Undercover!

I’ve been undercover all day today, no Internet at all as I’m trying to get as much felting done as possible before I crash out with exhaustion! The sum total of my finished work so far is one VERY long silk and merino scarf plus two nuno felt scarves. Yesterday I facilitated a social media workshop which was full on but good fun, hope the participants thought so too!!! I’ll link through to their relevant Facebook pages tomorrow and you can have a look at their respective art/craft practices. For now I’m heading to eat my lunch/supper (rolled into one!), 4 cheese tortellini accompanied by a warm baby beet and pink grapefruit salad. No email or Facebook action today so apologies to anyone expecting a response, I’ll be back to speed tomorrow evening I hope.

Photos from the Lexington workshops!

It was another exciting but calm day in Lexington as larger projects from yesterday came together and new pieces were laid out too. Donna, Lindy and Karen all felted pieces in the tumble dryer last night and worked on new pieces today and until you have tried this out for yourself it is impossible to realise how much time and effort this can save you! Check out ‘Nuno Felting with Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown’ or the downloadable book if you are interested in learning more about how to go about this and to see the proof of the pudding here is a group picture from this evening; Donna is modelling her wonderful vest, Karen her highly textured scarf and Lindy’s large piece of yardage is photographed to the left of the group.

Lindy’s yardage, Tonya, Donna, Jan, Nancy, Karen and Sandy (left to right)

A lot of interesting techniques were incorporated into the various pieces, resists laid out inside three dimensional pieces to reveal hidden details later (Tonya in an wonderful large vessel and Jan in a gorgeous bag which also includes glass nuggets), Karen incorporated beads at the lay out stage of her first resist project, Nancy felted a wonderful large purse with integrated handles and Sandy felted an incredible large wall hanging using alpaca and a selection of fabulous locks from a variety of different sheep and other animals! Check out the album I’ve created on facebook to see more of the work, congratulations everyone, you are amazing!!! I’ll leave you with a picture of Sandy’s beautiful landscape, isn’t it an amazing piece for her second ever time felting?

Sandy’s felt landscape using all cleaned but uncarded alpaca and other fibres

Using a felting roller to speed up the nuno process!

Yesterday morning I felted the piece which will actually be the first in my section of the new book with Chrissie, it’s a beautiful but simple scarf and I think the perfect project for anyone wanting to try nuno felting for the first time. I’m not going to have much time to blog for the next few days as I’m teaching, felting, writing, at the market and preparing the house for Dawn Edwards to arrive this day next week!!!

Using my 'niki & niki' roller directly on top of the bubble wrap

I will however post a few pics as I go along, the one today shows me using my felting roller on the top of the bubble wrap at the early stages of making my scarf yesterday. Instead of rubbing with my hands as I usually would before starting to roll, I simple rolled back and forwards with my ‘niki & niki’ felting roller all over my package 20 times on each side and the short fibre merino was already starting to migrate through the heavy silk fabric! Half the rubbing replaced with this rolling and a lot faster result, yay!!!

Hectic time felt and life related …..

I have just spent a really busy time down in Cillin Hill setting up for my weekend workshops at the Sheep and Wool Festival (E25 for either a morning or an afternoon session incl materials, a bargain!) as well as bringing down three of Horst’s fabulous garments and collating everything for the presentation girl’s display. Alan’s father may not make the night so if that is the case Carmen has very kindly offered to step in for me on Sunday so that I can drive to Sligo to meet with Alan and be there for the funeral. Now I am heading out again to deliver a comissioned scarf (why did I say I would make it for today???) and then drive to my mother’s house to collect the wool and raw materials for the weekend. Stephanie from The Yarn Room has kindly sponsored the fibre and my sister Suzanne is collecting it in Wicklow on her way down from Dublin to visit my mother.  My mother will have roast stuffed loin of pork followed by fresh Wexford strawberries and cream waiting for us, I can hardly wait.  Thanks Stephanie, Suzanne and mum!!!

Oh so soft merino scarf

Sent this really soft scarf with organic edges and dreadlocks off to a secret swap partner this week, felted from 16 micron merino and using the storm clouds overhead as my inspiration.  Unless you live in Ireland it’s quite impossible to describe how an otherwise sunny and warm day can have this stormy looking sky too!!!  Speaking of swaps, many apologies for being so behind with the Clasheen Crafty Swap on Flickr, hope to pick up the reins on Monday but been just so tied up with computer and the book, sorry.

Stormy skies over Clasheen

Busy day felting …..

Today has been an excellent day for seeing several of the book projects through from start to finish.  Firstly I tackled a highly textured nuno felt scarf, then a 50% silk 50% merino scarf/neckpiece (need to think of a new name for this!), next I felted a really striking but simple raw silk and merino lampshade and finally by combining the waste left over from this project with some raffia and a spare Bodum coffee container I made the easiest felt candle holder imagineable!  Now I am just going to spend a few minutes looking up something on the computer (no, it is not fixed yet, more work remotely tonight hopefully) and then back to get on with my next item.  I think it must be the fact that we put our clocks forward one hour last Sunday because I am really motoring along with the felting these last few days although unfortunately I need to do some paperwork urgently, ugh.  I also need to sort out a materials lists for my US workshops (do you know how EXCITED I am getting about these?????) and I also need to update everyone about Horst’s workshop here as well!  No electricity here tomorrow for the whole day so guess it’s felting again for me!!!

