slightly different effect. Is the CWJ worth the effort?

Catherine Wheel Join

I commented on Fox's blog that her Happy Heart by Frivole was a 'sweet little heart'. Hmmm, it didn't seem so sweet when I tried to tat it myself! With the pattern printed on one side of a page and Jane Eborall's instructions for the Catherine Wheel join on the other, I began. Lesson one: you can't fudge it. Unless the Catherine Wheel join is done correctly, the chain won't be smooth, which is the whole object of the exercise. The lilac heart is my first one. I decided that I would keep going and try to improve as I went along. Perhaps I did, but the overall result is a mess. So second heart involved much untatting. Once I got in such a tangle I had to cut the shuttle off, unpick the join and then rewind the bobbin! The chain is smoother, but there's something wrong with the shape of the heart. Not sure where I went wrong. The yellow one is my last effort. I almost ran out of thread on shuttle 1, which may be why the heart is slightly lopsided. More practice needed! Thanks to Frivole for the pattern, Jane for the Catherine Wheel instructions and Fox for inspiration!

Monday, February 20, 2012


I worked on the little cardigan over the weekend and finished it off this morning. The yarn shows the cables up well, but is really too thick for the pattern. As well as reducing the number of stitches for the fronts and back,  I had to make a lot of adjustments when knitting the collar, to compensate for the thickness of the yarn. I'll take a short break from knitting before tackling the blue version. I think the blue yarn is slightly thinner, hopefully it will work better and I'll need to make fewer adjustments.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Right, I've finished embroidering all the flowers on my little tablecloth. I will have to put it on hold for a while ( not another 25 years, I promise) to do some knitting. The cabled cardigan has a deadline, and I must do a blue version as well as a pink one. There is still an embroidered edging to do on here, and I may well do a tatted one.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tribute to the Tatting Goddess

I liked the idea, which I read on Isdihara's blog, that everyone should tat something today as a tribute to Gina. The link to Gina's patterns on her blog wasn't working, but Isdihara had some links which enabled me to find the pattern for this motif. I found the pattern a bit confusing to begin with, and I made some mistakes which required some cutting and some undoing, but I got it done. It makes me think of shamrocks.Perhaps I should've used green thread.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


So sorry to hear of the death of Gina, the Tatting Goddess. I didn't know her personally, of course, but her blog was one I always looked at. She was a talented and generous person. My condolences to her family and friends.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Natural Fibre

As I said yesterday, I like to work with natural fibres. This is an alpaca stole that I completed recently. My daughter Penny (generously!) gave me a baby alpaca fleece. I washed it, carded it on an Ashford drum carder, spun and plyed it on my Ashford Traveller spinningwheel, and knitted it. The pattern came from the July 2011 issue of Knit magazine.

Before I worked on the stole, I made a cardigan for my granddaughter Isabel as a 'sample'. Here she is modelling it:

The pattern came from 'The Country Diary Book of Knitting', by Annette Mitchell, though I did make some adaptions.

These garments drape wonderfully and are very soft. A world away from chunky acrylic! (Although, of course, they took much more time and effort, and there is time and place for all things.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Limitations of tension squares

Well, I did my tensions squares, ascertained that I must use 4.5mm needles instead of 5mm to get the right size, and off I went. First step was to decipher the Afrikaans pattern, which wasn't too very difficult, once I'd sorted my regs from my aweregs. It helped that there are only four rows to the pattern repeat.

Then a little voice at the back of my head began to nag that the fabric I was producing was much too stiff. Nah, I told it, that's because this is acrylic yarn and I'm used to working with natural fibres. Hours and hours of knitting later, I had to acknowledge that the voice had a point.

I started again with 5mm needles. Twice. First using the stitch number for one size down and then for two sizes down. Instead of 77 stitches I have 67 to get the right size.

In defence of the tension squares, I have to say that if I hadn't done them, I might not have realised that knitting with the recommended needle size would result in something huge.

But the point is, that while correct sizing is important, it's not the whole story. Knitting with a smaller needle might result in a cardigan the correct size, but so stiff it's unwearable! OK, the yarn I was given to use is probably thicker than that recommended in the pattern, but the point still applies.

And the lesson I never learn? Listen to the little voice at the back of your head!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Handbag tatting

I like to keep a little baggy in my handbag with easy tatting that I can do while I wait in a queue or accompany Jack to a cattle sale ( that's where this tatting was done). My favourite tatting for this is the split ring braid, preferably with plain thread on one side and multicoloured on the other. The shuttles were sent to me by my sister-in-law when she lived in Singapore and are perfect for this. They hold a lot of thread, and not having a hook is no problem because there are no joins in the braid. I use the braids to decorate pillowcases or clothes or whatever. When this braid gets a bit longer, I'll wrap it around a bit of cardboard to keep it tidy.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I have been invited to a baby shower tomorrow, so embroidery has been on hold while I make gifts for the new baby and his big sister. The pattern for the dress comes from the Prudent Baby website. Wonderful pattern and tutorial.

 The hat pattern is my own. A few years ago I minaturised an adult hat pattern to make a hat for my granddaughter.  I've used the pattern many times since. It took extra time and extra material to get the motifs in the right places, but I didn't think a lot of half-elephants would look good!

 It sounds odd, I know, but I used the same pattern for the drawstring bag - the top of the hat became the bottom of the bag, with the sides made longer. It is lined, like the hat, and has clear plastic pockets inside, which will hopefully make it easy for mum to organise the contents.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Goat

Voila, he's complete! Many thanks to Jane Eborall for all the hard wotk she put into the Tat-it-and-see. Who would have known that a square would turn into a goat? I'm looking forward to seeing where all the goats are residing, all over the world.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tension squares

I'm working on the last set of embroidered flowers on my tablecloth, I have two more flowers to do. It's gone so quickly I'm wondering why I didn't do it years ago!

A friend has asked me to knit a cardigan for her granddaugher. What's a little daunting is that the pattern is in Afrikaans. My 'conversational Afrikaans' doesn't extend to knitting terms! I have managed to work out that r stands for a knit stitch and aw for purl, so that's a start. If I get stuck I'll phone a neighbour who does a lot of knitting. The pattern calls for 5mm needles, but the sample I did with them came out much too big. 4.5mm needles work better. Thank goodness, because any smaller and the knitting would be too stiff.  I'll unravel these 'squares' before casting on the back.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Day 11

Right, that's one front leg. I'm thinking that when I do the second one it will probably change the angle of this one.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Day 10

He's looking quite fierce, I think! Without his front legs I thought he might be kneeling to eat, or perhaps jumping down.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I'm working on a pink flower, here's one I've done and the one I'm working on. Nice colours.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 9

Aha, I think it must be a goat with that splendid beard! My beads don't look quite right, but I guess that's to be expected when you don't know what it is you're going to tat. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I've been sewing. I know I said I was going to use the fan material to make a dress, but it kept shouting 'long skirt' at me, so that's what I did. I didn't use a pattern. It's a cut-your-skirt-according-to-your-cloth-and-the-size-of-your-behind garment. I've become braver about doing that in the last few years.

 I did use a pattern for the baby dress, which is  a present for a friend's granddaughter. The pattern is by Mad Quilter and can be found here. I wanted a little bit of tatting on the front. Thanks to Mary Konior. I don't have her books, this is copied from a photo by Frivole, though I added more picots to make it easier to sew on. The thread is Cebelia which I have rainbow dyed. I thought it would go well with the rainbow ric rac that my daughter Penny sent.