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!

Sunday, March 4, 2018


I have had a few "design" attempts in the past, usually modest and not too spectacular, more often than not, minor adaptations of patterns to make them sit better. I only have a few patterns that I can say are somewhat my idea, but not really noteworthy.

I have thus far made a ring (using an edging), a free form "rasta" bracelet (really, just coiled chains and beads), a necklace (my proudest achievement, but I am still working on improving it) and now a snowdrop.

One of our friends asked me to make him a snowdrop for his mother and I started thinking of the shape.

My first idea was enclosing the flower inside a heart formed by the stem and a leaf:

I had so far hidden most ends too.

I also cut off the flower and tried a few other arrangements and sent our friend the pictures. He liked the first one, so I remade it (because I had already cut the flower off). He just wanted a somewhat different flower.

The design is not really perfect, as the flower tries to shift away from the center of the heart, but a little wood glue helped it stay put.

The final version. The dark ugly gray thread is in fact emerald green, but my lighting is not good for photos.

If anyone cares to try this idea, here are my notes (I am a terrible pattern maker but they work for me). Any improvement or criticism is welcome.

Curved stem (Josephine chain)
Long narrow leaf from bottom connected to flower top
Two shuttles

leaf  + top and bottom rings: green
ch1 40
r1 1-3-1-3
ch2 30
r2 5

stem: green
jch1 84 half stitches
connect to last p of r1

3 full petal flower: white
r3 9-4-5
r4 5+4-4-5
r5 5+4-9


2 petal flower and small petal peeking between: white
r3 9-3-3-3
r4 3+3-3-9
ch 3-3 (I cut before this chain and made it separately; there must be a better way, but I don't know it yet...)

alternative with split ring for flower version 2 (thank you Muskaan):
r3 9-3-3-3
sr1 3+3/9-3
ch 3-3+(join to p1 of r3)

Friday, January 12, 2018

The emperor's new coat

Ever since the periods of low income for me and my husband, I have been in the habit of fixing our clothes myself by hand rather than buying new ones or going to a tailor. Yes, I was also stitching up holes in socks too (I only later learned what darning is). Our doggie Aschiuta also contributed to those sock holes getting larger and more numerous...

We are now doing better with money and can afford to throw away socks with holes, but I still like to repair clothes on my own and sometimes even embellish them. After learning how to tat, that also meant appliques. In fact, this is one of the reasons I learned tatting.

Thus, my knit vest got a tatted rose in the front, my beret (after getting elastic on to fit better) earned its little red maple leaf and poochie's little coat got a snowflake. I also made myself a belt, but that is a story for another post...

My mom bought me a winter coat last year, long, warm and navy blue. I wanted to customise it, of course and I was originally going to change the plain black buttons, but I couldn't decide on a button design. So, instead, I made up my mind to add tatting instead. And what works best with a winter coat? I'd say snowflakes.

I had been making some snowflakes following the First Snowfall design by Robin Perfetti (she kindly offers free designs on her blog here) in a blue and white variegated pearl cotton thread. I really like this design, it looks very elegant. I thought I would sewa few of these on the hem of my coat.

So since spring and until December I worked on and off on the snowflakes until I had 11 of them. I then measured and calculated and measured some more to make them sit evenly, pinned them in place with safety pins and got to work on sewing them on. I added a few at a time and only finished during the Christmas week, while we were on holiday at my mother-in-law's place.

Since the thread is variegated and I did not care at what point in the colourway I would start, the snowflakes all look a bit different, but I really like that. I also got a few compliments from family, so I guess it doesn't look too bad.

The coat posing on the back of a chair.

Not sure if it shows very well, but they are in zig-zag positions. Also, my phone camera captured the light in weird ways.

Ah well, I like my new coat.