CRAFTed, Zwartbles, KY, MI and Portugal felting workshop updates and Dawn’s wonderful visit comes to an end

So much news, yet again so little time! Dawn came with me last week to meet the pupils that I’m working with for my 2012 CRAFTed project, they just loved her hats and in turn she just loved them singing two songs in Irish for her!!!

Adding buttons and other bits and bobs to embellish the felt portraits

Tomorrow is my last session with the school and I can’t believe that I haven’t got my paperwork up to date for this. It has been so hectic here the last 6 weeks that for the first time ever I am behind at this stage of the project, the fact that I am working with 35 and not 26 pupils also has contributed to the delay, anyway, onwards and upwards. We’ll be hanging the finished felt portraits tomorrow and making friendship bracelets for all the pupils to share.

After the opening of Duckett’s Grove on Friday morning Dawn and I picked up my great Danish buddy Kirsten Elise Lund and we headed back to Clasheen for an action packed and fun weekend! On Saturday morning we headed over to Suzanna Crampton’s beautiful home and spent a wonderful few hours rambling around the garden and getting up close and personal with her gorgeous Zwartbles sheep!

Kirsten, Dawn and Suzanna, Zwartbles are such a gently breed and SO friendly it's amazing

I want to write a full blog post about this trip, the sheep and felting with their fleece before I leave for US but if I don’t get time please MAKE sure I do so later in the summer!!! After a blissful morning we all went for an early lunch to Nicholas Mosse Pottery, dropped Suzanna home then Dawn, Kirsten and I headed food shopping to Kilkenny followed by a brilliant trip to Cushendale Woolen Mill in Graiguenamanagh. Thanks so much Mary Cushen for opening up the mill especially for Dawn and Kirsten, we really appreciated the personal attention, this local mill is my ‘must see’ recommendation for any international textile visitor who comes to Clasheen!!!

Choices, choices at Cushendale Woolen Mill

In the evening Kate Ramsey arrived to stay and we were all joined by some of my closest friends for a plate of curry and a chat. On Sunday morning Niki Collier arrived and we spent the day felting, chatting, eating, laughing and basically having what we Irish call ‘the craic’, Kate and Niki also popped in to Carlow to see Eileen MacDonagh’s amazing exhibition LITHOSPHERE at Visual!!! In the evening our local guy won the final of ‘The Voice of Ireland‘, congratulations Pat Byrne, we voted, cheered and shouted with the best of them. Dawn, Kirsten and I had an early start on Monday morning, 4am to be precise! It was bitter sweet leaving the girls at the airport, our time together was really special and it was very sad to see it ending. I will be however heading to US myself in exactly one week and visiting with Dawn and the three of us have plans laid for a longer session together next spring, lots to reflect on and lots to look forward to!!!

Speaking of the US, I am SO EXCITED that I will be heading off my travels exactly one week from today, in fact by this time next week I’ll actually be airborn and heading over to stay with the wonderful Jan Durham in Lexington and the amazing Dawn Edwards in Plainwell! If you would like to join us in Lexington on Friday 11th and Saturday 12th May or Plainwell on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th May from 10am to 5pm please just contact Jan or Dawn asap, we have just a few slots left on each of these dates so hurry if you want to have some fabulous felting fun!!! There are also only a few places left for the amazing week long felting extravaganza at Dominio Vale do Mondego in Portugal, please follow the link to see what’s on offer and contact Karin asap if you wish to confirm your spot! I’ll leave you today with the full workshop descriptions for KY and MI, I’m also going to be in action for 3 days at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival from 18th, 19th and 20th of May in case you can’t make either Lexington or Plainwell!!!

‘Fantastic Felt Inspired by the Natural and Built Environment’ 

Skill Level: Basic felting skills an advantage but total beginners are very welcome too!

Class Description: Let the shapes, forms, colours, patterns, textures and structures of the natural and built environment fire your imagination! During this two-day workshop participants will design and create their own unique and beautiful wearable, functional or decorative pieces of felt using nature and the man-made landscape for inspiration. Some participants may choose to create a purely decorative art piece such as a complex vessel, sculpture or wall hanging while others may decide to design and felt some wearable art or interior accent, possibly a bag, some jewellery, some nuno felt or maybe a framed landscape or table runner.

There will be time to experiment and discover techniques or materials over the two days that you may have never considered using in your felting before. Nicola will be bringing some of her favourite mohair off cuts for everyone to try out and will share with participants how she is currently using free machine embroidery selectively to accentuate design elements in some of her new bags and framed landscapes. She’ll also demonstrate the use of an electric sander during some stages of the felting process and speak about the possibilities of fulling nuno felt using the tumble dryer, Nicola doesn’t use a sander all the time herself but sometimes it can really help with certain tasks and it is definitely useful to know when this might apply. The tumble dryer technique is wonderful for difficult to felt fabrics and to eliminate all the traditional rubbing and rolling, it’s not for everyone but it is fantastic to speed up the process especially if you have a bad back or other health issues so again, another technique it can be handy to know about!

Participants are encouraged to bring along treasured bits and bobs from their stash, buttons, beads, scraps of vintage fabric, shells, stones, glass nuggets etc., these all make wonderful inclusions in felt and help to personalize and create a truly unique work of art! We will have access to a sewing machine during the workshop but if you have your own machine with a free machine embroidery foot please bring it along and some threads too if you have space in your car. We won’t have access to a tumble dryer at the venue but if participants would like to try this technique during the workshop they are free to lay out a large nuno wrap during day one and get it to the stage where they can bring it home with them and finish it using their own dryer that evening. Nicola will clearly explain the steps to take and it should be possible to full the pieces and have them finished to show off on day two!

