Fit to burst!!!

I am so excited about my planned trip to the States that really I am fit to burst!   Without giving too much away before I actually clarify dates, workshops, costs etc. and tie things down properly it looks as if I will definitely be in the Philadelphia, Michigan, San Fransisco, Loomis and Eugene areas and if any of you are in areas somewhere in between (or really anywhere else in fact!) please don’t hesitate to email me and we will see if we can set something up if you are interested!!! 

Inspired by my daffodils!


Thanks so much to everyone who has already been in contact and I will acknowledge you all fully here on the blog and publisize the workshops as soon as I get my head screwed on and we have events confirmed in our diaries.  It is looking at this stage as if Alan and I will fly over for our holidays, I may do a workshop or two when he is with me and then after he flies home I will stay for another couple of weeks (or as long as it takes!!!) for some totally fabulous fibre fun!


Sneak preview, exciting news, new swap, an answer and an update ……

Quite a lot of exciting things to talk about this morning and not so much time to write everything down!  Starting with the sneak preview, here is a detailed image of the silk and corn fibres (turquoise and white respectively) that I combined with Icelandic wool for my latest felt bag. 

Corn fibre, silk and Icelandic wool

I am not going to post pictures of the completed bag yet (yay, got the handle finished and fitted this morning!!) in case my swap buddy is following here  but this will give you an idea of how I interperted her favourite ocean inspired colours.  Now that the bag is finished I am very happy with the sense of motion, almost wave like that the white corn fibres add to the surface.  These fibres were one of the goodies that I bought last October from Blas and Jamie at Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco and I can’t wait until October again this year when I am making a return visit and will be facilitating a workshop as well!  Blas and Jamie are making a visit to Ireland this Spring and as well as participating with me in a workshop at Clasheen I will be spending some time with them showing off some of my favourite spots here in South Eastern Ireland.

That sentence leads me nicely into my biggest news, I will definitely be in America during October 2010 and would love to do a series of workshops across the States and get to meet as many of my blog followers as possible!  Thanks so much to Dawn Edwards who will be organising an event in Michigan.  I can’t say how thrilled I am that we will be meeting up in person at last and I actually get to stay with her and wear her out with all my chatting, how cool is that!!  Over the next week I have to finish my submission for an ArtL!nks bursary, deadline for me is next Wednesday but as soon as that is done I want to chat with everyone who might be even vaugely interested in the possibility of a felting workshop so please email me if you would like to touch base and try and work something out.  My plan is to either start the trip in San Francisco and end in Chicago or visa versa and I am thinking of travelling early in October but need to clarify the dates and see if I could possibly include the last week in September as well.  Please email me directly if you might be interested, it would be great to hire a car and teach all the way from Chicago to San Fransisco!

The Clasheen Spring Swap is now posted to our group on Flickr and sign ups are underway as we speak.  For this seasonal swap we will make one special gift for our swap buddy using Spring as our inspiration. Let your imagination run wild sparked by all the freshness of the season, ideas to consider include light weight scarves, jewellery, hand painted cards, homemade floral scents or body products, fabric covered art journals, anything at all with a spring theme or colour.  We will also include a couple of inexpensive extras (possibly from our stash) and a receipe for a light and appealing main course dish which we enjoy cooking ourselves at this time of year.  If you want to sign up for the swap remember you need to do so through the group on Flickr, joining us is easy if you are not already a member!

For those of you wondering where I got the gorgeous hand made beads that I incorporated into Suzanne’s necklace I bought them from Lori aka Tabmade on Etsy.  Unfortunately Lori doesn’t have anything for sale at the moment but if you do a search for fimo or polymer clay beads on the internet maybe you will be lucky and source some unusual beads for yourself.

And finally, poor Suzanne is having problems with her wrist and now has to go back for more surgery next week.  Somehow the bones have shifted and her cast was removed yesterday.  Now she has a back slab fitted as a temporary support and it is extremely painful so hopefully next week will start some progress and her wrist will finally stop paining her at last.  Thanks for all your messages to her, I am passing them on and she appreciates the thought.

Sculpture progresses and fun morning with friend

Apologies for my lack of posts over the last few days.  The internet connection has been extremely sketchy, must be something to do with the fact that our weather has broken at last and amazingly for this time of year farmers (and the golf course) had actually been praying for rain!

