Monday 30 November 2009

The Shuttle Sisters

Shuttle Sisters!
Here we are together, yes I'm on the left and big sister is on the right, she always looks so scared of cameras doesn't she? This weekend I went to see Jane and took the shuttles that my husband had made for a "tat test". Unfortunately there are a few design problems, so its not exactly back to the "drawing board", but a little disappointing after all his hard work. Still he is undeterred and is now going to make some modifications. I can report that there is going to be a wonderful gadget to go with the shuttles, that will be unique, and with more suggestions regarding its design from Jane it looks like being a very useful tool. Now you are all wondering what I'm talking about. I'm not sure when I can show you some more pictures of the shuttles, its a case of how often I can shut my husband in the garage!

Hallowversary Prize!

I received an e.mail from my son yesterday, informing me that the parcel from Aileen "Wicked Tats" had arrived and he has kindly taken a photograph of the contents. These were from her Halloween Giveaway, the first time I had ever won a prize from a blog giveaway and it will probably be the last! Thank you Aileen I look forward to seeing them soon. My son lives in Singapore and so will forward the goodies with our Christmas Presents. Actually he is going to visit Hong Kong in a few days time so I might send him to do some shopping there. He spent the first two years of his life in Hong Kong so although he will not remember the place he has promised to take photographs so we can see how it has changed over the years.

Today is St. Andrews Day - he is the patron saint of fishermen and there is an obvious connection to tatting, because the German word for tatting is Schiffchenarbeit which translated is "the work of the little boat". St. Andrew is of course the Patron Saint of Scotland so I wish them a Happy St. Andrews Day.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

St. Catherine's Eve

Tomorrow is St. Catherine's Day, she is the patron saint of lacemakers and as we tatters don't have our own patron saint, she is perhaps the one we should adopt, and so of course she gets a special mention in Tat's Heaven!

For lacemakers today was known as "Cutting Off Day" when they cut off and sold the lace they had made. Originally lacemakers would produce only one pattern, with which they had become conversant. This would have been worked in one continuous piece, the lace dealer would take the lace from each pillow and pay according to the length produced.

There were quite a few traditions in areas where lace used to be made. In the evening a lighted candle was placed on the floor and each girl would jump over it - if she extinguished the flame, then ill-luck would follow her for the rest of the year. The belief that flame could purify one's life and that by passing through fire then luck could be changed is an ancient one.

Kit be nimble, Kit be quick
Kit jump over the candlestick.
(lacemaker's rhyme)

Lacemakers also made "Cattern cakes" these originated in Tudor times by the Nottinghamshire lace makers who made them as part of the celebration of their patron saint day. A lightly spiced cake with a hint of aniseed. Their consistency is similar to rock cakes

St. Catherine herself lived in the 4th century she was reputed to be beautiful and intelligent and of noble birth. However, she was persecuted for her Christianity and was tortured by being put on a spiked wheel and turned, but it broke so she was beheaded. The firework "Catherine Wheel" is named after her - a representation of it is shown above. I found the pattern in a old ROT book but of course changed it a little and added some beads to make it look as if it was on fire!

Sunday 22 November 2009

Work in Progress

Here in this part of "Tat Land" there is a lot of work in progress, some of it is on this tray. Now there is a story behind this tray, about three weeks ago someone was clearing out a cupboard at church and found this dear little tray, which measures 10 1/2" x 7", and as it was not wanted I claimed it straight away. It has now become a "Tatting Tray." I put a bead mat on it so the beads don't runaway and it is ideal. Actually seeing what is on the tray reminds me of "Kim's Game" - the rules are you put some items on a tray and ask the participants of the game to turn away and then you remove a few items, when they see the tray again they have to guess what items are missing. Trouble is if the game was played on a blog you would all cheat wouldn't you?!
On this tray you can see a bead container, my wooden needle holder, a Christmas bauble just about to be finished, shuttles, wedding hearts, earrings and another piece of tatting to cover a bauble.
This is Wicked Tats tray, which she will obviously never loose as it is a lovely bright colour!

Now lets take a quick peek at what the Shuttle Maker is doing.....................
I took this photograph this afternoon, pinched them from the garage, sorry its all I could smuggle out! Don't you think the ebony shuttles are going to be gorgeous?

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Shuttle Making News

The shuttle making process is a little slow, due to a few set backs. My resident shuttle maker, aka husband, started with making the traditional shuttle, but has found that because the middle section which takes the thread, is so small, it is a bit awkward to get exact, he says he needs another tool, but that is always the case when starting new projects! Also he had to steam the wood and clamp it in some moulds so it curves and that took a time to work out and set in motion, especially making sure that when they come into the warmer temperature of a house they do not loose their shape. The first one did not meet at both ends when assembled but the second one is much better (top right) and the picture shows another one (far right) just about to be assembled. He now thinks he has solved all problems concerning this model.

