Blog giveaway, last 12 hours to enter!

Well there are only 12 hours left to enter my first ever blog giveaway. If you would like to win one of the new felt pouch/wallet kits (including the tutorial) that I am offering from my Etsy shop please just hop on over here and follow the instructions to enter, there are 3 kits up for grabs! The winners can let me know if they want a kit especially made up in warm or cool colours, winners announced on Tuesday.

Each kit contains enough materials to make two pouches this size!

Felt flower tutorial at last!!!

Orange and yellow felt flower

SIMPLE FELT FLOWERS

Materials list 

  • Approx 2 to 3g (.07 to .105oz) merino or Icelandic wool (batts or roving) in complimentary or contrasting colours, a spot of clashing colour often works well!
  • A little silk fibre, tencel, firestar or linen to add embellishment if desired.
  • Two pieces of bubble wrap no smaller than 12” square or one larger rectangle.
  • Warm water and soap.  An unscented soap with a high fat content is the best for your hands, most soap does work but I prefer olive oil soap or goat’s milk soap.
  • A small towel and a bottle for the soapy water, an old plastic mineral or milk container with small holes pierced in the lid makes a good cheap sprinkler!

Method

  • Place your towel on the table with one piece of the bubble wrap on top, bubbles up.
  • Lay out an even but light circle of wool approx 4” to 5” in diameter and lay a second layer on top of the first.  Overlapping the complimentary or contrasting colours works well as does laying out a darker splodge of colour in the centre of your flower.
  • Place your hand on top of the pile of wool and ‘vibrate’ it slightly to help the fibres stick together, check that there are not any extremely thin areas.
  • Patch if necessary and add then a little of your embellishing fibre around the outer edge if using.  Note, silk, tencel, firestar or linen fibres don’t actually felt themselves, the wool ‘catches’ them so please use sparingly.
  • Sprinkle some warm soapy water evenly on top of the wool, enough to compress the fibre but not enough to cause water to run off the bubble wrap.  You don’t need loads of suds so don’t go wild with the soap!
  • Place the second piece of bubble wrap on top of your flower bubble side down, if using a rectangle of plastic lay out the wool on one end and fold the other over.
  • Gently press down to work the water through the wool and remove any air pockets, lift the bubble wrap up carefully and see if the flower is totally wet through, add a little more water if necessary.  Replace the top layer of bubble wrap.
  • With wet soapy hands carefully rub the flower in a circular motion on top of the plastic for about a minute, turn over and repeat on the other side.
  • Remove the top layer of bubble wrap and gently rub directly on the wool with soapy hands.  Once a ‘skin’ has formed on the flower pick it up and start to shape it into a three dimensional shape with your hands.  I like to place the tip of my index finger in the centre of the flower and work the felt around the outside of my finger.
  • The flower will shrink by about one third to one half the original layout size, when you are happy with the result rinse in warm water, reshape and dry.  Enjoy!

Now for two thumbnails, WordPress is playing silly games today so apologies I can’t seem to upload any more!

Adding firestar around the outside of the flower

Shaping in my hands

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Lovely day yesterday, Borris Market and felt flower tutorial is on the way …..

Alan and I had a lovely day yesterday, thanks for all the best wishes for his birthday!  This morning has been spent making all the last purchases for Christmas (as opposed to last minute purchases!)  and driving into Bagenalstown to hand deliver a present.  Now I have the stove lit, a chicken to go in the oven and some flowers to felt for my mother.  I also need to make a nice piece of flat felt which will then be cut and stitched into a ‘smart phone’ cover as requested by my sister Lizzie.  I am planning to take some pictures of the flowers in progress and then I’ll post my felt flower tutorial as promised, that’s the plan anyway!  As things stand I doubt that I’ll get to any emails or similar today but once tomorrow and the final selling opportunity for my felt is over Saturday is a new day.

Tomorrow morning I will be back in Borris Farmer’s Market with more 3 for E30 specials, please call in and say hi if you are in the area!

Little felt brooch tutorial as promised!

