Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Tatting : Learning is Fun with TIAS !

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TIAS and My Learning Curve

Still tatting with only single shuttle or a shuttle & ball ?
Wish to learn some more advanced techniques ?
And have Fun in the process ?!

This year, for the very first time, I entered a Tat It And See (TIAS) : Jane's TIAS 2014
I had come across the 'TIAS' acronym occasionally on Pinterest, but didn't really focus on it. Then, I stumbled upon it again on InTatters & that's when I decided to have a dekko. When I read Jane's Introduction, my mind was instantly made up - I was going to give it a try. 


  • Firstly, because there were a few 'new' techniques involved that I needed to learn viz, the Split Ring (SR), how to join the second side of SR, the Catherine Wheel Join (CWJ) & the Self Closing Mock Ring (SCMR).
  • Secondly, I needed to get out of my comfort zone & try out these techniques. I'd been pinning them on Stitches & How-tos for a few months, but didn't get around to actually learning & using them.
  • Thirdly, Jane would "be available to give help at all times" ! How could I let up an opportunity to learn from experts & experienced tatters?!
  • Lastly, I could compare & contrast my work with that of so many others from All Across the Globe almost in real time !
And I'm so very glad I did !
Not only have I learnt the techniques set out, but am now open to the enormous possibilities ahead ! Boy, was I stuck in medieval times !!!

Before I post pictures of my progress , a few lines about Split Ring technique...

Split Rings (SR)

I had some pages of SR tutorials - with step-by-step pictures & instructions - printed from the net way back in 2000 (before the www revolution !). (Now that's procrastination !)
Since I hold my tatting pinched between thumb & middle finger (not thumb & index finger), I struggled with the SR initially. Even now, with quite some practice under my belt, my pace slows down a bit while doing the 2nd side of SR. And mine is definitely Not an elegant way to hold & tat the SR ;-)

The trick - extremely important , & something which I keep reminding myself - is to KEEP the Core Thread TAUT At All Times ! If it stays taut, the ds will NOT Flip, no matter what; each half stitch will slide easily into position.
And I have now started holding the core thread across the last 2 fingers for greater stability. It works for me.

Here are the photos with captions that apply Only to what I can see in front of me ; not guesses about the ultimate solution ;-)
Shark head?!

Bells or Blooms ?!
Yin Yang Bracelet ?!

Cute little florets !

Bluebells & Buttercups in Bloom

Flowers in a Pot or an upside-down Hat?!
Doffing One's Hat or Falling Ice-cream Cones?

Well, this is how far we've come. Waiting for Day 9 & more.....
Will update with latest photographs about progress.

My Experience thus far

  • each step is broken down into very small unobtrusive units.
  • very clear instructions accompanied with diagram/chart & specific pointers if required.
  • links to techniques & tutorials
  • pattern is added every 3-4 days leaving ample time to slip in those small tatting elements & upload pic at own convenience. 
  • this is not a competition, hence no deadlines & one can tat at one's own pace, place & convenience.
  • one can join in whenever one wants. I heard of it when Day 3 had already commenced... some are joining in even as late as Day 8.
  • easy access to Jane for any queries & doubts. She responds to emails promptly with all the help & advice asked for!
  • new & varied perspectives. It is always inspiring to see how others have positioned their day's work & what guesses they come up with & why ! How placing or seeing the piece from another angle can change one's perspective & view, ...
  • the choice of colors & yarn is so varied & interesting !
  • the mystery element ! While the final outcome is not known, daily guesses add to the fun factor. I'm sure even Jane, as the designer, must have her wondrous moments, inspired by comments from participants.
And I Must add : Through this TIAS, I am obviously learning new tatting techniques. But even more enjoyable is the vast talent, creativity & imagination that tatters from across the globe are bringing to this game ! Creativity - both literary (some truly inspired verses!), use of  such gorgeously diverse threads, juxtaposing pictures & tatting pieces, drawing & sketching, .... And real-time weather updates from so many countries & time-zones !!! A truly fun learning experience! Thank you fellow-tatters !

