Goodbye to old friends, hello San Fransisco!

My wonderful time spent with Sharon, Emma, Mark and Chris in Loomis has finally come to an end.  The Tin Thimble is truly a family run business and everyone who passed through the gates during my visit was friendly, fun and fired up with fibre and fabric fever.  Sharon and I stayed felting until almost 12pm each evening, when you are with someone like minded it is definitely hard to take a break and we both wanted to spend as much time sharing our experiences and having fun while felting together!  I REALLY enjoyed both the complex felt bag and the nuno mosaic workshops, most of the participants actually attended the two courses so by the end of Monday night we were really like one big happy family, all be it a rather tired but happy family!!!  Here is a picture demonstrating how amazing the nuno mosaic scarves turned out, Susan had to fly and catch a plane but hopefully I will have a picture of her gorgeous piece as soon as she gets home and has time to photo it.

MArni, me, Sharon, Jenine and Brenda showing off their beautiful nuno mosaic scarves!

You can also see some of the complex bags although not all were totally finished at the end of the workshop; there is a LOT of work involved in designing and felting a project such as this and Sharon’s is the only fully felted one in this picture, it is GORGEOUS!

Onwards to San Fransisco, amazingly gleaming in the sun when I arrived and the warmest I have ever experienced here to date.  I really need to stop talking for a day or two (my voice is on the blink!) and fully prepare for an action packed weekend at Knit One One in Berkeley and Urban Fauna Studio in the Mission District, SF.  We kick off the weekend with an evening felt jewellery class in Knit One One, if you are thinking of participating please SIGN UP NOW because we need another two people to make the night work and tomorrow is obviously the deadline for sign ups!

World Felt Day will be brilliant, my first return workshop will be taking place in Urban Fauna and I am so excited to be sharing loads of interesting techniques for creating unusual felt accessories, CLICK HERE if you would like to join us.  On Sunday we have another workshop at Urban Fauna, this time felted vessels and the place to SIGN UP IS HERE!

Off to bed now (aka having a glass of wine with Jamie and Blas before I head off!) so I leave you with some more fabulous photos from the wonderful workshops at Tin Thimble, another update tomorrow.  They may be all over the shop (Irish for all over the page!) but I know you’ll forgive me since the felt is definitely drool worthy!!!

Brenda's silk laid out and ready to cover with two VERY light layers of merino

Modelling the completed nuno mosaic scarf!

Susan including beautiful hand dyed silk in her lay out

Patti and Sharon concentrating on laying out their silk

Jenine throws a pose!

Marni with her amazing first piece of nuno felt!

Fabulous texture from different weights of silk and a gorgeous vintage scarf

The beautiful Sharon from The Tin Thimble with her really amazing wrap

Patti added a romantic ruffle to the edge of her wrap

Horrendous journey to textile heaven!

Technical problems twice on the runway in Dublin meant a change of plane and a missed connection in Paris. Diverted to SF via LA and human error Paris meant another missed connection LA. Eventually arrived SF ten and a half hours late but all the horror of the journey has been pushed to the back of my mind by the wonederful welcome from Emma, Sharon, Mark and Chris at the AMAZING textile heaven The Tin Thimble in Loomis!!! Tommorow we start day one of our complex felt bag class and hopefully I will take some pictures and post them to the blog so you can all see the fantastic felt that is being created and the inspirational surroundings and friendly faces.

My beautiful felt phone cover, burnt due to my impatience

I never did get to stitch the fish skin closure to the little felt phone cover I made yesterday afternoon.  Stupidly I got impatient waiting for the felt to dry and decided to leave it in my oven for a short while.  No problems there (I have used this trick before when I need a piece to dry quickly) except I forgot all about taking it out again and by the time I remembered the beautiful creamy white felt had become an aged yellowy colour! 

Wool neps and hand dyed tencel surface decoration

 

I did however, manage to take a picture of the front with my iPhone, email it to mysef, save it to my pictures and post it here now, amazing!  Once I get a few apps downloaded I hope to be able to post directly to the blog.  The tencel shines beautifully in the light and the wool neps give a nice texture but I think that you should be able to see a slightly browner/yellower colour at the top of the little cover and the reverse view is even more burnt.  I also have a small pocket on the back for my Moo cards, really handy and I am just going to use the cover for a couple of days until I get a minute to felt another one!

