Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Stockings Were Hung by the Chimney With Care

It’s Christmas Eve 2008!

I wanted to post this photo today, as it is appropriate for this “Night Before Christmas!”

Christmas stocking from around 1995.

Tatted motifs and counted cross-stitch ribbon on the cuff.

Have you spotted the 8-sided snowflake?!!

I purchased the commercially made stocking in the mid-1990s (velveteen and brocade fabrics, with gold stitching already on it), as I realized immediately that it would be a great place to display some motifs that I had tatted but put away in my tatting ‘stash’. I also found a home for my counted cross-stitch ‘ribbon’ that I had stitched sometime in the early ‘90s.

You may recognize the eight-sided snowflake from my Christmas card on the previous post – this is where it now resides! It definitely does appear to be size 50 thread.

I’m embarrassed about the top ‘motif’ which looks like a heart, but is really a strawberry pattern (Workbasket June-July 1995), gone a bit awry, as I did too many knots in the final chains near the top! I always hope that visitors to the fairs don’t look too closely at it! I could replace it, but it helps remind me of my not-so-successful tatting attempts!

I am looking for the sources for the other patterns, but I do know that the heart in the toe of the stocking is Teri Dusenbury’s. I have a duplicate of this heart on a velvet box, to which I added pearls afterwards. (I didn't know how to tat them in yet!) Sharon Briggs posted my photo of it back in February, before I even considered starting a blog, as I felt too intimidated to do so! Of course, Sharon gave me the encouragement to give blogging a try, and also helped me through the process. Thank you so much, Sharon!

I wish I had more time right now to express how I feel about this fantastic ‘electronic’ worldwide tatting community, specifically the 25-Motif participants brought together by the amazing Sharon Briggs! Words can’t express my appreciation to Sharon for her tireless efforts in starting this Challenge and making it so successful – and, of course many thanks also to her assistants, Clyde, Laura, Aileen, and Jeff, who are doing a wonderful job with updating it. We all are aware of the effort that it takes to do this!

Also I am grateful to all tatters who are a part of the fabulous World Wide Web and who have so generously shared their experiences and tatting patterns! ( Also a big thanks to those on the internet who supply threads, shuttles and books that would otherwise be unavailable to us!) Not only is the tatting fabulous, but the websites and blogs are so creative, too!

I’m still trying to figure out just the basics of blogging, and I pretty much hold my breath hoping to do everything correctly with just posting text and photos, yet so many of your blogs have bells and whistles that astound me! I’m in total awe of all of this and can’t believe I’m actually a part of it

I will end this post with the same wish as Santa, as he drove out of sight: Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Season's Greetings !! Motif #7 - Snowflake Tatted in 1990

Season’s Greetings !!!
Motif #7 – Snowflake tatted in 1990

First I want to mention that I’m so flattered that Tattingchic has chosen me for a blog award(!), and I will acknowledge it on my next post, when I have more time to figure out what to do! I certainly appreciate being selected – in fact I’m in shock! Thank you so much, Tattingchic!!!!

Motif #7 – Eight-sided Snowflake
and my first use of two shuttles!

Here is my 1990 Christmas card where I featured a photo of my first “complicated” tatted snowflake
after learning to tat. (I promise I will get back to that story!)

You’ll note that it has eight sides! It was supposed to be a six-sided snowflake, designed by Marion T. Leyds in DMC’s “Festive Tatting” book, copyright 1983! Several years after sending the card I read that snowflakes in nature can’t possibly have more than six sides – no exceptions???

I wanted my card recipients back then to see that I could tat - not that anyone knew what tatting was! I had a note printed inside the card that said “Snowflake tatted by Kathy 1990” so they would know that I made it, and that it was tatted and not crocheted. (Really, would anyone care?) Actually, I did get lots of compliments on it

It has eight sides because after I made the sixth point, it was very apparent it was not going to lie flat, and I’d have to make at least two more points!

I’ve never investigated why the snowflake wouldn’t lie flat after the sixth section. The pattern doesn’t call for a particular size thread, and I can’t remember what size I used. I recall I often used 50 back then.

I remember not being thrilled that I was going to have to add more points to it! I felt lucky to have gotten that far and didn’t know if my luck would hold out. But I certainly didn’t want to leave it unfinished!! So I forged ahead.

It was also my first use of a second shuttle. I was wondering what the second shuttle was used for, and I felt a bit intimidated about it. Then I discovered it was only needed for the ‘thrown off’ rings in the center (although I had no idea they were called that). I kind of held my breath doing those, especially having to connect them to each other.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I finished the snowflake, making all the ‘connections’ at the end. I was quite pleased with myself, and I wanted to show it off with my card!

Making Cards in 1990 (not as ‘easy’ as today!!!)

Speaking of making cards – remember this was 1990, and the fabulous sophisticated computers and color printers we take for granted today were not around!

I was starting formal calligraphy lessons at the time (really enjoyed those) and learned about making your own inks using gouache paints (from a tube) thinned with water. (I also wrote the inside greeting, wishing everyone to have a “Sparkling Holiday”.)

I took the card to a professional printer (without the photo, as I was going to paste it on later, framed in silver paper) to have 60 copies run on card stock. The printer told me they ran blue ink on Tuesday (or whenever), and I had to wait a few days. (That was a revelation to me – running different inks on different days!)

Film cameras were the ‘norm’ then, and I used our 35 mm AE-1Canon camera and borrowed a macro lens from my brother-in-law. Then I had to wait until I used up the whole roll of film (24 or 36 shotsl).

Then I had the film developed (possibly cost at least $8 or more for the prints), and fortunately the photo of the snowflake turned out great. So I took the negative (remember those?) and had 60 prints made (possibly 20 cents per print) and waited several days for them to come back.

I didn’t have the nice circle cutters that I have today and had to trace a circle with something, then cut 60 silver circles and 60 smaller circles of the photo with scissors. Then, of course, the 120 circles had to be glued down with glue stick, and placed properly.

