Just organising swap partners tonight and a little bit of nuno felting!

Just organising the swap partners tonight for our first Clasheen Crafty Swap of 2011!  Welcome to all returning swappers and a big hello to our new members, you are going to love this event!!!  I am almost back to normal today, probably about 90% of my usual self with just a bad cough periodically but nothing much else to worry about.  There were two meetings (golf club, what else!) I should have been attending tonight and another tomorrow evening  but I have put in my appologies because an early night snuggled up in front of the stove calls, not a drive in the current wild wet and windy weather.  This morning I felted a highly textured nuno scarf and then knuckled down to felting a one off wrap, a bit more unusual this one but you will have to wait for more details and some pictures tomorrow!  My ArtL!nks vessels are really calling out to me but I just want to get a couple more smaller projects out of the way tomorrow and then from Wednesday onwards I can start the really large vessels and get a good run at them.  ‘Till then …..

Wrapped up in merino ….. and swap update

Thankfully my proposed Saturday workshop has been moved until next weekend as this flu, while getting a little bit better is still a long way from over.  It is so frustrating to go from hot to feverish and bathed with sweat in the blink of an eyelid and tired to exhausted in the space of those same few seconds!  I have been trying to stay in bed for most of the day (memory foam is a LOT more comfortable than lounging around on the couch) in an effort to shift this dose asap but yesterday evening I just had to do something fibre related (must have been feeling a BIT better!) while watching some mindless television in front of the stove. 

Soft merino cowl

Recently I received a skein of gorgeous handspun ‘pancake and lulu’ merino in one of my all time favourite colours from Suzy (aka Hollyhill) in a swap on Ravelry.  I wasn’t totally sure if there would be enough yarn to knit a cozy cowl for myself but happily things worked out just perfectly and this afternoon I have been able to keep my neck snug.  Do excuse the bug eyed photo but it was the best I could do taking a photo of myself with my phone camera, in fact I think my eyes look more swollen in reality after the last few days anyway!

Clasheen Crafty Swap update ……. Promise to get partners assigned by Monday at the latest, just give me one more day to recover from this dose.  Anyone wanting to sign up this late pop over to our group on Flickr and I will include you in this round.  Thanks Kirsten for jogging my dozy memory!

Still waiting, felt flowers in the making, creative spinning

I am still waiting for my delivery of Icelandic wool to arrive in preparation for the large rug I am felting my father’s cousin Sylvia, hope there is no charcoal getting in the way!  In the meantime my sister commissioned me to create 36 small felt flowers to adorn her new Stranne table light from Ikea.  This is a spin off from my own lamp which I updated at Christmas by adding stylised flowers to surround every little light bulb, everyone seems to like it for some reason.  Anyway, I used flowers left over from my Sculpture in Context piece so just added whatever I had left over but for Suzanne’s lamp I am making them from scratch in colours that she choose on Sunday.  Yesterday I started the production by felting two 8 flower batches and this morning I intend felting 16 more before loading the truck and heading of to a teaching engagement this afternoon.

Stunning hand painted roving from the Dancing Farm

On Friday I recieved a wonderful swap package from Suzy aka Hollyhill in the New Year Secret Scarf Exchange on Ravelry.  It included this fantastic hand painted roving from the Dancing Farm which in addition to looking forward to felting with it has inspired me to try out spinning with a spindle for the first time in an attempt to add some handspun yarn to me freestyle kniting!   Not  having any spindle myself I have adapted one (using a piece of bamboo, a CD and some rubber bands) and this evening when I am back from teaching I am going to have a try armed with Gaia traditional crafts beautiful book Creative Spinning.  This is such a wonderfully bulky amount of gorgeous fibre to recieve and in my mind’s eye I can see several beautiful and light felted scarves and some yummy yarn all created from the one gift from Suzy, thanks for this great swap package!!!

Opening photo, unwinding a bit, stunning package in the post …..

Unfortunately the photos I took of my work on Friday evening as the Blueprint opening got underway are not good quality. 

