Nuno felt wrap and scarves

The weather has been a lot brighter today after a very wet start this morning, good news for me as it meant that I could snap a few pics outside of my nuno scarves and the wrap I felted earlier this week.

Simple scarf combining ponge silk, merino and silk throwster's waste

Simple scarf combining ponge silk, merino and silk throwster’s waste

I’ll start with one of a simple scarf, this was felted combining ponge silk with some of Leiko’s beautiful hand dyed superfine merino and embellished with hand dyed silk throwster’s waste, a welcome Christmas present from Carmen. I love teaching this scarf as a beginner’s nuno felting project, it’s always successful and such a beautiful way to learn a new technique! The second picture is of a large mosaic style scarf felted combining my own hand dyed cotton gauze (dyed under the watchful eye of Jan Durham and written up in this post last spring!), more of Leiko’s merino and a whole selection of different weights of silk fabric. Good friend Carole buys silk pieces by the weight in the US and then we do a swap for mohair off cuts from Cushendale Woollen Mill, Cushendale is a wonderful source of locally produced knitting yarn and weaving just down the road from me here at Clasheen. I totally forgot that I needed to send Carole another pack of these goodies so many apologies, I’ll head over to Philip Cushen next week and get them in the post to you asap.

Mosaic style nuno felt scarf

Mosaic style nuno felt scarf

Anyway, I also had a small pack of beautiful hand dyed teeswater locks and some firestar fibre in my favourite shades of acidic green, it’s strange to say that although I’m not a glitzy kind of gal at all I really do love the sheen and shimmer from the firestar!!! The printed silk in this scarf was part of my stash from the US, in fact I remember buying it in the Salvation Army on a foray with Sharon of the Tin Thimble but it could just as easily have been from one of the many trips I made with great friends Dawn or Merridee either, I LOVE these silk gathering events!

Firestar adds a shimmer in places

Firestar adds a shimmer in places

If you’re interested in seeing more images of these pieces plus some photos of a large green wrap I made on Tuesday please check out this album on FB and do like Nicola Brown – Clasheen while you’re over there, only of course if you do like what you see!!!

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Crazy schedual and free personalisation of ‘niki & niki’ felting tools from now until Christmas!

My crazy schedual continues! This weekend I was very happy with my sales at Duckett’s Grove, not so happy with them at Mount Juliet but then it’s early days there still.

Later today, I’ll be heading into Carlow town to stock up on more lighting for Mount Juliet and set up both my work and Leiko’s in Tullow Street for the Creative Carlow pop up shop. It’s a bit of a juggling game at the moment trying to gauge which stock to have at which venue, I mustn’t forget the market in Borris on Friday and the two day Christmas Fair in Borris House this weekend!!!

'The Minimilast' felting roller from 'niki & niki'

‘The Minimilast’ felting roller from ‘niki & niki’

There’s still time to order your ‘niki & niki’ felting tools for Christmas. At the moment you’ll need to get them from Niki Collier’s Etsy shop as I’ve no more in stock, we’re also offering free personalisation on each tool over the next two weeks, just our way of saying thank you to our customers!

My pine needle scarf and some more natural printing/dyeing

I had a lovely day yesterday learning Leiko Uchi’s pine needle technique. My biggest worry was that I would find laying out the ‘needles’ difficult and time consuming, instead, while they did take a lot of time in preparation the task was neither boring nor frustrating at all!

My finished pine needle scarf!

Seeing all Leiko’s beautiful samples spurred me on and I was thrilled by the end of the day with my beautiful, soft and ultra flexible scarf. It was also fascinating working with materials I don’t often carry in stock, gorgeous gold coloured 50/50 silk/ultrafine merino tops, a rich green 40/60 blend and a dark green plain merino for the body of the scarf. Leiko dyed all these fibres herself and I loved the sympathetic way the colours all blended together. The piece was laid out measuring 2.70m (a tad under 9 feet) and ended up after felting at 1.6m (just over 5 feet), a lot of shrinkage!!! Because I laid a very fine gold line around the edge of one side and two different ends for interest, this scarf may be worn in loads of ways! Check out my new facebook album for more pictures and the details.

It was a little breezy this morning taking pictures but a few people were asking for pictures of the silk I printed and dyed last week. Here are just two pictures, a rolled edge chiffon scarf that will be left as is and a length of ponge silk which I’m going to nuno felt later in the week, both were dyed using a selection of eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and rusty metal.

Rolled edge silk chiffon scarf printed and dyed using eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and rusty metal

Ponge silk printed and dyed using eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and rusty metal

Felting retreat update and pictures from 2 great workshops!

I’ve been out of my mind trying to get my paperwork sorted for the accountant, many, many apologies for the lack of blogging this week but I should be back to speed again once I get the next couple of days out of the way!

