Tuesday, July 22, 2008

After Georgia's third or so post asking for volunteers to tat/rewrite segments of a vintage pattern for the online class, I threw my hat in the ring, figuring I had a lull in activities and would have the time. That lull was very brief, but it all worked out anyway. I have to admit that when she asked me to work on a project different from the one she posted about, and that it involved rickrack, I wasn't exactly popping with enthusiasm. I tried tatting with rickrack several years ago and it ...... didn't turn out. I thought it was ugly and hard to work with and never was a great fan of rickrack to begin with. Yuck....would be closer to my initial reaction. But I didn't tell Georgia that. LOL! I like to get shaken out of my comfort zone now and then and it seemed like a good opportunity to do that. After all is said and done, I will say this - time and experience are of great benefit. Many years have passed since my first adventure with rickrack. Experience prompted me to see exactly where I could make changes and shortcuts and not suffer too much in the process. I ended up loving the motifs.

I had the issue of Needlecraft she had targeted so I xeroxed the pages and started working on it. I knew I wouldn't have time to do the edgings but I thought I could tackle at least a few of the motifs.

This is my first dud. Discouraging. The directions only say to use thread appropriate to rickrack. I don't know of any chart anywhere that matches thread size to rickrack size. I started with size 20 thread - and it was way too big. This becomes even more puzzling, as I'll explain later.

The directions also say to seam the rickrack neatly so that "x" number of points show. It doesn't explain how to sew through 2 layers of a somewhat thick fiber and then get it to open up and lay flat and not ravel. I folded my rickrack length in half and stitched on the sewing machine from the top of the peak to the bottom. It tends to slip so any little tricks you know to prevent that happening should be employed! I was only making a sample so I didn't go to any great lengths to match thread color to rickrack. It is helpful if you do because then you can stitch across the "wings" once they are opened in the back and it isn't too obvious. Since these were samples, I used clear nail polish on the back to keep the ends from fraying. I don't have any fray-check.

So this is my second attempt at the first motif. It's really very easy as far as the tatting goes. This time I used size 60 Coates and it was perfect. I started out using an awl to punch a hole in the points of the rickrack, especially where you overlapped two points. As time went on, I found I could simply use my crochet hook. It went through the rickrack easily. One tip I'd like to pass on is to make the join in the rickrack on the loose side. The chain stitches will then arch more gently than if you have a tight join. With a tight join, they tend to look more angled and pointy than curved. It seems a little fiddly at first, but I think that's just because we aren't used to joining to something like that. The outer round went well. The hardest part was remembering to join twice in the same point at the appropriate time and to make a second ring at certain times.

Although I knew I had a bag of rickrack somewhere, at first I could only find this brown rickrack - 8 packages of it - that I didn't even know I had. Later on, I found my bag of rickrack and braid. I used ecru thread since it seemed to go well with the brown and I think it does look somewhat neutral and therefore, elegant, if you wanted to make a mat with several of these joined together. As you can see, once I found my stash, I got into color.

This was my second dud. The red rickrack was slightly smaller than the brown so I was certain I would need another smaller thread. Wrong. I ended up using size 20 but I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why this is. In fact, I used a variety of thread sizes in the other motifs. I was getting some practice at seaming rickrack though!

There were no overlapping points to join on this motif. The inner round was tricky though. I kept thinking there must be a mistake in the directions because the chain after the large ring joins two different times in rickrack points but the chain preceeding the large ring only joins once. You can see that it works out, but it felt so assymetrical!

The outer round is simply rings and chains and I was surprised that it fit so well and laid flat. I thought sure it would bowl or something equally devastating.

I think I only have this dusty rose color for the center in Cebelia size 30. The outer round is like the last motif, very easy, and that thread is Altin Basak, size 50.

This particular rickrack is a vintage piece and slightly different from the red. I noted some packages stated a size, like "2", and the more contemporary rickracks say baby, medium, and jumbo. They differ slightly by brand too, so I think you will always have to test-tat your thread with every motif to know how well they match. It could depend on your tatting style too. I'm not a very tight tatter but I'm not real loose either. Tension can have as much effect as thread size and rickrack size.

This was my last motif and my favorite. I thought the rose one would be but I love this one to pieces. Joining the inner middle ring of each corner to two points of rickrack created the corners for a square. I liked the way the center was done all in one pass too. The outside is pretty easy - you just have to remember there is a small ring separating the 2 large rings on each corner from the series of large rings down the side. It's easy to miss that it is a smaller ring. This was Olympus size 40 thread but it feels more like size 30.

I've posted my rewrite of the directions in esnips - which you can access through the link at the right if you didn't get to attend Georgia's class. Feel free to email me with any questions you might have about what I've done here.


  1. I enjoyed reading about your adventures with rick-rack! The square motif is my favorite too. I've never been a fan of rick-rack either, but I may try this some day.

  2. Quite a progression there with the rick-rack! I love the last 2 motifs. Great color choices with the last 2, too! Rick-rack seems to be having a little revival of sorts as I've seen on some other creative blogs that have nothing to do with tatting. Love it or hate it I think it's hear to stay! LOL! Great job!

  3. Wow! These are fantastic. I even like the ones you say are duds. I don't know if I will ever get this brave or not, but yours are beautiful. The last one is my favorite as well.

  4. Super neat, I wouldn't have thought to put rick rack and tatting together. Very nicely done.

  5. Very interesting adventure but as yet I'm not tempted to tackle rick rack!! You carry on, lass, and then I might as the last pieces are lovely.

  6. Wow Gina,
    When I first saw the rick rack challenge I have to admit that it did not interest me.
    But you have changed my mind. This is wonderful! I like them all, but oddly my favorite may be your first "dud". It has a real abtract free look...I am really drawn to it.


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