A rather brusque summary of the week to date

It's been a crazy, crazy week, apologies to anyone who may be waiting for me to respond to emails or similar, shout out loud if you think that I've forgotten you, it's certainly not intentional! My week to date in bullet points…….

  • Returned from Cork on Monday and tried to unpack everything constructively
  • Demonstrated felt flowers and gave a talk to a lovely group of ladies on Tuesday, took photos of the saree silk wrap/scarf that I have for Amy, sorry though that I haven't managed to upload them here, technical issues
  • Should have been at a training day on Wednesday but it was postponed until next week, instead planned to felt but instead spent the time trying to get washing and paperwork done
  • Thursday, spent hours weighing materials and preparing for a workshop then taught 20 wonderful ladies flat felting. Until the afternoon, neither I nor the organisers knew that their would be 20, as it was they turned away another 5 phone enquiries!
  • Up like a bird on Friday to catch that proverbial early worm!!! Brought a lot more stock than usual to Borris Food & Craft Market as we were having a coffee morning in support of the 'Save Our Heartland' group. The aim of this group is to stop a line of HUGE pylons ploughing across our beautiful rural landscape, please visit us on Facebook if you would like to read more and/or help us in our endeavours. In addition to all the funds from our regular market teas, coffee and cakes I had personally pledged 10% of my takings for the day to the group. Thankfully we had an excellent turnout and raised quite a bit of welcome funds for the campaign. I was also really happy with the feedback about my extended range of products, I sold a couple of larger interior accent pieces and some flowers so I'm definitely going to make the effort and bring more stock to the market in the foreseeable future!
  • Today, Saturday, I was supposed to be facilitating a two day workshop this weekend at Berkeley Forest House but unfortunately there were not enough bookings this time for Alexis to be able to host the event, Instead, I'm teaching tomorrow at Duckett's Grove so is anyone wants to join me there for a beginners and improvers say email me ASAP or give me a bell, there are only two spaces left.

Whew, I'm hoping you can see why I haven't been the best correspondent this week!




I’m feeling pretty pleased this evening following a surprisingly successful bout with my sewing machine!

I’ve had a reprieve from manning the stand at Mount Juliet today, instead, thanks to Leiko and Emma, I’ve spent the whole day finishing 5 abstract landscapes and creating a vest from a wrap! Basically, I got my super duper straight stitching sewing machine out of cold storage, wound the bobbin and just got to work adding some free machine embroidery to my latest flat felt pictures. Those of you who know me well understand how stressful I find sewing, however, I would like to say that in this case the correct equipment does make a difference, no broken threads, perfect tension and at the end of the day new framed work to bring to Borris market in the morning and Borris House Christmas Fair over the weekend. I was starting to wonder had I been crazy investing in my Janome 1600P last year, fear not though, I’ll definitely get myself organised and continue to do some more stitching in the new year, possibly at Duckett’s Grove considering it’s too cold to felt there at the moment. Pop over to Clasheen on Facebook page to see some photos of the finished work, all these landscapes with the exception of one were felted using a selection of the naturally printed and dyed silk I’ve been working on recently. The odd one out is a piece of needle punch felt which I also naturally printed/dyed, it was then felted onto a backing of undyed needle punch prior to stitching, I’m quite pleased with it and must try some more of this style after Christmas.

Armed with a successful start to the sewing day, I finally was brave enough to cut armholes into a short wrap that I felted last year. This wrap was made in white with a border of black, I dyed it using acid dyes when felted and although loads of people commented on how much they liked it at Duckett’s Grove it never sold.

Armholes underway

Armholes underway

Anyway, after cutting the armholes I pinned the raw edges, tacked them (basted) and having changed the foot on the sewing machine back to a regular one stitched twice around the edges. I’m thrilled with how this turned out, a lovely vest which I hope to take pictures of tomorrow.

How much felt is enough, stock that is!

How much felt is enough for a display table or booth, enough that is to create a good display, have a selection of different items in different colours yet not have so much out that things look messy and don’t create a good impression???

Katie dyed her hair to match the gorgeous flower she felted yesterday, FUN!

