Latex soles for felt slippers, cold spell continues and Happy New Year!

Last night I decided not to light my wood burning stove first thing this morning and try to get some household chores out of the way as a less expensive way of keeping myself warm!  Needless to say it wasn’t long before I decided on a little textile diversion and in the continuing absense of water had a go at painting latex on the soles of some warm felt slippers which I had made for myself earlier in the year.  Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will realise it is these little finishing touches that I find very difficult to get out of the way, add in a touch of sewing and they really are my worst nightmare come to life!  Anyway, I made the slippers last spring using some gorgeous gotland (which someone has now told me might shrink further as I wear them) and I had promised myself that I wouldn’t wear them until I had added a latex sole for extra durability and waterproofing qualities. 

Painting latex on the soles of felt slippers

They also need one stitch at the back of each heel, this is to hold the tongue of felt (just visible in the picture) into a nice decorative curl, somewhat Turkish looking is what I am aiming for.  I havn’t used latex before but believe that I need to paint about 5 layers to achieve a really good sole, Tone from Ullform in Norway also said that she sprinkles a layer of ground maize (hope I have that right!) over the final coat and that this adds quite a bit of grip to the bottom of the sole. 

The heavy wind and rain from yesterday has finally abated, now we just have sleet here and snow on the mountains surrounding Clasheen.  Thankfully I managed to speak to the friend who services my Rayburn and he gave me a couple of tests to carry out which indicates that my central heating system is actually working.  I still don’t have any heat in the rads however but have now got a man organised to check the pump in the well tomorrow morning so hopefully if we can get the water going and the pressure tank up and running things might get back to normal soon.  I can only keep my fingers crossed!  Obviously from all the messages that I am receiving many of you from all over the world have your own weather difficulties, some actually having drought and excessive temperatures, the exact opposite to what we are having here.  It is nice to feel part of a wider community although obviously I would prefer if no-one had any problems in the weather department at all!

Finally I would like to wish everyone a happy and peaceful New Year.  Enjoy any festivities that you have planned for this evening and hopefully we will all have a fantastic time felting and enjoying our various art practices throughout 2010!

Amazing Clasheen Winter Swap update, no water, no central heating and in lock down mode with weather alert!

The first pictures are now being uploaded to our Clasheen Swap group on Flickr and I have to say that there have been amazing packages winging their way to swap partners all around the world.  Many of the participants decided to wait until 25th December to open their goodies and boy does it seem as if the wait was worthwhile!  Check out the discussion board to read what people sent and recieved and then search through the group photos to see some of the great images of packages in various stages of unwrap.  Once all the thank yous and photos are posted to the group I will upload details of our first swap for 2010!

I didn’t post yesterday about my lack of water but today the situation is even worse so I am now officially entering Clasheen lockdown mode!  On returning from my sister’s on Sunday I discovered that the water supply had stopped, probably from ice somewhere along the line from the well to the water pressure tank.  The ground temperatures have been as low as -9C which is totally unheard of for Ireland so it probably is not surprising that this situation has occured.  Unfortunately my central heating has now gone on the blink this morning but luckily I have the range and a great small wood burning stove so cooking and huddling in front of these are my best bet for now!  The weather outside is currently exceptionally windy and wet and heavy snow is forecast for the next couple of days.  I am praying that the rain will defrost the ground sufficiently for my pipes to unfreeze and then I will be able to fill both baths prior to all the snow, bleed the radiatiors, run the washing machine and have a warm and relaxing bath to round off the day.  Failing a thaw I will just keep the stove lighting as much as possible and get water from my neighbours farmhouse, if I have no water tomorrow I will also beg a bath!  I have rigged up a duvet cover over the front door to try and eliminate the draft and now I have discovered that I don’t have enough putty around one of my upstairs window panes so I have some towels held in place by toiletry bottles to help with the draft and soak up some of the water that is making it’s way inside the window.  My french doors on the north east side of the studio are also leaking badly (this is the current direction of the wind) so overall I will be glad if it actually snows and this horrible windy rain stops, at least then it might be dry but cold!

Felting has obviously taken a backseat due to lack of water and total chaos in the kitchen but if things are not better tomorrow I am going to start some kind of project and use a bucket of water which I will collect from my neighbours.  Withdrawal symptoms have definitely set in on the textile side of things as I prepare for the snow but possibly things will get back to some kind of normality if my water returns this afternoon!

Anyone interested in a felt-a-long?

