Monday, March 17, 2014

Miniature Entry: Other String

I'm in Madison, Wisconsin. This weekend was the local (enormous) guild's annual Knit-In, and they asked me to come up and do a bunch of fun stuff. On Friday I gave a talk. It was all very prim, as is my wont, but they made it sound dirty.


For the record, a night with me ends at about nine. Party down.

I leave for home in just a wee while but wanted to show a bit of progress with the tatting. When I remembered that dear, old Weldon's Practical Needlework had offered tatting numbers of course I had to pull them out and see if they were any good. Turns out they were.

Working in odd moments between furious, deadline-driven labor I've crept along to two-thread tatting (Some folks call it continuous tatting or tatting from the ball.) This is a Weldon's two-thread edging.


The thread (some old crochet cotton I had lying around) is really too coarse for the work and my tension is all over the place; but hey, I'm having a good time.

When I showed the first shots of my tatting I got a couple of comments–some quite concerned–that this must signal the end of my engagement with knitting. Really? Really? How? Why?

Are you afraid I'll be unable to resist the pull of the tatting market, and the legions of tatting enthusiasts who flock in their thousands to the glamorous international tatting circuit? Are you certain that within a year I'll have been put under contract to appear exclusively on one of the several tatting television series that ornament the airwaves?

This happens every time I mention a craft other than knitting.

So, to clarify.

If I write about a flirtation with crochet, tatting, weaving, embroidery, quilting, sewing, or any other fiber-y fabric-y gerund, it doesn't mean I'm jumping off the knitting ship. It means I'm looking to find out what else string can do for you. I find it refreshing. I find it inspiring. I don't believe in craft monogamy or textile purity. I'm all about seeing how techniques combine and complement.

I wrote a piece for Lion Brand Yarns about my desire to see knitting and crochet returned to their former unity. With John Mullarkey I've been mixing knitting and weaving in projects like our Ligeia Stole. And when a Madison student brought this in to show me, my heart skipped a beat:


She found it rolled up in her grandmother's sewing machine. On the right is a tatted chain. On the left is what the chain looks like when you complete the edging pattern with...crochet.

Mix it up. Mix. It. Up.


Kathleen said...

Multi-Craftual, a good way to be!

Pretty Knitty said...

When I started spinning, some of my friends (mostly non-yarnigans) wondered aloud whether this was the end of the knitting. Silly muggles! Can't wait to see where this journey leads you... :)

Anonymous said...

The one on the right looks like " hairpin" crochet; which can also be worked on something small and portable. I've worked it on a metal stitch holder.
marie stanley ; mym on Ravelry

Franklin said...

Marie, I see the resemblance to hairpin crochet; but there was another (unfinished) example of the right-hand chain with the shuttle still attached to it!

Not So Granny said...

Hurrah for other crafts - I love a good dabble, me. Tatting is on my to try list, it seems to have a huge affinity with crochet. I want to work out tatting snd cro-tat.
I think when knitting is your job you need other hobbies.

Liz said...

Yes. Going off and dabbling in another craft for a bit just strengthens my love for making things in all forms of thread and fabric...

Keep meaning to find a tatting needle - a visitor to I Knit brought some needle-tatting along and it looks fascinating...

sewmuchfun4 said...

You've come a long way in such a short while with your tatting! It's looking really nice and your picots are so even.

I love the idea of combining crafts. That edging is very pretty. I haven't gotten the hang of crochet yet though. I've combined tatting and embroidery together before on a play dress for my daughter and was very happy with the results. She wore it a lot and the tatting held up great.


Sue F. said...

If you want to consider combining tatting with beads you should check out the Beanile lace site, there is some gorgeous stuff there.

Gramma Phyl said...

When I tatted using #10 crochet cotton, I used the results on terry cloth towels in the bath. It improved the looks of plain bath towels. I've also made several patterns of Celtic knots and then stiffened them and used them as brooches.

RubyC said...

Combining crafts is a great concept. And it makes a great way to get away from the structure of work to enjoyment and yet bridges the whirl of both worlds. It is a great way to 'balance' life.

Suzann said...

Hey Hey Hey, are those snarky remarks about Tatting? We are a legion and our name is trouble. Remember Mr Habit, Lacemakers do it on pillows, Tatters do it everyplace. The IOLI is watching you :)
I have taught knitters to needle tat because they wanted to use tatting to edge sweaters. I knit now so I still have no idea what they were doing.

If when you do your joins you consider the join as the first half of the stitch and make the second half to complete. You will end up with a neater join. Have fun and try to forget there is no frogging once you close the ring :p

Emily said...

I love mixing up crafts.
I have added crocheted flowers to a quilted wall hanging, embroidered on all sorts of knitted items, etc. There are so many things you can do once you get out of the "purist" box. :)

Renee Anne said...