Blueprint Exhibition for Eigse

I thought you might like to see a shot of my set up however and when I am in Carlow during the week invigilating I am going to bring my bigger camera and try to take some better more detailed shots.  The two larger wall hangings and a small framed piece are hung on the wall to the right and overall I was happy enough with how the felt looked on the night.  I don’t think from this photo that you can get any idea what the inside of the grey pod (on the plinth) is like but I felted some ovals of black sequined fabric into the light grey inside and these pick up the colours in the large grey wall hanging and the small grey textured piece on the front of the other plinth.  Thanks to my friends who made the effort to attend the opening, it was much appreciated!

Today I am unwinding a bit, answering a few emails, uploading a few images to Flickr, hoping and waiting for a call from the American Embassy re. what exact visa I need to travel on this Fall and since the postman came (or woman as it was today) drooling over the most AMAZING package I received from Jayne as part of the Ravelry Colour Swap number 7.  Head on over to Flickr if you would like to see the full package and to Clasheen Uncut to see a close up of the most LUSCIOUS fibre and hand made button but for now be prepared to admire the amazing ‘Ishbel’ that Jayne dyed and knitted especially for me ! 

Ishbel - dyed and knitted for me by Jayne!

I am still swooning at this wonderful box full of surprises!!!!

My fantastic swap package

I discovered to my horror over the weekend that I only have until the end of this week to finish three sculptural pieces ready for a joint exhibition in June (need to get to the venue beforehand) and complete my submission for the RDS and Crafts Council of Ireland National Crafts Competition.  This has really put me under tremendous pressure especially as yesterday the large piece that I was working on turned into a total disaster and eventually I just cut it up in frustration.  Imaging then my delight with this beautiful upcycled box of gifts from Jasmine aka Natures Whispers that I recieved as part of the Spring Clasheen Crafty Swap, it really made my day seem brighter!  It is hard to describe how perfectly Jasmine captured my personality and likes and dislikes when preparing this amazing swap package to post to me so I am just going to let some pictures do the talking and will blog properly about the AMAZING and unusual fibres (vicuna, possum, cashmere and angora!!!!!) as soon as I get a chance to try them out!  

I love this text and the hearts!

It is also incredible to think that Jasmine only started starting felting her amazing nuno scarves earlier in the year having followed my tutorial here on the blog and to say that what she sent me blew me away is an understatement.  The wonderful scarf is felted from merino, bamboo, silk tussah and angora; the silk, angora and bamboo were dyed with daffodils and the merino with lilac twigs from Jasmine’s garden.  Each end of the scarf has beautiful embroidery and shisha mirror work (instructions enclosed so I can try it myself!), I really, really must try stitching again as this extra detail totally finishes the scarf beautifully.  I don’t know if Jasmine has ever seen a picture of me in one of my Blue Fish linen pieces but I have collected a whole collection of pieces in combinations of straw and green and this scarf compliments them perfectly!  Check out my Flickr photos to see more pictures of this fantastic bundle of gifts and see what else was enclosed in the beautiful upcycled box but for now I leave you with a couple of images of my amazing new scarf!!! 

Beautifully felted and embellished scarf from Jasmine

Stunning detail

‘Spring Swap’ update

Just a very short post today to let any of you who don’t already know that the Spring Clasheen Crafty Swap deadline has been extended allowing all of us (me included!) to post out our parcels no later than Friday 14th May!  Check out the group on Flickr over the next couple of weeks to see all the fantastic goodies that are winging their way around the world brightening up someones day and sharing our love of fibre and crafting.  I have a hectic day lined up today as blogged about yesterday over at Clasheen Uncut and if you want to enter a competition for a fantastic nuno felt top by Chrissie details are also over on the companion website!  I promise that wet weather or not pictures WILL be taken tomorrow and uploaded to the web and I will also have details of an exciting vessel or bag workshop that I am facilitating at the end of the month.

It’s wild, windy and sometimes wet outside and I’m wrecked today!

In case you are wondering ‘wrecked’ is slang for exhausted in Ireland and that is my state today, not anything worse!!!  I finally finished my bursary application yesterday morning after working almost non stop over the preceeding days.  Luckily I managed to drive to the ArtL!nks office in Kilkenny and deliver it in person just before the deadline and then I had to rush back to the Golf Club to officiate at a party to say thanks to the club secretary who was finishing her job after 12 years of hard work and friendly service, thanks Nollaig (Christmas in Irish!).

