Friday, January 2, 2015

Another Goal for 2015

My aim is to be true to my craft - give it the pride and honor it deserves.  Maybe if I do that, other people will, too.

I know that I really have no one to blame - I do it to myself.  I belittle/undervalue my tatting.  I don't mean under-price it (although my husband will tell you that I under-price it!).  And it's not that I don't appreciate the gift or talent that it takes to make tatted lace.  I do, I know how long it takes to work up one item.  And I know just how much thought goes into each item I make.  I don't just tat an item and give it to anyone.  I try to find the "right" piece to fit the person I have in mind.  Yet, I find myself doing the same thing over and over....when I gift an item to someone I almost always say, "I know it isn't much, but...."

It's a lie!  It isn't "not much".  It's A LOT!  A lot of thought and planning went into that piece you're holding.  A lot of time and energy, a lot of love and prayer.  It's not just a 'whip it up' kind of thing.  I worked on that piece with you in mind.  I did it purposefully for you, with you in mind, because I care.  IT IS A LOT.... it isn't, and never will be, "not much".

Whether it is a commissioned piece or a piece I have already made - every single piece is thought-out, thought over, and worked on with dedication, love, attention, concern, and care.  I may shrug it off as "nothing", but trust me.... it's definitely SOMETHING!  Tatting is not a gag gift, not a last minute "OH I forgot to buy you something" gift.  It's an "I thought enough of you to share a bit of myself" kind of gift and don't you forget it!  Don't let me cheapen it - and don't look down on it because it's not "first class" or "expensive".  I'll tell you now, if I told you how much it would cost if I priced it like retail stores would, you'd encase it in unbreakable glass and put it in a museum quality display case! :-)

So, if/when you get a handmade gift - think about it, that person who made that for you put a lot of thought into that gift.  They are showing you just how much you mean to them.  You are worth more than just a thoughtless purchase - you are worth time to craft a special and unique item.

At least that's the case with my tatting.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Goal for 2015

I have a terrible confession to make:  I am a bad blogger!  I know, total shocker, but total truth!!  I almost always forget to take photos of my tatting to post in my blog!  I am going to try better in 2015!  I promise!

Also, for 2015, I have decided to really focus on "small" projects.  Don't get me wrong - I love tatting lace by the yard and doilies, but I think I'll be working mainly on Christmas Ornaments and bookmarks.  I will be working toward a few Holiday Shows for the 2015 Christmas Season.  That means lots of tatting - 1000's of items - and it means being selective on what I tat - not tatting 100's of patterns, but selecting 20 - 50 and working those up.

Will I not tat anything else during the year?  I will probably tat some lace by the yard from time to time, but my main focus will be Christmas.  Being from South GA it's going to be nice to have snow year round! :-)

Wish me luck!  Oh, and keep hoping I will remember to photograph my progress!  Maybe a few helpful reminders won't hurt! ;-)

Happy Tatting to All, and to All Good Threads!

Friday, September 5, 2014

It's a Blizzard!

I have been tatting through some of my snowflake patterns.  I have discovered I have well over 100 patterns for snowflakes and stars that I have never tatted!  Imagine, having that many patterns and most of them are new-to-me!

I thought it was about time to fix that - and so I began.  I've only tatted 10 so far - but I will be tatting up more in the coming weeks.

Here's what I have so far!

I began with Vida Sunderman's  "Tatted Snowflakes" pattern book.

This snowflake is "Elegant Snowflake" found on page 10/11.

This snowflake is "Trefoil Snowflake" page 10/11

The "Ruffle-Edged Snowflake" page 11

The "Minaret Snowflake" page 12

The "Ribbon-Floss Snowflake" page 12

The "Tiny Snowflake" page 12

The "Ruffled-Star Snowflake" page 13

The "Flower Snowflake" page 13

This is not in the book.  I found this on Joelle Paulson's blog.  It is "Twinkle Twinkle"

This was inspired from Joelle Paulson's - "December Motif" -

More snowflakes to come!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Obsession

Ok, yes, I admit it, I am addicted to tatting shuttles!  But to go even further, I am Boye Crazy!

I simply adore the "old" plastic post Boye shuttles.  (The ones made in CHICAGO - not CHINA.)  I learned to tat using a red plastic CHICAGO Boye and I have some (many) that I have been grabbing every chance I get.  I have some of the CHINA made ones, but they are cheap, cheap, cheap!  Thicker shuttles but made of much thinner plastic.  They are so badly made I hate that they are using the name "Boye"!  It's rather disgraceful to have such shoddy workmanship using the name of such a beautiful piece of tatting equipment.  As I type this - I have 11 new CHICAGO shuttles winging their way to me!  I am super excited!