NB Although participants will get the most from this workshop in either Kentucky or Plainwell if they are able to participate on both Friday and Saturday there may be a few places available for those unable to attend both days, please just contact Jan or Dawn asap to check.

Home, pics, links, Sheep and Wool Festival, the new June Wikio rankings and THANKS!!!

I arrived home safely yesterday afternoon but my luggage stayed in Atlanta, maybe it was trying to tell me something!!!  Customs at the airport had already been informed that it was not on my flight so although it does mean I don’t have it back until sometime tomorrow afternoon at least the bag was traced and is now waiting for a courier to collect it from the airport in Dublin.  This does give me a little ‘free’ time to catch up with everything here at Clasheen, please be patient however if you are waiting for an email response or something like that because it will definitely take a week or so to get back to ‘normal’ here!  Writing is short and staccato like today, here are the highlights …..

    • Pictures from the wonderful Lexington workshops are uploading to Flickr as I write this post, I will need to edit them somewhat but if you can’t wait to see the beautiful felt created head on over to the relevant set and have a look!  You can also head on over and visit the Loco Life of Lindy if you are interested in reading about Jan and I visiting Lindy and Paul Huber’s beautiful Seldom Scene Farm on Sunday, I won’t spoil the fun but INTERESTING things happened ……….
    • I need to update my links here to reflect the varied and inspirational blogs that I follow.  Most are felt and fibre related and because I view them through Google Reader I have to copy and paste each URL individually and add them to my sidebar.  At the moment I am thinking to have a totally seperate page for all of them, this would tidy up the front page of my site and I would be able to divide them into catagories easier, what do you think?
    • Still link related I am going to write a post over the next few days linking to the websites and blogs of all the participants from the three different US workshop venues, some wonderful fibre related businesses for you all to drool over and order from!!!
    • Don’t forget the first time anyone gets a chance to view Horst’s amazing couture garments outside of USA will be at this weekend’s Sheep and Wool Festival in Kilkenny.  There will also be an exhibition of the incredible work from the girls in 6th class Presentation School Kilkenny (you remember the CRAFTed project I was involved in?) and I will be teaching 4 felting workshops over Saturday and Sunday.  Please call in and say hello!
    • The June Wikio rankings are just about to be announced and I am delighted to remain at no 5 in the top 20 UK and Irish knitting blogs, here is a sneak preview at the list …..
1 ysolda
2 pennies per hour of pleasure
3 needled
4 Daisie Days
5 Clasheen by Nicola Brown
6 Confessions of a YarnAddict
7 The Woolly Adventures of a Knitting Kitty
8 Eskimimi Knits
9 Art Yarn
10 Little Cotton Rabbits
11 slippedstitch
12 Wendy Knits
13 The Yarn Yard Blog
14 mooncalfmakes
15 SNOOPYDOGKNITS!
16 fourth edition
17 All things Socktopus!
18 Purlpower
19 glittyknittykitty
20 Lixie Knits It

Ranking made by Wikio

Finally but certainly not last, THANKS A MILLION TIMES to Emma, Sharon, Dawn and Jan (plus all your significant others!) for opening up your homes to me and organising the various legs of my workshop schedual, thanks to all the workshop participants for your enthusiasm and creativity not to mention wonderful felting ability, thanks to everyone who shared their stash with me and gave me wonderful fibre and embellishments to try out in the comfort of Clasheen, thanks to everyone who bought our new book with them for me to sign (obviously a new experience for me!), thanks to all my old and new friends who visited with me during the course of my working holiday and helped to make my stay in CA, MI and KY such an amazing experience, as always you are the best!!!

So much felting news to share, so little time …..

I really wanted to write a LOOOOONG post this morning complete with pictures of some recent felt accessories but I still need to assemble my materials for this month’s US workshops, get my hair cut, buy my suitcase, sort out the house, check my diary (ha, ha)  to confirm which dates Alan and friends are staying at Clasheen during my travels, wash some clothes, photograph some felt, write a bio and statement (for my first solo exhibition in August), write a profile for a book Feltmakers Ireland are producing etc. etc. etc.!!!  Instead I am going to beg your patience and write down today’s essential news as three bullet points reserving a longer post with pictures of the felt accessories for when I have some more writing time tomorrow.  Here goes ……..

      • THANKS a bunch to Chrissie who now has the softback version of our book listed on the UK Amazon site, brilliant!  Apparantly the more people who ‘like’ the book there, the higher up the rankings it moves so fingers crossed that when people actually have it in their hands we will get some positive responses and it will move upwards.  If you are looking for the hardback version it is available (as is the softback too) by clicking on the picture to the right or going directly to our page on Blurb.
      • Congratulations to UK felters Annie and Lyn of rosiepink who have just released their first eBook, I have already ordered and downloaded mine and I love it, the book is titled ‘Creating Felt Artwork’, a step by step guide!
      • Horst has been featured today by felting editor Linda Lanese on the wonderful Craft Gossip website and blog.  Thanks Linda for mentioning our ‘Large Felt Garment’workshop which takes place in The Studio, Bennetsbridge, Co Kilkenny, IRELAND from 17th to 19th June, the first time EVER Horst will be teaching outside the US, it will be an amazing experience.  In fact, participants who work hard and finish their large garments early will have the opportunity to make a matching bag/purse for themselves, bring it on!!!  There are only two places left for this unique workshop so if you would like to join us please email me asap, thanks.

        Horst's latest line of felt purses!