Felt and recycled material mobile for Earth Day and beautiful nuno mosaic!

Happy Earth Day!  Today is Earth Day and to celebrate I am throwing open my studio this afternoon and sharing a simple way of making a beautiful waste felt and recycled material mobile.  This pledge ticks the ‘recycling and waste reduction’ box and is my way of joining others aiming to achieve ‘A billion acts of green’.  In the evening I will be joining Cathy, Martin and other green friends for a walk to the summit of Mount Leinster followed by a party and some great music, Kiwi with an Irish twist!!!  Check out this event here on Facebook and do come and join us if you are free.  Places are limited to 6 for the mobile workshop but because I only made the pledge on Wednesday I am not actually sure if anyone will be joining me.  If not never fear, I am going to make my own mobiles anyway and take some pictures of the finished pieces so you can all share the process online tomorrow!

Sharon's beautiful nuno mosaic wrap

Due to circumstances beyond our control plans have changed for my workshops with Sharon and Emma of  The Tin Thimble, Loomis, CA.  Instead of us heading off for the fibre retreat as planned, we now have 3 days of workshops happening at the wonderful studio in Loomis instead, a special two day nuno mosaic workshop and a one day felted accessories workshop.  Details of both workshops as well as a full materials list will be posted here and to The Tin Thimble’s website later today or early tomorrow but for now I am going to share two pictures of Sharon’s amazing nuno mosaic wrap from last year.

Stunning textures in Sharon's wrap

This stunning piece of wearable art was felted during one highly intense day, imagine the possibilities for a designing and creating a beautiful origami style jacket, wrap around skirt or large wall hanging when having the opportunity to play around with this technique over two days???

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Some swap questions answered and a photo of my latest nuno felt shawl

Swap partners are now up for the Flickr Clasheen Crafty Swap so if you are one of the current participants please ENJOY!!!  These swapping events are meant to be fun and I just want to take this opportunity of thanking everybody who has participated to date and welcoming new swappers to the experience, I think you are going to love it!  

Soft and ultra warm felt shawl

Before I write a little about the warm shawl I felted yesterday (could this be nuno felt???) I just want to address some questions which pop up quite regularly about the swap both as comments or private emails here to me at Clasheen.  I hope you don’t mind but I am just going to write the sallient details as bullet points, I know you will get the gist but for anyone needing more info please take a look through previous swaps on the discussion board and in the group pool of pictures to see the type of packages we share around the world.  Here goes …..

  • Everyone is welcome to join wherever you may live in the world
  • We usually swap one main item (hand crafted by you for your partner!) and a selection of other smaller items.
  • Our participants come from all walks of life so all we ask for the hand crafted goody is that you put some thought into it and make sure it is something that you would like to recieve yourself!  Ideas include wearable accessories (scarves are probably our most popular items to swap), a small painting, notebooks, jewellery, hand made cosmetics, bath products etc.
  • The additional items are often lovelies from our own stash, fibre, fabric, buttons, beads, upcycled, recycled, old books, magazines, findings etc., anything that we may personally like but have never managed to find a use for ourself or know that our partner would particularily like.
  • I assign each participant a number and when I do the draw put these numbers into a container and pair them up as the numbers are drawn out.  This does mean that it is a lottery and sometimes a participant is teamed up with the same partner twice although I don’t think that has been a big issiue to date.
  • The swap is not a competition or meant to be in any way stressful but it is nice to check through the discussion board to see exactly what makes your partner tick and try to put together a parcel that will please.   What colours do they like, are they girly or practical (I know that I’m not girly anyway!), do they read English, salty or sweet, tea or coffee, ground or beans, you get the idea.
  • You do need to join our group on Flickr in order to participate, this is just the only way for me to monitor the swap without getting boggged down in paperwork from this end of things!
  • Full names and addresses obviously need to be swapped with me as moderator of the group and with your swap partner.  We do this through Flickr mail and not publically on line so there is no need to worry about private details becoming visable to everyone on the internet.
  • For new or potential participants just take the plunge!  Really we have some good fun and it is fantastic to get to know people from all around the world and share a little of our own hand made goodness and wonderful to get a little something in return!