While moaning and groaning about the "other" Boyes - I have found the Moonlit shuttles from Handy Hands!  Now, I have to confess these are really nice!  I am using them more and more - and plan on buying a few extra.  After all, one can never have enough shuttles, right?!  My husband doesn't understand that - he thinks one or two is all a gal needs! (Really!)  Recently I found a new friend on Facebook that has told me she has over 600!  I am in true awe of her - and truly want to know just how she managed to collect that many - and how did she convince her husband!!?!

I am almost as addicted to thread as I am shuttles.  One of the problems is I live in an area where Size 10 crochet is just about all you can find - unless you want sewing thread or yarn.  So, I have mainly worked with Size 10.  I hesitate to purchase much smaller thread because I am a tight tatter and have been known to snap Size 30 - so I really shy away from using sewing thread or embroidery thread.  I've been craving some Lizbeth thread from Handy Hands - but every time I go to their site to buy some, I get distracted by shuttles!

Oh, the choices we must make to ply our craft!  Thread/Shuttle Shuttle/Thread.... I reason with myself that I can always use Size 10 thread - but finding tatting shuttles on the shelves of nearby stores is almost unheard of!  Sure, we have a few stores within a 50 mile radius that carry Clover shuttles, but while I like them, they are mainly only used to work up a quick bracelet or small motif - and very rarely at that!  Now I did break down and purchase a set of the Large Clovers - and I like them a bit better than the small ones; mainly because they hold much more thread and feel more comfortable in my hands than the smaller ones.  Of course, I've neutered one of the picks after I stabbed myself under the fingernail!

I'd much rather be tatting than sitting at work - or anywhere else!  When I'm at work, I plan what to tat. Every thing I see I lay out a tatting design in my head!  Oh!  There's a lamp across the room that has this little design and I can just about see it tatted up!  And the chair back would make an awesome pendant for a necklace - or even a Christmas ornament!

Well,  off to write up the design (maybe) before it leaves my head!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How We Tat

Apparently I use the "slip & slide" tatting technique/method.  New term for me!  I guess I just assumed that every tatter tatted the same way....Hold shuttle thread up with fingers - using index finger and thumb of shuttle hand to pass the shuttle back and forth - the shuttle passes under shuttle thread but over core thread, then under core thread.  Pull tight - loosen tension on core hand to flip stitch - pull tighter.  THEN, shuttle hand holds shuttle thread down, shuttle passes under core thread and back through shuttle thread... Well, I was wrong to assume that!  I have since learned that not only are there various ways to tat, there are various ways to hold the thread.

I was taught to hold my thread between my index finger and my thumb, run it around the back of my hand past all fingers, bring it up on front of my hand and pinch it between thumb and index finger.   I have watched videos showing the thread held the same way except they skipped the pinky - leaving it free.  I've seen where some have run from thumb down around finger up behind the hand and they tat into the palm of their hand instead of between their fingers!

Of course, all of this appears awkward to me and somewhat painful to watch.  But I guess it's because I learned this way and it feels natural and normal to me.

I'm not sure if there is a way to catalog all of the types/ways/techniques of holding the thread, the shuttle, and how to make the stitch, but I'd be interested in seeing just how many combinations there are!  Do they have names or terms?

What I have witnessed first hand is... it doesn't matter what technique you use, it's still tatting, and it's still beautiful!

Doesn't matter how you tat - as long as you tat!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Patterns and Styles

I have discovered that I LOVE looking at tatted items.  I love their beauty, their texture, their complex look.  I have also discovered that while I enjoy looking at the more complicated items, I enjoy tatting the more simple patterns.  It's not that I'm not up to the challenge or that I lack the skill.  I think it's because my grandmother was a 'simple' tatter and when I am tatting simple things I see it as a tribute to her.

I've learned that I have a "go-to" ring.  My grandmother's was 3-3-3-3.  Many of her doilies and edges are worked with that simple ring.  I make lace edging for a sweet lady who adds it to her handmade baby blankets.  The other day I was tatting away when it dawned on me - I use 4-4-4-4 for my ring on all her lace.  I use 12 Perle Cotton in white and ecru for her edging and keep it simple because I never know if it will be a boy blanket or a girl blanket.  Ring and Chain only - nothing complicated. When I try to vary the count it feels foreign.  So now I  find myself wondering if other tatters have a "go-to" ring or chain.

