Some swap questions answered and a photo of my latest nuno felt shawl

Swap partners are now up for the Flickr Clasheen Crafty Swap so if you are one of the current participants please ENJOY!!!  These swapping events are meant to be fun and I just want to take this opportunity of thanking everybody who has participated to date and welcoming new swappers to the experience, I think you are going to love it!  

Soft and ultra warm felt shawl

Before I write a little about the warm shawl I felted yesterday (could this be nuno felt???) I just want to address some questions which pop up quite regularly about the swap both as comments or private emails here to me at Clasheen.  I hope you don’t mind but I am just going to write the sallient details as bullet points, I know you will get the gist but for anyone needing more info please take a look through previous swaps on the discussion board and in the group pool of pictures to see the type of packages we share around the world.  Here goes …..

  • Everyone is welcome to join wherever you may live in the world
  • We usually swap one main item (hand crafted by you for your partner!) and a selection of other smaller items.
  • Our participants come from all walks of life so all we ask for the hand crafted goody is that you put some thought into it and make sure it is something that you would like to recieve yourself!  Ideas include wearable accessories (scarves are probably our most popular items to swap), a small painting, notebooks, jewellery, hand made cosmetics, bath products etc.
  • The additional items are often lovelies from our own stash, fibre, fabric, buttons, beads, upcycled, recycled, old books, magazines, findings etc., anything that we may personally like but have never managed to find a use for ourself or know that our partner would particularily like.
  • I assign each participant a number and when I do the draw put these numbers into a container and pair them up as the numbers are drawn out.  This does mean that it is a lottery and sometimes a participant is teamed up with the same partner twice although I don’t think that has been a big issiue to date.
  • The swap is not a competition or meant to be in any way stressful but it is nice to check through the discussion board to see exactly what makes your partner tick and try to put together a parcel that will please.   What colours do they like, are they girly or practical (I know that I’m not girly anyway!), do they read English, salty or sweet, tea or coffee, ground or beans, you get the idea.
  • You do need to join our group on Flickr in order to participate, this is just the only way for me to monitor the swap without getting boggged down in paperwork from this end of things!
  • Full names and addresses obviously need to be swapped with me as moderator of the group and with your swap partner.  We do this through Flickr mail and not publically on line so there is no need to worry about private details becoming visable to everyone on the internet.
  • For new or potential participants just take the plunge!  Really we have some good fun and it is fantastic to get to know people from all around the world and share a little of our own hand made goodness and wonderful to get a little something in return!

Now on the that shawl!  I am always on the look out for unusual fabrics to incorporate into my nuno felt and other wearables or to cut up and use as surface decoration for items such as vessels or bags.  A while ago I picked up a very unusual and lightweight mohair/metallic thread shawl that just seemed to be crying out to be felted into a beautiful and warm shawl.  It was like a gossamer piece of cobweb, beautifully soft and warm with a really interesting knitted pattern.  Nuno felt is the process of combining a lot of fabric with a little fibre to create a totally new fabric, in this case although technically the shawl I started with could have been called fabric it was probably machine knitted and not a woven fabric like silk or cotton so can I call the end result nuno felt???  I had been having a bit of a mental block about what colours to use with this piece but for some reason yesterday white and baby blue just jumped to mind and that was what I decided to work with as a backing for the shimmering indigo shawl.  The knitted square had subtle colour variations changing from silvery white in the centre through to deepest indigo at the edges.  The whole piece was also threaded with a silver metallic thread and I am now thinking that there must have been some elastic somewhere in the yarn because the fully felted end shawl almost appears to have a slight ‘give’ or stretch to the fabric.  Because I really wanted to keep the beautiful drape of the knitted shawl I decided to lay only one light layer of short fibred merino on the reverse, I did succeed pretty well although in some places the felt is a little patchier than I would have liked optimally.  Probably that is to do with the fact that I never (well almost never except for bags and vessels!) weigh my wool out in advance and I didn’t realise how little blue I had in stock so ended up using every last scrap no matter how unevenly laid out it was!  For some reason I can’t upload any more photos to the blog today (oh the restrictions of the internet!) but you can have a good look at the close ups on Flickr to see how well the fabric ‘melted’ into the merino backing.  You can also see from a shot of the rear view how different stitches and colours in the base layer result in subtle variations of colour in the finished shawl.

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.