Pretty snowed under …..

I promise a proper post tomorrow but for this evening I am pretty snowed under metaphorically speaking and with a change in temperature and colour outside (the colour over the mountains is always an indicator!) I wouldn’t be surprised if we had a fall of snow sometime this evening too.  Plenty of felting from Monday and Tuesday to document and report followed by a full day training with the Crafts Council yesterday (very exciting, more anon), golf club meeting yesterday evening and then a full day teaching today coupled with a TOTALLY bunged up sink downstairs (now unblocked thanks to Carmen’s turbo style plunger) mean all I am fit to do now is put some food in the oven and relax for a while!!!

Snowed under in more ways than one!

Whew, I have been totally snowed under since last weekend with workshops, classes, golf club duties, truck service, MOT, more teaching etc. over the last week and now this morning I am totally snowed under literally!  I am not going to give you a blow by blow account of all that went on because I would never have enough hours to write everything down but suffice to say that since last weekend’s workshops for the Cashel Arts Fest I have been incredibly busy although I did get time to do two full days felting with Carmen in the middle of the week, bliss! 

Catherine's amazing first piece of felt

This morning I was amazed to wake up to about 4″ snow and it is still blowing strong out there.  Luckily I had picked up some yummy veggies and other food items yesterday on my way back from the MOT so at least food won’t be a problem and I have oil and wood for the stove as well so unless the water freezes like last year all will be warm chez Clasheen!!!  I had been planning a massive ‘winter clean’ with Alan this weekend in preparation for a fund raising party here in the house on December 12th but he is stuck in Bagenalstown so now I am planning to ‘try’ and sort out my studio once more, wish me luck! 

Not the best picture but you get my drift!

My finished felt slippers and textile trials in our extreme weather conditions!

With the cold weather continuing and more snow forecast I made myself finish my felt slippers this afternoon. 

The finished felt slippers with latex soles

I had painted four (I think!) layers of latex on the soles allowing 24 hours between each coat, this has given an excellent ‘sticky’ sole which is both waterproof and slip resistant.  My friend Sheila Ahern from Feltmakers Ireland has a really great tip for colouring the latex, add some food colouring in the appropriate colour as you paint on the soles!  It was too late for me this time but I will definitely consider it again especially if I make slippers in dyed wool as opposed to natural colours.  As per usual I had been putting off stitching the backs of each heel AGAIN but finally all all the agonising is over and now I will be wearing these beauties tonight in front of my wood burning stove!

I still have no water here and as you can see from this photo am reduced to melting snow on top of the range if I want a cup of tea or a coffee. 

Melting snow on the range

Luckily I do have heat again so things are not as bad as they were a week or so ago but no water at all now bar melting snow means no felting until my supply resumes.  As a result, I am trying to finish off little projects that have been lurking in my conscience and during my enforced absence from felting I have also vowed to get to grips with my Ashford Knitters Loom!  This frustrating but beguiling piece of kit has had me cursing and frustrated endless times over the last afternoon and this morning.  I actually bought the loom from Stephanie at The Yarn Room with money that I earned teaching felting at one of the ‘Pick Up Your Needles’ sessions at the Courthouse Arts Centre in Tinahely, Co. Wicklow.  My thought process went something along the lines of occasionally (when I have NO water!) it is good to experiment in another textile discipline and sometimes in the future (when I master the blooming thing!) it might be interesting to combine some weaving with some felting.  Knowing as you must by now how incredibly difficult I find little fiddly things to master it is a testament to my not so great patience that I actually managed to warp the loom at all. 

Warping the loom

To be totally fair to Ashford, these Knitters Looms are excellent to work with and the included instructions are very clear and simple to follow.  I’m not going to bore you with all my selvedge difficulties, suffice to say that I found it totally impossible to get an even edge!  I know that it is my first scarf but really, it was amazingly frustrating not to even think that I was improving as the weaving progressed and the scarf got longer.  Early in the process I determined to sell the loom but as things went on I started dreaming of loads of lovely felt projects enhanced by a small piece of my very own woven fabric! 

Warm woven scarf

Time will tell whether I continue with my weaving but for the moment I have a very warm (all be it an extremely badly woven) scarf to keep me warm during this cold weather and a head full of ideas for future felt and fabric collaborations.

Latex soles for felt slippers, cold spell continues and Happy New Year!

