Friday, March 28, 2008

Why I've been quiet...

It's been a little busy around here. First, there's the Hector tatting conference - about 65 happy tatters, a bunch of vendors, stellar teachers and great classes - plus a lot of stuff to organize. Fortunately, I'm not in it alone - there are at least six other people who are doing a LOT to work on this event, and the many hands make it a wonderful, warm patchwork quilt of an event. But there are always details large and small, from dietary concerns to last minute emergencies and changes, and this week's crop of them has sent me to hit the left-ovr jelly-beans harder than intended!

By coincidence that turned out to be partly fortunate, I had fewer writing assignments than usual in the past six weeks or so, which has given me a lot of time to tend to the conference and work in a few creative directions. The result has been two new publications of patterns, "Here Be Dragons," a collection of beaded dragon patterns, and "Basketats" a collection of tatted baskets. Both use techniques I think of as innovative, though received wisdom says there's nothing really new under the sun. Or is there? The dragons use a "thread management technique" to keep the beads mostly on the inside and chains on the outside. I haven't seen this technique before, but it doesn't mean this is unique.

Then, for the baskets, I went off in a number of different directions. That's the good thing about a collection of patterns - it is possible to jump on your creative horse and ride off in several different directions at once. I tried using thick hemp cording to make a relatively large basket - a great effect, I thought; and thinner hemp cord also had such great advantages and was such fun to tat with, I ordered a whole bunch of it for the sho. Hemp and linen are personal fiber favorites, but it's not often practical to tat with them. In this case it was! Some of the baskets needed stiffening, others didn't. Using pearl tatting with a heavier core thread added body to a few of the baskets; but the Celtic-style baskets did want stiffening to stand up. Then there's one that takes its shape from very long bugle beads.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience to get my ideas realized as concrete and useful things, ones I hope are also beautiful. Both the dragons and the baskets are ideas I've been sketching, tatting parts of and playing with for a very long time. All this and the Hector Tatting Seminars coming together in a relatively short time. It's a great way to finish the winter, feel productive and greet the warm weather that still stubbornly refuses to show the slightest trace of itself... yet. Sure, six weeks from now we'll have hot days to make us eat our words, but this does seem to be the winter that doesn't want to quit!