Update on Hand Stitched Trees

I showed you the start of my most recent hand stitched project here. It’s been about a month and it has made some progress.

Here I have added a deep green perle cotton thread over the “branches”. I am continuing to use feather stitch in an uneven manner.


Next I added a lighter green perle cotton over the dark green. I want to leave some areas that show the background fabric through the tree as I don’t want it to be completely solid with stitches.

Next I used a lighter weight cotton thread probably about a size 12 or maybe even 16 but I can’t remember. It is a hand dyed variegated green. Click on any of the photos to see more detail.

And here’s  a little closer shot. The trees kind of have a cedar feel to them. I am going to add more layers of the variegated green thread to make the trees a little fuller. Then I have to decide if I want to do anything to the trunks or leave them as they are. What would you suggest?


Posted in embroidery, hand stitching | 10 Comments

Book Binding, Decorative Papers & Costumes

Undertaking this post I was in a place of total indecision….to tell you about my book binding exploits or report on a wonderful costume exhibition….I’ve decided on both. So before you read on make yourselves a drink, plump up the cushions and get comfortable.

Decorative papers for book binding….

A while ago I mentioned I was asked to teach a workshop. This was to be to my local textile group following our AGM and there would be no charge (unlike normal visiting tutor workshops), then I was advised there were likely to be around 30-35 people….!!! Knowing this well before Christmas I let a few ideas percolate through the layers and finally at the beginning of the new year I set to creating a few examples of books and decorative papers. I should explain here that I haven’t done any book binding (except for the stitched eco printed leaf book shown in previous post) for around 13 years so I had to completely refresh my memory.

I decided to make ‘leather’ paper (using tissue paper) and crepe paper dyed designs. I discovered this last one many years ago, by total accident after I spilled some water. Rather than start from scratch I dug out my teaching notes from 2003 (it pays being a hoarder and never throwing things out!)

I once taught adults with learning disabilities, so these notes were geared to their needs.

The colouring I used was food colouring (easy for anyone to repeat) and some left-over inks that I had, in total – red, yellow, orange, green, brown, blue and violet. The tissue paper samples ranged from white to pale grey and mucky yellow.

Laying white copy paper directly on top of the tissue, and also on the turned-back film

I always try to maximise opportunities, so used the surplus surface colouring to make ‘ghost’ prints. These were easy to do and even when still damp can be over printed (with care) several times creating wonderful colour designs.


Ghost prints
Some finished leather paper samples, dried and ironed flat.

Crepe paper designs –

A blurred photo unfortunately, but I hope you can still make out the texture of the paper as I don’t know what it is called outside of the UK.

Again colours were limited to what our group had to keep costs down. The technique is very simple – cut pieces of crepe and sandwich between water sprayed paper. Obviously for this to work it is necessary to have non-dye fast crepe paper!

I personally love overlapping the pieces as the dyes bleed into each other.
From this technique there is also a fabulous by product….the actual crepe paper….the resulting pieces can be gorgeous

With the ‘un-arty’ scruffy wet crepe pieces I decided to scrunch, twist, roll and dob onto lining paper….the result was interesting….BUT……..the whole reason this works is because the paper is not dye fast. I had coloured fingers & nails for 3 days afterwards – so be warned!

Book binding….

The books – I made several small samples to stimulate ideas for ways to present textile works.

Accordian fold books – as the name implies the pages are continuous and can be coloured or plain, attached both ends or one end, folded to create pockets or cut on a slant. They can be bound in a folding cover hard or soft, or with individual front and back covers. The covers were bound using leather paper on used Christmas cards (cost saving) or other decorative papers such as a paper candy bag and floristry wrapping. If you look closely at the centre photo you can see the inside end paper is a ghost print.

A particular favourite

Stitched signatures – again as the name implies the pages are stitched in. These can be stitched on the inside or the outside allowing for embellishment with coloured thread or beads. The covers can be hard or soft. For the samples I used both using the crepe paper design pieces, coloured paper and envelope paper….take a look at the inside of envelopes and there are a wealth of patterns to be explored.

