Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Broken butterfly wing

A few days ago, Muskaan (who is an awesome tatter whom I have learned a lot from) created a little butterfly pattern and asked us to decorate it however we wanted to.

I tried a couple of ideas, including Victorian sets and adjusting the stitch counts, but I had a lot of bad starts and eventually gave up.

I promised her I would try again and on my latest outing to the forest, I decided to use up a shuttle full of silk thread. I added some blue seed beads and only a couple of extra stitches in the chains to balance out the beads in the rings.

It was going very well and I was at the last ring when I realised the wings were not symmetric. I checked the pattern again and, sure enough, I had taken a wrong turn after the first ring, so instead of the top rings facing away from each other, they both faced the same way. I didn't take any pictures but I think you can imagine it.

I blame it all on my lack of skill with applied spacial perception (I also get lost easily in places I have been before, but coming from a different road). I was following the diagram but the upside down image played tricks on my eyes.

I was ready to cut it up, recover my beads and make another try. I laughed about my lapse in concentration with my husband and a friend and showed them the crooked butterfly. When I told them I was going to perform major surgery and recover the pieces of my Frankenstein monster, our friend said he would like to try to fix it. He would just need needle, thread and a pair of scissors. I told him it would come apart if he tried to cut the join, but he insisted that I would have nothing to lose so I gave him the tools.

He cut the join, then split the thread in 6 and connected the two rings in the correct place with a 6th of the thread. I guess my tatting was tight enough to withstand the cut and maybe the beads helped too, but it stayed together.

You can see the broken thread in the top left ring.

I will keep it and try to hold it together with glue and will probably use it as a decoration. I will most definitely make another butterfly, but will learn from my mistakes and do it properly this time. I also encourage you to try the pattern out and bring your own artistic touch to the butterfly.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Tatting picnic. The wheat circle earrings

My husband and his friends play airsoft and we all go to the forest games every Sunday. I don't play (it's really not my thing), but I am the driver.

If it is cold, I stay in the car, but as soon as the weather warms up enough, I throw a blanket on the ground or over a fallen tree trunk and have a tatting picnic. It is really lovely, with fresh air and birds chirping and the occasional car or shooting noise. I made almost all my snowflakes for the winter coat like this, last year.

The atmosphere is very inspiring and I often try out new ideas or techniques, sometimes by accident. I don't even mind if I have to retat anything, merely tatting outside in the forest is enjoyable enough.

Today I accidentally made a new pair of earrings. I was going to make another wheat bracelet to see if pearl cotton would be strong enough, but I forgot to start the first opposing ring and continued in a row.

Half a bracelet? Nah, earrings!

Since it curved inwards, I went around in a circle and there it is, the wheat circle earring:

I also took the opportunity to take some pretty pictures with a natural background.
I will however have to buy crochet cotton for the bracelet (and choker and earrings set, if the lady who wanted it still wants to wait for me), because the pearl cotton is too soft and pliant and I want the bracelet to withstand the adjustable closure and the earrings to keep their shape without much wood glue.

If you would like to make a pair and are ready to try a barely-tested pattern, here it is:

1 shuttle
Use 72 beads for 12 petals (rings)
A * is a bead

r1 2-7***2-7
r2 2+(j to p2 of r1)7***2-7
Repeat r2 and *** until 12 rings; join the 12th ring to the p1 of r1, then add *** and connect to the base of r1.

I used size 8 pearl cotton thread called Puppets from Coats and 2mm seed beads. I don't own any specialised tatting thread, so I can't estimate the size equivalent, but I assume it will work with size 15 (or 20) crochet cotton. Feel free to adjust the number of "petals" if needed.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The wheat bracelet

I haven't blogged so much, but I have been tatting quite a bit. Most of it is still waiting to be blocked though, so pictures will come later.

I have been making a lot (three, so a lot for me!) of "wheat" bracelets. The pattern is pretty simple, all rings with bare thread between them. I just made all rings the same size, so the bracelet would be straight, instead of curving in on itself.

