Monday, September 5, 2016

Shuttle Brothers tatting class & summer break from tatting

I have been reminded that I really don't tat during the summer, thus the unplanned hiatus.  Partly I'm less inclined to tat with white thread when it's hot and my hands are sticky (air conditioning is not common here) but I've also been doing other things (more below).  The weather is turning, so I'll hopefully be back to snowflakes soon.

There was one bit of tatting in June:  I had the opportunity to take a three-day tatting class on rings with The Shuttle Brothers, Gary and Randy Houtz (  Just rings - but rings using TWO threads, and techniques other than the self-closing mock ring.  It was a ton of fun and involved a great deal of thinking, so I don't have a lot of tatting to show for it, just a handful of rings:

Yes, each of those is technically a single ring, usually with a very short chain going in and out (on a few I skipped the chain so you can see four tails).  Some rings include stacked or nested rings using different techniques.  A lot of the ideas are most useful when tatting with two colors, which I don't typically use, but some result in interesting textures or options which can be incorporated in one color work.  If you have a chance to take a class from them, I highly recommend it.

Other things? 

I took a week long trip to visit my new baby niece.  She's adorable.  I am, of course, completely unbiased on this topic.

I also coordinated a freezer jam making activity for my church group.  49 people signed up to participate and make their jam - I get the supplies in bulk and keep everything running.  After several weeks of preparation on my part, we converted 21.5 gallons of strawberries (they come from the processing plant washed, capped, sliced, and in buckets, but no preservatives or sugar added) into 430 cups of jam during six fast-paced hours.

Here's a shot of most of the supplies as I was setting up:

During the summer I help to coordinate a local produce bulk-buy group, and as a result I can get my hands on some really nice ripe fruit.  I eat a lot of it, but also made some cooked jam: 
  • apricot (I love it in yogurt)
  • peach
  • peach-apricot (experimental, not sure how much I like it)
  • peach-raspberry (experimenting with different ratios before I added the vanilla in the next recipe)
  • peach melba (peach-raspberry+vanilla bean; about 4 cups peaches, 1 cup raspberries, and a vanilla bean cut in half with the little black seeds scraped out and mixed in.  Toss the vanilla bean pod in while it's cooking, but fish it out before you can the jam.  So good.)
  • dark chocolate raspberry truffle (yes, it's chocolate jam - amazing on croissants.  Recipe here.)
  • plum (from the oval purple Italian plums - from a neighbor's tree)
  • plum star anise (due to time constraints I left the star anise and plums melding for two days in the fridge instead of a couple hours, and it was a little too much licorice flavor for me.  Taste testers who like licorice raved about it though.  Recipe from Preserving by the Pint.)
  • pear vanilla bean (recipe from the Food In Jars blog, but I peel the pears and modify to use dry pectin, which is cheaper.  My local natural foods coop store has vanilla beans for about $2 each in the bulk section.)
  • pear cranberry cinnamon (it tastes like autumn - from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, again I modify to use dry pectin instead.)
Did a jam tasting for some friends and discovered they look very nice on a plate together. In person the translucence is quite striking.

Once they come into season I'll also make some Meyer lemon marmalade, but otherwise I think I'm done with jam for the year.  I use it for gifts and sell some - I'd never be able to eat all that myself!


  1. Great learning from the G8 brothers :-) I like the way you have glued samplers of each technique/variation on the same page, with penciled notes.

    Your jam dollops look like an artist's palette !!!

  2. Looks like a lot of learning on that page!!! :)
    Wow!!! That is a ton of jam to make!!!