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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Revisiting a design

I keep several design binders where I store pieces of finished tatting as well as hand drawn diagrams for each pattern I make. Sometimes I leaf through the pages, looking for a small gift to put into a card, or to get inspiration for new creations.

Most of the designs are finished and have either been placed on my blog or in my Etsy shop, but once in a while I store something that I intend to work on later. While looking through last year's binder, I kept seeing a snowflake that I started in July. I set it aside because I didn't like the way it looked, but over time I started to think..."Oh, that's not so bad."

I had written a note to myself to make a few of the chains longer to increase the negative space, so a couple of weeks ago, that's what I did:

The snowflake on the left was tatted in July of last year, while the one on the right was tatted just recently. In the end, I think I'll go with a happy medium, and use a chain length right in between the two tatted samples above.

I had also wanted to invert the clovers in the middle of the snowflake, to create a design that could be completed in one round. I just finished that up a few days ago, and as you can see it creates a much different visual effect when compared to the first design. The new snowflake is in the upper right corner of the following photo:

As usual, I have been distracted away from old projects and have found myself drawing and tatting snowflakes again! I feel like I'm more inclined to make snowflakes when the weather is nice. Perhaps that's because I get sick of all of the cold and snow in the winter, and I don't want to tat things that remind me of it.

I'm working on a few designs that I drew with the Amaziograph app (this is my first real test of the program), and I hope to share some photos in the next few weeks.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Drawing Symmetrical Chains

Today's post will be about how to draw a symmetrical arc, which can be used to represent chains in tatting diagrams. This is something that has come up in the online Inkscape discussions, and a few members were trying to find solutions to the problem. I found something that works pretty well, and I will share it below.

To begin, open Inkscape and select the Pencil tool. You will need to draw either a horizontal or a vertical line. (Due to limitations in the software, this method will NOT work with diagonal lines. However, after you have made your symmetrical arc, you can always rotate it into the correct position later on).

To draw a horizontal line, use the Pencil tool to click a point on the screen, then hold the CTRL key and click on another point to the right of your original location. The CTRL key will help keep the line in a horizontal position (or a vertical position, if you are drawing a vertical line).

Next, we need to switch to the Node tool (F2) to add a central node to the line. With the node tool, click on your line, and then click on the icon at the top of the screen to "Insert new nodes into selected segments":

This will place a new node in the middle of your line:

Make sure the central node is still selected before proceeding to the next step (the node will be blue when selected). Now, click on the icon at the top of the screen to "Make selected nodes symmetric":

This will change the appearance of the node from a diamond to a square. You should also notice a few small circular icons on either side of the node. These are called node handles:

If you do not see the node handles, please make sure that "Show Bezier handles of selected nodes" is turned on. This icon appears at the top of the screen when the node tool is selected. It looks like this:

To turn the line into an arc, we are going to select and drag the central node while holding the CTRL key on the keyboard. Make sure that the central node is the only node selected for this part (otherwise you will be moving the entire line):

Now it's time to edit the fullness of the arc. For this step, you will be clicking and dragging a node handle while holding CTRL on the keyboard. Remember that the node handles are the small circular icons on either side of the node.

You only have to choose one node handle to drag. The other node handle will automatically adjust along with it (this is what is meant by a "symmetrical node").

In the example below, I've dragged the right node handle to make the arc more full:

This is what the completed symmetrical arc looks like:

I can see this method being useful for creating bookmark or cross diagrams. If you can find a vertically or horizontally positioned chain within a doily diagram, this method can also be used there. Subsequent chains can be copy/pasted from the first chain and rotated and placed as needed.

Here is an example of a simple edging diagram containing symmetrical chains:

Only the first ring, chain, and picot set were drawn. I then grouped the first set, duplicated it, and moved each repeat into position using the arrow keys.

If you have questions about anything contained in this post, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Drawing Teardrop Shaped Rings: Alternative Method

On Wednesdays, a few members of the Online Tatting Class have been meeting to discuss using Inkscape to create tatting diagrams. I've been attending the early sessions, which are at 3 PM Eastern Standard Time.

During the first class, one of the members named Pixie shared an alternative method of creating teardrop shaped rings. I had previously used a different method, which can be found by clicking here.