You may remember that I promised to post (especially for Fiona!) a felt brooch tutotial, these were was what all of us in Feltmakers Ireland were teaching during the ‘Learning Curve’ sessions at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Dublin last week.  Thanks Holly for giving me permission to share your instructions,  here they are in my own words as an abbriviated list, I am assuming that everyone knows how to lay out the fibre but if not please refer to my basic flat felt instructions over on the tutorial page.  For these brooches we worked between bubble wrap and used beautiful short fibre merino batts, of course you could use tops/roving but the batts are just so quick and easy it’s not funny!  Anyway, don’t be afraid to experiment with the dimensions and fibres/fabric that you use, here is the process …..

  • Lay out a 10cm (4″) square of one colour, wet out with soapy water and fold in the edges to make more even, put aside.
  • Lay out an 8cm (3″) square of a complimentary or contrasting colour, wet out and fold in the edges as above.
  • Place the smaller square on top of the larger and position a round or oval resist on top somewhere making sure to leave some space around the outside to allow you to trap it completely with wool.  For my resists I like laminate floor underlay best but any kind of flexible plastic eg. bubble wrap is fine.
  • Cover the resist totally with a couple of layers of wool, add in blobs of other colours randomly remembering that a clashing colour often provides an interesting point of contrast.
  • Place a piece of fabric on top, we used muslin or scrim, and lightly wet.
  • Roll a few little pieces of merino in your fingers and position them as surface decoration, circles or crosses look good I think.
  • Rub your brooch between the two layers of bubble wrap for 5 minutes on side one, 5 on side two and 5 on side one again.  For the purpose of the workshop I just asked everyone to count out 300 rubs X 3, easy peasy!  Just check once or twice to make sure that it is both soapy and wet.
  • After 300 rubs remove the brooch from the plastic and rub it in your hands.  If you are using the short fibred merino you can get quite aggressive at this stage, it only will take a few minutes to full and finish it.
  • Once it has shrunk by about 1/3 cut a small cross into the top of where you positioned your resist, push and seal the cut edges outwards with your fingers.
  • Remove the resist, rinse and stretch the brooch into shape.
  • Stitch on a brooch back and wear with pride!

On a larger scale and with a different design these pieces make wonderful framed landscapes, pressies anyone???

Little brooch ready to felt

First pictures from CRAFTed project!

Only a few words today because I used most of them up with sixth class this morning!!! 

Having fun adding the surface decoration

 

I was blown away by how creative everyone was.  Each pupil was asked to choose two colours to use as a base, then they could select from all sorts of yarn, fibre and fabric to add to the surface layer.  A lot of the girls had brought in beads, buttons, pipe cleaners and all sorts of glitzy embellishments with them and these will be stitched on next Monday before the felt gets stuck to the front of their journals.  A tip for anyone wanting an easy way to decorate a copy, why not stick velcro to the book and then just press the felt to the barbed side of the velcro???  No sewing, I like that! 

Anyone see a favourite colour combination here???

Some of the pieces were fully felted by the end of the session but others will need a little more fulling at home before they are ready to embellish with stitches, beads and buttons.  It is always interesting to see how different people felt at different speeds, one of the last girls to lay out her wool was in turn one of the only girls who ended up with a fully felted piece at the end of the session!

Metallic mesh fabric, thick and thin merino, little buttons to be stitched on afterwards

There is no right or wrong way to felt either as many ways to end up with a good finished result but I always like to share with pupils what I was shown when I started because I feel it gives a good foundation to build upon.  You can check out my flat felt tutorial if you want to see what we did today.

Special offers and the power of Twitter as my new boutique felt store goes live!

Exciting news, at least for me!  Although it is going to take a couple of weeks hard work felting new summer stock, photographing work already completed and uploading everything to my new exclusive boutique online store CLASHEEN, as of last night the store is live and I have already made my first sale!!!   

