Friday, June 29, 2012

Potential Tatters?

On Wednesday I went to a meeting of the local equivalent of Women's Institute. I took some tatting along. The response was very enthusiastic! I even sold some bookmarks and motifs. The organiser asked if I would be prepared to show everyone how to tat. Of course! A pleasure. She was a bit worried that I would have to demonstrate tatting, as opposed to teaching tatting, because there wouldn't be enough shuttles to go round. I explained that a shuttle is just a means of holding thread and  not absolutely essential to tatting - I don't know where I read that on the internet, but it produced one of those aha moments! I reckon I could make some cardboard shuttles and get everyone to have a go. Their calendar is planned months in advance, so it won't happen for a while, but I look forward to it. One lady is very keen. She has tried before, but didn't grasp it. She asked me if it is possible to tat with thick thread until you get the hang of it. Yes, indeed. I think using two colours of thread also helps a learner grasp the structure of the stitch. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Scarf with built in fringe

I've been using this scarf pattern since about 2003, when I found it in Spin-Off magazine. It's knitted sideways. You cast on an odd number off stitches and work in seed stitch, k1, p1 for all rows. The clever bit is that you start each row with a new length of yarn, leaving a tail at each end for the fringe, knotting each five threads together to keep them in place and form the fringe. I'll trim the fringe when I'm finished.

The drawback with knitting a scarf sideways is that it's hard to tell exactly how long it is until the scarf is complete. I'm wondering now if I've made this one for my grandson too short. Hmmm.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Brightening the brown

I abandoned the brown scarf I started, as I wrote about here, but yesterday's gilded hat made me realise I could combine the brown with other colours to make it more exciting. These colours are Milford Satin, which I usually use for tatting bookmarks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gilded Hat

I've finished knitting the hat, using the magic loop method. It's based on the Wavy Gravy Hat by Elizabeth McNamee, but I've taken liberties with the pattern. I cast on more stitches than the pattern stipulated, to compensate for using a thinner yarn. But, in my usual fashion, I overdid it and had too many stitches. I contemplated starting again, but instead reduced the number of stitches after a few repeats, which has given a    flower petal effect. Accidental, but pleasing.

Monday, June 25, 2012


The brown yarn was great for making a work jersey for my husband, but it's a little boring for making accessories. I decided to bling it up a bit by combining it with gold thread. I bought the gold thread in Singapore, planning to tat with it, but it doesn't work well for that. I did tat with it as a ball thread, using a black size 20 thread on the shuttle, but the results weren't satisfactory.  Even knitting with it is quite tricky, it's slippery and gets rapidly tied in knots, but I think it works better here than it did for tatting.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


My husband held up the tablecloth so that I could show that I have finished embroidering the border. Whoo-hoo.

I did some research about blocking embroidery and found a tutorial here. I don't think it's going to work for such a large area. I plan to wash the tablecloth and then iron it carefully while it is wet. I'll have to wait for the weather to clear up, I don't want it to take forever to dry. Then I'll begin sewing the tatted edging on. There's  still some way to go, but I am making progress.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Koppie Rokkie

I wrote about the cup covers I was asked to knit for a market stall. I was rather puzzled and sceptical that they would sell. But apparently they  sold well to teenage girls who plan to drink coffee out of them. I've been asked to knit more 'koppie rokkies'. That translates literally as 'small dresses for cups', but of course it sounds better in Afrikaans than it does in English.

The other day I knew I'd be spending some time in a government office, so I took my knitting with me. As I cast on I thought, 'Uh-oh, someone is going to ask me what I'm knitting'. I could just imagine the puzzled look if I said a cover for a tin cup. So when I was duly asked what I was knitting, I fibbed and said it was a square for a blanket! Discretion was the better part of valour.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Size 20 thread is my 'go to' thread. The green motif is mine, tatted in size 20. It measures 14cm across. The ecru one is for a gift. It is tatted in size 60 thread  and measures 11cm across. Both threads are made by Coats.