Last but not least, my thanks to Jane for her very prompt replies & help. One can truly count on her  !

It's never too late start ! Hope to see you on Jane's TIAS 2014 :-)

UPDATE : Here is the 2nd and final part of the TIAS 2014 : Learning was fun with TIAS (Days 9-16) with some jottings about the lessons learned ....

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Tatting Patterns II : 2 Simple Motifs / Snowflakes

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Pentagonal & Hexagonal Motif / Snowflake Patterns & Their Applications 

Looking for simple motif / snowflake  patterns ?
Want to finish off bits & pieces of left-over yarn?
Looking for some Quick & Practical solutions ?

I am sharing 2 very simple 2-shuttle tatting patterns.
  • As single, separate entities, these are ideal for motifs, appliques, or snowflakes.
  • When linked together in a 'row' they make beautiful bookmarks, edgings, bracelets, headbands, etc.
  • Join at multiple points/tips/picots to create coasters, mats, Cheval set, table-runner, etc.
Versatile, eh ?!

Thread used: Anchor (Coats) Mercerized Cotton #20. Colors : Blue - 0131 & Black.

Pentagonal Motif / Snowflake 

<1.5' / < 4 cm across
2 shuttle pattern - Shuttle 1: blue; Shuttle 2: black.

I wonder whether this can be called my original pattern ? I "derived" it from the Hexagonal Motif pattern shown below. ;-)

Pentagonal Motif / Snowflake with inked pattern

Hexagonal Motif / Snowflake

1.5' / 4 cm wide
2 shuttle pattern. Shuttle 1 : Black ; Shuttle 2 : Blue.

Hexagonal Motif/Snowflake with inked pattern

TIP : These motifs are a great yarn stash-buster ! And one can make them bright & single or multicolored with whatever yarn is leftover in shuttles ;-)

Ideas for Projects / Applications 

  • Pendant : Single motifs can be strung to make cute little pendants for a simple necklace ! A very easy & quick gift to accessorize :-)
Motif  Pendants (Idea)

  • Choker / Bookmark / Edging : When Hexagonal motifs are joined at 2 points / picots, it creates a beautiful edging or bookmark. It would also look great as a headband, belt,  bracelet or choker! 
Hexagonal Motif Edging / Bracelet

TIP : This very bookmark or edging can make quite a spectacular picture/mirror / photo frame decoration ! Simply glue around any plain old frame to bring it to life :-)

Note : 
In the pics below, I haven't actually joined the motifs ...  merely playing around with the many possible arrangements. Depending on the project, one can join/attach motifs as one tats along. 
Or add beads & create cute accessories for self or gifting.
Even without beads, the tiny rings at each angle give a beaded effect !

  • Bookmark / Bracelet : When Motifs are joined only at one tip / picot, they create a very delicate, lacy bookmark, bracelet, headband, choker !

Hexagonal Motif Bookmark / Bracelet
Similarly, one can join the Pentagonal motifs to make bracelets !
  • Bracelet : A little starching or blocking may be required to keep the little rings in place.
Hexagonal Motifs Bracelet

  • Coaster : Attach 4 motifs for a square coaster. These can be sewn on to fabric or one can add some edging around the periphery & a little motif in the center, to fill up the spaces, if desired.

Hexagonal Motifs Coaster Sampler

  • Mat / Runner : When joined in a rectangular arrangement, the motifs can make table-runners &/or place-mats. The number of rows & columns can be decided as per requirement.

Hexagonal Motif Mat / Runner

  • Gift Wrap & Cards : Use Motifs / Snowflakes to decorate greeting cards, tags, etc. Instead of ribbons, strings of motifs can be used to tie gifts ! Practical & re-usable !
Yes, make Motifs your friend ! You never know when they might 
come in handy to decorate, adorn, create. 

