beading, craft, design, fiber arts, jewelry design, macrame

Woo! An all-nighter!

Last night was the first night in a long time that I got no sleep. Like, absolutely zero sleep. Don’t drink a Coke at dinnertime when you only got up a minute ago.

As is often the case, however: while I was unable to sleep, my mind was working. I puzzled out a new earring design (or designs), or the beginning of some. By dawn, I had pretty much had it with lying around in bed trying in vain to pass out, so I got up, sorted through the fabric laid out over the chair contemplatively (I haven’t made any masks since I burned myself with steam from the iron about three days ago), and then set to trying to make the earring I had designed.

As I had only essentially learned how to tie vertical and horizontal clove hitches (a.k.a. double half-hitches) a couple of days ago, it was kind of wondrous that I was able to transfer that to a chevron pattern. There are instructions for tying chevrons, Cavandoli-style, in Micro-Macramé Jewelry, but I did kind of have to puzzle out some things in construction. I’m pretty sure I won’t be following project instructions exactly, going forward. After all…they’re guides, and many more possibilities exist than are apparent from instructions.

An unfinished earring featuring a purple and orange panel of Cavandoli knotting, suspended from brass wire and terminated in beads.

Right now, the earring design still isn’t really complete. I’m trying to figure out what to do as a termination, given that M was in love with the piece with all the threads still attached to it.

On top of that, I’m not too happy about the color scheme, but considering this was a trial, I used colors that I normally would not use, in order to save the good stuff for the time at which I know what I’m doing. :) Unfortunately, then, this earring turned out almost looking like the wearer is a Lakers fan…and that’s about all I know about the Lakers. :)

However! For something I designed in the middle of the night and made on the fly in early morning, it turned out pretty well! At this point, I’ve knotted off the 4mm Fire-Polished bead at the bottom; all it’s waiting for, now, is cement, trimming, and possibly switching out that round earwire (inferred by the shadow at the top of the image).

I…could get into how I designed this, but…I’m not sure I have the energy to explain it, right now. I have set aside a notebook for jewelry design, which I should copy my drawings into; there were just so many design phases for this, however (incorporating macramé and wirework)…that the idea of the task is daunting.

This is a prototype, though, using C-Lon standard gauge. I’m hoping to make more of these, in more attractive colors. :)

color, craft, fabric, fiber arts, sewing

Fabrics!!!

Remember how I mentioned that thing about having too many choices? I was partially referring to this:

A bunch of quilting cottons divided by color, into blue-greens, pinks, and purples.

And this:

Orange quilting cottons on the right, and a couple of cottons I don't like, on the left...

I obtained these after decimating my Fat Quarter stash for COVID-19 face masks. Of course, these will also be going (first) to COVID-19 face masks.

I’m still not certain whether to launder these before I begin cutting and sewing. It is tempting to wash everything, though that also means pressing everything. I don’t mind it, but it’s a lot of work, and this is a lot of fabric! The textures of the fabrics also change, and there may be differential shrinkage.

I’m almost scared to start, because I know that if I cut and construct one mask out of these, it may not last through the wash…though I have been encouraged to try making at least one mask and laundering it, to see what will happen. If it comes out poorly, then I wash everything else before cutting. If it comes out fine, then I don’t have to worry. I’m planning to tack on an extra 0.5″ to 0.75″, to account for shrinkage (the mask face should be approximately 6″x9″)…the thing is, the shrinkage via warp (length) versus via weft (width)…may not be the same. And it probably won’t be the same among all the fabrics.

I have extra yardage in the pink materials, so my first trial should come out of those…I had been planning to use the two fabrics on the left in the second photo, just because I like them least (with apologies to the designers). However, I have less of each blue and green Kona cotton (first photo, top left, plain fabrics), in exchange for more shades of those colors.

Six sets of mask cottons, ready to sew.

Ahh, decisions…

(I probably should be saying, “Ahh, inexperience…”)

I have nearly run out of the Fat Quarters I used for my initial masks. I basically slaughtered my initial stash, because I needed to. They were willing sacrifices of quilting cotton.

