Stocking up and (almost) a couple of pictures as promised!

Although the last lot of snow has almost melted everywhere forecasts predict heavy falls here again from tomorrow afternoon starting in the West of Ireland today.  I have spent this morning stocking up on meat for my freezer, going to the bank, posting some parcels for across the water, carrying in kindling and in a nutshell getting essential duties out of the way in case I get totally snowed in once more!  The temperature has dropped by at least several degrees since I got up, the sky has darkened dramatically and the wind is now blowing strongly making it difficult to take any successful pictures of felt created to post to Flickr or here on the blog. 

I JUST DON’T BELIEVE IT!!!!!  Heavy hail/sleet is now assaulting the house so I am very glad I made the effort to drive to Borris this morning!

Anyway, enough talking.  Here are two pictures (or maybe not!!!) taken in the gloomy outdoors, my latest Vanda Robert inspired bag and a gorgeous light weight nuno felt wrap.  For the bag I used some 50% gotland 50% merino blended wool batts from Denmark and another similar quality wool (think it might also be the same combo although I bought it on a different trip from a different supplier) in wonderful shades of Autumn.  I added some leather leaves and a horn button (all gathered from various trips to US!) and finished it with a cord handle which I made using some wonderful hand dyed silk yarn by Jamie of Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco.    The wrap is felted from some of my Cloverleaf Farms hand dyed merino and silk hankies, the cotton cheesecloth I dyed with Rite under the supervision of Sharon at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, CA.  Pretty cosmopolitan bag and wrap don’t you think?  OK, you are going to have to look at my Flickr photos to see the bag and wrap because for some reason WordPress has lost the run of itself and my whole visuals jumped all over the place when I uploaded the photos.  First time of trying they wern’t visable at all and then the second time previous posts went into the sidebars but the images still weren’t where I wanted them.  Sorry!

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!

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!!!

Pictures of the nuno felt wrap/banner and NO WATER again

Yesterday morning was extremely wet and windy, this morning was lovely and bright with wisps of mist on the mountains, neither were great for trying to take any sort of photo with a small digital camera.  However, I know from your comments that at least several of you are looking forward to some shots of the nuno felted wrap (which might actually become a banner) so here goes and please bear with me and the quality of the images! 

Nuno felt wrap/banner against the sky

Firstly I had difficulty finding a suitable branch to hang the felt from especially since the sun and shade was so strong and I was trying to get as clear a shot as possible.  Eventually I decided to just do my best and not worry unduly that the felt is kind of draped and the design is probably not the easiest to see, I’m sure you all get the picture!  Note to myself, scrap the leaves at the edges if repeating this experiment as I am not sure that they really add anything to the finished nuno felt at all.

Detail from nuno felt wrap/banner

I love the open texture of the gauze after all my felting and rolling and you can see in this image a ‘leaf’ on the left hand side which was laid out on this side while the main piece of needle felt from which I cut the design out is actually felted through the gauze from the other side.  This gives a nice bubbly effect to the surface and in fact if I was going to make another piece like this I would only lay my design on one side of the gauze and I wouldn’t add any of the loose ‘leaves’ to the sides either but possibly try some other kind of edging.  At the time I thought that they were a good idea (obviously!) but on reflection they are only a distraction if you want to wear the wrap and don’t do a huge amount if you hang the nuno like a light felt banner.  I do have a couple more pictures on Flickr but if the light is better over the next couple of days I may try and photograph the wrap again this time in it’s entirity.

No water again!  I don’t know what is wrong this time because all seemed to be running smoothly when the plumber left on Wednesday.  However, after one long bath, two machine washes and loads of washing up all in the space of a couple of hours this morning no water came out of either tap and I did want to have everywhere nice and clean for tomorrow morning’s nuno felt workshop.  At this stage I am not going to fuss about it as luckily I do have my heat but I will just have to walk down the lane later today and collect some water to heat up for out felting experiments tomorrow.  Unfortunately I gave my mother her large double handled bucket back yesterday morning so small washing up bowls and lots of trips are all that I can see once more on the horizon! 

Speaking of water have you ever shrunk your favourite jumper in the washing machine by mistake?  If so check out Clasheen Uncut where I go through the 20 minute process (I kid you not) of upcycling an old jumper and turning it into an eco chic and practical shopping bag!

Merino, silk and linen combination, an experiment in nuno felt, fantastic necklace arrives in the post

Well, my package of fibres and fabric was every bit as good as anticipated!  In particular I was delighted with both the dark grey and the zebra striped 16 micron merino as well as the dyed linen (or flax) fibre and the ponge silk.  I have worked with raw linen fibre before and found it very interesting to use as surface decoration if somewhat ‘hairy’ or scratchy.  This dyed fibre however is beautifully soft and the colours are fabulous, I ordered a sort of apple green, dusky pink and a silver, gorgeous. 