Of course, I addressed the envelopes in calligraphy, too. Crazy, crazy, crazy! I don’t do that anymore (came to my senses after several years!). But l feel guilty putting stickers on my envelopes now, rather than handwriting the addresses even in my own handwriting. (My apologies to Emily Post!)

However I like to create special stickers via the computer, and this year I used a photo of the tatted burgundy ornament with tatting on it (of course). The card itself is a commercial card, which is also a departure for me. I just didn’t have the time to make one this year.

In another post I’ll show you where that eight-sided snowflake is now, and eventually I’ll show
all my cards featuring tatting.

Hope you’re keeping calm and taking time out to enjoy music and sights of the season during this week before Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Meeting Elizabeth Again!

Holiday preparations, family events, and traveling have kept me from posting! First of all, thanks so much for your kind comments on the ornament and paperweights. I hope you all have success with them!

I must get this post in now, before it gets lost in the holiday rush! It seems as though Thanksgiving was a long time ago, and our weekend trip to Washington, DC (Nov. 21-23) was one week before Thanksgiving!

I love to go to Washington D.C. anytime, and since I knew Elizabeth Zipay was going to be there again at another craft fair, I was only too happy to go and 'surprise' her again, the way I did back in May, before I started this blog in July.

Elizabeth Zipay and Kathy Niklewicz
at Montgomery Fairgrounds in
Gaithersburg, Maryland, 20 miles north
of Washington, DC.
It was unseasonably COLD that day,
but sunny. Even Elizabeth didn't know she would
be in an outdoor shelter (thankfully covered for
this event but still cold!). That's why we look
like we're in Alaska!
Elizabeth and I first met in July 1998 at Victorian Days in Mercer, PA. (It is only an hour from my home near Pittsburgh, but six hours from hers near Philadelphia!) It was my second time in Mercer (first time was in 1993) and I had a ‘demonstration-only’ table again, and she had a large tent with her beautiful and unique jewelry. I was overwhelmed when I saw her work! I believe it was her first and only time there, as it is a long way for her to travel. I haven't returned as a demonstrator since then, either. It’s a unique festival as it has a Victorian theme, and features a Victorian ‘Ball’ and and old-fashioned bandstand music concert. But the craft area has become much smaller over the years, and I just go to visit.

A special feature of Elizabeth's jewelry early on (and which continues today) is that she makes tiny bread-dough roses – and tiny leaves - to enhance many of her pins and pendants, giving them a lovely Victorian look. She also mounts many of her pieces on gold filet metal backings, which adds another unique dimension. The past few years she’s been designing fabulous beadwork necklaces and bracelets and also works with the beautiful hand-dyed threads. Just gorgeous!
Of course, I know many of you are aware of her exquisite work from both her website and her blog. (You can link to her website from there.)

After our initial meeting in Mercer in 1998, we didn’t see each other again for ten years, when I surprised her at her booth in Chantilly, Virginia, last May, also in the Washington, DC area. (Her show schedule is listed on her website.) I was so flattered that she remembered me from so long ago!
Elizabeth very much encouraged me to start this blog (which I finally did in July – with lots of help from Sharon Briggs!), and I wanted to thank her in person for her encouragement and to catch up on what she’s been doing since she started her full time job! It was fun to see her reaction when I walked into her booth again!

Of course her exquisite jewelry elicits “oohs and ahhs” from the visitors, and, happily, while I was there, Elizabeth made several sales. One fellow even ‘sneaked’ back to buy an item his wife had admired so he could surprise her with it for Christmas!! I’m hoping the rest of the weekend went as well for Elizabeth.

The visitors who are familiar in some way with tatting are astounded that it is still being done, and that it now is being adapted to make such beautiful and unique tatted and beaded jewelry Elizabeth’s work, of course, is perfection. She is a fantastic ‘ambassador’ for tatted lace!

Happily she likes her full-time job but admits it is quite an adjustment, and she’s tatting ‘less’ but is managing to keep her show commitments for this year. (Her tatting ‘less’ would be a tatting ‘frenzy’ for me!). Understandably, her blog has taken a back seat for awhile.
My husband and I are amazed at how vast an area Washington has become over the past 45 years, since we spent our honeymoon there (Jan. 1964 !). Believe it or not, our motel room back then at a very nice place in Falls Church cost - would you believe - $10 a night!!!! Our motel this time (in a very trendy new shopping mall area with a 'lake' cost $100 a night, which actually was 'reasonable' compared to others in the area! It's great to have the internet to compare prices! We ventured over to historic Alexandria - one of our favorite towns, with Colonial architecture and cobblestone streets, and lots of cute shops and neat restaurants. I'm a history buff, so I love the atmosphere of Washington!
Also, just this past weekend we Beaver County Tatters ( Evelyn, Peg, Pam and I ) had a nice time at Vicary Mansion (Freedom, PA) last Saturday, December 6. It was beautifully decorated and we enjoyed meeting the folks who ventured out that day, especially since it was one of those blustery, snowy days when the visitors could have stayed home! There is always an interest in our tatting!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Paperweights - Part 2

OK- here’s Part 2 of the Paperweight post (see previous post). Actually this gives me a chance to expand a bit on the subject.

First, here are some of my other tatting motifs in the paperweights that come from the Dollar Tree store.

I also added a 'white braiding with gold cording' around the edge of the paperweight (see details below) to add a nice touch, but it’s optional.

I mounted the tatted piece onto a thin piece of velvet paper (usually found in scrapbook areas of craft stores). I have a really nice circle cutter (called a ‘Coluzzle’ - pronounced like ‘puzzle’) that makes it easy to cut circles. Of course, you can also use scissors, using the photo that comes with the paperweight as a template.