Beautiful pine-needle felt from Leiko

On a happier note, why not treat yourself to an early Christmas present and join Leiko and I at Clasheen for our first joint felting retreat from 13th to 15th November??? We’re offering a 3 days intensive felting/dyeing/printing workshop, comfortable accomodation and good home cooking with a glass or three of wine for an all in price of E280. If you’d like to participate for two days of tuition and one nights accommodation that will be E200 or alternatively if you’d like to join us for one day of tuition and lunch the price for that will be E90. Participants need to bring their own materials although both of us will have optional supplies for sale at the workshop. Leiko uses a very fine  merino/silk blend which she dyes herself to create her beautiful pine-needle clothing, these pieces have to be seen to be believed!

Aside from my paperwork nightmares this week, on Monday Leiko and I participated in a wonderful natural/vegetable dyeing workshop and this morning I facilitated a beginners/improvers flat felting workshop at Clasheen. The dyeing workshop was organised by Carmen and delivered by the fabulous Terry, Terry the Weaver as he is known to many!

From the top clockwise – onion skins, cochineal and walnut dyed wool, fabric and fabric

Working with three different mordants (copper sulphate, alum and tin) and three different dye pots (cochineal, onion skins and walnut hulls) we managed to achieve a wonderful variety of toning and contrasting colours on a range of wool, mohair, various other fibres and silk fabric. Carmen also dyed a natural grey wool vessel left behind a long time ago by a student and although I couldn’t get the exact image I wanted from the phone camera here’s a picture of it beside an undyed pot surrounded by all the other glorious colours we achieved!

Finally for today’s post, I had great fun this morning teaching the basics of flat felting to Suzanne and her very creative family. She and her two children had felted flowers with me before at a home schoolers session (but missed the introductory, important, explanatory stuff!) while Geraldine had never felted herself before but loved the flowers that everyone else had made! Anyway, we had a really great session with everyone making really beautiful pieces of high quality felt, check out this picture taken just as it started to rain yet again.

Suzanne, Geraldine, Sophie and Jack with their fantastic first pieces of flat felt!

Exciting news – Leiko and I are organising a joint felting retreat at Clasheen!

Now that wonderful Japanese felter Leiko Uchiyama has moved next door we’ve started planning a series of workshops to deliver together designed to compliment our individual strengths. Our first three day felting retreat will take place at Clasheen from Tuesday 13th to Thursday 15th November inclusive and this will be the first time in Ireland that Leiko is offering a full workshop to learn her ‘pine needle’ technique! She’ll be teaching this on Tuesday (and Wednesday morning/afternoon for larger projects), I’ll be concentrating on naturally printing/dyeing on Wednesday then felting large nuno wearables and household textiles using the tumble dryer on Thursday, fine felt without fabric or cobweb felt is also an option with this method. The emphasis on all three days will be learning new skills, creating beautifully felted and finished pieces inspired by nature and having fun in a relaxed, peaceful, rural setting. Simple, tasty home cooking will be the order of the day and shared rooms are on site in comfortable farmhouse accommodation! A maximum of 5 residential places are available for the retreat but we will also be able to accommodate a few additional participants for the printing/dyeing day on Wednesday. I’ll post the prices etc. over the next day or two, stupidly I left them at home and I’m now in Duckett’s Grove and felting here for the rest of the day.

I’ll leave you with an image of a simple necklace I made this morning. I liked this tiger wire fitting which I bought last year in CA so now need to research the best place to buy these at a competitive price in Ireland.

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Showcase snippets and back online at last!

It’s only been 29 hours since I stupidly headed for an overnighter to Dublin and mistakenly left my phone at home charging, it feels like YEARS!!! I’m back now and trying to catch up with blogging, comments, emails, Etsy orders and FB as well as trying to collate all the entries to the felt kit giveaway so that I can let the random number generator choose the winners! I’m guessing it’s going to be tomorrow morning before I finally have everything sorted (I also need to get food in the oven and do a bit of work in the kitchen and studio) so please bear with me if you are waiting for the giveaway results or expecting a response to a comment or an email.

Although I really could have done with my phone for taking pictures and jotting notes yesterday I did have a wonderful time attending Showcase at the RDS with Niki Collier and Leiko Uchiyama. Japanese felter Leiko and I have missed connecting with each other during her last two visits to Ireland so I was really lucky this time that she was stopping over for one one night on her way back to Japan from U.S., it was great to finally meet up in person!  I spent from lunchtime browsing the trade stands with the girls and getting ideas (or clarifying ideas!) about the direction in which my felting could potentially be moving in order to make my business more financially viable in the future. I particularly enjoyed the Crafts Council exhibits and the ‘Year of Craft’ wrap up reception as well as meeting up with friends and fellow textile artists/producers Kate Ramsey (Fabulous Felt), Philip and Mary Cushen (Cushendale Woollen Mill), Breda McNelis and Camelia Shanahan (Meli Bondre). Bernadette Fox also had some interesting new fibre and mixed media pieces while Astrid Tomrop-Hofmann of Bombyx Mori had some lovely felt hats, clothes and accessories.

My favourite of Kate's designs, a wonderful silk and merino wrap