Crepe design paper used for the covers & ghost prints used internally

Pegged concertina – my name for this book type. A ‘spine’ is created by concertinering some card. Each folded section is then fed through a slit in the pages and held in place with a ‘peg’ (card, lolly pop stick etc) that is longer than the height of the spine. The covers are usually individual (front & back), the ‘spine’ being secured either on the inside or outsde.

With so many (imagine 30 ‘students’, a large hall and newspaper all over the floor with pieces drying) I didn’t get any time what so ever to take photos of work in production so I can only show you the samples I prepared in advance.

The workshop was definitely a challenge on time and energy….although I knew every wrinkle and possible question, had prepared ‘stage’ examples (to prevent boredom watching glue dry!) and had broken the workshop down into various sections so as not to inundate folk with information I still also learned a lot, the important points being –

  • Don’t be too ambitious – I’d planned 3 books, in reality only 1 was manageable coupled with making the papers.
  • Remember folk struggle with measuring – I’ve spent a life time measuring at the drawing board and working with paper so for me it is second nature.
  • Keep the numbers low – the instructions, whilst simple to me, can be difficult to others which requires a lot of individual attention.

Would I do it again? Yes. I’ve been very diligant in keep notes of everything – from supplies keeping costs low to ‘what could I do better next time’ notes………I just hope it won’t be another 13 years!


If you are still with me then I’ll tell you about a wonderful exhibition called Costumes, that I attended with my textile group.

The costumes were all loaned to the Preston Park Museum from Angels. Angels (the name is the original surname) is a 7th generation run family business creating, making and loaning costumes to the theatre and film industry globally. Based in London the warehouse has 8 miles of clothing storage rails and evidently anyone going to work there spends 3 months learning the ‘filing’ system before they start their work proper. They employ specialists in the field from costumiers, miliners, cobblers to wig makers etc.

As a group we were guided around the exhibition by the curator who gave us some wonderful anecdotes to the costumes. And – we were allowed to get inches from the fabric, much to our delight.

The original dress worn by Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra.






This is a replica of Queen Elisabeth II coronation dress for the film The Queen. When a TV series was subsequently made, the dress was already in existence and fortunately it fit Claire Foy who plays ER II.
Queen Elizabeth was played by Judi Dench. She appeared in this dress for only 8 mins and it weighs 28lbs!!!!
It has metal that runs inside down the back to hold Judi and the dress upright.

As a group of textile enthusiasts cameras were clicking endlessly with this particular costume….the details were beautiful.

This dress was worn by Cate Blanchett. The museum have several medieval type mannequins with very tiny waists to display vintage corsetted garments….they used one for this costume but the museum staff couldn’t do this dress up! On close inspection none of us could believe the waist size.

Dresses for lesser characters in Beauty and the Beast


Tom Baker was the 4th incarnation of the Doctor. He was given ideas for his identity, but felt something was missing. He decided a scarf might work and gave his gran a bag of wool to make one. When he went to collect it he discovered that his gran had misunderstood and had used the entire bag of wool….his identity was born.




Harrison Ford’s costume – sadly no anecdote here.
Worn by Kate Winslett and Leonardo DiCaprio. Note the sailor’s jumper – the ‘White Star Line’ is backwards. The only place the filming could get a good ‘un-modern’ shot of the ship in harbour was the wrong way round to how it would have been setting off on it’s maiden voyage….solution – film it with the crew wearing backwards writing then turn the film over!
Bohemian Rhapsody was just on the point of being released when this exhibition was on. Angels surprised the museum by adding these costumes to the loaned collection.

And lastly –

Aidan Turner’s Poldark costume. I’m not sure if Poldark has ventured beyond our British shores so this may just apply to British audiences but the actor is….mmmmmmmm!
He has appeared a few times topless and has a well turned out physique – evidently in addition to your normal make-up artists there are special artists to enhance six-packs….I never knew that!

The curator told us of a lady in a previous group who went up to the costume to ‘smell’ Aidan Turner. We are a group of mature ladies but we were like young star struck girls who all went up to do likewise. I can report that Angels sadly did too good a job of keeping their costume clean!

Preston Park Museum is small but the exhibition was great. Their next exhibition is Wedding Belles: 140 years of Bridal Fashion 12 March – 6 May 2019 if you are in the area.

