Settling in to Dagmar’s workshop at Big Cat Textiles

After our introductory day observing and sampling how Dagmar Binder lays out her fibre I decided to felt a small neck piece in the evening, this time using some of my favourite short fibre merino from Wollknoll instead of the 21 micron roving which I used for the class piece, pics of both samples are in Monday’s post. I was far happier with the results, the surface texture of the felt was much smoother and I always like the way I can blend the colours as I go along. As a result I decided to use the short fibre wool for the rest of the week, maybe if I had used a 16 or 17 micron roving I would have had a similar outcome but for me I wanted to use the fibre that I have most affinity and feeling for and didn’t want to have to buy extra wool when I already loved the colours of what I had in my stash!

Don’t the colours just sing?

Our task for day two was to felt a scarf/neck piece incorporating resists using some of the techniques learnt about laying out fibres in different directions and subsequently playing around with the flexibility of the various attachments. I choose hot orange for the main colour and added red, purple and small amounts of yellow wool as well as pieces of silk fabric, gold silk fibre and red linen fibre for surface decoration. The silk I snapped up in a charity shop in Edinburgh so yes, you can get LOADS of silk there too if you look in the skirt and blouse sections instead of the scarf, I’ve done it!

I had a concept for my neck piece which didn’t work out quite as I had planned. Those of you who know me and my style of working understand that drawing and planning to the Nth degree is just not part of my creative process, rather I start with a concept and let the colours and fibres speak to me during the layout stage out and adjust my design organically as I go along.

The perfect length to throw around my neck

As a result I ended up with rather a nudibranch styled piece, surprise, surprise!!! As I was adding some silk pieces to the main body of the felt I was actually thinking of the speckles on a trout, once I got to the fulling stages however I totally changed the shape of the ‘tail’ end (it had 6 resists in it during the layout) the end result is quite shrimp like in places so overall the piece is very piscine in nature.

I’ll leave you with a picture of it sneaking up my cotinus, make up your own mind about the nudibranch influence but I can attest that it does seem to have a life of it’s own! Tomorrow I’ll blog about the wall hanging and vessel I made on days three and four, I’m particularly happy with my large felt vessel.

Nudibranch like neck piece at large!

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Memories of felting in Portugal, part two!

At the beginning of our first session felting I asked all the participants what was the most important technique for them to learn over the course of our week together. Working with the Bordeleira wool was going to be a new experience for all of us although I had had the opportunity myself to felt 3 small samples and one little vessel prior to arriving at Dominio Vale do Mondego. From the teaching point of view I wanted every participant to be able to leave having absorbed new skills or ways of working and most importantly having had plenty of fun!

Samples and materials laid out at the start of the workshop, picture mosaic thanks to Terriea

For the first two days we felted using washed and carded wool, flat felt pieces first then three dimensional vessels and bags of many different shapes and styles. The wool roving that we used was either a natural white or chocolate brown, it felted beautifully and it’s amazing to me it is not more widely known or appriecated elsewhere. I found that it felted every bit as quickly as mernio with an approximate rate of 25% shrinkage on pieces that I would normally achieve a rate of 33%. We incorporated a selection of other fibres with the Bordeleiera wool for added surface decoration or texture. I’d brought a lot of undyed fibres with me for everyone to share including linen, silk, milk protein, soy, banana silk, wool neps etc. and I’d also got some of my favourite mohair off cuts from Cushendale Woollen Mill, mohair waste (from the brushing process after weaving), angelina, firestar and various natural and artificial yarns to dip into as well as a few different colours of merino roving in case anyone wanted to use these too. These were displayed inside with the samples and examples of other work I’d made at the beginning of the week, from Terrie’s picture mosaic it looks as if everything was very organised, obviously knowing me you’ll appreciate that it never looked as neat and tidy again!

Sandy working on her large felt vessel

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of our flat felt from day one or two, I think that I was concentrating so much on answering questions and making sure that the new felters had a successful first piece I forgot to take any pictures. Here’s a picture of Sandy though from day two starting to shape her piece, she’s working here on a stunning large vessel felted from the chocolate wool with a design in natural white with gold linen strands. As the week progressed we found that the Bordeleira wool was perfectly soft enough for wearables and nuno felting yet strong and easy to work with for bags and vessels.