The next attempt was to make a shuttle that would take a plastic bobbin, and that project is progressing well. The picture shows the blanks that he is cutting these from (far left) and one nearly completed (middle) it now needs some fine sanding, but we are awaiting another piece of equipment so that he can get into the crevasses, yes and it has something to do with teeth!

The shuttle with the bobbin containing red cotton is the first prototype, and includes a hook, which he fashioned from a clock pin as we could not find very small hooks anywhere, well not without mutilating a decent looking full length crochet hook! He made a fantastic job with this hook using a watch maker’s lathe, and there are no rough edges on it. Another purchase that he has just made is some stainless steel wire with which he hopes to fashion some more hooks from. Although I have to say this particular shuttle is a little small and occasionally slips from the fingers as there isn’t enough grip, but it is usable. A future plan is to make a facility to wind a bobbin on the end, just as the aero shuttles have.

So far the woods he is using are walnut and cherry with the small one being oak (there is a story attached to this, which I will tell you another time)

Not sure how well the shuttles will eventually turn out, but hopefully a few will be completed before the end of the month so that when we visit family we can take some with us. That means big sister Jane, Queen Jane, Janie-Lou - you are going to be the “Shuttle Tester”. No pressure!

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Remembrance Day – Poppy Day

Is when we remember those who have died in the First World War (known as the Great War) and the Second World War and in all conflicts since then in which our armed forces have been involved. At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month the armistice was signed in 1918.

On Sunday Remembrance Services were held and a two minute silence was observed at 11 O’clock by war memorials up and down the country including the cenotaph in the middle of London. In our village a service was held at one church and then we took a 20 minute walk to another church where we stood outside the war memorial, the church itself is not large enough to hold all who attend. On the war memorial are the names of those who died in the two World Wars and who used to live in the village, after the silence a bugle played the last post and poppy wreaths were laid by the memorial.

I officiated at these services and before hand asked the Scouts if they would like to write some pieces to be read out during the service, based on the present troubles in Afghanistan and this is one of their contributions.

I Wish

I wish for peace
I wish for health
I wish for death to leave
I wish for friendship

I hope for laughter
I hope for play
I hope for fighting to end
I hope for countries to get on with each other

I pray for life
I pray for soldiers

I pray, I pray for war to end.


We wear the red poppy to remind us of the poppies which grew in the battles fields after the Great War. The sale of them raises money for the Royal British Legion helping ex servicemen and women and their families.

I made this poppy by following Martha’s flower instructions here, it took about three attempts and even the final result is not brilliant as it is so hard to keep the tension exact for every petal.

Saturday 7 November 2009


After a few days of windy rainy weather in this part of the world the trees have nearly lost all their leaves, it has been a beautiful sight watching the changing colours, especially living on the edge of the New Forest. The picture below does not really do the area justice but as is always the case, the camera is never at hand when needed!

The tatted leaf took me ages to make, as I kept moving onto different projects, its the maple leaf by Tammy Rodgers which many people have made and so is very recognisable. However, I extended it and added some beads, and also made the stem out of split rings.

The picture of some spectacular looking toadstools was taken in the village where I live very near to the doctors surgery just off a pathway, totally amazed that children hadn't destroyed them. By the side of them though was an abandoned empty cardboard box which once contained beer. So there must have been some very drunk fairies dancing around them!

But they are so pretty especially with the leaves falling on them.

Monday 2 November 2009

Spreading the Word

Now I know what you are thinking, she is talking about religion. Well I’m actually referring to spreading the word about tatting, although church has a prominent part to play in this for it is where I meet a lot of people. Yesterday was All Saints Day but in the evening we invited the bereaved to an All Souls service (which is really today) and the church was packed. At every opportunity I like to show people my work, and this is what I wear in church and at other services outside the confines of a church building, such as funerals which I conduct in a crematorium. I explained to our local funeral director what it was around my surplice, a couple of years later he informed me that he had solved a crossword clue because he knew the answer was “tatting”!

In one of our parishes we regularly attend a Wedding Fayre which is held in a hotel just down the road from the church. The hotel used to be an old manor house and it is surrounded by beautiful gardens. We are allocated a table and couples who visit the Fayre are invited to take some of our leaflets and ask about church weddings, we don’t book them at this stage. Anyway some have already booked their wedding either in another church or in a secular venue, but we still can give them help - perhaps in choosing music or readings. We used to be situated in a room in this hotel with a wedding photographer and a wedding car firm, which was fine but occasionally people would put their heads around the door and say “it’s the church” and make a very quick exit! This time our table was in a large room and beside us were two sisters who sing at wedding receptions, and so we were treated to their repertoire, they were very good, but it was a bit loud, especially when you were trying to hold conversations with people! The picture shows some of the items on the table including of course “tatting” there are entwined hearts and in the gold container are crosses and butterflies, Jane’s patterns. We invite people to take these tatted items away and invariably that means questions are asked about how they are made.

This necklace was made for a girl of about 12 yrs old who saw some of my tatting and has expressed a wish to learn how to tat, along with her mother, they are in the congregation of one of the churches I minister in – so that’s what I mean about spreading the word!