craft, fiber arts, tatting

Needing to work on my tension

(Note: this entry assumes some knowledge of tatting, because I don’t know it well enough to be able to communicate what exactly I’m doing.)

Tonight, I got back to my book on tatting (a.k.a. shuttle lace). What I found, in short, is that materials matter — just not in the way I expected. I have some Size 3 cotton “crochet thread” which I bought because I thought it would be better for tatting than the Size 5 perle cotton I already had.

Yeah, that was a mistake.

What I didn’t realize is that the thread I use has to have some slickness to it, so that I can easily invert the half-hitches that make up each double stitch. I was using “Aunt Lydia’s Crochet Thread” from Michael’s — not only is it unattractive, but it’s too rough for me. At this point, I’m not sure it’s even ideal for practice. I would count it as another hit against Michael’s, but the thing is, they also carry the DMC perle cotton (normally used for cross-stitch) that worked.

I also found, on attempting to make a tatted ring tonight, that my stitches were way too tight. They’re supposed to easily slide along the anchor thread; if the tension is too high, or one half of one of the stitches reverses (like at the very end of the ring — which is easy to accidentally “pop” out of position), it isn’t possible to draw the anchor thread up into a loop.

The perle cotton (DMC brand, size 5) is…much slicker than the thread I first tried to use, though it’s also prone to fuzz. I think my mistake when starting was just working with way too high of a tension (and ironically, blaming my materials rather than my experience — but then, I expected to find something more suitable, not less).

I’m thinking that my initial half-hitch is too tight when I try to reverse it by pulling on the anchor thread…because sometimes I have to pull really hard to reverse the half-hitch.

Got to work on that. But hey, at least I can work some kind of double stitch, now!

beading, beadwork, craft, jewelry design

After all that…

It’s been a long time, and I’m feeling the need to get back to my jewelry and lace work.

I still haven’t gotten around to making that goldtone and freshwater pearl necklace, though I have all the materials. It’s something to think about, at least — if not work on. (Why not work on them? I have to decide whether to use brass or gold-fill wire…this is 26 or 28 gauge, not plated very thoroughly, in the case of the gold; and I can’t expect the working properties between the metals to be the same.)

The major issues are the possibility of running out of the gold-fill wire and of forgetting which type I got last time; and of finding that my pearls aren’t all drilled (or shaped) correctly. The latter would mean I might have to thin them out. It doesn’t help that, because of the fineness of the chain I purchased, I have to attach the drops integrally, in the process of making them. Standard jump rings just won’t fit inside the links.

Right now I also have a strand of button pearls, with which I’m not sure what to do. I was thinking of interspersing them with the woven drops. It would be easier if they drilled them lengthwise, like maybe with two horizontal piercings, instead of drilling them vertically from top to bottom. Button pearls, basically, are shaped like little mounds, with one flat side. They’re a relative design challenge because of it, although if they were drilled like “Candy” beads (two parallel holes along the base, cabochon-shaped), it would be fine.

Well, most anything could be a design challenge, if one thought hard enough, I suppose…(“Let’s make something that doesn’t look like anything that came before!”)

The bright side of having them, though, is that they’re relatively inexpensive, so I could afford a good luster — even if they are cream as versus white. (I get happy with a good rainbow sheen…which was a reason I often went to my local bead store to pick out individual strands of pearls. [That particular store, however, no longer exists.])

I still have to go through and cull the dull ones out, though. To be honest, I’m not sure how many of the ones on the strand I have, are usable. Just…natural things happen to them, which sometimes makes them not look so good. If you’ve seen the various insides of shells, like from mussels or clams…you probably know what I mean. Sometimes they just look marred, for reasons I can’t imagine.

I also have to keep myself from buying these, at bead conventions. There are often a lot of pearls, and the good ones — like the iridescent ones (along with some of the not-so-good ones) — often cost a decent amount, per-strand. Pearls are also some of the hardest things I could work with…they’re not as regular as seed beads or calibrated beads, and they kind of demand that whatever goes with them, not be so humble as to allow the pearls to outshine them. This means that pearl jewelry…it can get expensive, quickly.

I guess from a sales perspective, that means you get back your investment. But pearls are basically gems, just organic ones. Gemstone jewelry isn’t cheap, in most cases (unless you’re working with very small quantities, as with earrings, or you’re using an abundant or inexpensive material, like hematite).

It’s been a really long time since I did any macramé, as well. It’s not that I don’t want to do it; it’s that my materials are hidden, stashed away in drawers, so I don’t think about working with them, so much. The hard part is when they become hidden in plain sight, so you see their container every day, and just don’t think to look inside. (Now that I mention that, I remember the tatting shuttle on my nightstand…I’m concerned that it will become like my knitting and crochet, and be too repetitive for me to avoid feeling like I’m wasting my life. But I’ll give it a shot.)

Along with all this, I’ve continued experimenting with the Tri Stitch chains. Apparently, I can fit a 4mm fire-polished (FP) bead into each gap on either side of the chain, and it will lay flat…though I haven’t measured the exact length of those “4mm” beads. My major issue at this point is the fact that those 4mm FP beads are too wide to fit in between a Tri Stitch lattice (also that the lattice looks cheap next to them, depending on the beads I use).

However…what I did before with a 3mm Magatama drop, between two 15° Toho spacers? That…might work! Of course, it would turn the Magatama vertical, so that it would stand out of the fabric instead of dropping to one side, but that may be enough leeway to allow the bracelet some motion. It would also add texture.

And, of course, as I saw before…not all of those drop beads are the same size. So I also have some leeway, there. It would…just be kind of nice, though, to know who made those beads…not every supplier divulges their sources (sometimes, intentionally).

And…yeah, it’s…now 2 AM here. I…should go to bed…