This alternative method involves drawing an oval with the Circle tool, changing the oval into a Path, and then making the topmost node corner (which creates a pointed end). I've incorporated another step, which is to add a Spiro path effect to the ring, to smoothen out the curves.

Here is a step by step tutorial.

After opening Inkscape, you will need to draw an oval using the circle tool:

This oval needs to be changed to a Path, so that we can get editable nodes. To change it to a Path, select the oval and go to Path -> Object to Path on the main menu:

Once the oval has been changed into a Path, it should have four little square icons (called "nodes") around the perimeter. These will be visible only after the node tool (F2) is selected.

Select the Node tool, which is right underneath the cursor icon on the left side of the screen. Then, click on the topmost node of your oval, or whichever node you would like to make pointy (it will turn blue after it has been selected). Next, click on the icon at the top of the screen to "Make selected nodes corner". You will need to click on this icon twice to get a nice sharp point:

This is what the oval looks like afterwards. You can see the teardrop shape beginning to form:

We can smooth out the edges of the ring by adding a Path effect called "Spiro Spline". To do this, select your ring and go to Path -> Path effects on the main menu.

This will open up a new window on the right side of the screen. Click on the "+" icon to add a new effect:

After clicking the "+" icon, a pop up window will appear in the middle of the screen. Scroll down and select "Spiro spline" then click "Add":

This will smooth out the edges of the ring to make a nice teardrop shape:

If you want to reshape the ring, you can do so by using the resize arrows, which appear when the ring is selected with the Cursor tool (F1). The height and width can be adjusted pretty freely, and you don't have to worry about holding the CTRL key while resizing. Click here to read more about resizing shapes in Inkscape.

You can also adjust the shape of the ring by moving nodes with the node tool, but I don't think it's necessary in this case. However, if you would like to see a more detailed explanation of that please leave a comment down below and I will create a separate post with pictures.

After you have a shape that you like, remember to save it to a template file for future use. Copy/pasting images from a template file saves a lot of time when creating new diagrams.

In my next post I'll talk about how to draw symmetrical chains. The question popped up in our online Inkscape discussion a few weeks ago, and I've finally found a solution. I just need to take screenshots and compile a post.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

White square

I've been a bit busy lately, so I don't have too much tatting to show. I made this white square yesterday, in the hopes of using it as a base for a cube shaped box. It is tatted in DMC Cordonnet Special, size 40 white.

This is the same square as I'm using in the black box, except that it has a few extra thrown rings for stabilization. The tatting is much more dense this way, but I'm hoping it will help to give structure to the base and walls.

I'm also thinking that it would be nice to put a little flower with leaves on the top when it is all done. That is another thing I will have to figure out how to design.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Stiffening beaded tatting

This is a continuation of my previous post, in which I tested out different methods of stiffening tatting. I received a comment asking if anyone had tried fully submerging a piece of beaded tatting into a stiffener, and how that would turn out. Luckily, I had a few tatting scraps to test this on: one with beads and one with a metal filigree finding.

I decided to use Mod Podge Stiffy because it is my favorite of the fabric stiffeners that I tried. I poured the stiffener into a plastic cup and submerged the tatting in it for a few minutes. Afterwards, I took the tatting out and blotted it really well with a paper towel. I made sure to remove any excess stiffener that had gotten onto the finding and beads. I let the tatting dry overnight on a paper plate wrapped in plastic wrap.

Here are the results. The heart had a lot more substance to it, so it turned out a little stiffer than the small beaded sample.

I didn't notice any stiffener stuck to the metal filigree finding. Even though the tatting was blotted really well, it still maintained the same level of stiffness as my previous tatted samples using Mod Podge Stiffy. I guess the stiffener really soaked into the fibers.

Here's another picture of the back of the filigree finding. I think the color abnormalities are just part of the finding, and not the fabric stiffener:

I tested the stiffener on a small beaded sample as well. If anything, maybe the beads became a little duller after the process? It's hard to tell as I forgot to take a picture of the tatting before it was stiffened.

Again, there is no residue left on the beads and the tatting is fairly stiff. This one didn't have as much substance so it's not quite as stiff as the tatted heart.

