Blogs, nuno felt and our new book, ‘shapeshape’, a tip for pattern making and felting kits!

I intended to write a brief post today but instead I’ll just write quickly!

Because I follow a lot of interesting, creative and sustainable style blogs I never seemed to manage to regularly update the links to them here on Clasheen or add new ones as I find them and subscribe. As a result I always felt that I was never on top of sharing the links with my friends and blog readers so I’ve now set up a board on Pinterest titled ‘Blogs I love to follow‘. It’s going to take another week or so to upload every one of them (a few are currently inactive so I am reserving them for future inclusion), don’t panic if you don’t see your own blog included until I post they are all updated, at that stage please let me know if you have any recommendations that I may not have already noted. I’d also love if all of you who enjoy Pinterest set up boards for blogs too, there are so many wonderful sites out there that cater to every diverse interest, having a board for blogs you follow is a wonderful way to promote and share each others work!

I’ve started editing and laying out our new book and Chrissie and I have decided on a title too,  ‘Nuno Felting with Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown’. Hopefully that explains exactly what the book is about, we’ll also have an ISBN on this and any future books, this means that in addition to Blurb it can be sold online through Amazon and be stocked in any regular book store, hurrah.

Free-style curved stole, note the asymetrical hemline

You may remember recently I almost had a melt down on the sewing side of things, I love nuno felting, I love creating beautiful individual drapeable and textured fabrics but to date have always broken out in a cold sweat trying to design and felt larger garments. Thanks to several recommendations (thanks Ginny, Sharon et al!) I ordered ‘Shape Shape, Sewing Clothing Patterns to Wear Multiple Ways’ by Natsuno Hiraiwa from the Book Depository, it arrived yesterday. Realistically I want my clothing to actually fit. I don’t like to see nuno garments with big bulges under the armpits etc. and while I love a relaxed organic shape and style I do want things to actually have some style!!! Anyway, I love quite a few of the patterns particularly the sleeveless scarf blouse, reversible French sleeve blouse (I would love to wear it buttoned to the back, great for those of us with a small bust I think!), drawstring low-waist pants, free-style curved stole, reversible circle vest, the reversible wrap skirt and the envelope messenger bag, to be totally objective I do not like the  twist and drape blouse! Anyway, wanting to try a couple of pieces in nuno felt and because my sewing skills are totally non-existent I decided this morning to trace and cut out the free-style curved stole as a pattern first and then cut it out in some drapey jersey fabric I picked up for a song in San Fransisco last spring, any muslin I have in my stash I intend to felt with. For the first time in my life I actually traced and cut out a pattern as instructed!!! Now for those of you who are limited in the sewing department here’s my biggest ever pattern making tip….. cut the pattern from freezer paper then you can iron it to your fabric and cut it out easy, peasy!!!!! This stole is really another take on the style of nuno felt garment many of us are familiar with, a large flat piece of fabric with two holes cut out for your arms that depending on where you cut the holes may be worn in several different ways. The biggest revelation this time was that for Natsuno’s design the armholes are fitted at an angle. Hallelujah, the sample actually fits me although I do think that I would describe it as a sleeveless vest rather than a stole, maybe it is just the fabric I made it in gives this impression, anyway, I like it! This afternoon I’m going to felt some nuno yardage and then make this piece up for real, wish me luck.

Finally for today, Aileen Clarke from Aileen Clarke Crafts has written a great post for anyone interested in exploring some of the felting kits that are available at the moment, thanks for including mine Aileen!!! When I get to adding Aileen’s blog to my new Pinterest board it might just be the wonderful picture of Alistair that I pin, check him out here, isn’t his coat AMAZING??? Also check out Aileen’s beautiful felt pictures inspired by Highland cattle, very evocative.

5 hectic days at Clasheen!!!

I’m just catching up from 5 HECTIC days at Clasheen!!! I really can’t write everything down because I still have so much work to plough though this week and not enough time to do it so apologies if you are expecting an email response, it will be another few days before I get my backlog cleared. Suddenly everything seems to be coming together all at once so highlights which will all be blogged about individually as soon as I get a minute include…..