If you have made it this far congratulations….I hope you have found something in my offerings to interest you….now you deserve another drink!

Posted in Book Making, Mixed Media | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Different Fibre

I did another little fibre experiment a couple of weeks ago. I hoped to have more photos, but the light hasn’t been great again this week. Anyway, this is what I tried out:

And this is one of the locks:

I used 23mic natural white Merino, and this is the finished sample:

This is a close up of the top left where I fluffed up the fibres:

And this is how the migration looked on the back:

This is one of the felted locks:

Sorry there aren’t more/better photos, but did you guess what the fibre is? It’s my friend’s hair who gave me the extensions! I clippered it for her a couple of weeks ago and decided to see how it felted 🙂

Posted in Wet Felting | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

A new hat started and why it isn’t finished.

This week I decided to try a new style of hat. As it’s the first one and I don’t know if it will work I am making it fairly plain.

To save time I started with a template I already had.  I traced around it so I would have the nice round part in the right size all ready to add the new part.



This is the final shape.


Next, I added some silk from silk hankies. The hankies are gray and pink.  I stretched the hankies out long so I could wrap them around. They are hard to see, you can see them sticking out the sides.


After I wrapped the first side around, I added another hanky going the other way as well.


Here is how it looks with the first side of wool wrapped around.


And lastly where I had to stop. On the outside of the hat, I added more of the gray and pink hankies. They are very hard to see, on the wet felt they pretty much disappear. I am hoping the pink and gray on the light gray wool will make it shine nicely. It is a very conservative hat but this is a government town so that would work ok.

And here are some of the reasons I haven’t got back to it yet.

The red light is a heat lamp. It has moved to another pen now. They just needed it the first night as it was very cold. These 2 moms and babies are not much trouble but these three below take a lot more work. It is not a great picture but to get a picture of them not moving, standing in front of one another or showing the camera their tails is quite difficult.








Posted in Design, Experiments, Felted Hats, Sheep Farming | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Level 3 Art and Design Exhibition

After more than two years, I am finally completing my Level 3 Art and Design course at the Gail Harker Creative Studies Center. We are having an exhibition to show our class work, sketch books and finished pieces of art work. The exhibition will be on Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm at the new center at 503 Morris Street in La Conner, Washington USA. You are cordially invited! I know that many of you that read this blog aren’t even in the US, but if you are in the La Conner area, I would love for you to stop by, check out my efforts from the last two years and say hello.

I haven’t shown all of my work for this class here as it isn’t felt or fiber related but I thought I would show you a bit of what I have created in this class.

I have tried various techniques and what will come as no surprise to regular readers, I have emphasized trees and the woodlands as my inspiration.


It’s been a lot of work but I have really enjoyed the journey.

If you have the chance to further your education in the arts, I would  highly recommend it. I love learning!

If you would like to know more about each of these pieces, you can read my posts over on my personal art blog Permutations in Fiber. You will just need to scroll back through the last two years 🙂

The exhibition will also feature the art and class work of my three fellow class mates and their work is so different than mine. I will see if I can take a video of the work on display and show it to you after the exhibition.

I have many sketch books and boxes of work, it’s really hard to show the scope of everything in one post.

This is the biggest piece I created. Framed, it is 30″ x 30″. All the paper started as white rice paper which I painted and cut out individual leaves. This one took a “bit” of time.

But I hope you have enjoyed a few examples of the work I have created for this class. So please, spread the word if you would, about our exhibition. I would love for you to come if you’re in the area.

Posted in Announcements, Classes, Sketch Book | 23 Comments

2018 the year of the Workshop(S)

2018 Taking Felting Workshop #3 with Moy Mackay

2018 was a big year for workshops for both myself and my husband. He finally got time off in the summer coinciding with the Blacksmithing conference he has wanted to attend for more than 10 years. Even better it was finally a drivable distance! I think he was feeling guilty because after many years of not traveling we take a big trip and it’s to go to a conference for him.  From Ottawa, Canada our ultimate destination was just north of Richmond Virginia.  But first; Via Landsdown fiber festival (for Jan),

then cross the border and head to the steam train museum in Scranton Pen.(for Glenn)

Turn west and drive, the next day reaching the Woollery in Kentucky (for Jan)

I also discovered that although the distance from Scranton Pennsylvania to the part of Kentucky I wanted to see was not that great a distance on the map. The diagonal lines crossing the highway on that map were not some decorative feature but small mountains. With lots of tippy truck signs!! I had not realized it was such a big problem for trucks in the states.

