Some exciting ‘felting’ time ahead this weekend!

I have been fortunate enough to be one of the names drawn out of the hat to attend a Jeanette Sendler felting workshop this weekend!  Organised by Feltmakers Ireland this is an exciting opportunity to learn how Jeannette works and explore the topic ‘Fibre, felt and nostalgia’  To grasp an idea of what we will be covering you can check out this post on the Feltmakers Ireland blog.  I promise to report back about how the weekend went on Monday afternoon, no computer coverage until I get back to Carlow!  This afternoon I am going to try and ‘tame’ my kitchen and get a few loads of washing dry before assembling all my materials in preparation for travelling tomorrow.  Not sure yet what memory filled item I am going to bring with me to the workshop but hopefully it will hit me as I start to put all my pieces together.

PS In case any of you are wondering Rex will be very well looked after by his old owner’s niece who here on a holiday for approx 10 days, perfect timing!!

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Felting mouse, punched felt beads and a nuno felt wrap

Punched felt beads

Punched felt beads

Before I write about the felting I did over the long weekend just let me answer a question that a lot of you have been asking via email.  The ridged wooden object pictured beside the washboard in my last post is called a ‘felting mouse’.  This is a wonderful hand held tool which I bought from Wollknoll and I find it fantastic for spot fulling all types of felt and great for shaping felt vessels.  They sell this hand held style which is so comfortable to use and also a bigger paddle like version with a long wooden handle, I recommend this one!! 

Although I didn’t get to felt for as long as I would have liked to over the weekend (things are hotting up for Alan’s local election campaign!) I do have images of a couple of works in progress to show you.  One of the pieces that I worked on was the thick felt pad pictured above, I had actually made it at the beginning of last week but only started punching it yesterday evening.  I borrowed Carmen’s hollow punch set as it has much bigger punches and so far I have stamped out beads in various different sizes.

Nuno felt wrap
Nuno felt wrap

These beads will be used in a variety of jewellery projects that I have in mind, unfortunately I need to buy more seed beads as both the yellow and the blue that I have in stock just don’t cut the mustard with the colours of the discs!  My main felting project over the weekend was this nuno felted wrap made from some of the gorgeous hand dyed silk chiffon and merino friends from Feltmakers Ireland gave me as a present.  The colours are wonderfully subtle, hand dyed graduating shades of golden olive, now I just need to felt a contrasting flower or button to use as a closure.  I KNOW that I will wear this a lot!  If you check out my Flickr images you can see how textured and subtle this nuno is if you examine the close up image of the wrap.

Back in the felting saddle at last!

Horrah!  At last I had an uninterupted day’s  felting with Carmen and it was really great to get back in the saddle at last!!  I seem to have been on the road almost constantly over the last 5 or 6 weeks and now I need to get a couple of proposals together before the middle of next week, do the deadlines never finish?  Carmen was working on some punched felt necklaces and once I had made handles for a gorgeous silk and merino tote (destined for an American swap partner) I was able to try out the beautiful merino from Treetop Colour Harmonies that I got as a gift from friends and members of Feltmakers Ireland.  Thanks again Sheila, Holly, Elizabeth and Maureen for my fantastic pressie, I made a beautiful cobweb scarf and tried out an experimental piece in ‘blimey limey’, one of my new all time favourite colours!  Carmen had prepared some amazing sushi and we gorged ourselves at lunchtime before heading back to her new studio to continue felting for the afternoon.

Sparkly felt corsage

Sparkly felt corsage

This evening I have uploaded a few finished items to my Etsy shop including this unusual coloured corsage and over the next few weeks my goal is to have at least 50 items uploaded to the store.  What I would really like to do is offer a selection of interesting and funky gift ideas with a large percentage of items costing under $20 (approx 15 Euro).  I have also started posting about my last ‘Craft in the Classroom’ sessions on the Drumlea blog so check it out if you are interested in seeing how the wall hanging actually progressed.  The pupils love getting comments especially from far away places so if any of you feel the urge please leave them a message, it means a lot to them!

Check out this felt!