After a lot of soul searching and research, I decided like my good fibre friend Chrissie Day that Etsy is not really the market place for my one off designs.  Big Cartel offers a much more boutique shopping experience and if I were quite honest customers who appreciate hand felted designs are the demograph that I am aiming to attract.  To this end, all my felt wearbales and new interior/exterior design range will be exclusive to the new store although I will still be offering a limited selection of supplies from the middle of May on Etsy.  These will include an interesting  nuno felt scarf kit complete with silk/cotton fabric, merino, silk fibres and an instruction video!  For the next week only I have a selection of experimental felt accessories avaiblable at a discount of 40% off their original price as a stock clearing excercise so if you want to snap up a  bargain head over to Etsy now, these items are sold as seen and anything left after Friday 7th May will be de-listed and not offered for sale again.

I also have two nuno felt scarves/wraps on special offer at my new store and look forward to having regular specials and seasonal items as we progress through the year.  It is going to take a little getting used to but the system as operated by Big Cartel appears to use a simpler way of uploading items than Etsy (not complaining about Etsy, it served its purpose for me).   I discovered this afternoon that once an item sells it is still visable to the public although it does say sold out if you click through to the description.  This is something I need to keep an eye on but once I get the hang of things I think that it will be a lot quicker and easier to maintain the store as well as having a much more luxurious and individual look about it although I’ll let you all be the judge of that!

Lastly the power of the internet is a wonderful thing.  When the boutique store finally went live late yesterday afternoon I posted a quick tweet for all of you following me on Twitter, congratulations to Olwyn who is now the proud owner of this gorgeous felt vessel! 

Felt vessel combining C1 and Herdwick

More felt accessories – how to make a stunning felt brooch or pendant

Carmen and I spent a happy and productive afternoon continuing our experimentation with merino and artificial fabric.  Both of us have stiff backs after all our exertions during the complex bag workshop (just wait until you see the pictures when I post about that!) so we decided to stick with small projects today and have some fun together. 

Midnight I brooch prior to beading

 

If you are interested in creating an experimental brooch or pendant like the one pictured on the left here is the process.

  1. Lay out a rough square of merino approx 6″ X 6″
  2. Wet it lightly, soap and flatten to remove the air
  3. Lay a small wad of dry wool in the centre and then place your stone, glass nugget or other found object on top
  4. Cover the insertion with dry wool
  5. Needle lightly through the dry wool into the wet to secure (don’t worry if you don’t have a needle, just leave this stage out)
  6. Lay another layer of wool over the whole front
  7. Cover this with strips or a larger square of artificial fabric, be inventive and try out anything!
  8. Wet out, soap and felt by rubbing directly on top of the front and back of the bundle, you don’t need to roll your work
  9. When fully felted cut a small cross over the insertion and using your finger nails push out the cut edge to expose your glass, stone or found object
  10. Rinse, shape and bead or embellish as required

HAVE FUN!  More pictures of work I created during and after Lyda’s visit are now uploaded to Flickr.

Variations on a felt slipper (another tutorial) and announcing felting workshop for Mullingar!

Ok, I actually have water again since last night so this morning I was able to complete another felt slipper project and this time incorporate some wet felting to finish!  The pictures really are self explainatory but it’s important to note that the rectangle of felt I started with was NOT fulled well (an early experiment using batts) and this is how I was able to wet felt hard to finish the slippers.  

Cutting in thirds and one third in half

This time I cut the rectange into three and then divided one third in two again, doing this ensured that I would never have ‘two right feet’ again! 

Adjusting the length

I sliced a bit off the back of the slippers as when I tried them on before stitching the back I realised that they were going to be VERY long!

I dunked the slippers (one at a time) into really hot water and soaked them before adding plenty of nice unscented soap.  Working them in my hands for a minute or two I paid particular attention to the cut edges.  Next I rolled them in my bamboo blind before working them on a washboard to shrink and set the shape.

One stitched, one half way through felting

It’s easy to see from this image that the cut edges really needed to be worked well to seal the felt.

