Thanks Wollknoll!

Over the past two weeks I've been living in daily anticipation of a large delivery of fibre from Wollknoll in Germany, one of my all time favourite suppliers. This order should have contained the wool and silk to finish my Gaelscoil project, the materials for a new group that I'm just about to start working with, a big amount of wool for Carmen, a good few large blocks of olive oil soap and some more fibre for me to use at upcoming workshops in my studio at Duckett's Grove. I still can't quite work out what happened but finally my suspicions were confirmed yesterday morning that the order had never been received or processed. I've had a couple of sleepless nights but at last everything is sorted, there's light at the end of the tunnel thanks to Sonja Fritz of Wollknoll. I had to reorder the items yesterday afternoon (why oh why did I not keep a written record of them in the first place???), the goods are getting packed today (Saturday) and the order will be dispatched first thing on Monday morning, what a service. Thank you so much Sonja, your help and calmness were very much appreciated! On the positive side of things, it did give me the opportunity to add a bundle of silk fabric and more Kap merino to the order, these will be some of the supplies I'm bringing to my upcoming workshops in Lexington, KY!!!

The Nuno felt wrap and scarf in the first photo were felted using a selection of ponge silk from Wollknoll, the wrap on the left also incorporates some upcycled printed silk collected on a fun Goodwill expidition with Dawn! The bundled and naturally printed/dyed silk chiffon scarves with rolled edges in the second picture also came from Wollknoll. I like the contrast of the silk chiffon with the hardness of my new polymer clay brooches, soft ochre, gold and chocolate brown makes such a good bedfellow with turquoise!

 

 

 

 

Ooh, my latest delivery of felting supplies has arrived!

Ooh, I just love hearing the delivery man pulling up outside especially when I know that the box he’s brought for me is full of new materials and felting supplies! Unfortunately the silk organza that I wanted to try was not in stock but everything else I ordered is present and correct. When I mentioned that I wanted the delivery asap in advance of a workshop which had been organised with a tight time frame Wollknoll pulled out all the stops and the box arrived less than a week after it was ordered, thanks for a great service and great products guys! Rami arrives late on Saturday night all the way from Beruit, we’ll have 7 full days together exploring flat and three dimensional wet felting, nuno felting and a little bit of needle felting too.

Sea Slug II

Those of you who know me well understand that I don’t practice needle felting as an art form although I definitely find that the needles can sometimes help if I’m trying to secure inclusions during the layout stage of some bags and vessels as well as build up the bumps on my ‘Seashapes’ series of sculptures and vessels. Here you can see a picture of one of my nudibranch inspired sculptures ‘Sea Slug II’ photographed by Rob Lamb and included in Sylvia Tompson’s wonderful new book ‘Hands On‘. Up to now I’ve always used upholstery foam or kitchen sponges behind whatever I’m stabbing but they’re definitely a little bit grotty at this stage so I actually ordered some proper foam  and a selection of different sized needles to have here for Rami to play with.

Anyway, I better stop procrastinating and head downstairs to get stuck in and continue my studio tidy up! Adieu.

Felt bowl, room to improve!

I should have started a commission yesterday but after a long morning trying to sort something out on the phone (getting passed from pillar to post then just when I was getting somewhere being cut off accidentally!) I decided to call it a day and shelve the start of the project until today.

Gathering my materials, goodies from Merridee!

Instead, I decided to felt a little open topped bowl using some grey and rust coloured needle felt which was a gift from Merridee and combine this with some light chocolate coloured French landsheep wool and an unusual shiny metallic woven net knitting tape (at least I think that’s what it is), also a gift from Merridee! It was quite interesting working in colours that I wouldn’t usually put together, initially I decided to felt a wide topped bowl using the open resist method and I wanted to include a piece of my eco printed silk as detail on the silvery grey inside. I’m guessing that I need a lot more practice with this method determining the size and shape of my template because the finished bowl is not as wide at the top as I expeced and I also think that I should have used fewer layers of wool but started out with a much bigger resist. In addition to these issues, the eco printed silk didn’t combine well with the prefelt so I pulled it off mid way through the fulling process and the metallic mesh didn’t gleam as much as I expected once the bowl was fully felted.

The outside is now the inside

I think that this is primarily because the French wool is 28 micron and therefore quite hairy, I do like the texture of it however and as I was working and shaping the bowl I decided to turn it inside out and have the design on the inside and the simple brown edged grey on the outside. The French wool felted really easily and was gorgeous to lay out, I think it would be wonderful for large totes or weekend bags so if you’re interested in ordering any it’s code numbet 1464 from Wollknoll!