Also, I particularly like to use gold or silver stickers to add some glitz to the tatted design. Different kinds are found in different stores . In our area we have a craft store called Pat Catan’s which has some really nice ‘metallic' stickers at a good price. The scrapbookers and card makers (such as myself) love to use these to embellish cards and scrapbook pages. Also I add small rhinestones. Of course, Swarovskis are excellent quality and really sparkle. They can’t be too big, however, as far as thickness.

Six-sided cloverleaf pattern
(my own variation) with a gold snowflake sticker and center rhinestone.

The tatting is actually white thread (size 30) on a burgundy velvet background.

Seven--sided cloverleaf pattern with gold stickers and a sticker and green sequin in the center.

(green pearl cotton #8 on dark green background)

Here’s an interesting motif (from Mary Koniar, called “Patchwork” – which I’ll feature in a later post). It’s a bit too large for the paperweight but still looks interesting. The curve of the paperweight tends to magnify anything on the edge.

Gold stickers and sequin in center.

And, of course,
Mary McCarthy’s Butterfly!

Size 8 pearl cotton

Sticker in center

Although the paperweights are fine by themselves, the white braiding, edged in gold, around the perimeter is a nice touch. I used 1-quarter-inch double-stick tape to do this. The cording had to be cut precisely to fit around (use ‘fray check’ to keep cord from unraveling), and I ‘hid’ the seam by gluing a flat brass ‘stud’ over top.

Side of paperweight with white/gold braid (from fabric store)

Seam of braid, hidden by brass 'stud' - although it does not have prongs on it! I believe it's supposed to be ironed on(?), but I glued it using jeweler's glue. I used fray-check on the braid.

I looked up the subject of paperweights on the Web awhile back and found out that some folks don’t know what they were made for! In this 'air-conditioning' era (spanning many decades now), young folks don’t realize that windows had to be kept open in the summer, even in office buildings, and gusts of wind could cause chaos! Hence, the need for a ‘paper weight’!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ornaments and Paperweights

I have been having problems with this post (am I the only person who has trouble with 'spacing' on my posts?) so I'm going to do two separate posts. The first post features a sample of a pretty 'velvet' ornament being sold now at the Dollar Tree Stores and a sample of some tatting in an acrylic paperweight, also found at the Dollar Tree store.

The second post (to follow soon) will show more samples of tatting in the paperweights and will show the side of the paperweight to which I added a white braid with gold edge.


Ornament with Tatted Embellishment

Actually, an earring pattern!
This Workbasket pattern (June-July 1991)
is by Millie Wilcoxson. Original pattern has an open center, but I addedd a center chain on each side with picots attached to each other (not visible here) so that I could glue a rhinestone to the center of the earring. I'll show the earring in more detail on another post.

I always like to use DMC’s gold or silver thread from a spool

I’m showing only one ornament but they come in a variety of shapes and colors (gold, burgundy and white) and they have a ‘velvet’ texture. (Some have more areas for tatting than others.) They are very well made and would cost much more in other stores. The neat thing is that they are made over a soft base (not plastic) which means you can attach your tatting with pins (I especially like to use pins with gold bead heads! Very easy!) Of course, one has to always be concerned that children don’t play with them and pull the pins out.

I wanted to alert you about the ornaments, because they will be in limited supply, and many times these kinds of things never return again. Of course, I've bought several and may or may not get around to adding the tatting this year!

My favorite color, of course, is the burgundy, especially since gold tatting shows up beautifully on it. This particular ornament has four sections for tatted pieces, and so far I’ve tatted only one section so I could get this post in ASAP

I'm really excited about the acrylic paperweights I found at the Dollar Tree Stores, although I've discovered that not all the stores carry them! Naturally I've purchased quite a few to add to my 'craft stash' for future gifts. On the next post I'll show more samples of tatting in the ornaments.

The paperweights are made to come apart for inserting photographs (a really neat idea – think of all those great photos you take!) but for our purposes they are a nice showcase for small tatted motifs! Your heart and small butterfly designs would look fantastic in them! Considering the paperweights cost only $1, you have to allow for some imperfections in the acrylic plastic, but they have a nice ‘weight’ to them and the price is quite a bargain! I'll post one photo here so you can see a sample, and I'll show other samples in my next post. I seem to be having problems adding photos in Blogger today :-(

Acrylic Paperweight size: 2-1/2" diameter.

Paperweight with gold tatted thread design and tiny rhinestones in centers of rings. Gold sticker initials in center.

I’ve seen this pattern and variations in different books, such as Ann Orr’s Classic Tatting patterns.

I added a white braid with gold cord edging to the perimenter of the ornament for an added touch. I'll explain in the next post.

I'm going to end this post here so that you can decide if you want to hunt for these items as gifts for Christmas - or other occasions. Hope you don't have too much trouble finding them! They are only at the Dollar Tree chain stores.

Also at Dollar Tree, look for some lovely velvet boxes (green, red, burgundy) which are very well made. They are about 5" square and have removable lids and are perfect for gift presentations both for the ornaments and the paperweights, or anything else! Of course, if you were ambitious, you could embellish the boxes with tatting, too! I know I sound like a commercial here, but I'm very excited about these items!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Motif #6 - Doily Motif from Apron of Victorian Doll

I’m interrupting my tatting story again because I want to update my August 14 post.

I found the pattern for the apron on the Victorian Doll !
You may recall that I couldn’t come up with the pattern last August when I posted the story of the doll. However, when I recently found the pattern, I also discovered a few more surprises!


“Tatted Lattice Doily”
by Darlene Polachic –

shown here with alterations
I didn’t realize I had made!

Here’s the path to my discovery:

Briefly, Connie (Crafty Rainbow Rose) started me on an internet ‘browsing’ journey, which then resulted in my accidentally coming across a photo of my doily, which then prompted me to go back to my own tatting books.

