Dipping a toe in the water!

Dipping a toe in the water!

How many of us have created and created, to the point where our creations are taking over our homes?!  I know I certainly have, and my partner Peter is reaching the point where he is considering moving into the garden shed!  I think there comes a point in everyone’s journey, when they realise that their hobby is taking too much room in their home, leaving little room for anything else.  Does this ring a bell or am I the only one who is feeling swamped by my creations?!


Talking with my friend Debi (who is a fellow crafter), we both realised that we have so many lovely creations that we will never use, never wear and have both saturated our gifts to family and friends.  So where do you go from here?


A while ago, I tried creating an Etsy account but I didn’t have much response.  When people searched for items like mine, my items were always at the bottom of the list.  Not being very experienced with online selling, I don’t have a clue how to promote my goods without spending a fortune.  But over a glass of wine (or two) one evening, Debi and I decided we should try dipping our toes into the world of Craft Fairs.  The thought of doing this on my own was terrifying!  But with my buddy by my side, the prospect didn’t seem half as scary, and I thought yes, we can do this!


Around the same time, I had created a new Facebook page entitled ‘Welsh Felters’ (what else would I call it?!!)

If you’d like to see my new Facebook page, please click the link: https://tinyurl.com/yvytnpkx   I’d love to know what you think?

Then, a day or so later, I was contacted by a lady called Jill, who has run a craft fair called ‘Made it Market’ for the last 8 years or so.   Jill introduced herself, and invited me to join in her next craft fair, which was to be held in St David’s Church, Neath on Saturday 23rd September.  Having shown the invite to my friend Debi, we agreed that we would give it a go.  How better to relieve our bursting homes of creations, with the prospect of meeting lots of like-minded people into the bargain?!


We both began sorting through our wares, to gather items we thought people might like to buy.  Debi, being a big crocheter, knitter and weaver, found a multitude of beautiful scarves, hats and Santa hats for wine bottles (bit of a theme here?!)  I gathered together various felted soaps, scarves, hand spun yarns and art yarns I had created.  I also had an idea to add to my wares by making wet-felted key rings…funny little creatures with googly eyes and hats!  Having started making the key rings, I discovered that they were really time consuming, so I quickly changed plans and decided to turn my wet-felted balls into cat toys instead…(yes, I probably didn’t need to think about making anything new but it’s so much fun to create!)


I found lots of feathers, ordered some ribbons and bells, and set about creating some cat toys.  I know, this was supposed to be about offloading some of my creations, not adding more to them, but I just couldn’t resist!  They were so much fun to make and far less fiddly than key rings!! I think they turned out pretty well.  I took one to Debi’s for her kitty to road test for me, and he absolutely loved it!  It also stood up pretty well to his best mouse-mutilating tactics!  So, having been thoroughly tested by Zeek, in the Quality Control Department, I was satisfied that they were good enough to sell in the craft fair.

A colourful array of feline entertainment toys!


Zeek the Tabby in full testing mode; he makes for a suitably qualified quality control employee!


One thing I hadn’t really thought about was the need for insurance.  However, once I received Jill’s paperwork, I realised that of course, we would need insurance!!  Have you looked at the cost of insurance?? Wow, it is expensive.  But, I then remembered that I am a member of the International Feltmakers Association.  I joined the Association about two years ago, when I heard they offer very good value for money, including a quarterly magazine… AND… included in your membership is insurance cover.  I had a look at the policy, and sure enough it would cover my stall, goods and also anyone with me (which included Debi!)  Having read and re-read the policy, I was satisfied that this insurance would suffice for any craft fair, so I was a very happy felter!  Having completed all the required documentation, we were duly booked onto the craft fair!! This was going to be soooo exciting!!!!


Having sorted out and prepared all of our wares, Debi and I were ready.  We had to have an early start, so we could get to the Church on time, in order to unload and put together our stall.   Jill’s husband Gareth had been tasked with the job of marshalling everyone on arrival, directing cars and ensuring that everyone could ‘stop, drop, park and then set up’!  It was clear to see that Jill was a school teacher in her previous role, as she had everything planned down to the minutest detail, including stall plans and directions for us all.  I was impressed with Jill’s level of organisation.  But to be fair, when you have a multitude of crafters arriving around the same time, you have to be organised or things could easily descend into utter chaos!

This is our lovely organiser Jill, with her husband Gareth.