Today I slept in until half past nine, unheard of for me and now I am just trying to catch up with things like washing up (not done for three days, horror of horrors!) before I light the fire, grab a glass of wine and crash out with a good book to recharge.  Tomorrow is another day as we say here so for anyone waiting for a reply to an email or any other such like apologies, I can’t do another thing today so will be back in action on the morrow after a good nights rest!

PS Just read my headline before uploading this and remembered I was going to post a picture of the gorgeous cowl I got in a Ravelry swap this week as the picture might give you an idea of how unsetteled the weather is here at Clasheen today!!  The sun is shining right now although it is very cold and we have already had torrential rain, hailstones and loads of rain.  By the look of the mountains more rain is on the way!

Stunning cowl for the stormy weather ahead!

Sneak preview, exciting news, new swap, an answer and an update ……

Quite a lot of exciting things to talk about this morning and not so much time to write everything down!  Starting with the sneak preview, here is a detailed image of the silk and corn fibres (turquoise and white respectively) that I combined with Icelandic wool for my latest felt bag. 

Corn fibre, silk and Icelandic wool

I am not going to post pictures of the completed bag yet (yay, got the handle finished and fitted this morning!!) in case my swap buddy is following here  but this will give you an idea of how I interperted her favourite ocean inspired colours.  Now that the bag is finished I am very happy with the sense of motion, almost wave like that the white corn fibres add to the surface.  These fibres were one of the goodies that I bought last October from Blas and Jamie at Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco and I can’t wait until October again this year when I am making a return visit and will be facilitating a workshop as well!  Blas and Jamie are making a visit to Ireland this Spring and as well as participating with me in a workshop at Clasheen I will be spending some time with them showing off some of my favourite spots here in South Eastern Ireland.

That sentence leads me nicely into my biggest news, I will definitely be in America during October 2010 and would love to do a series of workshops across the States and get to meet as many of my blog followers as possible!  Thanks so much to Dawn Edwards who will be organising an event in Michigan.  I can’t say how thrilled I am that we will be meeting up in person at last and I actually get to stay with her and wear her out with all my chatting, how cool is that!!  Over the next week I have to finish my submission for an ArtL!nks bursary, deadline for me is next Wednesday but as soon as that is done I want to chat with everyone who might be even vaugely interested in the possibility of a felting workshop so please email me if you would like to touch base and try and work something out.  My plan is to either start the trip in San Francisco and end in Chicago or visa versa and I am thinking of travelling early in October but need to clarify the dates and see if I could possibly include the last week in September as well.  Please email me directly if you might be interested, it would be great to hire a car and teach all the way from Chicago to San Fransisco!

The Clasheen Spring Swap is now posted to our group on Flickr and sign ups are underway as we speak.  For this seasonal swap we will make one special gift for our swap buddy using Spring as our inspiration. Let your imagination run wild sparked by all the freshness of the season, ideas to consider include light weight scarves, jewellery, hand painted cards, homemade floral scents or body products, fabric covered art journals, anything at all with a spring theme or colour.  We will also include a couple of inexpensive extras (possibly from our stash) and a receipe for a light and appealing main course dish which we enjoy cooking ourselves at this time of year.  If you want to sign up for the swap remember you need to do so through the group on Flickr, joining us is easy if you are not already a member!

For those of you wondering where I got the gorgeous hand made beads that I incorporated into Suzanne’s necklace I bought them from Lori aka Tabmade on Etsy.  Unfortunately Lori doesn’t have anything for sale at the moment but if you do a search for fimo or polymer clay beads on the internet maybe you will be lucky and source some unusual beads for yourself.

And finally, poor Suzanne is having problems with her wrist and now has to go back for more surgery next week.  Somehow the bones have shifted and her cast was removed yesterday.  Now she has a back slab fitted as a temporary support and it is extremely painful so hopefully next week will start some progress and her wrist will finally stop paining her at last.  Thanks for all your messages to her, I am passing them on and she appreciates the thought.