The other day I saw a post on Facebook where someone said they had been holding their tatting the "wrong way".  It got me to thinking - what is the right way?  Is there a "right" or "wrong" way?  I pinch between my pointer finger and thumb - Moving my shuttle between pointer and middle finger.  (That's the way I learned.)  I don't hold my crochet thread the same way some others do - but it works for me.  So I think that's the way it is with tatting - if it works for you, it's right!  

I've seen the debate "Needle or Shuttle" - which is "real" tatting.  Aren't they both?  I love to see someone needle tat - it is fascinating!  Maybe because I don't do it...but still it is beautiful to watch.  I have tried using a needle - but it just doesn't "feel" right to me.  Again, I think it's because I first learned using a shuttle, and that's what my grandmother used.  I have also tried my hand a cro-tat but didn't feel a connection there, either.

So for me - I'll stick to my simple tatting with my simple shuttle and continue to tat happily along!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How I Began...


I learned to tat as a young girl - at the age of 8 or 9 - sitting on the floor beside my grandmother's knee.  She would sit in a rocker/recliner and rock back and forth.  In my mind the lace just fell from her fingers - just as fast as she rocked!  It was amazing to watch.  She could talk, watch TV, and tat without missing a beat.  I loved watching her fingers move over the thread and the beautiful doilies that would appear as if by magic!

I was the youngest of 15 grand children, none of whom could tat.  My grandmother had 5 children, none of whom could tat.  She tried to teach each of her children, in-laws, and grandbabies, but I'm the only one who took to it.

Ree, short for Lesteree, taught me using just a shuttle - no ball of thread.  A Red Plastic Boye Shuttle and Size 10 thread, that's it!  She never used anything but a shuttle - so I learned single tatting.  I didn't even know it was possible to use anything else!  I learned how to make a simple ring, attach it to another, reverse work and make a ring under a ring (for edging), and how to join rings to make a doily.  She taught me how to work my way out of each round into another without cutting and tying my thread.

I won't say I tatted every day, or even every month from the time I learned until now.  I did put it down, but I never forgot it.  Several years ago, I decided I wanted to pick it back up.  I started buying thread and  searched for that Red Plastic Boye Shuttle.  Much to my dismay, the thing that had been so easily found 20 years before was now next to impossible to find.  I purchased metal ones, with bobbins, and extra bobbins.  But nothing compared to the feel of that Boye in my hand.  I lucked up and found it online and purchased a couple.  I tried other shuttles, too, but still I go back to that Boye!

As I began practicing (I won't call it tatting, because my first efforts were really bad!) I found I had forgotten how to "flip"!  I was frustrated.  I worked and worked at it and finally, one day, it just happened!  I was so excited!  I could once again tat!  I became somewhat crazed - tatting all the time, carrying it everywhere - even to church so I could tat during choir practice.  I tatted while riding in the car, waiting in the doctor's office, standing in line, anywhere I was still for more than 5 minutes was an opportunity to tat.  (And still is).  I purchased thread, every color - because you just never know when the mood will strike to make a doily or row of lace edging in Pistachio, or Black/White Variegated.  Thread became my addiction.  I asked for it for birthdays and Christmas.  Tatting accessories were a bonus!  Mainly because I was picky about my shuttle! :-)

I joined online groups, googled to find tatters, bought pattern books, and learned about something called CHAINS!  WOW!  I was amazed.  I learned to make jewelry, different edgings, snowflakes, and much more.  By this time, my grandmother was in a nursing home and not doing good at all.  I decided to show her just what I could do.  I learned to use 2 shuttles, 4 shuttles.  I learned to make chains, I learned anything and everything I could.  I made items, made jewelry, and I carried it and showed her!  She was so happy that just one of her descendants had learned the craft and would be carrying it on into the next generation.

I remembered when I was learning to tat that my grandmother would tell stories about her mother, my great-grandmother and her tatting.  I remembered that at least one female in every generation prior to that had tatted - and it had skipped my dad's generation (at least on my grandmother's line).  I've since asked my cousins from my grandmother's siblings if any of them tat, and none do.  So I'm the only one of  my great-grandmother's descendants to tat.

My grandmother told me how her mother told her they would sew tatted lace onto their clothing in mourning.  I made a mourning bracelet for my grandmother's passing.  My grandmother tatted up until she was 93.  In January 2005 she set her tatting down, gave me her very last piece of lace she made (it's still a work in progress - I won't finish it), and died in March of 2005.

She lived as long as she tatted, but when she lost the will to tat, she gave up the will to live.  Or so it seemed to me.

I am not the most proficient tatter, but there is no doubt that my love for tatting is genuine and true.  I will tat as long as I am able, and hopefully I will have grand children in the years to come who will want to learn to tat.

I've been tatting 32+ years and see no end to my thread.