Obviously with all these great colours (excluding the grey and zebra I have white, yellow, orange, two depths of turquoise, raspberry, violet, shocking pink, purple, black and two shades of green) I was hot to trot this morning!  I started by making a few felt flowers, some beads and then a necklace before following these up by trying an experiment.  My idea was to make some felt cuffs and try incorporating some artificial fabric, one fabric was a white net with ribbon and sequins, the other was black and shiny overprinted with silver cobwebs and funky spiders!  Both fabrics worked surprisingly well, neither actually became one with the felt as with normal nuno but because I made sure to catch all the edges of the fabric with the wool as I was working both cuffs turned out pretty well.  The black spidery cuff is perfect for Halloween and the turquoise and white cuff would definitely set off a romantic style outfit to perfection, I will be offering this one for sale as soon as Alan gets back and I can upload some photos.

My last project of the morning took a LOT longer to finish than I was allowing  for, about 3 hours instead of the one I had set aside!  This was a nuno felt experiment using a silk/linen mix wide scarf, short fibre merino and a lot of surface decoration on the merino with some of the linen fibre.  Carmen brought a batch of these scarves back from Spain recently and we have been trying different ideas out to see how best to use them with wool.  The weave is quite open but the texture of the scarves is slightly stiff and almost shiny, I am not sure if they have been treated with something but they do felt well after a LOT of rubbing and rolling!  The colour of the fabric was hot orange with a small white design and the wool that I backed it with was a mixture of orange, purple and hot pink.  I overlaid the merino with a lot of apple green and dusky rose linen and the end result is very nice, a hot and spicy coloured wrap with a great crinkly texture.  In actual fact I think that it looks equally good worn with either surface exposed, the wool overlaid with the linen or the bubbly texture of the fabric side upperside, you’ll see what I mean as soon as I have Alan’s computer back and am able to upload the photos.

Look at my fantastic new necklace!!!  For ages I have been a big admirer of Lori aka Tabmade on Etsy and when I discovered recently that she is having a blow out sale I just had to buy this beauty.

Pod necklace by Tabmade

Pod necklace by Tabmade

We have had an online chat as my intention is to order more of this type of bead to incorporate into some of my felt jewellery, what do you think?  For the moment I am in two minds, wear this as it is or (horror of horrors – I hear you gasp!) split the beads and use them as focal points in some new felt pieces.

Workshop details and photos of new nuno felted wrap/shrug!

At last I can post more details for Sigrid Bannier’s exciting August workshops!  All the workshops will take place either on site or within walking distance of my studio and farmhouse here at Clasheen, Borris, Co. Carlow.  Inexpensive self catering accomodation will be available at my neighbours newly renovated farmhouse (only 1 minutes walk!!) or participants can organise to stay in B&Bs locally or the one high quality hotel within a 5 minutes drive.  All workshop costs include materials and tea and coffee throughout the day, please bring a packed lunch with you or you can walk through the fields to the local shop if you want to get something basic to eat.  I really think that this will be a FANTASTIC series of workshops.  Sigrid is a great facilitator and so generous with her knowledge, I hope that as many of you as possible will take this opportunity of investing in your felting future and as they say here in Ireland ‘the craic will be mighty’!

Anyway, here are the details and please note that if you want to participate in two workshops there will be a €10 reduction or if you wish to join us and felt for three or four workshops a €30 reduction will apply.  Please also note that the mosaic nuno day is more expensive in order to cover the cost of the silk chiffon we will be using.  A non refundable charge of 50% of the workshop price is payable with your booking to secure your place and the balance to be paid by 29th July.

5th August – Mosaic nuno felt  – Discover the possibilities of creating your own unique fabric for clothing using the mosaic nuno technique. €90

6th August – Incorporating found objects into your felt – Learn how to incorporate natural and found objects into your felt whether as a focal point in a piece of jewellery or to add embellishment to flat felt or 3 dimensional bags and sculpture. €85

7th August – Incorporating found objects into your felt  – Learn how to incorporate natural and found objects into your felt whether as a focal point in a piece of jewellery or to add embellishment to flat felt or 3 dimensional bags and sculpture. €85 

8th and 9th August – Felt lampshades – a two day workshop – Sigrid’s pictures speak for themselves if you want to learn how to plan, design and create quirky and stylish lampshades or wall lights! €160

Sigrid's flower explosion lampshade

Sigrid's flower explosion lampshade

Nuno mosaic scarves made at a workshop Sigrid tutored in Italy

Nuno mosaic scarves made at a workshop Sigrid tutored in Italy

Please email asap or call me on 00353 (0)87 2789740 if you wish to reserve your place!

And now on to some pictures of my latest nuno felt project, a simple but striking lightweight wrap or shrug.  This developed from an idea that I had when creating some flower corsages the other evening; what would happen if I enlarged the size of my circle, cut out a wedge as per the corsages and then manipulated the felt into a collar or shrug??? 
'Peony' - my new nuno felt wrap

'Peony' - my new nuno felt wrap

I was thrilled with the results and here I present my second shrug which I have called ‘Peony’.  The photos really don’t do the colours justice (it was overcast and raining when I shot them) but I thought that you might like to give this a go for yourselves when you see how simple it is!  Check out my Flickr images for the side and back view and please email me some pictures if you give this a go yourselves!!

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.