Once we had set up our stall, I took some photos to mark the occasion….

Here I am, all ready for the 10am  start!


My very talented fellow crafter and friend extraordinaire, Debi


Some close-up shots of our stall….

A few stalls at the top end of the church

Our venue, the beautiful church of St. David, the Patron Saint of Wales (very fitting for Welsh Felters first craft fair)

We had a lovely time at the craft fair, meeting lots of new people and of course, selling our wares.  I even got approached by a lovely man who has opened a cafe, and who asked whether I wanted to rent a shelf to sell my creations…real networking in action!

After the craft fair was finished and we were at home relaxing with a well deserved cup of coffee (yes coffee, not wine!), Debi and I evaluated our day and considered what we would have done differently.  We both agreed that next time, we should have a table each in order to showcase our wares better.  The worry we had was not having enough to fill a stall, but having done our first craft fair, it was evident that we had more than enough!!! We also agreed that we needed a neater table cloth, one of those stretchy cloths that hook underneath the table legs.  The lady in the stall next door informed us that they are available to purchase online for around £10.  We also agreed that because we both have multiple health issues, the purchase of a wheelable trolley would be a definite asset to make loading and unloading far less challenging for us.    We agreed that we would definitely do this again, as it was a very enjoyable day, if very tiring!  I have to admit to falling asleep as soon as I got home! But all in all, we agreed that the day was a success and we are looking forward to our next craft fair!

With thanks to Jill at Made it Market  https://www.facebook.com/groups/197744683660217/?ref=share  for making our first fair such a positive and enjoyable experience!

Hunter’s Star

Hunter’s Star

I’m not a huge fan of piecing traditional quilt blocks together. I do, however, have a great appreciation of their beauty and craftsmanship. It’s really hard to sew all those ¼” seams together and make everything match up correctly! So much easier to make Art quilts where all that precision may not be necessary. And who doesn’t love having a handmade quilt on one’s bed??

I’ve been attending a quilt retreat (which gathers three times a year) near my home for over 10 years. One of the attendees used to work in a quilt store and made LOTS of quilts. I got to admire them from across the room as she built them and put them up on her design wall. One pattern I fell in love with was the Hunter’s Star. There are so many variations to this pattern. I vowed to myself that if I ever made myself a bed quilt, I wanted it to be using this pattern.

Fast forward a couple of years…a quilt shop near me was going out of business and had great sales on all their fabric. I knew if I was going to make a Hunter’s Star quilt, I wanted it to be blues on a white background. So, I bought a bunch of bolt ends in blues at a great price. Then they sat for a couple of more years. I finally decided to start working on it about 3 or 4 years ago. I mostly worked on it at the retreats, so it has been fairly slow going.

At my last retreat in August, I finally got all the blocks sewn together. Yay! I have to fess up and say that all the points aren’t perfect, but I was pretty pleased with how flat everything laid.

I was also happy to have it sewn together at the retreat so I could get input from the others about the borders. What fabric to use and how wide should I make the borders and do I need two borders. Always good to have other eyes look at it.

I decided to go with two borders, the inner border being a solid dark blue that is different from the fabrics in the blocks and making it 1” in width. The outer border will be 5” wide and I will use the solid light blue that is used in the block. I’m hoping I’ll have enough of that solid light blue to use for the quilt binding. Heaven forbid I have to buy MORE fabric!

Here is a photo of the quilt after sewing the first border on.

Sorry about the background and wonkiness of this photo. I was standing on a rickety ladder trying to get the whole thing in the frame. At this point this quilt measures 82 ½” x 82 ½” so it’s quite large.

I ran into a dilemma after I took this photo. I decided to audition my outer border choices again before I started cutting fabric. I tried the medium blue speckled fabric that is in the block and was kind of intrigued with how it looked.

Here is the medium solid blue.

And here is the medium speckled blue.

Blue stars on white background

I then got the bright idea to lay the quilt out on my bed and see how those two fabrics looked with the bed skirt I have. Good thing I did that! If I was going to hang this quilt on a wall, I’d probably go with the lighter blue as I feel that one pops the colors a  bit more, but on my bed things looked different when placed next to my dark blue bed skirt!

Here it is with the solid blue border. The bed skirt is navy blue.