 I did contemplate using a multicolour thread, but I didn't think that would enhance this pattern. I love multicolour threads, but they don't suit all projects.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Size 60 Thread

As I tatted this pattern from the Anna Burda magazine of May 1984 today, I realised how old fashioned it is. Modern tatting tends to be much sleeker and use picots for joining rather than decoration. So be it, old fashioned or traditional is not necessarily bad!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Some Ideas Don't Work

There were a few balls of yarn left when I'd finished knitting a sweater for my husband, so I thought I'd use it to knit a scarf. This is the reversible cable pattern that I used recently to knit a scarf for my son-in-law. I was happy with that scarf, but this one just doesn't sing to me. It's boring. And the rows are difficult to count, so I suspect that my cables are not absolutely even. The good thing about knitting though is that it's easy to undo - unlike tatting!

I did manage to find a link to the reversible cable scarf pattern. I noticed a picture of it on the header of the Totally Tutorials blog, so realised that must be where I got it from. Here's the link. It came from the Rosmademe blog, thanks Ros.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Not as easy as it looks

Working this border is not as simple as it seems. I tended to make the stitches on the flowers rather small and uptight. But that is not an option for the border. The stitches need to be pulled tightly enough to hold their shape, but not so tight as to distort the cloth.

There was rather more border left to do than I remembered. I still have three more sections to do. Each section takes about an hour-and-a-half to complete, so I still have some hours to put in.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Final Push

There's not a lot more to do to complete my tablecloth. I've finished tatting the edging,  finished embroidering the flowers. But now is the time when I really have to make an effort to finish the job! This bold  'border' needs a bit more work to complete it, I'll need to block the cloth and then sew the edging on, which I know can be quite a job in itself. I don't think the Cebelia thread is firm enough for me to sew it so that the whole edging is 'outside' the cloth - I am going to sew the edging onto the cloth, with just one chain hanging off the edge.

Friday, June 15, 2012


It was all very well for me to say that I was prepared for damage to my husband's work jersey. In reality my heart sank when he came in, barely a week after I finished knitting, with a big hole in the front - ''Oh yes, the angle grinder''. I made a patch to cover the hole, making it as unobtrusive as I could. Fingers crossed I won't have to make more patches for a while.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Point Is....

Since I made the dragon, several years ago, I've learnt that there are various ways to create a shape like this. In Ellen Mai's sun pattern, which I saw recently on Anne Bruvold's blog, Ellen does a lock stitch at the point. In Jane Eborall's pattern for a goat, to make the horn Jane swaps shuttles at the tip. Either of these methods would work for my dragon's tail tip, but they won't work for the claws or teeth, because those have a green core thread while showing yellow stitches. That's to avoid having too  many joins and ends to hide.  What I did was make a very small picot, turn the work and then join to that  picot. In all cases, as Ellen Mai says, the important thing is to make sure the stitches are created in such a way that the curve faces the right way.

 I have made a start to writing out the pattern for the dragon. It'll take me a while!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Using the right needle

I've been asked to knit some more wristlets or fingerless gloves. I've discovered that when knitting by the Magic Loop method, the needle makes a difference. The  top needle in the picture is straight, with a cord  much the same diameter as the needle. It's much easier to slide the stitches along this needle than the bottom one, which has a bend in it and a cord much smaller than the needle. So, I've learnt something!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Dragon Lurking

My daughter love dragons, so a few years ago I decided to tat her one for her birthday. This was in the days before I met Anne Bruvold's splendid dragons and I couldn't find a pattern. So I decided to just make up a dragon as I went along. The wings were inspired by Mary Konior's spinningwheel mat, can you tell? I sent the dragon off to my daughter and a picture of it to Jane Eborall who said I MUST write the pattern down. So I tatted another dragon, scribbling down notes as I went. But I never got around to typing them out neatly. Should I? Does anyone else want to know how I made the dragon?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Too cold to tat!

