3 New Things

I chose a few felt pieces to make things from recently. One was a piece I made about 3 and a half years ago, it was my first attempt at a plaid-inspired piece:

I thought I could improve it by adding some machine stitching, so I just added a few straight lines and some zig-zg stitches. A couple of strips looked too plain so I added some offcut strips, then sewed it up into a book cover:

The strap is removable, this is the front:

This is the back:

And, opened out without a book inside:

The other 2 pieces were texturey nuno pieces. They were planned to be the right size for coin purses. I was going to make them my usual way, of cutting out and blanket stitching, but I thought the first piece was a bit too ‘grungey’ for neat stitching:

And when I got the other piece to cut up I thought the same thing:

So, instead I just cut one piece for the inside pocket, and tried to keep the natural edges, just folded and stitched. This is the ‘antiquey’ looking one:

I tried a button, but I think it’s too new:


The bluey green nuno I made this from is one of my favourite pieces that I’ve made. It made a nice purse too:


There are so many colours and textures:

Sometimes it seems like a cycle of just making lots of felt, then making lots of things from felt!

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A felt Picture

While making little bags I also made a small picture. i suppose it would count for the first  quarter challenge.  happy-new-year-prepare-to-be-challenged/ i hope to do somthing a little more challenging before the quarter is over.  I like little pasture scenes. I started with a piece of black prefelt and then laid the blue sky and pasture. I thought I took more pictures but it seems I didn’t.

This what the back looks like. I wrapped the coloured fibers around the prefelt . I use black prefelt because it will intensify the colours. If I used white it would take the colours towards pastel.

This is the front side felted.  I made the contours of the meadow by using a multicoloured roving I had. I think it lets you give the meadow some texture and shape without painstakingly adding tiny bits of colour. I added some clouds to the sky and some flowers to the meadow with some soft silk and little white blobs of sheep as place markers for the next part.

I added the sheep using some embroidery floss and french knots.

Then added the heads and ears. I used a grey for the sheep that are farther away. I think it worked.

At this point it could have been done but I needed something else. Your eye goes to the middle and it is empty. I discussed it over on the Felting and Fiber Studio Forum and I decided some trees were needed. I only know how to do one kind of tree that looks half decent so ever greens were next. I did them in a medium green and then when back with fewer strands and added some darker stitches to give them more depth.

Here it is finished. I had to trim the top off so it would fit in the frame. I always seem to make to much sky anyway so that worked out well enough.

I looks quite nice in the frame. The frame seems to pop it out. I didn’t realise how many scratches it had until I took a picture. I will have to paint it. It is not a great picture, ther was so much reflection. this was the best compromise between the light reflecting or having a clear shot of me in the glass.

I need to learn to embroider more then far away evergreens and sheep. A little cabin or a nice oak tree would have been a nice  addition to the picture. I am thinking of buying Moy MacKays book. Do you have a favourite art felt  or how to hand stitch  pictures or art books?


Posted in Design, embroidery, Stitching, Surface Design, Wet Felting | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

A Sweater Story…..Can You Help?

At the start of February last year I posted that I had had a go at felting a sweater with designs on turning it into a bag.  I had purchased it in a charity shop for the princely sum of £1.  It had a lovely cable pattern to it, and it reminded me of the sweaters my Mom used to knit for people for some extra money.  I remember being in awe that she could complete a sweater within a week,  not being a knitter I assume now that this is not really an awe inspiring thing after all……..the wonderful innocence of youth!  When they were finished she would put them under the seat cushions on the sofa for us to sit on and ‘press’.  She tried to teach me to knit but I don’t know whether it just didn’t sink in or I was too young to be bothered, I think it was probably the latter…….

The sweater went in on a 40 degree wash, just to be cautious, and it didn’t felt enough, so I did a second wash at 60, still not good enough, so it went in again at 90, luckily it had felted sufficiently at that point as I didn’t really have anywhere to go from there!

So then I had a felted sweater and I couldn’t figure out how to re-figure it into a bag shape.  Luckily I have a friend who is more of a sewer than me and she helped at this point, by cutting it in the correct places to maintain the pattern in a symmetrical way, and sewing it up using un-ravelled wool from the arms.  She also made a clever deep internal pocket by utilising one of the cuffs.  I am sure I would have just hacked at it randomly, she thinks deeper and in a more practical way than me.


I wanted the bag to be an over the shoulder, sitting on your hip type of length and unfortunately the arms were of no use for this.  I came up with the idea of a bead/felted ball type of handle and sourced these lovely wooden beads online, and made forty felted balls, I think I used Corriedale wool.


I had made the balls pretty tight, so it was a bit of a struggle to push a long, strong needle through them all, using wool salvaged from the sweater.  I didn’t line it as I wanted to see the cable pattern on the inside too.  Here is the outcome.


