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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Coral Reef

This is going to be LONG! Go get a cup of tea and chill with me, why not just take the rest of the day off!!!!!!!!!!!

My latest HDT is called Coral Reef and this post is all about WHY?

My DH as well as being mad about geckos is a marine biologist....more specifically a taxonomist working on amphipods.
Yeah I know you are going to say too much information!
Taxonomists consider the characteristics of animals and their relationships, they are the people who decide that a particular animal is different enough to be a new species.
Only members of the same species can produce offspring that can also reproduce the species.(eg. a mule is a cross between a donkey and a mare and is sterile.)

Amphipods are what I call little shrimpy things! This always make him laugh as he says they are about as close to shrimps as dogs are to cats!
They are laterally flattened(from side to side)crustacea and belong to the Order Amphipoda.

Amphi-poda means different legs. He calls them the swiss army knife of the animal world as each pair of legs (and there are a lot of them) has a different function, some for swimming, some for eating, some for reproduction etc. You get the picture.

Now the only thing I have ever had dedicated to me (before Martha's new book Holidays on the block) is an amphipod!
YES Paracalliope mapela is MINE! It swims around in the tropical waters around Fiji....just like I would!

Ahaa! now you are all wondering what is the relationship between HDT called Coral Reef and an amphipod swimming round Fiji......not a lot I suppose!
I do keep wondering if Jane will design an amphipod for me..but I know what she will say.....DIY!

OK back to the amphipods. DH has this strange aversion to cold water meaning that he can only study amphipods that live in tropical if an amphipod should happen to live somewhere cold then FORGET IT!!!

This has meant that in order to collect,study, identify and describe new species he has been forced to travel to the tropics and we were forced to go with him...yeah I know what you are going to say but someone had to do it!!

So now you are getting the picture..tropical waters..coral reef..yeah how lucky can you get!

Tropical waters round a coral island just have to be one of the most beautiful things you could ever see, ranging from the pure turquoise blue of the shallow waters of the lagoon to the more turquoise green over the barrier reef where the corals and the coral fish are to the deepest blue of the ocean, Indian or Pacific.

So these colours take me back in time to glorious days. I haven't got great photos to show you as they are best when taken from the air.

This was taken coming into Bora Bora, just look at those colours.

And these on a boat trip in Moorea,

Just look at the blues and greens on this parrot fish they caught.

Now for a rare glimpse of yours truly, one of the few photos that I actually like to look at!!

Taken in 1986 in Rarotonga (Cook Islands), the dress, hand screen printed, bought in Fiji in 1979 is still my favorite dress of all time.

Those were the days of wearing a hibiscus flower or a frangipani or gardenia in your hair. The flowers stay fresh for the whole day, on or off the plant.
My daughter used to adore helping the hotel staff to thread the flowers on to stiff fibres for a vase or to make a leis to wear round your neck or as a headdress.

Dream on girl! We grow hibiscus and frangipani at home now you can see why.

Back to reality, keep these colours in mind, my very favorite colours and you will see why I have tried to capture them in a hand dyed thread.

If you have stayed with me this far we finally get to the tatting bit, hope it was worth the wait.

the big project that I have been working on for the last month was a doiley (two in fact) to represent a Coral Reef. I saw this doiley tatted by Clyde in Marlilees Tourmaline and fell in love with it.
Its the Starlight Doiley a 1944 pattern in the Tatters Treasure Chest, originally published in tatting book 207 by The Spool Cotton Company.

One of the things I like about some doiley patterns is that if you run out of steam, each round added makes a different doiley by itself.
So let me walk you thro' my doiley. Well I have to get the most mileage out of this it took me forever! Every picot was measured!
I dyed the three coral reef colours separately too.
Round 1 and 2 are in turquoise and represent the lagoon.

Since I have no island or sandy beach in the center this must be an atoll. The volcanic island has finally disappeared beneath the water.

Round 3 in turq green and variegated threads represents the barrier reef.

I love the way the fingers of the lagoon go into the reef and also the way the picots of the trefoils look like coral polyps.