Constructive Feedback is always welcome :-)

Monday, 13 January 2014

Art I - What Should I draw? Ideas for Prompts

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Craving to draw?
Stumped on WHAT to draw?
If only there was an unlimited supply of ideas?

During my 5-year stint answering questions on Yahoo!Answers daily , especially in the Drawing & Illustration sub-category (of which I am still currently among the top 10 leaders], one of the Most frequently asked questions was : "What should I draw?"
Whether it is a person who is starting off, or who loves to draw, or an art student who needs to fill in a sketchbook, some time or other, we all face this dilemma. We either run out of ideas or encounter a tabula rasa where our brain was once so prolific with creativity & creative ideas !

This post is mostly about generating Generalized Idea Categories, each of which can then contain loads of very specific prompts. I will come to more specific/elemental sub-categories in a future post.  
Following is the first part of my answer (slightly altered) when the asker does not elaborate much :
I have uploaded a few of my watercolors done on card stock. These are almost 30 years old, hence the jaded, faded, & stained look.

In general :
  • Nature, the great outdoors, the scene from your window, anything & everything around you, ....can tell a wonderful story.
"Over the Crest, No Time to Rest"
An original, impromptu water-color on card,
a scene through my window. ~ 1985

  • From A to Z, think of a thing starting with each letter every day & draw it. eg. A for apple, apostrophe, apparition,... today ; then stuff with B tomorrow; & so on. Think of more than one thing, that will go together meaningfully, for each letter, & compose your sketch.
  • Pick up a random word(s) each day from a dictionary & try to write/sketch a composition.
  • Similarly with geometric shapes. Choose one (or 2) & develop some images with it. Combine into designs & patterns; play with angles, perspectives; create abstract & symbolic art forms.
"A Flowing Sun"
A simple, abstract composition using simple shapes.

  • Free-flowing artwork, stream-of-consciousness type of art. Draw random lines, shapes, elements – line form or solid forms. Then sit back & let an image(s) emerge from the random chaos. Something like Blind Contour drawings but without any pre-conceived image/object. Highlight the images & figures that emerge from within - something from nothing. 
  • Try to visualize quotations, lyrics, jokes, quips, tweets, slogans, etc. - give it your own interpretation & impression.
  • Ask "what if....?" questions. eg. What if we had only 3 fingers in each hand? What if the stage curtain does not drop at the right moment? What if a character from Shakespeare met a character from Victor Hugo? What if we forgot how to smile? .... When you think up answers to some such  Qs, you can get some unique material for your drawings, besides stimulating your imagination & creativity !
  • News items, current events, human interest stories, weather, etc. also offer you a Daily opportunity to draw something. The emotions they generate, the impressions they form/leave behind, the people & psyches you vicariously encounter, …
  • Dreams, fantasies, interpersonal experiences, feelings & emotions, colors, ....
  • Visualize & draw Traits – human/animal - & emotions, etc. eg. Courage, Love, Fear, Hate, Perseverance, Peace, Joy, Kindness, Naivety, etc. Make lists of words - adjectives, nouns, adverbs, .... Then conjure up images by randomly choosing any one from each list! A never-ending supply of inspiration for ‘stories’ by combining 2 or more elements .
  • Depict Life stages or Rites of Passage such as Birth, Death, Adulthood, Maturation, Childishness, Teenage years, Mid-life crisis, Old age, Senility, Marriage, Widowhood, becoming a grandparent,....
  • Think of some "story", incident, issue, anecdote, ... & try to depict them through your sketches.
  • Choose characters from any book, comic, film, poem, etc. that you like & develop them visually. Draw them as you "see" them – your personal interpretation & impression.
  • Mythological characters  & symbols. World cultures, religions, traditions, folklore, …. All provide a vibrant source of material.
TIP : For any or all of the above, you could do a whole Spectrum of emotions, expressions, positive-to-negative, and so on.
Pick one element each, from 2 or more categories to create a meaningful drawing.


