Oh so soft merino scarf

Sent this really soft scarf with organic edges and dreadlocks off to a secret swap partner this week, felted from 16 micron merino and using the storm clouds overhead as my inspiration.  Unless you live in Ireland it’s quite impossible to describe how an otherwise sunny and warm day can have this stormy looking sky too!!!  Speaking of swaps, many apologies for being so behind with the Clasheen Crafty Swap on Flickr, hope to pick up the reins on Monday but been just so tied up with computer and the book, sorry.

Stormy skies over Clasheen

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Some swap questions answered and a photo of my latest nuno felt shawl

Swap partners are now up for the Flickr Clasheen Crafty Swap so if you are one of the current participants please ENJOY!!!  These swapping events are meant to be fun and I just want to take this opportunity of thanking everybody who has participated to date and welcoming new swappers to the experience, I think you are going to love it!  

Soft and ultra warm felt shawl

Before I write a little about the warm shawl I felted yesterday (could this be nuno felt???) I just want to address some questions which pop up quite regularly about the swap both as comments or private emails here to me at Clasheen.  I hope you don’t mind but I am just going to write the sallient details as bullet points, I know you will get the gist but for anyone needing more info please take a look through previous swaps on the discussion board and in the group pool of pictures to see the type of packages we share around the world.  Here goes …..

  • Everyone is welcome to join wherever you may live in the world
  • We usually swap one main item (hand crafted by you for your partner!) and a selection of other smaller items.
  • Our participants come from all walks of life so all we ask for the hand crafted goody is that you put some thought into it and make sure it is something that you would like to recieve yourself!  Ideas include wearable accessories (scarves are probably our most popular items to swap), a small painting, notebooks, jewellery, hand made cosmetics, bath products etc.
  • The additional items are often lovelies from our own stash, fibre, fabric, buttons, beads, upcycled, recycled, old books, magazines, findings etc., anything that we may personally like but have never managed to find a use for ourself or know that our partner would particularily like.
  • I assign each participant a number and when I do the draw put these numbers into a container and pair them up as the numbers are drawn out.  This does mean that it is a lottery and sometimes a participant is teamed up with the same partner twice although I don’t think that has been a big issiue to date.
  • The swap is not a competition or meant to be in any way stressful but it is nice to check through the discussion board to see exactly what makes your partner tick and try to put together a parcel that will please.   What colours do they like, are they girly or practical (I know that I’m not girly anyway!), do they read English, salty or sweet, tea or coffee, ground or beans, you get the idea.
  • You do need to join our group on Flickr in order to participate, this is just the only way for me to monitor the swap without getting boggged down in paperwork from this end of things!
  • Full names and addresses obviously need to be swapped with me as moderator of the group and with your swap partner.  We do this through Flickr mail and not publically on line so there is no need to worry about private details becoming visable to everyone on the internet.
  • For new or potential participants just take the plunge!  Really we have some good fun and it is fantastic to get to know people from all around the world and share a little of our own hand made goodness and wonderful to get a little something in return!

Now on the that shawl!  I am always on the look out for unusual fabrics to incorporate into my nuno felt and other wearables or to cut up and use as surface decoration for items such as vessels or bags.  A while ago I picked up a very unusual and lightweight mohair/metallic thread shawl that just seemed to be crying out to be felted into a beautiful and warm shawl.  It was like a gossamer piece of cobweb, beautifully soft and warm with a really interesting knitted pattern.  Nuno felt is the process of combining a lot of fabric with a little fibre to create a totally new fabric, in this case although technically the shawl I started with could have been called fabric it was probably machine knitted and not a woven fabric like silk or cotton so can I call the end result nuno felt???  I had been having a bit of a mental block about what colours to use with this piece but for some reason yesterday white and baby blue just jumped to mind and that was what I decided to work with as a backing for the shimmering indigo shawl.  The knitted square had subtle colour variations changing from silvery white in the centre through to deepest indigo at the edges.  The whole piece was also threaded with a silver metallic thread and I am now thinking that there must have been some elastic somewhere in the yarn because the fully felted end shawl almost appears to have a slight ‘give’ or stretch to the fabric.  Because I really wanted to keep the beautiful drape of the knitted shawl I decided to lay only one light layer of short fibred merino on the reverse, I did succeed pretty well although in some places the felt is a little patchier than I would have liked optimally.  Probably that is to do with the fact that I never (well almost never except for bags and vessels!) weigh my wool out in advance and I didn’t realise how little blue I had in stock so ended up using every last scrap no matter how unevenly laid out it was!  For some reason I can’t upload any more photos to the blog today (oh the restrictions of the internet!) but you can have a good look at the close ups on Flickr to see how well the fabric ‘melted’ into the merino backing.  You can also see from a shot of the rear view how different stitches and colours in the base layer result in subtle variations of colour in the finished shawl.

Just organising swap partners tonight and a little bit of nuno felting!

Just organising the swap partners tonight for our first Clasheen Crafty Swap of 2011!  Welcome to all returning swappers and a big hello to our new members, you are going to love this event!!!  I am almost back to normal today, probably about 90% of my usual self with just a bad cough periodically but nothing much else to worry about.  There were two meetings (golf club, what else!) I should have been attending tonight and another tomorrow evening  but I have put in my appologies because an early night snuggled up in front of the stove calls, not a drive in the current wild wet and windy weather.  This morning I felted a highly textured nuno scarf and then knuckled down to felting a one off wrap, a bit more unusual this one but you will have to wait for more details and some pictures tomorrow!  My ArtL!nks vessels are really calling out to me but I just want to get a couple more smaller projects out of the way tomorrow and then from Wednesday onwards I can start the really large vessels and get a good run at them.  ‘Till then …..

Wrapped up in merino ….. and swap update

Thankfully my proposed Saturday workshop has been moved until next weekend as this flu, while getting a little bit better is still a long way from over.  It is so frustrating to go from hot to feverish and bathed with sweat in the blink of an eyelid and tired to exhausted in the space of those same few seconds!  I have been trying to stay in bed for most of the day (memory foam is a LOT more comfortable than lounging around on the couch) in an effort to shift this dose asap but yesterday evening I just had to do something fibre related (must have been feeling a BIT better!) while watching some mindless television in front of the stove. 

Soft merino cowl

Recently I received a skein of gorgeous handspun ‘pancake and lulu’ merino in one of my all time favourite colours from Suzy (aka Hollyhill) in a swap on Ravelry.  I wasn’t totally sure if there would be enough yarn to knit a cozy cowl for myself but happily things worked out just perfectly and this afternoon I have been able to keep my neck snug.  Do excuse the bug eyed photo but it was the best I could do taking a photo of myself with my phone camera, in fact I think my eyes look more swollen in reality after the last few days anyway!

Clasheen Crafty Swap update ……. Promise to get partners assigned by Monday at the latest, just give me one more day to recover from this dose.  Anyone wanting to sign up this late pop over to our group on Flickr and I will include you in this round.  Thanks Kirsten for jogging my dozy memory!

Still waiting, felt flowers in the making, creative spinning

I am still waiting for my delivery of Icelandic wool to arrive in preparation for the large rug I am felting my father’s cousin Sylvia, hope there is no charcoal getting in the way!  In the meantime my sister commissioned me to create 36 small felt flowers to adorn her new Stranne table light from Ikea.  This is a spin off from my own lamp which I updated at Christmas by adding stylised flowers to surround every little light bulb, everyone seems to like it for some reason.  Anyway, I used flowers left over from my Sculpture in Context piece so just added whatever I had left over but for Suzanne’s lamp I am making them from scratch in colours that she choose on Sunday.  Yesterday I started the production by felting two 8 flower batches and this morning I intend felting 16 more before loading the truck and heading of to a teaching engagement this afternoon.

