Pictures from today’s felting workshop at Clasheen!

Today’s beginner and improvers workshop at Clasheen actually turned into a private lesson as the other participants all had to reschedule due to illness and unforseen circumstances, it’s often difficult trying to organise classes in Ireland, ironic but true! Anyway, I’ll be teaching the same workshop again in two to three weeks as soon as everyone is able to come together, today Jenny came and benefitted from the individual attention!

Jenny with her first piece of felt

Once we had discussed the basics of felting and examined some of my favourite raw materials Jenny laid out her first piece of flat felt, a lovely undyed white merino background with distressed mohair off cuts, silk fibre and some threads of unraveled banana fibre knitting for surface decoration. While Jenny worked on rubbing and rolling I was able to lay out another nuno wrap (obviously keeping an eye out and helping if necessary!), this time in a colour combination new to me, turquoise, chocolate and highlights of metallic copper fabric, pictures tomorrow when it’s dry. By lunchtime Jenny’s first piece was finished and her second was laid out, it’s always so rewarding to watch newbies amazement as the fluffy fibre becomes strong, flexible and stable felt! For her second piece Jenny chose to felt a large needle cover (knitting is her business, HotHead the name!), there were three layers of colour separated by resists on the flap, this worked out beautifully!!! Now she’s all ready for the hat workshop here in April with the wonderful Dawn Edwards, if you’d like to join us for that there are still a couple of places available on Sunday 22nd so please email me asap!

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Excellent first workshop in Lexington!

After a VERY eventful time of it getting from Grand Rapids to Lexington via Detroit (rain, lightening, tornado warnings so change to flight path and very bumpy flight) I finally arrived safely and happy to get my feet on stable ground once more.  Jan, Bruce and son Kevin live in a really nice green area only ten minutes drive from the airport (just as well since I was so delayed!) and the church, where our workshops are taking place is about 500m from the house, another perfect set up!

Yesterday we had the larger of the two workshops, 11 participants many of whom had extremely limited felting experience, 1 day mostly!  It could have been a stressful experience for all concerned but instead everyone relaxed, concentrated and produced really amazing pieces, an iPad cover, three large bags underway, four flat pieces of felt (two being stitched into purses overnight) and two beautiful large nuno scarves/wraps underway too.  The less experienced felters who made the flat felt pieces are mainly nuno felting or making small vessels today and the experienced and more experienced felters making larger pieces from yesterday are continuing to work on theirs so I am really hoping to have good pictures at the end of the day and share with you all the beautiful pieces made here in KY.

Felting the nuno wrap/mini skirt

For the nuno wrap/mini skirt I decided to lay out my fibre on top of the ‘right side’ of my fabric, because of the obvious semicircular shape and due to the fact that it had been lining from one of my skirts it actually had loads of seams all around the inside. 

The fibre and fabric wet and ready to felt


For the bulk of the fibre I used a hot pink merino and then added small circles and a few strips in either apple green or orange.  The fabric that I embellished with was torn strips of the silk/cotton mix and I also added some loose silk fibres to the surface.  Once the fibres were laid out and wet I covered them with a second piece of bubble wrap and rubbed and rolled as normal.  Because this was a nuno project I started the felting process using cool water and soap, if I had used hot water the thin covering of wool fibres might have felted quickly and not migrated through the backing lining fabric at all.  Rolling was more difficult than normal, the shape made the wrapped felt want to go off in all sorts of directions rather than just rolling straight down my kitchen table!  Surprisingly quickly the fibres migrated through the lining fabric.  I did need to rub directly on top of the embellished wool for a bit and this enabled the fibre to migrate through the tightly woven silk/cotton pieces in the top layer as well. 

Front of nuno felt mini skirt

I love the texture of the finished piece but my favourite aspect of the whole project has to be how the seams from the underside become a quirky feature when the piece is worn with the fabric side out!  If you check out my Flickr photos you can see some more shots of the various way this piece may be worn, nuno really is a brilliant technique and I look forward very much to sharing the process with participants at my workshop on Saturday 23rd January. 