  • exciting news about an AMAZING week long residential felting workshop on a bio-dynamic estate in Portugal this June (tba later this week)
  • the launch of some beautiful new wool products for felters and knitters/crochet artists with Chrissie Day (this will be taking place during the late summer)
  • the development and launch of some pretty amazing felting tools with friend and designer Niki Collier
  • the completion of my neighbour’s house upgrade which I have been working on frantically, this means residential felt and fibrerelated holidays at Clasheen!!!
  • the continued work on our nuno felting book, Chrissie and I are just in the process of getting an ISBN number which means that we will be able to be stocked on Amazon etc.
  • a potential new venue for my fall US workshop trip

Whew, I’m buzzed just sharing the potential of these events with you!!! ‘Till next time…..

A tip to enhance texture in nuno felt and KY and MI workshop details are finally online!

I have managed to get through a lot of the clearing, re-organisation and tidying chores that I blogged about on Monday, not all of them obviously but I have made a dent in the never-ending pile! Thanks for all your encouragement both via comments and through FB, they are definitely much needed to keep me going, I HATE tidying!!!

As promised, the full workshop descriptions for the KY and MI workshops in May are now up on the workshop page and I am hoping that we will have a mix of both experienced and improving felters attend. Beginners are really welcome too so please don’t feel you don’t have enough felting under your belt to book a place, everyone is welcome and it makes for a really fun and creative time if we have groups of mixed experience!

I have also started to transfer some of my felt pouches across from Big Cartel and into my Etsy shop, only time will tell if this has been a wise descision.

Finally for today, Rhonda was wondering how I achieve so much texture in some of my nuno felt pieces. This is something that I will be writing about in the new book with Chrissie but a great tip is to wet out and soap your fibres before you lay out any of your embellishment. Taking this idea a little further for projects such as nuno bags or cushions (items where you have a couple of layers of wool in addition to your fabric), try rubbing the base layer of wool through your bubble wrap to create a ‘skin’ on the surface before laying out your fabric on the top, then wet and soap the fabric lightly and rub again through the bubble wrap. By working like this the wool fibres underneath don’t have as much opportunity to travel through the fabric and this helps to create more texture! You do need to be careful though to rub longer than roll however using this method, otherwise you could try fulling with the tumble dryer, this elliminates both the rubbing and the rollling process!!! I’m going to be discussing my experiences nuno felting using the dryer thoroughly for my section of the new book and I will also be talking about it at the workshops in Lexington and in Plainwell!

Textures in a nuno felt scarf

Special offer, $10 off ‘From Felt to Friendship’ through until 27th February!

Great news from Blurb in my inbox this morning, $10 discount when you order ‘From Felt to Friendship’ through until 27th February if you enter the promo code SAVE10 when you checkout!!! I’m adding Blurb’s terms and conditions for the offer after the following preview of the book.

*Offer valid through February 27, 2012 (11:59 p.m. local time). A USD $10, GBP £6, EUR €7, CAD $10, or AUD $10 discount is applied toward your product total with a minimum order of USD $50, GBP £30, EUR €40, CAD $50, or AUD $50. Valid for printed books only. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

I’ve just had a great couple of days felting!

Now that I’ve made the descision to stick with felting my favourite nuno accessories and home accents all the pressure is off for my section of the new book.

Heart cuffs and brooches, a few of the many!

Yesterday was good fun, in the morning I did a little stitching on some cuffs and brooches for the market tomorrow and in the afternoon Kate Ramsey arrived and we felted and chatted together at the kitchen table. I was experimenting with some beautiful Portugese rare breed wool (more in another post) and Kate worked on some of her gorgeous flowers and scarves.

This morning it was back to nuno felting and just before Carmen arrived I had a brainwave about a new design for a bag!!! It was great to have someone with an objective eye to bounce ideas off so after about half and hour of discussion and drawing I set to and started laying out the first section. Thanks to a swap I did with Carole Dysart just before Christmas I have a lovely big bag of silk off cuts; some hand dyed, some textured, some heavy, some shiny and some with sparkly threads running through the weave. I selected a large pile of pieces ranging in colour from pinky blues through to lovely apple green and chose a turquoise Kap merino from Wollknoll to use as the base. This bag is felted in two pieces, one nuno and one regular felt, it’s not quite finished yet but when Carmen was leaving she did say that it was her favourite ever of any bag I have made to date! No more info now because the design will definitely be in the book. For those of you who are asking, Chrissie and I hope to have all our writing and projects for the book completed and edited by the middle of March, it will then be published and available as a hard copy and eBook before the end of the month.

I’m heading off now to catch up with some paperwork, grab a bit to eat and pack the car for tomorrow morning.