Anyway, enough for now as I really have to get the sleeveless jacket started, here’s a picture of the finished bowl, it’s much better this way out even if it does look a lot like a flower pot.

The finished bowl, not quite what I expected so plenty to work on

Settling in to Dagmar’s workshop at Big Cat Textiles

After our introductory day observing and sampling how Dagmar Binder lays out her fibre I decided to felt a small neck piece in the evening, this time using some of my favourite short fibre merino from Wollknoll instead of the 21 micron roving which I used for the class piece, pics of both samples are in Monday’s post. I was far happier with the results, the surface texture of the felt was much smoother and I always like the way I can blend the colours as I go along. As a result I decided to use the short fibre wool for the rest of the week, maybe if I had used a 16 or 17 micron roving I would have had a similar outcome but for me I wanted to use the fibre that I have most affinity and feeling for and didn’t want to have to buy extra wool when I already loved the colours of what I had in my stash!

Don’t the colours just sing?

Our task for day two was to felt a scarf/neck piece incorporating resists using some of the techniques learnt about laying out fibres in different directions and subsequently playing around with the flexibility of the various attachments. I choose hot orange for the main colour and added red, purple and small amounts of yellow wool as well as pieces of silk fabric, gold silk fibre and red linen fibre for surface decoration. The silk I snapped up in a charity shop in Edinburgh so yes, you can get LOADS of silk there too if you look in the skirt and blouse sections instead of the scarf, I’ve done it!

I had a concept for my neck piece which didn’t work out quite as I had planned. Those of you who know me and my style of working understand that drawing and planning to the Nth degree is just not part of my creative process, rather I start with a concept and let the colours and fibres speak to me during the layout stage out and adjust my design organically as I go along.

The perfect length to throw around my neck

As a result I ended up with rather a nudibranch styled piece, surprise, surprise!!! As I was adding some silk pieces to the main body of the felt I was actually thinking of the speckles on a trout, once I got to the fulling stages however I totally changed the shape of the ‘tail’ end (it had 6 resists in it during the layout) the end result is quite shrimp like in places so overall the piece is very piscine in nature.

I’ll leave you with a picture of it sneaking up my cotinus, make up your own mind about the nudibranch influence but I can attest that it does seem to have a life of it’s own! Tomorrow I’ll blog about the wall hanging and vessel I made on days three and four, I’m particularly happy with my large felt vessel.

Nudibranch like neck piece at large!

April showers bring forth May flowers, sweet pea nuno felt poncho/wrap/cropped top!

Well, it is lashing outside this morning and for those of you not familiar with Irish expressions lashing means very heavy rain!  I had been planning on photographing some nuno felt scarves and wraps before uploading them to my new boutique but obviously I need to wait until we get a bit of a break in the weather. 

The good news is that I had a guilt free morning finishing fulling a large piece of nuno felt, I laid it out yesterday afternoon and had got it to the rolling and fulling stage before having to call it a day.  I love creating pieces that can be worn in more ways than one and this piece definitely fits the bill.  Basically it is a large reversible square with a hole in the middle and worn with corners pointing down it is a poncho, corners to the side a cropped top and if you fold it in half along the diagonal and roll the long edge slightly it makes a great warm wrap perfect to throw over your shoulders when the evenings get cool.

I don’t know how I suddenly ‘re-discovered’ the lilac muslin yesterday that I used for the base but with a house as tidy as mine every day in an adventure ploughing through piles of ‘stuff’!  Anyway, the lilac is wonderful with some of the beautiful sweet pea shades of light pink, blueberry and raspberry coloured kap merino from Wollknoll.  I also had some stunning hand dyed silk lap left over from a project earlier in the year and this just gives nice extra colour and texture to the surface of the wool side.  As the project progressed I was having huge debates with myself as to how or where I was going to cut into the square to create either an opening for the head or alternatively two arm holes which had also been in my mind.  What I decided to do was wait until the nuno felt was almost finished shrinking and then pin or drape the felt over my manequin before making the decision.  This worked well because immediately the poncho style looked good, now I want to make another large piece of flat felt but round this time. This one I will cut with two armholes and create a circular shawl loosely basing the design on this adaptation of Barbara Pooles. I think judging from my draping and folding this morning the circle will drape better for a sleeveles top than the square. If you haven’t already enjoyed this short video take a look now and I promise to upload pictures of my ‘Sweet Pea’ poncho/wrap/cropped top just as soon as the rain stops and I can take them!