Star quilt on bed

And here it is with the speckled blue border.

quilt on bed

I think I might go with the speckled blue after seeing it on the bed. And now I’m not sure I like the 1” dark blue inner border. It’s all looking like I have three borders on the quilt. Maybe the inner one needs to be a tad bit thinner. But I’m not sure this mid blue is THE ONE either.

Guess this project will remain another one of my UFO’s until I can get back to it. And here I thought I could get this done in one sitting. Joke’s on me!

I’ve always been told to make design decisions visually and I think that rule helped me out a lot on this one. I’m glad I haven’t cut the lighter blue into border lengths yet. I’ll need more thinking before I figure this one out.

My sister suggested that I may need another color bed skirt OR I could add another 2 rows of blocks to each side (ugh!) and don’t have borders, just the binding. The new bed skirt idea sounds more appealing than making 16 more blocks!

Which border do YOU like best and why??

Here is another bed quilt that I made from blue Japanese fabrics that I had collected over the years and finally got to use. No border on this one so it looks okay with the bed skirt. I should have thrown my matching pillowcase covers on so it looked more like a bed! I love this quilt.

snowball quilt patter in blues and white

And another bed quilt I made and have not put on the bed yet. It seems like it should go on a wall more than a bed. It was a UFO that I started years before the Hunter’s Star quilt and finally finished. Not my favorite but it’s DONE! Not sure it would look very good with my navy blue bed skirt either since the background is black. Again, sorry for the crummy photo.

baby block pattern quilt on a black background

I’ve got one more bed size quilt that I want to make and it is about ½ way finished. I’ll get it done someday. It won’t look good with my current bed skirt either!

quilted quilt blue on white

So, until I can get back to my Hunter’s Star quilt, I’ll put it back into the UFO pile along with these other projects I hope to get to one day.

stack of unfinished projects

How big is your UFO pile???

Happy creating!
Tesi Vaara

Melting & Felting

Melting & Felting

As much as I enjoy felting and working with natural fibres I also love mixed media work and getting creative with heat manipulative, man made fabrics. It’s all the more enjoyable when you ask at the start of a class if anyone hasn’t worked with a heat tool or a soldering iron and you see the hands go up. You just know there are going to be some “ooohs and ahhhs” and huge smiles coming from excited students once they get melting their fabrics!
Last week I was invited to teach a group at Stainfield Village Hall, just a half hour from home. The groups organiser, Clare, had attended my Layer, Stitch & Burn workshop a few months previous in Sleaford and had so much fun creating this sea shell inspired piece she asked me to repeat the class with her group.

This technique was developed by the Canadian mixed media textile artist Susan Lenz.  It involves layering synthetic fabrics on a background of acrylic felt before adding free motion stitch using cotton, viscose or rayon threads. The last stage involves  “melting” the background fabric with a heat gun to create a lace like effect as seen in Susan’s In Box and Stained Glass Series 

Susan Lenz creates colourful mixed media textile art using heat manipulative fabric.

You would imagine all acrylic felt would melt and therefore be suitable for this process but I’ve discovered the hard way that’s not the case! If you’re going to try this technique I would suggest testing your background felt before stitching as some simply discolours and singes rather than melting! Having been caught out once I now order a sample before purchasing by the metre. My latest supply came from Empress Mills and melts a treat!
In the workshop, although everyone is given the option of working with simple geometric shapes, I like to encourage students to think outside the box (pun intended!) and create a piece that’s unique to them. In the past I’ve had ladies using fossils, gum nuts leaves and all sorts of other motifs as their starting point for a design as you can see from these three examples…..

Working with a more organic design is also great for those who haven’t done free motion before, or maybe are not as confident with it, as your stitching doesn’t have to be precise. In fact a “sketchy” approach, similar to the leaf design, looks great!

At Stainfield not everyone got finished on the day but I’ve been told that, at the groups meeting this week, not only did they finish off what they had started with me but most of the ladies also began working on a second piece! The size we worked to was approximately 23cm square so it fits the square IKEA box frame. 

Another heat manipulative workshop I teach is the Lutradur Leaves. This Wednesday evening I loaded the car and drove up to East Ayton near Scarborough, a really beautiful part of the country, ahead of Wednesdays class for Anita Cassidy and the Textile Experimental Group. I knew we were going to get on like a house on fire when I heard the name of the group!
The village hall was very light, airy and spacious, perfect for this type of class.
The group were encouraged to bring some leaves to use as inspiration and I supplied sketches for those that wanted them. Everyone worked with a medium weight 70gsm Lutradur and once again the ladies produced some fabulous work which sits nicely with their current theme of “decay”.

