In last year’s New Year’s Even post, I set out some goals for 2017. Now we’re at the other end of 2017, how much progress have I made on any of them?
The short answer is, impressively little! The temari exam deadline just flew past me and the subject of my Jacobean crewelwork is one best avoided… However, I did decide to have another attempt at getting to grips with tatting.
I’ve had a few attempts at tatting that were sound resoundingly successful they would make my first spindle-spun fibre look like it had been professionally spun by comparison. Shuttle tatting seemed like it should have been easy enough, after all, how challenging could tying different knots in pieces of string be?
Answer: very! While I found with crochet, it didn’t take me too long to be able to do the fundamental stitches, tatting proved a rather more tricky beast to tame. Every time I’ve tried to tat, although I can follow the hand position and shuttle movement, I have never successfully been able to ‘flip the knot’ the way I want it. I seemed to have a natural talent for always flipping it exactly the opposite way to what I’d intended.
I’d tried both written instructions and videos, for left and right handers (Tatted Treasures has a nice, free Youtube channel and acknowledges the existence of left handers!) but never found anything that anything that had made it ‘click’ for me.
Since my first few attempts, I had lamented about my tatting woes to some more experienced tatters. They all suggested it might be an issue with my tension when pulling the stitch closed. This turned out to be some sagely advice indeed as what was happening is I was letting the ball thread ‘collapse’ as I was trying to flip the knot. I haven’t yet quite figured out a comfortable hand position for keeping the tension on the ball thread sufficient for reliably ending up with the stitch the right way around.
A basic double stitch! A horrible, badly tensioned, lumpy double stitch but a basic stitch!
I can manage picots now and am getting somewhere with making rings but it’s a little while before I’ll be able to stitch reliably enough I can think about attempting a project. It’s annoying how many skills are like ‘riding a bike’ – where you try for hours achieving nothing, then you suddenly make one stitch, not sure quite what you’ve changed, and then you forget why the whole thing was so problematic in the first place. Now though, at least I have the hope of actually being able to learn to do something useful.
Why the grand failure on other goals? Well, much as the New Year’s ‘No Excuses’ crowd will condemn me to a life of failure for saying this, my excuse is a very disruptive move that means that most of my stash and equipment is now stuck in storage. I’m also nowhere near any of the RSN studios any more…
Realistically, I’m not quite sure what this means for my Certificate studies. While I would love to find a way to make it work, perhaps through the summer intensive courses, I think that may be something of a pipe dream. One thing I’ve come to the sad realisation is that I’ll never quite find the time for all my interests and ultimately, my main priority will always be my work.
That won’t stop me trying to learn and do as many things as possible though. Crafting generally has been a wonderful way for me to meet people and learn the plethora of things that come with new faces. With all my travelling, there seems to be no language more international than the thread and, maybe I’ve been exceptionally lucky, but I’ve always found the crafting community to be one with big hearts and generous stash collections.
Ultimately though, while physically being separated from my slate frame might put one project on hold, it’s no impediment to further learning. I’ve actually been ploughing through finishing some small, more portable projects. Working on my skills might not be a bad thing before going back to the RSN though as one of the stressful parts of the course is that you immediately start practicing the new technique on the final examination piece… I think even the immensely talented Catherine at Hillview Embroidery has been finding that a little nerve wracking.
I’m not at all sure what 2018 is going to hold for me or whether it will see me reunited with some of my bulkier apparatus but I intend to keep pushing the stitching skills, maybe just not in the direction I was looking at last year!
My plan this year is to just learn, learn, learn and have as much fun with projects and ideas as I can. I’d like to get a bit more confident doing my own designs. Maybe I’ll try learning enough about tatting to create an actual project by 2019. Who knows! I hope for all of you though that 2018 brings plenty of peaceful stitching time, good ideas and a lot of happiness.