While maintaining a thundering silence about what little tatting I have accomplished this year, it has only just occurred to me that this is my blog and I can stray off-topic if I want to.

For the past several years, I have maintained correspondence with an archivist who currently lives at the edge of the world in Wick, Scotland.  The exchange began over a mutual interest in knitted ganseys, but has evolved into an ongoing discussion of many topics.

In his spare time, Gordon has written a number of stories and novels (mostly in the fantasy fiction category), for which he has had difficulty finding an audience via conventional publishing houses.  Rather than let the finished books pile up on his computer, he has decided to start releasing them as e-books.  The first one: ‘An Inquisition of Demons’ was released on Amazon on Sunday, and is a free download through today (99 cents thereafter).

You can read about it on his blog, and decide if it might be of interest to you.  If you like the book, please spread the word.

I promise that some tatting will appear here before the mid-point of the year.  That’s the best I can do, for now.

My cyber-pal, Stella, and I have a bit of an owl thing going.  It is a total mystery to me how collections of things take on a life of their own.  It all starts with someone expressing a liking for a specific animal, bird, flower, etc., and it quickly escalates into an accumulation of things related to that theme.   In my Mother’s case, it was owls.  She had the misfortune to tell somebody that she liked owls and, before she knew it, she was inundated with owl-themed gifts: aprons, tea towels, bibelots, etc.  So, I inherited a fair collection of owls to begin with.  Then Stella and I became friends through Knitter’s Review and Ravelry and discovered that, among other things we had both a liking for, and a collection of, owls of various descriptions in common.

When Kate Davies set up a friendly competition for those wishing to knit her ‘Owls‘ pullover,  Stella and I decided to collaborate on transforming the pattern into a steeked cardigan.  It was fabulous fun!  We discussed every detail of the construction and tried a few new tricks as well.  The finished cardigans are quite different, but it was a collaboration all the same.  (One in which I relied heavily on Stella’s expertise in fashion design)  You can see them raveled here and here.

It did not end there.  Every chance we get, we acquire little owl-themed note cards and trinkets to send each other.  Stella has a real knack for finding really cool ones!  So, it was not really unexpected when I decided that she needed an owl stocking stuffer this year.

Alas, I did not make note of  a name when I downloaded this little tatting pattern from eTatters(?).  So if it belongs to you, give me a shout in the comments, so I can credit the source.  The thread is Olympus 40, color  455.

There is another 3-D snowflake in the works. Expect to see it in a couple of days.

ETA: Little Owl Earrings

to those of you who celebrate it, and best wishes of the season to those who do not.

This sparsely decorated douglas fir  is a monument to the virtues of procrastination.  As a general rule, when it comes time to select a Christmas tree, I tromp all through the forest in search of a small noble fir that is the right size and located in the wrong place for long term growth.  The noble fir is of little commercial value for lumber, so I have no qualms about sacrificing one to Christmas.  Once the tree has been chosen and cut, it usually gets stuffed down inside a pair of Carhartt coveralls for the trip to California, where it is then decorated with the hand crafted ornaments that have been collected over a lifetime.

This year, I tromped the woods as usual and selected several potential candidates.  Back in the house, I glanced out the kitchen window and noticed something that I have been trying very hard not to see: a douglas fir growing in the middle of the lilac patch.  Over the past couple of years, I have asked Bill time and again to take a chainsaw to this tree.  Concealed among the leaves of summer, I can ignore it – sort of – but, in the stark leafless tracery of winter, it was sticking out like a sore thumb.  “I want that one!”, I exclaimed, pointing out the window.  Five minutes later, I had a full size Christmas tree in the house.  An hour later, I had rustled some lights out of the back of my closet, and added some  tatted snowflakes, candy canes and chocolates.  There are huckleberry taffy and mandarin oranges yet to add, which is why it is looking a little sparse.

It brings light and cheer to a snowy Christmas.  Joy, Peace, and good fellowship to you all!

We now jump forward to Part 3 of Tatted Flurries by Sharon Briggs.  Crystle is a snowflake that can be made in the singular, or as two joined flakes.  This time, tension was not an issue (good thing – I was on the verge of despair), but the piece did not look very promising until it had been immersed in a solution of Epsom salts and shaped over a 90 degree edge.

As a matter of fact, all the road kill flakes perked up considerably when subjected to the Epsom salt bath; and they are currently adorning the Christmas tree, which I shall show you tomorrow…

Wishing you all a very happy holiday weekend!

A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated a Birthday.  Something I am not very good at, as a general rule.  This year, having suffered endless confusion as to what age I actually am, I came out a year ahead in the Birthday game.  Yes, folks, I just got a year younger.

As if that was not enough of a gift, one of my dearest cyber friends surprised me with a present that positively took my breath away.  She commissioned the stunning shuttle you see below from a New Zealand jeweler of some renown: Frances Stachl.  First, I must draw your attention the presentation: the shuttle arrived exactly as you see it, attached to this copper thread, which is wound on a very interesting paper spool (made from a magazine  page?).