The cuts on the left are what I have had matched up, though I only have a few of these left to sew, and I’ve rearranged some of the pairings. Because they are all from 1/4-yard cuts, I wasn’t able to make two long ties as versus four short ones.

However…that could be rectified in what I’m about to get into.

I haven’t sewn in about two days. I think I’m still getting over the shock of the new fabrics. If I’m correct, all in all I’ve made about 16 masks, so far. What I don’t use on masks is going into quilts; I already have an interesting idea laid out, though I can’t right now find the image file of the quilt block I designed. It’s basically based on paper-folding…I can’t find the relevant post right now, though.

I really need to start an “origami” tag…and/or a “quilting” tag…

Oh hey, look. ;)

craft, design, fabric, garments, sewing

There’s always more to do, isn’t there?

Always. More. I was just looking through the (sparse) image logs I have on my current machine. I also have about 30 gigs of images archived on a memory stick. Most of it is from the community-college Art program. I’ll likely want to note which classes I was taking, when; that information is not in the same place.

What I’ve been advised to do is to copy all of my image storage onto my hard drive, then deal with it from there. It sounds like a good plan, especially as I’ve learned that, “save it and forget it,” is overly optimistic. (Backups can fail, that is.)

Today, I’ve mostly been dealing with face masks. I have 21 cuts of pre-shrunk, ironed batik for the outer portions (which I may have overdone); right now I’m picking out which Kona cottons to use on the backs, and what fabric to use for the ties. I have a lot of light-to-midweight quilting cotton which should be great for ties…but I don’t know how many I’ll get out of one Fat Quarter. All it takes to figure it out, though, is measurement and a little math.

Anyhow, there is not going to be a shortage of masks, here. I can see why people say they get burned-out on them; they can get really repetitive, at least unless I refine the design on each iteration. The latter keeps things interesting, but I can also see just wanting to get through them, as they’re needed almost immediately. The ones we need to send out, we can send out; I have a plan to replace them (plus), now. I just don’t want to send the ones I know are fragile…I can fix them, I don’t know if others can.

Not to mention that there is the stress of what to do when I run out of fabric, or thread. It may not have been the smartest thing to do, but that’s why I cut up the entirety of the batik Fat Quarters. It stops me from guessing, and lets me know what I do have. (The batiks are supposed to be good for filtering, so there are some on the outside of almost all of my masks.)

I also have more batik; it’s just more closely woven, more expensive, and in larger quantities. In other words: it’s nicer. :) But the higher quality does make it harder to sew, as it’s more resistant to the sewing machine (I’ve had the motor jam on me multiple times while trying to sew through too many layers of either the [tightly woven] good batik, or the [midweight] Kona cotton).

I also have quite a bit of soft, fine muslin, though that would likely go to ties, if it went to anything. I am not sure how effective it would be as a mask, even doubled. The reason to use it for ties is to avoid bumps of fabric at the corners of the masks (I have a sizable length of this which would allow one long tie instead of two short ones), though if I just moved in the corners of the ties a bit, I could probably take down a lot of that bulk.

Right now I do, actually, want to get back to work on the Nepali Blouse. It’s something I can do anytime, but I haven’t even wound the first bobbin, yet. We actually have more bobbins than I thought; I stalled because I thought there was only one empty one. Apparently, there are a bunch more empty bobbins, which just aren’t with the rest.

Right now I’m using Coats & Clark Dual Duty thread, which seems good enough (this is what I grew up with). The blouse, I got Gutermann thread for (it was a nice color match); but how old is it? I’m not sure — but if I look at my archives, it’s probably really old. I also don’t know how the fabric it’s made of, will sew…particularly, I’m not sure if I’ll have to use a different needle (or if I damaged the one that’s in there). I’m not quite advanced enough to know that, yet. M can help.

But tomorrow, I can wind the Gutermann bobbin, sew some scraps of the blouse material, and see how it comes out and if the needle needs changing. I’ve also just checked: I’ll need to make ties that are 2″ wide…unless I need to wrangle that a bit, in order to fit a multiple of 2 or 4 onto the Fat Quarter. Math, right?

The Internet (not my ruler, I haven’t checked) says the Fat Quarter should be 18″x22″. The 22″ is likely the length that I have lined up with the long side of the ruler (it has shrunk), which means the 18″ length is what I’m fitting 8 strips into, 2″ wide each: giving me 2″ of wiggle room and full ties for two masks.