Now on the that shawl!  I am always on the look out for unusual fabrics to incorporate into my nuno felt and other wearables or to cut up and use as surface decoration for items such as vessels or bags.  A while ago I picked up a very unusual and lightweight mohair/metallic thread shawl that just seemed to be crying out to be felted into a beautiful and warm shawl.  It was like a gossamer piece of cobweb, beautifully soft and warm with a really interesting knitted pattern.  Nuno felt is the process of combining a lot of fabric with a little fibre to create a totally new fabric, in this case although technically the shawl I started with could have been called fabric it was probably machine knitted and not a woven fabric like silk or cotton so can I call the end result nuno felt???  I had been having a bit of a mental block about what colours to use with this piece but for some reason yesterday white and baby blue just jumped to mind and that was what I decided to work with as a backing for the shimmering indigo shawl.  The knitted square had subtle colour variations changing from silvery white in the centre through to deepest indigo at the edges.  The whole piece was also threaded with a silver metallic thread and I am now thinking that there must have been some elastic somewhere in the yarn because the fully felted end shawl almost appears to have a slight ‘give’ or stretch to the fabric.  Because I really wanted to keep the beautiful drape of the knitted shawl I decided to lay only one light layer of short fibred merino on the reverse, I did succeed pretty well although in some places the felt is a little patchier than I would have liked optimally.  Probably that is to do with the fact that I never (well almost never except for bags and vessels!) weigh my wool out in advance and I didn’t realise how little blue I had in stock so ended up using every last scrap no matter how unevenly laid out it was!  For some reason I can’t upload any more photos to the blog today (oh the restrictions of the internet!) but you can have a good look at the close ups on Flickr to see how well the fabric ‘melted’ into the merino backing.  You can also see from a shot of the rear view how different stitches and colours in the base layer result in subtle variations of colour in the finished shawl.

April showers bring forth May flowers, sweet pea nuno felt poncho/wrap/cropped top!

Well, it is lashing outside this morning and for those of you not familiar with Irish expressions lashing means very heavy rain!  I had been planning on photographing some nuno felt scarves and wraps before uploading them to my new boutique but obviously I need to wait until we get a bit of a break in the weather. 

The good news is that I had a guilt free morning finishing fulling a large piece of nuno felt, I laid it out yesterday afternoon and had got it to the rolling and fulling stage before having to call it a day.  I love creating pieces that can be worn in more ways than one and this piece definitely fits the bill.  Basically it is a large reversible square with a hole in the middle and worn with corners pointing down it is a poncho, corners to the side a cropped top and if you fold it in half along the diagonal and roll the long edge slightly it makes a great warm wrap perfect to throw over your shoulders when the evenings get cool.

I don’t know how I suddenly ‘re-discovered’ the lilac muslin yesterday that I used for the base but with a house as tidy as mine every day in an adventure ploughing through piles of ‘stuff’!  Anyway, the lilac is wonderful with some of the beautiful sweet pea shades of light pink, blueberry and raspberry coloured kap merino from Wollknoll.  I also had some stunning hand dyed silk lap left over from a project earlier in the year and this just gives nice extra colour and texture to the surface of the wool side.  As the project progressed I was having huge debates with myself as to how or where I was going to cut into the square to create either an opening for the head or alternatively two arm holes which had also been in my mind.  What I decided to do was wait until the nuno felt was almost finished shrinking and then pin or drape the felt over my manequin before making the decision.  This worked well because immediately the poncho style looked good, now I want to make another large piece of flat felt but round this time. This one I will cut with two armholes and create a circular shawl loosely basing the design on this adaptation of Barbara Pooles. I think judging from my draping and folding this morning the circle will drape better for a sleeveles top than the square. If you haven’t already enjoyed this short video take a look now and I promise to upload pictures of my ‘Sweet Pea’ poncho/wrap/cropped top just as soon as the rain stops and I can take them!