I had long since avoided making anything with bare thread, afraid that it would look strange or uneven. But small seed beads can help with the measurement, so I didn't have to worry about the length of the bare threads, since they weren't exactly bare anymore.

I used yellow glassy seed beads and bright yellow thread (Coats Aida size 15, now rebranded as Anchor Aida), which made me think of wheat in summer. Thus, the name.

I first made a pair of earrings for a friend, with two rings on each side and one on top to hold them together, but I didn't manage to snap a picture of them.

Then came a bracelet, which I gave to my mom.

I did my best to colour balance it. It is a very bright and happy yellow.

I am very happy with the adjustable closure. Until then, I had tried lobster clasps with chain end (too fiddly to put on by yourself) or S closures (could come undone easily and not adjustable). But this works very nicely to put on and adjust to the wrist thickness. I followed a very nice tutorial on square knots on Youtube.

Mom loved it and so far, I have made two more, one in grey silk, the other in yellow again. I still need to block them and add the closures and I'm sure I am keeping one for myself. Maybe make the matching earrings again too.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Database solutions

I promised I would explain a bit how I made my database with patterns and tutorials. Here is a bird's eye view of the whole enterprise.

What are the options?

There are a few alternatives you can use, some of which dont require a lot of technical knowledge, such as browser bookmarks or bookmarking site.

There is of course Excel (or its counterparts from other Office suites) which a lot of people are familiar with.

Then come the database solutions. I am sure that there are solutions out there you can pay for, but I don't think a lot of us will want to spend the money.

A simple idea which everyone with an Office suite usually already has is Access (or its siblings by other companies). This is actually a database structure and logic without needing a server. I would like to try something like that and see how it goes. It might give me the portability I want.

Then we have the server solutions. I use MySQL, which is a database system that is relatively simple and easy to use. There are other database solutions out there too, but this is the one I learned. However, from what I have read, apart from Access, these other database solutions usually require a server.

The Server

I use a free server bundle that offers a database and web server among others: VertrigoServ. I install this on my laptop, start the servers and I can access my database from the laptop. I can also offer access to other computers in my home network, but getting out into the internet is a bit tricky, not to mention unsafe.

GUI for database administration

The nice people who created the server bundle also included PhpMyAdmin, which is basically a web page that will act as a visual interface for accessing and administering the database. This saves a lot of time and also creates the SQL code for you when you fill out a form. Otherwise, you would have to enter the code manually in the console. Viewing the database would also be done in the console, so text only.

The menu in the GUI is pretty intuitive and there are plenty of tutorials on the internet if you want to give it a go.

Much easier than in the console

I will continue this little overview next time, if anyone is interested.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The tech behind the lace

How do you keep track of patterns and tutorials that you like and find yourself coming back to again and again for reference?

When I started out, I used a notepad file of links. Lots and lots of links and I usually didn't label them properly, so I often forgot what to look for when searching for something in particular. My own notes and patterns were in separate notepad files. Back when I started, I had to rewrite every pattern in my own "style" so I could follow it easily.

Coming back to tatting after a somewhat longer break, I decided it was time to clean and organise my library or it would become unusable.

So, being the semi-nerd that I am, I decided to make myself a database. I have done this several times in the past for school projects or for fun, so I knew quite well how to do it. I installed some servers on my laptop to act as the host and used a web-based GUI to create, edit and view my database.

The concept is quite simple, with a few tables for patterns and techniques, and the GUI really makes it easier. I can insert a link to the site and also upload a small image to let me know what the link leads to.

The tutorials section

I know it is not perfect by far, since I can only view the database from the laptop itself (or another computer in the same network) but I like it, it is my silly little ambition to swim against the stream. Plus, I don't quite like Pinterest and it doesn't do all the gimmicks I want it to.

Now, the only problem remains the access from my phone when I am away tatting. I have thought of an Access file stored in the cloud, but I am too lazy to port all my database there. Maybe later. No time for that now, there is tatting to be done!