That is what I’m talking about. Math.

I stopped work on this earlier tonight because I needed to think about what I was doing. It’s apparent, now, that I’ll end up using a lot more fabric for ties than I had predicted: however, it’s all (or, almost all) washed, dried, and ironed, now.

And I don’t have to make all 21 masks. :) However, I do have little cuts into the edges of some of these Fat Quarters. I’ll go and check on them now; I can easily swap out these lightweight things for uncut Fat Quarters, if I need to.

Just. Who knew that sewing would be such a useful skill (these days, at least)?

career, fiber arts, libraries, LIS, self care, writing

More of this. Is it a hobby? Is it important? What do I *want* to do with my time?

It’s so hard to get any project done when I keep changing my aims so frequently. And when there’s actual living to be had.

Right now I’m even wondering what the use is of getting my writing in front of people. Like, is it that important that people see it? And if so, is it that important to publish traditionally? Which is, basically, fraught with uncertainties, and usually doesn’t result in large returns. I think I heard in my Creative Writing program that if you send out 100 queries and get two back that aren’t flat-out rejections, you’re doing well.

If all I’m after is an audience, I can easily work that into a website, with a broader distribution. If I want to get physical books into peoples’ hands, there are ways to do that — through PDFs, through printers, through Print-on-Demand services.

Right now, though; I’m going through machinations without addressing the story itself. Why is it important to me to write — or to make public, what I write? Am I writing for myself? For my peers? To change minds? All of those options take different end forms.

Not to mention that I don’t have to make a profession of it, just because I was relatively skilled in it as a youth…I especially don’t have to make a profession of it, if I have a more expedient way of supporting myself.

My latest version of, “what to do with this story,” anyway, is to create a series of related short stories and/or prose and/or “comics” so they can be (potentially) published as a set — though that’s a long shot. Or, I could submit some stories to literary magazines. Also a long shot. And it complicates things if I want to publish everything as a set.

However, putting things into short-story format allows me some flexibility that is missing in longform prose. It would also be easier to make one or two stories into comics, or to just insert some illustrations, and leave it at that.

The major issue I’m having is wanting to do so many things, and being so disorganized that most of it doesn’t get done. I mentioned today in an offhand conversation that maybe I should be doing Fiber Arts. Why? I’m not entirely sure, but it has to do with color, line, needles, beads, knots, and piecework. Now what those things are going to get worked up into, I can’t tell, at this point. All I know is that I have the materials to make…and that there’s virtually nothing I can’t make with the skills — at least, that I would want to make.

It also means that I would be moving fully into Fiber Arts. I know from past experience that knitting is too slow and fiddly for me. Crochet is faster and more forgiving, but creates fabrics, normally, which are full of gaps. Gaps through which, heat can escape — meaning the fabric isn’t very practical.

Sewing clothing out of flat cloth (basically, making something 3-D out of a 2-D surface) is difficult, but interesting. And it allows me to modify patterns (and other clothing) to fit my own form (which would be useful, especially if it’s hard to find clothes that fit).

(It is.)

The major issue with sewing is that it tends to be more expensive and time-consuming than buying ready-to-wear clothing. But then you basically end up with custom garments.

That you may have to hand-wash. Drawback.

But if you resign yourself to hand-washing some things, it opens up the field, a lot.

And…yes, there is the inevitability of drawing blood when sewing, though normally it isn’t much. Just enough to make sure one keeps one’s materials and hands clean. But that in itself is a reason not to run a sewing circle at a Library: sanitation can’t be guaranteed. I just now assume I will pierce myself sometime, if I’m using either pins or hand-sewing needles.

Then there is quilting…which gets weird when you’re a beginner and don’t know why everything is so uneven. Even when I line up the seams. But I think anyone who has quilted, has ended up with weird first pieces. Which I’m on track to do. (Should I keep going and finish the messed-up square? Then frame it as my first messed-up square, because it marks a completion? Any completion?)