More preparation for my US adventures and a little light felting relief …..

Gathering the felting materials to bring with me on Tuesday evening is not a problem, getting into the studio and negotiating the tables as I left them for felting the large rug is.  I am just going to have to grit my teeth and do a little bit of tidying up as I go along, at least it will make things more organised when I return home but I HATE tidying as you all must know by now! 

This morning I wrote and emailed off an article re. ‘Felt Naturally’ in Silkeborg as requested by Grima (the Danish felting association) and then I called over to Carmen for a bite of lunch and to deliver some Icelandic felting wool to one of her workshop participants as ordered for a community project in Wexford.  Writing about the fabulous time I had at the felt symposium in Silkeborg refreshed my mind about some of the techniques learnt and shared there, I can only hope that participants in my workshops in US will have half the fun that I had and also learn something new to boot.  It is absolutely amazing to think that at this exact time next Sunday participants will be finishing their bags during the second day of the first Complex Felt Bag workshop at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, northern California!!!

Since picking up my new iPhone 4 yesterday afternoon I have been trying to get to grips with some of its features, hopefully Blas from Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco (felt accessories and felt vessel workshops the first weekend of October!) may be able to help me with getting used to the phone and will give me good tips.  Apparantly the tarriff that I am on here in Ireland is totally prohibitive in the US but probably I will be able to access a computer somewhere in Loomis and keep you all updated with progress at the first workshops!  I felted a simple little iPhone cover when I got back from Carmen’s and once it is dry I am going to stitch on a little closure using some soft and supple fish skin from Iceland.  Alan sparked off the idea for the opening on the cover so as soon as I have it all assembled I am going to try to take the picture and upload it straight to the internet from the phone, wish me luck!

………?

No title to this post as I am saving all my energy for thinking and organising prior to my departure late on Tuesday night to catch my 6.30am flight out of Dublin on Wednesday morning!  I need to be available to check in a minimum of 4 hours prior to boarding so guess that means a midnight journey, ah well, can’t sleep at all anyway I am so excited!!!

Today I got some more washing done, sorted out my ESTA authorisation, prepared some stuff for packing, bought the new iPhone4 (thanks Alan for my birthday gift!),  planned a little felt cover for it, got some lovely locally grown veg on the range and have a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at my hand as I wait for Katie Taylor’s World Championship bid on RTE in a couple of minutes!

My favourite felt accessory of the moment, raw materials for US workshops and a picture of my new fibre friend!

If you are a regular follower of this blog you will know how hectic things have been here at Clasheen since my return from ‘Felt Naturally’ in Silkeborg at the beginning of August.  Laying out and felting Sylvia’s large rug took a lot longer in actuality than in planning, partially due to the logistics of scaling up to such a degree (especially without another pair of hands!) and partially due to interruptions with Lady Captain duties at Borris Golf Club.  I did however manage to fit in a few small projects between other committments and one of the pieces that I felted is definitely one of my all time favourite accessories, a real conversation opener whenever I wear it at the moment which to be honest is quite often!  

Green felt boa

Charlotte Buch needs to be credited with the design and was very generous in sharing the technique used with all of us who participated in her long workshop in Denmark.  Because I was totally focused on felting my sea creature it wasn’t until I returned to Clasheen that I actually got to try out this method for myself and I absolutely LOVE the versality of the finished piece!  In the workshop many participants felted this boa starting with a base of prefelt but for mine I decided to start from scratch and use some of the gorgeous hand dyed merino roving I recieved from Holly as part of the New Year Secret Scarf Exchange organised via Ravelry.  The boa may be twisted a couple of times around the neck as a necklace, wrapped around the waist, worn as a scarf, tied around a ponytail and in many other ways which might grab the wearer at any given moment.  This felt accessory just goes to demonstrate how totally versatile and adaptable one simple design may be and if you would like to see some of the other ways which I wear mine have a look through my Flickr  photos.  Another amazing advantage of felting this piece is that my horror of a sewing machine has almost disappeared, honestly!  Charlotte uses either an embellisher or a sewing machine (depending on the end result required) during the early stages of some of her work and to be honest once I saw how simple various of the techniques were and the amazing results on offer I have had a major head change with regard to the use of these frightening pieces of equipment (frightening to me!). 

