Group Effort. . .

Over the past years, we as a group have undertaken a number of projects. The Deck the Trees annual event at the Monte Vista Hotel in Black Mountain has been the biggest one over all. There have been several articles about this event that can be found here from 2018, and here for 2019. But if you read the 2019 article, you will see a reference to our group and a project we began about 8 months ago. At that time, member Sherry voiced a dream that she had: that we as a group would tat a collar for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We had to think about this for a bit, such an undertaking was going to be challenging, especially with so many different skill levels within the group. Not to be dissuaded by a challenge, we decided to forge ahead.

Step one was finding something that would work as a pattern. Not only would it have to work as a pattern, but would have to work with a size 10 thread, because some members were not able to work with smaller threads than that. So the search for a pattern began. The collar chosen was no more than a picture but a simple design consisting of 2 rows made in a single pass. converting the image and writing it out as a “pattern” with a stitch count and some form of directions was the next step. Fortunately, the image was of sufficient resolution that it could be enlarged to make the stitches show up well enough to develop a pattern that would be easy enough to follow for all participants.

There were other considerations that revolved around tatting techniques that had to be added to the instructions as well, such as: Would we adhere to the Front-Side / Back-Side tatting protocol? If so, how would the rows designated as being worked on the front side or the back side be noted on the pattern? How would joins be handled? How far would each member of the group go? How would we keep the project together? At first, the details were daunting!

The end result was both a written pattern and a diagram. So the subsequent step was to have the more skilled members of the group review what was written down, make any necessary adjustments so that a test pattern could be created. The simple pattern swatch looked like this: In the end, we chose a white Cebelia thread in size 10 and decided to add beads as well. Ten-aught (10/0) pearl seed beads were designed into the picots that were not joins and 3 mm pearls went over joined picots on the second row.

We also had to keep in mind that Justice Ginsburg is a small woman and so we were mindful of any adjustments that might have to be made to accommodate her stature. So we selected the thinnest of our group to use as the gauge for size. This was most important before we finished the first row and moved on to the second row, as seen here.

Each member worked for a week, and the colored threads you see along the edge mark the end of each person’s progress at this phase of the project. Some work faster than others, of course, but this part went smoothly. Several participants even tatted a practice swatch while waiting for their turn on the actual collar: Seeing it against black was the best way to actually visualize how it was going to appear in the end: and the overall effect was just what we had been hoping for! As the piece neared completion, we had welcomed a new member, Sharon, who was anxious to be a part of the project as well. By this time the collar was done, but we still felt like stabilizing the collar onto cloth of some description was necessary, because we felt like that would add body that the finished product didn’t have. Sharon was more than willing to take this part of the project on and after trying several supporting fabrics, settled on a black tulle or netting.

The tulle made it easy to trim any excess away on the edges after the tatting was stitched down. It also was lighter than other fabric options Sharon tried. Because it was black, it didn’t show against another piece of black fabric such as the Justice’s robes. Adding a single pearl in the center of the large motif that made up part of the second row stabilized the piece over all. And so the finished collar went off to Washington to Justice Ginsburg’s office. To date we have not heard from Justice Ginsburg herself, but member Anne has a contact in that office that says the package has indeed arrived.

It’s not easy to coordinate such an elaborate project among participants with widely divergent skills in a craft like tatting. Everyone who participated worked very hard to make sure what they did was of the same tension as the person who tatted before them. What a truly heart felt effort this was!

It’s That Time of Year. . .

As a group, we have been involved in 2 projects over the past several months. I’m only going to address one of them at this time because it’s time for the Monte Vista Hotel’s benefit to the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministries known as “Deck the Trees.”

The Thread Bears have been a part of this event for all of the now 9 years that the Hotel has been home for this fund-raiser. Our tree has grown from 2 feet to now fully 6 1/2 feet! In 2018, in spite of how we tried to be present at a time that would allow us to have a tree strategically placed to be noticed our tree was so far away from the traffic that visitors to the Monte Vista actually had to ask where our tree was. Not so in 2019! We were present for the opening “ceremony” held by Libba Fairleigh. The tree we chose is directly beside the front desk, a perfect location for us!

Our angel sits atop the tree again and the tatted garlands help accentuate the depth of the tree. Newcomer Sharon contributed enough glass balls covered with tatting that we were able to “retire” certain non-tatted items that had been accents to the tree in years past.

And the ice drops were quite an accent, although they do not show up in photographs as well as I’d like when on the tree. Many thanks to all the dedicated tatters who created the 19 Ice Drops for the tree this year, who tied ribbons onto the French Horns that helped us meet this year’s theme of “Go Tell It On The Mountain!” as well as the hearty souls who braved the snow flurries to get there in time – or just after time to decorate! Just being able to participate all these years is a testament to our dedication to the event and to what it stands for in the community. Indeed, we are “Knotting Together the Threads that Create Community” through our participation in this event.