I am just throwing out the idea of hosting a virtual felt-a-long sometime during the first couple of weeks in January.  Following on from my last post I thought how much fun it could be for those of us already addicted to felting to share our knowledge and introduce some of our friends or children to this wonderful and fascinating technique.  I was thinking that a suitable project for us to do together would be a piece of flat felt which could be framed, stitched into a small bag or else stuck on the cover of a note book or diary.  My idea would be to make a piece myself taking pictures of the progress from start to finish, these would tie in nicely with the tutorial on the workshop page and would also expand on the instructions which I post out with all my flat felting kits.  I could set up a new group on Flickr for us to share our photos and ask each other for any help and advice, this would not be a competition but a sharing of knowledge and a great way to spread the fun of felting!  Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

My niece’s first time felting!

This morning my four and a half year old niece and I sat down to create her first piece of flat felt! 

Working directly on the wet felt

I had brought two large bags of Icelandic wool with me (the same wool as I use for the flat felting kits which I sell from my Etsy store) and we decided to draw a butterfly on top of a bright red background.  Even though she is so young we had no problems laying out two even layers of red wool and then I created an outline for the butterfly using strips of black wool which I rolled slightly against my leg first. 

Rolling the felt together

My niece then had great fun filling in the outline with purple wool overlaid with sparkly pink and white acrylic yarn.  We decided that the butterfly needed a head so she choose a nice turquoise for this and then I added fun black feelers to complete the picture.  We rubbed and rolled for a little while together and within a very short space of time had created a wonderful piece of flat felt to frame, wasn’t it a great first effort?

The beautiful finished butterfly!

For those of you who might be interested, the scarf that I am wearing is made from the softest yummy yak that I bought from Blas and Jamie from Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco, buy some if you can!

Happy Christmas everyone!

Happy Christmas to all of you who celebrate this festive season! 

I almost didn’t get to travel to my sister’s house yesterday as we had such bad ice in Ballybrack that I couldn’t get up the hill in my local village and had to abandon my truck at the village church car park.  Luckily there is an old mass path through the fields under my house so I was able to walk home the short way and not around the lethal roads!  Several other intrepid travellers had to turn back also but after a couple of hours warming myself at home I set off through the fields again and was eventually able to drive to Dublin by a much longer but safer route.

Rex is being looked after by friends Marie, Fin and their families so I am going to stay for another two nights with my family here and then back to Ballybrack and back to felting!  Thanks to everyone who has left Christmas messages here, on Flickr and also through my email.  It is wonderful to have so many virtual and real friends from all over the world, I wish you all a fabulous Christmas and Happy New Year!

Picture of felt flower ‘lampshades’ and horrendous computer problems yet again!

As promised here is a picture showing the little felt flower lampshades that I added to my Ikea light.

Felt flower light

Apologies for the lack of blogging over the last few days but I have been having huge computer problems and then managed to get a dreadful virus onto Alan’s computer so now he has none to use over the Christmas period, understandably he was not a happy bunny!  Hopefully things will be back to normal tomorrow but for now I bid you all a good evening and safe travelling over the holiday period.

What do you do with hundreds of felt flowers!

Following on from the felt piece I made for Sculpture in Context I had a big bag of extra flowers sitting in my studio.  I have been toying with the idea of incorporating them into some kind of felt rug but yesterday I raided the stash to steal 45 to use with an Ikea lamp as a kind of floral Christmas decoration!  The lamp is one that I used to use in a previous house but had put in storage since moving here to Clasheen, it has a tall silver base and 45 long flexible ‘arms’ with a small bulb at each end.  Reassembling the lamp was simplicity itself, I literally punched a hole in the centre of each felt flower, unscrewed the little bulb, positioned the felt at the end of each arm and then screwed the bulb back in creating a great focal point in the centre of each flower!  Even Alan commented on how successful the revamp was, pictures to follow tomorrow.

Felt ornaments, beads and hair accessories

Yesterday was ladies day at the Golf Club and as I only had a couple of hours in the morning to attack a felting project I decided to convert some flat felt samples into smart and colourful Christmas ornaments.  Using this great tutorial from Betz White I slashed, manipulated and stitched a large felt ogee.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find my tailors chalk (no surprises there!) so it took me a lot longer than it should have to cut the lines.  This was a bit frustrating but I didn’t want to make any mistakes and the stitching did compensate somewhat as for once it only took a couple of minutes to get through this dreaded task! The resulting ornament is definitely pretty but until I find my chalk I am just going to string this with some large glass beads and enjoy it hanging in one of the trees in my garden.  Any more of these ornaments will just have to wait until I am properly prepared at the slashing stage although I might get inspired to cut a few out from paper as I try and destash my interiors magazines!

