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!