 

As a result I had an idea for a new bag design this morning, totally out of the blue but I am really thrilled with how it is turning out!!! Carmen was here felting with me and I was able to bounce ideas off

I’m nuno felting like crazy, or am I just going crazy???

Yesterday evening I felt as if I had finally lost the plot. I have so many things that I need to be doing as well as so many things that I should be doing but my brain just went into melt down and I didn’t seem able to get anything accomplished! Finally and with a sense of relief, I realised what the problem was. Chrisse has the most amazing wearable nuno projects to share with everyone in our next book (just wait until you see some of her clever designs!) and I had got stuck in a great big rut since Christmas feeling that I needed to felt some large, stylish garments too. With my impatient temperment and total lack of sewing skills I am never going to be able to draft patterns like Chrissie and the miriad of fantastic seamstresses out there, why was I trying to be someone that I’m not??? The new designs that I was working on have been floating around in my head for well over a year and are all based on simple shapes and rectangles, easy peasy in my mind but not easy peasy to bring to fruition as things have turned out. My eureka moment came last night when I realised that I had been nuno felting these new wearable designs like mad over the last few weeks but just wasn’t enjoying myself, it was way too stressful and I couldn’t concentrate properly or relax and just settle in to the process. Having fun and enjoying my felting is what it is all about for me. I love sharing tips and techniques when I teach and to not enjoy my work was a new experience for me, as a result I have decided to go back to basics and write about the sort of nuno felting I most love to create myself! I’m leaving the larger garments to others at the moment but I have decided to take lessons this year and get to grips with pattern drafting and using my sewing machine to the best of my ability too!!! Taking the amazing workshop with Lisa Klakulak last summer inspired me to stitch into my felt and lose my greatest fear of sewing so I think that with a bit of determination there should be no reason I can’t master a few really basic patterns. From my perspective there will be plenty of new projects and ideas in the book that I haven’t written about before and loads of helpful tips about the various tools I find that make life easier. As with ‘From Felt to Friendship’ the new book is about our experiences nuno felting, where we get our inspiration from, what we find works and what we find doesn’t. I hope that it will give people an insight into how we work as well as being inspirational and fun, I know anyway that I can’t wait to try out some of Chrissie’s ideas and projects for myself!!!

 

 

Dawn Edwards is coming to Ireland!!!

I’m SO EXCITED that the wonderful Dawn Edwards has actually booked her flights to Ireland this morning, she will be arriving in Dublin early on Tuesday 17th and staying here at Clasheen from then until the end of the month!!!  We are going to have such a fantastic time.  Chrissie Day, great friend and co-author of ‘From Felt to Friendship’ will be joining us for some of the time and it will be so fantastic that Dawn and Chrissie will actually meet in the flesh rather than ‘seeing each other’ over the internet during our regular chats via Skype!

One of Dawn's beautiful hats!

As soon as I have some provisional dates sorted for our felt hat workshops I will post them to the blog and also set up an event page on Facebook.  Please bear with me, realistically this may not be for a couple of weeks due to the frantic run up to Christmas especially since I am working towards 2 more days in Borris Market as well trying to whip my house into some kind of shape yet again!  I won’t have to travel up and down from Dublin so much now because Mum came home to Enniscorthy on Friday evening and is in very good form.  She is having some more blood tests etc. this week but overall is making an absolutely amazing recovery from her recent serious health scare.

OK, I’m rushing off now because Carmen is on her way over and I need to clear enough space in the kitchen for her to get in the door, it’s lashing outside so I also want to stoke the stove.  Winter has finally arrived at Clasheen!

Special offer for October and an iPad, iPhone and iPod touch version of our book is now available to download!!!

Because of all my computer problems yesterday and the fact that I am really trying to knuckle down and get some felting done this week I didn’t fully appreciate what Chrissie was up to until I got an email saying that ‘From Felt to Friendship‘ is now available to order as an ebook!  What this means for anyone with an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch is instant gratification, no postage, a cheaper option than the hard copy book and all available at the press of your finger!!!  Click here to order directly through Blurb, the ebook costs $23.99, thanks Chrissie for setting this up.

Felt bracelet

I did manage to upload two bracelets to my Big Cartel shop this morning and to celebrate this relatively stress free occurance (as opposed to yesterday’s nightmare!) have decided to offer 15% discount on all sales through to the last date in October.  To avail of this special offer please enter the code OCTATCLASHEEN when you reach the checkout.  More products will be finding their way into the shop each day this month, at least that is my plan and I am sticking to it for the moment.