On Wednesday morning we all visited a wonderful museum dedicated to wool and started working with the raw fleece in the afternoon. I’ll post about that next time and for now leave you with a great picture of Heather modelling one of her bags as a hat, watch out Dawn, you’ve got some competition!!!

Heather modelling her very flexible bag! Doesn’t she look great???

Sue’s fabulous felt purses!!!

Today’s post shares pictures of two beautiful purses felted in Michigan by my friend Sue. I first met Sue last May at one of the Plainwell workshops organised by great buddy Dawn Edwards where she chose to felt her first vessel complete with craters, ever since then we have kept in touch via this blog and through Facebook. When I started offering my new felting kits on Etsy Sue ordered one in a beautiful soft butterscotch shade, don’t forget you can custom request your favourite colours and I’ll oblige you if I can! I also included two buttons, one vintage and the other a lovely shiny kind of bronze colour with a very interesting opening where you sew it on.

Sue's beautiful clutch complete with vintage button

For her purses Sue combined the butterscotch fibre from the kit with some wool and hand dyed locks she already had in her stash, laid out some silk scraps on top for embellishment and added the mohair off cuts and cotton gauze, also from the kit. Once felted she added some machine stitching to both the purses and a long leather shoulder strap to one, aren’t they FABULOUS??? I can’t wait to meet Sue again at the 2012 felting workshops in Plainwell on Friday 25th and Saturday 26th May, then I’ll be able to hold the purses and admire them in all their glory!!!

Sue's gorgeous leather and felt shoulder bag

Kool-Aid dyed ponge silk and merino roving = nuno felted scarf!

Yesterday I spent almost all day dying merino roving and ponge silk in the microwave using a variety of Kool-Aid colours/flavours, check out my Facebook page to see some pictures of the work in progress.  Although I am not going to go through a step by step discussion of what I did here tonight (still a couple of leaves to felt before I head off to bed, more another day!) I will leave you with a close up shot of the nuno scarf I felted yesterday evening.  I just couldn’t go to bed last night without getting my hands stuck into all that yummy coloured fibre now, could I???  I also felted an optional flower brooch to compliment this scarf and as soon as out weather picks up a little I’m going to take some photos of them as I want to upload it to the internet for sale, my shop has been totally quiet for far too long now!

Surprisingly subtle colours in the finished nuno felt scarf

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!!!

The Felter has landed!

After a little delay (3.5 hours!) at borderland security everyone was happy my papers were in order and I arrived safely to SF. Yesterday I spent the day travelling up to The Tin Thimble and now I am just heading for a shower, coffee and a bite to eat (a big one!) before Sharon and I head off to the studio and shop. I am so excited to be visiting here again and I believe that some amazing new silk fabric and wonderful fibre arrived over the last couple of days, I can’t wait to get my hands stuck in!!!  Hopefully I will get a chance to borrow Emma’s computer to blog either this afternoon or tomorrow and I will update you all properly, there’s only so much typing I can do from my phone!

First pictures from CRAFTed project!

Only a few words today because I used most of them up with sixth class this morning!!! 

Having fun adding the surface decoration

 

I was blown away by how creative everyone was.  Each pupil was asked to choose two colours to use as a base, then they could select from all sorts of yarn, fibre and fabric to add to the surface layer.  A lot of the girls had brought in beads, buttons, pipe cleaners and all sorts of glitzy embellishments with them and these will be stitched on next Monday before the felt gets stuck to the front of their journals.  A tip for anyone wanting an easy way to decorate a copy, why not stick velcro to the book and then just press the felt to the barbed side of the velcro???  No sewing, I like that! 

Anyone see a favourite colour combination here???

Some of the pieces were fully felted by the end of the session but others will need a little more fulling at home before they are ready to embellish with stitches, beads and buttons.  It is always interesting to see how different people felt at different speeds, one of the last girls to lay out her wool was in turn one of the only girls who ended up with a fully felted piece at the end of the session!

Metallic mesh fabric, thick and thin merino, little buttons to be stitched on afterwards

There is no right or wrong way to felt either as many ways to end up with a good finished result but I always like to share with pupils what I was shown when I started because I feel it gives a good foundation to build upon.  You can check out my flat felt tutorial if you want to see what we did today.