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!

Secret Santa

For the first time in many years, I elected to participate in the Secret Santa Exchange sponsored by Lisa Adams’ Tatting Corner in Chesterfield, Indiana and frequent vendor for Tat Days in Toccoa, GA. Nancy Dionne from Idaho turned out to be my Santa Pal and what a pal she is!! The first think I found was her card.

You have to know that my first thought centered around our Deck the Trees and ornaments for it. These would be perfect additions to our now 8 year collection! I hope Nancy will approve since this year – so far – the trees at the Monte Vista have raised MORE than $24,000.00 for the Christian Ministries Fuel Fund. These are lovely Snowflakes created with buttons & metalic thread and will be beautiful additions to the tree in 2019.

What followed was sheer delight! There were several different types of needle threaders – some I had never seen before! Additionally were 2 embroidered (white on white – how elegant!) ladies handkerchiefs and a fabric doily center for tatting a scalloped edge around. There was also a #14 crochet hook, an Aerlit shuttle and bobbin as well a my favorite jewelry thread Kreinik, made in Parkersburg, WV – hear my home town of Clarksburg. Obviously I’m going to have to locate appropriate edgings or design some new ones!.

But what is tatting if you can’t snack from time to time, and CHOCOLATE is always the best. Nancy sent some very special Idaho chocolates the likes of which this country girl had never seen! Every heard of a candy called “Idaho spuds?” Well it’s De-Lish! and if you every find an “Old Faithful” candy, best grab it while you can! Yum!

Thank you Nancy! Your thoughtfulness and gift are very much appreciated. If I am able to make it back to Shuttlebirds in Spokane, WA, I hope to either see you there or see you along the way!

Happy New Year, one and all!

Time Once again to “Deck the Trees”

The Deck the Trees event at the Monte Vista Hotel has become a new tradition in Black Mountain that has helped benefit the Swannanoa Valley for 7 years now.  We have participated in all the previous “Deck the Trees” and this year was to be no exception.  As a group, we had originally planned to create some “easy” pattern like Diane Cademartori’s “ice drop” pattern thinking we could really fill in a six foot tree with something like that.  But this year’s theme turned out to be “There are Angels Among Us” and we knew the direction we should take. 

Angel patterns are relatively easy to find in the tatting world and with pattern greats like Marie Smith, Martha Ess, Sharren Morgan, Renata Niemczyk (remember to hit the translate button in your browser – it’s not written in English!) and Ineke Kubuiperij, patterns range from simple creations to complex designs.  It didn’t hurt any that several of the tatting conferences around the US and Canada had hosted events with Angel themes as well.  So this year the Tatted Tree at the Monte Vista was graced with 20 new angels of various patterns.  That’s quite a feat for a small group.

Shonn & Anne Decking the tree

With a theme like that we weren’t sure how we could compare with the artistic talents of groups like the Girl Scouts, the Black Mountain Fire Department, the Swannanoa Valley Fine Arts League and Black Mountain Swannanoa Center for the Arts.  But we wanted to find a way.  Through these past few years, there have only been 2 groups who have been present at all the “Deck the Trees” events: Stephanie Wilder’s Chifferobe Store at the corner of Cherry and Sutton in Downtown Black Mountain and us.  So it was fitting to honor all the participants who through the years had helped raise more than $60,000 for The Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministries. 

And that’s exactly what we did.  There have been 94 participants and we added the names to our angels and snowflakes and garland for the event.  In the end, the tatted tree was the most fully-decorated we have ever put together.  Every person who has ever participated with us is thanked and appreciated beyond belief!  It’s been quite a road from the humble 2 foot tree of 2012 to the richly decorated 6 foot tree of 2018.  There are truly Angels everywhere!

Oh, and if you noticed a typographical error in the sign to the left of the tree: the word “Angles” – well that was corrected after the photo was taken.  There may be ANGELS Among Us, but not all of them know how to spell!

Long time, no post

Good intentions abound in the blogging world.  No exception here.  It’s been a race with the Time Lords (for the Dr. Who Fans) getting ready for the 2018 Tat Days Convention, then attending the Vance Birthplace Fall Folk Festival where 3 of the members of the Thread Bears Tatting group gave demonstrations of tatting, and then there was a special treat!  I was able to purchase a ticket to attend this year’s public event at Hart Square Village.  Follow the link to learn more about the Village, its founder Dr. Bob Hart as well as its mission and events. 

It’s difficult to find authentic Appalachian log cabins because so many of them have fallen into neglect and rotted or were bulldozed in the name of progress.  Not only am I a tatter, but I am a videographer and historian.  So re-enactments are special, especially when they might apply to other aspects of my life.  I have wanted to attend the event at Hart Square for several years.  A friend brought me a photo he had taken of a doily in one of the cabins that he thought was a tatted piece.  The image was of such poor quality that I could not tell.  So I determined to go to see for myself.  

It took much of the day, but I finally found it.  Located in the Hoyle cabin dated 1850, the framed doily is about 18 inches in diameter.  I have no more information about the piece at this time, but it is a lovely well-preserved piece.  When more information is available, I’ll pass it along, but for now the satisfaction is in knowing that someone in the Hoyle family created this lovely piece.  Don’t believe it’s tatting?  Take a look at this detail:

The all-ring motif is unmistakable!   The cabin was built in 1850, yes, but it’s doubtful that the doily dates that far back.  It’s also not clear if it is made from linen (flax) or from cotton.  Flax was grown in that part of the world and cotton was not a local crop having to come from lowlands closer to the piedmont – Hart Square Village is located in the foothills not far from Newton, NC the county seat of Catawba county.  Among the re-inactors present were folks scutching flax, and spinning the fibers into threads.  There was also a bobbin lacer and after a wandering the grounds a while longer, I found 2 ladies who were tatting. 