Annette Quentin Stoll's workWow, I am so excited to be attending a two day workshop with Annette Quentin Stoll!  The following text is taken from Feltmakers Ireland’s info re the workshop ….. ‘We will prefelt points, bumps, folds, pockets and tubes and add them to a sqare felt piece. The aim is to get straight edges and standing points, folds and tubes growing out of the felt. We will make a second piece – perhaps a bag with handle and small bag inside or a hat with grass growing on it, points will become grass and flowers, bumps will become hills, pockets become caves and all sorts of magical things.’  I can’t describe how much I am looking forward to this, thankfully my virus appears to be clearing up and I really want to be in the full of my health to get the most from the two days!  There will be a second workshop with Annette over the weekend making an art project for indoors or outdoors.  Carmen will be participating for the two days (I am tutoring at another fibre day in Tinahely on Saturday) and I will get to be a helper on Sunday.  Initially I was a bit disappointed that the dates were clashing but realistically I need to earn some money and I can pick up all the info from Carmen next week, hopefully a win, win situation!  Tinahely was FANTASTIC last time and I must say it will be nice to work with some of the women from the previous session and meet some new felters as well, maybe even a few new men.

Felting, dyeing and weaving, three inspirational books to buy!

After the Feltmakers Ireland get together on Wednesday I popped into Borders bookshop in the Blanchardstown Centre, Dublin.  Carmen introduced me to the shop and it is really great, loads of magazines, plenty of craft books, big squishy leather arm chairs and a Starbucks on the upper level!  I was really looking for something inspirational to buy with either new felting ideas or some crochet patterns that were funky and would work up quickly.  Nothing jumped out that I didn’t already have in my library so after about half an hour of browsing I  decided to cut my losses (especially in the current financial climate) and head for home.  Luckily I glanced in the discount section on the way out and imagine my absolute surprise and delight when I found three of the most inspirational books, each reduced from £12.99 to E4.99!  I am going to give you the names and authors of each book, I can’t recommend them enough if you are looking for fun, colourful and interesting books to add to your library and I think that the ideas in each book would be great to try out with both adults and children alike.  The books are all published buy Gaia Books and are …..

  • Creative Felting by Lizzie Houghton
  • Creative Weaving by Sarah Howard and Elisabeth Kendrick
  • Natural Dyeing by Jackie Crook

I am off now to try out an idea that I have had since studying the Creative Felting book, results to be published here complete with pictures probably on Sunday or Monday as soon as I return from the Irish Blog Awards.

Felted jewellery, tourism course, blog awards, wrapping up the jacket saga …

Just a short post to say that I will wrap up the jacket saga over the next few days, time is not in big supply until Sunday and I have been having huge internet connection problems yesterday and this evening.  This morning I spent a great time with members and friends of Feltmmakers Ireland in Dublin, we discussed and made various items of felted jewellery and it was great to have a loom at other people’s work, enjoy a chat and have a good exchange of ideas.

Tomorrow I am starting a course in tourism development allied to Waterford Institute of Technology.  I thought that it could be a good idea to help me really progress my felting workshops/residential courses and network with other business people in the South East.

On Saturday I travel to Cork for the Irish Blog of the Year Awards, unfortunately I didn’t make the short lists but best of luck to all those who did, watch your backs for next year!  Luckily Alan will be here to mind the dogs over the next few days so I have decided not to stay in Cork for the night although I will arrive early enough to participate in the pre event ‘Ladies Tea Party’ (with alcoholic beverages!!) coupled with a crochet and knit stitch and bitch.

As soon as I get a minute I will wrap up the jacket saga, hopefully sometime on Friday internet permitting.

Craft fairs, felting, open house this weekend…….

Wow, how the time flies!  It seems that I have been continuously on the road over the last two weeks and coupled with that have been having internet connection problems, hence the lask of posts for which I would like to apologise.  Anyway, here goes with a bit of an update (including a caution!) and things should be back on track from now on.

