Home, natural dyeing/printing, unexpected presentation taking up my time…..

I’m home safely after a wonderful time in California! It was great to be back at The Tin Thimble catching up with old friends both before, during and after the three days of workshops plus put faces to the friends I’ve previously been in touch with through the blog, FB and various other forms of social media, I’m not going to mention everyone by name but you all know who you are!!! My intention had been to write a long and proper post yesterday about the workshops and my trip with Merridee and Keith to Lake Tahoe, unfortunately I just don’t have the time so apologies in advance to those of you who were expecting all the low down about the exciting work that was created during my three days of teaching. An unexpected opportunity arose while I was away (thanks Paula for getting in touch to alert me!) so yesterday I had to make a presentation in relation to an exciting art project and this morning I got a call asking me to come back in tomorrow and discuss a few of the points raised during this session. Fingers crossed everything will work out, I’ll keep you posted once I know the outcome!

My own naturally printed chiffon with goodies I bought at The Tin Thimble, glass beads by Toni Lutman and beautiful hand dyed merino by Carin Engen and Laurie Simoni

As regards other work since I’ve been home I printed two lengths of silk chiffon on Monday evening then last night I filled two pots with silk and leaves in preparation for a natural printing and dyeing session today. One of the pots contained a tea solution, the other a vinegar and water mix. I’ve now bundled everything up and all the pieces are simmering on the Rayburn, most of the bundles contain a variety of eucalyptus leaves but two I wrapped using Cotinus leaves from my garden. I also sprinkled some of the fabric with tea leaves and wrapped one of the pieces in rusty metal, I LOVE opening these bundles, pictures next time, I promise. During my stay in CA I spent time with Merridee, Sharon and Nika Ivanoff experimenting more with this method of colouring fabric, thanks Nika for the wonderful leaves you brought last Saturday for us all to share not to mention the wine, chocolate and strawberries, we loved them all!!!

Emma and I are just sorting out dates for workshops in The Tin Thimble again next spring, keep an eye out over the next week or so as we hope to have everything sorted by then!

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

Felting extravaganza in Portugal, part three!

As promised yesterday, I’m going to continue blogging about our wonderful residential week felting in Portugal and today concentrate on our trip to the Museu de Tecelagem dos Meios (the textile museum in Meios) and the pieces we made using the natural Bordeleira fleece from Dominio Vale do Mondego.

Watching a weaving demonstration at the Museu de Tecelegam in Meios

We started Wednesday morning by heading off to nearby Meios, this is a small village approx 1km away from Trinta, site until recently of 40 different wool processing and weaving factories. At Meios there’s a very interesting small museum with wonderful old tools and pieces of weaving equipment on display as well as huge working looms on the upper floor. Eelco and I had already been there on the Saturday prior to the workshop commencing and had found out that Wednesday morning would be the time to go if we wanted to see one of the largest old looms in action! These big looms were only ever operated by men, having seen one working I would never presume that a female could work one (even though I usually believe in equality for all), the physical effort required in the upper body to move the heddle was enormous!!! Alan and I went back for a further visit when he arrived to join me, we learnt that traditionally women did all the spinning and loading the flying shuttles, the men did all the weaving. Back downstairs after our demonstration everyone had fun trying on some of the gorgeous locally produced clothing and browsing the rugs and blankets for sale. The simple floor rugs, shepherd’s blankets and marriage blankets are woven at the museum, if they are to be brushed (as in the case of the natural white wedding blankets) they go one of the remaining working factories at Trinta and then come back to be sold on site. I also discovered some wonderful locally produced hand forged knives (you could easily cut off your finger with these!) and scissors, I bought two knives and a pair of scissors for myself plus some knives to bring home as gifts to Ireland.

Someone wanting a little bit of early lunch too!

