Wednesday 29 October 2014

How to convert yarn hanks into balls

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Winding Thread Like a Pro …
well almost !!!

A quick, easy, no-nonsense way to convert hanks to balls 

September, last year, I bought 2 hanks of crochet thread/yarn. I prefer branded, pre-wound balls since they are ready-to-use. No winding of thread/yarn is required before one starts a project. Saves time & effort. Yet, I succumbed to some very soft, thin ecru thread with lovely silken texture & purchased 2 hanks.

I don’t know what prompted me – perhaps the Anchor crochet cotton balls I had ….
I decided to roll a strip of cardstock for the centre & wind the thread over this, just as in the store-bought balls.
Well, surprisingly, I had fun winding up the hank ! And as I wound it, I got a bit more creative & turns out, it is extremely easy to wind thread like a pro !!! 
Okay, I didn’t get that good a finish, but if one is just a wee bit careful, the hand-wound ball will be no different than a store-bought/branded one. Unfortunately, I did not have a 3rd hank; I guarantee it would’ve been, um, exactly like the real thing ;-))

I made a pictorial with the 2nd hank.

Materials required :
Hank of thread/yarn
Strip of cardstock – less than 2" wide x 7-8" long.

Fig. 1 shows the only 2 things required !!!

Roll the cardboard strip into a hollow cylinder. The cross-sectional diameter of this hollow is about ¾". (Fig 2)

Start winding thread normally, around the center of the cylinder. The direction of movement is indicated by red arrow, if one is winding in clockwise direction. Keep the tension of winding yarn 'normal'; it should never be too taut or pulled/stretched!

About 20-25 rolls should suffice to give it some body & act as a ‘holding edge’ for subsequent rounds. (Fig 3)

From now on, it is important to space out the winding : each subsequent round should be adjacent to the previous round, not above it.

Now start winding the thread ‘diagonally’ instead of a simple circle, as indicated by red arrow. (Fig 4)

Continue is this diagonal motion. But after every few winds, turn the cylinder a bit so that the winding thread does not bunch up in one place. (Figs 5, 6)

I found it convenient to insert my left thumb into the hollow & rotating the cylinder as I wound the thread over it with my right hand. (Fig 7)

I have not been very neat. Each round could’ve been a bit closer to the previous one, instead of being so spaced out . But that is extra effort as per moi, especially if only I am going to use it.


As you continue winding, you will notice that the distance from the cardstock edge will keep decreasing until finally the cardboard is almost totally covered up. (Figs.  8, 9, 10)

Fig 11 shows both the hanks wound up, one ball per hank.

These next 2 images on the right show a comparison with branded balls.

Notes/Tips :

  • I used 2" wide cardstock. It should’ve been a bit less – 1½"- 1¾" is preferable. Then the edges would be completely hidden by the outer rounds of thread, as in the case of store-bought balls. I realized later, that I could've actually snipped away the extra lengths at the sides before I came to the end of the yarn !
  • Any old bookmark, cut to correct dimensions, would work as well !
  • When winding diagonally, move the thread from one edge to the other while rotating the hollow centre. The thread will remain in place due to the initial bunched-up rounds !
  • Never wind over the previous round. Always space it out just a tad; keep the winds adjacent.
  • The winding should not be too tight/taut; this will affect the quality & durability of the yarn/thread.
  • I wound the thread in clockwise direction. But whichever is comfortable ….
  • It is possible to achieve a much better finish.
Unwind as you wind – it’s that easy :-) 

Update : Another post on winding hanks into skeins & related ramblings on yarn & threads, here.

Saturday 25 October 2014

Tatting SOUP*

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The last few weeks, I’ve been in a kind of tatting SOUP zone – *Sewing On / Using Pieces of earlier tatting .
  • It’s a way of getting ‘rid’ of my motif stash.
  • It’s a way of utilizing my tatting & beautifying stuff around me.
  • It’s a way of assuaging my ‘guilt’ of wanting to buy more & more materials & books ;-)
  • And it’s a way of justifying “tatting away” !

Yup, we’ve all been there ; hey, we’re still there. This is a perpetual cycle :-)
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Perking up Envelops

These envelops were part of a gift. The larger cream/ecru one for adults & the smaller green & blue ones for kids.
I used fabric glue – just a few dabs here & there – to keep the motifs in place. If required, they can be picked off easily & re-used elsewhere.
Motifs used :
Hummingbird designed by flootzavut (Sarah Warren) (free pattern shared on InTatters).Details here.
Acorn designed by Leanne Boyd (free pattern shared on InTatters & facebook). Details here .
Roses are Red designed by Victats.(free pattern here). Details here
Three-leaf Clover designed by Joelle Patterson (3 free patterns here)
Peace & Tolerance Tiny Heart designed by Mónica Manceñido (free pattern here) Details here
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Cheering up Table Napkins

Adore these motifs that inspired me to learn Interlocking Rings using shuttle ! Well, they’ve been given some pride of place on white self-patterned linen napkins. 
I machine-embroidered a decorative scalloped edging using rayon thread in colors similar to each motif.
In order to hide the corners (the multiple layers of fabric prevented smooth angling of the decorative stitch), I finger-tatted a tiny basic ring with many picots & appliquéd it over the messy stitching !