I had been looking into alternate job paths again…and I think I’m OK with not overly focusing on writing or editing (though I might do both on the side). It’s possible to work within what are called, “Technical Services,” “Collection Development,” or, “Acquisitions.” All three of these branches are related, and all three deal with materials before they reach the patrons — as versus being jobs that are on the front line dealing with patrons/customers/etc. They also all fall under a common subdivision of my association.

I still have to look further into it, but the point is that I don’t have to throw out my Information Science degree just because I’m not a, “people person.” It’s hard enough to deal with the public, without throwing in the fact that it’s not something I would do if I didn’t feel I had to (it is nice when I am able to help someone, which is most of the time) — but I’ve got to realize that I do have a choice about it. I’ve just got to find the right opening, and prepare myself.

Maybe I should talk with my boss about Cataloging. I have some back-knowledge from University, and I’ve taken several courses after that, to boost my skills (as, unfortunately, I didn’t take it seriously enough in University). She has worked in Cataloging, so she would know what it’s like. She also might know people who would give me a chance. I also have just taken a look at the upcoming Open University schedules…and have found a course which should help, if I want to move forward. I could apply starting on April 24.

Seeing how my other studies are going (Reader’s Advisory, Reference provision, Program Development)…hmm. I might do that. Becoming a Cataloging Librarian could happen. And it would keep me around materials, and away from the public.

Of course, then there are the professional tools that I may want to practice with, before acquiring a job. I’ve just bookmarked both of them…looks like they’ll run me around $850 (give or take) to subscribe to both for a year. The Public Library version of the tool — that, I know how to use. The Subject Analysis part of the tool, I don’t remember how to use. I last saw it in 2017, and didn’t realize what a gift it was to gain access to it. I’ve worked with the free version…which is doable. It’s just harder.

But yes, if I want to become a Cataloger, I should probably be studying this. There’s so much to know, that it would be good to be familiar with it. I believe that my prior failures in this area stemmed from lack of familiarity with the Schedules, and lack of familiarity with both the tools and the body of rules they stemmed from. I can study this.

I can, seriously, study this.

Of course, there’s also all the other Library-related material I’ve acquired over the last six months, which should keep me busy, if I can actually focus on it. Hope — hope, that’s always the thing that drives me forward.

Just — what will I do to relax? How can I not waste my time? There’s so much I could do… but what do I do?

craft, fiber arts, tatting

Progress re: shuttle lace technique

Earlier today I had to spend significant time in a waiting room, and…during that time, I learned how to manage over-tatting thread tails. Particularly when beginning a piece of tatting (a.k.a. shuttle lace), this means that I can start without having to tie a knot between two pieces of thread. Knowing this also is the first step to knowing how to join a new piece of thread when I run out. (I still haven’t tried that, yet. One step at a time.)

As mentioned before, I’m using the book Learn to Tat by Janette Baker, though I haven’t looked at the DVD it comes with, yet. (Who has a DVD player?) Because of this — and because of the fact that the relevant illustrations number exactly two (and are not helped by the thread shown being dark green), I’ve been working a bit by trial-and-error when following the instructions.

From working with beads and self-needles (thread hardened with glue), after my first couple of rough attempts at this (one or two weeks ago, I think), I took it upon myself to find and use a needle for the end of the thread I needed to bury. (This is not a step covered in the book.) Earlier I was using a needle with a sharp tip, but today I was able to get one with a rounded end, which shouldn’t split the cotton (I’m using DMC #5 perle cotton) as easily. It also, for some reason, fits into (and comes out of) a pincushion fine, which is unexpected.

So the secret of successfully over-tatting a thread tail is apparently to run the thread tail through the loop one is closing, in the exact same orientation as the shuttle thread. I don’t know if anyone will know what I’m saying by that, but basically you just run the thread tail exactly in parallel to the thread that’s already going through the flipped half-hitch. Although it seems like it might be more secure to run it through that loop so that the threads scissor closed around both sides of the loop, this is going to make a bumpy tight knot that doesn’t look, or feel, all that great.

When I first started, I was putting the thread through any which way, which meant that some of my knots were bumpy, and some were smooth. It took me a little while to reason out what was going on, which I theorized while trying to sleep one night. Today I tested it in full. I was right.

