A Peek at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London 2015

Our guest artist/author/photographer today is Leonor Calaca from Felt Buddies.

If you’re in Europe and a fibre aficionado, you’ve probably heard of the Knitting & Stitching Show. It happens in a few different locations and dates in the UK, and is probably the largest fabric/fibre event in Europe when hosted in Alexandra Palace here in London.

As it happens, the Alexandra Palace (or Ally Pally as it’s also known) is only 45 minutes away, on foot, from my place; as it happens as well, I’ve been volunteering for the past two years as a member of the London Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, to work a few hours a day at a booth that serves as a hub for all such UK guilds. Not because I’m such a wonderful and helpful person, mind you, but because this means I get a free pass to come and go anytime during those 5 days (and, at £16 for entry only, I think it’s well worth my time).

Last year I got all mesmerised by the fibres and materials I saw, and almost went bankrupt. This year I decided to be good,  more sensible and buy only the things I absolutely needed, which worked to an extent. I also decided to focus more on my energy on the really good exhibitions, and that’s what I’m going to write about.

Let’s start with an embroidery. How lovely and detailed is that?

Photo 1

Art wasn’t just in 2D, the sculptures were very interesting as well.

Photo 2

A glass and wool sculpture by Helen Pailing. She aims to use remnants from the glass and wool industry and incorporate them in a way that makes them not only art, but something you can keep instead of take to a landfill.

Photo 3

The Wishing Tree by Eileen McNulty. Just look at those little details.

Photo 4

I don’t know the author of this one, but here is ‘Palace,’ made with cocoon stripping paper and silk organza. The theme of this booth was vessels.

Photo 5

Elena Thomson embroidered a sieve. Would you have thought of that? I think this would be wonderful to confuse old ladies.

Photo 6

‘Stumpwork’ by Alana Chenevix-Trench.

Photo 7

And a lovely sheep by Margarita O’Byrne.

Photo 8

Then I went to Studio Art Quilt’s Associates (SAQA) booth that just blew my mind. I had no idea these detailed works of art could be made in that technique. The theme was Food For Thought and this is ‘Mushroom Frittata’ by Jean Sredi.

Photo 9

‘Pepitas’ by Vicky Bahnhoff.

Photo 10

‘Yum! Pineapple Upside Down Cake’ by Diane Powers-Harris. Yes, this is still a quilt.

Photo 11

‘Il Mercato’ by Jeannie Moore

Photo 12

‘Elegant Edibles’ by Jennifer Day.

Photo 13

Who doesn’t love dolls?

Photo 14

This one was my favourite: what a grumpy face.

Photo 15

These two sculptures surprised me, as they’re made from a traditional paper folding technique native to the Philippines.

Photo 16 Photo 17

And I saved the best for last: a fishmongers called Kate’s Plaice! Everything you see here is either knitted or sewn, and the details just make it extraordinary.

Photo 18 Photo 19 Photo 20


The artist herself.

Photo 21

Did you go to the K&S? What caught your eye? And am I going mad for taking more time to look at art instead of yummy yarn?

Thank you Leonor for taking us on this great fibre adventure!

Posted in Guest Writer, Shows | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Notebook Covers

Sorry for the short blog post, I’m not very well, so it’s mostly photos. I tried so many times to get photos of the felt I made for these, but it was either too dark and they didn’t come out, or they were weirdly orangey. This is a cover I made for an A6 address book, I used a gardening notebook I made for my girlfriend years ago as inspiration. This is the front:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd this is the back, with silk carrier rods:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a cover for an A6 address book too, I used some stripey tops I got from wollknoll and some rainbow trilobal nylon:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a bigger one, a cover for an A5 diary or notebook made with lots of different silk pieces. I can’t decide which side I like best, so this is side one:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd this is side two:


Posted in Uncategorized, Wet Felting | Tagged , | 23 Comments

Round the farm.

I haven’t done a thing with felt this week. I have just been relaxing after the show and  trying catch up on all the things I wasn’t doing while getting ready. I thought I would show you a few things around the farm.

Every morning when I go out the door the Turkeys are there and they walk me to the van.

turkeys 2 turkeys 1

In the picture on the right you can see 2 of the toms are all fluffed up and there heads are quite blue.

With it being fall we got wood in. We get 2 loads like this.

wood delivery 2 wood delivery 1

We heat with an outdoor wood boiler. I like it much better than when we had an indoor wood furnace.

wood furnace

To night as I write this one of our pigs has started to have piglets.

piglet Piglet and mom

Piglets are very cute. Now it”s time for bed for me.



Posted in Sheep Farming | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Tour of the Garment District in New York City

During the first week of October, I visited New York City for a week. The first day that my sisters and I were there, we visited the garment district.  The fabric shops in the garment district are mostly on 39th and 40th Streets, between 7th and 8th Avenues. There are also all kinds of trims, buttons, beads, and thread stores in those blocks. So you can wander through all kinds of goodies in a few blocks.

