Thursday, December 2, 2010

A manly Craftsman

Not so much back to tatting (I wish) but still lace / needlecraft related.

I had a Beds class with Hilary Davies here in Austin Saturday and Sunday November 20 and 21, 2010.

I had to move my current project to an old pillow I both loathe and have great memories of. Styrofoam breaks down and makes a nasty squeaking noise when the pins go in. I want to go back to this project so I needed to spangle some bobbins. I needed 30 to 40 pairs for the workshop (yes that’s 60 to 80 bobbins). So I had to spangle 14 pairs beyond what I had readily available.

I started my lace making supplies with six dozen Lacis bobbins. I then added a dozen from Holly (like SMP) and then for my last anniversary (August 21) I received 100 Middlands and 100 Honitons acquired from SMP. Tonight I spangled the last Middland bobbin in my collection of 184 Middlands. And just when I was starting to really enjoy spangling.

What I really am dwelling on though is how little the people I know understand what it is I do. Someday I need to do a demonstration at my younger son's elementary school.

I spend a lot of time on a playground waiting for after school programs to end or the older child’s school to let out (5 minutes away). So I am part of the picnic table crowd, most of whom, including myself, are active on the PTA board. I am the music liaison, mainly I type things for the music teacher and update her website.

So I am talking about spangling and a woman asks me. “What is a bobbin?” So I explain bobbins and bobbin lace. I also explain that I do not want to be caught again with too few bobbins for a workshop. So I explained that I needed 30 to 40 pairs for the workshop, to which a person who I have talked to before about bobbin lace exclaims “For the group or just yourself?”

When I said for myself she got this shocked look on her face and said “I had no idea.”

Ok fine we expect this, but being a male lace maker I did not expect the next day to get into one of those one-ups-man-ship macho conversations about needlework.

This is another father of a first grader; mine are first fourth and eighth. The first time I noticed this man the school was in lockdown and I was staring out the window at a man I did not recognize sitting on top of one of the play structures.

We have talked a few times so when I saw him on the top of the slide I said “you really like being elevated” forgetting that he is a rock climber.

He is originally from Essex so listening to his accent I thought of Hilary and told him about my workshop. He then started asking me about bobbin lace. But his questions were not like others’. He was focusing in on the needlecraft distinctions; stitches, loops, knots, weaving. I had to ask

“What needlework do you do?” and that’s when the manliness took over.
“Counted or printed”

Turned out he does these copies of masterwork painting using single and double strands so of course I had to mention my experience with mixed colors, half-stitches, 22 count Aida.

So now for my challenge:
“I was one of those that put the knot on the front and stitches over the thread underneath so there are no knots in my work.”

‘Yeah, people look at my back and say, it looks like the front. But why shouldn’t it?”

“Yes, I took a needlepoint in to be blocked and the woman turned it over and asked if I had made it." She then said "Men are always so much neater on the back.”

“That’s because we get more into the technical aspects of the craft.”

Just before his son asked if they could finally leave we went on. He asked if I know what goes on with needles. He used gold plated tapestry needles, very small ones.

“I end up squeezing the eye pushing it through and eventually the eye distorts and then breaks.”

“I have not had that problem but mine always develop a curve to them”

“Yes from squeezing as you pull them out.”

We then discussed our methods of needle disposal; tape, card, etc. Don't want the wife rummaging through the garbage and getting stuck now do we.

It was a nice conversation, but it was strange realizing afterward that I had just gone through traditional male bonding over the topic of cross stitch. Cool.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Back to the past

I originally meant this blog to reflect my activities and thoughts on tatting and thus the recent lack of any activity.

I still want to tat but my life has been quite hectic so art, crafts and music have not had their rightful place in my life. Unfortunately I am finding that my mental health is taking a turn for the worse because of this.

I am still taking a lace class but if it were not for the actual class times I would not be doing any lace at all. There is a workshop on Beds in November and since I have been working on Beds for a while I plan on attending. Wow almost six hours a day for two days; should be fun.

There was something that happened today that I want to tell people about, but before I get to that a little background or rambling, depending on how you look at it.

In order to try and put some life back into my existence I have decided to take up the traverso again. I have started to playing-in some of my one-key transverse flutes and have been more or less happy with my progress.