Has anyone ever felted with etamine??? Feedback please!

Last summer at the Felt in Focus symposium in Denmark Lyda Rump had some wonderful hand dyed fabric the like of which I had never seen before and which she explained to us was called etamine, it was 100% wool.  I do remember that Lyda said it was particularily suited to shibori (in a washing machine??) and also for using discharge paste to remove selected areas of colour, have any of you had a go???  Trying to do a bit of research on the internet did disclose that wool etamine is good for nuno felting but the info is sketchy and I am looking for some feedback.  Wollknoll are now selling etamine scarves and fabric by the metre and my latest order has just arrived this morning complete with 4 of the scarves, unfortunately the colour I wanted from a bolt must have been out of stock so I don’t have any small samples to practice on as I had expected.  At E12.50 plus P&P the scarves are not a cheap raw material so if any of you have some advice about the possible shrinkage rate, results you have had, pictures of work you have created etc. and are happy to share here that would be great thanks!

As an aside, if you are interested in having a peak at the video I created for Kelly recently for the Going Green Swap with a Twist on Ravelry head on over here to Clasheen Uncut!

Fabulous day, picture of my new nuno wrap and last chance to join the Clasheen Spring Swap

The weather here is FABULOUS today, hot, sunny and not a breath of wind.  OK, I am going to have to ammend that to hot, sunny and loads of wind because of course as soon as I nipped downstairs (my ‘office’ is upstairs as is my dining room!) the wind had picked up tremendously and I wasn’t able to photograph my latest nuno scarves as planned. 

Apricot and cream linen nuno wrap

I was however able to take some pictures of this beautiful nuno wrap which I created by felting merino and silk fibres into a base of cool crisp linen.  The linen is in graduated shades of apricot through to cream and to my mind this would be a wonderful piece to accessorise a simple outfit as the style is sophisticated yet subtle.  I can just imagine throwing it around my shoulders over a cream or terracotta ensemble and feeling cool and comfortable at a wedding or other such Spring or Summer function.  It took me ages to make up my mind what to actually do with the linen as I have had it for ages in my stash but had been waiting for the ‘perfect’ project to use it for.  Last week I was checking out some small balls of merino tops I got recently from Wollknoll and suddenly realised that there were some great shades of apricot and teracotta that would work brilliantly with the colours of the fabric.  This was my first nuno experience working with linen and I must say that I loved felting with it.  I wear a lot of linen myself (which I order from Blue Fish in Taos, New Mexico) and love the feel of the fabric, the casual elegance and comfort which it lends to any outfit totally suits my personality (ha, ha) and I adore the fact that it drapes well and washes brilliantly which is a big bonus.  I did find that it shrunk a lot during the felting process and I really like the crinkly texture in the finished wrap. 

Apologies to everyone who was waiting for their partners this weekend for the Clasheen Spring Swap, I am running a couple of days behind time so just wanted to let you all know everything will be organised on Wednesday, I promise, I promise!  As a result of my total sloppiness (aka totally snowed under as usual!!) if any of you would like to join in at this very last minute sign ups will now close tomorrow so you have a few hours left tonight.  Click through to our Clasheen Crafty Swap Flickr Group, read the rules, sign up and welcome to the Swap!!!

Some more shibori pictures and fabulous new wool arrives!

My second shibori experiment on St. Patrick’s Day was this simple cowl, again felted using merino, cotton gauze and silk. 

Spice shibori cowl

This time my design had a hole at one end through which the cords pull through from the opposite end to close the cowl, hope this makes sense!  I love the combination of cerise, orange and raspberry wool as I think it gives the cowl a lovely warm and spicy feel.  The cords were very easy to incorporate into the body of the felt and this is a design I am planning to play around with a little, possibly make my next cowl a little longer and a little narrower.  Check out my Flickr photos for a full range of images from both sides of this piece.

Yesterday morning my latest order of silk arrived from Wollknoll and boy am I EXCITED!  When Lyda Rump was here for our workshops in February she was saying that they now were dying some fantastic wool similar to that which I usually get from Filzrausch, a short fibred19 micron merino.  I asked Sonja Fritz is she would be able to include a kg of various colours with my order for silk and I was blown away by the subtlty of the shades and how beautifully soft and easy this ‘Kap’ wool is to work with.  There was a PERFECT rose shade (I have never got anything quite as beautiful in this colour before) and it just cried out to be felted with one of Lyda’s gorgeous hand dyed silk chiffon scarves. 

