A little about our new book and just a glimpse of some raw materials from yesterday!

Working on our new book has really forced me to write down ideas as they come into my head and document projects on paper more than I would otherwise tend to do, for me a lot of my documentation is through this blog but sketching more is really helping me clarify ideas and leading me to explore them in a more systametic way than I have being doing previously.  Chrissie is brilliant at this anyway and I really look forward to seeing some of her sketches and musings when she comes to stay with me in April for our final efforts to put the book to bed and get it available online.  I don’t want anyone to get the idea our book is going to be the bee all and end all of felting techniques, it’s not!  Rather it is an idea of how we both work as well as a demonstration of how we translate our thoughts and ideas from the inspiration stage into the finished felt item.  

Stunning 50/50 silk merino blend from Cloverleaf Farms

I love gathering up my raw materials at the start of any project, the possibilities seem endless at this stage when all the beautiful fibres and colours are gathered together just waiting to be selected.  Sometimes however, I find that having a wide selection of different fibres to work with can bring on its own worries and often just getting started is challenge enough for one days work alone! 

Yesterday was one of the good days.  In the morning I selected some stunning 50/50 hand dyed silk/merino roving which I bought at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival from the wonderful Joan Berner of Cloverleaf Farms, one of my all time favourite suppliers now!!!  I wanted to use it for a very special project and demonstrate how a small amount of luxurious fibre could create the most beautiful scarf imaginable!  Although I am not showing you a photo of the finished article imagine the glistening sheen of clear glass beads against the wonderful and subtle variations of colour in this blue based combination which Joan has called Sapphire.  I based the scarf’s design and colours on the beautiful blues and greens in the clear waters off La Gomera in the Canaries and Kos in Greece.  Wearing this piece (if I keep it for myself!) will bring back happy memories of holidays shared with Alan, the glass beads are NOT sewn in after the scarf is felted, wait for the book to see how I include them in the lay out stage!!!The second piece I felted yesterday is waiting on my table now to be transformed into a sleeveless vest/wrap type of affair, probably NO sewing again but maybe a couple of judicious stitches around the collar region, I’ll have to wait and see how it drapes once I cut out the armholes and put it on my manequin.  Again I loved gathering the supplies for this one, originally I had a big pile of silk fibre and hankies, beautiful Blue Faced Leiscester, linen fibres (all of these hand dyed) and some different colours of silk chiffon fabric.  In the end I felted this piece using ‘Chili Pepper’ BFL roving from Joan, silk hankies, silk fibre (again from Joan!), two colours of silk chiffon and then added a fine layer of orange merino because I wasn’t sure that I had enough BFL to make the vest strong enough.  Chrissie is really the master at the nuno felted jacket, I did however want to include a wearable piece requiring minimal stitching in the book, I know I could have done a bigger seamless project but really that’s not what I do every day, this type of felting is much more suited to my organic kind of style!  Anyway, here is a glimpse of some of the raw materials before I made my final selection.  Technically this wasn’t a nuno piece having more fibre than fabric, today I hope to felt a highly textured nuno wrap, one of my all time favourite projects! 

Hand dyed BFL and silk from Joan teamed with some lightweight silk chiffon

Stocking up and (almost) a couple of pictures as promised!

Although the last lot of snow has almost melted everywhere forecasts predict heavy falls here again from tomorrow afternoon starting in the West of Ireland today.  I have spent this morning stocking up on meat for my freezer, going to the bank, posting some parcels for across the water, carrying in kindling and in a nutshell getting essential duties out of the way in case I get totally snowed in once more!  The temperature has dropped by at least several degrees since I got up, the sky has darkened dramatically and the wind is now blowing strongly making it difficult to take any successful pictures of felt created to post to Flickr or here on the blog. 

I JUST DON’T BELIEVE IT!!!!!  Heavy hail/sleet is now assaulting the house so I am very glad I made the effort to drive to Borris this morning!

Anyway, enough talking.  Here are two pictures (or maybe not!!!) taken in the gloomy outdoors, my latest Vanda Robert inspired bag and a gorgeous light weight nuno felt wrap.  For the bag I used some 50% gotland 50% merino blended wool batts from Denmark and another similar quality wool (think it might also be the same combo although I bought it on a different trip from a different supplier) in wonderful shades of Autumn.  I added some leather leaves and a horn button (all gathered from various trips to US!) and finished it with a cord handle which I made using some wonderful hand dyed silk yarn by Jamie of Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco.    The wrap is felted from some of my Cloverleaf Farms hand dyed merino and silk hankies, the cotton cheesecloth I dyed with Rite under the supervision of Sharon at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, CA.  Pretty cosmopolitan bag and wrap don’t you think?  OK, you are going to have to look at my Flickr photos to see the bag and wrap because for some reason WordPress has lost the run of itself and my whole visuals jumped all over the place when I uploaded the photos.  First time of trying they wern’t visable at all and then the second time previous posts went into the sidebars but the images still weren’t where I wanted them.  Sorry!

Three of my favourite suppliers from Rhinebeck!

Good morning from a very snowy Clasheen!  Although we had a bit of a thaw yesterday morning there was another fall of snow last night bringing our total depth in this neck of the woods up to 12″ in most areas, deeper in selected spots.  The good news is that I am confined to barracks and suffering NO guilty feelings about felting non stop but the bad news is that I have very limited supplies of short fibred merino (new order on the way from Wollknoll) so have put the next phase of my ArtL!nks project on hold until my delivery arrives sometime after my house becomes accessible again!  I have also been having internet and phone connection problems so please bear with me but am sure that this is weather related, amazingly we had crashing thunder and incredible lightning at 6.40am yesterday and another bout during the day,  very odd to have snow and lightning at the same time.

As promised I want to tell you about my favourite suppliers from Rhinebeck so here goes with three of my top picks, Cloverleaf Farms, Homestead Heirlooms and Maggie’s Farm.  These are my personal selections and don’t mean to say that other vendors didn’t have fantastic supplies too, I loved the whole shebang and was trying to pick up goodies that might have been difficult to find here in Ireland and remember I was looking for materials as a felter and not a knitter/spinner.  

Cloverleaf Farms is run by Joan Berner and boy does she have beautiful hand dyed fibres for felting or spinning, must be because she is an excellent felter herself!  I made two purchasing trips to Joan’s stand, one on Saturday and the second on Sunday because for me her lustrous colours were unequalled at the show, the fibres didn’t appear to be over heated during the dying process and I loved the fact that they could be bought in Blue Faced Leiscester (which I had heard of but never seen before), Merino, Silk and various combinations thereof. 

My second pick is Homestead Heirlooms where I bought as many pairs of simple pre-punched leather handles as I was able to afford in lovely colours including the yummiest green possible!  I had seen their work on the internet before but was a little nervous buying on speck, now I can’t wait to re-order but obviously I need to make a few more bags and use up this stock first.

My third pick is Maggie’s Farm and here I bought the most divine smelling chunk of homemade soap ever!  It was a huge chunk and kind of looked like a big piece of cheddar, the smell is subtly clove like however and it is just the best thing for felting.  Unfortunately the chunks were really heavy otherwise I would have bought the entire stock and stored it in my hotpress to scent my clothes, buy some if you can!!!

Lastly I want to share with you my gorgeous new cowl from Rachel aka Pushkin on Ravelry, it couldn’t have arrived at a better time with all the snow! 

My wonderful new cowl from Rachel- please excuse the bug eyed photo but it is difficult to take pictures of oneself!