My complex felted bag – the big reveal!

Cristina and I were so inspired after the first day of Lyda Rump’s complex bag workshop that we continued working after Lyda went to bed and both had our bags finished by 1.45am on Sunday morning!  We really enjoyed working together and somehow the time just seemed to fly.  Although my photos aren’t the best here goes with the final reveal! 

Front of my finished bag

I had a great piece of driftwood which made the perfect handle, Alan says I need to cut it a little shorter but I am happy with the length myself and let’s not forget it is me who will be using the bag!  Friend and fellow felter Nancy Schwab (hope to see you at Urban Fauna Studio in October Nancy!) throws out the question on her blog ‘do we have to use a felted handle for our felted bags’?  My answer is a definite no.  Obviously a felted handle is perfect for some styles of bags but other different materials and found objects can just be so exciting and unexpected.  That is not to say that many designs don’t suit an incorporated handle (more of that in my next post), just try and think outside the box sometimes and experiment with other types as well. 

Back of my finished bag


To answer a question from another friend and experienced felter Dawn Edwards yes, it is actual fish skin inserted into some of the ovals!

And finally ……

Underneath the flaps

‘Pick up your Needles’ and yesterday’s nuno felting workshop

Before I post about the brilliant nuno felting day we had here at Clasheen yesterday (promise to continue with the complex felt bag weekend tomorrow!) just let me remind you of the event where I will be facilitating the wet felting workshop next weekend.

PICK UP YOUR NEEDLES –  a fun day of fibre craft!

Sunday 21st Feb – The Courthouse Arts Centre, Tinahely, Co Wicklow

1 Day Workshop @ €55 incl all materials and complimentary tea/coffee and homemade cookies throughout the day!  Full payment taken upon booking through

KNITTING: Beginners will learn the basics of knitting and start a project. Improvers will learn to design a unique hat, work on finishing techniques or learn cable and lace stitches. You can also bring along any knitting project that you would like assistance with.
Tutor: Stephanie Kennedy

CROCHET: Beginners will learn the basics of crochet and start a project to work on at home. Improvers will learn classical Tunisian crochet and start a bag or a hat in this exiting technique. You can also bring along any crochet project that you would like assistance with.
Tutor: Irene Lundgaard

WET FELTING: Felt your own fingerless mittens! In the AM experiment with different colour combinations of fibre and in the PM design and make a gorgeous pair of warm fingerless mittens. Suitable for both beginners and improver felters.
Tutor: Nicola Brown

PICK UP YOUR NEEDLES but DROP THE SPINDLE FIRST!: Make smooth and lumpy-bumpy yarn from commercial and raw fibers using the drop spindle; preparing raw fleece for spinning or dying and spinning wheel demonstration. No experience necessary but you are welcome to bring spindles, wheels or fibers you already have.
Tutor: Catherine Cronin

Should any of you following my fibre adventures be anywhere near Tinahely on 21st these sessions are a fabulous way of getting your fibre fix at an absolutely rock bottom price and in the company of many interesting, funny and talanted people!  Why not drop along and check us out???

Sylvia's fabric, merino and glass brooch

Alison's fabric, merino and glass brooch

Now on to this weekend’s workshop!  I had a brilliant time yesterday with Sylvia, Alison and Ann as we explored the basics of nuno felting a scarf.  To get the day off to a cracking start everyone made a brooch incorporating fabric, merino and a small glass nugget.  What is absolutely fascinating to note is how different all the brooches turned out to be considering that the fabric was cut from the same length, the glass nuggets were the same colour and only the merino was a different colour in each of the experiments!  We spent a long time examing some of my own nuno felt and talked about the pluses and minuses of using various types of natural and artificial fabric.  Eventually Ann decided to work with one of Lyda Rump’s beautiful hand dyed silk chiffon scarves while Sylvia and Alison both choose larger lengths of dark violet and turquoise silk respectively. 

