Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays to all!

I hope that everyone is having a fabulous holiday season!

Angie’s Bookmark…

I made this lovely tatted cross bookmark for my friend Angie for Christmas.  Her favorite color is purple, so I made with two different purples, one solid and one variegated.  The pattern is “Maria” from Tatted Bookmarks -Cross Shaped by Lene Bjorn.  I changed up the tassel a bit, and I am very pleased with how it turned out.  Angie loved it!

Yummies…

This year for Christmas I whipped up some homemade Turtles and Rum Balls.  These are recipes that my Mother handed down to us kids.  She used to make tons and tons of homemade candies every Christmas.  I was very pleased with my results this year.  They were such a big hit that I decided to share them with everyone (well, share the recipes that is)…

Turtles:

  • Pecan halves
  • Caramel (about 1 lb of good quality caramel)*
  • Milk Chocolate buttons (small bag)*

Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and grease with real butter.  Arrange pecan halves on the parchment in groups of three, spacing about an inch apart.  Cut the caramel into bite sized pieces and flatten into wafer shapes.  Lay one wafer on top of each group of pecan halves, making sure that the center is covered and part of each pecan are showing.

Place the cookie sheets in a 200 degree (F) oven for a few minutes just until the caramel starts to melt and shape around the nuts.  Remove from oven and cool in the refrigerator while you melt the chocolate.  Place the chocolate buttons in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 30 second intervals until just almost melted, stirring well in between.  Stir to make sure the remaining chocolate is melted and smooth.

Spoon the chocolate on top of each piece, covering the caramel.  Be sure to leave the tips of the pecans uncovered as this is what makes the candy look like a turtle.  Chill again until set.  Peel away from parchment and wrap individually in store-bought candy bags.

*Note about ingredients.  Please, please, please go to your neighborhood candy supply store (or the cake/candy isle of Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, etc) for the caramel and the chocolate.  A few years ago before the candy supply store opened up in town I attempted to make these using ingredients I found at the grocery store.  It took forever for me to shape the individually wrapped caramel candies and they just did not melt over the nuts right.  And as for the chocolate chips I used, well, they are made for baking cookies and not for covering candies.  The resulting turtles were hard to chew and the chocolate stuck to the bags.  This years batch made with real candy-making supplies turned out wonderful and was much easier to do.

While you are making Turtles, you might as well make Rum Balls at the same time.  Afterall, there are bound to be broken pieces in your bag of pecan halves, you should make something yummy with those too.  Beware of Husbands and children as you do this though as I spent a while carefully sorting my pecan halves, in one bowl were all the best looking halves and the other had the broken pieces… guess which bowl everyone kept snacking from!  This reduced the amount of Turtles I was actually able to make.

Rum Balls:

  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/8 cup rum (I prefer spiced rum)
  • 1 lb powdered sugar (plus some extra just in case)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of margarine

Soak pecans in the rum overnight in the fridge in a covered container.

Using a stand mixer and the dough hook, to the sugar add salt, margarine and the pecans.  Mix until it forms a thick fondant.  Add more rum if the mixture is too dry, add more powdered sugar if it is too moist.  Knead by hand if needed to get the right consistency, it should be like a clay… When you roll a ball and set it down on the work area it should hold its ball shape and not sink into a bon-bon shape.  Roll into small balls and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet, chill thoroughly.

Melt chocolate (use remaining chocolate from making the Turtles) and drop the chilled Rum Balls into the chocolate a few at a time, rolling with a fork to coat evenly.  Place on the parchment, while still wet top with chopped pecans or quins if desired.  Return to refrigerator to set. Place Rum Balls into paper candy cups and store in a covered container.

Note:  Freshly made Rum Balls have a strong alcohol content.  The candies improve with age, so try to make a week ahead of time to let the flavors mellow.  Even still, I do not recommend these candies for children.

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 12:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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Holiday Crafting

The Holiday season is fast approaching.  This is my busy season.  Not that I’m not busy the rest of the time, goodness knows I don’t have time to think recently.  But the holidays always bring new opportunities for me to be crafty.

My first opportunity of the season came in the form of a Christmas ornament decorating contest at work.  Everyone who entered was given a silver-colored glass ball ornament to decorate however we see fit.  I have some cool ideas rattling around in my brain for this one.  I can’t wait to get started, though it will have to wait until after Thanksgiving.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I would love to make some homemade cookies with Danica this year, but I’m sure that I won’t have the time.  I’m making dinner this year for around 15 people… now that’s a crafty adventure right there.  Maybe I’ll think of something cute to make with Danica before Thursday.

This year I plan on doing some Christmas tatting.  I have a dear friend that I want to make something special for.  At first I was thinking that I would tat her a cross bookmark, because I know she would really appreciate that.  But now I have found some large yarn bobbins at Hobby Lobby and they look like they would make great shuttles for yarn.  So I’m considering tatting her a scarf make with yarn.

I also want to make some tatted snowflakes and angels.  My Sister loves snowflakes, it would really be nice if I can make her a special, one of a kind, snowflake for Christmas.

Oh!  What a great idea… what if I make a scarf from tatted snowflakes connected together?  Tomorrow I’m heading down to the yarn shop to scope out white yarn that would be suitable for tatting.  I can’t wait!!

Published in: on November 21, 2009 at 11:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Gotta Love the “Ughs”

I just love the term “ugh”.

