Norma's Needleworkz

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Very Short Update!

For some time now ..... well, really more than 10 years .... I have wanted to learn Bobbin Lace and so on a post a few months back I posted a "put together kit" to help me get started. I still haven't started because I was uncomfortable with the "set up" using a cardboard easel/pillow. A pillow is the correct term for the base on which the bobbin lace is worked. So I put out an appeal for help on the HBT (Here-Be-Tatters) group. One of the members, Mark, aka Tatman pointed me to his site,, for instructions on making a cookie pillow. Here is my cookie pillow. Mark suggested a 24 inch circle of plywood or masonite board ...... a dear friend of mine who used to cater weddings gave me a piece of masonite that measures 22.5" ..... I figured this was a perfect size for me. The padding is made up of circles cut from a 100% wool blanket ... I followed Mark's instructions very carefully and I am most pleased with my "cookie". He also had info to make bobbins but for the time being I'm using the bobbins that came with "the kit". Since purchasing "the kit" I've learn it is far from the best but I'm able to salvage the bobbins at least for the time being and "the kit" was on sale for half price so I'm not out a huge amount.

Here is a close-up of the bobbins. Now, retiring list mom, Sue, of HBT also had a good bit of advice for me. She suggested I use only four bobbins (my book tells me to use quite a few more which was causing some confusion) and to use two different color threads of a larger size than what is usually used for bobbin lace. This made perfectly good sense to me as I prefer using two different colors of thread in a larger size when I teach begging tatters. So here I've wrapped my bobbins with two shades of green in a #12 perle cotton. If that doesn't work too well then I'll try two different colors of #30 crochet thread. So, I think now I'm actually ready to start my first lesson .... wish me luck!

One of the members of the HBT group posted a photo where she had added tatting motifs to a pair of gloves and brought back a memory of one of the meeting workshops of EGA when I was a member eons ago. We took a garden glove and embellished it with one of our favorite techniques - and as you can see, tatting is what I used - then filled it with gravel or sand .... I chose gravel from my driveway and after sewing the cuff I now had a weight for my needlepoint frame. I could lean my frame against a table, drape the "weight" across the top and work to my heart's content. This made an excellent substitute for a standing frame and left both hands free for stitching.

Tomorrow I will (hopefully) actually begin my first attempt at Bobbin Lace. See ya when I make something!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lace and Embroidery

Lace making in any form intrigues me and so I love knitting lace as one of those forms. This doily I finished August 6 was knitted only with doublepointed needles size zero (0) and with Bucilla Petite Wondersheen which is approximately a size 40 crochet cotton. The edging was crocheted with a size D hook. The pattern is "Valentine", part of a set and is from FIRST BOOK OF MODERN LACE KNITTING by Marianne Kinzel. Her patterns are worked both from the printed work and from charts. She suggested using a size 50 thread and British dpns size 13 (equals American size 1) with this piece to finish 8" across. Being a loose knitter I used smaller needles and larger thread and still my doily finished out to the 8" across. BTW it took less than 10 hours to knit.

Being a sock knitter for many years - using double-pointed needles - I decided to try a different technique ... using 2 circular needles. Naturally I didn't want to start a pair of socks without first trying out the technique. One of my new sock books Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch suggested using her class sock pattern. She gives three techniques for knitting this sock - 4 dpns, 5 dpns, or 2 24" circular needles. There is another sock knitter who also suggests a 40" circular needle. Well, I don't have a 40" in any size so before ordering I thought the 2 24" circular needles would be the way to go. As a rule of thumb you should use only one brand of needles in a project as different manufacturers sometimes have a "difference" in sizing. I didn't have 2 24" needles alike so used two different brands (one of which was bamboo) mainly so that I wouldn't get confused as to which needle I should be using at any one time LOL Not to worry, once I got the hang of what to do the sock was a breeze. Using a size 4 and some leftover worsted weight I proceeded and in a very short time my sock was completed. A perfect size for a Christmas tree ornament. A bit plain as is so a little dressing up will work wonders, don't you think? Also just the right size for that special "little" gift or even Christmas candy! I just may knit some more of these for the fall bazzar the senior center holds each year.

Another of my favorite lace techniques - tatting! The top ornament is the result of just playing around ... it may even be someone's published pattern and if it is I'd like to give credit but this is what happened when I was demonstrating while waiting for my line dancing session to begin. The bottom ornament is "Three Mountains" and is the first pattern in Tatting for the Tree by Karey Solomon which was part of my Christmas in July swap on HBT (Here-Be-Tatters). This ornament is also shown with petit point beads and a very generous supply of them were also in my swap package. Both of these ornaments were made with size 50 thread and that is the size Karey suggested using with the petit point beads. A very helpful hint from her was which different size beads to use for various size threads.

