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. :)

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!

craft, creativity, design, embroidery, organization, sewing, tatting

Fatigue. Not wanting to study.

Today was almost a wash. I got up, ate breakfast, did some studying (when?), went back to bed, fell back asleep, got out of bed to vacuum a bug off of my ceiling. (I thought it was a spider, but on closer inspection, it was probably a silverfish.) I’m pretty sure I know why I was tired today, not that it’s fare for the blog (sorry, all).

Yesterday, I was able to go out and get a larger embroidery hoop, plus some DMC threads, and a couple of tatting shuttles. The colors of the threads really remind me of the SuperDuo beads I got at the last bead convention I attended. There must be some fashion palette thing going on for Summer 2019 that I haven’t yet researched (though on looking at the Pantone Color Forecasts through Fall 2020, I don’t see it). In any case, SuperDuos…I’d have to really work out a design to be able to use those in coordination with embroidery threads!

I’m hoping to soon be able to begin practicing tatting, though that isn’t a priority if I can’t get my course work done (unless, that is, I start to de-prioritize the course work). I’m still waiting for the recording of yesterday’s live session to come through. I wasn’t able to attend, due to the fact that I had a doctor’s appointment (Occupational Health), and couldn’t tell what time the meeting was supposed to be held, and wasn’t notified until the day before. Had I known it began at 9 AM my time, I could have gotten up early, prepared to go out, attended the meeting, then gone to my appointment and not have worried about it.

Right now, though, we’ve been given a number of web pages to go to and bounce back and forth between…it isn’t fun. It’s (relatively speaking) free, but not fun. I’m thinking that the thing to do is to make a folder on my bookmarks bar and use that to access the pages, though I’ll later have to move it into the regular bookmarks menu.

I guess if I’m feeling like this, it’s okay not to work on this stuff right now.

I’m still wondering how to organize this DMC thread…I have some bars to hold open skeins of DMC cotton, but not enough for all of them. I know how to deal with sashiko thread, but this? Not entirely. I suppose I can practice with disassembling some of the colors that I’m probably not going to use, so that if they get tangled, it doesn’t really matter.

But like I was telling my friend at work, the hardest part about embroidery, for me, is the design aspect…and I’m not sure how I can design if I’m not even intimately familiar with all the stitches, yet.

So maybe I should just play around for now, just to learn…and I hate to learn from books (they’re not always an optimal medium), but if that’s the way it has to be, I don’t mind. (I should look around online for video demos, though. I found — through attempting to learn Korean knotwork from books — that videos are sometimes much more helpful than still images and words.)

I’m sitting next to my sewing kit, here, and really want to get into it. At the same time, it’s almost 10 PM, and I have work tomorrow (not to mention the fact that I want to get some stuff together to give to my friend, which I keep forgetting at home: particularly, some tinted papers).

The beadwork hasn’t been a priority since before our visitor left…I should probably clean up my workspace, so the beads don’t get dusty. I’ve been having issues with not being able to focus or concentrate on one medium. I feel kind of scattered.

Well, scattered and tired. Those two things kind of go together…

art media, comics, creative writing, creativity, sequential art, tatting

Stories and creativity

Sorry for being offline for a bit (about a week, for this blog). There’s been some stuff going on…though I don’t trust myself to remember a week’s worth of history, all right now. The good news is that I did complete my Dewey course, fine. Of course, though…the new course also just started, and I’m not particularly in the mood to study, right now. It is the third course of four that I have planned, and should help me if I need to do original cataloging of items in a College or University library (I’m interested in working at a Community College library as an introduction to Academic Libraries).

The other day, a work friend and I were talking about beadwork, particularly bead embroidery and loomwork. I have kind of gotten excited about the prospect of sharing bead-related joys with a friend. I would like to take some beads in to show this person…the thing is that I’m dealing with a number of impulses for media in which to create. I have tatting — which is new to me; beadwork; embroidery; sewing; and markers.

Ah! That’s right! I bought a set of alcohol markers recently. They’re basically artist-quality, though I went through the set and divided the cost into the amount. They’re Blick brand, and work relatively well. They did cost $44 for the set, but there are 24 markers in the set, meaning that each marker is $1.83 — a very good cost for the quality of these, at least if the tips of the brush tips don’t end up breaking off. (Generally, one can buy artist and illustration markers for between $3 and $5 each, open-stock).

The major thing with these is that I need to erase graphite underdrawings before going over them with markers. Otherwise, the graphite smudges. I was using marker paper for my trials, though, which means that the graphite had very little to cling to. Also, it helps when your fineliner has time to dry before you overlay it with marker!

I have a premise for a graphic novel series, though I’m still not sure of the primary conflict and range I should undertake for it. There are a few different stories I have in me: one is about mental illness, one is about intra-family racism, and one is about gender variance.

So…that’s a lot. I don’t think I’ll be able to pack it all into one story. I also don’t think I particularly should try to pack it all into one story, though I could link them all by putting them in the same universe (and have series crossovers or spinoffs). Right now, the story I have foremost on my mind is the one about experiencing mental illness, being unable to distinguish “fantasy” from “reality,” learning how to function, and the sacrifices that come with functionality.

The biggest problem I can see here is people asking how I know what I do; but that’s not really their business. There’s also the issue of what happens if I start to have an impact. I have not seen many books focusing on the inner experience of mental illness, at this point, but then again — after I graduated with my BA, I basically stopped reading fiction.

Ah, I also really want to get back to learning Japanese language. I have been exposed to animations and comics coming out of Japan (the challenge of reading them made them more interesting); also, selected comics like Deadpool or Trinity (though the latter was nonfiction, about the invention of the nuclear bomb).

Anyhow, I think I feel okay with getting back to my study, now. I’m feeling a lot better about it.