Thursday, December 26, 2013

Down to the last few

 At this point in time, I've gotten as far as starting to write up the last 2 patterns that I intend to include. This morning I had a fleeting moment of starting to lose confidence that the last pattern, "Toccata Necklace" was any good, and briefly considered leaving it out. Then, I realized that the finished necklace was already included in the photo montage of projects on the inside front cover. So, it's staying in. I attribute the fleeting moment of feeling inadequate to "holiday overload".

Will keep plodding away on the book, which will be all tatted jewelry patterns, and hope to finish it in early 2014!

Monday, December 2, 2013

If you enjoy a challenge

 There will be challenging patterns in my new book, Marilee's Beaded Tatting Finery, which I hope to have finished and up for sale in January 2014. The photo above gives a sneak peek!

Something else I want to talk about today isn't tatting, but just as cool. It's a website that has challenging games that actually make you smarter and while you're having fun playing the games, you're also helping children in need, all for FREE: 

The screenshots below help to give an idea of how it works. There are a variety of subjects to choose from, including English vocabulary, World landmarks, Geography, Math, Language learning for 5 languages, Human anatomy, Famous paintings, Chemistry, and more. You don't need to be a geek, the questions start out on an easy level and go to more challenging levels if you get a lot of the easy ones right. Questions that you got wrong are shown with the correct answer so that you can get it right next time. Each time you get an answer right, 10 grains of rice are donated through the United Nations World Food Programme. The rice is paid for by the advertisers on the site.

My profile name there is my own name, Marilee Rockley. If you are on Free Rice please look me up and "follow" me to add me to your friends list there. The "Search for your friends" box is found on the page where you edit your profile.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Progress on the book: looking at January

 Since I still have 4 patterns to do, it looks like the book, which will be entitled "Marilee's Beaded Tatting Finery" should be finished in January 2014. Sorry to disappoint those who were planning to buy it as a gift for the holidays, but hey, now you know where to spend that cash someone presents you with :)

The blue necklace above will be one of the patterns in the book. I've decided to call that design "Fiesta". It's a little tricky, but people who've seen my other patterns know that I do my best to explain things. The medallion of the necklace is really crowded with beads and doesn't lay perfectly flat, even after blocking, but so many people have asked for the pattern, I've decided that when perfect is impossible, fabulous is acceptable. 

Last week I enjoyed demonstrating tatting at the Milwaukee Domes. That's me with my display in the photo below. I handed out loads of Greater Milwaukee Tatting Guild flyers as well as one-ring tatted butterflies. So, expecting a big turn-out at the next Guild meeting, which will be December 9. Gotta remember to bring name tags!

Marilee with tatted jewelry at the Domes

Monday, November 4, 2013

Progress on the book: in the zone

At this point in time I have completed the how-to review section and 7 patterns. Planning to add 7 more patterns, which should bring the book up to about 40 pages. I'm drawing diagrams for each, which is time-consuming, but should help make the designs easier to follow. Also including many in-progress photos such as the one above (it shows a self-closing mock ring in progress, with a bead being added to the center).

My tentative title for the book is "Marilee's Beaded Tatting Favorites", unless I think of something better.

All the patterns will be for tatted jewelry, including pendants, earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. None of these designs have been published before, although some of the finished items have been seen in my Etsy shop, such as the Boomerang earrings. They're all my own original designs. I'm not putting the current models for the book into my Etsy shop until I'm done photographing for the book. Also no new hand dyed thread until I'm done with the book. No anything until I'm done with the book...(except the essentials of daily life, of course). So, online, I'll be boring for at least another month :)

Still, there are a couple of public events coming up that I'll be participating in: 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Some ways of stringing beads onto thread for tatting projects

Some tatting projects call for beads to be strung onto the thread before starting to tat. There are various ways of getting the beads on, here are three methods that I use. 
To download a free PDF file of this tutorial, CLICK HERE.

Crochet hook:
Put the beads onto the shaft of a small steel crochet hook, and “hook” them onto the thread.
A crochet hook up to size 12/1.00mm can accommodate size 8° seed beads.
A crochet hook size 14/0.75mm usually works for size 11° seed beads.
For beads with very small holes, try a tiny size 15/0.5mm or 16/0.4mm crochet hook.  (Note: beads with very small holes might not fit on size 10 crochet cotton. Size 20 crochet cotton usually can accommodate most beads.)

Wide eye beading needle:

A wide eye beading needle has a flexible large eye that flattens as the beads pass over it. A plastic “floss threader” (a tool made for dental care) works in the same way. With any of these needles, insert the thread for your project through the wide eye, pick up the beads onto the shaft of the needle, and slide the beads onto the thread.


Standard needle and sewing thread:
A hand sewing or standard beading needle, in combination with a small piece of sewing thread, will also work to get beads onto your project thread. The needle has to be thin enough for the beads to pass over it. Thread the needle with the sewing thread, catch the project thread by passing the sewing thread around it, and thread the sewing thread through the needle again. Pick up the beads onto the shaft of the needle; slide them down the sewing thread, and onto the project thread. When all of the beads needed are strung onto the project thread, remove the needle and sewing thread.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Next round

Thanks to all who voted for my blog in the first round of the Craftsy blog awards, I'm happy to announce that my blog has made it into the next round of the Craftsy Blogger Awards in the Best Craftsy Instructor Blog category! 

So, to get entered to win a free Craftsy class of your choice, click on this link and scroll down a bit until you see the "Knitting - Best Craftsy Instructor's Blog" (yeah, I know, knitting...but it's okay :) and you'll recognize my blog's banner as one of the choices. Click on the "Vote" button under my blog's banner and provide your email address on the form. You'll be entered for a chance to win a free Craftsy class of your choice.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Progress on the book: the days fly by

The days fly by at an alarming rate of speed, but the book of my original beaded tatting patterns is coming along. So far I have the basic how-to section of the book done, 3 patterns fully completed, and 2 more partially completed. I expect to put a total of about 15 of my original designs into the book. This will probably make it a little thicker than my previous books.

Photo at left shows a bead being added to the project thread via a wide-eye beading needle and a bit of sewing thread. Occasionally that's a method needed for slipping a bead over a doubled size 10 thread. I prefer to just hook the beads on using a small crochet hook, but it doesn't always work with size 10. From my experience with both Czech beads and Swarovski crystal pearls, I've discovered that the Czech beads have slightly larger holes, so I'm going to use those when I can.

If I don't stay focused on the book, the rest of life may take over, and the book wouldn't get done for a long time. So, don't be concerned if my Etsy shop is sort of "left fallow" for a short while.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Progress on the book so far

It's going slowly, but now the tatting basics refresher section of the book is done, and I'm working on adding the patterns. The photo shown above is one that went "viral" on my Facebook Page, - it's not Ankars technique, but yes, the pattern will be in the book.

So now October is here, and for me that means no more royalties from my Tatted Jewelry book. My contract with the publisher provided royalties for 2 years, and it has been 2 years already. The publishers are very nice folks and did a lovely job on that book, but since I can actually make more money by self-publishing, that's why I plan on self-publishing this next book that I'm working on. It's because tatting is a niche market (aka underground movement, lol :) that a designer can make more money self-publishing, I'm sure that with more well-known crafts such as knitting or quilting, they are better off with a publisher.

By the way, I just read  Diane's article! It's a terrific review of the different types of tatting shuttles.

Well, I guess that is all I have to report for now, so I'll get back to work on the book.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Some progress in designing the new book - it broke the camera

So far I have 9 pages with something on them, for the next tatting pattern book that I'm writing.

But, I haven't even gotten to the patterns, yet! The 9 pages so far include the cover and basic tatting how-to review with many photos. It involved lots of demo time behind the tripod of my camera, taking many shots using self-timer and hoping that at least some of them would come out in focus! A less-than-stellar example is shown above.

Was nearly done with that demanding section of the book, too, when this morning my camera stopped working - oh no, not now. I can't do my work without a decent camera, so off to buy a new one. Fortunately the salesman on duty was actually a knowledgeable professional photographer and was able to show me the camera to exactly fit my needs and budget. I was all done camera shopping in less than half an hour.

The new camera has more megapixels and other fancy stuff that should take better photos than my old one did. But I'm NOT going to retake all those basic tatting how-to photos, no way...they'll just have to do. I expect to be able to take nice "glamor" shots of the projects with my new camera, though! Oh, by the way, the projects for the book will all be beaded tatting.

Friday, September 13, 2013

I feel a book coming on

Yes, I've got enough original designs started that I could do another pattern book. 

In the last few days I spent many hours choosing background color, thread colors, shuttle color, and lighting conditions for a series of "how-to" photos for that section of the book. Sample is photo at left. Not great, but it'll have to do. If I lose momentum with this big project, I'll lose interest and it won't get done at all.

Most likely self-publish, that way I can sell the digital file. But, I gotta admit that it was cool seeing my Tatted Jewelry book on the shelves at Hobby Lobby!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Greater Milwaukee Tatting Guild keeps growing

6 of the guild members
 It seems that this guild will keep growing, which is a good thing because not everyone can come to every meeting. A different bunch with each gathering, but it seems that everyone enjoys the tatting time together. I know I do!