Connie’s post on October 24 showed a photo of a crocheted doily that mimicked tatting. She mentioned Annie’s Attic as the source, under their “Free Pattern of the Day”. I was too late to see that pattern, but I’m still intrigued by it

When I checked out the Annie’s Attic site, I also found another site: .
At first glance it doesn’t look like a tatting site, but it’s a very cool site that has free daily patterns for knitting, sewing, etc. At the bottom of the page there is a Site Index – look under Crochet, click on Tatting, then Doilies.

While browsing the photos of the 12 tatted doilies at the above link, the very last pattern jumped out at me because it looked like my Victorian Doll’s apron! As soon as I saw the name of Darlene Polachic as the designer, I knew it had to be the pattern!

I recognized Darlene’s name, as she wrote “The Big Book of Tatting” and also contributed designs to Old Time Crochet magazine. This discovery led me right back to looking through my Old time Crochet magazines – one more time!!!. The pattern is free at the above link, but I was determined to find it in my own magazine!]

Sure enough, I found the doily in the Summer 1997 issue on page 15. It’s also featured on the Editor’s page inside the front cover! How did I miss this last August?!!


I discovered that I altered Darlene’s original pattern – and never realized it!

In the first round, I put only three picots on the chains instead of four, which led to three connecting rings on the second round , instead of Darlene’s four.

I can only assume I simply didn’t pay close enough attention to the first round. I must not have looked at the magazine photo, either, although it doesn’t have a ‘closeup’ of the motif – just the finished doily. I don’t recall ever thinking “Oops, I did this incorrectly!” Somehow it worked out fine, and I actually saved myself some work by having fewer rings and chains, and also having to connect only two picots between motifs. I managed to make 20 motifs, instead of the 16 pictured; but, of course, you can make as many as you want.

1997 Diary mysteriously silent!
Now that I had the 1997 date of the magazine, I went back to my 1997 diary. I discovered that I purchased the magazine on May 17 and wrote that it had a tatted alphabet in it (which it does), but didn’t mention the doily. However, I fully expected to find entries about deciding to tat the doily and actually making the doily. But to my disbelief, I never write about making the doily! I remember that I found it tricky to keep adding motifs, and having to contend with having to keep the already connected motifs out of the way. But it certainly isn’t a difficult pattern, and I was an ‘experienced’ tatter by then (or so I thought!). After 20 motifs I just laid it aside, not knowing where to use it.

Buying the Doll in December 1997. The other surprise was finding out that I bought the doll only two days before the Old Economy Christmas festival, when I normally am quite busy gathering all my items and displays together. I wasn’t ‘searching’ for a doll; I was shopping for other things on December 4 when I saw the doll and liked the colors on her dress. Then on December 5, I wrote that I ‘added tatting’ to the doll. What a blasé and non-descriptive entry!

II did write that the doll looked “amazing” but didn’t describe why! I remember working on it most of the day, coming up with different ideas using ‘scrap’ pieces, and was particularly pleased with the headdress. I really was quite excited about it, so these lackluster comments are quite mystifying!
guess I was too tired to write more about it, since I had spent the day also packing the car and getting my costume ready!

The disappointing diary entries can possibly be attributed to the fact that 1997 was a difficult year for us ( job situations, major house repairs ), and I must have been distracted, although I did mention knitting some items and tatting some small items, plus I attended 6 festivals that year!

My ‘tatting frenzy’ years actually were 1990-94, then I cut way back when I went back to work for two years. I was home full time starting in 1996, but I still wasn’t doing a lot of tatting and started concentrating on another passion – learning to play the piano. I also do calligraphy and often made my own Christmas cards. But tatting was still very important to me.

Another interesting discovery in the 1997 diary is my first tentative use of the Internet at our Library! However, I don’t believe I looked up tatting sites until early in 1999. And it wasn’t until 2007 (!) that I finally got internet service at home! And in July 2008 I started this blog – and would never have believed back then that there would be an easy way for ‘ordinary folks’ – not computer geniuses – to create their own ‘web log’ site!

Wow! Quite a trip down Memory Lane!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pumpkin Time !

Happy Halloween !

Just a quick post - no tatting.

Here’s a cute “Kitty and Pumpkin” photo I took of my neighbor’s dark grey (not black!) cat back in 1989.
He came over to our yard to check out the carved pumpkin! Somehow I managed to capture him sitting still for a few seconds,

And here he is ‘peeking out’ from behind the pumpkin.

(Peek – a – BOO!)

Bulletin! Lost Doily Pattern Found!
In my next post, coming up shortly, I will explain how I finally found the pattern for the apron on my Victorian Doll! It had been bugging me that I couldn’t find it.

Fortunately, I didn’t tear apart my craft room because the pattern actually WAS among my tatting books and magazines after all (!) - but I have to thank Connie (Crafty Rainbow Rose) ( for setting me on the path to finding it because of her post about the crocheted doily that looks like it’s tatted! It’s amazing how one thing leads to another!
Check back soon!

Friday, October 17, 2008

October - Butterflies and Black Cats (Motifs #3, #4 and #5 ) Plus Learning to Tat - Part 1

Motif #3 - Mary McCarthy's Butterflies

I’ve been inspired by all the fantastic tatted jewelry being created, and I decided to make a quick-and-easy necklace, featuring one of Mary McCarthy’s butterflies. I often keep her butterflies in various colors in my ‘tatting stash’, as I will tat them just for the fun of it!

The open-circle pendant on my plain gold necklace is the perfect size for ‘capturing’ Mary’s butterfly. I attached the unstiffened butterfly to the pendant with gold sewing thread.

I glued on an embroidered ‘monarch’ butterfly. and also added orange rhinestones, which really sparkle in the sun.
Then I simply strung pony beads, wood beads and gold ‘spacers’ on the necklace

I think this necklace has a kind of ‘southwestern’ look to it. It’s also a tribute to the beautiful Monarch butterflies who are on their migration journey back home to California or Mexico. On a magical September weekend back in the ‘80s (can’t remember which year), the Monarchs’ migration route (which apparently changes each year) took them through our area in Western Pennsylvania, and it was a spectacular sight! Kind of like being in a Disney movie !