This brings me on to another point which I feel is well worth making before I head over to the US next week.  Many different raw materials may eventually lead to a similar end result and many different end results may be arrived at by numerous different people all starting from the same point and using the same raw materials!  This is something that I can’t stress enough for anyone considering joining me at one of the exciting workshops that are planned for Loomis, Berkeley, San Fransisco and Kalamazoo over the next 4 weeks.  Please don’t feel that you have to copy exactly what I do or use the same fibres and other raw materials that I choose to use but obviously you are welcome to do so if that is what you so wish!  What I will be providing is an insight into how I work, what I find works best for me (I am ALWAYS learning and discovering new materials and texchniques!), sharing some of my own favourite pieces and bringing along with me as many raw materials and embellishments as possible to examine with all of you thereby providing a felting receipe which you may choose to follow or totally adapt dependent on your own wishes.  What I would like all participants to do is to bring with you as many or as few of your own felting materials,  found items, stash goodies, jewellery findings and equipment as you can comfortably transport (in a bag or in a truck!!!) and then we can look at the ways in which you work and find the direction and materials you are comfortable experimenting with in order to create some fabulous and individual pieces during the course of the various workshops!  Is it obvious HOW EXCITED I am to be finally meeting so many of you in the flesh???

Lastly, here is a picture I took of a fibre friend from La Gomera and I have now installed her as my desktop background because I think she is just gorgeous!!! 

My fibre friend from La Gomera!

Back at the ranch!

I got a wonderful greeting from Rex when I arrived back at Clasheen yesterday evening and he was just thrilled today when I let him out of his shed this morning and headed off for a walk before breakfast!  Amazingly enough, although the weather was very cloudy and damp here in Ireland when we landed yesterday afternoon and again today the temperature is actually approx 20 C so it hasn’t been too much of a contrast acclimatizing after the wonderful week we have had in La Gomera. 

Today I am trying to unpack, download some of my photos (over 500 of them!), get some washing done, catch up with emails (not going to get this one finally sorted ’till tomorrow so don’t panic if you are waiting for a reply), collect post from the post office, shop for basic food supplies, call over to Carmen (she is cooking lunch and we will be felting for the afternoon), start to assemble supplies that I need to take to America with me (trying to sort out the most interesting, unusual and relevant materials that I like to work with and share with others!), organise things for a workshop tomorrow morning and generally catch up with all those little things that don’t seem much by themselves but add up to a LOT of work to get done by nightfall!

Three point turns necessary to negotiate the bends!

As promised here is a photo showing the kind of roads and terrain we were travelling  on and traversing across although I have to confess this was just one road too far, we walked the final mile or so down to the little hermitage.  Three point turns on every corner with an horrendous fall if you went over the edge were just not my idea of fun so we parked where we found a spot and shank’s mare was the way to travel for the last stretch of this road!!!

OH NO, for some reason I have just lost a LOAD of writing and images when I uploaded this post for the first time so apologies for the lack of writing now (I’ve run out of time!) but here are a couple of images showing texture and patterns which I am saving in a special folder to spark inspiration for felting work in the future. 

Colours and textures from an old door in El Cercado

Old roof tiles, again in El Cercado

Beautiful La Gomera

Only two more days to go and then Alan and I will be returning to Ireland from our relaxing holiday on La Gomera.  The last few days have been spent exploring the wonderful mountains and different terrains of this most fascinating and relatively unknown gem in the Canary Islands.  Stunning scenery, beautifully warm and clean water, fascinating desert terrain, rain forest, hiking in the World Heritage Site central region, never once the need to put on a jacket or fleece, fabulous (FABULOUS!!!) food and friendly people, all one would want for a relaxing break in one small package.  The most stressful aspect of the holiday are some of the less accessible roads, pictures to follow and then you can all see what I mean!  Our apartment (belonging to the sister of a friend of Carmen´s) is set high up over the Capital town San Sebastian and it is in the town that I have found a small internet shop and am quickly writting this post today.  My holiday inspired triangular freestyle scarf-wrap is almost finished and when we return home on Monday afternoon I promise to upload some photos of our time here and catch up with everything prior to my departure to US the following week!