Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Batman Blogs!

Today we have guest blogger, Vicki Batman. Vicki is a friend of mine and writes such fun, witty stories. I know you'll enjoy them. If you'd like to be entered in a drawing for a copy of my as yet to be released Blaze--Intoxicating--just leave a comment and I'll draw a name tomorrow.

Here's Vicki:

Crafty Confession

I write all the time. Most writers have incorporated personal elements into their books, like knitting, cooking, dog training, etc. And I've done some of it, too--cake decorating, candy making, beaded jewelry, needlepoint. The work becomes more personal and relevant.

Recently, I was reading my newspaper (yep, still get the paper one) when a paragraph in a column caught my eye: classes on cheese making.

The blurb made the class sound intriguing. I wanted to sign up, but I wanted to check with my girlfriend cause we all know groups are more fun.

I told my friend I had to try something new. She said she wanted to as well. I mentioned reading about the cheese class and she liked that idea. Then she suggested checking on knitting and crochet classes at a local shop. We agreed to research, print out information, and consult.

We found the cheese class had been filled. Rats. So was the Adirondack basket weaving class. Double rats. Then I found tatting.

Tatting? What the heck is that?

Tatting is a method of making lace using a shuttle and thread with one hand and manipulating it around thread looped around the fingers on the other hand. Wikipedia has this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatting

Yikes, you're thinking. That looks harder than those string-finger games we played as kids.

I grew up with tatting. Sigh. My grandmother made incredible stuff, and it adorned my clothes, pillowcases, even the christening gown my sisters and I once wore. Bow down to the master.

Around age 11, Grandmother travelled with my family on a vacation. I sat in the way back of the family station wagon, and she sat in front of me in the middle seat. She tatted away, a lot of the time without looking. When she caught me watching her, she asked if I wanted to learn. I said sure. It didn't look that complicated. She slowed down her hand magic and said, "Under, over, pull. Over, under, pull."

I watched and watched and watched...

Yeah, I never did get the hang of it. And this rankled me all my life because I don't like to give up on anything. So when the class opportunity came up, I thought what the heck and signed on. My friend went too.

I didn't have high hopes based on that long ago venture. However, our teacher was patient, and, thanks to modern technology, a step-by-step DVD accompanied the book. With tons of practice, I learned to manipulate my fingers better and began to make loops. Then I moved into making a string of loops. Okay, they are six inches apart and I'm gonna have to get out the book again to fix that. But it's better than nothing--right?

Geez. Maybe tatting isn't meant for me.

And there's my crafty confession.

So what hobby/craft/workshop have you tried and wasn't very successful at? (Come on. I won't tell!)

Vicki Batman is still not-so good at tatting and has taken up crochet because everyone says it is easier.

Find "I Believe," her sexy novella with a touch of magic, at:

Find Vicki at: http://vickibatman.blogspot.com/ OR at: http://plottingprincesses.blogspot.com/


  1. Hi Lori loved your last book. cant wait for the next one. Keep up the Great work. carol kinaman

  2. I'm a crocheter, and even I am in awe at folks who can turn out such beautiful works of art with tatting. I feel like I should have fairy-size fingers in order to make that work. ;) Thanks for sharing. Great post!

  3. Hi, Jennifer. I am determined to master the ones in a row and then done. LOL. My grandmother was amazing and fortunately, I've saved many tatted pieces she had done. Thanks for posting.


  5. My mom was an expert seamstress, knitter and crocheter, although she never tried tatting that I know of. Ambidextrous, she crocheted and cut fabric left handed so she sent me as a pre-teen to a neighbor to learn the basics of crochet (and making the beautiful edible flower cake decoration the woman was known for). I made a few things in each mode, but never was terrific at any of them.

    I hadn't sewn in years but I pulled out my machine a couple weeks ago to make a skirt for my wedding dress. It was comforting to have all the things she taught me come floating back to help me do a decent, if not perfect, job. Thanks Mom.

  6. Some things are simply beyond my skill set and I accept that. LOL.

    My grandmother did however teach me to crochet and I have to admit - I agree it's easier!! lol. My mom taught me to knit but things always come out a bit funky looking - with crochet it always comes out just right.

    I probably startled a person or two on trains across Europe - how many 22 year old americans do they see touring their countries with a crochet hook in hand??? LOL. Still haven't finished that table cloth either- hmmm

    I'm willing to take bets that you'll find a wonderful story to tell about the adventures of tatting!!

  7. Hi Lori and Vicki.

    My grandmother tatted so fast I couldn't see her hands move. She did it while watching soap operas or gossiping with her friends on her screened in back porch. She tried hard to teach both me and my cousin to tat, but we neither one could master it. Bev did a little better than I did and when Nanny passed away, she got her tatting shuttle. I do hae a set of pillow slips she made that have tatted lace on them. Good memories.

    Pamela Stone

  8. Lori Roets, I know what you mean about having a mom who is practically a sorceress with textiles and handwork. Unlike you, I let mine totally intimidate me.

    Funny thing, though, she never got the hang of crochet, so that's where I started--no competition! Once I had it well in hand, I asked her for help learning to knit.