Finally I did get a kind of business page set up for Clasheen on Facebook yesterday.  It’s titled ‘Nicola Brown – Clasheen’ and I would really appreciate your support (obviously only if you like it!) by clicking the ‘like’ button, I’ve even added a button on the sidebar to the right just to make things easier for you!

My secret is out, inspirational notebook is published!!!

When Chrissie was at Clasheen for the official launch of ‘From Felt to Friendship’ last month I mentioned to her that I was in the middle of designing a simple little notebook to jot down my musings in.  Well finally tonight my secret is out, the book is published and available to order through Blurb!!!  Chrissie herself actually published her own ‘Feltingfibres Inspiration Notebook’ recently, you can imagine how silly I felt when I had told her what I was up to and didn’t get it together until now, ah well, better late than never!  Basically ‘inspired by nature’ is 80 pages long, has a mixture of blank, lined and graph paper pages and features a selection of inspirational photos I’ve taken around Ireland during September this year.  I’ve ordered a batch of them to have to hand, you may have guessed how appalling I am at keeping all my paperwork in order, I’ve no excuses now!  Here is the preview, enjoy!

Another rose hip felt vessel and more free machine embroidery pictures

Apologies for not posting final pictures from the weekend’s free machine embroidery workshop yesterday, tidying up just got in the way!  Seriously, the massive back kitchen/garage restructuring that I have undertaken this week is really coming along famously and I didn’t want to break stride and get sidetracked by the computer, I would NEVER have headed back to the devestation that is my garage otherwise!!!

My mother’s birthday in on Sunday and she has requested a companion piece to the little rose hip vessel (one of the pieces in ‘From Felt to Friendship’) I gave her for Mother’s Day earlier in the year.  Luckily she requested this ages ago (as she requested the original vessel!) and I was able to put some orange, red and black merino aside in a bag so fingers crossed I can make a nice piece this morning, a welcome change from all the tidying and cleaning going on chez Clasheen!  This afternoon I am playing in the last big ladies golf competition of 2011 so thinking of this I have put aside this morning for felting the vessel and hopefully a couple of new bracelets to stitch at the weekend.  I really feel that because I have invested so heavily in my machine I need to get to grips with the technicalities pdq because I obviously need to be selling work to justify the initial cash outlay.  My intention is not to stitch every piece of felt from now onwards rather understand the possibilities and see where that leads me!  Now on to some more pictures and info from Arlene Shawcross’s brilliant free machine embroidery workshop last weekend.

The finished bracelet photographed against the granite stone wall I used for inspiration

On Saturday evening when I returned home after the first day was over, I had a look in my studio to see if any of the beautiful glass buttons I brought home from the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck last October would suit the colours of the bracelet which I had been stitching.  The loop closure is not the widest because I felt I needed to keep it in proportion to the delicacy of the stone wall design so I was delighted to discover the smallest of the buttons was a beautiful grey/blue glass with a band of deep green and iredescent gold, perfect.  It was a bit (or a lot fiddly!) to attach the button and after a failed attempt myself I have to confess that Arlene was brilliant and stitched it on for me, thanks Arlene!  Big strong hands are a huge advantage sometimes (excuse the pun) but for some jobs especially ones involving detailed sewing I just get very frustrated, ah well, one step at a time I suppose.

My next experimental project was to stitch on a dissolvable paper, very interesting.  Arlene has gorgeous samples and I thought this would be a very interesting way of creating interesting pieces to sandwich between two layers of perspex or glass, my mind was humming!  With this method I didn’t need to cross over each line of stitches to the same degree as I had with the Romeo, the second stage of the process is wetting out and removing some of the paper so being selective with this ensures that the remaining paper ‘bonds’ everything together anyway.  Adding paint to your brush and washing it lightly over the surface of the stitches and paper leads to interesting effects if you don’t make it too wet, as the water/paint dries the remaining paper stiffens around the stitching.  I loved this distressed look and will be experimenting further, below is an image of one of the pieces that I made.  The final piece that I created used a very sticky backed plastic, problems, problems with this one but a very impressive final result even if I do say so myself!  I’m going to add a few selective beads to this piece, frame it, photograph it and then blog about it so until then I’m not going to write any more about it here.

A close up of the stitched, dissolved and dried paper sample