Monday, June 27, 2011

Gator Time!

Saturday I tatted the alligator bookmark from Dianna Stevens' Animal Bookmarks, A Tatted Zoo. It's part of an exchange I've arranged with someone. I love how it tatted up and it reminded me that I should mention something about this book because I've tatted other bookmarks from it. Dianna's directions are excellent for a beginner. Her diagrams are color coded plus she breaks down the tatting into segments with a diagram for each part plus numbered written steps. The only thing she didn't do was tell you how much thread to use and that's pretty common.

So I'll tell you! LOL! I used size 20 Flora variegated for the green and size 20 Lizbeth Mocha for the brown. I wound the green shuttle full and the brown one about 3/4ths full. I know...that's not real helpful because it varies according to what kind of shuttle you use. I use my trusty Clovers almost always when I'm doing serious tatting and I think they hold close to 10 yards of size 20 when completely full. The green was not quite that full and I suspect the brown was more like 7 yards, maybe 8. Anyway, I ran out of green and needed about 2 yards more. The brown barely made it to the end of the body in the first round and then I had to wind more brown to finish the underside.

I also wound my green on the shuttle with the shuttle winder shown here. It's great to use when you have to fill the shuttle or need to unwind one. Yes, it works both ways! I just wish it was motorized and for the cost, it should have been. I think it winds a bit looser than when I wind by hand so it may have loaded a little less on the shuttle than if I had manually wound it. I don't use it enough to know how to control the winding tension with any precision.

It took me 3 1/2 hours to tat the alligator. Yes, I timed it. I don't always do that but when someone asks about selling tatting, I check the time it takes to make it. It would not be feasible to sell this bookmark for profit, IMO, but it makes a wonderful gift for the right person, and in this case, an exchange of goods. I'm a fairly fast tatter too so I don't think the time is too long. I made ONE change in the pattern. I added an amber glass bead in the eye ring. The thread behaved so nicely that I would not have had to block it except for the head. The long chains needed some coaxing and even after I scanned this, I reshaped the top chain on the snout so that it's more realistic.

I would recommend this book to anyone - for a fun whimsical tat and for beginners.

Do you know what this is?

It's the paper from my blocking board. I showed how I change the paper on my blocking board in this post. At that point, I switched from waxed paper to parchment paper which lasts much longer. (It seems it's been TWO years!) If you enlarge the scan, you can see the zillions of holes! I changed out the small board a few weeks ago but haven't done the big board yet. I had to buy more paper. I use it for cooking more.

I like a blocking board better than ironing although I do press from time to time, especially if I'm using spray starch to stiffen something. The problem with pressing is that it flattens the stitches. That probably only matters if you are in a competition or exhibit, but it's good to keep in mind. When I use a bookmark, the same thing happens from the weight of the book.

Our county fair is not until the 3rd week in July but I have to send in the registration before that so I'll probably take some time out in the next week or so to get together what I want to enter and possibly make something new. I still have my 2 big projects I'm working on as well so whether I post or not, I'm around!


  1. I agree about the book. It's a 'must have' for all tatters.

  2. I know there is LOTS to comment on in this post, but I am absolutely fixated on that winder! I never knew about such a wondrous invention!

    What I like least about winding shuttles is the un-winding. Since I have had to forego my bobbin shuttles - for reasons of injuries in the extreme! - I am using Clovers at the moment, and the un-winding drives me right up a wall. This gizmo appeals.
    Fox : )

  3. I've tatted the same alligator for an exchange and I love it! I totally agree with you about Dianna Stevens' patterns; very accessible! The colours you used for your gator's nice.

    OOh, what's that? A shuttle winder? I've not seen it before. Hmmm, now I'm curious.

  4. Nice Gator!! I have her book on my wish list and will buy it the next time I have a coupon. The book I am currently working on is Pam Palmer. I have an order for 15 Crinoline Ladies and have 4 more to go... Thanks for sharin your progress with the gator..
    Linda in NM

  5. The shuttle winder is available from Lyn Morton whose website is in my sidebar under "Resources". It costs 25£ in the UK but the exchange rate and postage will make it considerably higher in the States.

  6. I totally agree about blocking vs. pressing. Not only do pressing flatten out the stitches, but it's harder to control the angle of each ring and chain. Plus I think blocking does a better job of evening out then tension, which is what causes a piece to not lay flat in the first place.

  7. Wonderful post, again! You do so much 'research' for us!

    First of all, the alligator is excellent! Perfect thread and beautifully tatted! I admit I'm not fond of them in real life! I freaked out when we visited Florida and heard that sometimes they climb out of the canals and 'sun themselves' in people's driveways!)

    The winder is interesting! Can it hold the Tatsy? I generally use bobbins, so unwindng isn't a problem for me, and I have my own unique way of windng my shuttles (another story), but I do use the Tatsy occasionally.

    I've often timed myself when I make my bells. They usually take five hours, not counting the decorations which also take time. I would bet, however, that someone would be willing to pay a good bit for this most amazing and unique boomark!

    It seems that Jane and Dianna have covered most of the animals on the planet! Very clever designers!

  8. I love the gator, Gina, and it's very interesting to me to know how long a specific project takes. Thanks for sharing. Hugs

  9. love your Gator! and I so understand the time and price thing....hours and hours....

  10. Kathy - the winder would not hold a Tatsy. I didn'try it but you can see the opening is just big enough for the regular size shuttle. If you put a Tatsy in there, the ends are so long you would not be able to attach it to the base AND even if you could, there is not enough clearance for the points to go around when turning.

  11. Good Luck with the fair - I enjoy your blog posts Learn new things each post! thx for sharing your knowledge.

    Parchment paper has so many uses. Among other things, I've used it when fusing - to protect my iron.

    Very interesting alligator! Will have to seek out that book. What fun to tat critters.


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