Overall, I'd say this product works really well and as long as you are careful to blot out the excess stiffener, it shouldn't interfere with beaded tatting. However, I would suggest running a test before using it on something you like, just to be sure!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Testing out Fabric Stiffeners

I managed to find a few different products to test out as stiffeners. That giant pile of tatting in the front contains my scraps from designs gone wrong...I guess that's what happens when you create patterns for a few years. All of those scraps definitely came in handy for this experiment though!

When testing out the stiffeners, I tried to choose light and dark colors, as well as one larger piece of tatting. The stiffening mixtures were prepared in plastic cups or bowls, and I let the tatting soak for a few minutes before removing it and blotting with a paper towel. I then set the tatting to dry overnight on a paper plate that had been covered in plastic wrap.

All in all, the stiffeners were much more similar to each other than I had expected. I really thought that some of these would turn out badly, but they all ended up being viable methods for stiffening tatting.

The first one I tried was Elmer's glue mixed with water. Instructions online say to mix about half glue and half water.

Update: I received a message informing me that there is also a product called Elmer's Glue-All, which is different than the school glue. I might go back and run another test with Glue-All to see how well it works for stiffening.

On my first attempt, I put way too much water in the mixture and not enough glue. The stiffened tatting really wasn't stiff at all. It was almost as if I had blocked it with plain water. So, I tried again, making sure to put much less water and much more glue. It helped a lot, but the glue + water mixture is still the least stiff of all of the options that I tried. Here's a photo of the stiffened tatting:

I didn't notice any whitening of the tatting, even when using this on black thread. Maybe a little duller than untreated tatting, but you'd have to really stare at it to notice.

The next stiffener I tried was Mod Podge mixed with water. I chose the "matte" finish because I didn't think that glossy would work well. I didn't find any recommendations for Mod Podge, but I'm familiar with using it to seal finished puzzles and I really like the product.

The Mod Podge was much easier to mix with water than the Elmer's glue. However, like the Elmer's glue, I underestimated the amount of Mod Podge and had to go back for a second trial to increase the proportion. The resulting tatting turned out fairly stiff, and the color remained mostly unchanged. There is a very slight dulling of the black thread that is really difficult to see.

Overall, this turned out pretty well, and I might even be able to use Mod Podge by itself, without mixing any water in (though I haven't tested this yet).

The third stiffener I tried was Mod Podge Stiffy, a fabric stiffener. This ended up being my favorite of the group.

The mixture is already made for you, so you don't have to add water. However, you can add water if you'd like to dilute it. This stuff really works and the tatting was very stiff after drying. Perfect for a tatted box.

The one mistake I made with the fabric stiffener is that I didn't blot it out enough afterwards. It started to pool a little bit and left residue on the finished tatting. I tried it a second time and made sure to blot the tatting really well. This worked for me, and I didn't see any residue after it dried. The black thread is a tiny bit dull, but again, it's hard to see unless you compare it with untreated black thread and look very closely.

The last stiffener I tried was corn starch mixed with water. I followed a recipe found on this website (click here).

With this recipe, the tatting didn't turn out as stiff as I would have liked, but it would still work well on snowflakes and other tatting. (I just want mine really stiff because I'm making a box).

I tried making a new corn starch mixture with a lot less water, but it ended up turning into a gelatin. I still used the gelatin to stiffen the tatting, and it was near impossible to blot out. It also dulled the color, as you can see in this photo.

This was initially the same shade of pink, which turned much lighter with corn starch (left) and retained its original color with Mod Podge Stiffy (right).

I think I'll save these tatted samples in ziplock bags so I can get an idea of how the stiffeners hold up over time. I'm wondering if any of them will start to yellow or make the colors of the thread fade.

For my tatted box, I've decided to use Mod Podge Stiffy, and I've already bought a styrofoam block to use as a form. I just have to cut the block to make it the right size and then find the time to stiffen the tatting, probably this weekend. After that, maybe I can start designing a lid?

Update: Click here to read a post about stiffening beaded tatting

Friday, March 3, 2017


I haven't had the chance to go to the store to buy any stiffening products for my tatted box yet. Maybe I'll have some time this weekend to test out some glues and other stiffeners on my tatting scraps. I've got a box full of scraps so I have plenty to work with.