Close up of wrap

Creating nuno felt incorporating cotton gauze and beautiful silk laps

As mentioned previously, I was furious with myself for not buying any hand dyed silk laps at the Knit and Stitch Show in Dublin last year.   Basically they are like a really huge silk hankie and perfect for adding vibrant colour and texture to any felt project but especially felt wearables.

Hand dyed silk laps and cotton gauze

Hand dyed silk laps and cotton gauze

This year I didn’t make the same mistake and although the photo doesn’t do the silk laps justice (they are sitting on top of the hand dyed cotton gauze) I am sure you can see why I was attracted to the colours!  To make my nuno felt wrap I stretched the hand dyed cotton gauze on my kitchen table and then laid out a thin and uneven layer of short fibred merino on top.  The gorgeous peacocky purples and pinks of the gauze and the silk seemed to cry out for complimentary and contrasting colours of merino so I used various shades of plum and blackberry along with a couple of splashes of hot orange to up the ante! 

Silk, merino and cotton gauze wrap

Silk, merino and cotton gauze wrap

There was a lot of rubbing and rolling involved to finish the wrap but I love the final textures and sheen from the surface.  Obviously the wrap is reversible and may also be worn tied around the waist like a sarong!  Possibly I could have ended up with even more texture if I laid out the merino even lighter but I did want to make sure that it would be possible to wear the wrap around the waist and if worn this way didn’t want the fabric to appear see through!  More images on Flickr.

Merino, silk and linen combination, an experiment in nuno felt, fantastic necklace arrives in the post

Well, my package of fibres and fabric was every bit as good as anticipated!  In particular I was delighted with both the dark grey and the zebra striped 16 micron merino as well as the dyed linen (or flax) fibre and the ponge silk.  I have worked with raw linen fibre before and found it very interesting to use as surface decoration if somewhat ‘hairy’ or scratchy.  This dyed fibre however is beautifully soft and the colours are fabulous, I ordered a sort of apple green, dusky pink and a silver, gorgeous. 

Obviously with all these great colours (excluding the grey and zebra I have white, yellow, orange, two depths of turquoise, raspberry, violet, shocking pink, purple, black and two shades of green) I was hot to trot this morning!  I started by making a few felt flowers, some beads and then a necklace before following these up by trying an experiment.  My idea was to make some felt cuffs and try incorporating some artificial fabric, one fabric was a white net with ribbon and sequins, the other was black and shiny overprinted with silver cobwebs and funky spiders!  Both fabrics worked surprisingly well, neither actually became one with the felt as with normal nuno but because I made sure to catch all the edges of the fabric with the wool as I was working both cuffs turned out pretty well.  The black spidery cuff is perfect for Halloween and the turquoise and white cuff would definitely set off a romantic style outfit to perfection, I will be offering this one for sale as soon as Alan gets back and I can upload some photos.

My last project of the morning took a LOT longer to finish than I was allowing  for, about 3 hours instead of the one I had set aside!  This was a nuno felt experiment using a silk/linen mix wide scarf, short fibre merino and a lot of surface decoration on the merino with some of the linen fibre.  Carmen brought a batch of these scarves back from Spain recently and we have been trying different ideas out to see how best to use them with wool.  The weave is quite open but the texture of the scarves is slightly stiff and almost shiny, I am not sure if they have been treated with something but they do felt well after a LOT of rubbing and rolling!  The colour of the fabric was hot orange with a small white design and the wool that I backed it with was a mixture of orange, purple and hot pink.  I overlaid the merino with a lot of apple green and dusky rose linen and the end result is very nice, a hot and spicy coloured wrap with a great crinkly texture.  In actual fact I think that it looks equally good worn with either surface exposed, the wool overlaid with the linen or the bubbly texture of the fabric side upperside, you’ll see what I mean as soon as I have Alan’s computer back and am able to upload the photos.

Look at my fantastic new necklace!!!  For ages I have been a big admirer of Lori aka Tabmade on Etsy and when I discovered recently that she is having a blow out sale I just had to buy this beauty.

Pod necklace by Tabmade

Pod necklace by Tabmade

We have had an online chat as my intention is to order more of this type of bead to incorporate into some of my felt jewellery, what do you think?  For the moment I am in two minds, wear this as it is or (horror of horrors – I hear you gasp!) split the beads and use them as focal points in some new felt pieces.