Motifs used : 
Frivole’s Rose & Crown motif (free pattern here) Details here

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Brightening up Kitchen Towels

I have 35 of these motifs, tatted more than 10 years back, for another of my MIL’s sari. But by then, she had outgrown her preference for tatting on sari ;-P The tatting seems so amateurish now. Sewing them on to some kitchen towels I stitched from an old cotton bed sheet (re-purposing!). The appliquéing is still in progress.

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There’s more tatting SOUP on the burner, but that post is for another day.

How do You use up your stash of lovely tatting pieces ?

Happy tatting :-))

Friday 17 October 2014

Art : Diwali

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Original Artwork

Looking for some quick & easy designs for Diwali greetings ?
Want to add a dash of festivity to simple earthernware diyas?
Do you enjoy the satisfaction of a handmade creation?

 t has been a long time since I posted anything on art ... anything other than tatting in fact ;-P
With Diwali just a few days away, I slipped down memory lane & pulled out the very few remnants of past work that have been “captured”. Unfortunately, no photographs of rangoli. No good photographs even of these cards, that look much better & color-rich in reality :-(
Nevertheless, this was part of my life journey too .... Sharing pics/scans of my original artwork.

 y favorite Deepavali theme/motif remains the diya ! I am always drawn to this traditional form of lighting with it’s mesmerizing & majestic flame. Probably the reason why I tend to let the flame dominate ?! And the humble earthenware red mud diya is a perfect receptacle – unassuming yet nurturing .
This humble diya is soon vanishing due to the glut of artificial fairy lights. Well, yes, they are undoubtedly cheaper and more practical ;-)
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Painted Diwali Diyas

I enjoyed painting diyas … Here I’ve used only poster colors & quickly free-handed the very simple design using broad brush strokes. I added some silver poster paint along the upper rim.

If you look closely, you will notice that these diyas have already been used (the dark soot at the top left rim of upper diya), yet the paint has stayed fresh !

TIP : Always soak diyas in water for a few hours. Remove from water & let them dry completely. Only then use watercolors or any other decoration over them. Soaking & drying is a must before oil is poured in otherwise the diya will soak in humungous amounts of oil !
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Freehand  Watercolor  Diwali  Greeting 

Another freehand watercolor , with a dash of glitter !

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 Mixed-media  Diwali  Greeting

This is a multimedia design. After drawing the diya, I cut the cardstock to create a cutwork/lattice effect. Since a scan did not show the lattice, I have inserted a white sheet under it in the adjoining picture. White is where the black card paper is missing.
The outlines have been done in white 3D paint (it might’ve been fabric paint …. I forget) with a brown watercolor wash over the white once it had dried.
I then rummaged through my stash of glossy magazine paper to find graphics where the color scheme matched that of fire. This sheet was then scissor-cut into a collage & glued, to create the flame.

TIP : Ads in glossy magazines make for great collage scraps ! One can find myriad colors, shades, & patterns & no 2 collages will ever be the same !!
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Stenciled Watercolor Diwali Greeting
This last card is the very same design as in the multimedia card, which was used as a Stencil for the diya ! Water colors were used, along with some markers probably, for the flame, resulting in the yellows & oranges not gelling together ;-( …
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Wishing Everyone A Very Happy & Prosperous Deepavali 

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Saturday 11 October 2014

Tatting Away VIII

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Tablecloth (Zigzag) Lace

I started this lace a year back but stopped after reaching a length of 1 meter, since I did not know where it would be used. Now, it has been worked to a length of over 2 meters & tacked on to a table cloth for my MIL’s sewing table.

I do not know the original source of the pattern; it is from my 80’s collection (from some Indian publication). However, since starting, I have come across many examples of similar laces on pinterest, with some stitch count variations. It had 2 rows, but I liked the peaks, so only did this one row & like to call it my “zigzag lace”.

It has been tatted in traditional style using ball & shuttle. Loved the feel of this cotton thread . Very easy to tat.
The cotton table cloth measures 33’ x 27’ after sewing (with 2 inches for seam allowance on all 4 sides).

South Maid Mercerised Cotton ( Coats n Clark , USA) Size 10 . Color : 22 GARLAND
7 peaks = 12½ in / 31½  cm.
Width = 2¼' in / 5½  cm.
Total length (50 peaks on either side) : 90 in  / 225 cm  i.e., 2 ¼ m



  • While the tatting was fun throughout, the sewing is always a cumbersome procedure! Took me  4-5 days to sew it on properly. 
  • I do not sew down the picots, only through the ds, at regular intervals, using a kind of back stitch. Photograph, showing how the sewing/tacking looks, is added at bottom. 
  • If I had started the lace now, I might have done it differently, using 2 shuttles, instead of ball & shuttle. However, the upside of the latter was that I had to load just the one shuttle and hide just that one thread end . The lace remained attached to the 2nd ball throughout.
  • Without an end-use in sight, I had tatted it straight. Hence, for the corners, I simply arranged the peaks to get good visual effect & symmetry & sewed on. No pattern tweaks for corners ! (images below)
Tacking/sewing lace, as seen from wrong side.

Update : I came across a lovely application using a variation of this basic pattern, by "The Shuttlesmith", here: Denim Shirt Embellishment

Motif #20 for 25 Motif Challenge