Ann with her stunning nuno felt scarf and fabric, merino and glass brooch

Until I went outside with Ann and Alison to take some pictures of their work I had no idea that Ann was wearing this apple green top under her fleece.  Look how perfectly her nuno felt scarf compliments her colouring and really looks fresh and springlike against the apple green top!  Alison decided to make her scarf for her mother (but possibly she may keep it for herself!!) and was concentrating on texture and movement within the design.  Check out my Flickr photos to see her wearing the finished scarf but for the moment here is a shot of the beautiful finbished texture. 

Day one of our complex felted bag workshop

We were an excited bunch of felters on Saturday morning as we examined and exclaimed over a selection of Lyda’s gorgeous and sculptural felt bags. 

Beautiful surface detail

Lyda is well known for the strong sculptural shapes and attention to surface detail in these pieces as is well evidenced in this close up shot from one of her large double pocket bags.  The flaps in this particular photo are actually not visable when you are using the bag (being hidden when the upper flap is dropped) so this just gives an indication of how she likes to decorate every surface and create a beautiful object, the hidden is every bit as important as the obvious.  If you are interested in seeing larger pictures of some of Lyda’s bags pay a visit to gallery 5 on her excellent website. 

Elaine adding glass nuggets as she lays out the various layers of her complex felt bag

Elaine and Carmen decided on different large bags with several pockets while Cristina and I both decided to create smaller bags (me because of my back) starting from the same shaped resist.  To begin with we all started by making samples, Lyda explained that it is far better to have a disaster or an unexpected outcome at this stage than when the larger bag is well underway!  I sketched my proposed bag in my notebook as I worked and as the morning progressed decided to add a small loop on the bottom of the back side to enable me convert my driftwood handle for use as a backpack if I so wished.  I decided early on to have a different surface design on the back and the front of my bag so that I could wear it either way around, both of these designs would be laid out on a base colour of deep green and this would wrap around the edges of both flaps to form a border for the reverse of the ‘unseen’ flaps.  This face of the bag I wanted to experiment with a totally ‘subdued bling’ element using a rich blend of orange, wine, yellow and raspberry merino overlaid with loads of artificial gold fabric and gorgeous gold silk yarn.  I know that it sounds a bit mad but the colours blended well together and the overall effect is not quite so glittery and obvious as might be expected from the description! 

Carmen working the various pockets


Carmen also used some artificial fabric in her design, pieces of silver mesh which combined beautifully with the charcoal and white merino to almost sparkle in her finished bag.  Here is a picture of her working the various pockets at the outside of her bag.

Check back tomorrow to follow our progress!

More felt accessories – how to make a stunning felt brooch or pendant

Carmen and I spent a happy and productive afternoon continuing our experimentation with merino and artificial fabric.  Both of us have stiff backs after all our exertions during the complex bag workshop (just wait until you see the pictures when I post about that!) so we decided to stick with small projects today and have some fun together. 

Midnight I brooch prior to beading


If you are interested in creating an experimental brooch or pendant like the one pictured on the left here is the process.

  1. Lay out a rough square of merino approx 6″ X 6″
  2. Wet it lightly, soap and flatten to remove the air
  3. Lay a small wad of dry wool in the centre and then place your stone, glass nugget or other found object on top
  4. Cover the insertion with dry wool
  5. Needle lightly through the dry wool into the wet to secure (don’t worry if you don’t have a needle, just leave this stage out)
  6. Lay another layer of wool over the whole front
  7. Cover this with strips or a larger square of artificial fabric, be inventive and try out anything!
  8. Wet out, soap and felt by rubbing directly on top of the front and back of the bundle, you don’t need to roll your work
  9. When fully felted cut a small cross over the insertion and using your finger nails push out the cut edge to expose your glass, stone or found object
  10. Rinse, shape and bead or embellish as required

HAVE FUN!  More pictures of work I created during and after Lyda’s visit are now uploaded to Flickr.