I did get a pincushion which ties to the wrist a few days ago, but with this method, it’s easy to just lay the thread with the needle on it to the side, over the back of the non-dominant hand. When the half-hitch has been tied and flipped, then just pull the needle forward over the hand, align it through the knot exactly in parallel with the shuttle thread, pull it gently through, and close the loop over both threads. Then replace the needle over the back of the non-dominant hand. Easy.

It should still allow the ring (if one is making a ring) to slide properly. It should also show that characteristic Lark’s Head Knot look…though I think a Lark’s Head Knot is actually a different thing than a Double Stitch, in tatting.

I had skipped over most of this lesson (Number 5, I think), in favor of getting to the Josephine Knot edging. Impatient. But today I was okay with going back and re-trying the join. And it worked!

I’m still having some issues with remembering all the steps — like snugging up the Chain stitches before starting a new Ring; or which shuttle to use when, when using a two-shuttle technique; or the difference between holding the thread for a Ring (all the way around the hand) as versus for a Chain (only over the top of the fingers), but I’m getting there!

And yes, this is something not taught in New Tatting. In New Tatting, they tell you to tie a knot to join a new thread, and then glue down the thread tails.

(no glue, please) It’s probably the reason why my local lace supply store does not sell that book.

Anyhow, I should get going. I just felt the urge to record this before I forgot it. It seems relatively advanced, but then, everything new in tatting seems relatively advanced. :)

creativity, design, fiber arts, jewelry design, self care

Difficulties in creative process (expected and not)

Last night, I had the opportunity to think out loud about what’s stopping me from moving forward with creating. I was aware that I am very good at divergent thinking — that is, developing and imagining many options that I could do, and preparing to do them. When it comes to narrowing down those many options to focus on an end product, I’m not as great.

This is probably the biggest main challenge I have to deal with where it comes to making, and it has to do with process. It’s easy for me to envision an initial end point (or multiple possible end points); where it comes to favoring one and then also being willing to relinquish it by actually starting and moving through the different stages of construction (which rarely ever reach that same end point), I have some issues.

I know that if I start, that is, I’ll have to give up the “perfect” idea that I had at the beginning, in favor of something I haven’t yet imagined. I find it likely not different from a young bird launching itself into flight; on a branch, there’s something to grasp, or hold onto — this being the dream, or the original idea. When you’re in the air, you have to keep beating your wings to keep flying, you’re not anchored, and you’re constantly having to respond to new challenges arising. You may reach the place you originally intended to go, or you may decide that there’s a better place to stop, on the way.

Part of trying to deal with anxiety around this is lowering the stakes, such as by opting first to try mounting a stone with fiber instead of with precious metal. Today I started trying to work a macrame mounting for my Amazonite cabochon (I will try and get some images in before long). There are a number of things that I learned while doing that.

First off, I’ll want to use my heavier weight C-Lon (0.5 mm diameter) in order to avoid tons of tiny and barely visible knots with the C-Lon Micro. Also, again, I find that I need to work on my tension. The people working the knots in the videos I saw were actually keeping their tension much looser than I was. They were also spacing the knots out, more…and, I find, I’m not putting the cross-bar of the lark’s head hitch into the same spot all the time. That means that some knots are way looser than others, and also that the knots are misaligned.

That may be helped by trying to soften the C-Lon up a bit before trying to knot with it. I’m thinking of running it along the side of an awl to try and break up the stiffness. I’m not sure it will work; I just don’t want to do it with the back of a scissors because I’m concerned about curling or damaging the fibers rather than just breaking up any bonding between the fibers. I know this stuff can get softer, because it’s really soft after I’ve picked a knot out of it. So it can be soft. If I can get it there, maybe it will flow better.

I also found that I’ll need to make the bezel wider than previously expected, though that may not be an issue. Too loose, and the stone may slip out (maybe), but too narrow and it’s an unusable ribbon. As well, as the knotting progresses, it’s extremely easy to unintentionally narrow the bezel, by using tension that’s just too tight. Once that’s done, it’s easy to unintentionally continue to use tension that’s just too tight.

To an extent, minor unevenness in tension (like among a couple of strands) may work itself out when tying on and tightening the bezel at the endpoint…but I haven’t gotten that far, yet. I can also tweak the tension and recover my width by pulling on my anchor cords, but that snugs all the knots together (which is not what I want, as it hides the stone).

