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. :)

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, beadweaving, beadwork, craft, jewelry, jewelry design

Returning to this blog. Intellectual Property re: beadwork.

I’m not entirely sure how to start this entry. It’s been well over two years since I used this blog. I’m nearing the end of a graduate program and having an extended period of “free time” for the first time in a while. It’s been a long route to getting back to doing what I’ve actually wanted to do.

I can’t at this point remember why it was that I migrated away from beadwork, though I am thinking that it was concerns over inadvertently violating intellectual property. I’ve gone over this elsewhere, and maybe I’ll eventually link it here, but I’ve gotten additional information (and experience) between my last post and now. It makes me feel better about beading.

Techniques can’t be copyrighted. I don’t think it matters if you learn the technique from a book or online or in-person. I believe the copyright is on the media in which the information is transferred (so, for example, the form of a paper pattern is copyrighted: what you learn from it — the information — isn’t, necessarily). There are community norms in place which help manage what information is used and how…but whether something violates copyright or not, is a grey legal area that takes a number of factors into account.

Technically, the form of intellectual property protection that it seems would even apply, where it comes to using knowledge of technique, is patent. So far as I know, patents are only granted to unique and innovative designs that would be hard to come to on one’s own.

It gets more complex than this; I am certain I can’t communicate all the intricacies of my current understanding, at this time. While there is some truth to the idea that a person wants to be relatively fluent in technique before beginning to sell — just for the sake of their own development (client pressure for more and more of the same can deter growth) — it’s not necessary to know everything, either. I don’t see the sense in prohibiting sales for reasonably unique — no — common work (not specific individual designs that others have taught you how to do), that would otherwise happen — which is what I felt was being promoted to me, which caused me to try and get out of the field.

By, “common work,” I mean work which doesn’t take a great deal of innovation to achieve; which those who know the technique could easily reproduce. And I mean work that isn’t a precise design that someone else taught you how to do.

I don’t mean that the work isn’t unique. There are a lot of unique ways to use common techniques. Most of the possible ways to use them, are. It’s the few ways through which people teach you how to do the technique, which I feel are questionable to duplicate for money; if not off-limits. That is a courtesy that I try to hold to.

Once you have enough practice at constructing basic pieces of jewelry, the techniques you know become a knowledge base you can draw off of when designing things that are your own. But if you don’t practice because you don’t want to follow a pattern, it’s learning the hard way. As you progress, though, there is a natural movement away from instructions and into simply playing and seeing what you can come up with.

At every step there are multiple directions one can take. Making one decision differently from the one in the instructions, or more than one…there’s no crime in that. It’s just that there are many more ways to make things that don’t work, than things that do. :) Experimenting is the only way to find original ways to put things together, though. And research is important to learn more techniques.

Aside from this, beadwork is a relatively expensive hobby. However…doing other things that share traits in common with beadwork (for me this has been painting and sewing) also aren’t the same. Painting requires some thought as to subject matter, even though it has heavy use of color in common with beadwork. Sewing is generally the manipulation of two-dimensional surfaces through the use of needle and thread, and can powerfully integrate color. Bead weaving also uses needle and thread, but in a different way.

In a class where I got to experience making 3-D computer models, I learned that a three-dimensional form with one pierced hole is called a, “torus.” In bead weaving and micromacrame, you’re working with threads, cord, and pierced shapes (though there are beads out now with up to four piercings; I don’t know what shapes with two, three, or four piercings, are called!). The threads (or lines, as I like to think of them) go through the holes of beads or around other threads which are already established in the pattern. There is a certain aspect of what feels like engineering (I use the term “engineering” loosely), in fitting beads together to make a design (whether that’s shaped or flat).

Also, there’s the possibility of using metals with beads and fiber, though these days that generally means wire and sheet. Casting is something else, which I have never carried through all the way. (I’ve made wax models, and I think I’ve poured the plaster, but I don’t think I went through burnout of the model, or the actual casting, let alone finishing.) Casting, though, is a way to make forms in metal which would be very difficult to fabricate, otherwise.

Still, though, silversmithing is not the same thing as beading, even though both can result in the production of jewelry.

I’ve also gotta put in a disclaimer, here. Those who know me from my personal blog, would know that I am planning to go into an Information profession. The preceding post is not legal advice. Even if I were a professional at this point, I would not be able to give legal advice as a member of my profession (as versus, as a person). I am not a lawyer or in any way a specialist in any legal system, so keep that in mind. All risk as to your own decisions lies with you.

What I’m describing here is part of my trying to figure out how to navigate intellectual property territory as a craft jeweler/handcrafter (my decision to adopt or own these term[s], are another post). Writing things out, in most cases, helps me get my thoughts together. The Intellectual Property aside is something I feel the need to record, as it’s been so prominent in my own decisions as to where to exercise my creative abilities. It also evolves as I age, and as I gain more knowledge and experience.

In that sense, these records are valuable to me, as I can see what I used to believe, and how that led to what I think, now. But I can’t predict what I will think, in the future. And I can’t say it won’t be better. So on that note, let me just leave you with the note that I know I’m fallible, and I know that my own understanding is a process, not a product.