I didn’t take the photo above, but found it online at http://www.allianceforamericanquilts.org/ This area was under construction while we were there so you couldn’t even see this guy in the foreground of the photo. The fabric stores are amazing because there are rows and rows of all different types, colors and styles of fabric. Most of the store don’t want you to take photos inside so any inside photos were found on Yelp.

Many of the stores are on the second floor so you have to look up to see where they are. We visited New York Elegant Fabrics and B&J Fabrics. It was actually overwhelming to see the rows and rows of fabric bolts all piled on top of each other in a rainbow of colors.

I did take the photos above in the hallway before going inside B&J Fabrics. These are made from either swatches of fabric or larger pieces. They aren’t sewn together as far as I could tell so that they could be changed out to a different fabric.

The other fun thing as you walked along was the Fashion Walk of Fame That told a story about many different fashion designers. I didn’t even come close to taking photos of all of them.


And then there was Mood. Any of you who watch Project Runway, know about Mood. This is the store where the designers rush around trying to find just the right fabric for their upcoming project in half an hour or some other limited time period. You would really have to know what you wanted in advance, because there is so much to from which to choose.

From any kind of silk to every color of leather, the aisles are overflowing with fabric, trim, feathers, buttons and more.


And a trip to Mood can’t be had without seeing Swatch, the dog.

Mood Bag

So what did I buy? Can you believe it? Only this bag from Mood. I didn’t buy any fabric at all. It was just too overwhelming to even consider choosing much less paying those prices!



Posted in Inspiration | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Bengala Dyes by Guest Artist Cathy Wycliff

Our guest artist today is Cathy Wycliff aka Luvswool.
Over the past couple of years, I have been experimenting with different kinds of dyes. I started with Wilton icing gels, playing it safe for my first experience. I moved on to acid dyes, with the encouragement of Forum members, and I was delighted with the bright, beautiful colors.

Then I tried dyeing with natural plants, like madder, logwood, and osage orange. I ended up with some beautiful dyed wool. Marilyn and I brewed an indigo vat last summer, dyeing everything from lace curtains to wool and T-shirts. This summer I experimented with eco-printing and had some success, but a few failures as well.

When I studied Saori weaving in Minneapolis recently, my instructor, Chiaki O’Brien, also introduced me to Bengala dyes.

They are natural dyes made from the soil in Japan. I was excited to try yet another type of dyeing. I had the trial set of three colors–pink, orange and gray. I liked the idea of natural dyes, already prepared in liquid form, and non-toxic with no boiling water and no mordants. Following is my pictorial on two sessions of Bengala dyes.

I dyed some cotton, linen, silk ribbon and a silk scarf to see if there were any difference on how each dyed.

Session 1

IMG_1249 IMG_1250 IMG_1253 IMG_1254
Session 2

IMG_1306 IMG_1307 IMG_1308 IMG_1311 IMG_1312

If anyone is interested in using these dyes, they are available for purchase from Saori instructors throughout the world.

In the USA, you will find them here: saoristudiofun.com/bengala-dyes/

Otherwise, you can google “Bengala dyes” and find offerings from other parts of the world, including Japan, where they are made. I know for sure that Australia, Canada and the UK have the dyes available from Saori instructors. The dyes are particularly
useful when dyeing with young children.

Thanks Cathy for sharing your experience with us about these Bengala dyes!

Posted in Dyeing, Guest Artists | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Felting and Stitching

Apart from a couple of pieces for notebooks, and the little flowers, I haven’t made much felt lately. I did stitch some felt notebook covers but it’s been so foggy and dark only one of the photos came out :( It was a cover I made from the stripey piece though, and altough both sies looked great, especially once it was trimmed to size, I went for the stripey side:

book coverI remembered another piece I’ve been adding stitching to slowly over the past year or so. I don’t know if you remember when I tried some prefelt sent to me by Heidi Feathers? Well, the silk I’d used on one of the pieces didn’t attach in a couple of places, so I added some stitching, then a bit more, and a bit more, etc! This is it now:

stitchThis is a fairly recent piece, from within the last few months anyway. I wanted it to look ‘scribbley’, like layers of drawing and scribbles.

scribbleyAnd I know I said I’d show you some of the wet felting class nuno flowers when they were made up, but none of them have been yet, but Jo did bring in one of the dry ones she worked on, so this is it layered up while she hunted for a button for the middle:


Posted in Stitching, Wet Felting | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Felt Fedora

Just a short post today. I am still getting ready for the show this weekend. I finally got the fedora with feathers done. I felted the shape of 2 flowers right into it and made one separate to sew on.

fedora befor sewing

I sewed around the felted in ones to give the some definitions. I sewed  veins on the separate one and attached it.  I am not sure if it shouldn’t have something at the bottom of the feather. I am just not sure what.

fedora with leaf

Now back to felting soap and sewing on buttons.

Posted in Design, Fairs and Shows, Stitching, Uncategorized, Wet Felting | Tagged , , | 21 Comments