The other major thing that I have to deal with which puts me back from starting, is my tendency to perfectionism (which you can see in the fact that I actually noticed the detail of the cross-bar of my lark’s head hitches not all being in line). I know that perfectionism can stop someone from beginning. I heard yesterday that the quickest path to perfection is not to aim for perfection. Because working is the only way of getting better: if you never begin to work, you never get better. Your skill level never increases, which is intangible; but matters as a benefit, in this case. It’s growth and production, versus stagnation and lack of production.

My issue, I think, is that perfection is not possible, so aiming for perfection is to aim for the impossible, and instead of attempting to attain the impossible and be met with inevitable failure, sometimes we just tend not to try. The latter is what I’m combating, though maybe I just need to lower my standards to something attainable.

There’s also the fact that I could just be unsure as to whether my flight feathers have grown in yet.

Perhaps, I could recognize that these will be my first two macrame bezels ever, so it’s unlikely that they’ll come out as though machined. On that point, it’s not even desirable to aim to have a final product that seems machined, so I’m questioning right now what exactly it is that I’m desiring.

On that point, I’m not even sure of the exact design of what is going to flow out of the pendant — and I won’t be able to tell until I can figure out what connection options I have. I can’t tell those, until I’ve constructed a preliminary bezel. Which is why I started trying to do so, tonight.

What’s happening right now, is research. I probably should be gentle with myself and not expect perfection. But at the same time, I should push myself to at least try to do something.

beading, color, craft, creativity, fiber arts, jewelry design, macrame, tatting

That’s it.

I’m doing a macramé bezel for those two cabochons I mentioned last post. Do you know how freakin’ easy a macramé bezel would be, in comparison with either bead embroidery or wire wrapping? And WHY was it that I got the C-Lon Micro, if not for stuff like this?

I actually have two colors which are perfect for this: Turquoise, and White (so I didn’t waste money getting minorly different shades of green!). I’ll use the Turquoise on the Moonstone, and the White on the Amazonite. (I never thought I’d end up using that white C-Lon, either…)

The best part is that this fits my current skill set. I won’t have to deal with anxiety over wasting expensive wire. I am not yet too skilled at wire wrapping (beyond wrapped loops and drops), but I won’t have to worry about that, here. There is no danger of eventual oxidation. Neither will I have to use adhesive, or worry about sourcing leather or Ultrasuede. I can rework things easily, if they don’t turn out. Plus, I think that this will show off the cabochons better (the edges of which, are beautiful).

I thought of doing a macramé bezel last night while I was in bed, and then realized that I could also make a wire-wrapped setting. Earlier tonight I was thinking about a tabbed Fine Silver bezel, though that requires at least two seams, unless I’m doing cold connections: one to a backing, and one to close the bezel itself.

I’ve just been searching for macramé bezel instructions, however, and have been sitting here for over an hour watching videos on how to do it. I’ve found two pretty simple versions.

On top of this…I now have the ability to incorporate lacework into a necklace, on top of macramé techniques. The C-Lon allows for that (as does my recent study of tatting).

If I know I’m going for something organic, that infers that I could drop the idea of using bugle beads. Unless…I want contrast. I was just looking at these and envisioning using them in a chevron pattern (where they are set off by patterned seed beads), or in a peyote stitch (though the latter sounds as though it will cut the thread).

But yeah…instead of…instead of making multiple strands coming off of the pendant, I could just work lace, there. (I had the idea to do it before, attaching the strands by picots, and just didn’t entertain actually doing it.) I might need to vacate a couple of shuttles, but I can do that — especially as I now have larger bobbins.

Do I still put beads around the back side??? Do I, that is, transition from lace to bead stringing? (For some reason, I don’t like bead stringing as much as I used to.)

I’m starting to move out of the generative phase of creativity into the selective one. I have most of the stuff I need in a little project box, now, after having eliminated most of my greens and golds, and the blues which were too violet. The palette is various shades of blue-green with pale amber and white.

