Saturday, August 20, 2016

Tatting and Legacy Threads

A few weeks ago, I finally picked up the single tube-woven hemstitched pillow case that I had purchased from a thrift store years ago and devoted a couple hours to the simple embroidery using hand-dyed variegated floss that I purchased even more years ago.

I decided I needed some hand-dyed tatting thread and purchased 100 yards of Marilee Rockley's hand-dyed Lilac Sea.
This is a photo of her size 20 listing on etsy , where she sells various sizes of thread and floss as "Yarn Player", although I purchased it in size 30.  She also teaches a Craftsy course on needle tatting that I purchased ages ago and finally got around to watching.  I'm guessing that we both learned to tat about the same time. She uses DMC Cordonnet Special--which was my favorite thread until a couple of decades ago when even my friends travelling to Europe could not get it.  Lots of dyers use Lizbeth thread from Handy Hands, in Paxton, Illinois, about 70 miles from my childhood home of El Paso, IL. Lizbeth too is a truly lovely thread, although it's not available in size 30, the size I ordered from Marilee in DMC.  (There are also a lot of needle tatting resources available at Handy Hands; however, I strongly suspect that some frustrated want-to-be tatter invented needle tatting when she could find no one to explain how to "flip" the knots.)

Since I like to do wider edgings to use on pillowcases, 100 yards doesn't go very far. (However, it appears that many, many tatters are making jewelry from size 20, and for them, the 50 yard-skeins most hand-dyers sell are more than adequate for multiple pieces of jewelry.)

I think I have enough of the Lilac Sea edging now, but the vintage pillow case has a hem-stitched edge that has not been trimmed, and I think I'll have to give it a very, very narrow hand-stitched hem before applying the tatting.  I'll have to dig out some of my antique tatting-edged and hemstitched hankies and see how our ancestors did it.

 I remembered I had a skein of cotton thread that had never been wound into a ball.  I'm not sure if it was my paternal grandmother's, who died in 1932, or if it was given to me by someone else.

It looks like it was stored in a cedar chest or on unprotected wood for decades; or perhaps it was in a wooden or cardboard box that got wet and stained the thread.

So, I tied a few extra threads around the skein and have it soaking in a bath of oxygen bleach and Dawn detergent.

We'll see how it works to even the tones, and then, since I have decades of experience dyeing fabric for quilting, I'm thinking of putting that experience to use hand painting tatting thread with Procion Dyes.  I did not take off a few yards to test tat to see what size it is.  However, I'm guessing there are probably a couple hundred yards in this hank.

I'm going to continue stirring it occasionally for the next few hours. I'm thinking of adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to the final rinse, although I may postpone that step until it's  been dyed and rinsed thoroughly.

In the process I also found some high quality six-cord in size 40 from J.P. Coats--probably from the 1950s or earlier.  It's in 225 yard balls, and some of it is also stained.  That means that if I decide to hand paint it, I'll have to put it into skeins and clean it up first too.  Since it needs to be in skeins to be hand painted, that won't be an extra step.

I also found a few things from my decades of tatting, beginning when most tatting thread was size 80 and larger sizes of appropriate high quality thread were hard to find.  I'll save those for a later post.

This is what solidified my desire to learn to tat.
 Although I'd been surrounded by Grandma Shreve Scheer's tatting for years and had made numerous failed attempts at tatting, when this lovely linen handkerchief arrived in the mail inside an unsigned graduation card and with lovely handwriting that none of us recognized, I determined that someday I would learn!
To this day, I have no idea what sweet lady in the El Paso-Gridley, Il made this.  She used at least size 100 thread (size 80 was common).  Even the hem-stitching was done by hand!

 School began August 2, so I did not finish the quilts I intended to finish.  Summer just goes way too fast.

Happy quiltmaking, knitting, tatting.....
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