Between my last post and classes starting up again after the Summer I’ve done a bit of dressmaking, or “top” making to be precise. I’ve got a very simple linen, sleeveless, dart-less, top that I really like and I decided to clone it, adding darts to make it more fitted. Not having made anything with darts before I figured YouTube would be a good move….and it was!

I tried the pattern out with a very cheap floral fabric from Boyes. I think it’s viscose, it’s not silky but it shifted constantly while I was working with it so I’m amazed it turned out wearable!
The “palm tree” fabric is 100% cotton and was so easy to use, it’s definitely the better of the two. 

The following week I had to create a wet felted shoulder bag to promote a forthcoming workshop. In the past I’ve sometimes deliberately used colours that I’m not that keen on to ensure I keep a piece as a sample and not be tempted to use the item myself! This time I did the opposite and carded Dream and Granite Corriedale slivers from World of Wool’s Hefty Hues range to make a bag that won’t be living in a box until the workshop in the new year!



Ok, what is a “nal” and why would I bind one?  Well, if you have an interest in Viking textiles (yes I have the Icelandic variant warp-weighted loom to prove it!) then you may want to learn how to Nalbind. (yep that would be me please!) This fall the local Ottawa  Valley Weaver’s and Spinner’s Guild offered a workshop on 4 Wednesday evenings to teach an introduction to Nalbinding.

So now you know the where but may still be a bit confused by the what (it is) and why (would I want to do it).

“Nålebinding (Danish) literally ‘binding with a needle’ or ‘needle-binding’, also naalbinding, nålbinding, nålbindning or naalebinding”  I first saw it spelt with the double A (I have always liked words with double A’s). * I already love this word, look how many different ways you can spell it and still get it right!

The what:  there are multiple spellings depending on your location. It is usually described as a “type of single needle knitting” which is not at all like knitting.  it is produced by a series of interlaced loops but unlike knitting it creates a more dense and stable fabric.  if you use a pair of scissors and cut knitting it unravels, if you get a hole or slice in your nalbinded it will remain intact and not run or unravel.

When I first bumped into Nalbinding it was in the early 1980’s in articles on early medieval archeology. I was not able to find much information in English and it was mostly flat pattern analyses that were too much like some of the knotwork patterns to consider a true road map of instruction to recreate the process. Keeping the yarn looped and flat, while trying to stitch into the previous loops, was a bit of a disaster.  It was well before the helpful Mr. Google and the wonders of YouTube.  So, I put the hope of learning to make warm socks and cool hats aside and focused on my beloved Fragment #10 from Birka Sweden (Broken Lozenge Twill!) and making a ¾ size Icelandic variant warp-weighted loom. I measured from the inside of the trunk of my hatchback to the back of the seat, to get the height of my loom. It’s good to think ahead about how you are going to transport it.

diagram of flat layout of loops found in Nalbinding. 1) Flat pattern diagram of Nalbinding similar to diagrams I was looking at in the 1980’s you can see working flat would be a difficult way to work with yarn.

The next time I bumped into the opportunity to take a workshop in January(?) 2010, with a fellow Medieval enthusiast who had kept researching and been introduced to the thumb method of working the loops (so much easier than the flat table method!!).   She brought in samples of her work including a sock, mitts and a hand puppet

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2-4) Samples from the first 1 day nalbinding workshop,  laptop and samples with notes and nalbinding, close-up of the blue and grey sock, mittens  in two patterns (thumbs to the side  and thumbs underneath)  

We used big lofty yarn and made a rectangle, which we were to join one end to the other and make a tube.

Rebeca showing us how to create one of the stitchs in nalbinding5) getting started with a needle and a single wool yarn

Well, that took an odd turn…. I seem to have developed a Mobius strip, not a tube! But I had a lot of fun so it was all wonderful!