Glass beads glisten against the shimmering silk and merino felt …….

Glass beads glistening against the silk and merino felt

I hadn’t intended posting any photos of new work that will be going in the book but couldn’t resist this shot demonstrating how the glass beads glisten against the felt in this silk/merino scarf!  It is pretty bright lightwise this morning so maybe the colours are slightly bleached but you can really see how the high percentage of silk in this fibre combination (50% silk 50% merino) shines when felted and how it also lends a great sense of movement to the piece. 

As many of you know already I have been having HUGE computer problems that still are not sorted two weeks after I started to seriously try and address the issue.  My techy guru posted me an external drive last week when he was having difficulty transferring things remotely and would you believe it my flies are just refusing to transfer over to this new drive for me too, URGH, a lot of work to do today so no felting I fear!  The up side of things will be that once I get all the problems ironed out Chrissie and I will be finally able to share our files online, see the layout of the book, edit and adjust things to our heart’s content, in short, do all the necessary to put the thing to bed, bliss!  Thanks for all your positive messages and comments about this upcoming publication, I hope you won’t all be disappointed!!!  I am also going to be uploading a HUGE amount of photos to Flickr during the day, this will mean that I don’t have to store them anywhere else, at least that’s the idea, hoping it will work.  Some of these photos may be old work I never blogged about before and some of them may be new or unseen, not sure yet exactly what files I still have lurking on the computer!

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

Stunning printed silk for nuno felting, new online store about to go live!

At the moment it just seems to be a roller coaster ride, organising my American workshops (sorry about the lack of details yet, trying to pin everything down in reverse order time wise!), sorting out my new online store, ploughing through the ever mounting paperwork and housework (on the back boiler yet again!!), attending to my golf club duties (unpaid I might add) and trying to get some time to actually felt and be creative.  Spending time felting is the one thing that keeps me sane and although Alan can’t understand why I feel compelled to get into the studio when so many other things need to be done I just would go totally mad if I didn’t get a little time to play around with fibres!

English Garden wrap/scarf

On Saturday morning I drove into Carlow town with Alan as we had a washing machine of his in the back of my truck which needed some repairs, my truck is very handy for hauling stuff around!  Anyway, while I was on this mission of mercy I managed to call into a nearby shop for a couple of minutes to check out their t-shirts and have a look at some of the latest summer accessories.  I was lucky enough to have the very good fortune of snapping up three stunning printed silk scarves, absolutely perfect for the pictured nuno felt wrap!  I laid out short fibred merino and silk fibres on one side of the silk scarf roughly following the colours in the print though not being totally confined by colour at the same time!!  It did take me longer than usual to lay out the fibres but I definitely think that the results have been worth the effort, I love the finished colours and texture! 

Detail showing both the silk side and the fibre side out

During the course of this week I promise to launch my new online store and this wrap/scarf will be one of the special items I am offering to launch my summer collection!!!  Here is a close up shot to show how I followed the colours and shapes printed on the silk when laying out my fibre.

My first food colour dyed nuno scarf, American update and one space available next Wednesday to learn nuno felting!

As promised here are some more musings re my first  hand dyed nuno scarf experiment.  Once I had zapped the scarf in the  microwave for the second 5 minute session I left it in the bowl to cool down a little bit.  As soon as it was cooler to handle I rinsed it out under running water before spinning with a damp towel and then hanging it up to dry. 

My first scarf dyed with food colouring

Contrasting textures

I absolutely adore the mohair locks combined with the nuno texture but wouldn’t include the corn fibres again for this type of work.  As mentioned before I did know that they would not dye with the food colouring but because I intended the scarf to be various shades of blue and green I thought that the fibres would add a nice touch, I actually think that they don’t!  I am happy however with the blending of the green and yellow colours which was carefully planned and not an accident by any means, oh ye of little faith!!  The scarf seems to be amazingly soft after the process and I really don’t know if the dying altered the handle of the nuno felt or if it is just the addition of the mohair locks.  Dying with food colouring is something that I will experiment with a little further as it was quick, safe and only required items already here in my house (except obviously the food colouring itself!).
At the moment I am just trying to finalise the Michigan leg of my US felting trip this October.  As soon as I have confirmed news I will post here and sort out the Californian and Oregan side of things, I can’t wait!!!
I am teaching a nuno felting workshop here at Clasheen next Wednesday and due to the arrival of my new tables this morning (HURRAH!) have one space available for the day.  Please email me asap if you are interested in attending.  The cost is E75 for the day including materials and ongoing tea or coffee, silk fabric is a little extra (you can use cotton gauze or muslin if preferred) depending on whether you go for hand dyed or commercial silk.