Future posts will include the amount raised for the Christian Ministries food bank and fuel assistance program. If anyone is in the Black Mountain area, please visit the Monte Vista Hotel to see the trees, vote for a favorite, or maybe several of them (especially the Tatted Tree) and perhaps have a glass of wine, cup of coffee or evening meal there. If you are too far away, please consider sending a donation to the Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministries with “Deck the Trees” in the memo line!

A Special Message!

Ice Drops are Addictive!

This is what one of the members of the group said to me in the past several days. What could be more enticing than a simple project that can be completed in just a couple of hours – for the faster tatters, or in a day if the tatter is more exacting, uses smaller thread or is just one who tats slowly. They have endless variety and are open to every variation known.

Lizbeth metallic thread in red and white with translucent white drop bead.

Note the addition of beads and floating rings. These elements add a touch of complexity of design while the metallic thread makes the entire piece sparkle. I think we are all still working on our favorite Ice Drop patterns. I really like how the Lizbeth Metallic thread works up in general. It’s just challenging to deal with as it comes off the ball. I think it’s because the thread is stiffer than cotton that it wants to unroll off the ball all at once.

Thankfully there are the tread balls and small mesh bags that help hold the tread, whether you are using the ball thread directly in your pattern or if the ball is simply waiting for the next amount of thread for your needle or shuttle. These keep the thread from unwrapping too quickly as the tatter works, but also serves to keep the thread free of dust and other particulates.

Ice Drop Practice

One of the most popular new patterns taking the tatting world by storm is Diane Cademartori’s “Ice Drop” pattern. The pattern’s popularity took its creator by surprise according to what she said when I spoke with her in 2016. A striking way to surround a simple glass drop bead with tatted rings and chains, decorated with additional chains and beads or with a variety of decorative threads arranged in variations ranging from Diane’s initial pattern to the complex patterns that have grown out of that first effort.

Thread Bears believed that such a simple pattern would be the perfect addition to the other ornaments we have prepared over the years for the benefit known as Deck the Trees at the Monte Vista Hotel in Black Mountain. So as a group, we undertook the mastery of the pattern and its variations.

This example was created using Altin Basak thread size 50 in the color 1351 – a gold cotton thread with gold metallic thread spun with it. The tatting surrounds a green glass bead that is 18 to 20 mm in diameter.

There’s nothing like a little bling added to the holidays and the glittering gold adds something that would make the green of the glass drop stand out against the green of the trees.

Another example of one of our Ice Drops looks like this:

This is another small Ice Drop made with Lizbeth size 20 in solid colors ranging from Cream to Burgundy to Fudge and Medium Coral. We will be continuing our lessons in Ice Drops for the next several weeks.

Everyone makes New Year’s Resolutions. . .

I’m not really sure where I saw this on FaceBook, but I wasn’t able to find it again, so I had to recreate it from my recollections of what the post had said:

Like so many truths, it’s funny mostly because it is true and sometimes the truth can make us defensive about our shortcomings, especially when we don’t live up to our own expectations. About this time last year, I chose 3 projects that I wanted to have completed by the end of the year. One is an “over blouse” in the book “Tatting by Burda” and another was a very intriguing pattern on page 132 of a book entitled “A New Twist on Tatting,” published in 1994 by Catherine Austin through Sterling/Chapelle publishers in New York. It’s a beautiful book with LOADS of tatted eye candy as well as images of other various types of lace. It is only about 1/2 filled with patterns, however which is somewhat of a shortcoming for a tatting book.

While that book has been in my personal library for a while now, it is only recently that the art of Cro-Tatting using a specific crochet hook for just such a purpose has come into the forefront of my awareness. So, the idea of combining crochet and tatting has become intriguing. This is the image from the book for what is described only as pattern 42:

The instructions indicated that Schewe Fil D-Ecosse in size #16 thread was used to create a doily that was about 9 inches in diameter. Not being familiar with this sort thread, the only choice there seems to be is that it is a French Pearle Cotton. I chose to use some DMC Cebelia thread size 30 in the colors of Ecru and Dark Brown. Readers are probably aware by now that DMC Cebelia will no longer be being shipped to the states.

There’s something in the heart of a tatter that seeks to modify a pattern. Partly it is the desire to create and partly it is the desire to personalize. This was no different in this case. If you will note that there are 2 rows, both just past the part of the pattern that is crocheted that are basically a chain that goes completely around the doily at these 2 places. In the pattern they are crocheted, but somehow I though that these would look better as tatted chains rather than crocheted ones. Naturally changing the technique changes the stitch count of the pattern after these rows, but that was just a hurdle I was determined to get across.

Changing the color at the second crocheted round changed the character of the piece quite a bit. In fact the second crochet row is only barely visible as crochet at all. But it is a striking piece. AND it was finished the night before New Year’s Eve! Ta Daw!!

I’d love to see any pieces that readers have finished in 2018! Leave a comment and a link to your image or personal blog!