My show and tell was my mobius tube in blue yarn6) My tube was not tubular… it just kept going and going.. it was a Mobius tube!

hands holding the mobius nalbinding sample7) close up of Mobius tube

another view of the mobius strip8) Mobius tube

added line to photo of mobius strip close up showing the edge as it is worked on and that it is not creating a proper tube.9) following the working edge of the Mobius tube

Life got busy again and I did not keep practising (how can you do better than create infinity?) so I forgot how I was doing the loop and where the needle was going. Later that year I did take a hat workshop with Ann McElroy.  It also did not turn out as she expected but I loved it. someone else loved it too since it disappeared while I was eating at a restaurant.

odd hat i made in Ann's hat class, it has long side pices that can be tucked in around the neck and a turn up at the front to bake a short brim. the visibl undersidhas striations of blue silk on black wool 10) Bad photo of me smirking while wearing the new hat

I also got a Road Bug travel wheel from Merlin Tree out of Vermont for Xmas, from my husband….

Small wooden portable spinning wheel with felt hat sitting on it, in corner of pictue is some of the nalbinding wooden spinning wheel sitting on table with wheels excesorys, candy and other show and tell11-12) Both sides of the new travel wheel “Road bug” by Merlin Tree out of Vermont, wet felted hat and edge of nalbinding at guild show and tell.

Time passes:

So speed ahead to last week, and I again attempted to overcome my befuddlement and learn to Nalbind hopefully without the infinity component! I again arrived extra early (about 7:30 a.m. for the 7 p.m. workshop, that’s ok I had lots of library work to do before the workshop started.) I had cleaned up the library work, neatened up the studio and had it ready for Meriam, our teacher. She set up a display of her work and a few books that might be helpful.

Display by the teacher of books and samples on table13) The display of samples and reference books.

skull water cup, notes, sissors, pen, notes and Wool single yarn 14) The class notes, water cup (yes that is a skull),  my scissors and pen, as well as the yarn we will be using

For our first night, we started with the Oslo stitch.   Tail by the palm, wrap around the thumb making an x and pinch it with your first finger and thumb…. OK, I have nails, long nails at the moment. At this length, they should brake and be short in a week or so.  In the meantime pinching it as required is a bit awkward but not impossible.  We progressed from practising the starting loops to making the first few stitches. Oh no! I have got to work on even tension!!  We also were shown and then practised, splicing our singles wool yarn. At the end of the workshop, we were sent home with homework (Practice starting, making a line of stitches and making splices.)

my samples, the tention is extreemly randome and still needs work 15) First night’s class and homework

I was pleased with the homework, it did look a bit better than the first try but I was very slow.  I am still working on getting an even tension.

Today I went in early (8 a.m. or a bit before?) to keep working on sorting, checking and pricing the donated books given to the guild library. I have already written a separate database to help sort and track the books. I have been checking the library database and the shelf location to make sure we have a copy and that our copy is in good condition then checking online for the price range that the book is selling for. (Some are out of print, some are rare so I can’t find them and most I get a good idea of a reasonable price) I am getting them prepped for members to look through at the October meeting, (which is getting very close!!)  Lastly, each book is tagged with an ID number and its price.

The studio also had a new loom being set up and the drum carder in use in the morning. there was a team for the 100-inch loom working upstairs too.

I took a quick break to watch and chat with Marie from Living Felt in Texas. I would like to make the bat she was making today but I can see a few modifications I would like to try! (Maybe if I get my blog post finished early I will get that started and maybe finished before going back in to work on the library?)

About an hour before the second night of the workshop was to start, the strange loud noise I had been hearing outside finally appeared in the studio window. Isn’t that a pavement stripper? (No not that other kind of stripper just working on pavement) sure enough, it started in the bike lane,  pealing the pavement away. It wound up working straight through the class but moving farther down the street so it wasn’t too disturbing.

large macheen that is removing the top layers of pavement on the street outside the window the room the class is in.16) Stripper of Pavement, the things you see looking out the studio window!

Tonight we reviewed starting and making the Oslo loops (I unknowingly had been doing a Danish version which seemed completely right at the time.) We then learned how to make our first line of stitches attach at the beginning and end to try to make a tube (not the Mobius strip I had created last time).  We then were shown how to add the next layer of our tube.

example of increses used to create texture as well as increse the size of cercumfrence 17) Example of increase used to create texture as well as make the circumference bigger.

hands showing which loop the needle gose throung in starting nalbinding18) reviewing starting

showing where to start the second row after joining the front to the back of the single layer19)showing where to start the second row

this is my sample i have worked part way across the second row and it is looking more even.20) My second row looks much better than the first row did

two pices of yarn spliced together with water to extend the working length of the yarn21) my yarn splice. I seem to be good at this part!!!

