Staying in the west of Ireland tonight with Alan’s parents, was in Dublin since Monday evening (bit of a story), home early afternoon tomorrow then hopefully dry enough to photo my latest felt vessels. Apologies for lack of updates, will probably give you an overload next week!
Happy holidays to all my felt and fibre friends of every relegion (or none) wherever you live in the world. Even though we may be physically apart it is amazing how close you all feel through this incredible medium of blogging!!! Especially wonderful is to have met a lot of you in person both last year and this Fall, hopefully I will meet many more online friends when I return to US during 2011!
Carmen has been really unlucky to have had her flights home to her parents in Gran Canaria cancelled due to the snowy conditions and the absolute earliest she is now potentially able to travel is the morning of 29th December. The up side is that we have now spent the last two days felting together (I am working on my ArtL!nks project and it is finally going well!) and she will be joining me tomorrow for another day of felting and a celebratory Christmas dinner of garlic prawns, roast duck with apple sauce, brussel sprouts with chestnuts and a yummy gluten free Christmas pudding made with ground almonds instead of the flour. I had been planning on travelling up to Dublin for the day to be with my family but the road conditions are just impossible to navigate in my long wheel base truck, it is rear wheel drive and useless on the ice. We will also felt on Sunday so watch out for some photos of my latest pieces, I am really excited about the direction they are leading me!
I leave you with a picture taken about an hour ago showing how pretty Clasheen looks in the icy conditions.
Washing machine not working while I wait for a spare part to arrive by post, big freeze continues although we at Clasheen seem to have escaped a lot of the snow this time, having problems sewing two felt and silk cushion covers together (surprise, surprise), plenty of food and drink in the house, heating working so all is not lost! Will be working on my felting kits over the next few days (just finalising the designs and writing up the instructions) and getting my hands wet felting tomorrow, how I miss it if I have not had a fix for a day or so!!!
Yesterday Alan and I spent a wonderful afternoon and evening enjoying a Christmas get together with friends. I wanted to make our hostess a little felt gift and decided on a clutch with raised detail in a beautiful plum and cerise two sided felt.
I have to stress that I don’t actually like stitching yet and seriously doubt that I will ever but working using the method Vanda taught the result for me is definitely worth a sore neck and a lot of curses! Although the end result looks deceptively simple there is a lot of work involved in making a piece even one so small as this clutch. Aside from the fact that the two sided felt is worked from up to 10 layers of wool a lot of attention needs to be paid when stitching the raised areas, the seams have two different stitches and the bound edges a kind of woven topped blanket style (my words, not Vanda’s!). For this piece I wanted to experiment with forming the purse from the one piece of felt and not stitching seperate pieces together as I have previously done for my other bags. The flap is also integrated into the purse and I had wondered if it would be possible to get a good shape where it folds over due to the thickness and rigidity of the felt. This didn’t prove to be a problem however as once I washed the area where detail was raised (to remove the pencil guidelines) it was not difficult to fold the flap while wet and dry the purse slowly to achieve the top edge. Anyway, I definitely will make some more styles of this clutch as I feel they have a miriad of uses, camera, phone, money or make up!
Although the last lot of snow has almost melted everywhere forecasts predict heavy falls here again from tomorrow afternoon starting in the West of Ireland today. I have spent this morning stocking up on meat for my freezer, going to the bank, posting some parcels for across the water, carrying in kindling and in a nutshell getting essential duties out of the way in case I get totally snowed in once more! The temperature has dropped by at least several degrees since I got up, the sky has darkened dramatically and the wind is now blowing strongly making it difficult to take any successful pictures of felt created to post to Flickr or here on the blog.
I JUST DON’T BELIEVE IT!!!!! Heavy hail/sleet is now assaulting the house so I am very glad I made the effort to drive to Borris this morning!
Anyway, enough talking. Here are two pictures (or maybe not!!!) taken in the gloomy outdoors, my latest Vanda Robert inspired bag and a gorgeous light weight nuno felt wrap. For the bag I used some 50% gotland 50% merino blended wool batts from Denmark and another similar quality wool (think it might also be the same combo although I bought it on a different trip from a different supplier) in wonderful shades of Autumn. I added some leather leaves and a horn button (all gathered from various trips to US!) and finished it with a cord handle which I made using some wonderful hand dyed silk yarn by Jamie of Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco. The wrap is felted from some of my Cloverleaf Farms hand dyed merino and silk hankies, the cotton cheesecloth I dyed with Rite under the supervision of Sharon at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, CA. Pretty cosmopolitan bag and wrap don’t you think? OK, you are going to have to look at my Flickr photos to see the bag and wrap because for some reason WordPress has lost the run of itself and my whole visuals jumped all over the place when I uploaded the photos. First time of trying they wern’t visable at all and then the second time previous posts went into the sidebars but the images still weren’t where I wanted them. Sorry!