Whenever an idea strikes you, jot it down immediately [yes, always carry some writing implement – pen & paper/notepad/post-its]. You will soon have a stupendous list!

I like the idea of making your own paper cuttings with tips & ideas & prompts. This idea was born from a pdf download of 100 ideas by Keri Smith
Write/type & print out Each idea Or each Element on a separate piece of paper. Fold & dump in a jar or bowl. Whenever you are in the mood, pick any one (or more) randomly & implement the idea. It can be like a never-ending Surprise stream of ideas & stories ! Keep adding to the jar whatever you find amusing, creative, any idea, website, activity, project, etc. etc. Oh what a stash you will have collated in no time !

These prompts can also include 
  • different art genres/styles - challenge yourself to try something out of your comfort zone.
  • different drawing implements - pencils, pastels, ink, paints, graphics, digital, markers, ...
  • different times of day/night - play around with light & dark, hues & shades, shadows, ...
  • different 'time-zones' - combine the traditional with modern, fantasy with reality, ...
At the cost of repeating myself, Combine 2 or more prompts/ideas to create Innumerable New versions :-)

TIP : Rummage through magazines, old greeting cards, old calendars, online drawing sites, etc. for tons of ideas to include in your prompt-jar.

Happy Drawing :-))
Would love to see your sketches & ideas !

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Tatting Patterns I : 4 Vintage Edgings

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Your sewing project looks too plain?
Looking for some Vintage Edging Patterns ?
Leaning towards Tatting ?

An Edging can uplift And highlight any project from the mundane/uninteresting to a decorative, customized piece of work. Use tatting edgings & insertions to adorn throw & pillow cases, lingerie, garments, sleeves, collars, necklines, towels, kitchen linen, table linen, handkerchiefs, .... or create beautiful jewelry in the form of bracelets, chokers, necklaces, belts, etc.
I have a collection of Vintage Tatting patterns, collected from friends & magazines, over the decades. Unfortunately, I did not jot down the Original source. I will unhesitatingly give due credit if/when the actual source(s) to any of these patterns is found.

Some months back, I uploaded & shared some of the patterns & samples on Pinterest. All are on my board My Projects 4 : Tatting , & many are floating around {they keep re-surfacing from time to time, especially Shamrocks in a Row & Dancing Clovers ;-) }

I share, here, Four Vintage Tatting Edging Patterns.

But it is so boring & generic to simply call each one a 'vintage/tatting edging'. Moreover, how does one remember exactly which edging is being discussed or referred to? Hence, I decided to give them individual names based on my visualization of the end result.

1 . Waves

This is a pattern I took down from a friend’s tatting book back in the 80’s. Ever since I made a single-color sampler some months back, I have seen many beautiful variations / versions / applications of this pattern, especially in bracelets. These usually use a single color with or without beads. Some repeat the pattern as a 2nd row, joining the picots either chain-to-chain or ring-to-ring. In my notebook, this is the 1st of a 3-row sari lace edging / border pattern, which I will share eventually.
I have tacked on this narrow edging along one of my throw cases, as in pic.

Waves Vintage Edging with Tatting pattern, inked

TIP : Change the effect of this simple pattern by using only one color, using variegated color, adding another row where the 2 rings become 4 rings, adding &/or increasing the number of picots, etc.

Width : 1/2' (1 cm)
Length : 3 complete repeats (or 6 waves/chains) = 3'
(B-19. Row 1)

2 . Dancing Clovers

Another Vintage edging pattern sampler from my 'unknown' collection. Each clover repeat looks like they are holding hands & dancing , hence the name :-)
This is a Single Shuttle, one-pass pattern, with yarn lengths (instead of chains) to space out the rings. The trick, however, is to keep the lengths even & regular so that the edging lies flat.
Notice the use of Long & Short/Normal Picots? The largest ring has 10 Long/Large Picots separated by 2 ds each, creating a nice effect.