Rounds 4 and 5 are more reef,

Phew! Here is the last round in all it's glory using the deep blue to represent the reef feathering out into the open ocean.

Hope I got the colour proportions right.

Those of you who know me will know that I like to give accurate details in the hope that they will help someone. So
The thread is DMC Cordonnet special size 20, the finished doiley measures 10.5 inches and used approx. 4.25m of turquoise blue, 6m of turquoise green, 20.5m of blue and 34.5m of the coral reef thread. You might need more depending on how tight you tat and how big the picots are.

I find it very important to know how much thread I need when I am using hand dyed thread that I only have a fixed amount of. For this reason I always tat a sample first. I know it's a lot of extra work but it does give a lovely comparison of the effects of colour too.

This was made with Flora 20 and is a little bit smaller than the coral reef one, I find that DMC thread is a little softer than Flora or Coats. It took 76m of thread.

My only crit. about this pattern concerns the final row. The chains joining into the two ring unit of the previous round don't lie well and tend to buckle. In my coral reef doiley joined the last picots together and also in the chain joining into the trefoil. Of course I then kept forgetting to make less picots!! If I made another ever I would reduce the stitch count and it would lie much better.

OK now you can go back to whatever you were doing before you chanced on this blog...if you can remember that is after all this beauty!!


  1. Oh, your coral reef color is to die for! OMG! The pink is pretty too, but not nearly as beautiful as the blue/green combo! Did you know blue is my favorite color? Lovely, lovely doily!

  2. STUNNING! Your coral reef colors are awesome!

  3. I cannot tell you how beautiful this is to me - the thread, the doily, the travel description. These colors call to me all the way across the Atlantic! If ever you decide to sell your thread, this is the one I want first and some of the solids as well as the variegated. I am awestruck! I love the way you constructed the doily to pay homage to the reefs you obviously love so much! Thank you for this lovely post.

  4. Absolutely gorgeous! The island waters, the reef and the ocean -- it's all just wonderful. Quite feels like I've been on a vacation. Now I feel the need to hunt up a pattern for that doily!

  5. Beautiful colors. I have never been to Fiji, but I do remember flying over to Hawaii and the colors of the waters were just like as we were flying into Honolulu. I love the color you captured in your threads they look fabulous.
    I'm with TattyCat...if you decide to sell I want this one AND the apple blossom threads. They are both absolutely gorgeous.

  6. O.k...where do I start? Your new HDT is goreous and I thought of Diane when I saw it! hee hee, I knew she would love it.
    You look like a princess in Fiji...(which by the way is one of my favorite all time places).
    This post, albeit long, was very enjoyable! Love all the tatting.
    So are you saying that you have a swiss army shrimpy thing named after you? What an honor!

  7. Beautiful! That's a lot of time and effort in every bit of it...measuring, test-tatting, dying the thread, recording all of that. Wow! Definitely worth it from the results!

    :-) Gina

  8. Breathtaking, and not just the scenery. Interesting read about the trip and the education about marine life.
    The doily is beautiful and like all the rest I love the HDT.

  9. I agreed with the rest. The HDT truly captured the coral reef - I too love the ocean.

    Can I ask you sthing - do you dye each color separately? I'm planning to do some for my own use. I can't afford to buy Sherry/Marilee's HDTs.

  10. Hello from Michigan. OH how I loved traveling with you to the tropical islands and seeing the beautiful shades of blues and greens. Love the hand dyed threads, they certainly created a beautiful doily refecting the tropics. Beautiful tatting.

  11. Oh my - this is absolutely gorgeous - the thread colors, the doily, the time and care you put into getting it "just right." And it was so worth it; it is FABULOUS.

    Can I just say I have completed one (yep only one) doily in my life, and it was a small one at that. I have nothing but admiration for people who tat doilies in what is seemingly a short amount of time! I mean, you had to tat two of them besides! How do you do it??

  12. OH OH OH the color is BEAUTIFUL!!! The coral reef doily is amazing!!! You really have an eye for beautiful blending colors!


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