Once we returned to base we had an early lunch so that everyone could have a head start in the afternoon selecting and starting to work with the freshly shorn Bordeleira fleece. We headed down to the stables and had the pick of gorgeous brown or white fleece, some people choose to felt smaller pieces while others wanted to felt a whole fleece. Because the climate and terrain is so different to Ireland there were lots of seed heads and various bits of dried vegetation in the fleece. At home our wool may be muddier but we definitely don’t have anything like the amount of little bits to pick out before we can get stuck into the serious besiness of felting! Once participants had selected their fleece everyone worked outside cleaning and sorting, this took quite a while depending on each individual animal that the fleece had come from.

Picking through the raw fleece prior to felting

Next two very fine layers of carded Bordeleira wool were laid out on the side of the fleece that would have been next to the sheep’s skin and everything was felted together using a lot of soap at the early stages of the process. Depending on previous experience and the size of the pieces some of these pieces took a lot longer than others to felt, this in normal, it’s not a race!!! I had laid out a slightly trimmed smaller fleece the night before and was able to finish it late on the Wednesday afternoon. Here’s a picture of it as it’s finishing drying, it’s on my chair at the kitchen table at Clasheen now and is a delicious contrast to the shaggy Norwegian wild mountain sheep fleece I felted last year!

Tomorrow I’ll write about nuno felting and our wonderful time eco dyeing with Terriea!

My fleece felted and drying in the sun

Fun, friends, food and felt!

I’m just grabbing a minute at the end of a very busy but satisfying second day of our residential workshop at Dominio Vale do Mondego to jot this post, the atmosphere is one of fun, friends, food and felt! Internet connection is a little sketchy and for once my phone doesn’t seem up to the task, I’d love to post some pictures but I think it will be tomorrow before I get a chance to upload them via computer to the net. Everyone has arrived now and it’s just been such fun meeting up, starting out felting and eating and drinking all around us!!! The people, food, scenery and wool are all amazing, everyone yesterday and today completed amazing projects. Tomorrow we start to work with the raw wool,’till then, adieu!

More felt incorporating up-cycled materials

I’ve been continuing to work combing off cuts of silk and mohair into my base wool while felting. My intention today had been to felt all morning and stitch all afternoon but then I realised that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to keep updating my Big Cartel store so that process ate into my time too!!!  Deciding the price for the little embroidered pouches I uploaded was not the easiest, finally I settled on E18 each, only time will tell if this was the correct descision. Anyway, here is a picture of some embellishment laid out prior to felting and hopefully by tomorrow afternoon I’ll have cut, stitched and be able to reveal the finished pieces!

Mohair off cuts and silk scraps laid on top of short fibred merino

Hectic time felt and life related …..

I have just spent a really busy time down in Cillin Hill setting up for my weekend workshops at the Sheep and Wool Festival (E25 for either a morning or an afternoon session incl materials, a bargain!) as well as bringing down three of Horst’s fabulous garments and collating everything for the presentation girl’s display. Alan’s father may not make the night so if that is the case Carmen has very kindly offered to step in for me on Sunday so that I can drive to Sligo to meet with Alan and be there for the funeral. Now I am heading out again to deliver a comissioned scarf (why did I say I would make it for today???) and then drive to my mother’s house to collect the wool and raw materials for the weekend. Stephanie from The Yarn Room has kindly sponsored the fibre and my sister Suzanne is collecting it in Wicklow on her way down from Dublin to visit my mother.  My mother will have roast stuffed loin of pork followed by fresh Wexford strawberries and cream waiting for us, I can hardly wait.  Thanks Stephanie, Suzanne and mum!!!

Oh so soft merino scarf

Sent this really soft scarf with organic edges and dreadlocks off to a secret swap partner this week, felted from 16 micron merino and using the storm clouds overhead as my inspiration.  Unless you live in Ireland it’s quite impossible to describe how an otherwise sunny and warm day can have this stormy looking sky too!!!  Speaking of swaps, many apologies for being so behind with the Clasheen Crafty Swap on Flickr, hope to pick up the reins on Monday but been just so tied up with computer and the book, sorry.

Stormy skies over Clasheen