Wednesday, November 03, 2010

How cool is this?

I may need to give some back story for this, to explain why I am so pleased to have found and made my own brain cell. I left school at 16, partly through my own fault, so I never got to University. When I trained to be a nurse it was a very practical training, we had a couple of weeks in school learning how to fold your cap, and make beds with hospital corners and pillow slips opening away from the door of the ward and then we were out there, learning on real patients. It was great fun, but no-one saw nurses as intellectuals. Deep down, however, that is what I believed that I was, and it rankled. Still, in no time I had two children, and then we moved to France, where I had to work full time. Life carried on, but finally in 2006 I decided to put my money where my mouth was, and enrolled at the Open University and began a degree course in the Humanities. I am now about halfway through. It was much harder than I had imagined, and I realised I was not quite as clever as I had imagined. It does however, feel like a worthwhile thing to accomplish, and I really enjoy the discipline and the challenge.
 It's taking a long time because
 a) I am still a full time nurse, with a house and family, and
b) the courses are expensive so I can only afford about one a year.
 Anyway, this year I am doing a course about Mental Health*, and last week I was studying the biology of the brain, synapses, neuro-transmitters, re-uptake inhibitors and action potentials. During a break I was reading a post on In-Tatters, followed a link, and there was Martha Ess's pattern for a brain cell! It felt like serendipity, and so I had to tat it right away, and then I wanted to share it, but no-one around me is at all I am showing it to you.
*What has Mental Health got to do with the Humanities, you ask? Well, absolutely nothing, but I am allowed a certain number of points outside my subject, and my employers are paying for this course, so it gives me 30 points towards my degree, free, plus it is interesting and relevant for my work, which is dealing with alcoholics.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Doing things for the first time!

Here are a couple of motifs, which normally I would be ashamed to share. However, today I am showing you them because they each contain six clunies and two split chains. I had watched Elisa carefully, and with a little help from Jane's instruction page I did it. I will need a lot more practice before I can produce them with the speed and accuracy of Elisa, but only by practising will I get to that. These are my first, and already I see some improvement between the first and the second.                
Here we have another first, because I "designed " this square myself. OK, it's nothing to be so pleased about... but I was sitting in a boring meeting at work, doodling in my notebook, and I drew this. I thought "You could tat that..." and so I worked out a stitch count, and here it is. I never thought I would ever make my own design, and now I have! So I am quite pleased. The pattern should fit with repeats to make a larger square, which is something I might try sometime, for now I am off to watch the latest episode of Downton Abbey, (secret sin!)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Purchases

I thought you might like to see what I bought. Here you can see some Puy bobbins, fifty bobbins made of Olive wood, only 39€! Some DMC speciale dentelles in shades of red/pink. A ball of Venus in green, which was a mistake because it is so tangly, whenever you tighten the rings it all knots up. There are also two balls of a new make of thread.
 I bought this light with a magnifier, and I am really pleased with it. It is battery powered and I can have it on my lap to check the number of stitches on the finest and darkest threads. I bought some key rings and a little pot in order to show case my sort of seemed like a good idea. I also bought some finer hooks, as well as special needles for joining, beading and split chains.
 These are special picot pins, slightly thicker than ordinary lacemaking pins, and you can't find them very easily. These were from a German supplier.
Of course I couldn't resist a couple more books for the library!

These are some beads....I know I don't often use beads, but the blue and the black were small enough to go on size 80 thread, the others are to do the eyes on the sea horses. The white thread is size 120 for the Honiton, when I eventually get around to doing it!

And this is some of the work I have been doing, while trying to improve my skills. The Mary Konior cross is done in the new thread, which was sold as an 80, but I felt it tatted up much more like a 100. The green was that darned Venus, but the clunies are in DMC so there are no excuses there for me to blame the thread! You do need to click on this one to see it properly.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Le Couvige, part 2

So, here is Elisadusud, and she was working on a cluny-split chain combination, to show me how. I have since done a few somewhat misshapen clunies, which I am too ashamed to show anyone, but I now understand a little better how to do them. The split chain, however, is still on the to-do list.

 This is a rather poor photo of Elisadusud's work, which is really impressive, but even if you click on it twice, I am not sure if you will really be able to see it clearly.
 This one might be a little bit better.
 And then my camera battery failed, aaggh! I had to take these photos with my phone, and so they are very poor. This is Pascale Provost, whose patterns I have tried several times. She was teaching, and I was really happy to have her constructive criticism. It is difficult to learn without an expert to tell you where you are going wrong, but I hope you will see an improvement in my work from now on! Even if no-one else does, I will, I know.
I have challenged myself to produce a piece from both designers for examination next year. (Elisa sells patterns of her designs, with explanations, for those who fancy a challenge.)
 This is Pascal's last book, which I already have, but a new one is in progress. It was fun to see both of them discussing techniques and designs together. Here in France meeting with other tatters is fairly difficult, so I was really enjoying myself and definitely plan to go again, I hope next year.
This is Petalite, which is a pattern I tried about a month ago, but this one is properly finished.
Pascale showed me how to get from one split ring to another with beads, which does require one shuttle to be unwound and threaded through, however it is still less fuss with ends that cutting and tying.
I have been busy trying my new skills, but I haven't anything impressive to show, as yet. I also spent rather too much money... I will maybe show my purchases next time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Le Couvige

According to my book "La Dentelle du Puy" Lacemakers don't enjoy working alone, hence the tradition of coming together in groups; un couvige (from the Latin cum vicinis: with the neighbours) In the days when the mothers and daughters throughout the area around Le Puy all were involved in lacemaking these were frequent occaisions, but now they are rare but none the less enjoyable for that. The couvige at Blavozy was my first experience of such a gathering, and I had a wonderful time.
Le Puy is an interesting place for anyone to visit. The long drive through the Massif Central was picturesque.