Stunning hand painted roving from the Dancing Farm

On Friday I recieved a wonderful swap package from Suzy aka Hollyhill in the New Year Secret Scarf Exchange on Ravelry.  It included this fantastic hand painted roving from the Dancing Farm which in addition to looking forward to felting with it has inspired me to try out spinning with a spindle for the first time in an attempt to add some handspun yarn to me freestyle kniting!   Not  having any spindle myself I have adapted one (using a piece of bamboo, a CD and some rubber bands) and this evening when I am back from teaching I am going to have a try armed with Gaia traditional crafts beautiful book Creative Spinning.  This is such a wonderfully bulky amount of gorgeous fibre to recieve and in my mind’s eye I can see several beautiful and light felted scarves and some yummy yarn all created from the one gift from Suzy, thanks for this great swap package!!!

Exhausted, elated, frustrated …….

Exhausted ….. wrists tired, brain worn out, plinths to paint and work to finish for the Blueprint exhibition in Eigse.

Elated ….. felt delivered for the South East Textile exhibition which opens on Friday 11th June between 6 and 8pm in the Watergarden, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, all welcome!  The show continues for two weeks and features a mixture of textile disciplines and styles showcasing the work of both experienced and new members of this exciting group; been called for an interview to a panel I am very interested in; adult and child felting workshop confirmed as part of the Cashel Arts Fest in November.

Frustrated ….. spent approx 4 hours yesterday trying to finish my final piece for Eigse but in order to get the finished dimensions I wanted fulled it so firmly that the really complex series of resists inside became one with the felt, eventually just cut it up into tiny pieces in frustration!

Lastly ….. don’t expect any sense from me for a couple of days until my work is delivered and installed.  Next week I am taking some time to relax without deadlines and will be in touch with everyone re work, emails, swap buddies, potential American workshop hosts, in short all of you waiting for a little slice of my time!

Another wonderful package and incredible news in the post!!!

I had intended blogging about the wonderful package I recieved yesterday from Gill aka tisserande for my second bite at the Clasheen Crafty Swap but as I have not been able to take photos today (totally tied up finishing pieces for the RDS National Craft Competition) I promise to post everything tomorrow and reveal the AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL woven silk scarf.  Thanks so much Gill, everything is fabulous and I really feel lucky to have some more gorgeous fibres to experiment with as well, just wait until I have some time next week to play, my head is full of ideas!

This morning I felted a sea shore inspired nuno neckpiece using some gorgeous hand dyed silk from Lyda Rump and combining it with short fibred merino and white bamboo tops.  I had intended on felting a white closure adding some fish skin, a piece of abalone and some mohair locks as embellishment but for some reason I just can’t seem to get it finished to my satisfication so I decided to leave it for the moment and take a quick break, walking up to the top of the lane with Rex to collect my post. 

I am SO excited as guess what was waiting in the post box to brighten up my day???  A letter saying that I had been awarded the 1000 Euro ArtL!nks bursary that I applied for recently, the news is still just sinking in!!!  Those of you who have been following my blog for a while now  will know that ArtL!nks is a 5 counties initiative that has been instrumental in helping me build my felting practice since taking up the craft almost 3 years ago.  I am really honoured that the independent panel assessing the applications thought my work was of sufficient merit to recieve a bursary and will blog about what the funds will be used for next week when I get my RDS submission out of the way!!!

Now, I have a message direct to you all from Cathy Fitzgerald, director of ArtL!nks and would really appreciate if those of you who the message is relevant to take the time to fill out the survey, I have already done it!

Attention all those involved in the Arts in the South East:

In the last few years ArtLinks have organised the first local arts training opportunities in the South East. ArtLinks is now 3 years old with close to 1500 members. ArtLinks is now currently reviewing its programme and is be conducting the online Survey from Mon 10 -26 May 2010, to all its members. We would invite all  who are passionate about the development of the Arts in the South East region to contribute to the future direction of this programme by taking 5 mins to complete this survey at http://tinyurl.com/25h2cy9 (there is a 100 euro book voucher to be won too!)