Winter has been slow in arriving this year, thankfully, but at the weekend it arrived with a vengeance. This picture taken from our verandah shows the lawn covered in frost. The strange thing is that the houses here make no allowance for cold weather. Our open-plan cottage has no fireplace, no radiators,  no underfloor heating.... It doesn't even have carpets, just icy cold tiles. Summer gets hot, and there's a very efficient watercooled fan to help with the heat - assuming  you survive the winter! My hands were just frozen at the weekend, I didn't do any tatting. Today the sun is shining, so I found a sunny spot, thawed and got on with my edging.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tablecloth revisited

I should've put a link yesterday to where I wrote about my tablecloth in January and February. It was given to me by my grandmother, together with the correct embroidery threads and a pamphlet showing what stitch to do where. It  has languished in a kist for 25 years or more, until  I decided in January to get on with it. My Gran had  done the leaves and stems and a couple of the flowers, but it was still rather daunting. Especially as I am  new to this sort of embroidery. I've made some diversions into knitting etc, but I am determined to finish this. I rapidly realised that I wasn't going to  have enough thread to finish the tatted edging but, as I related here, Sharon in Iowa sent me a ball from the same dyelot, so I can tat in confidence that I will have enough to complete the edging. Soon!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Turning the corner

I'm tatting  the last side of my tablecloth edging,  hooray. The pattern is Fandango Edging from Jane Eborall. There are 37 repeats on each side, but I started with three on this side, so I have 34 more to do. I will do 33, then sew the edging on before doing the last repeat, to be sure I don't twist it. I'm thinking now that I may have to block the tablecloth before sewing on the edging. I'll have to do some research, I know nothing about blocking embroidery.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Tat-ilicious Heart

I am working on the Fandango Edging for my tablecloth, but I have a way to go, so I made a little diversion to tat Jess's One Shuttle Heart. This is my first attempt, next time will be neater. It's a clever pattern, with very clear instructions. Thanks Jess. This is thread I've dyed myself, size 20.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Socks revealed

I've written about these afterthought heel socks before, but I didn't show the completed socks because they were for my daughter and she reads this blog. The parcel containing the socks and scarves arrived today, so I thought I'd show you the finished pair. Her daughter Isabel went off to day care wearing 'Ouma's sockilies', which were also in the parcel. I have shown them before, but then they lacked a name!

Monday, June 4, 2012


Well, I neglected the ironing yesterday, but I did complete the pullover. The great thing about knitting in the round is that you don't have to sew pieces together, when you've finished knitting that's it, bar hiding a few threads.

There's a reason I've been knitting this sweater rather frantically: Jack's work jersey has stretched beyond practicality and I don't want him to wear the cabled sweater I knitted last winter on the farm. The thought of having it snagged on a fence or covered in grease from a windmill made my fingers fly! This sweater is very plain and a serviceable colour and I'm mentally prepared to deal with mishaps.

Roadtrip Knitting

I envy those people who can tat on a roadtrip. There's no way I can do that. Plain knitting is the most I can manage. I cast on stitches for a jersey for my husband before we left home and knitted the rib, on a circular needle. Then I could just knit round and round, keeping my eyes on the road, when I wasn't taking a turn at driving. In Bulawayo I didn't have the home distractions of cooking, cleaning, computer etc, so I could get a lot of knitting done. It was wonderful to sit in a beautiful, sunny garden, listening to the Heuglin's Robins and knitting. I knitted in the round to the armholes, then back and forth for the back and front. I picked up stitches round the armholes and used the magic loop method to knit the sleeves. Thanks to tips from Jesse of Jezze Prints I managed to avoid a ladder-look, though I had to learn a balance between avoiding ladders and having end stitches so tight that they wouldn't move along. I have a bit more to do on the second sleeve and then the neck to neaten.