Michigan workshops and a short felt book update!

I was thrilled this morning to be able to switch on my laptop, connect to the internet without any difficulty and discover that the wonderful Dawn of Felt so Right fame has started a blog, welcome to a whole new world Dawn!  What made it even more exciting was to see what Dawn’s first post was about and revisit my memories of the wonderful ladies who participated in our ‘felted accessories’ workshop at the KIA in Kalamazoo last Fall!!!  I had a total blast facilitating both workshops in Michigan (the earlier two day workshop was complex felt bags) and I am absolutely sure participants I meet at our workshops on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st May will be every bit as warm, friendly, enthusaistic and artist as the ladies who made my first visit so special.  I am SOOOO excited to be in this beautiful part of US one more, thank you Dawn for being my friend and making this trip possible again!!!  If you would like to join us and are interested in what we will be felting who not check out the workshop page and then please email Dawn to book your place.

Rounding the point and heading back along the shore line

Yesterday I took an unexpected break from felting and any lingering computer woes.  Alan and I took full advantage of the beautiful  hot weather by escaping for a long walk at ‘The Raven’, a nature reserve right on the Wexford coastline and about an hours drive from Clasheen.  We walked for 6 miles totally, 3 miles through forested dunes and slob land and the return trip right beside the shore line.  I love taking pictures on these walks, everything falls under my eye and may be used as inspiration for a new felt piece in the future!

Writing our book together has made me even more conscious that Chrissie sketches and makes notes about work in progress far more than I do.  Sometimes I wonder if it is because I document so much online that I just don’t write everything down literally, other times I wonder if it is just that I lack discipline, hmm.  Now that my computer is on top form I am starting to enjoy sitting down and writing my part of our collaboration, the whole process has just been SO stressful over the last 4 weeks I was beginning to wonder would we ever get sorted!  Light is at the end of the tunnel however and now that my flights are booked I can really set myself some deadlines and make sure we put it to bed sometime before the end of this month.  I really want to have some copies to bring with me to US and I know we have editors chomping at the bit waiting to review it for some of the textile and craft magazines, we are getting there!

Footprints in the sand

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

Revelation leads to a new nuno felt top!!!

OK, WordPress is behaving extremely funnily at the moment so forgive me if this the pictures in this post are not where I wanted them and they don’t have any captions. This morning I had a revelation, you all know by now how much I avoid sewing if at all possible, sometimes I like to add a few judicious hand stitches (I know stitching enhances felt wonderfully) but in general I avoid sewing like the plague!!!

Anyway, I ADORE the simplicity of Japanese design and one of the most read textile books in my library is ‘SAORI Self-discovery through Free Weaving’ by Misao jo and Kenzo Jo. My good friend Cristina lent me a few books last weekend and one of them is an absolutely wonderful book by Rutsuko Sakata, written in Japanese so unfortunately I can’t even give you the title here but believe me, I need to get a copy NOW! The pictures of Rutsuko’s work are beautiful and the line drawings inspirational. I was browsing through the book one more time at breakfast when suddenly I had a revelation! Last year I felted a beautiful piece of hand dyed silk with the intention of cutting and reassembling it into a kind of fitted sleeveless top (based on a well worn one from my wardrobe) prior to throwing it to hide the stitches and shrink it to fit. The silk was dyed by friend and master textile artist Lyda Rump and once I had incorporated a really fine layer of merino overlaid with silk fibres and felted them together the resultant nuno felt rectangle was so beautiful I baulked at cutting into it at all! Armed with a diagram from Rutsuko’s book I pulled out the nuno felt from my studio, folded it at the edges (a bit like origami but simpler!), pinned it and then tried it on, incredible, I now had the bones of a jacket/shrug that I know I will wear, fantastic!!! Anyway, I then found some perfectly matched thread (a Christmas present from Carmen!), added a couple of stitches to each side and voila, the top is completed. It’s raining horribly this morning so no pictures of the finished piece on the manequin, as soon as it stops I’ll take a few, for now off to felt and document another bag design for the book!

Brilliant new felting book, wonderful swap package and new Clasheen swap news!!

Wow, I got some GREAT packages in the post last night!!  Check out Lizzie Houghton’s new book ‘Felting Fashion’, it is brilliant but especially if you are interested in creating wonderful nuno felt wearables!

Felting Fashion by Lizzie Houghton

Felting Fashion by Lizzie Houghton

I first read about this book approximately a month ago (it was pre-publication at that stage) and then members of Feltmakers Ireland who attended the International Feltmakers Association AGM raved about it when they saw a copy.  I was delighted to see that it was available through the English Amazon site although I think that it might be October before our American counterparts get it on the other side of the world.  Anyway, do try and get your hands on a copy if you are at all interested in felting clothes, the images alone make it worth the small investment, my copy cost less than E20 incl p & p from ‘The Book Depository’. 

Nuno felt berets and hats

Nuno felt berets and hats

Just a quick tip re Amazon, I always check out the used books first.  Although it sounds strange they are nearly always new and a fraction of the price of the actual ‘new’ ones!!  Two other textile related books that I had ordered arrived yesterday as well as did my amazing ‘Felted Purse (Bag) Exchange’ swap package from Darlene.  This exchange was organised through Ravelry and using my colour preferences my swap buddy Darlene (Ktoggal on Ravelry) made me a gorgeous knitted bag in reds, orange and plum which was then fulled in the washing machine. 

My gorgeous bag from Darlene

My gorgeous bag from Darlene

I LOVE the bag thanks Darlene and all the extra little goodies are gorgeous, I particularly love the scent of the blackcurrant mineral bath soak!!  Would you like to participate in the new Clasheen swap???

NEW CLASHEEN SWAP  For this next swap I thought that it would be a nice idea to exchange something small, handmade and wearable such as a corsage, piece of jewellery, scarf or a clutch bag.  Please sign up via the Clasheen Crafty Swap group on Flickr, it would be great to have participants again from all around the world!!