I am over halfway playing in my Verhoeven Beaulieu bore in Blackwood with no rings, pitched at A=392 hz; a gorgeous instrument both in appearance and sound ( look for number 89). The bore is based on a French flute circa 1720. It has a small embouchure hole and this took some getting used to. At first I was very concerned about intonation and unevenness, but it was me not the flute.

When I first took of the “baroque flute” back in FEbruary of 1981 I was mainly a recorder player and had played baritone in High School. I had wanted a “baroque flute” for a while mainly because of a recording I fell in love with: Michel de La Barre, Pieces Pour La Flute Traversiere, 1710.

Stephen Preston used a copy of a Hotteterre flute. It was the most amazing sound I had ever heard. It is a great recording and I still get a little annoyed at myself for taking so long to figure out just who Jordi Savall, Blandine Verlet and Hopkinson Smith were, a few year actually.

But in 1984 Amster Music and Art shop, sold me a Moeck one-key in Blackwood and ivory. It was funny; the main saleman knew me and knew I might buy the flute. When he saw that I had seen the flute he almost knocked one of the other employees down getting to me. I seem to remember the flute costing about $500 back then and it being the largest check I had ever written. I was so nervous I had to get on my knees and my writing was a bit more than a little shaky.

I still like this flute and now that my Verhoeven is in its third week of breaking in (30 minutes a day) and my CF (later) is still in its second week (10 minutes, twice a day) I started playing-in the Moeck today.

Now the Moeck is a copy of a F.G. Kirst (1750 – 1806) so though alright for Quantz, CPE Bach and the like, it certainly never satisfied my desire for the sound Preston produces on the Hotteterre copy.

After two weeks I am getting control over the Beaulieu bore and when I play La Barre I can actually hear the sound I have been after, even if I am still horribly out of practice.

So here I will leave off for now and get ready for bed. When I can’t sleep, all too often, I sit in a recliner and listen to my mp3 player. It was mainly Blavet and Quantz, but the last couple of days it has been Locatelli. I appear to be addicted to the flute again. I hope this is a good thing at this time in my life. It does make me feel good, I am even exercising (a little).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Feeling Punchy

I remember once on the original eTatters having a bunch (ok three or four) people taking issue with me knowing how many double knots were in the project I was working on. There were also some people that thought it was a good idea, especially if you are a teacher or a seller.

In Mary Konior’s Network I came up with something like 7614 double stitches. Of course all the rings have the same number of stitches and all the chains are the same length or half that. So it was easy math, especially since I had to keep track of where I was to know when to insert the rings within the mesh. This is the piece I did in 2006 when I published the ds count.Today’s math was easier, but we will get to that in a minute.

Since it is hard for me to pull out my pillow when the kids are home, but I had some time I decided to get ahead on my prickings. I am on lesson 2a in Barbara M. Underwood’s Introducing Traditional Bedfordshire Lace in 20 Lessons. I already have the pricking for lesson 2b created and punched so on to Lesson 3.

What most people may not realize is that I must agree with Alexandra Stillwell, “The most important factor in an attempt to achieve good lace is to use an accurate pricking, and to draft it oneself is the answer,” from Drafting Torchon Lace Patterns. I do hope to acquire this book someday.

Lesson 3 in Introducing Traditional Bedfordshire Lace in 20 Lessons is a circle requiring 18 pairs of bobbins.

At first I decided to just copy the pricking from the book and I got as far as printing it on a piece of a Manila File Folder and covering it with plastic. Then before I started punching pinholes I decided it was just too uneven for my technocratic self.

So I drew it using DrawPlus X2. Now the first thing you need to know is how many repeating patterns. In this case 72 so every 5°, so a few concentric circles a few lines all drawn over a scan of the original. Some simple rotating of copies and voilĂ  you have a pricking.

So print, cover and punch. Punching pin holes can be very relaxing, but I might have done too much. My right hand is a bit sore. But if each repetition has nineteen pin holes, 72 of them will have 1368. Here is a photographically enhanced view of the back.Thanks for stopping by. Hopefully I will tell you about Christmas soon.

Pat The Tat Rat