Or I should say, it was the outcome for a short while…………I used it a couple of times then one day I had just arrived at a car park, I put the bag over my shoulder and SNAP! one of the lengths of wool sewing all the beads and balls together broke, and there I was scuttling around the car park trying to retrieve my wooden beads that were rolling in every direction! laugh? nearly!!

Now this is a sweater that has felted beautifully and I do want it to live life as a bag so Plan B is necessary.

I did like the felted balls with the addition of the beads.  However, if I am being really honest, the design didn’t sit the best on my shoulder……I really wanted a handle to compliment the soft, natural colour and pattern of the bag.

I thought maybe of producing a length of felt and encasing it in a pretty fabric, as I did here for my flower meadow bag that I made a while back.



Or perhaps I could use a twisted cord such as these but in a much better colour.  These examples are white with a blue fleck, black and a nice cobalt blue.  Or maybe two twisted together for thickness ?


If I could knit, one solution would be to buy more wool and create some handles that way,  but this is not an option unfortunately as I do not have the desire to learn.

Those are the only ideas that I have come up with this far, so it’s over to you please, do you have any bright ideas to make my ex-bag into a loved bag again?

What would you do?

Posted in Community, Felt bags, Guest Writer | Tagged , | 23 Comments

Felting with old sweaters

I’m a great recycler, as I suspect many textile lovers are. Much of my business is based on scouring charity shops and jumble sales for items that other people have discarded and transforming them back into desirable objects. Some old scarves get used for nuno felt; others are overdyed with indigo or overprinted.

Recently I had a go at darning an old sweater, after being inspired by an exhibition for a craft prize. But some of my sweaters have gone waaaay past the darning stage – so I thought I would try felting with them, using them as a kind of prefelt.

For the first sample I cut out circles and felted them on to two layers of white superfine merino. As they were 100% wool, they felted in really easily. I forgot to take any photos before felting, but the picture below shows the finished sample.

flextiles sample of felt with sweater circles

The circles on the left were covered with another two layers of superfine merino, as I wasn’t sure whether the base of two layers would be enough to support the circles. Obviously this felt was much thicker and you can hardly see the colour of the circles through the top layers.

The sweaters were knitted in stocking stitch, and the circles on the middle were laid out with the right side up, while those on the left were reverse side up. They looked quite different before they were felted, but after felting there was very little difference.

As you can see from the photo the superfine merino shrank a lot (around 50%) so there was very little space between the circles in the final piece. So in the next tiger stripe sample I left more room between the stripes.

flextiles felt tiger stripe sample before felting

You can clearly see the texture of the sweater before felting; after felting you can just about see the vertical rows of knitting.

flextiles felt tiger stripe sample

Although the stripes are also wool, they have not shrunk as much as the merino they are attached to. This leads to a pleasing texture of ridges, where the stripes are much higher than the base layers of merino. I’ve tried to show this more clearly in the photo below.

flextiles felt tiger stripe sample close up

After I made this sample I realised that white, green and purple were the colours of the Women’s Social and Political Union, which campaigned for women’s right to vote in the UK. White symbolised purity, green hope and purple dignity.

So to celebrate the centenary this year of some women in the UK getting the vote, I made a small suffragette neckpiece. 🙂

flextiles felt suffragette neckpiece

I really like using old sweaters this way – it saves me having to make prefelt!

What’s your favourite upcycling tip?


Posted in Guest Writer, Wet Felting, Wool | 24 Comments

Recent Things

We’ve had some new members join our wet felting group at the Well Being centre this year, so I’ve been making ‘beginners’ pieces with them the past few weeks. One I always enjoy doing is a Nuno strip sample piece. I try to pick some fabrics I’ve not used before and like to pick an unusual one which looks like it’d never work, but I know from previous samples that it does. It’s usually one of the weird scarves I’ve picked up at a charity shop, and I chose my favourite ruffled loopy one this time.

The fabric I hadn’t used before was a piece of lacy fabric which I think was previously a blouse. It’s not that obvious it was lacy, but you can tell a bit better from this close up:

I usually start off absolute beginners with a soft wispy piece because it helps to learn to control pulling off the wool tops, but one of our new members joined while I was sorting out supplies so didn’t have them all at the centre. We had a practice run of pulling off the tops, and she did it well so we made a simple landscape which we usually do on week 2. I usually stick to a simple design for this to make sure it gets done, has a good outcome, and I don’t have to answer a million different questions: 2 layers, green for grass, blue for sky, add some embellishments for clouds and flowers, then felt. But there were only a few of us, and I could work 1 on 1, so I went with her ideas and just showed her how to realise the ideas, so we each made a kind of farmer’s field picture:

I usually end up with odd random things on mine, because I use it as a demo piece if someone isn’t sure, which is why it looks like I have discarded kids’ toys lying about (viscose nepps) and some half dug out potatoes (cotton nepps)! We used some pencil roving waste too, we both used a length of natural brown to make a ‘wall’, and I added some variegated green to see how it’d work for a hedge. I’m not sure it looks very hedge-like, but it did get a nice ripple to it, you can see the brown piece a bit clearer on the close up and see that the blend we used just above is actually made up of yellow and purple:

Our new member’s landscape piece turned out so well that we moved onto using resists the next week, some other members mentioned before New Year that it’d be good to do vessels again and maybe more resist work, so for new members to build up to and give a refresher to others, we made a simple piece with resist strips. Some of us put fibres or fabrics under or on top of our resists for extra effect, and embellishments on the top. I used the lacy fabric from the nuno sample piece, and a nice pink wool lock:

You can see more of the laciness on this piece:

Some of the fibres from under one of my strips:

Those nuno sample pieces always come in handy for when I’m planning a collaged felt project:

Because we all know the first rule of tidying up has to be getting everything out to make a mess again!

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Polar bear for the 150th Anniversary Art show

Another exiting felting post by Jan Scott

This is the Guilds display for the 2017 Ottawa Valley Farm Show in March of 2017. Lynda is hiding behind her loom, Ann is about to spend the day making felted beads with the kids, and Merilyn is spinning beside the empty chair where I was working. We do put on an interesting demo!

The Farm show is a huge display of farm equipment, seeds, antique display, farm oriented venders, trappers, government department’s booths, the wool growers co-op, and various breed and rare breed associations. It is really a huge event drawing people not only form the Ottawa Valley but the rest of eastern Ontario. It’s always early March so weather can be an issue. We had a blizzard the second day of the show.

I was getting lots of interest in the pieces I had already completed for the 150th Art Show.
It was time to start the next project. So before the demo it was time to decide what to do next. After much debate between Moose bison and polar Bear I decided to continue with the arctic theme.

By now you are likely starting to guess my working process. So yes it was back to the internet to find reference photos and work out a composition likely from a composite of pictures. Working with a square is a lot more challenging. The eye naturally is drawn to shapes that feel comfortable, shapes that follow the golden mean or Fibonacci to figure out stripe progressions (Rectangles). Shape that have proportions you find in nature. Squares are definitely more of a challenge. But I’m use to a good challenge, you should see my un-spell-checked spelling!

So the quest was on find an image I could made square. but not be too static. So either intensity or dynamic composition was what I was looking for. So find images that cought my eye, then crop to square.

As I perused the inspirational options I thought about the talk Robert Bateman had given at Halliburton last summer. He spent some time discussing some of his earlier work mentioning his frustration painting a polar bear in a snow storm then the next painting was a black timber wolf at night in a dark forest. He had mentioned that white wasn’t just white. So to look carefully and not assume you know your subject just because it’s “white”.

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Some images were very interesting but just didn’t want to be square.

Then I spotted this one. The intensity of the look was amazing. The shapes were simple but if I could get the eyes it would work really well. The image dew you in, there was such contemplation and stillness. It was like looking a momentary paws in the action. I liked it! Ok I had my inspiration.

Day one demo
I brought my large foam pad, core wool (Rideau Arcott), and various shades of white grey browns yellow red and blue. (I as optimistic but didn’t think I would get the understructure done in one day.) I got dropped off around 7ish, parking can be very crowded so it was better to get there unusually early and I could set up and get started. Glenn had over time so it was a late pick up as well so I was there for over 12 hours. I got a lot done.

I had premade my background felt layer at home using my wicked 10 needles in a row tool. It was again impressive how well it worked on flat felting.

For the understructure I mostly worked upside down to help get the general proportions correct. I could have made a graph over the photo to make a more exact copy but I wanted the photo to be more an inspiration than an exact likeness.

I was explaining the backing layer that the understructure would be attached to.

I got a lot of “what are you making” in the morning, then by afternoon it was “is that a dog?”
Most said they would come back later to see what I had accomplished on their way out.

A couple more quick shots of the demo in progress before we go on to day 2.

This is a very cool loom from around the 1970’s. It was fascinating to see it working.

Ann had a lot of help making felted beads using pencils. She is really amazing!!

Merylin was busy spinning some of her Sheep’s wool she had dyed herself. She has a beautiful painted wheel.

Day 2 demoing
I had booked off 2 of the 3 days of the demo. So again I got there unreasonably early, got help to get the display set up again.

Today we had Gord with one of his great wheels (he has several)

I had the understructure to my liking and started working from the top down
Amada was spinning on her Hitchhiker wheel. She dose amazing natural dyeing some of which was on display.


As you can see in the foreground of the picture I had progressed to adding colour to my under structure. By the time I hit the eyebrows I was starting to get comments of “is that a polar Bear?”

