Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas book

It was a marvelous Christmas. Even though a health issue put an end to my tatting just before Thanksgiving I have not stopped thinking about tatting and now I think I am ready to start tatting again.

I received the most wonderful tatting book for Christmas, a reprint edition from Germany containing two foundational works by Tina Frauberger. Her Handbuch Der Schiffchenspitze (1917) and her II Band Des Handbuches Der Schiffchenspitze (1921).

I have wanted these books for a long time. Actually I wanted the first one and for a while thought the second one might just be a later printing of the first, but that is not the case.

Though I do not read German using Babel Fish I feel confident in referring to this reprint as containing volumes one and two of the Manual of Tatting. Schiffchenspitze translates as Boat Point which refers to the shape of the shuttle and to lace, thus tatting).

Volume one has two forwards, volume two has one. Volume one also has an introduction. After this both volumes have the following sections:

Geschichtliches is a history of tatting.
Das Werkzeug or The Tool (primarily about the shuttle and I believe a hook for joining).
Das Material obviously The Material which I believe mostly covering thread.
Die Arbeitsart (Technik) on technique (forming the knot, joins, etc) this includes a few simple patterns including some using the onion ring.
Meine Muster or My Samples contains the patterns.

Next volume one has a section called Weiterbidung un Verwendung (Further training and use) while volume two has a section called Verwendung der Arbeit (Use of the work).

Both Volumes end with a section titled Anhang: Das Waschen der Schiffchenspitze (Appendix: Washing the Tatting).

The main section of the book is the patterns (Meine Muster). I have not noticed any repeated patterns in the two volumes.

Both volumes have a few images that do not have patterns, but just a few. My copy came with a supplement (Nachtrag) giving the missing patterns at the beginning and towards the end of the first volume. I love the word for the diagrams Wortbild (word picture).

There are many examples of what I would call edgings, insertions and motifs, but there are also a several doilies or mats. Many of the patterns are built from earlier patterns.

An interesting historical suprise to me is that even though there are no patterns given there are illustrations of tatting with bead, this in 1917.

Overall I find the patterns to be brilliant and especially beautiful. I must put Tina Frauberger amongst the top of my list of designers. The symbols and method of presenting the patterns is very different from anything I have seen elsewhere, and in some ways perhaps a little more intuitive, from my perspective.

Dealing with an unfamiliar language and set of symbols, I had to deal with paragraphs indicating the use of an earlier pattern with additions or exceptions.

I am planning my first project which is square mat (doily) built on what the designer calls Kronen (Crowns).

A Tina Frauberger Crown

This is my first bit of tatting since before Thanksgiving and my first attempt at this motif. I think once I clean up that picot at the top of the onion ring I should have no trouble with the mat (doily).

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Happy Tatting.

Friday, November 9, 2007

An appoach to eBay

I have been spending more time thinking about tatting than actually tatting.

I am a full time parent (three boys with one still at home) and with the cold season started, science fairs and scouts I can go an entire day with out a free moment.

But I have been lucking in adding a few great instructional / pattern books to my collection recently.

I think like most crafts persons / artist I have a tendency to accumulate a nice supply of tools and references.

Recently I have started using eBay and have a few thoughts on that process.

I learned when accumulating a few of the made in England Aero Shuttles that my best approach was to determine the maximum I am willing to pay and if at all possible wait until there are only a couple of minutes left in the auction.

I also try to find items I want with enough lead time so I can do some research. As an example, one book I recently won was still available through Amazon market place, though not any other place at anything approaching a reasonable price, if at all. I took the Market Place price plus the standard postage and subtracted the eBay postage. This became my maximum bid.

I entered the bid with two minutes left in the auction. At that time the current bid was less than a third of my maximum bid. I saw three other attempts to out bid me occur before the auction ended. The final bid was still below the Market Place price. And even a three dollar savings will buy a ball of thread or a couple of crochet hooks.

So in this case eBay automatically increases my bid until the maximum is reached.