Last weekend I had a stand at a small rural craft fair which Carmen organised, this was to raise funds locally for the community development project in Raheen, Co. Wexford that she is involved with.  Stands cost only E20 (luckily!!) and some bright wit from another Christmas event kindly removed all Carmen’s road signs.  The roads were absolutely treacherous when I set out, my intention was to reach the venue a couple of hours in advance but unfortunately, signs lacking, I actually arrived to the parish centre about 15 minutes after the proposed opening time of 10am.  Carmen will never know how close I was to turning around and just going home when I couldn’t find the venue, she had left her phone in the car and I was trying to contact her continuously once I had got lost but eventually I found a man who gave me directions and all was well again.  Some of the teenage members of the Youth Club that Carmen works with were on hand to help everything run smoothly and to man the tea and coffee stand.  Attendance was dreadful, 37 people work in the centre, Carmen herself was the ONLY worker who actually attended and she was running the show!  Anyway, the public were definitely conspicuous in their absence and by about 3pm I had only sold one scarf.  I wanted to stick things out for Carmen’s sake (other exhibitors had gone home) and thankfully a couple of people arrived who really related to the felt and I sold several items in quick succession.  I definitely picked up a few new people to teach, covered my costs and went home with a couple of extra Euro in my pocket so the day turned out to be a much more positive experience that I had at first expected.  Not so the 2 day house event that I attended on Monday and Tuesday.  This took place at Ballyhealy House, a comfortable old guest house a couple of miles outside Kilmore Quay in Wexford.  My friend Betty owns the house and for the last 4 or 5 years has been running a Christmas Gift Fair at home so we were expecting a big croud.  I felt sorry for Betty because she had put a lot of effort into inviting people, advertising and promotion on the radio.  All I can say after 2 disasterous days is that it is definitely apparant to me people are affected badly by the current economic situation.  On the Monday afternoon/evening a friend and I counted only 23 actual customers (none of whom bought any of my items!) and the following day not 1 person came when they had dropped their children to school (this was a busy time previous years) but about 38 customers did come sporadically during the day.  I met a few  nice people who were very much into hand crafted products and by the end of the day had made sales to customers who really appreciated the felt.  Again I made contacts interested in lessons after the New Year so from that point of view it was worthwhile but in this instance the stand cost E150 and I definitely didn’t cover my costs when you put travel expenses etc.  into the equation.  LESSON LEARNT  I will not participate at craft fairs ever again unless the space costs E20 – E50 and it is really to support a cause that I believe in and/or the current economic climate takes a turn for the better.  It is really soul destroying to sit hour after hour when no customers are even in the building!  Felt is a very definite niche market and I had no problems selling my work whenever interested customers came to my stand, the problem was a lack of customers through the door and this is something that I had no control over.  I hope that this summation does not sound too depressing but I really want anyone else thinking of going down this route to plan their participation carefully and learn from my experience.

On to happier days, or should I say difficult but happier days!!  I returned home from Ballyhealy House late on Tuesday evening and was due to set out for a Feltmakers Ireland get together and Crafts Council training in Dublin at 7am the next morning.  The weather was so cold that night and the roads so covered by ice that I took the decision to leave a bit later than planned.  My vehicle is a long wheel base pick up truck and it is not the best in icy conditions being only 2 wheel drive and very light unless fully loaded.  Anyway, it took me an hour and 25 minutes to drive a distance that usually takes less than half an hour so I did not arrive to Dublin until after 11am, a total travel time of over 3 hours.  What a nerve wracking journey but it was great to finally arrive, grab a Starbucks coffee and head into Blanchardstown Library to meet the other feltmakers.  There was a big pile of work on display and instead of actually making Christmas Ornaments as I thought we were going to do everyone discussed the items that they had made recently and on the recent Sigrid Bannier workshops.  I was wearing the necklace that Sigrid gave me as a present and the ring which I made with Ingrid to match it, these got many admiring glances!  We all went next door to the Driocht cafe for a light lunch (very tasty!) and then were joined by some other crafts people for an afternoon session with a Crafts Council sponsored mentor.  This session was dealing with sales and I must say following on from the previous 3 days was quite an interesting experience.  It reinforced my belief that unless you get the foot fall past your stand you will not have a good show but if you were in any way unsure how to get a sale with a LIVE customer this was the afternoon for you!  When we had networked and said our goodbyes it was almost 6 o’clock but I wanted to take a quick run into Inspiring Ideas, a craft shop in the Blanchard Centre before setting out for Clasheen once more.  A heavy fog was blanketing everywhere so I tried not to delay, some beads and cord later I have to confess that I then grabbed a large Big Mac meal to set me up for the journey ahead!  Lucky I did this, my trip home took 2 hours and 45 minutes, usually I can do it in approx 2 but the fog was just like pea soup.

Yesterday morning Carmen called over and we got stuck in for a very enjoyable morning’s felting.  I made some more punched beads ‘a la’ Sigrid and then strung them in the evening with some nice lime green beads that I have, Carmen made a beautiful felt and linen necklace.  I then had the pleasure of watching Carmen prepare the most devine paella (anyone who knows me knows that I just LOVE good home prepared food) complete with fresh squid, monkfish and huge prawns.  We had a glass of sherry, very refined and then got stuck into the paella, not so refined!  It was fantastic, a great combination of tastes and textures.

This Sunday I am opening my house between 2 and 5pm sharp for a display and sale of my felt and hand made Christmas ornaments.  Quite a few friends were asking me about buying felt as presents so this seemed an ideal opportunity to gather everyone together at the one time and have a bit of a social event at the same time.  We are going to enjoy a glass of spiced apple punch and some canapes and I would love for any of you within striking distance to come along if you would like to attend and please tell your friends!  If anyone needs directions please just email me and I will forward them on.