I likely had too much fun today since my thumb and index finger kept spassumming toward the end of the workshop, while I was pinching the yarn. I will have to do more hand and finger stretches before nalbinding. (Maybe not shift and lift books all day before class!)

Before heading home, we were shown increases and practised increasing on every stitch. This gave a wavy edge.

the frilly edge is on the far side of the tube and has been caused by incresing in every stitch22) Increasing in every stitch gives a wavy edge

When increases are used in a less extreme way (not in every stitch), you can make a hat.

a hat made in Nalbinding, there is a diferent type of starting that we will learn in 2 weeks.23) hat made with increases in nalbinding (it has a different beginning but we will look at that in lesson 4

By the end of day 2, I have gone from absolutely no tensioning to a bit more consistent to adding a second row.   We were sent off with homework to start another length of nalbinding single-layer chain and use it as the basis to make a tube.  Then do that again and again! Practice makes….  well it’s getting better..

I will continue my homework, interspersed with more Library work and maybe this afternoon I will take a little time and make that bat Marie was showing on YouTube yesterday. (It was very cute… but I think it needs a bit more bite!  Have fun and I hope our weather doesn’t look at the calendar and we wind up in a chilly wet fall. I prefer the slow lingering end of summer with warm days and cool nights (but no frost, I am so picky!)


Felted Bird House ( sort of)class

Felted Bird House ( sort of)class

This last weekend I taught a Felted Birdhouse Class. A group of ladies and one daughter.  We were at one of the lady’s houses, working outside and the setting was lovely and the weather was very cooperative.

Here are all the embellishment fibres set up on the deck.

And here they all are working away on laying out the fibres for their birdhouses. although some wanted bird feeders and some thought a plant might go well in one. That is why it is only a sort of birdhouse class. everyone chose a gourd except we morphed one into a teardrop shape.

They had lots of fun deciding on embellishment fibres and adding them to their pieces


This one looks sort of dull but it is the green Merino and multi-coloured tribal nylon mix from the world of wool.

This one was all silk I think.

This one is sari silk waste

This was just the beginning it had lots of stuff on it in the end. You will see it later.

This one had lots of the sparkly triloble nylon.

Then of course there was the rubbing and rolling

And then the scrunching and throwing to get it well filled.

Here everyone is with their finished pieces.  They have balloons inside to help them have a good shape when dry. You will notice one was cut in half to become 2 plant holders but the one half is looking very much like a hat.

I got sent a couple of pictures of what they looked like now they are dry. I was right it did look a lot like a hat. the class was Sunday and today is Tuesday( Wednesday when this goes up)  so not much time for them to get me pictures. If I get more I will edit them in.

It was a fantastic warm September day and a great way to spend it.

Framed Artwork

Framed Artwork

Many people ask me to show my artwork after it is framed. So that’s what I am sharing today. This post will be short but since I wrote an extra post, I thought that would be okay.

Textile artwork of autumn landscape with birch trees and falling leaves.

Calling Down from the Branches – 23″ x 34″

Textile artwork of summer landscape with grove of birch trees.

Thick with Green – 8″ x 12″

Textile artwork of winter landscape with birch trees and red twig dogwood.

Winter Colors – 13″ x 16.5″

These are all framed with a simple black wooden frame. I don’t use glass as I like the texture to be visible. If people ask about cleaning the artwork, I suggest using canned air and to avoid hanging them in the sunlight.

All of these pieces are going to 4 Ravens Gallery in Missoula, MT. You can see the prices of each piece on my personal website Ruth Lane Art. If you’re interested in making a purchase, please call the gallery or use my Contact Us form.

Summer holidays self-challenges

Summer holidays self-challenges

Hello, everybody!

I have been very busy during my recent summer holidays, unfortunately not busy felting, so I am a bit behind with my felting experiments and learning right now!

That is because I lately have used my holidays to challenge myself with something different, taking with me only a few of my stash wool and supplies, and focusing on a single idea that I wanted to try and learn better. The fact that I can’t bring with me my usual tools and implements is a challenge in itself: I have to use whatever I can scavenge around, and I feel that it teaches me to be less reliant on my routine and my favourite tools. I do not truly need any of those, I found out that you truly do not need any fancy stuff to felt, it just takes a bit more effort sometimes, and understanding companions that will put up with you grabbing the rolling pin and all the bin plastic bags from the kitchen.

On my first year, I tried to wet felt vessels and pouches.