I did manage to finish some other experimental tatting, similar to the "Braids" found in Mary Konior's books. I've always wondered how she designed these patterns and wanted to try it out myself to see if I could understand how it was done. These are pretty basic and were put together last night as a test:

They are my own little designs and I've tried to emulate Mary Konior's style. I'd like to experiment more to see what other things I can come up with. I also noticed that Mary Konior uses ring formations to make tatted squares and hexagons. I think that would be worthwhile to look at as well.

In other news, Billy turned 10 on Tuesday (February 28). That's about 80 in human years! Here he is with a cupcake. We don't allow him to eat them but luckily he had no interest in it anyways :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Box and Bookmark

I finished the first stage of the tatted box from last week, and it will definitely need to be stiffened. Thank you for all of the suggestions on stiffening in the comments of my previous post. I'm going to look through them in more detail and see what products I can find at the store.

The box is difficult to photograph, so I put a few shuttles in it to help see the dimensions. These are old German Silver tatting shuttles that I bought on eBay a while ago:

Here's another view from the side. Although the walls stay upright, they are wavy. If the box is picked up by one of the sides, it will collapse because it has no rigidity.

The next step will be blocking and then stiffening the box. I want to try using card stock to create a box form, to block and stiffen the tatting on. I'm hoping that wrapping the card stock in plastic wrap will prevent it from getting wet. If that doesn't work I'll have to find a small Tupperware or something at The Container Store that I can use as a mold for the tatting. If that goes smoothly, then maybe I can design a lid for the box as well.

I also had the chance to test out criss-crossed picots in the bookmark from a few posts back. I ended up scrapping the idea because the crossed picots don't add anything of value to the bookmark design. I think they would work better in a pattern with larger open spaces.

Anyhow, the pattern for the bookmark and variation has been added to my Etsy shop. Here's a photo of the two bookmarks together and a link for the listing.

Two Bookmarks pattern Click Here

Friday, February 17, 2017

An Experiment

I wonder how it will look if I attach these two repeatable squares together to make a small box. The smaller squares would go around the larger square, so I'd need eight of them.

I've never done any three dimensional tatting before, so this will be an experiment for me. It will give me the chance to see how well (or poorly) tatting holds its shape on its own. I'm sure I will need some kind of stiffener for the finished box. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to stiffen tatting?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Pattern for Dillmont inspired bookmark

I received a comment on a previous blog post, asking if I had a pattern for this bookmark.

Coincidentally, I've been working on writing a pattern for this, but haven't gotten around to proofreading or testing it yet. However, I do have some diagrams ready.

It's a simple concept, but does rely on the use of split rings to travel from one triangle to the next. The pattern is based on Figure 23 (Triangular motifs) from Therese de Dillmont's DMC Library: Tatting, which was published in 1880. I think it was Kathy Niklewicz who directed me to her and Sue's experiments with this pattern.

I changed the stitch counts to be able to more easily go from one triangle to another. It starts as a simple "braid" which works well in size 20 thread:

Here is the accompanying diagram for the braid. Red indicates rings made with Shuttle 1 while blue indicates rings made with Shuttle 2. Rings with a line down the middle are split rings. All triangles have the same stitch count:

If you turn the corner and go down the other side, you can make it into a bookmark. This works better in smaller threads. The bookmark I made is done in size 80 but it would probably also work in size 40 thread. In size 80 it measures 1.6 inches wide and can be made however long you want:

Here is the accompanying diagram for the bookmark:

Following the same concept as the bookmark, you can zigzag back and forth to make a mat. I wanted to make my mat symmetrical on the left and right side, so I had to follow a more creative path to do so in one pass. Here is a photo of the mat:

And a diagram showing the order of operations for a symmetrical mat (please refer to the bookmark or braid diagrams above for stitch counts).

If you understand the flow of this somewhat complicated diagram, you can extend the mat to any length or width that you want. You can also just zig zag back and forth if you don't mind a mat that is asymmetrical.

Organizing the triangles in a different way will make a hexagon, which can be used as a coaster:

Here is the accompanying diagram for the hexagon. Like the diagram for the mat, it shows the path of completion, but does not have any stitch counts. Please refer to the diagram for the bookmark or braid for stitch counts, as they are the same in all triangles.

If the numbers aren't big enough in any of the diagrams, you can right click on the images and open them in a new tab.

I'm still working on a PDF file with all of these patterns and will post a link here when it is done.