Right now, I’ve got to think of whether I want to use buttons to transition (and close) the necklace: this means going out to match my materials. It may not happen until the middle of the week. That gives me time to practice making bezels for cabochons (which I can do in any color, as I’ll be using the throwaway googly-eye ovals).

That also means that it isn’t a waste of time to practice the tatting: particularly, thread joins. I know more than I used to, but I’m still on a steep learning curve.

I should also start drawing out what I want the lace to look like. A little intimidating, though I hate to say it. This is also going to be fun, though! :) It’s one of those things where you don’t know exactly what’s going to turn out at the end; though you know you’re off to a good start (and that even failure isn’t terrible: just cut it apart and try a different route).

craft, fiber arts, tatting

Tatting practice.

Hello again! I got to meet a lot of new family over the holiday weekend, and took some time off without the computer. I also forced myself to stay away from study, which meant that I had time to practice tatting — which, for those who haven’t read my backposts, is a form of knotted lacework. :)

a series of tatted rings in peacock DMC #5 thread
Figure 1: A series of tatted rings.

Before I came here tonight, I was catching up on my coursework. I’m roughly where I should be, now. Although at the time of this writing it’s 11:15 PM locally (I’ve just finished last week’s work), I started this post last night and still haven’t worked on it. I also went to bed late last night, which I’m not proud of. It seems I’m on track again tonight to stay up late; that’s largely because I’ve been working all day, and it would kind of not be ideal to do all this work and not have a chance to do something for myself.

A tatted border sample in ecr
Figure 2: Trim samples.

Anyhow, as you can see, I decided to finally log something with photos. :) Accordingly, I also had to get used to a different method of upload, practice my image-editing skills, and figure out how to strip unwanted metadata.

The image to the left is what I was toying with, last week. (I haven’t been able to get any tatting done today.) The samples are basically my attempt at linking rings together using picots. I am getting better, as I can see what happens when I begin in a certain fashion.

I think my biggest hangup at this time (illustrated in Figure 2) is remembering how many picots there are on each ring. In the upper left corner of Figure 2, you can see that I only was thinking of three picots plus a join…I totally left out the fifth loop thing and the three double stitches that came after it, so the ring is too small and everything basically lopped over.

I’m also not too good at loosening and undoing my work right now, either, which means that an error like this could mean that it’s time to restart. :P (I am using DMC perle cotton #5, though, which is basically generally used for cross-stitch.)

The work is based on a learning aid in the book Learn to Tat, by Janette Baker. I am appreciating this book, because Baker seems to have a good handle on instructional design: skills build on each other, and she anticipates the problems beginners have. The book is thin, but it’s divided into nine lessons: I’m about to start Lesson 4, if I can ever get off of this butterfly.

A tatted butterfly in ecru DMC #5 thread
Figure 3: Butterfly.

The tatted butterfly to the right (Figure 3) was what I came up with on my second completed try of Lesson Three. Ideally, I’m thinking that the center space I can see here, actually isn’t supposed to be there. In the book, the butterfly wings are closer together, though I squished these together as best I could, and there’s still space. Maybe I’m drawing the rings up too tightly?

I’m thinking that the use of a beading awl may help, in snugging the rings together (apparently, the first half of the first stitch made after completing the previous ring is really important to get super close to that last ring).

Or, maybe I should make the consecutive rings in such a manner that I don’t bend each new ring into position before beginning to stitch it. I mean, maybe they are supposed to be basically crushed together until the last moment. :)

I can try again (the pattern is easy to remember), though I think I’m getting a little obsessive…

craft, fiber arts, LIS, tatting, work

History: mud and sapphires

Some time has passed. I know I haven’t touched the computer for two days…likely due to the fact that it’s associated for me, now, with work. And…things I don’t want to do, now that I think of getting back to my Library of Congress cataloging work. Ordinarily, I would take this work as something to keep me busy instead of bored…but I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not sure at all that I want to work as a Cataloger in an Academic Library setting.

Cataloging has a lot of arbitrary rules that serve to make catalog entries uniform (which is essential if we are to find things)…the thing is, they’ve been accumulating and building on each other for a couple of centuries, and the difficulty in changing them to keep up with the times is evident in what remains of the old structures.