Aha! At last another sampler in a round robin to work on ..... well, really I received two samplers at the same time. Our little group of sampler embroiderers has gotten smaller as you can see the second person to stitch on this one had to drop out when life got in the way. This sampler is from Mandy (UK) and uses a varigated thread on a blue mottled linen fabric. The autumn tones of the thread in a Blackwork pattern just glow on the blue background. The second pattern is cross-stitch and threads to finish it along with the pattern were included when it came to me. I've been studying this sampler and shortly will begin working my addition. This is the first round robin sampler that Mandy and I have participated in and before I send it on to the next stitcher I'll come back and show you what I added.

This sampler is owned by Margaret, a Virginia stitcher .... the tulips are her's. Mandy (UK) added the Blackwork band next and also included some bugle beads. I will really have to think hard on what to add here so decided to do this one second. Hopefully by the time I've completed my portion of Mandy's sampler I'll know what I want to add here. Before I send it on I'll post my addition. Oh, my, decisions, decisions! But thats what a round robin does ..... challenges the next person and I find it most exciting! Stitching time here I come .....

Monday, August 04, 2008

Christmas in July

Yes, I know it is August already, but my HBT (Here-Be-Tatters) yahoo group had a Christmas in July swap. Everyone had to wait until July 31 for the grand opening day. My package arrived on July 31 so I didn't have to wait very long, as some did, before "the opening"! After much oohing and aahing I just had to show off all my special giftees. Sue, the list mom was my swap partner and all the way from London my box arrived. The top photo shows all my giftees except one and each of them were wrapped - not in paper, but in FABRIC and were "tied" with ribbon or braid ..... all of which will be used in my crazy quilting! How is that for a fantabulous gifting!!!!

This is a close-up of the most perfectly color matched pair of cloisonne earrings to go with a special outfit for church.

Several years ago I had knitted a skirt and sweater in one of my favorite colors but only had gold earrings to wear with it .... just could not find what I was looking for. And, now, from across the big pond came just exactly what I was looking for!

WOW! Can you imagine a tatter sending a Christmas quilted table runner as part of a swap? On several of the "packages" Sue had placed pink paper hearts with notes in purple (her favorite color) ink and the one on the runner was "Sorry, no I didn't make it - but a "Lucky Find"" Really lucky for me .... isn't it gorgeous!!!

One of the items I listed on my "wish" list was peppermint candy (I'm not too fond of chocolate ... oh, I hear the "NO CHOCOLATE" groans now, but chocolate doesn't like me ) and I have a whole package of peppermints that are the same as Life Savers in the US. Being a Virginian I love needlework that shows Southern Belles and in my package was the color photo and a cross-stitch chart for a Southern Belle. Can't wait to try the pattern as I also enjoy counted cross-stitch ..... well, really all types of embroidery .... I already have on hand all the supplies I need. Below the candy you will see several items ... a tiny glue pot and a spring-loaded "End Holder" for short tails when running out of thread. Both of these were totally unknown to me and greatly appreciated. There are several sizes of coiless safety pins - especially useful for pieces that begin with picots and beaded picots. I've only used the teeny tiny coiless pins for opening a ring that was closed too soon LOL There are also some green "bangle" rings for tatted snowflakes .... I'm already looking for the right patterns to use with them! Just to the right of the bangles is a picot gauge with some of Sue's delicate tatting attached so I don't loose the gauge. The last item in this group is a booklet of Christmas tree ornament tatting patterns written by Karey Solomon, a member of the HBT group.

I've already mentioned that purple is Sue's favorite color .... so here she sends me a purple shuttle (I was on the verge of ordering one for me as purple is also one of my favorite colors). There is a ball of Coats size 20 tatting thread that came in a purple draw-string nylon bag, some I love (heart) to tat stickers, tiny, delicate shaded green snowflake with teeny tiny beads, a bit of lace and a tatted heart also in green. The heart is Sue's design and she included the pattern! This heart has tiny beads in the outer picots and I had to look under my magnifying glass to see that there were 3 beads on each picot. I've never used beads that tiny. The heart also uses a technique that I am in the process of learning. When I make this pattern I'll have to use larger thread first before I try anything this small.

Here, you see my gorgeous earrings again! You can also see some of the fabrics and trims wrapped around my giftees. The grouping on the upper right was a jewelry box packed with baggies of sequins, mop buttons, beads of various sizes including several of the teeny, tiny ones like Sue used on my ornaments. There was also a butterfly button ..... another "like" that I mentioned on my "wish" list and a skein of Anchor floss. One of the neatest giftees was a leather Santa coin purse/key ring ..... AND inside the purse was a bright, new shiny "lucky penny" which was also wrapped. I feel so special with all these wonderful giftees!

Tatting is NOT a lost art ... it is a beautiful technique that is flourishing around the world with fantastic designers and although I'm not a designer I feel so blessed to count these special, beautiful people my friends!