What is totally amazing about this silver shuttle the fact that Frances is not a tatter and, when she made the shuttle, wasn’t even sure exactly how tatting was performed. Working with a few sample shuttles as templates, she succeeded in crafting a shuttle that is perfect in every way.  It is compact: 5.3 cm long by 1.4cm wide, and weighs 10 grams.  At ten grams, it has heft, but is not too heavy.  Frances was concerned that it might be too heavy.  I have not found it so.  The fascinating surface texture prevents any butterfingers  fumbling or dropping of the shuttle.  Thread capacity is generous and the tip gap perfect for thread sizes 30 to 80.  I have tatted with the shuttle, and loved it!

That said, I have spent a good deal more time just holding it, turning it over in my hands, and smiling.

Starburst by Lace Lunatic
Starburst, a photo by Lace Lunatic on Flickr.

This particular snowflake from Tatted Flurries by Sharon Briggs lacked the thrills of ‘Points’, but was an easy tat.

There will be more snowflakes to come, with long pauses between them.

It is time to gather the herd for the move to winter pasture.  I wish you all peace, joy and deep happiness in this holiday season.

“Head ‘em up!……Move ‘em out!”

This snowflake enchants me, in spite of its obvious tension issues.  I loved tatting it (with no fewer than 8 split rings per ‘arm’ , it was right up my alley), and I find the motif that joins the arms to be quintessentially ‘snowflake’.  I will make it again to get the central motif right.

Points - from part I of Tatted Flurries by Sharon Briggs

While uploading this picture, I could not resist adding one of my first attempt at Polly:

My sincere apologies for the file size to those of you with slow internet connections.  It has been long enough that I have forgotten how to streamline the photos for upload to WordPress (one of the reasons I have been generating my most recent posts from Flickr).  I didn’t want to put road kill flakes on Flickr: only a fellow tatter would understand that they are still beautiful, albeit flawed.

After this, I have just one more snowflake to show you from Part I of Tatted Flurries.  There is a 3-D one in progress, but it will not be ready for a couple of days.

Shama by Lace Lunatic
Shama, a photo by Lace Lunatic on Flickr.

Just when I was beginning to think that I should hang up my shuttles and go do something else – along came Shama.

An easy-breezy fun tat. Abundant picots are not normally my thing but, in this instance, I think they look very nice.

Tomorrow, there may be some road kill…

Peek-A-Boo Daisy by Lace Lunatic
Peek-A-Boo Daisy, a photo by Lace Lunatic on Flickr.

Close, but not quite right. What I failed to grasp as I worked this snowflake was that, in order to be able to extend the arms in blocking to make the ‘daisy’ shape stand out clearly, the small chains on the sideways-facing rings need to be tighter.

For those just joining this presentation, we are still working our way through some of the snowflakes in part I of Tatted Flurries by Sharon Briggs.  This one’s name made me smile.  My parrot, Wingnut (a bronze-winged Pionus), thinks my name is Peek-a-Boo.  When both he and my blue-fronted Amazon were babies, I kept them in a sunny east porch, just off the kitchen.  Since this room was not part of the traffic pattern through the house, I would periodically pop my head around the corner and talk to them.  At the time, it seemed fun to say: “peek-a-boo! I see you.”  It wasn’t 48 hours before the Amazon learned to say: “Peek-a-boo… Up!” (hey, Peek-a-boo, come and pick me up, will you?)  The Amazon is long dead, but Wingnut to this day will call out to me if he is locked in his cage and has not seen me in a few hours: (first very softly) “Peek-a-Boo……. I see you (translation: I want to see you).…..Peek-a-Boo……(now louder) I see you……..”  There is then a long pause, in which he is waiting for either a response, or for me to appear.  If neither happens, and he knows for sure I am in the house, he might try one more ‘I see you’ before starting to squawk – steadily increasing the volume until he gets some kind of response.

It was a couple of years before I realized why the birds assumed my name was Peek-a-Boo.  In the wild, a bird, arriving in the nest area, announces itself – so as not to alarm those within.  I kept popping my head around the door and saying Peek-a-boo.  The very logical conclusion was that it must be my name.

This is perhaps a good time to add that I do not believe in forcing tatted lace to assume a specific shape in blocking. Lace knitting is a different story: wet it, pull it, pin it within an inch of its life. That is what is required to show off its beauty. Tatting is not the same. If the piece is tatted right, it should be the right shape to begin with – barring the bit of wayward ripple or ruffle. So, I don’t pull and pin: just a shot of damp pressing (cold or hot).

Tomorrow’s snowflake was one of my favorites; both in the tatting and the result. I’m looking forward to showing it to you!

Polly by Lace Lunatic
Polly, a photo by Lace Lunatic on Flickr.

I had to take several runs at this one before I got to what you see. My first center ring cupped dramatically. Tried again, lengthening the chains to 6-6: then the chains of the outer round were not long enough, and I ended up with something that might drape over an ornament. Undeterred, because I love the shape of this snowflake, I started over.

In this version, the rings of the first round are R 5+3-3-5, linked by Ch 4-4 (still cups a little); and the linking chains of the second round have been changed to 4-4.

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