Having done this work, I can clearly see why I shifted my focus to Digital Services: there’s less of this traditional backlog of rules, to deal with. There is also, though, a much higher need for the use of logic.

The thing with coding is that it shares the same high attention to detail as is required of a cataloger…it just seems from my perspective that — in coding — there are actual reasons for things to be the way they are. If things aren’t formatted a certain way, the computer can’t make sense of it.

For some reason, I’m willing to adapt to a computer’s constrictions, moreso than I am to history’s. I mean…the computer has no choice. It was built the way it was, without having a say in it. History always has had choices.

And at this point, I can kind of see how the mode of thinking behind, “progressivism,” could work…although in the past, I’ve rejected the term “progressive” as it applies to myself. This is because nothing guarantees that society will move forward to a better future. It can, but that doesn’t mean it will become better, or that it is becoming better. As a mirror to this, that doesn’t mean that all societies before ours, were worse than ours (or that First World countries are the so-called pinnacle of Social Darwinism [I’m going to withhold my views on the latter, for now]); or that things now are worse than they’ve ever been (which are both familiar nightmares to some people I’ve known).

What I try and remember is that people in each era (I assume) are trying to do the best they can, with the world, technology, information, and concepts they have. Now, that’s a big assumption. But I try (and I’m trying really hard right now) not to forget the human factor: that in each time, people confront constrictions, and find ways to exist despite them.

Anyhow, learning Library of Congress Classification has been like stepping backwards in time, and not in a fun way. It seriously feels like I spent a bunch of money for this class, only to learn that I don’t want to do the work (or at least, that I don’t want to do the work, full-time).

Do I want to become a Web Developer? I still don’t know about that: I’ll have to try harder and involve myself, first. But at least, I’ll know one more thing I don’t want to do, as I’ll have had some experience with it. If I hadn’t taken this LCC class, I wouldn’t know how much I don’t want to do it, and how much I should maybe just forget about it, for the short term.

Gah.

There’s a lot of stuff I’m not mentioning, right now. Most of it is political. Some of it does make me wish that I could believe in a good-natured Deity, but seeing evidence of the activity of hatred and stupidity… Declaring something as good also means declaring its opposite, or at least, the state of the absence of goodness (or so my readings in Philosophical Daoism would suggest).

And labeling the absence of goodness isn’t really effective at all, in coming to peaceful resolution and coexistence with someone who is seen to be exhibiting a lack of goodness. Because of this, it basically lines the road to coexistence with land mines.

Of course, the other person has likely had no input into what one considers “good” or not, so one big question is whether they can even be held accountable to standards they had no say in defining (although also, of course, they would likely make the definition of “not good” to be whatever they, themselves, were not — should they be given a say. That begs the question of whether we can trust evil people to define goodness). I have a sense, though, that I’m getting into legal philosophy here, so I’ll stop.

In any case…I’ve been getting tired of this. Tired of a lot of things, actually. There’s the political stuff plus the work stuff plus the study stuff plus the injury stuff plus the illness stuff — which in my case does encompass mood symptoms, which can then make me vulnerable to physical illness.

One of the things I have been working on, recently, is tatting lace…which is relatively calming (which is probably why people did it, before)…it kind of takes up a lot of mental capacity that would otherwise be spent worrying. This is one of those historical crafts that I’ve taken interest in — which, apparently, is a new thing again to people in my generation. It kind of makes me wonder if I were on the front line of fashion as regards retro designs and fiber art, and didn’t know it. (Usually, I’m not an early adopter.)

I’ve figured out how to make each individual stitch, though I’m not sure it will make sense if I explain it in words. If I recorded video, it would be different. I just remember the first book I read on it, which was talking about making half-hitches and flipping them onto the opposite cord (you tug the working cord and relax the other cord, and the half-hitch is transferred to the relaxed cord), and I’m thinking to myself, “okay, first you make a half-hitch — then you reverse it — why would you do that???”

It makes more sense when you do it, though I’m still not sure how much sense that is.

I don’t have photos at the moment. I’m not sure if I’ve given up on that, or not. :) The thing is, when you do tatting right, it basically looks exactly like the photos of all the samples that you’ve seen.

Is that a good thing? I’m not sure…

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!