 When I saw a poster in a window it was reassuring.
 This is the cupola of the Vervaine building. and below is the nightime skyline. You need to click on the photos to see them properly.

 This is how it looked when I entered the hall.
 Here you can see people working on their lace, and showing their best pieces.
This man is doing Tambour work, which is so well shown in the beautiful film Brodeuses . Do watch it if you love French countryside and embroidery.
 He is working from the back of the work, this is what it looks like on the right side.
 This is Mick Fouriscot presenting the conference. She has been working to further the continuation of the many kinds of lace making in France since 1974, based in Le Puy. She is also very funny, quite a character. The conference was interesting, but much more about the history of prostitutes than lace. 
 All kinds of bobbins were available.
 I thought this patchwork a very effective way of displaying the lace.

 There was a stall selling antique and vintage sewing materiels.
 Including a book and a couple of bone shuttles, and I was quite tempted....
 There was also this, someone's amazing work in progress, which was really pretty, and a bit sad that it will probably never be finished.
 And also a hanky, probably made by the same person.
 When Saturday was over I went back to the town, looking for food. I hadn't ordered lunch, and there hadn't been any sandwiches left so all I had eaten all day was a croissant and several cups of coffee! I looked at the local speciality macaroons.
 And these cute cakey things!
However, in the end I settled for this salad with smoked salmon, local Bleu d'Auvergne cheese, and hiding underneath all that some Lentilles du Puy, with a baked potato and creme fraiche. Tomorrow I will tell you about meeting with other tatters, and you will get to see Elisadusud actually working on a point d'espirit!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Motifs from Mme Dilmont

 This weekend I had some quiet time at work, and so I had a go at some of the motifs from the booklet. I really like this one and think it might look good as an earring? If I did it again I would adjust the stitch count as I had to add a few on the last joins to make it meet up. It would also be better with a split ring to climb out as the cut and sewn in ends show on this fine thread.  (Cartier Bresson, fil au fouet, size 70)
Here are two more from the same page, I am especially proud of the needlelace centre on the blue motif, which I did without instructions, just by looking at the photo. Ok it's not perfect, but I did it!
Next weekend I have decided to do the five and a half hour drive to Le Puy for the couvige. I have sent back the papers, and put myself down to do a tatting workshop, and for the lecture "Dentelles et les filles de joie" (Lace and ladies of pleasure) which sounds fun! I ought to be economising, but I rather fear that my good intentions will be as  nothing when I see the stands. I wonder if anyone wants to see photos?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Some pictures of my progress

 This is the Oeillets doily, with all the small motifs. I haven't done anything for a while.
 The gilt frame is finished, ends and all. Now, what to do with it?
 These are my first sea horses, from Jane's lovely pattern. The first one I did, the tail went the wrong way, but the second one is fine. These are made in DMC pearl size 8, which I have never used before, and are for David. His father's regiment had a sea horse motif, and he has asked for more of these. The pattern is quite simple, but the beads make it a little bit fiddly. Still, I don't think it will be too much to make him another three.
I am showing this edging from the booklet, for Tattingrid, who is looking for hanky edgings. This one is in the vintage DMC 70 thread, and I think it would look good on a handkerchief. There isn't a corner in the book, I would think it would be possible to do one, though.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Trying to keep up to date

I am trying to keep tatting, and reading the forum on In-tatters has been quite good motivation. I thought it would be a good idea to challenge myself to post once a week, no matter what I had or had not achieved. So please don't be surprised that nothing much has changed since last time. :)
 So the gilt frame has moved a few repeats, still four more to do.
 The Oeillets doily has now five small and two large carnation motifs added to the centre.At first I thought it would be best to work the motifs one by one but I soon discovered it would be best to do the small motifs first and add the longer ones afterwards.

Look what arrived in the post! Another package from les Greniers de BD, a box of thread, and this lovely original booklet from the  1920's.
a page of patterns
a page of edgings

Look at these plates, I want to try some of these patterns very soon.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Trying out some vintage thread

Wandering around the net I came upon this site selling thread. I couldn't resist buying some even though it works out quite expensive, because I have more balls than I can ever use! Still, the first box turned up last week.
 These are DMC 70 in mysotis (forget me not). I saw on In-tatters that 70 was the same size as 80 in an older scale, and it certainly would seem that way. It matches with the pink I bought at the brocante, so maybe I need to find a way of using them together....
In the package was also some Cartier Bresson fil au fouet size 60. I don't think it is such a good tatting thread, but to be sure I began a doiley with it.
Here are the first three rounds of "Oeillets" from one of my french tatting books.
I am also making the celtic edging from Rozella Linden's book, but have stopped for the moment, as I need to join a new thread.... Here it is from a photo I took last week, but I have got a bit further now. The thread is "Golden Glow" and was a present from Lace-making librarian. I feel that the combination gives the impression of a gilt picture frame, no?