I’m not sure their clothing was consistent with the times when Appalachian women were tatting.  While I know tatting had reached the Southern women of Atlanta by the time of the American Civil War (it’s referred to in “Gone With the Wind”), Mountain Women were a bit behind the times, so I don’t think many women were tatting until into the 20th century.  This would be hard to prove if it were not for the fact that Anne C. Orr wasn’t writing down cross-stitch, quilt, knitting, crochet and tatting patterns for Southern Woman Magazine until well after 1900. It’s doubtful that given the hard life of Southern Appalachian farm women after 1865, much time would be devoted to endeavors such as tatting or lace-making until times improved – closer to the end of the 19th century.  Written patterns weren’t necessary, of course, but it’s too hard to know how wide-spread tatting was in the mountains and foothills between 1860 and 1890.  Be that as it may, it was great fun to see the historic aspects of fiber arts – spinning, weaving, bobbing lace and tatting – portrayed so prominently. 

There were also several examples of knotwork present at the Hoyle cabin the likes of which I had never before seen. . .  The threads were rather coarse, almost like the cotton twine of a similar weight to what one might find for binding the legs of a Thanksgiving roasting turkey.  There were at least 2 examples draped over a chair and another sewn to the hem of a bed coverlet.  This photo is only one of the 3 designs present in the cabin.  Knotwork is rather rare to find as a hand created item.  This was a find, indeed!  

Creativity. . .

Being creative is hard work!  This year I have entered into retirement from my primary employment and moved to being somewhat self-employed.  I tat to help keep myself sane.  It gives me a break from having to solve all the problems of my other creative self. . .   or does it?  In March of 2017, I undertook to make an edging for a blouse I had purchased and I promised myself I would not wear it until it was finished. 

Ok, a year went by.  You know I really wanted to wear that blouse.  But getting things ready for Christmas at the Monte Vista was really  REALLY important.  So was  a number of other things.  I looked back at what I had trialed in March of 2017.  It looked a lot like this:

I never intended to make the edging in pink.  Pink is far from a favorite color of mine, but it did show up well against the lovely green and I hoped it would help me see where I was wanting to go with the edging.  Having made it that far, I changed to the color of thread I really wanted (Lizbeth thread “Herbal Garden” is one of my favorites and I really wanted to use size 40) .  I tried with beads, without beads, with 2 passes, with a special point at the base.  The trials seemed endless.  I was getting weary of all the modifications, all the trials, all the stresses of just trying to complete the task at hand.  Then one day it all fell together.  Maybe it had just simmered in my brain long enough.  The finished project looks like this:   Well, it looked like this when the edging was pinned down and before the final stitching took place.  I cannot say enough how much I admire those of you who can sit down and just crank out a pattern or a motif or an earring.  It takes tremendous talent, patience and vision to do that.  Make no mistake, this one was worn to our regular Friday evening meeting, but is now set aside for Tat Days 2018!










And as for the rest of this year:  No new projects until the current ones are complete!  That was my New Year’s Resolution and I’m determined to stick to it!

These are a few of my Favorite Things. . . .

When I first learned to tat, about the only shuttles available were the metal bobbin-types made by Susan Bates or Boye.  That was my first shuttle  and when you don’t know any better, you run with what you have on hand.  Then in 2006, my daughter-in-law’s grandmother gave me 2 “modern” tatting shuttles: a Pony and an Aero – one of the old English Aero’s at that.  They were some of favorites.  As the years have gone one, I have tried all manner of shuttles, threads and other accessories to the tatting world.  I totally enjoy the way fine wood shuttles feel in my hand, but they are not my “go-to” shuttles for everyday lace-making.  For a long time the Airlits, Starlits, and  Clover medium and large shuttles  have been among my favorites.  

Last year at a conference I saw Clover’s new shuttles with bobbins and decided to try one.  They come in a package with a shuttle, 2 bobbins and winder that doubles as a bobbin stop or makes a bobbin like a ball thread.  In the event that a tatter has only one shuttle and may need to change out the bobbins from time to time,  the second bobbin can be exchanged with the first and the external shuttle housing can accommodate several bobbins wound with thread.  Leave it to the Japanese to be innovative!  Yes these are Japanese shuttles.  They come complete with instructions that need no English translation because the diagrams remind me of Japanese Anime, they are that complete.  The Clover bobbin shuttle is about the same size as the Airlit and the bobbins hold about the same amount of thread.  So having wound both CTM, I proceeded to tat a bit of edging for the Palmetto Tatters Guild’s next benefit quilt to be auctioned off at Tat Days:   The feel of the clover has a substantial feel to it and while it lacks the crochet hook tip, we all keep a small hook on hand and much of the time the clover tip will work for drawing threads through picots.   The accessory kit comes with additional bobbins and the primary kit comes with an additional pair of nylon rings that assist in the winding of bobbins in the event that the user chooses to use a winder to add thread to the bobbins.Overall, I’m very impressed with this new shuttle system.  In addition to the accessory kit, a case is available to hold bobbins and shuttle housings.  Each user will make up their own minds, but I’m happy with this shuttle system.