Here is one of my early butterflies (1990) tatted in a ‘rust’ color pearl cotton #8. I glued it on a bookmark made of brown cardstock with green velvet paper on top. The corners were ‘rounded’ with a “corner” punch.

The leaves are motifs cut out of gift ribbon (You never know where you’ll find ideas!)

I’ve made many cardstock / velvet bookmarks as a
background for tatted motifs of all kinds.

bookmark from 1990

These recently tatted ‘mauve’ butterflies are made with DMC pearl cotton, size 12, in two
shades: # 316 and # 778

The photo does not show the true color
of the lighter shade 778, which is a soft dusty pink.

After my first year of tatting (1989-90), I saw Mary’s delightful butterflies in the Workbasket magazine (Aug. 1990 - “Summertime means Butterflies”) and immediately started making them, sometimes altering the pattern slightly (making longer chains or connecting the center rings together). I’ve put the butterflies in small frames, or hung them in the window as sun catchers, not to mention using them on gift cards! They can be quickly attached to garments with a ‘tacky’ glue – but remember to remove before washing the garment!

Before leaving the subject of Mary McCarthy’s butterflies, I’ve been very curious about Mary herself. Her wonderful patterns have been featured in all the major magazines for many years It appears she is associated with the Shuttlebirds in Washington state, but I can’t seem to find any information about her on the Web. I’d like to express my admiration of her and thank her for keeping tatting in the public eye for so many years with her wonderful patterns.

Motif #4 – Gold Butterfly

Continuing on the subject of butterflies, around 1991 I felt confident enough to tat the pretty butterfly on p. 24 of the Dover publication “Christmas Angels and Other Tatting Patterns” by Monica Hahn. I decided to use my favorite DMC gold thread, which comes on a spool and it worked well.

I had this butterfly in a frame for a long time, but I recently decided it should be set ‘free’ so it could ‘get out’ in the world and be seen.

So I put it on a black visor (found in most craft stores). I’ve stitched it on in a few places so it’s secure. I added gold trim to define the edge of the visor.

Visors offer a great pallet for bits and pieces of tatting!

Back in the early ‘90s I often saw cute ‘patchwork’ quilt cats in quilt shops, and thought that tatted lace would look sweet on a ‘sophisticated’ black velvet “Victorian” cat.

I made up my own black velvet cat pattern and added some simple tatted lace with some flowers and a dangly crystal. I put two of the cats in a basket and ‘debuted’ them in October of 1991

They went to happy homes !

Photo from 1991

Motif #5 – Antique Tatting Pattern from 1850
Recently I’ve been playing around with some patterns from the Antique Pattern Library and thought this 1850 lace (all rings) would be perfect on my own velvet cat.

This tatted lace pattern is from :
Riego de la Branchardiere, [Eléanor].
Simple Book of Tatting. c. 1850, page 12.

This is one of the ‘easier’ antique tatting patterns. I am astounded at the complexity of many of the early patterns from the mid-1800s, even when using only rings.

Here is the first part of my experiences and inspirations leading up to my finally learning how to tat. It seems to be a ‘common’ story among those of us who could not observe anyone tatting. Written instructions, drawings or photos just could not seem to ‘get across’ exactly how to manipulate the shuttle and thread.

1956 – Inspirations in the Needle Arts
As a young girl, I was always interested in ‘arts and crafts’, needlework and sewing machines. Where did my interest in crafts and needlework come from? That’s a good question, especially since my mother did only ‘maintenance’ hand sewing and there was no machine in the house; and my aunts and grandmother who knit or crocheted lived 600 miles away but I never actually saw them knitting or crocheting A friend’s mother sewed on a ‘treadle’ sewing machine, and I remember seeing a sweet neighbor lady crocheting while she sat on her porch. I’m sure I was fascinated watching her hands!

I liked to embroider stamped cross stitch, and I hand-sewed teddy bear clothes, which was considered strange by my friends! Then my wonderful parents bought me a sewing machine when I was 12, which was a really big deal for me (I still have that machine), and I made good use of it for many years, making real clothes! (My mother had no interest in learning to use the machine!)

Around that same time when I was 12, for whatever reason, I clearly recall that I just HAD to buy the Coats and Clark’s famous LEARN HOW BOOK so I could learn how to knit and crochet, and within a short time I did successfully learn the basics of knitting and crocheting. I really didn’t knit anything of significance (until 1964, after I married) but I did a lot of practicing! Probably made a few small crocheted doilies. I remember crocheting with both yarn and thread, although working with hooks smaller than size 7 wasn’t comfortable for me.

However, I was ALWAYS intrigued by the look of the delicate lace in the HOW TO TAT section of that book (you may recall I had seen actual tatted lace on those linen triangles in my mother’s china closet), so I decided I HAD to learn to tat! So out I went to the Five and Ten to buy a Boye metal shuttle – bobbin in middle – flat hook on end. For many years this is the only shuttle I ever saw in the stores.
So in 1956 (at about 12 years old) I loaded up my new Boye shuttle – and …that’s as far as I got!

I could not figure out how to make the knots from the instructions in the Learn How book ! (Does that sound familiar?)

First of all, I found it very awkward to wrap the thread around my left hand and hold the middle finger up. But more importantly, I couldn’t understand how to manipulate the shuttle, no matter how hard I tried!

This was very frustrating for someone who easily learned how to knit and crochet from a book! Even after I became an experienced knitter and crocheter, I would get the tatting shuttle out and try to figure out how to tat – but to no avail!

Any illustrations that I occasionally saw in needlework magazines seemed even more complicated than those in the Learn How Book! The hands seemed to be held in such unnatural positions! Also, the pattern instructions seemed so complicated (this was when they were written in the older style).

So I gave up trying to learn – and time marched on . . . . .