I am jealous that you're in Wisconsin. Madison Knitters' Guild was my knitters guild, I went to Knit In for at least three or four years...and now I live in California. Of course, you're going to be here in just 10 days, in my new 'hood....but I don't get to go because tickets are sold out, it's in Oakland, and I don't think my 3 year old would enjoy it (as much as he loves yarny fibery goodness). ::sigh::

Janis said...

Your edging looks wonderful -- and that is officially the stockinette stitch mitten of tatting. That one pattern will pretty much teach you everything you need to know about tatting. Hereunto I say unto ye: you have mastered the ur-pattern from which all other tatting patterns descend.

Very nicely even picots, BTW.

Now, I just want you to get into single-shuttle patterns once you get your shuttle-n-ball jollies out. :-) The simplicity and the fundamental nature of single-shuttle patterns is just so satisfying!

And I'm with you on the string-related ecumenism. I was taught how to crochet at the age of about 4-maybe-5, by a wonderful maiden aunt who made granny square blankets (one of which I still have). I learned to knit as a kid, but can't for the life of me remember how, when, or from whom. (I'm not quite as bad as that guy from "Memento," but I'm on that spectrum.)

An old roommate taught me to tat.

I was introduced to spinning by the sister-in-law of a woman I once knew.

Now, I do have my favorites (knitting and crochet), but I enjoy them all without reservation. To me, it's a depressing illustration of how ground into our human nature is the "us vs. them" bullshit and all the misery that descends from it when we can split into mutually hostile tribes based on which sticklike implement one uses to manipulate string. Come ON, people.

Janis said...

BTW, I look forward to the day when you discover puncetto. :-)

Patti said...

I flirted with tatting awhile back. I was going through a particularly stressful time, and found trying to learn a new craft took my mind off of the things I had no control over anyway. I'm anxious to get back at it.. it's actually rather addictive once you figure out the "flip"

Deborah said...

Apparently I don't believe in monogamy, either. Those pictures are making my heart go pitter-pat. Oh me, oh my. Don't tell my husband, but I think... I think I might have to get a tatting shuttle. And find my crochet hooks.

janetcc said...

dontcha just love the assumptions made from reading on the internet. Everyone (including me sometimes) fills in the blanks, assigns a tone, insults or gets insulted mostly from their own imaginings.

Anonymous said...

Love this entry, Franklin. I may have mentioned that I dabble in tatting - amongst all the other fiber arts I've tried - and I also love the blending of the different techniques. That combination tatting/crochet edging is fantastic. You go, guy! Take care - Joe-in Wyoming

Jacquie said...

I made tatted edgings for my wedding dress. Have often toyed but never actually made tatted inserts for knitted items - like in the v neck of a knitted vest. I must do it!

Rachelle said...

Starting a new yarn craft rarely means stopping the first love in yarn. I knit, spin, sew, crochet (a little) and have recently learned to weave. I want to learn to tat as well and Irish Crochet looks amazing! Am I going to stop sewing and knitting? No! said...

I think, Mr. Habit, that you are merely going back to the roots of household management. In previous eras, one would never be proficient in only one craft, but in many. One had to be - it was far too expensive to purchase what could be produced in spare moments. I salute your 'throwback' nature! :)

Cathryn said...

Great work on the tatting, Franklin! It's starting to look like the pictures in old needlework books now! I like to mix it up, craft-wise. I spin very occasionally, knit (mostly), crochet here and there, and even weave potholders now and then. In fact, I am finishing up a friend's baby blanket now. The blanket is all knitted, but the edging is crocheted.

Meg said...

Franklin, if people are concerned about you moving on to another art-form, it's only because they love you and look forward to hearing from you. And the draw of those tatting television shows must be strong.

Your first entry on tatting took me back to very happy memories of spending a whole day with my sister and our Nana. She and my Grammy were very accomplished tatters, and woudl work at their long chains of lace while visiting with my Mom in the kitchen as she prepared Sunday dinner. Both were also knitters and seamstresses, and my Grammy liked to crochet lace with a miniscule steel hook and fine cotton thread. Very often, on our days out together, Nana would take us to Woolworth's, where we could each choose a ball of dyed thread for her to tat into edgings for handkerchiefs for us. The colors! There were variegated cotton threads and multi-colored balls, too. I still have my glove box full of handkerchiefs with tatted edgings. Like your grandmother with her hats, I take them out and tend to them: wash them, re-fold them where they weren't folded before, make sure the tatted lace edgings are pressed flat. Very happy memories. Nana taught me to tat, although I never achieved her speed and sureness - I have to watch what I'm doing. Glad you enjoy it.

kathryn said...