The Woolery had a lot of felting tools, rollers, abrasion boards with nobbly surfaces, felting needles, needle holders, and lots of fibre. They also had wheels, looms, yarn, fibre prep and a comfy chair in the corner to leave husbands while you shopped. It was sort of like reaching Mecca!

(Pic of Glenn in husband corner and Great restraint in Shopping)

While at the conference I found out there were non-blacksmithing classes for those with badges that said “Spouse of (insert name of blacksmith)”. There were a couple of painting classes, a broom making class, one on repousse for non blacksmith, leather work and 3 basketry classes. Yes I made 2 baskets and a hearth broom  and had a blast. I also did a lot of spinning in the air conditioned comfort while the blacksmiths were outside in the summers most extreme heat wave with multiple forges going. What were they thinking?  When they could have been cool inside having fun making brooms, baskets, spinning and felting!

When we got back to Ottawa we discovered there were going to be interesting felting workshops at Twist (a big fibre festival in Quebec).  One was 3 days long on sculptural felting with  Marjolein Dallinga , (i promise i will tell you about that one eventually) and the second was on pet portraiture, with Megan Cleland which was also lots of fun. You have already seen the fox I was working on in the second workshop. There was one more workshop in 2018 and I would like to tell you about that one. ( It took me a while but i finally got to the point to this post.)

The Moy Mackay Workshop

Ann spotted it let me know it was happening. We had both looked into going to the east coast for a felting conference but after looking at the location, how to get there and the overall cost decided it was just too expensive. So we were both extremely excited to have the opportunity to take a workshop with an instructor we didn’t think we could make dues to distance and cost. Well it was still pricey but the commute was excellent!! We both signed up as soon as the store, Wabi Sabi, was open. We were joined by one of our guild-mates, Carlene, for a 2 day workshop with Moy Mackay! Day one we were to wet felt two pictures: one a landscape and one a still life. On day two we would embellish them using felting needles, stitch-work (Embroidery) and free motion machine stitching. We were sent a long list of the supplies to bring. The one we all had trouble acquiring was the garden netting. It must be a British thing?

We all looked at the list of what to bring and I was a little dismayed. Not knowing what the landscape would look like but having to bring wool to do it was a bit stressful. what to bring? Well my solution was to bring almost everything. If I didn’t have it likely Ann and Carlene did! Next problem.  What is Garden netting? We discovered it’s a British thing. Not like the plastic netting we use in the garden here to keep birds out of the Saskatoons and Gooseberries! (Sorry i couldn’t take a picture of what British Garden Netting looks like.)

The day of the workshop arrived and, with a well filled car and my folding blue wagon, I headed off to the Hintonburg Community Centre just a few stores down from Wabi Sabi. This is very convenient since Wabi Sabi had promised to have a large selection of fibre in case we were missing any.

One of the advantages of taking workshops is you can see the methodology of the teacher. You can try to figure out why she is working in one way and not another. You can ask her lots of questions too.  I have noticed there is often more than one way to do a thing.  Just look at my spelling. Sometimes the choice is more a matter of “we always do it that way” but sometimes it’s because it is more efficient or effective if you chose this method over that one.

Moy is a fine artist and sells her pictures. She has to be able to produce images in a reasonable time to be able to support herself and continue her artwork,  She does not have the option of taking hours to needle felt the background and then add many more hours to hand stitch the final embellishments after the felting is done. So she has developed a method that works for her purpose. She is fast!  This is definitely not a negative thing. I was truly impressed at how quickly she worked.  It was obvious that she has had many years of practice and was comfortable and confident in her colour palate and design choices.