The photos show just a glimpse of the lovely tatting items brought for show and tell. We had one brand new tatter getting her first lesson, and she caught on very quickly. She said that her experience doing macrame may have helped.

Somebody gave me the "sad puppy eyes" when I showed another new design in progress, because "you still haven't written up your boomerang pattern". Yeah, well...writing is work :) It's more fun to tat - especially with friends!
Gail's tatted notecards

Tatting Lace by T. Fujito

Shuttle from Tat's Heaven and Brooch from Jane Eborall

Sue Anna's snowflakes from Jon Yusoff's book, Tatted Snowflake Collection

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Primal Pods

 Inspired by jewelry styles of antiquity, I attempted to achieve tubular shapes in tatting for the main motif of this necklace. They seemed to resemble pods or seeds to me, and since I was aiming for a primitive look, the title of "Primal Pods" seems appropriate for this design.

The dangling long beads at the bottom are held in place with Loop Tatted Rings. 11Frivole has made a very good video to show how to do the Loop Tatted Ring.

The rest of the necklace used techniques such as a bead inside a ring, Josephine Chains, and I also encircled a ring around a chain. To tat a ring that encircles a previously tatted chain you need to plan for it by wrapping the thread around the chain twice before winding the shuttle. Similar to the way that I put a ring around a metal split ring jewelry finding before I discovered split ring pliers - and of course the pliers can't be used in this instance.

All in all, it seems that to make tatting look "primitive" some highly sophisticated techniques need to be used. But, I enjoyed the practice, and I'm pleased with how the design turned out. It's not a style that will appeal to everyone, but it's definitely unique.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Still designing a tatted feather and a "tribal" necklace in progress

It's not so much that a creative mind is disorganized, it's that the planet spins around too quickly. That's the reason I can't get more projects finished. The odd-looking mess of beads, paper clips, and hand dyed thread in the above photo is a new original design in progress, that will have a primitive, rustic, or tribal look when completed. Making tatting look "primitive" rather than the usual "Victorian" is hard! I'm using some tricky techniques such as Catherine Wheel Joins and Loop Tatted Rings to get my design to work, and I'll show you the completed necklace when I get it done.

I've done a little more on the feather idea as well, and I think I may have a workable picot-ed version. I do plan to write up the feather pattern at some point in the future, but I'm hoping that a third feather inspiration comes along first.

For those who mark their calendars well in advance, I'll be teaching a day-long workshop on beginning tatting at Shake Rag Alley on May 31, 2014. It's a pretty location with major tourist attractions nearby, and Shake Rag Alley sets their class fees to be quite reasonable, when compared to other workshop events. Other attractions in the area include House on the Rock, Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin, and Wisconsin Dells.

Besides hand dyeing a batch of Knitty Gritty, I also tried dyeing a small experimental batch of "Sumac". At first I planned to call it "Angry Martian" because I was "very angry, very angry indeed" at the time, but when it turned out so pretty, my mood improved and I changed the name to Sumac, which is a common shrub around here that has cheerful, bright colors in autumn.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tatted Feather Earrings

So far this is the best feather design that I could come up with using tatting. I've been thinking about feathers the last few weeks (can you say, "feather-brained" But, I like the feather-y effect of the folded rings, the beads down the center that accentuate the center rib, and the natural look of having one side slightly larger than the other. The picots at the base of the feather could be cut and frayed, for a downy look, but I chose to leave them uncut, thinking that with wear they would hold up better. What do you think?

Martha Ess has done a very nice tutorial on folded rings.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Greater MIlwaukee Tatting Guild, fun with friends

Me wearing tatted flower hair clip
 A nice relaxing time was spent at the Mayfair Mall food court, tatting, looking at pattern books, admiring tatted works, visiting with tatting friends, and meeting new friends!

Khomi brought visitors from India. They were very interested in how I add beads to tatting, so I gave some demonstrations. I explained that I learned most of the techniques of adding beads to tatting from the website of Jane Eborall!

My large red tatted flower hair clip and red tatted earrings called for a profile photo of me :)

Tatting by Sue Anna
Sue Anna brought more of her beautiful completed pieces to admire: a Spinning Wheel mat from the pattern by Mary Konior, a Rotation pendant in red, white, and blue, earrings from the Nouveau set pattern, and more. She also had another Spinning Wheel mat in progress, in hand dyed thread from the Sugar Maple batch.
Barbara G. brought more of her beautiful work, that we had seen at the Tollway Tatter's meeting the previous week - but I didn't get photos of it either time, aw, shucks!

Ana worked on a Wondrous Window pendant from my Up and Tat 'Em book.
Sue Anna's work in progress

Chocolate was available in plentiful supply, courtesy of Sue Anna :)