I love seeing new people pick up shuttle tatting. I started tatting well before I started knitting. A nun taught me when I was in grade school (in the 1990s), and I picked it up again a few years ago to make lace necklaces.

If you're learning from older patterns, definitely check out the tatting forums for some of the new techniques to avoid multiple ends. After hiding ends in tatting, finishing any knitting project is a piece of cake!

Blue said...

Speaking of mixing it up...I've been knitting a lot of baby gear lately. Boring. But I remember back to when your niece was a baby and that you added some embroidery to the plain items. And now I can't find anywhere to teach me how to do that! Any tips on doing embroidery on knitting? Maybe it can be a new class and my LYS will hire you to teach it to em!

Jeanne said...

I think it makes sense that anyone with an affinity for string would want to learn every single kind of method by which that string can be manipulated. (This explains my bookshelves as well as my yarn/fabric closet.) IMHO, the 50 years I have left on this planet (God willing) are not nearly enough time to fulfill my exploration of said methods.

That said, I also think it makes sense if you want to do something with your string or fabric. When I stumbled onto weaving--make my own fabric? What?!? My world is complete--I discovered, to my distress, that there are many who can weave the most BEAUTIFUL cloth, but they ruin it when all they can make is a very poorly-sewn rectangle or triangle. They simply lack the sewing skills necessary to turn luscious fabric into an equally luscious garment (item).

This is why I'm glad I perfected my sewing and pattern-making skills long before I discovered weaving, and why I think an Intro to Weaving course at the college level at least should have a segment on how to sew. Why make gorgeous fabric if you can't sew it? Or don't know someone who can? It's sad to me.

Leigh Wheeler said...

Multi-craftual! I love it. It's a much better term than "Craft ADD" which is what I thought I had. Sewing, quilting, knitting, crochet, beads, beads on all of the above, and now weaving is calling. And each one is easier to learn than the last because of the knowledge of the material. Knowing only one thing is so limiting!

Anonymous said...

Go, Franklin! Tatting is so much fun. I'm glad you're adding it to your repertoire. Edgings are lovely, but where you have doilies, you don't have to DUST!

nosenabook said...

When I see tatting on this blog, I am all admiration. I worked at it until I mastered the knot. Turned out I didn't want to tat, I wanted to know how to tat. Three or four loops represent days of work at my speed! The mind boggles at the doilies my grandmother's friend made. That reminds me to ask where those went..

Janis said...

BTW Franklin, you will need multiple balls of cotton to complete one shuttle-and-ball project. If you load the shuttle from the ball, and then use the ball to start the project, what will happen is you will run out of thread on the shuttle and ... have to cut the ball off of the project to load it again. This will cause pain, angst, and cries to heaven when you will need ot hide two ends in the project instead of just one.

sewmuchfun4 said...

Actually, one shuttle loaded with some of the finer thread will get you pretty far on an edging. If you have a long LONG way to go and you really REALLY hate hiding ends, they do sell bohemoth shuttles which hold a TON of thread, but with those you sacrifice pretty and dexterity. But one thing at a time, right?


Diane in Chico said...

I wish I still had the pillow cases with tatted edging that my grandmother made for me.

Tatting has been on my bucket list for at least 20 years.

You go, boy. (I felt funny saying 'boy' but "You go, girl" didn't sound right.)

pcooper said...

For the love of string, I get it - multi-craftual, textile purity? a whole new vocabulary for me!

Sarah said...

Sorry Franklin, that last picture isn't tatting. It's hairpin lace crochet.

Weldons has a load of that too!

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Anonymous said...

I love the mix in techniques. In our local EGA we are working on a show piece quilt. When it is finished it will have cross stitching, applique, and traditional pieced blocks. Without the mixed medias the quilt would not have the level of dimension it does. No one craft could have produced it all.

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Anonymous said...

In perusing your blog after a long absence I was surprised to see tatting as well! Love your knitting and your sense of humor! I am also a craft-a-holic, mostly fiberish excursions with multiple needles, hooks, etc...beads and polymer clay as well. Your tatting is wonderful for someone who never touched a shuttle before! Was glad to see that someone mentioned the beanile lace tatting... here's the link: Her name is Nina Libin, a Russian lady who lives in NY and teaches selectively... I was priviledged to take a class from her in Washington state.. I needle tat, as a preference, as I'm very good at tying myself up with the thread when I try to use a shuttle. :-) You can also use only your fingers...I found that easier than the shuttle...Nina's Lace of Beads is amazing...she also has books of her lovely patterns, as well as a group on Yahoo, she used to sell kits also. Can you tell I'm a huge fan?! I love the thought of merging fiberisms as well! Thank you for reminding us there is more out there! :-) Cheers!

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