Sometimes a project goes horribly wrong.  Sometimes it goes just a little wrong.  Sometimes any amount of wrong is enough to qualify a project as an “ugh”.

Recently I was playing around with a little tatted motif that was in my head.  I’ve decided to start working in black thread because I love the way it looks when finished.  So my little test motif was coming along nicely,and I was hoping that after blocking it would actually be usable.  I had just one more bead to add, when I snagged the thread.Thread Barf!

I mean really snagged it!  When joining to the beaded picot I only grabbed part of the thread with my hook.  The result was this nasty little thread barf.  Sigh! This one was really bad, there was no way to smooth it back out again.  I decided it really wasn’t worth it to try to save the piece.  There’s no sense in blocking it now.  I cut the thread and tossed it into my Ziggy lunchbox.

In a few weeks I will dig it out again and take another look at it.  I’ll probably knot on another thread and continue.  Since it’s ruined anyway, there’s no need to worry about how it looks.  I’m sure I’ll re-work the pattern.  I think I want to add a few more picots and one more row of chains…

If I hadn’t messed up this piece, then I most likely wouldn’t have the guts to add to it.  I know it was just a test piece, but isn’t that the point?  You make a mistake, and grow from it… Good advice for tatting and life.

Published in: on July 25, 2009 at 11:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Where do your shuttles live?

I realize that I don’t have a large number of readers.  But to those who do, I ask, Where do your shuttles live?  Do you keep them in a tin?  Or is a box or a bag more your style?  Maybe you just shove them in a drawer.

I know there are people out there who collect vintage shuttles, kept nicely in display cases.  I’m not talking about those.  I’m talking about your workhorses, the shuttles that you use on a regular basis.  Where do you keep them?

For years I kept my shuttles and other tatting supplies in a square tin, circa 1970’s.  The size was perfect for keeping all my supplies, plus a large ball of crochet cotton.  Even the Victorian street scene design seemed to be ideal for this craft.  And when tatting fell by the wayside for me (it’s sad but true), this tin kept everything nice and clean for me until I rediscovered how much I loved it.

But once I rediscovered tatting, I also discovered for the first time, websites that sold thread.  The years of being satisfied with plain white crochet cotton bought at Frank’s were over.  Soon I owned red and blue, gold, and (gasp!) black thread.  And to my joy… they came in different sizes!  So needless to say, I now have way too much thread and supplies to fit in this little square tin.Girls 041

More recently I’ve been keeping my shuttles and other tatting supplies in a little tin Ziggy lunchbox.  Not only is it very portable, it’s down right cute! I get almost as many comments on the lunchbox as I do on my tatting.  I’ve been wondering, though, if I should start using something a little larger and more sophisticated.  I know, I know, WHAT could be more sophisticated than a Ziggy lunchbox???

Girls 048

Well, now I have this roll-up travel case that was a pressie from the folks at Similac, and it would make a cool tatting case.  It has a large compartment for a few balls of thread, and large pockets. See, it pays to have a baby.

Now I just have to find a place for my thread to live. LOL!

Just a fraction of my tatting thread stash

Just a fraction of my tatting thread stash

Girls 041
Published in: on July 19, 2009 at 12:06 am  Comments (1)  
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The Tatted Pansy

Tatted Pansy Pin by FabEWElous

Tatted Pansy Pin by FabEWElous

The image that is on my banner is of a tatted pansy pin that I have created.   It is my most popular tatted object so far.  The pattern came from an old tatting book that I have: Tatting Patterns by Julia Sanders.

I have been wanting to try this pattern for years… decades, in fact.  It looked so daunting and I thought that my tatting skills were not good enough to even try.  So the book and the tatting supplies were put away for  year and years.

Last year I joined Ravelry and found a group of people who enjoyed making lace by several different methods.  Many posts were regarding tatting and so I decided to dig out the old shuttles.  Soon I was hooked!  I posted a few of my finished objects and got just the positive feedback that I needed to get the courage to try the pansy pattern.

The photograph in the book was in black and white and didn’t really do justice to the structure of the flower.  At first I thought that it had a black bead in the center, but after reading the pattern, I realized that what I was looking at was the center ring.  Another photograph showed each of the three sizes of petals laying side by side, which gave me impression years ago that each petal was tatted separately.  Alas, after reading the pattern again, I found that it was tatted in one piece.  Yikes!

The book itself is from the 70’s but it is a reprint of patterns from the depression era.  There is little thought to ends.  The pattern begins with at ring with five picots.  Each petal is constucted with concentric chains worked from each picot.  I took creative license to omit the center ring and base each petal off of a ring rather than a chain.  By doing so I decreased the number of tail ends greatly, but it twisted too easily and was hard to figure out which petal was next in order. If I make this again, I think that I will tat each petal separately, beginning with a mock ring and a lock stitch… in theory it should work.

After much frustration, I finaly finished the tatting and added the beads in a freeform design (more creative license on my part).  The pansy has been mounted on a wooden base covered in black fabric.  I am not too happy with the thickness of the mount, so I do intend on updating it in the future to something that will not stick out so far when worn as a pin.

As a side note: I received a tatting book from a friend yesterday, it is a modern book of older patterns.  It has a very nice full color photo of what appears to be this pansy pattern.  I will have to study the instructions to see if it is the same.  I looks so beautiful with the center ring in a dark color to contrast with the light color on the inner part of the petals.  Hmmmm…..

Published in: on March 1, 2009 at 3:05 pm  Comments (3)  
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