  9. Though not a hobby or craft, noodles became an obsession.

    My maternal grandmother was one of the last true pioneers who never relied on anything or anyone for her survival. She taught me which berries were safe to eat, which wild plants made the best teas, how to row a boat, and how to fish. When she found a stretch of property along the Mississippi river she thought would make a great place for a fishing resort, she built it – all by herself. Six cabins, an office, and a house with cedar walls, ceiling, and floor. The resort, which she later sold, is still in use.

    She also made everything by hand, including butter noodles in a sauce she ladled over mashed potatoes (from her garden of course). Those noodles used to take her a full day to make. I'd sit in a chair and watch her work, rolling and rolling the dough until paper thin. Then she cut the noodles with one special knife she used only for that purpose. They melted in my mouth. Whenever she made those noodles, all the family would come together for the feast.

    But grandma refused to write down the recipe or even verbally share her secret. When grandma became bedridden, she lived with my mother. Mom tried and tried to make those noodles, but never got them quite right. Grandma would just chuckle and tell her to try again.

    Eventually grandma passed, and Mom gave up trying to replicate the noodles. That's when I took over. Many years and failures later, I finally surrendered to the fact that maybe the missing ingredient, the one none of us could ever hope to add to the recipe, didn't come from a plant, or could be purchased at the store. Maybe the missing ingredient was grandma herself, the love she served to each of us through a simple plate of food. Maybe the ingredient wasn't in the noodles, but the memory of the time we shared together at her wooden table, me in the chair, grandma rolling out the noodles.

    Much later I developed a unique hamburger dish, which my children repeatedly asked for. I thought I'd finally found a culinary treasure my boys would remember like I've remembered grandma and her noodles. But when I overheard them giggling and referring to the dish as "Dad's Preparation H," I'm not so sure it's a memory I care to savor.

  10. Good morning Ladies,

    I've dabbled in lots of crafts. I've crocheted a few granny square baby afghans. I've done crewel embroidery, needlepoint and beading. I've even painted and glazed ceramics.

    I took a basic sewing class in high school and just barely passed! I had difficulty sewing and cutting in a straight line, but I've always been fascinated with quilts.

    Last July a friend started a sewing circle in our church. I went to visit the group to ask them if they would make quilts for our cancer support group to donate to chemotherapy patients. I told Linda, the organizer, I couldn't cut a straight line or sew a straight seam, but I could iron fabric. Linda wasn't buying it. She sat me down, showed me the quilt pattern I would make. She demonstrated how to cut fabric with a rotary cutter, and sent me home with fabric strips to sew into my first quilt. It wasn't easy, but I've finally mastered the 1/4 inch seam. Fourteen months later Ive made sixteen quilts (twelve were donated to cancer patients) Confession: I just piece the tops and backs together. We have two long arm quilters who do the quilting for us. Some would say I'm a cheater and not a real quilter!
    I still have trouble with straight seams. My engineer-type husband has to help me square up my quilt sides. The quilt we were working on this weekend put a strain on our marriage!
    Is there a story in there somewhere?

  11. that's one i never tried though i know the results are beautiful. right now i don't even know where my hooks and needles are. I haven't used either since i started publishing. how do you find the time?

  12. Lori and Vicki great post.
    I could never learn to knitt or crochet, so this tatting would really be out of the question. And now the fingers don't work so well...

    Good luck with what ever you take up.. Good for you...

  13. My grandmother tatted also. Never looked at her hands. She did teach me to crochet. Tried most crafts. Can sew, knit, crochet, ruin perfectly good canvases with paint and write. Like to do them all.

  14. I conquered needlepoint years ago. I remember my Mom sitting across the room while I was "needling" and she started to laugh. Dad had recently died and she thought he would have been hysterically laughing at seeing his tough girl doing needlepoint. She was probably right - although he was always supportive of anything his kids wanted to try.

  15. Hi, everyone, just returned from closing out LibraryFest and used my muscles to break down way too many boxes. I'd rather be crafting with you!

    My grandmother sat me down at age 9 and taught me to embroider. I do it to this day. I taught myself to needlepoint and then took a class. Wasn't too good at sewing. Mom said I couldn't cut straight. LOL. and my textiles professor said, "I am Vicki's hem."

    David, please invite me over for noodles! How awesome she passed this on to you!!!

  16. And I also think all the crafty stuff works our brain for writing. What do you think?

  17. And I read thru the postings so fast.

    Pam, congratulations on the quilts. They are beautiful.

    Chris, never too late to finish your crochet.

    David, I agree, there has to be a secret touch your grandma had. I can't make pie dough, but my sissie can. Who knows?

  18. Hey there Vicki & Lori!

    My Husband's mother does this and she makes it look so easy. Nope not me.. can't get the "start" of it.. LOL I have tried several projects and can't keep my hands involved in any of them.. so I will just stick to reading my books...that's my hobby and I am gonna stick to it! :) LOL Love the blog and I loved the video, but don't think I could make them even if I watched, and watched and watched it! LOL

    Can't wait for the next release! :)

  19. Hi, Vanetta! So glad you popped by. I have my bursts of crafty creativity, but I love to read and read and read. I have my book club book to finish by...yikes! tomorrow.