Felted accessories, our Friday workshop with Lyda Rump

Yesterday morning I drove Lyda back to the airport and after a quick call to Ikea, McDonalds (a girl’s got to have some junk food ocassionally doesn’t she??) and the library in Carlow I returned home to Clasheen ready for a hot bath and bed.  I am physically tired but mentally exhilarated after our weekend workshops and I am so looking forward to getting silly household chores out of the way so that I can start laying out some samples for my newest felt project.  I still have to finish fulling my complex felt sculpture but that is on hold for a couple of days until I get the house tidied and the well (STILL no water of my own) back in proper working order.  Now on to the ‘Felted Accessories’ workshop with Lyda on Friday.
We started the morning oohing and aahing over some of Lyda’s beautiful scarves and inventive felt jewellery.  These fun pieces of jewellery gave us the freedom to discover how different colours, fibres and fabrics combined together without the stress of laying out a bigger project and it was very satisfying to have a gorgeous felt accessory at the end of each experiment! 

Gold threaded fabric, turquoise beads and felt necklace strung on rubber cord

Lyda encouraged us to incorporate artifical fabrics into our layout and these had some amazing results in the finished felt, you either loved each piece or you hated it, no middle ground!  During the morning I suddenly remembered that I had a large artificial fabric wrap donated to me by a friend to repurpose and the metallic weaving combined with black was perfect to cut up into pieces to see what the result would be if it were felted into a background of short fibred merino.  As you can see from the picture on the left it formed a good bond with the wool fibres and crinkled nicely during the felting process!  I thought  it was interesting the way the mixed fibres in the weave affected the finished shape.  My lay out of wool and fabric for this piece was square but as I felted them together they shrank very much more in one way than the other.  This ended up as an interesting twisted rectangle shape which I further embellished with turquoise stones and strung on a black rubber tube.  My brief to myself over the weekend was to try our new things, to stitch or bead some work and to complete some projects and not leave them on the long finger for finishing later, whether you like this piece or not it is finished and it is beaded!

Argh, I am so annoyed and frustrated because when I uploaded this post for some reason the second half of my writing and the image to accompany it was deleted.   I don’t know what actually happened and unfortunately I have to rush to the bank so don’t have time to write any more right at this minute.  I will however leave you for the second time, this time with a picture of my merino, stone, fabric and bead pendant minus the longer and more instructive description! 

Beaded felt and stone pendant


Wonderful workshops with Lyda Rump underway!

Sorry about the lack of posts since last Tuesday, I am TOTALLY engrossed in Lyda Rump’s visit and our wonderful felting workshops!  Lyda arrived from the airport on Wednesday and Thursday was spent together visiting Cushendale Woolen Mills and Kilkenny city.  In the late afternoon friend and Irish feltmaker Maureen arrived and the rest of the day was spent chatting and having a ‘show and tell’ of Lyda’s felt!  The following morning another felting friend Cristina arrived to stay and then we were all set for more friends and participants to come for the felted accessories workshop.

Gerd's glam brooch

Here are just two pictures from the first day’s workshop to tantalise you, full report and loads of pictures to follow over the next few days when I have time to stop and catch my breath! 

Detail from Maureen's neckpiece

Lyda Rump’s complex bag workshop update

I have had several enquiries about the possibility of participants coming for only one day of the complex bag workshop and not both.  As there are still spaces available on either day I have decided to throw it open and accept people for either Saturday 6th or Sunday 7th February if they so wish. 

Surface detail revealing glass nuggets

Obviously because the bags are complex it will not be possible to plan and complete your bag in just one day but it would be possible to plan, design and get the bag to a stage where you could take it home with you to finish at your leisure.  If anyone would like to take me up on this option please either ring me or email asap, I would really like to get everything sorted out before I head to Mullingar this weekend for my felting workshop with Anna.

Patsy the plumber was here again this morning and the bad news is that I won’t have my own water supply for another couple of days although he has rigged me temporarily from a tap in my neighbour’s yard.  The heat is back in action however and I have been able to run the washing machine at last and fill the water tank in the attic which is a big relief as I can have a bath again this evening!  I can also get back to felting now with a vengeance and although the day is flying by with things to catch up on I hope to make a nuno scarf later in the afternoon and then get stuck into my new large felt sculpture tomorrow.