Monday, August 30, 2010

Learning to Tat

Last week we took a trip to Gawthorpe Hall near Padiham, which is a big old country house with rather impressive interiors (although the grounds are a bit disappointing, I have to add) and a fine collection of embroidery and crafts on display. Some of the needlework is amazing and really brings the rooms to life. Near to the knitting and crochet (such tiny hooks and intricate work!) was a collection of tatting. This really caught my interest and I wanted to know more about how it is done. So, a few deliveries from Amazon and a trip to Hobbycraft later... I am now a fledgling tatter. There are quite a few videos on Youtube, etc, on tatting, but to be honest none of the ones I saw seemed to be particularly clear to me, so I bought the book 'Learn to Tat' by Janette Baker. This has a lot of pictures and comes with a DVD of clear and easy to follow instructions and seemed to be the most recommended of the books on offer. I say "easy to follow" but it still took a good hour or so before I was able to say that I'd got the hang of it.

I bought two types of shuttle, one made by Prym which is a simple symmetrical bobbin and one slightly more fancy design by Pony. The Pony one has a little hook at one end which is really helpful for loosening wrong stitches - and there will be wrong stitches - and the winding bobbin is a nifty trick so you don't have to turn the whole thing around in your hand to unwind more thread. I think the Prym one cost about £1.30 and the Pony £2.40 and in my experience is well worth the extra pennies.

To start with there were some knots, wiggly knots and some swearing. In the guide book it rather comfortingly says that your practice thread may measure a foot or two before it is consistently correct. I didn't quite take a foot, but not far off.

Some mess

Different coloured thread and a breakthrough

Making curly threads - improved tension



I am now into lesson 2 and things are getting a bit more fancy. Hopefully soon I will be confident enough to take on one of the projects and have something a bit bigger to show for my efforts.


I love black and wear a lot of it, however despite this, I very rarely knit myself anything black. Well, that's about to change. First, I have started the Alice Cardigan from the August issue of Knitting magazine, in Alpaca Select Natural 4ply in black. Adding to the luxury are my Lantern Moon rosewood needles (not black.)

Slightly less luxurious perhaps, some random black acrylic aran (on 4,5mm bamboo dpns) which is going to be a pair of ankle warmers. I have just taken possession of some rather fancy black patent leather ankle boots which will look good with a pair of chunky socks, but are not big enough to comfortably wear a pair of chunky socks in, so I am making these ankles warmers to wear tucked into the boots rather than in eighties legwarmer style. That's the plan, anyway. There is no pattern, I'll just stop when I think they're long enough.

Bits and Bobs

First some teddy purses from the Jaeger Handknits for kids JB29. I made one of these years ago and it turned out pretty well, so I used the same Sirdar Countrystyle DK, buttons and velvet nose as before.

A couple of mobile phone cosies out of left over sock yarn, the one on the left is Opal Tiger with a manly flap and the one on the right is Opal Carnival with girly beads. I made the Carnival one first as a simple tube with a picot cast off, but was not happy with the seam at the base so with the second one changed to a Turkish cast on which is much neater.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


And then I got carried away. This pair of yoga socks (again for Mum because they proved so useful) I thought I'd try making two pairs of socks at the same. I have these dreams of doing the two at once on dpns where you knit one inside the other, alternating between stitches on each sock but while I may be occasionally overly optimistic about things, I am not delusional - so didn't attempt that. The two socks on two circs went pretty well to start with. It is a little fiddly having to cast on the stitches and then rearrange them on the circs so that the leading yarn is in the right position but there are some good websites with plenty of pictures to follow. The cuffs went pretty well and it seemed to be generally quicker than knitting them separately would have been. Then I reached the heel cast off and cast on edges and it got all very confusing and fiddly. I ended up dropping a stitch (which thankfully I found and recovered before it caused a complete catastrophe) and also had some loose stitches and holes appear at the rib edges. They had to go. So, I ripped back to the heel hole, separated the socks onto two sets of circs and finished them one at a time. I'm glad I tried the two socks at once thing, just to get it out of my system!

Lornas Laces Shepherd Sock 'Pilsen'

After the success of the first pair of yoga socks I decided to make a pair for my mum's best friend, whom I really like. It's also a treat to knit with the lovely Shepherd Sock yarn, so worth it. This colorway is Pilsen.

Traveling Woman

P1000987, originally uploaded by Sheep Happens.

My knitting group decided to have a KAL and chose the Traveling Woman shawl by Liz Abinante. I think it looks good in variagated yarns, so decided to use some really colourful stuff that had been given to me as gift but I didn't know what it was apart from it being approximately 4ply and very very bright! Taking a bit of a chance that it would block, it turned out really well and I'm dead chuffed with it. Lovely autumnal colours will be just the thing in a month or so.