Sculpture progresses and fun morning with friend

Apologies for my lack of posts over the last few days.  The internet connection has been extremely sketchy, must be something to do with the fact that our weather has broken at last and amazingly for this time of year farmers (and the golf course) had actually been praying for rain!

I have been working on fulling and shaping the sculpture that I started at the end of last week.  This first experiment in creating a tall column shape should give a good indication of whether I need to make my felt thicker, use a different resist, have a larger space to work in etc., all the nitty gritty things that will help me when planning and executing pieces larger than my own actual height and width!  When I started fulling and shaping I initially worked the felt around a long piece of electricity cable housing.  I had intended on having this diameter as the finished width but discovered that the felt needed to shrink further to become stronger and self supporting so I put the work aside to see what on earth I could find to hand with a slightly narrower diameter to enable me continue the shrinking process.  I returned to the scuplture the following morning having discovered the perfect fencing stake lurking in my garage, no problems now working the felt around the wood and beating it with a wooden spoon to finish firming up the felt!  Pictures to follow when the piece is totally finished.

Yesterday I spent a fun morning with friend and artist Rosin Markham.  Amongst other materials Rosin sometimes works with gorgeous undyed raw wool from a variety of different sheep breeds.  She very generously gave me samples and locks from some wonderful looking kinds, hopefully I will be able to take pictures later today and you will see the crimp and texture which should translate wonderfully into some finished felted work.  As Rosin had never worked three dimensionally before I showed her how I work around a resist and she laid out a simple round vessel in graduating shades of undyed Icelandic wool.  Meanwhile I decided that this was a good morning to get started on an ocean inspired bag which I am making as part of the current ‘felted bag swap’ on Ravelry.  I tried out a new shape which with a little tweaking will be perfect as a basis for exploring a new complex felt bag design, just need to add another flap or two but need to buy more laminate floor underlay first!  Rosin’s vessel was looking very good by the time she had to leave and my bag is now sitting on top of a rad drying while I plan and execute the dreaded cord handle.

Suzanne's necklace

You may remember I posted a good while ago about the necklace I made my sister Suzanne for her birthday.  She and my mother came over for a coffee on Sunday morning and I snapped a shot of her wearing it for my records, note the fact that she didn’t want her face to be shown, false modesty in my opinion but it does make for a good photo!

Beautifully soft 16 micron merino

For part of the New Year Secret Scarf Swap that I am participating in on Ravelry I wanted to felt a gorgeous and soft scarf for my swap buddy Krysotfer.  I had decided to work in an amazing soft 16 micron merino which I had bought late in the Autumn from one of my favourite suppliers Filzrausch in Germany and the idea was to felt a long scarf in charcoal wool with natural mohair locks to decorate the ends.  The mohair was one of the gorgeous fibre related items that I bought on my October visit to northern California which is ironic in a way since Krystofer actually lives in San Fransisco, California and this is the city where Alan and both I started and ended our wonderful holidays from.  I hadn’t been going to upload any images of the scarf here until I was sure that Krystofer had recieved the package but due to circumstances detailed below decided to put this teaser up anyway! 

Detail of the mohair locks

 

This merino was a dream to work with, very fine, evenly carded and lovely and quick to felt, I laid out two very fine layers so the finished scarf is extremely light, warm and soft.  The only thing that I will do differently next time is give my hands a rub with olive oil approx 10 minutes before I start to felt and this will ensure that the fibres don’t snag at all on my skin.  Felting does mean that I have clean hands most of the time but I forget to use handcream when things are hectic, I can safely say that hectic just about describes every day here at the moment! 

Now the real question is why did I decide to uploaded this image after all?  Because luckily I checked through the discussion board before mailing the scarf to discover that long for Krystofer is really looooong and this scarf definitely is a little challanged on the length side of things!  What does a girl do???  Decide what the **** and really go all out to felt another scarf that is well over 10′ long, I’ve not actually measured it yet but at a rough guess it is approx 12′ and counting!  No pictures of this one going up yet but hopefully Krystofer will email me a picture of himself wrapped in the scarf when he gets it, providing of course that he is not totally hidden by the felt, it is rather LOOOOOOONG!