What do a net maker from Senegal and a crafter from the UK have in common? Not much, you might think, and you’d probably be right. But a little while after I returned to The Gambia I had a surprising encounter.
Last year I managed to teach myself to tat. I have always been fascinated by tatting and I was thrilled to be able to produce some tatted items of my own, even if they were quite simple. One afternoon I was sitting under the trees, tatting my latest creation, when a man cycled into our compound, greeted my husband Lamin and settled down for a chat.
Even though many people now use a Kindle, I still think that an ‘old-fashioned’ bookmark makes a lovely present for someone you love, and I don’t think real books will ever die out. Recently I decided I would have a go at designing my own bookmark as a present for someone special.
I have tatted quite a lot of motifs, so I experimented a bit, and came up with a design for a square motif that I thought could join together well to make a bookmark. I liked the idea of tatting this with a dark colour, so I chose a navy blue thread and got started.
Yesterday I realised with a shock that it’s been over a month since I last posted. There have been several reasons for this, but it’s mainly because I had a couple of false starts with projects, which has slowed me down this last month.
I have made quite a few projects using my ‘fairly-newly-acquired’ tatting skills, so I thought it was time I attempted something a bit more ambitious. So I decided to have a go at tatting some lovely baby booties for one of our neighbours who had just had a baby. Having scoured the internet, I found a beautiful pattern on the Shuttlebirds blog that was first published many years ago, but has been updated to make it easier for beginners to follow. It’s a great pattern, with lots of photos, so I felt fairly confident. I had brought a large ball of cream thread with me, so I got my shuttle out and set to work.
I have finished tatting my chair back! Despite a couple of set-backs which held me up a bit, I have finally managed to get all the motifs tatted and joined together. It’s the largest project I have done to date, and I have to say I’m very pleased with how it has turned out.
The last time I put up a photo, the chair back looked like this:
Firstly I want to wish all my readers a very Happy New Year. Whatever your wishes and dreams, I hope this year brings you everything you hope for and more.
New Year – new look. I thought it was about time I changed the look of the blog, and for the time being I have opted for this look. I will probably be tinkering with it over the next few days, to get things the way I want them, so don’t be surprised if things change again One change you may notice is that only the start of the post appears on the page – this is so people don’t have to spend hours scrolling down the page to find previous posts.
I have enjoyed looking at lots of other blogs and seeing how people have summed up their year, often with a retrospective of their ‘makes’ for the year. However, I have got a ‘Completed in 2013‘ page, so I didn’t want to repeat myself too much! But as 2013 was the year I learnt to tat, I have added a new page to chart my tatting journey from the first tatted ring to my first tatting design. You can find it on the links at the top of the page, or you can click here.
As this post combines my life in The Gambia with some crafting things, I’m posting on both my blogs, as it seems to be relevant to both!
It does seem strange to be celebrating Christmas in temperatures of 30 degrees and (mainly) sunshine! I suppose my memories of Christmas things are always surrounded by the chill of a British winter, and even though a white Christmas is a rarity, it doesn’t seem quite right to be thinking of carols, snow and robins when it feels more like summer.
Although Gambia is mainly Muslim, Christmas is celebrated here, and Christians will prepare special food, get together with family, and generally have a good time. However, it’s much more low key than in the UK, and there’s no decorating of houses or giving presents – most people have little money to spend on extras like that. There are Christmas carols on the radio from time to time, and I remember last year listening to a children’s nativity on the radio, when youngsters read out relevant Bible passages and carols were sung, which was lovely.
Firstly I should apologise for not posting for such a long time. If you follow this blog you will know that I share my time between the UK and The Gambia, and at the moment I am in Africa. This means that I’m reliant on solar power to keep my laptop charged up. Now, you may think that Gambia has unbroken sunshine, but that’s not the case at this time of year. Technically it’s winter here, and the days are often hazy or cloudy, which makes it hard to keep our solar battery charged up. As I use my laptop for my day job as a freelance, writer, and I also keep a blog about my life in Gambia (www.lifeinthegambia.wordpress.com), I often find that by the time I’ve done all that, plus emailed family and friends, there isn’t much power left to do other things. I also only have limited internet access via a stick.
However, I am hoping that I will be able to post a bit more regularly from now on. You may know that I decided to teach myself to tat earlier in the year. I have always loved the look of tatting, and had a few attempts over the years to master it, but this time I managed to find lots of useful resources on the internet, including video, which made it much easier.
I have been beavering away at my tatting whilst I am here in Gambia (much to the bemusement of our many visitors who are always fascinated by what I’m doing), and I have been making some snowflakes for Christmas decorations which I will share with you another time.
Having arrived back in The Gambia this week, I’m beginning to get my breath back and turn my attention to crafty things again. I’m still beavering away at the tatting, but of course, I’m beginning to think about Christmas as well! For a Brit, the idea of Christmas when the temperature is in the 30s is a bit strange, and although Christmas is celebrated here, it’s not a huge festival. And there is nothing like the commercial frenzy that you get in the UK, and I daresay in other countries too. Last year I came back to Gambia in early December, and it was a huge relief to get away from the craziness (although I did make, wrap and deliver presents before I left).
However, last year I decided to open my Etsy shop, and at the moment I am focusing on selling cross-stitch patterns, which can be downloaded. Naturally, trying to post physical items would be impossible from The Gambia. I designed some little Christmas biscornu last year, and I’ve just reactivated the listings ready for this year. I love the quirkiness of biscornu, which are surprisingly simple to make, and don’t take too long either. They are perfect for little gifts, but they could be made into tree ornaments very simply by adding a length of ribbon.
Yay! I have finally managed to complete a larger tatting project. I found the pattern for this lovely bookmark here, and as soon as I saw it I wanted to try and make it. I thought it would look lovely in traditional white rather than using some of the variegated coloured thread I bought a while ago, so I dug around in my crafting hoard and found some crochet cotton I’ve had hidden away for years. I took a deep breath and got started……
I’ve been really busy over the last couple of weeks, with various visitors and lots of other things to do too. I haven’t had much time for blogging, but I have been trying hard to keep up with my tatting endeavours, with mixed success. I have tried several patterns, and I’m getting on quite well, but I haven’t yet got anything finished to show you. But, like most crafters, I hate wasting anything, and I was wondering what to do with the small amounts of thread left over on my shuttles when I’ve finished a doily or some other project. Then I discovered these delightful little birds! Aren’t they lovely? They only need a tiny amount of thread, and they are so quick to make. They would be great to use as little bookmarks.