Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hedgehog Chocolates

My mom is allergic to fur and feathers, and that is how, when I was young, I came to have a hedgehog for a pet. She was a cute little African Pygmy Hedgehog, and we named her Miss Tiggywinkle after Beatrix Potter's hedgehog washerwoman. So when I was browsing Mary Konior's Tatting Patterns and came across the pattern she calls Hedgehogs, I knew I had to make it soon. But it wasn't till I was brainstorming how to decorate my chocolate box for Isdihara's awesome contest that I knew where. In the book the pattern is an edging, and apparently designed not by Mary Konior, but by Lady Hoare. I took just one repeat though, to make a little hedgehog for my box. You have to use your imagination to see him, as he is more a suggestion of a hedgehog than a clearly defined one, but I think he's rather cute. The two rows of Chain Reaction (a pattern that is designed by Mary Konior) are his hedges, of course! At the moment he is wandering in the open field snuffling for insects and grubs.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In Which I Actually Drink Tea

Because I really must make a Tatting Tea Tuesday post at least once, even if (pause to gasp) I actually do not like tea. Which I don't. At all. However, it is the perfect day for tea, as this peek out my window proves. So I decided to try some Vanilla Chai.
Every time I tell my tea-drinking friends that I do not like tea, they assure me that if I try chai I will love it. I've tried it before and I don't love it. But it is ok.
The main reason I am drinking it today though is that this teabag came slipped into a card from my friend Jessica. Yes, the Jessica I tatted a wedding doily for in July. So this tea is most suitable for a tatting day.
It also seems fitting, since my tea comes from a newlywed, that my piece of tatting for today is a heart. This is Betsy Evans' Small Tatted Heart. I've seen this pattern before, but only in a diagram, never a picture of it actually tatted up. This is probably why I've not been struck by its beauty before. Just yesterday, though, I ran across it on a blog, and knew I needed to try it. So I picked up a shuttle that was already wound with size 10 thread, and started it immediately. (That's how it came out yellow -- I think the last thing I tatted with this shuttle was Jeff's Sine Wave Star.) I am quite pleased with the results. This is an elegant little heart, and it fits my stringent requirements for heart patterns. For me to like a heart pattern, it must look like a heart. There are a lot of patterns out there that only suggest hearts and just aren't shaped enough like a heart to please me. This one does please me. But I would never have guessed it would from the diagram, so I guess my lesson for today (after "Chai is ok") is that one should always give a poor little pattern a chance before dismissing it!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Halloween was over a week ago, yes. But here is a delayed reflection on the tatting that my Halloween involved. I didn't wind up tatting any ghosts or pumpkins or other themed patterns (although I have been eying Jane's spider -- wonderfully simple and effective pattern, the kind that motivates me to learn the involved technique it uses, not so that I know the technique, but so that I can make the pattern!). The tatting that did make into my Halloween was just a simple edging.
You see, the part of Halloween that I have always loved the most is dressing up. I don't go in for any of the store-bought princess or witch costumes -- the ones made of the thinnest shiny cloth you've ever seen, all in a one-piece dress. Nor the headed and footed dinosaur costumes, although the right one of those can look great. The only store-bought costumes that have ever entered my family's house were a puppy dog suit and a tiger suit for my two little brothers when they were about 6 and 8. They were so cute that that was definitely worth it. But normally when my family dresses up we prefer to make our own outfits out of clothes we own already or buy at the thrift store. I've been a cat before, by dressing entirely in black and making myself cat ears out of a headband and construction paper. Or my brother dressed up as a 19th century insane asylum escapee -- he began the party in a "straightjacket" made out of a long-sleeved dress shirt, and gradually disguised himself to assimilate into society with a top hat and tailcoat. Naturally I and my sister and brother (he of the tiger suit, now grown up into a teenager) were delighted to be invited by some friends to go Creepy Caroling on Halloween this year. This involved dressing up in Victorian clothes and going door-to-door singing carols with suitably spooky subjects. There were a couple parodies of Christmas carols, such as "Hark the Streptococcus brings / Strep sore throat to all who sing", a song from the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas, and an H.P. Lovecraft song about a man surrounded by Fish-Men. My sister and I, however, were sold at the point where we dressed up in Victorian clothes. We scoured the thrift stores and found long skirts and vaguely Victorian jackets. I made myself a wide-brimmed bonnet out of cloth and cardboard, and was very proud of finding a blazer with lapels that could be pinned up so that it looked like a high collared blouse. It was white, and I realized that a jabot would be exactly the thing.
So, rummaging around in my drawers of tatting-related items, I found a handkerchief that I had edged in white many years ago when I was first learning to tat. I pinned it at my throat with a cameo-type pin, and voila -- a repurposed jabot which did not cost me any money at all.
Of course, it would have been nice to have a jabot completely of lace, and I already considering the idea for next year. I have such plans for caroling next year. The late Victorian era is of course when tatting first hit the scene, and the Victorian style lends itself so beautifully to abundances of lace. In addition to a full-lace jabot, I would love to make a little reticule to carry around my wrist. My friends and I are much too old to trick-or-treat, and we looked on this simply as a fun outing to bless other people with singing, not to obtain candy from them. But since it was Halloween night, everyone opened their door intending to give candy, and while we continually repeated "No, thank you," there were several elderly couples who refused to take no for an answer. There's a point at which you bless people far more by letting them give you something than by refusing it, so we wound up with about 8-10 pieces of candy each, and the poor gentlemen in our party had bulging coat pockets from trying to accommodate the carrying needs of all the ladies whose skirts were pocketless. Hence a reticule would have a practical purpose. But far beyond practical purposes, I have designs boiling around in my head now which I am itching to execute. I would like to make it of black cloth, largely circular and with a drawstring, and cover the cloth with black lace. I love tone-on-tone looks, and it would be fairly easy to find a doily pattern which I could use to make lace of the same circumference as the bag. Or perhaps I should try to design or alter a pattern into a cylinder shape, to eliminate excess folds in the bag. I could also try to make this bag functional year-round, by doing something similar to the bag Frivolina recently showed, which has pockets for shuttles and space for thread, and opens out flat into a nice work surface when spread on a table. Perhaps it is a little pathetic to be so excited about something 11 months away, but I cannot wait to tat more Victorian costume elements. There are so many possibilities!