I did a lot of knitting and crocheting for the next 30 years, and occasionally would try to learn to tat, but to no avail.

In my next post I’ll finally explain how I met my two tatting mentors in 1989 and 1990.

I’ll end this post on this note: Even when tatting appeared in magazines, back in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, it was often referred to as a ‘dying art’. Little did they know how wrong they were!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Motif #2 - Clovers and Chains

Again I’ve been delayed in posting to my blog because of distractions, mainly the fantastic weather we had here in Pittsburgh during most of September, and our wanting to be outdoors and take some fun trips around the area. We love retirement! However, there was one bizarre weather occurrence that abruptly interrupted our reverie:

On Sunday evening, September 14, around 7 pm, 50-80 mph winds from Hurricane Ike ‘blew in’ to Pittsburgh from Texas and blasted three Western PA counties for several hours that night, causing quite a bit of property damage and power outages which lasted several days for some. Reports from the utility company say it was the worst event for power outages in 35 years! We personally were fortunate in that we lost only a small branch from our cherry tree (but a lot of debris fell from the other trees), and our power was out for only about 10 hours. It was quite an unsettling evening, since the weather forecasters did not prepare Pittsburgh for such an event,
and they as well as everyone else were taken completely by surprise (they had predicted only 20 mph winds). After a few days of cooler temperatures, the weather returned to being ‘perfect’ for the rest of the month, and we were off again on new adventures.

I keep promising to write about how I actually learned to tat, and in my next post I WILL do so. However, I wanted to get another motif in to prove that I haven’t ‘disappeared’! I also want to mention here that I’ve very much appreciated the comments I’ve received on my posts! I’m still new to this ‘blogging thing’ and a little gun-shy about writing comments! I hope to overcome that.

MOTIF #2 Basic Three-Leaf Clover-and-Chain Pattern
[ In Antique Pattern Books, the ‘3-leaf clover’ was called a “Trefoil” ]

After learning to do single rings and chains, the ‘next logical step’ in basic tatting is to learn to join several rings, usually in a 3-leaf clover pattern, and then do a chain, and repeat the clover pattern. The ‘trefoil and chain’ is another one of those easy patterns that is quite attractive and is used often in tatting. I’m also fond of this pattern because I’m part Irish!

Here is the basic trefoil pattern on a cute little wood basket, (3” across, 4” high), where I attached a strip of green felt ribbon to better define the tatted lace. In the early 1990s these baskets were easy to find at craft stores and came in many colors. As I usually do with things I find at craft stores, I bought several of them, because oftentimes the stores will stop carrying items, or the manufacturers stop making them. That’s how I end up with a lot of excess ‘stuff’ in my house! My husband says I could start my own craft store !

My first tatting project early in 1990 was a handkerchief edging which I made for Mother’s Day for my mother-in-law (she was 66 then, and is now approaching her 85th birthday! I met her when she was 37 and I was 16 !)

The handkerchief came already embroidered and has the word “Mother” as part of the design.

I believe I used size 30 thread.

(The original of this photo from 1990 isn’t sharply focused.)

Apparently I ‘fudged’ the corners, as I didn’t know how to design my way around them, but I did manage to get a complete clover and the ‘point’ on each corner!

Here is another example of the standard clover pattern. I made this lace several years ago and set it aside, as I couldn’t decide how to use it. Because of this blog,
I thought I’d look around the house and see if I could find someplace to put it, and I found this beautiful filigree wood frame which I had stashed away!

I think my tatted piece has finally found a home!

The frame measures 12” x 9.5”.
The center opening is 8” x 6”
The tatted piece is 5” x 4.5”.
The background is a piece of green velvet paper (found at scrapbook stores).

The center is a pin !

Here is a 3-leaf-clover pattern I did early in the ‘90s, with more elements added – longer chains and lots of picots, plus inner rings.

It’s far from perfect and now has some discolored areas!

I apparently adapted this piece from a ‘pincushion’ pattern designed by Marion T. Leyds called “Summer”, from DMC’s book “Tatting for Today”,.

I didn’t copy the pattern exactly - it was supposed to alternate single rings between the trefoils. Also I ignored the instructions for 2 shuttles, which is why the inner rings aren’t ‘thrown off’ from the chains but are sort of ‘forced’ to lay flat. The chains at the base of the inner rings form a “V” shape rather than a rounded shape. At the time, I didn’t understand the need for two shuttles. (Mostly I was ‘intimidated’ about using them.)

Imperfect as it is (you might even say sloppy!), I think it provides an interesting pattern and looks kind of ‘antique-y’. The extra picots add to the pizzazz. The cameo provides the Victorian touch! This is mounted on a dark green velvet ‘frame’ (the only way I can explain it) which came with a ribbon attached for hanging. (The frame measures 4” wide and 4.5” high.)

* * * *

The weather is supposed to be cooler and ‘drizzly’ (actually we need the rain) so we might actually get some things done around the house and stop gallivanting!

So long for now!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Motif #1: The Versatile Hens and Chicks - plus Back to the 1950s and Unsolved Mysteries

This is the beginning of my motifs for the Challenge, which will also be a retrospective of my tatting journey. I’ve been distracted a bit from working on my blog due to the happy circumstance of my husband’s recent retirement, which has finally given us the opportunity to take some day trips here and there and to enjoy outdoor activities, and also to catch up on lists of things to do around the house. It’s a little unsettling to realize we’re actually at this stage in life, but we feel lucky to experience a more leisurely pace, with no alarm clocks! I’ve also been reorganizing my tatting books, photos, and display cabinet, not to mention reading my diaries from 20 years ago, which brings back all kinds of memories and emotions.

Before I begin, I wish to thank Tattycat, Wickedtats, Clyde and Jeff for assisting Sharon and giving her a well deserved break from having to constantly monitor the Challenge blogs. I’ve often wondered how Sharon could possibly keep up with all the blogs. We’re all indebted to Sharon for creating her important, popular and educational tatting site. The assistance of the above-mentioned tatters is most appreciated!
Hens and Chicks

Wow! This is really getting back to basics!