My latest win, so to speak, is probably the most telling about doing your research.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a crafts fair at a local church and saw some really wonderful crochet. There was one piece I really loved but my wife and I both thought this is what I make and we really do not have a lot of room for displaying large doilies.

I found a pattern book on eBay that reminded of the elements that I liked in that doily so I decided I had to have it.

Now here is where research pays off. The book is out of print and not available through any of the second hand sources I can find. But I did find that someone was selling the same book with just a "buy now" price on eBay. This should have been straight forward except that one seller used the subtitle and the other used the actual title.

The "buy now" seller’s end time was later than the auction seller’s end time so I added the buy now price to the postage and subtracted the auction seller’s postage. This gave me my maximum bid.

The auction ended early evening and I arrived home from picking up my sons mid afternoon. I checked the biding as soon as I could and saw that the bidding had already exceeded my maximum so I immediately purchased the copy with the buy now price.

I do not know how much I would have bid had the other copy not been available and I do think that the winning bid plus postage was not an unreasonable amount.

I do not know who I feel for most: The person who paid 61% more than I did or the person whose lost the bidding. There were only two bidders and at least one watcher.

Looking at the bidding the winner used a maximum bid entry. You can tell since the winning bid was placed earlier that the challengers’ bids.

The challenger quit two hours before the auction ended, so they also had a maximum bid in mind.

Well now you know how I approach eBay, I hope it helps you, except of course against me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Shuttling my projects

I have taken a hiatus from my onion ring projects. I am starting on a series of exercises that I hope will improve my tatting. For various reasons I should not discuss the various patterns and techniques publicly, so I will be even more limited on my thoughts here.

One strange turn of fate is that my first exercise uses size 10 thread. I used size 10 thread when I first tried tatting but almost everything thing after the first couple of edgings has been done in size 20 until my recent work on the onion rings.

The thing I did today was load my first shuttle. I am going to use the Jan Stawasz’s shuttles for this project. I have emptied the sapphire and the gold shuttles with the onion ring project and a few experiments, so today I loaded the pale yellow one.

The one thing I have learned using the Stawasz Shuttles is the importance of the stiffness of the material. The Plexiglas is fairly flexible so as I reduced the amount of thread in the shuttles the tips came closer together.

In loading the pale yellow shuttle I endeavored to not allow the thread to come in contact with the blades. This produced a very round profile to the winding. Now, once I load the other shuttle I am off to a new tatting adventure.

I still intend to return to the onion rings and a few other things as time goes by.

I am still not totally pleased with how this motif looks so I am thinking about it while I do other things.

I still think it is a very nice motif.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Still frying onion rings

I knew when I decided to take the plunge and start a BLOG that I would have little time to dedicate to writing. I just thought I would have a little more time than I actually have had.

I have been fighting onion rings. I decided that the size 30 project I mentioned before should actually be a size 10 project and instead of the GR-8 shuttles I am using a couple of shuttles made by Jan Stawasz in Poland. They are a little open for my taste but given the trouble Aero style shuttles have given me I am used to not being able to rely on the shuttle staying where I put it. A couple of my German Aero shuttles will unroll to the floor if I let them go.

Jan’s shuttles feel great and look pretty good also. They are also larger than all but the Tatsy shuttles in my collection.
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The size 10 project consists of six joined onion rings connected by chains.

I am having difficulty getting the area between the chains and the onion rings looking and acting like I want them to look. I was able to incorporate some advice I received on the eTatters forum but they are still too floppy for my taste. Not to mention a slight tendency to twist.

I have decided to keep at my two projects, both with onion rings, while I begin a learning journey that I think will really help me with my tatting. But more on that at a later date.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hanging by a thin thread

The struggle with the size 80 thread continues. Or at least I think it is the size 80 thread. I did make a small cross from Patti Duff’s Minitats. Having actually started tatting again is wonderful, but I feel so much the beginner. Bare threads, gaps at the bases of rings, but mostly it is just surprising how many different shapes and sizes a 4-4 ring can be.