Because of the various different events I’ll be participating in over the next 5 weeks I’m very conscious that I need to have stock to replace sold items too. I’m not however going to do as someone suggested and hold items back for the bigger fairs, the last thing that I want to do is presume people will buy at these and not offer everyone at my regular gigs an equal opportunity to buy my items. After all, they’re the customers who support me throughout the year so if anything they deserve the pick of the crop in my opinion! A sale is a sale is a sale, all money gratefully recieved and the sooner the better as far as I’m concerned!!!

Katie’s finished her week with me as part of her transition year (4th year in the school she attends) work experience. It was interesting having her with me as I usually work totally on my own and a second opinion was definitely a help at times. In addition to being out and about facilitating two sessions with Borris Active Retirement, a birthday party for a 9 year old and Borris Food & Craft Market this morning we managed to naturally print/dye over 24 scarves on Tuesday and have a big pot of cochineal on the go yesterday, a busy and satisfying week I think! Thanks Katie for all your help, it was a pleasure having you at Clasheen.

Cochineal dyed nuno felt

A hectic couple of months teaching, making and being on the road lies in store!

I don’t think it’s going to be possible to write long posts over the next couple of months, please bear with me during this time, short and snappy will be the name of the game! I’m crazy busy at the moment thankfully and don’t want to miss the opportunity of having a successful time selling this festive season, I really need to keep the cash flow moving. In addition to my regular gigs at Borris Food and Craft Market each Friday and Duckett’s Grove at the weekends I’m teaching a lot and taking up my duties for FeltUnited, I LOVE doing this so all is good but it’s just that I then need another 12 hours every day to felt and produce new work!!! From 8th December to 23rd December inclusive I’ll be participating in the Christmas Village at Mount Juliet, On Sunday 9th December it’s the Duckett’s Grove Christmas Fair (link below), on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th December I’ll be at the annual fair in Borris House and then for approx 2 weeks in the run up to Christmas as a member of Creative Carlow I’ll also be participating in their pop up shop, phew!!!!!

Last Friday design student Norma joined me for work experience, she’ll be helping for 10 days totally over the coming weeks and her next session is the weekend after next. Katie joined me yesterday for work experience this week, she’s a 4th year transition student and actually my great friend Sharon Jackson is her art teacher! She’s definitely choosen a week where we’ll be out and about a lot, 2 sessions with Borris Active Retirement, one birthday party for a group of 9 year olds and then the market on Friday, I’ve then got the weekend at Duckett’s Grove to myself.

Thanks to you all for your lovely messages, comments and emails about Dawn’s and my promotion to FeltUnited, we hope to do you all proud and really appreciate the support. I’ve got to fly now, bundles to unwrap and a nuno felt wrap to throw!

Christmas at Duckett’s Grove!


New display ideas in practice…..

I tried out a couple of new display ideas at Borris Food and Craft market this morning based on some of the recent research I’ve been doing. Definitely having a well stocked stand has made a difference, it’s almost too full compared to my usual minimalist style and I find it a mental struggle to have so much stock on display, it does seem to work however when it comes to attracting the customers!

All set up and ready to trade

Raising my table (on bed risers bought with Dawn during my MI sojurn) proved quite interesting, I liked the fact that my felt was more accessible and the small table that I placed in front of the main display added another dimension to the effect.

Logs as hat display stands

Finally for today, I LOVED the logs I positioned my two new hats on, why I’ve never thought of these as a display stand before I just don’t know!!! If you’d like to see these pictures in a bigger size just head on over to my personal Facebook page (link on the right), there are a few more showing different aspects too.

Time is flying and an odd sort of premonition proves well founded!

Wow, I can’t believe how quickly this week has flown. It’s Thursday evening now and I’m trying to prepare for Borris Food and Craft Market in the morning as well as a busy weekend ahead at Duckett’s Grove. I’ve got a hen party booked on Saturday morning, that’ll be fun as we’re felting flowers which will then be used at the wedding ceremony I think! Interestingly enough I’ve also got a child’s birthday party booked for later in November, I think that felting’s a great idea for a creative gathering, what nicer than to get your hands soapy and try out a new craft with friends?

This morning I should have headed to Dublin and the Knitting and Stitching Show, from last night onwards I had a really edgy feeling and for some reason this morning just had to act on it and not drive the 2 hours up to the event. I can’t explain to you why I didn’t think it was a good idea to go, I look forward to this major textile show all year and right up until yesterday evening was really anticipating all the lovely goodies I’d snap up, exhibitions I’d visit and the friends I’d meet and have a natter with. Anyway, someone was looking after me because Carmen rang late in the morning to say that there were major problems for some reason, it took half an hour queueing in the cold to get inside, the venue was packed and horror of horrors, no credit card machines would work and all the ATM machines were not functioning either due to some computer glitch or other. Whew, I’m so glad I didn’t travel because I was not going to bring any cash with me, instead I was going to just use my card and therefore have a good paper trail for my accountant to follow next tax return time!

Voluntarily confined to Clasheen, I did manage to finish felting two nuno scarves incorporating naturally printed/dyed silk, work on a new design for a short silk rich scarf (not 100% happy with the two I felted yet) and make a soft prototype cowl (I am happy with this design) which I will bring to the market tomorrow although I am tempted to keep it for myself! I’ve also got 6 silk chiffon scarves ready to bundle and a pile of eucalyptus leaves soaking in a vinegar/water solution in the kitchen, I’ll get these going shortly then head upstairs for a nice hot bath!

Felting retreat pictures and beyond!

Wow, I enjoyed an amazing few days at Clasheen during the felting retreat last week, it was even better fun than I had imagined and we had such an inspirational sharing of ideas and techniques.

Merridee with her amazing raw fleece bag

Everything came together in an organic kind of way, US friends Merridee and Keith arrived on Monday, Michelle drove down from Donegal on Tuesday, unfortunately Maya wasn’t able to make it at the last minute (check out her amazing first nuno project which she felted at Duckett’s Grove on Saturday instead!) but Japanese friend Leiko arrived back in Ireland just in time to join us and Carmen called over a couple of times just to say hi and check out what we were making! I don’t have enough hours in the day to go over everything that we were doing but at the start of the retreat I checked which techniques both Merridee and Michelle especially wanted to experiment with and made sure that they were happy with what they had achieved at the end of our time together.

Michelle’s wonderful first nuno felt scarf!

Keith proved a wonderful chef as always, gorgeous cuisine and wine plus HOME MADE yeast bread in the evenings, bliss!!! On Friday morning Leiko helped me set up at Borris Food and Craft Market then everyone else arrived and we headed off to Cushendale Woollen Mill. Our arrival coincided with Suzanna Crampton plus sister and friends delivering Zwartbles fleece so again everything worked out beautifully as Merridee, Keith and Michelle were able to join them as Philip gave everyone a proper tour of the mill in action. It’s obviously not going to be possible to upload all the pictures we took over the course of the retreat to the blog, I will be adding more though to both my personal facebook page and Nicola Brown – Clasheen, do check there over the course of the next few days and hopefully there’ll be loads to whet your appetite! Thanks Merridee, Keith, Michelle and Leiko for being such good fun and relaxing company to have around, you were all wonderful!!! I’ll leave you with a picture I love, all of us together at Borris on Friday morning.

Leiko, Keith, Merridee, me and Michelle at Borris Food and Craft Market

Out and about plus the nuno felting book is almost finished!

This morning I brought some framed landscapes, two vessels and two of my new felting tools to Borris Food and Craft Market. I wanted to have a fresh display for regulars to browse and it’s nice for local feltmakers to see and hold them in the hand as opposed to on Etsy where I think we only have one ‘Big One’ left. Our second order is being made as I write so Kim you may have that prodder before you know it!

The Modest and Minimalist debut at Borris market this morning!

I’m totally tied up otherwise trying to finish the nuno felting book before Dawn arrives next Tuesday, Chrissie and I are really hoping they will be ready to order sometime on Sunday evening. You’ll have to forgive my lack of words today, I’ve none left over from the book!!!