Our Insperation on Day One

She showed us the 2 landscape photos she had chosen for us. They are views from her new house in Scotland.  They showed the yellow fields and looked out to her neighbours farm house.  One shot had fencing and wildflowers.  The other had sheep but they were very tiny. For composition I tend to like dramatic lighting or repetition or overlap that draws you into a view. Also yellow is really not my favourite colour, except if I’m painting with rhoplex to make my acrylic paints more transparent, then yellow gets much more interesting. (I bet you can smell the fumes destroying my brain cells even as I think about it!) Ann said “no grumbling and do it anyways” she is right.  We are here to experience her way of working and watch her colour palate and methodology.

She did a demo for us. (she didn’t want us to take pictures of her working)  It was amazing to watch how really fast she laid out her colours. Both Ann and I were sure all the spinners would be cringing if they watched her carding to blend fiber but it worked for her and gave her the amount of blending she wanted. And it was a lot faster and produced larger amounts than the hand blending I tend to do.

She sent us off and gave us the rest of the morning to finish the layout for our landscapes. From 2 pictures it was very interesting to look around at lunch to see what each of us had taken from the compositions since there was quite a bit of variation within each of the two themes. But you could still see unifying elements within all the pictures.

After lunch she set up a vase with flowers and then Moy demonstrated her technique for laying in back ground, table and creating flowers. The vase and flowers where there only to inspire us. We could expand upon what we were looking at.  We were happily adding leaves, flowers and background and she told us we had to hurry and finish up so we could felt both pieces before we had to clean up the class room for the next group coming in. EEK!! Felt Faster!!


We discovered she doesn’t like bubble wrap.  It is too aggressive for what she is aiming for. What she is doing in wet felting is not creating strong cohesive textile as you would for a vessel, slippers or a cat cave but a thin softer felt which more resembles pre-felt for her base.  She can then still manipulate the felt after it has had its wet felt treatment. If it were felted as fully as a vessel or even worse my cat cave fish it would never fit under the pressure foot on the sewing machine.

I did stick with my bubble wrap but I was pretty back weary by the end of the day and was sure I could keep the fibres from over felting (I was too sore by then to be aggressive anyway). So after only minimal felting I was done and packed everything up into my wonderful wagon and headed back to the car. When we were all packed up we took a quick shopping trip up the street to Wabi Sabi. More Wool!! Really you can’t have too much wool can you? After a good dose of fibre we all headed home so we could do part 2 tomorrow!


Drying Outside In a Light Breeze

Day 2 Embellishments

Moy does some needle felting with her pieces but mostly she does a form of embroidery and free motion sewing on a sewing machine. She spent the morning with demonstrations of needle felting, hand embroidery and machine embroidery/ sewing.  My sewing machine doesn’t have the feed dog covers and I’m not sure I can get them but I watched her demonstrate with the felt and sewing machine.  It was interesting to see her add more detail with just a bit of stitching.  And again She was fast! She demonstrated the technique enough that I am confident I have the concept if not the dexterity to understand what she was describing.


I spent most of the time working with the needles making my trees mildly 3 dimensional. By the end of the workshop I was wiped and I still had more work to do on the landscape and all the embellishment left to do on the flowers!

Ann’s and Carleen’s are much more embellished than mine are but I hope to get back and finished them eventually!

It was fascinating to see all the pieces together at the end of the workshop. There was a lot of variation on the theams we were given.  I am very glad I was able to attend this workshop. I learned a new way of approaching picture felting, used pre-felt for depicting the building and really enjoyed the workshop. (But i am still not fond of Yellow.)

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

More Hair Extensions

I mentioned in my last post that I’d played around with the hair extension fibre a bit more. This is the finished piece:

I twisted some of it around some wool twists I’d previously made, spun some with some white pencil roving, fluffed some up and made a kind of ‘ball’ out of it, blended some with Merino, and used a couple of pieces which were still partly plaited/braided. The two biggest patches on the bottom of this angled photo are, on the left, the loose ball, and in the centre, the blend with wool:

This is a closer angled pic:

This is one of the partly plaited pieces:

I undid the ends of this one, sorry, not the best photo:

This last pic is a small amount spun with pencil roving on a drop spindle. I just twisted it, then used it so it’s loose:

I’ve been trying out more unusual embellishments, so I’ll show that next time!

Posted in Other Fibers | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments