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!

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!

Felt rug and another bag in the planning

You could be forgiven for thinking that I am doing NO felting at the moment if all you were doing was looking at my current Flickr photos!  In one sense it would be true because I am so totally wrapped up in my Golf Club duties at the moment that all I can do is collapse at the end of the evening after the prize giving ceremonies are over (to watch World Cup highlights with my freestyle knitting in hand) but in another it is not true at all.  While I am unwinding I am plotting and planning my newest felt bag design and waiting for the delivery of Icelandic wool to start the large rug that I have been commissioned to felt.  Last night I finished this Jane Thornley inspired ‘Frond’ knitted wrap and I have decided to felt an accompanying bag using some of the gorgeous yarns and sari ribbon to add surface detail and tie everything together. 

Wrapped like a cowl

Successful day making and completing some felting projects!

Carmen called over for a cup of tea and a chat this morning, we actually hadn’t met for over a week as both of us have been so busy in the run up to Christmas. 

The finished felt bag, new handles attached!

I was delighted with her input re. adding handles to a felt bag that I had made, this bag is to be sent to a swap buddy in the States and I was very frustrated with the shoulder strap that I had already stitched on.  We both agreed that the long linen shoulder strap was awful, it really didn’t add anything at all to the bag.  I had a pair of  simple oval wooden handles in my studio and felt that they would suit the shape better, Carmen agreed.  My problem was wondering exactly how to attach them to the bag so that the metal ‘closure’ was not actually visable and Carmen solved the problem by suggesting stitching some fancy yarn over the join.  The yarn that I used is Icelandic knitting wool, not fancy at all but a perfect colour choice for the merino in the bag, stitching the handles on completed before lunchtime which must be some kind of record for me!

My second completed project of the day was a chunky felt and ceramic necklace, destined for …..’s Christmas present, don’t want to give the game away so not posting any pics yet!  The ceramic beads were another buy at the Knit and Stitch Show, they are a beautiful shape and each one is uniquly glazed in various shades of chocolate, rust, ochre and teal.  I used some of the Norwegian C1 wool that I ordered from one of the suppliers at ‘Felt in Focus’ this summer for the felt balls.  The colours of wool that I had complimented the ceramic beads perfectly and the felt balls didn’t seem to feel scratchy at all, I had been wondering would they but there was no need to worry.

Completed project number three is a crochet cowl, I know, I know, not felt but what can I say!  This is something that I started at the end of my American adventures when crocheting was my only connection to fibre and it kept me sane on the flights home before I seemed to get struck down with possible swine flu.  This is another Christmas pressie, this time for an old family friend.  I have finished it off with a beautiful resin stick from Woolfish, yet another Knit and Stitch find!

Lastly I have a confession to make!  Carmen fell in love with the velvet encrusted scarf from yesterday so it became part of her Christmas present, I forgot to take a photo before she headed off with it so here are a couple with the wool laid out and the velvet and silk ribbons embellishing the surface.  Apologies for the quality of the images, for some reason my camera has severe difficulties when taking anything in this particular colour combination!

Velvet and silk ribbons laid on top of the merino

Trapping the velvet with wisps of wool

American update and Sculpture in Context opening!

Last Wednesday I attended the opening of Sculpture in Context with my friend Sheila Ahern (Feltmakers Ireland and board member of the Crafts Council) and despite the dreadful rain we had a great time looking at the various exhibits and enjoying a glass of wine.  The work throughout the garden and in the various green houses looks amazing so if you are anywhere in the area don’t miss this great opportunity to visit this beautiful space and view top class sculpture from all over Europe, admission is free and the exhibition continues until 16th October.  That evening I drove back to Clasheen and at 4.40am Alan and I caught the airport bus before our flights to San Fransisco, we are now officially on vacation!

On Thursday night we stayed near the airport at the Quality Inn and Suites (clean, relatively cheap and convenient) before collecting our ‘Green’ rental car and setting out on our road trip through northern California.  Our first day we drove through the Sonoma Valley, a premier wine producing region near Napa taking our time and just enjoying the scenery before heading cross country for the rocky coastline near Bodega Bay.  Once we got near where we had planned on staying for our first night it soon became apparent the due to Labour Day weekend lodging prices were extremely high.  Eventually we headed back inland a bit and ended up staying in Santa Rosa, not ideal but actually not the worst.  As we left the following morning I was delighted to see a knitting store called Village Knitters by chance and what do you guess, we had to stop so that I could get my fibre fix.  The store was a little like Stephanie Kennedy’s new shop ‘The Yarn Room’ in Ashford, Co. Wicklow, gorgeous yarns, loads of books and a knitting workshop in progress at the back of the store!  I bought some gorgeous new Noro yarn in a black and lime colourway, it is a 45% silk, 35% cotton and 20% wool mix (hope I have the proportions right) which feels beautifully soft and tactile in the hand.  This is earmarked for myself, I am making a crochet cowl and in fact I have already made a wool cowl on the flight, a great opportunity to complete some Christmas presents during the time I am away from felting!  We then ambled along small rural roads and arrived in Bodega, a pretty little village where Hitchcock filmed ‘The Birds’.  The village had some interesting antique shops as well as a great artisan’s co-op where I was delighted to buy some locally produced wool yarn as well as some gorgeous soft combed alpaca tops, also local I think.  We ate some tasty barbecued oysters and had a beer for lunch and then visited the schoolhouse where much of the movie was filmed before heading out to the coast and continuing north along route 1.

The only difficulty that we have had so far in the States is that internet access appears to be a problem for us.  Alan did bring his computer but for some reason doesn’t appear able to connect to wi-fi anywhere that it says it is enabled so unfortunately my posts may be sporadic and constrained by finding locations where there is an internet cafe.  Apologies in advance for the sketchy posting, I will keep you as up to date as possible but it may be with intervals of 4 or 5 days between posts.  To be continued …..

Felt vessels and great swap package

I have now uploaded some images of the felt vessels that I made for the Blueprint exhibition to my Flickr account.  With the exception of one bowl I decided to use all undyed fibres and keep the theme simple and stylish.  Probably the vessel that I am most satisfied with is a grey and white bowl with three oval pebbles stitched on as embellishment. 

Natural wool, stone and linen vessel

Natural wool, stone and linen vessel

Carmen gave me some raw linen thread to use for the stitching and I must say it does lend to the overall effect.  It really reinforces the thought that I have to get a bit more comfortable with a needle, judicious stitching can really enhance the style and feel of an item particularly when the thread has been chosen with care to complement or contrast.

The Clasheen Crafty Swap for Summer is well underway now, currently we have 98 members in our group and the numbers are growing weekly!  Swapping is a brilliant way to make friends and swap goodies with partners from all around the world, my most recent and wonderful swap package arrived on Monday afternoon from krobin in the Ravelry Cowl Swap.  In this secret swap we had to knit or crochet a cowl for our partner, send yarn and another cowl pattern and also include a few little extras taking into account the likes and dislikes of our swap buddy. 

Fantastic swap package
Fantastic swap package

My brilliant package included the hand knitted cowl, 3 crochet hooks, chocolate, yarn, pattern, pretzels, incense, my favourite ginger and orange bath lotion, ginger soap and some tasty chai tea!!!  Need I say more, EVERYTHING is me to a tee!

For my secret partner I crocheted a cowl in a silk/merino mix and finished it off with three buttons from my stash, hopefully my buddy will like it as it is in her favourite autumn colours!  I have bought some locally produced yarn from Cushendale Wollen Mill and yesterday got some chocolate and little extra goodies when I was in Carlow to complete my package.  Hopefully I will get it all together this afternoon (in between some dreaded cleaning in prep for Alan’s arrival home!) and it will be winging it’s way to the States tomorrow morning. 

Success from disaster! My fulled (felted) jumper saga, South East Textile Group …..

I had a very enjoyable time yesterday at the monthly get together of the South East Textile Group.  We meet on the last Saturday of every month at the Demanse Yard in Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny for inspiration, textile related tutorials and workshops, good food and a bit of fun!  Stephanie was teaching members how to needle felt a doll so making my apologies (needle felting really aggravates my back and I am NOT a doll person!) I settled in for a relaxing session of wet felting.  I felted a selection of glamorous flowers using some sparkly merino for the top layer and now just need to sew pins onto the backs and upload them to my Etsy shop.  I also felted three new rings and showed everyone how you can also use them as a ‘clasp’ with a scarf, really multi functional and fun items.  After a great lunch in the cafe I gathered a twisted stick and felted a flower onto the branch, part of my experimental work before I submit my proposal for ‘Sculpture in Context’ which is taking place at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin this September. 

When I arrived home from Castlecomer I was faced with my previously beautiful cerise mohair and wool jumper after I had made a mistake with the controls of my washing machine.  Previously I had washed this soft and beautiful jumper on a 30 degree wool wash but for some alsolutely crazy reason this time I had a rush of blood to my head and lumped it in at an active 40 degrees, disaster!  Although it was not totally ‘fulled’ it was getting there so nothing ventured nothing gained, I decided to bung it in on a 90 degree wash and take my chances with the resultant fabric.  Happily it worked a treat (obviously I would have preferred not to have shrunk it but once the process had started there was no going back) and this morning I cut up the jumper into various useful sections.  The piece that I am most pleased about is the neck, it now makes a really beautiful and warm headband with the addition of a crochet and felt green and pink corsage!  The sleeves are now fingerless mittens awaiting some embellishment and the body looks like it may be redesigned into a soft and comfortable cowl!