  20. I am just so uncoordinated with crafts. I've tried a few and they never took very well. I can crochet, but don't ask me to use a pattern. My grandmother taught me and she never used a pattern in her life.

    She could take a look at something someone had made and be able to replicate it exactly after just one look.

    She did the same thing with clothes. When my mom was little, my grandmother would take her and her sister to the movies to see the newest Shirley Temple film. Then she'd go home and make them the dresses from the movie they'd seen.

    Me, can't paint, can't do needlepoint, can't do counted cross-stitch. Just not crafty.

    I think I'll stick to writing. :-)

    Kathy Ivan

  21. I love to cross-stitch. i would love to try tatting. I would also love to learn how to crochet or knit. I think those would be fun. I think the only thing that I started to try and just could not do is scrapbooking. I just don't have the creativity for it. I also don't have the money to spend on it. I like to read and buy books and spend most of my money on that. You both are new authors for me and would love to win and read this book. Thanks for the giveaway and the chance to win.
    GFC & blog follower: Chris Bails
    having issues with posting on Google, blogger issues so had to post anonymous.

  22. Hi, Christine. And Welcome to Lori's blog. My other confession is this: counted cross stitch drives me batty. I admire tremendously anyone who can do it.

    And Thank you for the interest in Lori and me. "I Believe" is my sexy side and "Twinkle Lights," my holiday story, is my funny romantic side.

  23. I can cross stitch but I can knit or crochet if my life depended on it. My Aunt has tried to teach me a few times but what comes out of the training session is so crazy, laughs is the only good thing that happens. I wish I could paint. It seems like such a calming hobby to do.

  24. Hi, Christine. See above re cross stitch. LOL. I think I'd like to learn from your aunt and laugh my as... off. Thanks for posting

  25. When I was in Belgium you could walk down a street and see little old ladies just sitting in their doorways, tatting (at least I guess that's what that was, they were making lace).

    I used to do needlepoint years ago, but then life and children intervened, and now you can't find needlepoint canvases anywhere except the occasional Christmas one. Oh well, eyesight and carpal tunnels probably would intervene this time.

  26. Hi, Linda! That would have been a cool site to see. Belgium lace making is very famous.

    I bought my last canvas on Etsy. And there are a few stores around. Let's talk. :)

  27. Wow! I've never heard of tatting before and I had to look it up and watch the video. My problem learning anything with needles or a shuttle is that I am left handed and all my teachers have been right handed. Needless to say my Mom had a tough time teaching me crocheting and knitting. Needlepoint and cross stitching were better choices and I enjoyed them when I did them years ago. Haven't done anything in a long time because I felt I did it all. Now I read. I dabble with sewing projects for my nephew's Halloween costumes. Now I have to go ask my Mother if she's ever heard of tatting and if she did it herself. I'll also need to check your website out too!

  28. Hi, Eileen. I'm nodding in agreement with the lefty thingy as my sissie is. But I don't think she tried tatting.

    Let me know if your mom does tat and thanks for checking out my website. :)

  29. I decided I wanted tassels on my brand new bookmarks, so I went to Michaels and Hobby Lobby and bought beads and about 10 yards of the rope. When I got together with my girlfriends, we gave it a shot. Two hours and twenty-nine dollars later, I ended up with about 26 bookmarks, all of which were lame.

    Then I found already made tassels on the internet and bought 750 for $75. It took me all of about an hour to make them, and they look terrific.

    I love your tatting story. My aunt used to tat, and I still have a few of her best doilies.

  30. Tassel making? Hmmm. And thank goodness for the internet.

    I'd love to see your doilies, Liz!

  31. Hi Vicki (sends wave to Lori, too!) ... Years ago, I came across a picture of a doily that was tatted and I feel in love with the delicate appearance. So I bought a book and tried to tat. I learned the process but quite frankly, I have the craft ability of a two-year-old. I eventually finished the doily and while it's not beautiful, I've kept it as a reminder of the tatting handicraft.

  32. Thanks to all who shared their confessions today! And thanks Ms. Wilde for having me here. It's been a great honor. oxox

  33. Sorry I'm late...crazy day but wow Vicki! My eyes are burning trying to watch the video. Glad you made some headway LOL...It truly is mesmerizing, huh? When I was eleven I made a skirt and wore it to a contest. I placed third! Of course, only three people entered... I knew at that very moment there was going to be a Nordstrom in my life. Great post...I just love you, ya know! Thanks for hosting our Vicki.

  34. SOme x
    Cooking lol great to see u here
    Thanks forgo the prize whoo, count me in
    Kim h

  35. Hi, Karen. Congratulations on the sewing award you won at age 11!! And squee, thanks for the love.

    Hi, Kim. Cooking is not your forte? LOL. thanks for posting.

  36. Hi, Sheila! You have made a doily? How awesome is that. I am totally envious. Hugs back to you.

  37. oops! Forgot to pick the winner of my Blaze, Intoxicating. It's Cathy Ward. Email me at Loriwilde@aol.com to claim your prize, Cathy.