Yesterday Alan came with me for a drive to the beautifully sited Avoca Handweavers in the picturesque village of Avoca, Co. Wicklow, the small country village where the popular television series Ballykissangel was filmed. Once a year Avoca Handweavers have a monsterous sale of buttons, handwoven fabric, odd cones of yarn and a selection of odds and ends of scarves and rugs.
For some reason WordPress is playing up this afternoon and won’t allow me to insert Avoca as a live hyperlink but if you want to check out about the business the website is www.avoca.ie/ and the information about the woolen mill that I actually visited can be found when you click on the section about the history of the company. Basically this is the location where most of the weaving is done (as opposed their main retail outlets dotted all over Ireland) so in addition to the working section some outbuildings have been transformed into a shop to showcase their finished products and there is also a super restaurant/coffee shop filled with the most yummy savoury foods and cookies. The materials, findings and yarn are only on sale to the public once a year and the prices are AMAZING!!!!! I scored the most incredible pure wool tweed in a fantastic check colour scheme, incredible value so I obviously just HAD to buy whatever was left on the bolt, 6 1/2 metres @ 5 Euro per metre! There was also about 3/4 metre which had been damaged in a couple of spots and I was able to get that for 1 Euro, the width is so great that I will have plenty to play around with for felting or use to line a bag, I suspect it will melt into fibre like butter if felted. My intention is to make (or have made if I could afford to!) curtains, cushions and a bed spread for my main guest room, I think the modern design of the tweed will really update and show off the traditional style of my farmhouse! I also bought 3 metres of a stunning printed fabric which we thought was a very fine silk chiffon, 141 big funky buttons in various styles (10 cent each), a handfull of colourful zips (in case I ever get into the swing of sewing!) and 26 D rings which I hope to use for some new felt belts as well as an adjustable shoulder strap for a new style of bag I am planning. I also met up with some of the ‘Wicklow Knitters’ group on Ravelry, hi girls, how brilliant the internet is for bringing like minded people together, amazing! All in all it was an brilliant day, Alan bought me a gorgeous cream jacket for Valentine’s Day (and I might have bought him something but that is a secret until tomorrow night), it’s too dark now to take any pictures but providing the weather is good in the morning I will be out with the camera and give you a taste of the style Avoca has to offer.
Only a few words today because I used most of them up with sixth class this morning!!!
Having fun adding the surface decoration
I was blown away by how creative everyone was. Each pupil was asked to choose two colours to use as a base, then they could select from all sorts of yarn, fibre and fabric to add to the surface layer. A lot of the girls had brought in beads, buttons, pipe cleaners and all sorts of glitzy embellishments with them and these will be stitched on next Monday before the felt gets stuck to the front of their journals. A tip for anyone wanting an easy way to decorate a copy, why not stick velcro to the book and then just press the felt to the barbed side of the velcro??? No sewing, I like that!
Anyone see a favourite colour combination here???
Some of the pieces were fully felted by the end of the session but others will need a little more fulling at home before they are ready to embellish with stitches, beads and buttons. It is always interesting to see how different people felt at different speeds, one of the last girls to lay out her wool was in turn one of the only girls who ended up with a fully felted piece at the end of the session!
Metallic mesh fabric, thick and thin merino, little buttons to be stitched on afterwards
There is no right or wrong way to felt either as many ways to end up with a good finished result but I always like to share with pupils what I was shown when I started because I feel it gives a good foundation to build upon. You can check out my flat felt tutorial if you want to see what we did today.
Yarns and inspiration for the Jane Thornley mini KAL
Alan and I are off at 2.30am for a short holiday break to beautiful La Gomera! This small Spanish island is a relativly unknown and unspoilt part of the Canaries and thanks to felting buddy Carmen we will be staying in an apartment belonging to her friend and meeting her brother who lives in the main town San Sebastian and runs a small local bar/restaurant. Obviously I will not be able to felt over the next week (and I am also not sure how much internet connectivity we will have) so earlier this morning I gathered an assortment of yarns together using pictures of La Gomera for inspiration and am intending on knitting a funky piece as part of the Jane Thornley triangular KAL on Ravelry. Hopefully I will find an internet cafe somewhere and be able to write a post or two while we are away but if not please forgive me in advance and I look forward to catching up when I return, hopefully bronzed, relaxed and raring to organise those last minute items prior to my departure for my American felting adventures!
One of the highlights yesterday was being able to complete my first felting project of the New Year thanks to the resumption of my water supply! Due to the really cold spell of weather we are in the middle of, coupled with my lack of heat, I have been wearing a pair of knitted fingerless mittens around the house a lot and been thankful for the extra warmth that they are providing. With this in mind I decided to make a simple pair in felt and post them to a friend in Slovenia as a thank you for a wonderful surprise Christmas present.