I have been working on fulling and shaping the sculpture that I started at the end of last week.  This first experiment in creating a tall column shape should give a good indication of whether I need to make my felt thicker, use a different resist, have a larger space to work in etc., all the nitty gritty things that will help me when planning and executing pieces larger than my own actual height and width!  When I started fulling and shaping I initially worked the felt around a long piece of electricity cable housing.  I had intended on having this diameter as the finished width but discovered that the felt needed to shrink further to become stronger and self supporting so I put the work aside to see what on earth I could find to hand with a slightly narrower diameter to enable me continue the shrinking process.  I returned to the scuplture the following morning having discovered the perfect fencing stake lurking in my garage, no problems now working the felt around the wood and beating it with a wooden spoon to finish firming up the felt!  Pictures to follow when the piece is totally finished.

Yesterday I spent a fun morning with friend and artist Rosin Markham.  Amongst other materials Rosin sometimes works with gorgeous undyed raw wool from a variety of different sheep breeds.  She very generously gave me samples and locks from some wonderful looking kinds, hopefully I will be able to take pictures later today and you will see the crimp and texture which should translate wonderfully into some finished felted work.  As Rosin had never worked three dimensionally before I showed her how I work around a resist and she laid out a simple round vessel in graduating shades of undyed Icelandic wool.  Meanwhile I decided that this was a good morning to get started on an ocean inspired bag which I am making as part of the current ‘felted bag swap’ on Ravelry.  I tried out a new shape which with a little tweaking will be perfect as a basis for exploring a new complex felt bag design, just need to add another flap or two but need to buy more laminate floor underlay first!  Rosin’s vessel was looking very good by the time she had to leave and my bag is now sitting on top of a rad drying while I plan and execute the dreaded cord handle.

Suzanne's necklace

You may remember I posted a good while ago about the necklace I made my sister Suzanne for her birthday.  She and my mother came over for a coffee on Sunday morning and I snapped a shot of her wearing it for my records, note the fact that she didn’t want her face to be shown, false modesty in my opinion but it does make for a good photo!

Started a new sculptural piece at last!

Yesterday morning I was able at last to start work on the first of a series of tall felt sculptures.  Although I need to tidy the studio up yet again (what’s new?) and get some paperwork out of the way it was very satisfying to actually get this project underway if somewhat daunting at first.  This outdoor and indoor series of sculptures has been in the planning for a long while and I nearly evaded starting the process yesterday morning because when it came to the crunch I almost seemed lost about where to begin!  Eventually I decided that as many attempts may be necessary before I get the ‘perfect’ piece just to quit procrastinating and get on with laying out the wool.  For this first piece I am working in graduating shades of grey Icelandic wool starting with charcoal at the bottom and changing through to a very light grey at the top.  Because of resist constraints (I need to buy another large roll!) lay out was not as big as I might have wished but although the piece has another couple of day’s work to go it has given me an idea about the various difficulties I may encounter once I scale up for the much bigger outdoor pieces.  Ideally I don’t want to use any fabric stiffener with these sculptures as I would really like the tactile nature of the felt to shine through.  Whether this is totally practical for the outdoor pieces or not I don’t know yet as the design is tall and narrow but we will just have to wait and see.

Needing to sell some felt in order to spend time experimenting on this exhibition type work has brought me full circle to rivisit the pricing debate yet again!  Pop on over to Clasheen Uncut to take up the cudgel and if you have any suggestions re. online sites to sell from please make sure to leave a comment.  I have also posted there today about a new craft related social networking site that I discovered last night called My Craft Corner, one to watch in the future I think.

Some more shibori pictures and fabulous new wool arrives!

My second shibori experiment on St. Patrick’s Day was this simple cowl, again felted using merino, cotton gauze and silk. 

Spice shibori cowl

This time my design had a hole at one end through which the cords pull through from the opposite end to close the cowl, hope this makes sense!  I love the combination of cerise, orange and raspberry wool as I think it gives the cowl a lovely warm and spicy feel.  The cords were very easy to incorporate into the body of the felt and this is a design I am planning to play around with a little, possibly make my next cowl a little longer and a little narrower.  Check out my Flickr photos for a full range of images from both sides of this piece.

Yesterday morning my latest order of silk arrived from Wollknoll and boy am I EXCITED!  When Lyda Rump was here for our workshops in February she was saying that they now were dying some fantastic wool similar to that which I usually get from Filzrausch, a short fibred19 micron merino.  I asked Sonja Fritz is she would be able to include a kg of various colours with my order for silk and I was blown away by the subtlty of the shades and how beautifully soft and easy this ‘Kap’ wool is to work with.  There was a PERFECT rose shade (I have never got anything quite as beautiful in this colour before) and it just cried out to be felted with one of Lyda’s gorgeous hand dyed silk chiffon scarves. 