I did put up some images of the felt and ceramic necklace on Flickr yesterday forgetting for a minute that they would automatically link through to my Facebook profile so here is a close up for you to see the contrast of felt and ceramic. 

Close up of felt, ceramic and organza necklace

Hopefully the intended receipient won’t realise that the necklace is her Christmas present so the surprise will not be spoilt.  These large beads are strung on a copper coloured organza and this is an effect that I intend to replicate with a couple more necklaces using some gorgeous vibrant coloured lime ribbon that I brought back from Denmark. 

Felt hair bobble

Having routed out some pieces of flat felt my other project yesterday morning was this simple spiky hair bobble.  Just get a long piece of felt a couple of inches wide and using a sissors or craft knife cut lines into one long side but not right through to the other side (hope this makes sense!).  Starting from one end roll the felt up into a rosette shape stitching a couple of times as you go along.  The slashed ends form a funky anenome style design and you could add a brooch back or as I did stitch on an hair elastic to create a fun felt accessory!

Successful day making and completing some felting projects!

Carmen called over for a cup of tea and a chat this morning, we actually hadn’t met for over a week as both of us have been so busy in the run up to Christmas. 

The finished felt bag, new handles attached!

I was delighted with her input re. adding handles to a felt bag that I had made, this bag is to be sent to a swap buddy in the States and I was very frustrated with the shoulder strap that I had already stitched on.  We both agreed that the long linen shoulder strap was awful, it really didn’t add anything at all to the bag.  I had a pair of  simple oval wooden handles in my studio and felt that they would suit the shape better, Carmen agreed.  My problem was wondering exactly how to attach them to the bag so that the metal ‘closure’ was not actually visable and Carmen solved the problem by suggesting stitching some fancy yarn over the join.  The yarn that I used is Icelandic knitting wool, not fancy at all but a perfect colour choice for the merino in the bag, stitching the handles on completed before lunchtime which must be some kind of record for me!

My second completed project of the day was a chunky felt and ceramic necklace, destined for …..’s Christmas present, don’t want to give the game away so not posting any pics yet!  The ceramic beads were another buy at the Knit and Stitch Show, they are a beautiful shape and each one is uniquly glazed in various shades of chocolate, rust, ochre and teal.  I used some of the Norwegian C1 wool that I ordered from one of the suppliers at ‘Felt in Focus’ this summer for the felt balls.  The colours of wool that I had complimented the ceramic beads perfectly and the felt balls didn’t seem to feel scratchy at all, I had been wondering would they but there was no need to worry.

Completed project number three is a crochet cowl, I know, I know, not felt but what can I say!  This is something that I started at the end of my American adventures when crocheting was my only connection to fibre and it kept me sane on the flights home before I seemed to get struck down with possible swine flu.  This is another Christmas pressie, this time for an old family friend.  I have finished it off with a beautiful resin stick from Woolfish, yet another Knit and Stitch find!

Lastly I have a confession to make!  Carmen fell in love with the velvet encrusted scarf from yesterday so it became part of her Christmas present, I forgot to take a photo before she headed off with it so here are a couple with the wool laid out and the velvet and silk ribbons embellishing the surface.  Apologies for the quality of the images, for some reason my camera has severe difficulties when taking anything in this particular colour combination!

Velvet and silk ribbons laid on top of the merino

Trapping the velvet with wisps of wool

Just a quick post re felting with velvet

Just a quick post this evening as the hours seem to have slipped away and it is now time for bed!  The last of the  trees were planted this morning and I was lucky enough to plant the final 8, far from the amount I had originally intended but time was not on my side.

This afternoon I decided it was time to try incorporating some fabulous hand dyed silk velvet into a scarf, this was part of the stash that I bought at the recent Knit and Stitch Show in Dublin.  I also wanted to try some of the hand dyed silk ribbons that I brought home from the States, both the fabrics were in gorgeous shades of hot orange through to burgundy.  I laid out a short scarf in some of my short fibred merino and overlaid with the velvet and silk strips.  Lizzie Houghton (in Felting Fashion) says to trap the velvet with some wool fibres and  luckily I did.  As I progressed through the felting process I actually thought that the velvet had felted into the wool, not the case as it turned out.  The silk ribbon also didn’t incorporate into the wool as well as I expected but overall the effect is quite rich.  A couple of seed beads in appropriate spots might just add to the opulent  feeling and the richly textured end result is worth trying out a couple more times as the velvet does add another dimension to the felt.