I must give Hens and Chicks an honored spot in my blog as my 1st Motif. Hens and Chicks is one of the most recognizable and basic ‘one shuttle’ tatting patterns. It also is one of the few ‘antique’ patterns that has a name, although I have no idea who named it or when that name first appeared in print, let alone when the pattern itself first appeared. I’m sure someone out there knows the answer! One of my ‘Unsolved Mysteries’.

In the “Antique Pattern Library” website there is an 1861 booklet called Tatting and Edging Insertions, which contains a lovely pattern called Etruscan Border. Could that pattern be the forerunner of today’s Hen’s and Chicks? The booklet is the last one listed under “Riego, de la Branchardiere.” See page 11/16.

I quickly tatted the 1861 Etruscan Border (so quickly I left out one picot on the last large ring and had to 'fudge' to attach the joining ring!) to show you how amazingly it resembles Hens and Chicks!

Childhood Memories – Back to the ‘50s and beyond
Not only was Hens and Chicks the first ‘pattern’ I did on my tree skirt in 1989 (see prior post), but it was the edging on the mysterious ‘triangle’ linens displayed in my mother’s china closet (dating back to 1937) – See photo below. As far back as I can remember, these triangles (originally there were six) were prominently displayed in the china closet and gave me my first ‘awareness’ of tatting. I remember that I enjoyed looking at them and I wondered how they were made.
My 12th birthday party - 1956
and the Mysterious Tatted Triangles

I was in 7th grade when the above picture was taken, and I seem to be enjoying my party! The photo is significant for me because this is how old I was when I began my needlework adventures of knitting and crocheting, and also began learning to sew on a brand new machine purchased for me by my wonderful parents due to my interest in my ‘home ec’ sewing classes at school. It was also at this time that I was frustrated in my efforts to learn to tat! More about that in my future posts!

One of three surviving linen triangles from 1930s or 1940s
I don’t know exactly when or how my mother acquired the linen triangles, but I don’t believe they were made by anyone she knew. I’m sure she would have told me! No one in our family tatted, so I’m guessing she purchased them for herself (or someone purchased them for her as a gift) back in the ‘30s or ‘40s. (I have a photo from the ‘40s showing them in the china closet.)
I assume it was possible to find such items in stores back then.

I somehow always knew that they were tatted - my mother must have told me. Even though my mother did no needlework herself (except maintenance sewing by hand), she was probably familiar with the look of tatting, as it was very popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1962, my parents gave away their dining room furniture when we moved to a new apartment, which had a larger kitchen but no dining room. I myself was starting my ‘career’ as a secretary (age 18) and was concerned with other things, especially dating my boyfriend, Ron (now my husband of almost 45 years!). I paid little attention to anything else, and I gave no thought to the ‘missing’ dining room set and the linen triangles.

My husband and I were married in January of 1964, and our first apartment was only 10 miles from my parents, so we visited often. Very sadly, however, in 1973, shortly after my husband and I achieved our goal of finding the lot on which we would build our house, my mother died after a six-year illness, and the next year, my father also died. They were only in their mid-60’s, and it’s still difficult for me to think about that time.

When I went through their possessions, and acquired my mother’s hope chest, imagine my surprise to find these triangles among her linens! What a flood of memories they evoked!!! They must have had a special significance to her.

However, I was puzzled as to the poor condition of the tatting on the triangles. I can only guess that the other three triangles were even more damaged and she had to discard them. The triangles appear to be in good shape in the 1956 photo, so the damage occurred after that time. (The circle medallions are OK, however.) Could it be that the triangles were washed in the washing machine, and the agitation of the machine damaged them? (Another Unsolved Mystery) The thread size is ‘thicker’ and appears to be #20 or #10.

The three triangles now decorate my own ‘tatting cabinet’ (a small china closet in my craft room), and I’ve thought about trying to ‘fix’ the tatting, but it’s remained just a thought!

Below are different ways I’ve used Hens and Chicks in more recent times:

Pin or Pendant.
- purchased metal backing at craft store
- cut oval from velvet paper and glued in middle of pendant
- added a chain to Hens and Chicks motif to form 'handle'
- glued 'basket' to velvet paper
- glued commerically embroidered flowers above basket
- used jewelers' glue to add pin on back

I found these wood baskets, in different colors, in a craft store. They are only about 2" across and 3" tall. I added Hens and Chicks around the edge, and put flowers or baby's breath in the basket.

What more appropriate place to put Hens and Chicks than on an egg! This egg is actually a white flocked egg (over hollow plastic), so it is fuzzy to the touch. The eggs also came in pastel colors, and I added different motifs to them for my Easter display.
The thread I used here was DMC's metallic gold, which comes on a spool and is usually found in the cross-stitch area of craft shops. It is equivalent to size 30 and is excellent to work with. In this instance, I glued the tatting to the egg. (This pattern is very easy to do, and I shaped it to fit the egg. It's the same pattern I use for my 3-D eggs, to be explained later.)

Here's a Victorian sun catcher or tree ornament made with Hens and Chicks, which can be easily formed into a circle. In the center is a 'heart' acrylic pendant. Initially I used real crystals, but the acrylic ones are lighter in weight and much less expensive! You can put anything you wish in the center, or just leave it open!

This 6" gal graces my Victorian Doll House, which I take to my demos. I knew I was going to put Hens and Chicks on the bottom of her skirt when I purchased her.

One of my first 3-D bells (1992), using size 20 thread

As you can see, Hens and Chicks is indeed an attractive, versatile and 'classic' tatted lace pattern!

Friday, August 22, 2008

1989 - Victorian Fan Tree Skirt - and My First Pieces of Tatting

Working on the tree skirt between Aug. and Dec. 1989

I hesitate to bring up Christmas at this time, but the Victorian Fan tree skirt shown in this post has great significance to my tatting story, as it has my first pieces of tatting on it!

In 1989 Victorian items and Victorian home decorations were making a ‘comeback’ and were featured in magazines everywhere. Victorian tea shops were springing up here and there; and ‘quaint’ Victorian customs and manners were wistfully remembered.

I was especially pleased that lace was once again being admired and appreciated. Doilies and lace-edged handkerchiefs were coming out of hiding! I had done a fair amount of crocheting over the years (although much more knitting) and had made a few doilies; and in 1989 I was making crocheted Christmas ornaments in various shapes (bells, parasols and, of course, snowflakes). Three-dimensional crochet patterns were readily available, and stores were even beginning to sell finished and ‘stiffened’ 3-D crocheted ornaments, in addition to snowflakes. Christmas trees were being decorated in Victorian style with beads, feathers and lace - without the lighted candles, of course!

Quilt classes - In the summer of 1989 I was taking quilting classes at a local quilt shop, where I first saw a model of this lovely ‘Victorian’ tree skirt displayed on a wall. I loved the colors (shades of burgundy and green – sound familiar?). So, even though I was a ‘fledgling quilter’ I signed up for the class. My diary indicates that I started the class on August 27 – that’s 19 years ago, almost to the day. I remember picking out the material and also going to a fabric store to find the wide commercial lace to go around the perimeter.

My husband and I had celebrated our Silver wedding anniversary the previous January (we married in 1964 – I was almost 20 and he was 21), and I hoped to finish the tree skirt in time to commemorate our 25th Christmas. (Can it be possible we’re now about to celebrate our 45th anniversary !!) As an extra touch, I added silver beads to each fan section

Finished tree skirt and label attached on back

July 1989 - A trip to Maryland, and a Big Surprise
Before I started the quilt class, however, in July of ‘89 my husband and I traveled to Maryland to visit a craft fair. I must have seen an ad about it in a magazine. I loved going to these craft fairs. They were becoming more and more numerous ever since the Bicentennial celebration here in the United States (in 1976) which seemed to inspire an appreciation for hand-made quality items such as those made in times gone by. Folks at these fairs were demonstrating their crafts, and they were usually dressed in period costumes. I enjoyed talking with everyone, as I’m interested in crafts of all kinds.

This was a rather rustic setting in the Maryland woods, so I was totally astounded to find a tatting booth there, as I hadn’t expected it; and it was the first time I had seen anyone actually tatting! I talked to one of the gals in the booth (her friend was out having lunch) and I was dazzled by the beautiful things I was seeing, especially a delicate, tatted lace purse, which I believe had beading on it. She tried to show me how she was tatting, with a very fine thread. It looked very complicated to me, but I was mesmerized!!

That trip to Maryland changed my life! All the way home I kept thinking about the beautiful tatted lace I had seen. I decided to pursue tatting again (a goal from back in 1956 when I was 12 – subject of a future post), and I this time I was determined to learn! Little did I know that a year later, I would not only learn to tat but would also be demonstrating tatting to others - and dressing in costume!

The “Tatsy” shuttle. Shortly after returning home from Maryland, I found a tatting shuttle at a craft store called a “Tatsy”. I already had a silver “Boye” shuttle (which I purchased back in the 1950s), but I had never seen such a large (plastic) shuttle! However, I thought it would be easy to handle, and I could put thicker thread on it, so I could see what I was doing. That is, if I could ever figure out how to tat!

There is much more to this story which I will save for another post. I’ll be giving credit to the local tatter I met by chance a few weeks after I purchased the Tatsy shuttle, and who helped unlock the mysteries of tatting for me and who, importantly, led me to another ‘tatting lady’ who had a profound influence on my life.

My husband remembers that all he heard for several weeks was the ‘click, click, clicking’ of me winding and unwinding thread on that shuttle! And he still hears it today, as it’s the shuttle that I use to demonstrate tatting!

According to my 1989 diary, I finally learned to join rings on October 7th. after which I tatted a short length of joined rings (no chains yet). Then, most significantly, I tatted a short length of “hens and chicks” (although I didn’t know its name at the time) – my first attempt at following a pattern. I was so proud of these pieces, and I made sure I added them to my tree skirt as a remembrance of my first successful pieces of tatting!

And finally, here are those first pieces of tatting:

As you can see, I hadn't quite mastered the 'distance thing' in Hens and Chicks!

Moving Ahead to 1996, after Six Years of Tatting and Demonstrating
When I first used the tree skirt at home, I had it lying flat under our tall Christmas tree. It looked nice, but it wasn’t particularly impressive there, and you had to make sure you didn’t walk on it!

After I joined the tatting group (in 1990), I started to display the tree skirt at our tatting demos, usually by just draping it across the table, sometimes with a small tree nearby, decorated with a few tatted ornaments. It got many favorable comments, but still wasn’t quite the effect I wanted.

Then, finally, in 1996, I purchased a small, 4-foot tree, just the right size to take to the festivals. I also purchased one of those three-legged circular tables, over which I draped a burgundy or green circular cloth, and placed the tree skirt on top of that, the way it was meant to be seen. When I added the new tree, filled with samples of my six years of tatting, I finally had the perfect combination of Victorian Christmas tree and Victorian tree skirt!

1996 - Tree and skirt together at last !

Of course, I’m very proud of the fact that I designed many of the ornaments, and in my future posts I’ll be showing them as my Motifs, where I’ll explain how they evolved.
I’ve added a few more items since then, and changed things around a little, but the tree looks basically the same, and it goes with me to all the festivals.
In my next post I’ll take you back to 1955, and my first awareness of tatting, and I’ll also give proper credit to the two women who taught me to tat.

I’ll also be posting the first of my Motifs :-)

Hope you enjoyed the above l-o-n-g story! Signing off for now!!