Hand dyed silk chiffon with the softest nuno shibori

Again I decided to experiment with a little shibori.  My aim with this scarf was to emphasise the gorgeous colours from Lyda’s dying so I decided just to add wool at either end and not cover the chiffon completely.  This created a fantastic and light scarf which would be an amazing present for someone allergic to wool, only the silk would be touching the skin when you throw the scarf around your neck!  I have uploaded both these shibori pieces and my recent Zebra cobweb felt scarf to my Etsy shop this morning so if you are looking to treat yourself to a little uplifting pressie now is the moment!

Gorgeous gauze for shibori experiment

My felting experiments yesterday were fun, fun, fun.  Amazingly I had decided to experiment with a shibori felt wrap/cowl affair only to discover when Carmen arrived that shibori was also what she had planned to do and neither of us had breathed a word of our intentions beforehand, incredible! 

Working the shibori wrap

Anyway, as part of the ‘Secret Swap Exchange’ I am participating in on Ravelry I needed to make a whimsical cowl for my swap buddy using yellow as the base colour.  Thanks to some shibori tips from Chrissie Day I decided to tackle this project for some St. Patrick’s Day fun and here is what I have come up with!  Using cotton gauze as a base I laid out a layer of short fibred merino which I then embellished with loads of gorgeous gold and maroon coloured mulberry silk.  When the fibres were starting to penetrate the gauze fabric but before the piece was shrinking I tied glass nuggets into the felt securing them with rubber bands.  I continued felting and fulling as usual and when the piece was totally shrunk undid the little bundles and pushed out the glass nuggets.  Some of the resulting bubbles I left as was while others got pushed through to the other side to add contrast and interest to the surface detail.  When I put the wrap on my manequin to take some photos it was interesting to see how reversable it actually is and to play around with the many ways it is possible to style it around the neck.

Nuno neck wrap - merino and silk side out

Hopefully my swap buddy will like her new neck wrap and for more images  and some detailed shots of the gauze side please check out my Flickr photos.

If any of you want my fool proof receipe for English Sherry Triffle (with my secret Irish ingredient instead of sherry!) head on over to Clasheen Uncut  where I am going to post it a little later in the day.

Playing catch up, planning tomorrow, blog awards and some inspirational blogs for you to enjoy

Thanks to all of you who have either emailed me directly or left comments here and on Facebook wishing my sister Suzanne a speedy recovery, I will pass your messages on.  Both she and my mother came to Clasheen late yesterday afternoon for our delayed Mother’s Day dinner, asparagus, free range chicken with all the trimmings and an Irish whiskey laced fruit triffle, a good time was had by all!

This morning I am loafing around in my PJs and dressing gown, trying to catch up on all my internet mail and various other computer related tasks before heading over to welcome a new member to the Golf Club early this afternoon.  I have two meetings tonight as well so please forgive me if you are waiting for a response to a query or an answer to an email, I am trying to get to everybody as quickly as I can but it is definitely a battle hard fought from a time perspective at the moment!  Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and as Alan will be away with his family and Carmen is also free we have planned a stress free and active day of fun, fibre and felting.  I am going to try and have the studio and kitchen in some kind of order before I go to bed tonight making way for nothing but pleasure tomorrow, still not sure if I am going to continue with my series of cobweb scarves (thanks for the tips and comments), play around with some nuno experimenting or start on one of my planned sculptural pieces, will wait and see what the mood is in the morning.

The Sunshine Blog Award

Thanks to Angela Barrow and Chrissie Day who both recently awarded me the Sunshine Blog Award and I hope that you both don’t mind that I am accepting them simultaneously probably breaking some unwritten blogging rule in the process.  As far as I can understand it the sunshine award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspires others in the blog world so thanks a million to Angela and Chrissie, it’s lovely to think that my ramblings go some way towards brightening your day!  The rules for accepting the sunshine award are (although you should feel free to ignore these rules and just enjoy the award!) put the logo on your blog or within your post, pass the award onto 12 bloggers, link the nominees within your post, let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog and share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.   

Tribe Talk

Before nominating some inspirational blogs for you all to check out using the Sunshine Blog Award guidelines I would also like to say thanks to Nic from NicKnits who via the Tribal Talk banner on It’s a Hodgepodge Life nominated me as one of her blogs to check out!  The blog that I would like to add to this fun group is That Artist Woman by Gail Bartel.

Irish Blog Awards

I have also discovered that I have made it to the long short lists for the Irish Blog Awards so thanks to the judges, sponsors, organisers and everyone who nominated me again this year, you all rock!

Now for some of the inspirational blogs that I follow myself and by the way, please don’t be offended if your own blog isn’t here.  Probably Angela, Chrissie or Nic linked through themselves or else I did myself somewhere in a recent post so I am not deliberately ignoring you, just trying to point you in a potentially new fibre direction (with the exception of Anna’s gardening blog) which I hope will light you your day today!  In no particular order …..

Weekend spent in A & E

Well, a quick post to let you know that whilst hiking at the top of the highest point of this region in South Eastern Ireland my sister slipped and broke her wrist badly on Saturday.  I had just taken a picture of Alan, Suzanne and another friend Patricia and as we were climbing down from the height mentioned to everyone (I was in the front) to be careful of the footing, too late unfortunately as right at that moment Suzanne slipped on long grass and the rest is history.  Anyway, her treatment at Waterford General Hospital was excellent although Saturday night is not a night Suzanne will care to remember as the pain was excruciating and surgery didn’t take place until mid morning yesterday.  This afternoon I am going to cook yesterday’s planned Mother’s Day dinner so tomorrow morning I’ll be back to posting about felt as usual!

Mohair and merino transformed into a light and airy cobweb felt scarf

The natural mohair locks that I brought home from the States are a gorgeous mixture of silvery colours and I thought that they would combine beautifully with some more 16 micron merino from Filzrausch, this time a black and white roving perfectly named ‘Zebra’! 

'Zebra' merino and mohair locks

Cobweb felting is not a technique that I have great confidence in never having had a chance to participate in a workshop on the subject.  Instead I’ve learnt from books and practical experience and to be quite honest this latest attempt is by far the best scarf that I have felted to date using this interesting method.  If any of you do have some tips and advice about the topic please leave a comment, all info gratefully recieved and put into practice for future projects!  Anyway, I laid out the roving along the full length of my table and then teased the fibres out as wide as I could possibly get them without breaking the strands or leaving any areas too open and exposed.  Once I was happy with the layout of the merino I teased the mohair locks with my fingers and laid the curls loosly in position.  I decided not to place any merino at right angles across the scarf because the mohair acted well to strengthen the felt and I wanted the black and white of design to run lengthwise and really give a sense of movement to the finished piece. 

Cobweb scarf blowing in the wind

I rubbed, rolled, stretched and re-rolled the scarf for much longer than usual in order to create a super strong and well fulled cobweb felt.  In some early cobweb experiments I don’t think that I rolled for long enough because after the scarves were worn for quite a number of times they almost seemed to continue felting further widthwise with use.  Maybe that is a feature of this type of felt, as I say I really know very little about the subject although I think that this scarf has totally stopped felting and fulling and I hope that it will stand up successfully to many happy seasons of wear!

Beautifully soft 16 micron merino

For part of the New Year Secret Scarf Swap that I am participating in on Ravelry I wanted to felt a gorgeous and soft scarf for my swap buddy Krysotfer.  I had decided to work in an amazing soft 16 micron merino which I had bought late in the Autumn from one of my favourite suppliers Filzrausch in Germany and the idea was to felt a long scarf in charcoal wool with natural mohair locks to decorate the ends.  The mohair was one of the gorgeous fibre related items that I bought on my October visit to northern California which is ironic in a way since Krystofer actually lives in San Fransisco, California and this is the city where Alan and both I started and ended our wonderful holidays from.  I hadn’t been going to upload any images of the scarf here until I was sure that Krystofer had recieved the package but due to circumstances detailed below decided to put this teaser up anyway! 

Detail of the mohair locks


This merino was a dream to work with, very fine, evenly carded and lovely and quick to felt, I laid out two very fine layers so the finished scarf is extremely light, warm and soft.  The only thing that I will do differently next time is give my hands a rub with olive oil approx 10 minutes before I start to felt and this will ensure that the fibres don’t snag at all on my skin.  Felting does mean that I have clean hands most of the time but I forget to use handcream when things are hectic, I can safely say that hectic just about describes every day here at the moment! 

Now the real question is why did I decide to uploaded this image after all?  Because luckily I checked through the discussion board before mailing the scarf to discover that long for Krystofer is really looooong and this scarf definitely is a little challanged on the length side of things!  What does a girl do???  Decide what the **** and really go all out to felt another scarf that is well over 10′ long, I’ve not actually measured it yet but at a rough guess it is approx 12′ and counting!  No pictures of this one going up yet but hopefully Krystofer will email me a picture of himself wrapped in the scarf when he gets it, providing of course that he is not totally hidden by the felt, it is rather LOOOOOOONG!