Spent a happy day felting and stitching with Carmen today, bags and more bags, photos tomorrow. Yesterday I managed to drive down my road for the first time in 17 days, snow currently melting but loads forecast for weekend and into next week again. Oil arrived yesterday, my wool has arrived, I stocked up with fuel for my stove and had the last session with Borris Active Retirement. Check out the wonderful booties Dorothy made for her little grandaughter’s Christmas presents by clicking on my Flickr link to the right! Will write a proper post tomorrow on the computer, sending this via my phone!
UUGH, I am SO frustrated!!! I wrote a post yesterday afternoon in the freezing cold but for some reason the internet connection went down and I couldn’t add images or get it online. Just now I have rewritten the whole thing, added some pictures and then lost everything in the publication, how annoying is that. Unfortunately I am going to have to head downstairs again in a few minutes because it is absolutely freezing upstairs and I am trying to eek out my oil and just heat the lower level. I am now snowed in for a total of 12 days and counting, amazing for Ireland in late November early December although probably just as well that I lagged my water filter with some felt otherwise things could be a lot worse than they already are!
Anyway, here are a couple of photos of another felt bag a la Vanda Robert completed during my enforced incarceration and if you pop on over to Flickr you will find some more as well as a few pictures of the beautiful landscape at Clasheen in the snow.
Internet connectivity difficulties persist so hopefully this quick post will beat the rot, it is also FREEZING upstairs where the computer is and I am trying to save my oil for keeping the downstairs warm incl. my studio!
I am trying to felt as much as possible during the day, 1 to utilise the fibres in my stash, 2 to continue making Christmas presents, 3 to experiment with different designs and 4 just for the hell of it because I love to! Part of the benefit of limiting myself to the materials at hand and being confined to base is that I find I am trying to make sure every piece of felt ends up in a finished product and not just the pieces that I am happiest with. The bag on the left was felted on Tuesday afternoon and started as yardage for felt slippers (tutorial and kit in the making). When I assessed the design yesterday morning I actually thought that it would be a pity to cut it up too much and decided it would make a much nicer bag for carrying files, books etc. if only I could get my sewing machine out and bite the bullet on the stitching side of things. At the time I thought that I had one set of black leather handles left but imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had no black left but instead the most perfect red imaginable to finish this project! One bag later and not too much stress with the sewing machine I now am planning some Icelandic wool cushion covers and some more bags with both felt and leather handles. As you know I usually only felt bags using a resist but there is something soothing and mindless about creating felt yardage and for some reason the mood I am in with all this snow this activity seems to suit me perfectly and I think that stretching myself with a bit of sewing in no bad thing either!
Good morning from a very snowy Clasheen! Although we had a bit of a thaw yesterday morning there was another fall of snow last night bringing our total depth in this neck of the woods up to 12″ in most areas, deeper in selected spots. The good news is that I am confined to barracks and suffering NO guilty feelings about felting non stop but the bad news is that I have very limited supplies of short fibred merino (new order on the way from Wollknoll) so have put the next phase of my ArtL!nks project on hold until my delivery arrives sometime after my house becomes accessible again! I have also been having internet and phone connection problems so please bear with me but am sure that this is weather related, amazingly we had crashing thunder and incredible lightning at 6.40am yesterday and another bout during the day, very odd to have snow and lightning at the same time.
As promised I want to tell you about my favourite suppliers from Rhinebeck so here goes with three of my top picks, Cloverleaf Farms, Homestead Heirlooms and Maggie’s Farm. These are my personal selections and don’t mean to say that other vendors didn’t have fantastic supplies too, I loved the whole shebang and was trying to pick up goodies that might have been difficult to find here in Ireland and remember I was looking for materials as a felter and not a knitter/spinner.
Cloverleaf Farms is run by Joan Berner and boy does she have beautiful hand dyed fibres for felting or spinning, must be because she is an excellent felter herself! I made two purchasing trips to Joan’s stand, one on Saturday and the second on Sunday because for me her lustrous colours were unequalled at the show, the fibres didn’t appear to be over heated during the dying process and I loved the fact that they could be bought in Blue Faced Leiscester (which I had heard of but never seen before), Merino, Silk and various combinations thereof.
My second pick is Homestead Heirlooms where I bought as many pairs of simple pre-punched leather handles as I was able to afford in lovely colours including the yummiest green possible! I had seen their work on the internet before but was a little nervous buying on speck, now I can’t wait to re-order but obviously I need to make a few more bags and use up this stock first.
My third pick is Maggie’s Farm and here I bought the most divine smelling chunk of homemade soap ever! It was a huge chunk and kind of looked like a big piece of cheddar, the smell is subtly clove like however and it is just the best thing for felting. Unfortunately the chunks were really heavy otherwise I would have bought the entire stock and stored it in my hotpress to scent my clothes, buy some if you can!!!
Lastly I want to share with you my gorgeous new cowl from Rachel aka Pushkin on Ravelry, it couldn’t have arrived at a better time with all the snow!