The fingerless mittens laid out
Bearing in mind that the Icelandic wool dosen’t shrink quite as much as merino appears to I used a simple rectangular resist which was just a bit wider and a little bit longer than I wanted the finished mittens to measure. I laid out two layers of fibre around the resist and then added a simple swirl in pink, blue and green yarn for decoration, unfortunately my camera hates photograping raspberry for some reason so you will just have to imagine a rich deep raspberry wool for the background. The mittens really didn’t take too long to felt, once I was sure that the fibres had entangled well and were felting together I opened the resist and cut the rectangle in two down the centre.
Resist removed and gloves cut in two
I continued to roll and full the mittens together and when they were almost the right size cut out the thumb hole and then fulled each one individually. This is a really nice project as an introduction to felting around a resist and I am now planning to offer it as my first felting workshop of 2010, details to follow of dates and times tomorrow!
Close up of the finished mittens!
As you can see from my dry looking hand, I need to apply some of the gorgeous natural beeswax hand cream that was a great present from Ann and Alison at our last felting session before Christmas!
This morning my four and a half year old niece and I sat down to create her first piece of flat felt!
Working directly on the wet felt
I had brought two large bags of Icelandic wool with me (the same wool as I use for the flat felting kits which I sell from my Etsy store) and we decided to draw a butterfly on top of a bright red background. Even though she is so young we had no problems laying out two even layers of red wool and then I created an outline for the butterfly using strips of black wool which I rolled slightly against my leg first.
Rolling the felt together
My niece then had great fun filling in the outline with purple wool overlaid with sparkly pink and white acrylic yarn. We decided that the butterfly needed a head so she choose a nice turquoise for this and then I added fun black feelers to complete the picture. We rubbed and rolled for a little while together and within a very short space of time had created a wonderful piece of flat felt to frame, wasn’t it a great first effort?
The beautiful finished butterfly!
For those of you who might be interested, the scarf that I am wearing is made from the softest yummy yak that I bought from Blas and Jamie from Urban Fauna Studio in San Fransisco, buy some if you can!
My first batch of felting kits are finally up for sale in my Etsy store as of this afternoon. I can’t believe how long it has taken to get to this stage, really I am kicking myself they were not up earlier but truthfully I just seem to have been totally snowed under with other important things as you may have guessed from my recent posts!
Some of the wool for my new flat felting kits
Each kit contains between 110g and 120g Icelandic wool in mixed colours, a small bag with various embellishments which might include beads, buttons or fancy yarn, bubble wrap and full written instructions on how to make your flat felt masterpiece. The kits make ideal presents for crafty male and female friends, both adults and children alike.
After Christmas (not going to be too ambitious about the date this time!) I will also be offering nuno felt kits, felt jewellery kits and simple felt vessel kits. Realistically I need to write up clear instructions for all the tutorials, order in more silk for the nuno kits, cut out resists for the vessel kits and basically take some good images of each individual kit to upload to Etsy. The weather has been so bad here recently that I have not been able to take individual shots of the flat felting kits (they kept flying off the table this afternoon in the wind!), at the moment I only have the one photo but in the absence of any others I guess it will just have to do for now!
As well as fantastic scenery and lovely people one of the great pleasures of holidaying in another country is picking up little notions along the way. Moving on along the coast Alan and I had a great time at Elk beach just a little south of Mendocino and I was lucky enough to find some gorgeous pieces of abalone shell which I am going to incorporate into some felt jewellery when I get home. I have also been on the look out for small interesting pieces of driftwood and these are plentiful to collect at some of the more wind swept beaches all along this stunning stretch of the coast. Alan bought a picture called ‘Lemons on the Table’ by Peter Suezek from Sunshine at the Mendocino Arts Centre and also another painting on board at the Arcata Artisans Co-Op. We have been extremely lucky while staying at the Fairwinds Motel, 1674 G Street here in Arcata that the owner Al Lukiman just happens to be a computer guru who used to work for Warner/Chappell Music. Al very kindly showed Alan exactly how he can connect to wi-fi wherever we go so hopefully now communicating every couple of days won’t be such a problem as it was before! As a result Alan has been able to concentrate on a bit of paper work that he needed to get out of the way while I was able to trawl some fantastic fabric and fibre shops here and in Eureka.
Buttons, ribbons, yarn and cowls
Talking you through the image on the left some of my booty from Arcata included hemp twine from the natural store on the square (sorry there is no name on the receipt and I just can’t remember what the store is called), the gorgeous ram’s head and horn buttons on the bottom left from Fabric Temptations while in Eureka I picked up the fabulous large buttons, the heart buttons and some amazing colours of pure silk ribbons from Heather at the North Coast Knittery, email address firstname.lastname@example.org. The two cowls are part of my travelling crochet project, the cowl on the left is made from some gorgeous soft merino I received in a Ravely swap while the shell pattern cowl on the right is from the Noro Furisode that I blogged about in the last post.