I chose blue face Lester since my memories of my Grandmothers Polar Bear rug is still vivid in my memory. Since I think the last time I slept on it was over 40 years ago it really did make an impression. It had a yellow tint to the white fur, the fur was stiff but not really course. It was smooth if you patted it in the direction the fur grew. It was a wonderful polar bear I don’t know what happened to it. I hope it is still being loved by small children sleeping on it.

This is the progress at about ¾ of the way through day 2. I was definitely felting faster on this one.

Day 3 of the Farm show demo.
I had a short day of work so rushed back for the final day of the demo. We had a pretty full demo team and the weather was a bit better than the previous days’ blizzard.

Laurie and Julie are Weaving, Merylin was spinning and I was still felting.

I got a lot more of the face done. But it was slow going due to hand blending each section I was working on. I was still finding the hand blending less uniform, which was what I wanted, than using the carders. Also with the different lengths of fibre I was blending with the blue face Lester it was a lot easier to work with it just by hand. I wound up with alpaca as well as wool to get the colours I had wanted.

I had a couple more evenings of touching up the colour and the Polar Bear was complete.

The pieces made another appearance at the demo for Dickenson day in Manotick Ontario.




This is my show and tell the meeting before the show.

Here are all the pieces I did for the 150th anniversary show.

While I was making Polar Bear I thought about my western Grandmother and about my brother who has done most of his work in the North so I am giving this piece to my brother Dave. This is his Bio so you will see why I was thinking of him.
(Dr. David J. Scott is the Executive Director of the Canadian Polar Commission in Ottawa. Prior to his current post Dr. Scott had a long career with the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), finishing as Director, Northern Canada Division.
At the GSC he also served as acting Director General, Planning and Operations Branch, and led the GSC’s Gas Hydrates and Northern Resources Development programs. From 1999-2003, he was based in Iqaluit, Nunavut, as the founding Chief Geologist of the Canada-Nunavut Geoscience Office.
Dr. Scott holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology (McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada) and a PhD in Geological Sciences (Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada) where his thesis research investigated the tectonic origin of two-billion year old oceanic crust in Arctic Quebec. He was a Research Associate in uranium-lead geochronology at the GEOTOP laboratories of the University of Quebec at Montreal. He has published and presented over 80 technical papers.
I am very proud of his many accomplishments. I wonder if he will put it in his northern office his southern office or keep it at home. Where ever he puts it I hope he enjoys it.

I have a PS to this Post Jan won the peoples choice award for her Polar Bear at our Canada 150 Show.

Posted in Design, Guest Artists, Guest Writer, Needle Felting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

First Quarter Challenge Part Three

I am still working on ideas from the paint poured felt and fabric that I created for the first quarter challenge. I had several good ideas from the comments on my previous posts and I was thinking along the lines of stitching and then making the painted cotton into something else. But I couldn’t find a good tutorial on sewing a pouch with a zipper. I am hopeless with zippers and just couldn’t seem to make out what the instructions meant. Then someone on the forum asked about inclusions in felt and Karen of Lincs in Stitches showed us her wet felted pendants with acrylic paper inclusions.

What if I used the painted cotton fabric as an inclusion in felt? I love how our little community always helps me out, even if they don’t know it!

I decided to make a sample to see how it would work. I used two different colors in the layers. I didn’t want the top black layer to be so stark and I have found it’s easier to see where to cut out the inclusions if you have a little migration of color through the areas where the inclusions are not. The bottom layer is a mix of natural wool colors that is fairly coarse.

I cut a few pieces of the painted cotton and place them on top of the bottom layer.

The top layer is short fiber black merino and I added a gray embellishment fiber out of my stash. It’s not silk but I have forgotten what it is. Bad me for not labeling things better.

Then I felted it. You can see where the inclusions are because it is more black in those areas where the bottom layer fiber hasn’t migrated through.

Here’s the first inclusion showing through after cutting. The cotton got fairly wrinkled up. It adds texture but I decided I might like to see how it would work if I used a piece of plastic as the resist and then cut it open as above. But then I would remove the plastic and insert the painted cotton. That way it wouldn’t get all wrinkled up during shrinkage and I would know the exact size to cut it to fit inside the pocket. But that’s for next time.

Here’s the piece after it’s completely dry. The poured paint is a very nice contrast to the black wool. I may stitch around the edges to make sure it stays in completely. It won’t fall out but you could definitely grab it and pull out the painted cotton pieces.

Here’s a couple of close up shots so you can see the texture of the painted cotton against the felt. This technique has definite possibilities. This could certainly be used for making felt and paint jewelry or for adding embellishments to almost any kind of felt. I have quite a lot of poured paint that I need to do something with so there will probably be more experiments coming up.

Posted in Mixed Media, Wet Felting | Tagged , | 10 Comments