Last night I decided not to light my wood burning stove first thing this morning and try to get some household chores out of the way as a less expensive way of keeping myself warm!  Needless to say it wasn’t long before I decided on a little textile diversion and in the continuing absense of water had a go at painting latex on the soles of some warm felt slippers which I had made for myself earlier in the year.  Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will realise it is these little finishing touches that I find very difficult to get out of the way, add in a touch of sewing and they really are my worst nightmare come to life!  Anyway, I made the slippers last spring using some gorgeous gotland (which someone has now told me might shrink further as I wear them) and I had promised myself that I wouldn’t wear them until I had added a latex sole for extra durability and waterproofing qualities. 

Painting latex on the soles of felt slippers

They also need one stitch at the back of each heel, this is to hold the tongue of felt (just visible in the picture) into a nice decorative curl, somewhat Turkish looking is what I am aiming for.  I havn’t used latex before but believe that I need to paint about 5 layers to achieve a really good sole, Tone from Ullform in Norway also said that she sprinkles a layer of ground maize (hope I have that right!) over the final coat and that this adds quite a bit of grip to the bottom of the sole. 

The heavy wind and rain from yesterday has finally abated, now we just have sleet here and snow on the mountains surrounding Clasheen.  Thankfully I managed to speak to the friend who services my Rayburn and he gave me a couple of tests to carry out which indicates that my central heating system is actually working.  I still don’t have any heat in the rads however but have now got a man organised to check the pump in the well tomorrow morning so hopefully if we can get the water going and the pressure tank up and running things might get back to normal soon.  I can only keep my fingers crossed!  Obviously from all the messages that I am receiving many of you from all over the world have your own weather difficulties, some actually having drought and excessive temperatures, the exact opposite to what we are having here.  It is nice to feel part of a wider community although obviously I would prefer if no-one had any problems in the weather department at all!

Finally I would like to wish everyone a happy and peaceful New Year.  Enjoy any festivities that you have planned for this evening and hopefully we will all have a fantastic time felting and enjoying our various art practices throughout 2010!

Amazing Clasheen Winter Swap update, no water, no central heating and in lock down mode with weather alert!

The first pictures are now being uploaded to our Clasheen Swap group on Flickr and I have to say that there have been amazing packages winging their way to swap partners all around the world.  Many of the participants decided to wait until 25th December to open their goodies and boy does it seem as if the wait was worthwhile!  Check out the discussion board to read what people sent and recieved and then search through the group photos to see some of the great images of packages in various stages of unwrap.  Once all the thank yous and photos are posted to the group I will upload details of our first swap for 2010!

I didn’t post yesterday about my lack of water but today the situation is even worse so I am now officially entering Clasheen lockdown mode!  On returning from my sister’s on Sunday I discovered that the water supply had stopped, probably from ice somewhere along the line from the well to the water pressure tank.  The ground temperatures have been as low as -9C which is totally unheard of for Ireland so it probably is not surprising that this situation has occured.  Unfortunately my central heating has now gone on the blink this morning but luckily I have the range and a great small wood burning stove so cooking and huddling in front of these are my best bet for now!  The weather outside is currently exceptionally windy and wet and heavy snow is forecast for the next couple of days.  I am praying that the rain will defrost the ground sufficiently for my pipes to unfreeze and then I will be able to fill both baths prior to all the snow, bleed the radiatiors, run the washing machine and have a warm and relaxing bath to round off the day.  Failing a thaw I will just keep the stove lighting as much as possible and get water from my neighbours farmhouse, if I have no water tomorrow I will also beg a bath!  I have rigged up a duvet cover over the front door to try and eliminate the draft and now I have discovered that I don’t have enough putty around one of my upstairs window panes so I have some towels held in place by toiletry bottles to help with the draft and soak up some of the water that is making it’s way inside the window.  My french doors on the north east side of the studio are also leaking badly (this is the current direction of the wind) so overall I will be glad if it actually snows and this horrible windy rain stops, at least then it might be dry but cold!

Felting has obviously taken a backseat due to lack of water and total chaos in the kitchen but if things are not better tomorrow I am going to start some kind of project and use a bucket of water which I will collect from my neighbours.  Withdrawal symptoms have definitely set in on the textile side of things as I prepare for the snow but possibly things will get back to some kind of normality if my water returns this afternoon!