Dancing Clovers Edging Sampler, with inked tatting pattern

TIP : One can improvise this pattern by tying ball & shuttle threads together & tatting Chains instead of yarn lengths between the rings. However, chains will add bulk to an otherwise delicate, lacy pattern.

Width : slightly more than 1' (~ 2-1/2 cm).
Length : 2 repeats ~ 2'

3 . Shamrocks in a Row

This vintage edging also uses small & large picots. It is a 2-row pattern, using both ball & shuttle threads. Row 1 comprises 3 rings that form a shamrock, & a long chain. Row 2 comprises only chains that are joined to base of each shamrock. This pattern makes very good use of small (smp) & long (Lp) picots in Row 2.

ROW 1 : R 6-5-1, R 1-5-5-1, R 1-5-6. (These 3 rings form 1 Shamrock). Rw.
               Chain 16.
               Repeat to desired length, joining adjacent shamrock picots as in sampler.
               Tie & cut OR Turn & continue.
ROW 2 : Chain 2, smp, 4, 7 Lp sep by 2 ds, 4, smp, 2.
                Join to base of the 3-ring shamrock, Repeat to end.

TIP : To keep work neat & flat, leave a slight space at the base of the shamrock where Row 2 chains can be worked. 
Shamrocks in a Row Edging with tatting pattern

The arrow at end of sampler indicates where I Turned my work to start Row 2, instead of tying & cutting off the threads & rejoining again. It was possible because this is just a sampler.
When making the actual edging, it can be done by simply continuing along Without turning, Once the required length is achieved. OR. One can leave a tiny-tiny bit of yarn while turning (this is the space where Finally, the Last chain will be worked & tied off) & work Row 2 chains back along Row 1.
I hope this is clear? If not, I'd love to answer any doubts/queries... 

TIP : This edging can be worked with Only one row, too! Add a few picots to the 16 chain & it's done! However, the 2nd row does add a sturdiness & some body to the edging.

Width : ~  3/4 ' (2 cms)
Length : 4 repeats = 3'

4 . Crowns

This is an edging pattern I found via Pinterest, & modified to suit my purpose. Instead of a double round, I chose to do a single pass (the lower navy blue image in link). And, I modified the center ring into a Smaller half-circle so that each pattern repeat looks more like a flower slit in half. I actually wanted it to be an exact semicircle, with a flat base. But this looks good too, doesn’t it?
This is the altered Ring pattern : (-3-3-3-9 ). Starts with a picot ! ( I am lining up a step-by-step tutorial on how to start with a picot.)
I used this edging in a square throw / cushion case. And here are Two examples of  how this edging can be cornered : Cornering an Edging : Tatting

Crowns Edging with tatting pattern

Width : 3/4' (`2 cms)
Length : 1 repeat = 1'
UPDATE : This pattern is Originally called Anniversary from "Tatting with Visual Patterns by Mary Konior .

Yarns Used in the 4 edgings above, along with the Color Shades :

I Love Coats Anchor Mercer Crochet. The colors are fast & durable. They retain their sheen for years & years, despite frequent washing. I did use Red Heart for black color, but one of the balls had knots/breaks in the yarn !!! Never again.
I've used size 20 yarn throughout. I find it easier to work with - easier on my eyes - and the work progresses faster.

Coats Anchor Thread along with highlighted Shade numbers

TIP : Always buy a minimum of  TWO balls of the Same color when starting any tatting project. Why? Because, one ball can be used to load the shuttle while the other ball yarn can be used to attach to shuttle thread when working a ball-and-shuttle or 2-shuttle pattern. Now you won't have to break off the ball (or 2nd shuttle) thread Every time a shuttle reload is required ! I prefer this method to loading more than 1 shuttle, especially for smaller projects. Minimum breakage of yarn, minimum 'joins', hiding the 'knots', etc.
Happy Tatting, 
ta-ta for now...