Hand dyed silk chiffon with the softest nuno shibori

Again I decided to experiment with a little shibori.  My aim with this scarf was to emphasise the gorgeous colours from Lyda’s dying so I decided just to add wool at either end and not cover the chiffon completely.  This created a fantastic and light scarf which would be an amazing present for someone allergic to wool, only the silk would be touching the skin when you throw the scarf around your neck!  I have uploaded both these shibori pieces and my recent Zebra cobweb felt scarf to my Etsy shop this morning so if you are looking to treat yourself to a little uplifting pressie now is the moment!

Another book for felt fanatics!

Yesterday was an extremely busy ‘paper’ day, a visit to my accountant followed by financial mentoring followed in turn by a session of business mentoring, little wonder that I didn’t actually get to create any felt!  On my way back from Wexford however I called in to Carmen and borrowed her new book ‘Dutch Felt’ (Vilt in Beeld) by Ria van Els-Dubelaar.  Anyway, I did enjoy relaxing and reading this last night and particularly loved ‘Wrinkles’, a stunning fireside rug which looks like a hot orange and natural brown sheepskin.  The text is in both English and Dutch which is helpful and there is a nice gallery of work by various well known Dutch felters including some gorgeous urns by Lyda Rump, roll on February!

Off now to do some more tidying up in preparation for the Saturday felting workshop, this day is fully booked but if you are interested in attending on Saturday 28th please check out the workshop page for full details.  I am flexible with what we make so if you prefer any of the other titles from the Winter series please just email me asap and we will see what we can do!

Loads of felting news to report …

Yesterday was

Felted fingerless mittens
Felted fingerless mittens

 a day and a half!  Early in the morning my delivery of short fibred merino arrived from Filzrausch and boy was I excited.  I really wanted to get stuck in and felting straight away but I knew that I had other things that I just had to get sorted.  As soon as I logged on to the internet I had a message from Mehmet and thank goodness his visa and passport had finally been approved from the Irish Embassy in Ankara and he is available to travel!  This has been an absolute nightmare for me (wasn’t telling everyone) because I had never appreciated what it entailed getting your visa if you are travelling on a Turkish passport and I was afraid we might just have run out of time.  Anyway, all is well for the two workshops, Mehmet arrives next Thursday with the rug bases, the rolling mats are on their way and the wool is also on it’s way, from Wollknoll in Germany.  Margo made a rug with Mehmet last year and has some great images of the group’s work in progress and the finished rugs on her blog, they really take me back to the course Carmen and I did last September and I just want to get stuck in again! 

My second gorgeous event was opening my bartering package from Anna.  The scent was amazing as I opened the box and a fantastic selection of hand made cosmetics lay ensconced in tissue paper, bath bombs, lip balm, hand cream and after shave balm, I was blown away by how amazing they were!  We are now going to trade some more of these goodies in exchange for a felt scarf or necklace, what a nice way to do business.

Next on the adgenda was the tidy up I am trying to give the whole house, not just for my guests staying during Mehmet’s course but for my own sanity as well.  On January 1st I signed up to an amazing system at FlyLady designed to prompt me to organise my day and sort out my mess, I think that it could be working but we will just have to wait and see!  At the moment I am just doing the baby steps but check it out because if any of you are messy and a procrastinator like me you NEED to see this!  Do I sound like a crank??

Talking about procrastinating I finished the mobile that I had started the night before, check it out on my Flickr account, also two of the bags that I finished.  One of the other things that I really need to get a handle on is my Etsy shop.  I did make my first sale last week, horray, but I just need to really concentrate on uploading more items and getting a good shop front going.  The big problem is that you can’t upload images from Flickr and it seems to use a lot of battery power uploading from the camera, hopefully I will get it streamlined soon.

Eventually I got to try out the new wool, brilliant.  I tried a necklace first and then was inspired to make the fingerless mittens pictured.  The wool is so beautiful to work with, very soft and tactile and amazingly fast to felt.  These were the first mittens that I have made and had I thought about it better in the laying out stage I could have saved myself a lot of time by making them both at the same time.  This would have entailed laying out a much longer length of fibre wrapped resist and felting to the stage where I cut out the hole for my thumb.  At this stage I could have cut the hollow tube in two meaning that the mittens would only have to be finished seperately for a couple of minutes.  I would also have the advantage of both mittens having the exact same thickness, as it is one is a little thicker than the other because I was too lazy to weight the wool!  Ah well, will just have to make another pair!!