Pictures of felt rug and Autumn swap buddies!

As promised I have uploaded some images of my rug in progress at the workshop I attended with Mehmet Girgic at Wollknoll in Germany.  Please click here to access my Flickr photostream and see how the rug was made.  We started with a base of ‘kicked’ wool and cotton fabric and built up our outlines using thin strands of wool.  Mehmet had prepared the bases at his workshop in Turkey (carded wool, fabric, water and kicked together by foot to form a surface similar to prefelt) but a couple of the girls wanted to make bigger rugs so they laid out their design directly onto bubble wrap, by choosing this method they ended up with rugs where their image was reversed.  Once the outlines were laid (mine took 1 and 1/2 days!) we started to fill in with various different coloured wools.  Memhet had brought various hand dyed wool with him and we also had a free rein at Wollknoll, we just took what we wanted from their fantastic range and weighed it as we worked.  At the end of the workshop everyone bought the wool that they had used but to be honest if really did not use up a huge amount if you started with the prepared base.  The girls that choose to lay directly onto the bubblewrap then had to place fabric on their design followed by a thick layer of carded wool and therefore had to buy quite a bit more.  Then the fun started!  The rugs were rolled up in a long plastic carpet, about 5 at a time, the bundle was tied tightly and then kicked by foot for a minimum of an hour.  More details to follow in the next post and as soon as I am at my own computer I will upload a couple of pictures to the blog, unfortunately I can’t do it from here! 

The Autumn swap buddies are hereby announced! 

Carmen and Sylvia – Anna and Nicola – Jo-Anne and Ruth – Martina and Nicola – Sherry and Niki – Pam and Micky

Please can all involved check your email, I have sent you the contact details of your partner and you need to email them as soon as possible with your postal address and your preferences.  I have decided to extend the deadline for posting the packages to 21st October, I am really tied up at the moment so I hope another week will suit us all!  Please remember, the theme is Autumn, we will swap one hand made accessory, one seasonal receipe and one little extra.    Good luck and enjoy!!

Felting techniques and swap update

It is amazing how many ways there are to felt a ball.  Today I needed to make a couple of felt balls and although they are always trotted out as a beginners project for me they are far from it!  I always seem to have difficulty starting them off without getting creases but no more, Australian feltmaker Anita Larkin’s way worked a treat.  You lay a few very light layers of wool down on a bamboo blind (I used merino) at right angles to each other and then dry felt for a few seconds.  This dry felting is done by placing the palm of your hand of the fibres and moving it gently away from you and back towards you, then do the same from a 90 degree angle.  You now have a flattish square of fibres which you fold over at the corner to make an angle, exactly like folding a won ton.  Starting from this angle now fold and roll the whole wad of fibres into a ball making sure that the last wisps are as smooth as possible on the outside.  Dunk very quickly and very gently into hot soapy water (I use natural olive oil soap) and start to rotate LIGHTLY in your hand.  Almost immediately you will feel a skin forming on the outside of the ball, the inside will still be dry and any small creases can now be covered with a light wisp of wool.  Work the ball in your hand and on the mat dunking it a couple of times in the hot water as you progress to start working the inside as well.  Before you can say ‘felt’ you will have a great ball, amazing!  Make sure to rinse it out in hot water and there you go.

Speaking of Australia I mentioned before a great Australian website for felting and sewing supplies, Essential Textile Art.  Today I placed another order for various types of sari fabric to incorporate in my nuno felting.  I am going away on a felting course to Wollknoll in a weeks time and hope that the fibres will be here on my return.  My new Etsy shop is now set up and I will be frantically making some nice pieces to sell as Christmas presents, as soon as I have the items up I will post a link here on the blog!  Remember, sign up to Buy Handmade if you want to support artists and craftspeople from around the world.

Swap update: We now have swap participants from Ireland, Germany, Spain and Denmark to join in the upcoming exchange that I am organising.  To keep it simple for the first swap the theme will be Autumn and the deadline to join will be 21st September.  Swap buddies will be allocated then and your package needs to be posted to your buddy by the 14th October.  We will exchange one handmade accessory, one seasonal receipe and a little something extra.  Obviously everyone is into different forms of craft so you may make your handmade item anything that you would like to recieve yourself using Autumn at the theme.  If you don’t work with textiles there is no problem, just let me know if you would prefer to exchange a piece of art (hand made cards, wall hanging etc.) or some hand made edible goodies and I will pair you up with someone who would like to receive there items.  To sign up and for those of you already signed up please email me with your likes and dislikes and let me know if you would be happy to receive gifts other that textiles if necessary and I can forward your preferences on to your swap buddy when the draw is made.  If this swap goes according to plan we might consider Christmas as our next theme!  To check out other current swaps visit SwapDex, be careful you don’t get hooked.