Monday, August 24, 2015

2015 State Fair Projects: Tatted Pillowcase Edging, Finally Finished!

Finally finished the tatted pillowcase edging I plan to enter into the 2015 North Carolina State Fair. 

The pattern is based on Pam Palmer's "Down the Garden Path" from her book Tatting Treats Three. The original pattern has butterflies as well as flowers, more picots on the vines, and flowers with 5 rings instead of the 6 in my version. 

The threads are all size 20 Lizbeth thread. The variegated green vines are colorway #138 "Leafy Green." The flowers are all odds and ends of variegated threads that I had left over from other projects. Other materials I used were green sewing thread to secure the vines and clear nylon thread to sew down all the flowers.

The tatting was finished in late July, but I was left with the labor of attaching it to the pillowcase. As you can see from the photograph below, there were a lot of loose ends that needed to be dealt with.

One of my options would be to pull the ends through to the inside of the pillowcase and knot them securely. But I was afraid that the untidiness of that solution would count against me in the judging, and my tatting buddies agreed that it wasn't a good idea. 

I decided that if I opened up the hem of the pillowcase and pulled the loose ends through and knotted them securely, I could hide all the messiness from view while making sure that everything stayed in place. This is important to me because I actually use and launder the pillowcases I embellish with tatting. That's why I spend a lot of time sewing the lace down so everything will stay in place with years of use.

I sewed down all the tatting, using green sewing thread that matched the green vines and clear nylon thread on all the flowers since matching the colors in all the flowers would have been practically impossible.

Once everything was tacked down securely, I sewed the hem back together on my sewing machine (yay, no more hand sewing).

Here's one side of the final result:

All that's left now to get the entry ready is to wash and press the pillowcase. Of all the fair entries I've been working on, this one was definitely the most labor intensive, with attaching the tatting taking almost as much time as the actual tatting. I hope all the work pays off and impresses the judges.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


My response to people watching me tat who say, "I wouldn't have the patience to do what you do" --

And you can say the same for any other kind of handwork: knitting, crocheting, stitching, weaving, wood carving, pottery making, etc.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

2015 State Fair Projects: Knitted Edging for a Hand Towel

I just completed another entry for the State Fair: a knitted edging for a hand towel. This one will be entered in the Home Furnishings category "Edging or insertion for linens attached to appropriate household linen."

For this entry I used a commercially-appliqued cotton hand towel and size 10 Aunt Lydia's Classic Crochet Thread in colorway "Ocean."

I used a size 0 circular bamboo needle for this project. I like the way that bamboo holds onto the thread and keeps stitches from slipping off. Most of my tiny knitting needles are metal, which I prefer to use in larger sizes, but for thread projects the metal allows stitches to too easily slide off. I usually don't like the bamboo for its greater "grabbiness" for most yarn projects, but that quality works well for knitting thread and for projects calling for double-pointed needles.

The pattern is my variation of "Pattern 137" from Classic Knitted Cotton Edgings by Furze Hewitt and Billie Daley (Kangaroo Press, 1990 edition; p. 78). The pattern is a 12-row repeat that works up fast in all knit stitches. The only thing I changed was to knit the triangles in a stockinette, rather than a garter stitch pattern. I preferred the way this made that part of the edging stand out from the garter stitch heading and gave the triangles a smoother appearance.

After blocking, I hand-stitched the edging onto the towel boarder. Although it might not be evident from the photos, I think the colors in the thread are similar to the colors used in the appliques so the edging makes a nice complement to the towel.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

2015 State Fair Projects: Framed Tatted Piece

One of the categories I can enter tatting in at the North Carolina State Fair is "Bobbin Lace, Tatting, framed or mounted." I've been attaching tatting to non-fabric pieces and thought that technique might make an interesting entry. I  tatted on and framed a metal bookmark a while back, but it was too long ago to enter it in this year's fair. All entries have to be completed in the year of entry even if they were started years earlier. I have a few metal pieces I could use and chose a sterling silver heart-shaped bookmark.