I know part of this is the thinner thread but I must also contend with the loss of much of what was once second nature and now almost forgotten. I have started another cross, a very different pattern and though I find I am finally getting control of the thread I am making so many of the mistakes I made as a beginner; wait I only tatted for six months back then. To be honest I have probably started this cross a dozen times.

Even tonight I almost finished the first onion ring when I realized that I had skipped one little element; a picot. Oh well, though I am going through a lot of thread and not producing much, I am starting to get my technique back under control and I am starting to think about those little things one just knows to do when starting and working up a pattern.

I did buy another ball of the thread I am using ($1.07 before taxes with the 40% discount). When I finish all the practice pieces I need to do to feel up to starting the small doily I want to do, I will still have enough thread.

I thought about starting a second project using size 30 just to have something a little easier to work with, but I really do think that I am getting enough control of the size 80 that most of my errors are from a lack of practice and not the lack of experience with the thin thread. I do want to try out my new shuttles though.

My wife gave me two GR-8 tatting shuttles for our anniversary, but I will get the size 80 under control before I start the size 30 project. The size 30 project is one I have wanted to do for over a year now, as are most of my desires, but this one is nice since it consist of one small motif. Each repetition of the motif is joined during construction to the previous work until a doily, centerpiece, table runner, or table cloth is made. So this can become one of those projects that one just works on between projects. Unfortunately I am already starting to visualize an edging to go around a large doily made from this motif, and that adds a whole new element to the project. But this is part of the fun of any craft; the want to do more. I think.

Well I will have to take a break from tatting for a couple of days. I need to get the patches on my six-year-old son’s Scout uniform. I also have to make sure I am ready for school to start next Monday. I have no clue what to send for lunches this year.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A short introduction and history

I am a bit apprehensive about starting a BLOG. I have a bad tendency to say more than I know I should about myself and this is a very public forum. I think I can avoid over exposure by trying to stick to my life as it involves tatting.

Of course everything else I do effects my tatting so at some point I will be bringing up other aspects of my life and other avocations.

I began tatting in November of 2005 and ended the majority of my experience in May of 2006. It is easy to see that I have a little over half a year of experience which ended over year and a quarter ago.

What is not apparent is that I have spent that year and quarter thinking about tatting and studying the craft. This in itself is both satisfying and highly frustrating. Though I have done a few small things every once in a while, they have all been in support of some theoretical or technical study I have been thinking about.

I do think after more than half a century of life that the practice of visualizing tatting and various techniques has improved both my ability to visualize and my memory.

I also enjoy chess and I am trying to learn Go (Wei-ch'i, Baduk), but with three kids and a two houses to care for I do not have time to engage an adults in games. We just moved from the home where our children were born into a house belonging to my brother-in-law. This should allow us to clean and fix up the other home so we can sell it. Unfortunately this does take a lot of time.

My two older kids will start school in a week so at that time I should be able to start in earnest cleaning the old house but as with everything else this leaves little time to tat.

I am hoping in this BLOG to be able to start passing on some of my ideas on tatting. I had a great mentor and have been lucky to study the books of several great teachers. The problem that will probably become apparent is that even though I think I have arrived at some good approaches to tatting I have lost the dexterity I developed in the first six months.

I have had some little success and I hope to pass on my thoughts in these entries. I have in particular spent a lot of time determining a path through a particular Mary Konior (one of my favorite designers) doily. With weeks of thought I have discovered a path that will allow me to go from start to finish with out having to cut and tie. This is particularly exciting since the main part of the doily consist of 16 motifs that are each tatted, with a cut and tie method.

The one thing that visualization finally made me realize is that certain approaches to split chains and split rings may not (actually probably will not) produce a smooth curve in which case using magic thread techniques with cut and tie tatting may actually produce a nicer looking doily than “uncut mobility.”

Well the first problem is finding time to actually tat the doilies. The second problem is that I have become obsessed with another aspect of tatting and in this case my lack of tatting practice has really limited my ability to tat properly. Plus there is another challenge with this obsession, but that will be the subject of a later entry.

Thank you for reading this, and just so you can have a little more enticement here is the motif from the Mary Konior doily.

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