Saturday, January 29, 2011

If You Can't Beat it . . .

Join it!  Yes, we love to complain about the weather here, but there's nothing we can do about it, so we might as well get out and enjoy it when we can.  No tatting today - just some good fresh air.

Our local parks have rentals for things like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and kick sledding, and today was a "Snow Day" to try out that equipment for free.  I grew up snowmobiling and cross-country skiing, but I've never tried snowshoeing - so that seemed like the thing to try.

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy snowshoeing is.  You just walk, being mindful of how far apart you are keeping your feet so as not to trip yourself, and enjoy the scenery.  You don't sink down into the snow too much, so it really makes walking much easier than normal in boots.  Then to turn around without tripping yourself, you just have to make a wide circle.  Good exercise! 

There were tons of people there - it was great to see all the families out enjoying the snow.  Temperatures were decent in the upper 20's, so bundled up,it was actually quite comfortable. (And when you are out of shape and huffing and puffing around on snowshoes, it's plenty warm - I was sweating!)

The kicksledding looked fun too - these dads were pushing small kids with a running start, and then riding the backs of the skis once they got going:

And of course, outdoor fun isn't complete without a bonfire and some s'mores - no matter what time of year it is.  Does everyone make s'mores?  Graham crackers, chocolate bar and a roasted, melting marshmallow.  Yum!

And home again, home again, jiggety jig.  Since temperatures are dropping tonite, and it is supposed to start snowing again, I will be back to indoor activities tomorrow.  Hopefully my legs will not be rubber!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

SSSR Success :)

Another technique that has been eluding me is the SSSR (Single Shuttle Split Ring).  There are great online learning tools - a YouTube video, and written instructions.  But the best way for me to learn is hands-on.  Yesterday we had our 2nd gathering of the Twin Cities Tatters, and the SSSR is the technique we focused on.  Sooooo, I've been practicing. 

I think I've got it! No more cringing when I see a pattern that includes the SSSR.  Another technique under my belt.  And another success - our TCT gathering more than doubled from our first meeting with 5 tatters this time.  Imagine spending a couple of hours on a cold winter day in a warm coffee shop with 5 talkative tatters!  

I've also gotten a couple of bookmarks done that I will count toward my 2nd 25-Motif Challenge.  This is a pattern I tend to do over and over again from Jane Eborall's blog.  

Motif #10
Lisbeth Mountain Breeze, Size 20

And this bookmark is a pattern I saw quite a while ago (couple of years?) that I thought I would remember.  Of course I forgot where I saw it, and never came across it again until a few days ago on Peachtree Cottage Creations.  

Motif #11
Lizbeth Jelly Bean and Spring Green, Size 20

The past week has been incredibly cold here - it was -22 degrees below zero when we got up one morning.  And we continue to get snow about every other day it seems - even if just an inch or so - so it's piling up.  In fact, my picnic table is . . . well . . . a bit under the weather.  Literally.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Another Bag and Snow, Snow, Snow

I can't believe we are halfway through January already!  I've been cleaning out cupboards, donating plenty of unused items and tossing some things that I have no idea why I've been keeping.  Haven't gotten to my sewing/craft room yet - I USE most of that stuff!  It is inevitable though - that room definitely needs a cleaning.  Maybe I should give away some of that inherited perle cotton to good homes!

I saw another bag pattern I had to try. (Surprise, surprise.)  I think I've been making tatting bags too large. One only needs a fairly small bag - silly me  - and I wanted to make a tatting bag that I could add a little tatted motif to. I have several bags, but I should probably have a tatting bag for each project I'm working on - ha!

This is Joy McKenzie's Dorset Bag Pattern
An easy, perfect little drawstring bag with pockets for tatting projects.

The flaps cover the outside pockets to protect whatever is inside, and are also the perfect place to add a motif.  I tried the pattern a few times, making it smaller each time.  The pattern uses 20" squares, so I started with 20" and tried 18" and 16" also.  I liked the size of the bag made with 16" squares, so I made this little heart to stitch onto the flap. 

This will be Motif #9 of my 2nd 25-Motif Challenge,
using light pink/mauve perle cotton size 12. 
Tatted Heart pattern on page 36 of the new Handy Hands catalog.

And our weather here continues to provide us with record-breaking snowfalls.  It seems like it snows every other day!  Road conditions continue to be the worst during rush hour (of course) or on Saturdays (go figure). 

Our average annual winter season snowfall is 56.3 inches.  We are already at 52.6 inches, and we have a good 2-1/2  months left of our snow season!  I think we will be shattering the record.  It's been crazy - snowing a few inches a couple of times a week. Since I have to endure the snow, I am going to explore snowshoeing in a couple of weeks. Now THAT should be interesting. 

For our January gathering, I've been pleasantly surprised with more inquiries.  I knew the holidays would stop people from starting a new thing, but I didn't think there would be so many inquiries right away in January.  This is great - our gathering next Saturday should include about 5 this time - pretty good to double the group at the 2nd meeting :)  We will work on the SSSR as well as teaching beginners.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Refreshed and Renewed in 2011

Here we are, already a week into the New Year 2011! I always love the start of a New Year - it's an opportunity to try new things, make a new start in some way, and work toward some new goals. I seem to be having a hard time making solid "resolutions" this year - I would prefer to make life changes and just do what's best for me on a day-to-day basis.  Resolutions are really goals - and can be made at any time anyway.  The New Year just brings the opportunity to examine what is truly important in life, and worth working for.  What do I want to accomplish?  What problems need solving?  What decisions need to be made?  What changes can I make? What can I do to make someone else's day?  The New Year is a nice time to reflect as well as move forward. 

One thing I need to do is slow down with those goals.  I always think I can accomplish 3 times as much as I really can!  There are a million wonderful patterns and ideas to try - I really don't need to do all of them.  And I don't need to do the ones I choose to do in record time, either :)

The first thing I have accomplished this year is Mary Konior's Large Cross from the Tatting with Visual Patterns book. I made this cross for my aunt that always remembers me when she comes across shuttles or vintage books, threads and patterns.  I mailed it off to her with a note - I think of her every time I'm admiring my tatting collection.  This is my 8th motif of my 2nd 25-Motif Challenge.

25-Motif Challenge #2
Motif #8
Mary Konior's Large Cross
Lizbeth #106 Spring Fling,  Size 40

I also need to slow down and pay attention to the tatting techniques I'm trying to learn - even what seems like the most simple ones. I don't even remember if I learned this way, but I've always completed joins by using the 2nd half of the double stitch.  I've recently read that some people consider the join somewhat like a picot, and complete both the first half and the second half of the stitch after the actual join. I have been trying that, and have decided I like the look better.  You can really see the definite stitches. 

I used some size 10 thread to make one join with just the 2nd half of the stitch (on the left) and one join by completing the entire 1st and 2nd halves of the double stitch (on the right) to see how it looks.  I guess just anyone can't tell the difference when looking at a complete piece, but I like being able to see all of the stitches. I would love to know how others complete joins.  Is there a "correct" way or a usual way?  It seems to be just a personal preference.

I hope your year has begun as fabulous as mine has - refreshed and renewed and ready to move on!