I decided to complement the silver piece with an edging in size 20 Lizbeth thread in color #605 Silver. The pattern is "Lace No. 11" from Tatted Handkerchiefs by Kirstine Nikolajsen and Inge Lise Nikolajsen (Akacia, 2002). One of the reasons I chose the pattern is that it is tatted in two rounds. This allowed me to set up a simpler base row attached directly to the bookmark so that I could figure out the number of repeats and spacing on the piece before doing the frillier, more complicated second row.

The finished piece was cupping quite a bit so I wet blocked the piece with water and spray starch over night. When it was dried, I opened up the picots by poking them with a small crochet hook. This also made the picots pretty much uniform in size. I finish all my pieces with picots this way rather than using a picot gauge. I can usually eyeball the size I want and then even out everything by stretching with the crochet hook. After that, I placed the piece under a stack of books to further flatten it.

The size of the piece is around 4" by 4" and I mounted it on a piece of black moiré fabric and placed it in an 8" by 8" black frame. The frame has an insert that allows you to create a shadowbox effect that sets the piece deep in the back of the frame.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Crocheting in the Library

Wednesday evening I participated in fiber demonstrations with the Twisted Threads Fiber Arts Guild by showing and demonstrating crochet at the Western Wake Regional Library in Cary, NC. The Guild does a series of demos in the summer at several of the libraries in Wake County to introduce children to fiber arts. Last year I showed knitting, but since there are fewer crocheters, I decided to volunteer to do that craft this year. In addition to several scarves and other items, I brought my LED doily which interested adults as well as the kids.

I crocheted and gave away some simple yarn hearts. The pattern I used is on this page:

The hearts work up fast, making them an ideal project for demonstrations, and the kids loved getting them.

I had a great time, and tomorrow I'll be changing gears as one of Tri-Tatters' monthly tatting demonstrators at Mordecai Historic Park in Raleigh.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

2015 State Fair Projects: Tatted Pillowcase Edging, Almost Done

I'm nearly finished with the pillowcase edging I'm tatting to enter in the State Fair in October. I started this project many weeks ago, but stopped working on it while I started and finished two other fair projects (a beaded pin and a handkerchief edging).

Today I picked it back up to happily discover that I was almost finished with the tatting part. Not so happily, I realized that I'd lost track of the number of double stitches in various rings and chains. Didn't I diagram out the stitch count somewhere, and, if so, where is that scrap of paper? Boy, is it hard to count those tiny stitches even with magnification. Is it 4 or 5 stitches in this part of the chain? Is it 1 stitch between picots or 2? This is what happens when you put aside a project for too long and it's a project you're making up from a blurry photograph you vaguely remember seeing somewhere on the Web.

After a bit of tatting and untatting, I finally got the last two motifs done and the piece connected into a circle that can be attached to a pillowcase. Now I have to deal with all these loose tails from the flower motifs. Do I sew them into the ring's stitches and hope they don't wiggle out with use? Or do I somehow bury them into the pillowcase hem and hope that they stay hidden? Decisions, decisions.

And I must not forget that there's still a lot of sewing to be done so that the chains stay neatly flat and securely fastened. All this is important because I actually will use and launder the pillowcase in the future.  How I wish edgings would just magically attach themselves to whatever they are intended to embellish.

Monday, July 27, 2015

2015 State Fair Projects: Tatted Edging for Handkerchief

I just finished tatting and attaching the edging that I plan to enter into the 2015 North Carolina State Fair in October. The handkerchief is just a vehicle for displaying the edging and won't be part of the judging. However, I always think it is best to try coordinating the edging with the handkerchief to achieve a unified effect. The hanky is from my vintage handkerchief stash and has a lovely bit of applique, cutwork, and embroidery in one corner.

The thread is size 50 Flora, a discontinued thread formerly sourced from Handy Hands. It has been replaced by Handy Hands' Lizbeth brand. I don't know what the color code is as I've mislaid the label that came with the ball of thread. It's a pale green, almost matching the green leaf in the applique on the hanky.

The pattern is Mary Konior's "Bo Peep" from her book Tatting with Visual Patterns (Lacis Publications, 1992; pp. 32-3). Although it looks like a two-row design, the edging is tatted in one round. One thing that is different from other patterns that I have done in this book is that you tat the little 4-ring/4-chain corner motifs separately and then incorporate them when you get to a corner. I found it a pleasant pattern to tat that results in an elegant edging. Wish me luck!