Once I was happy that the slippers had shrunk almost to size I rinsed the soap out and and spun them in my washing machine.  To finish the shape nicely I put my feet in plastic bags (didn’t want to have to take of my tights, STILL no heat!!) and worked them for a minute or two more on the washboard and banged the edges with a wooden spoon to full them properly. 

Finished felt slip ons

Voila, my finished felt slip ons!  I am actually very happy with these as although I didn’t want to scrap one of my earliest flat felt experiments I had no idea what to do with the piece and it was languishing in my cupboard.  Now I can keep my feet warm and wear the felt with pride!  NB Check how the wool that I used to stitch the seams has also felted during the process, more pictures of the process on Flickr.

I am delighted to be invited by Anna Browne to facilitate a BEGINNERS and IMPROVERS FELTING WORKSHOP in Mullingar on Sunday 31st Janurary at the Educate Together National School in Mullingar.  If you live in the midlands and would like to attend this fun day please book directly with Anna through her blog by clicking here!  You can also see what Anna and her boys have been up to with some of my spare felt, gorgeous gifts and inventive ideas abound on her blog Anna Paints.

Surface details and inclusions in felt, tutorial for simple felt slippers!

One of the most striking aspects of Dutch felter Lyda Rump’s work is her beautiful attention to texture and surface detail.  At both our accessories workshop and the complex bag workshop on 5th, 6th and 7th February learn how you too can enhance your work  during the actual laying out of your fibre and by embellishing your felt once it reaches the fulled stage.  Including items such as stones and glass pebbles while you lay out your fibres can lead to all sorts of exciting surface possibilities which really enhance the finished felt.  Layering strips of silk, artifical fabrics and other fibres on the top layer provide additional depth whilst further embellishing with stitches and small glass seed beads once the felt is fulled add interest and movement to the finished felt.  On Friday 5th we will be using our imagination to create fun and stylish felt accessories with Lyda and learning all those finishing touches that go to make jewellery, scarves and other felt accessories so special.  This is a great workshop if you have never felted before, come along and leave with some beautiful completed pieces!  I will have wool, silk, glass nuggets and beads on hand and Lyda is bringing some of her gorgeous hand dyed silk with her.  If you have been looking at some fabric or beads in your stash and are looking for inspiration about how to include them in your felt look no further!  Bring everything along and if you have some glittery fabric or mesh bring it along too!!  The two day complex bag workshop on Saturday and Sunday will explore the art of creating strong and beautiful multi pocketed bags and backpacks.  If you are a beginner/improver and are worried that this workshop might be too advanced for you think again.  Felting one of these bags is more involved than creating a piece of flat felt (that’s why they are called complex bags!) but Lyda is a brilliant teacher and I have participated in one of her workshops where an almost total beginner left with a very beautiful and perfectly felted bag.  If you would like to attend either workshop places are booking up now, please contact me asap to reserve your place.

Now on to that tutorial for the simple felt slippers that I made (when waterless) to use up an old piece of felt in my stash.   This project is not designed to be complicated, just an easy way of utilising a well fulled rectangle of felt and an excellent way for a beginners workshop to leave with a lovely warm and comfortable pair of slippers at the end of the day.  You could paint the bottoms with Latex to make them more durable if you wanted, I get mine from Wollknoll.  Measurements are fluid but just remember to cut out your felt a couple of inches bigger that you think you need to allow for the stitching.  This is especially important with the width, I would have needed my piece of felt to be quite a bit bigger all round if I wanted the slippers to fit my own foot! 

Divide in thirds and cut like so

Divide your felt in thirds and cut as per the image.

Round ends and stitch to close

Round the ends and stitch to close.  Pinch the back together and stitch up, voila!  Your first slipper!!

Oops, just lost my internet connection but back again …. in case I lose it imemdiately you can check out my Flickr images for some more pictures of the slippers in progress, even for a bad stitcher such as me they only took about 5 mins from cutting to finishing!

Oops again, lost my electricity this time ….. Just a quick not of warning, check that you have flipper the felt over before stitching your second slipper otherwise you will end up with two right feet like me!