I had never gone that thick before, and I tried a sander for the occasion: that was a first as well! I managed to felt two vessels, one with a basic truncated-cone resist, and one with a strange resist (a truncated cone with add-ons at the corners, do not ask me why, spur of the moment thing). I understood that you need more than 4 layers: it was a concept that I did not readily welcome, as I realised that I did not have enough wool with me for more trials!

I used my newfound awareness about thickness to wet felt an almost A-4 sized pouch: it was my first one ever, and I was terrified that I would not be able to find the resist of the pocket in the end if I included one, so I just went for the basic shape! I had never done a rectangular shape before, so that was a first also: learning how to make straightish lines and corners! I also understood that it takes a lot of elbow grease and time for a wet felted vessel or bowl, and you need to add quite a bit to your resist size if you work with merino wool and you want your vessel to stand upright in the end!

A wet felted vessel in pink white and blue with a small pink rose plant in it, on a blue striped cushion.
My first vessel, made on my first Learning Summer Challenge

A wool felted vessel in white pink and blue on a blue striped cushion with two blue and white cushions behind it.
The inside was white, and I was surprised about how much of the pink wool migrated into the white layers. You can appreciate the thinness of this first vessel from this pic. But it stands upright.


A blue rectangular pouch handmade in felt
My first wet felted pouch ever! I went for a felted cord to close it, so that the person I gifted it to could close it well both when empty and very full.

White inside of a wet felted pouch by Kiki Peruzzi.
The pouch was white inside, and not very thick, partly to keep it soft and partly because I did not have wool enough to make it thicker.


On my second year, I was back on holiday after Covid had forced me to skip a couple of years of travelling: I had to isolate myself for a while before being able to move around, so I practiced patience! That is, laying fine layers of wool: I mean, extra fine layers!

That helped me enormously with layout control, passing time very pleasantly, and also solved my problem of what to gift to my various friends and sisters-in-law: I made a lot of extra-lightweight scarves in merino wool with accents of silk fibers. Everybody was so happy, it was a win-win. Afterwards, I was able to make more uniform felt, and tackle other challenges such as wet felting kids mittens.

Two wetfelted scarves in progress on a table, one is blue with pink details and the other is chequered pink blue and white
Two of my many lightweight scarves in progress on a kitchen table.

Three lightweight wet felted scarves drying on a wool bench in a garden. One is white, one is pink, the third is chequered pink and white
Three scarves drying on the garden bench. We had a constant procession of my husband’s relatives coming to wave at us from the other side of the garden and exclaiming over the scarves drying on the bench.

Detail of a cobweb lightweight wet felted pink scarf.
This detail will make apparent the extreme thinness of the scarves.

Detail of striped pink and white lightweight cobweb wet felted scarf.
In this one, I was experimenting with laying the wool in a grid pattern.

Detail of a white cobweb lightweight wet felted scarf.
This one had silk fabric strips and silk fiber accents helping to hold it together.

Two wet felted lightweight cobweb scarves drying on a wool garden bench. one is subtly multicolored and the other is blue
The left side scarf was made with the thinnest layer of white merino as background and a thin layer of multicolored sari silk over it: I loved it and gifted it to a very dear friend. The other one is merino with swirls of silk fabric and accents of silk fiber.

A blue lightweight cobweb wet felted scarf on a wooden bench
This is a second blue one, the difference from the other is in the accents of colour, that in the previous one were red and white silk fiber while in this one were yellow and white.

Detail of lightweight cobweb wet felted blue scarf with silk fabric swirls and white and yellow accents.
Here is a detail of this last blue scarf. The white accent was merino, the yellow was silk, and the swirl silk fabric.

I also enrolled in a yearly subscription to Lena Archbold’s online classes (here her website): I was eager to learn a lot from her, although I find her voice and manners the uber-treatment for insomnia! I managed to complete three or four of her online classes and to actually try making 2-3 of her suggested coursework designs, mainly during or right after my holidays (of course), but then did not have time for more. Pity, because I learned quite a lot from her (she also helped me sleep most evenings, that is not to be sneered at). Only a couple of the suggested designs really worked for me, the others that I tried I did not like the results, and I had major failures on a couple of occasions! That was totally my fault, because I tend to , ahem, be creative with instructions sometime. Also because I do not really like her style of fashion, so I often change materials and combinations with supplies I own and like.  Anyway, when I had the patience to try again and understand from my previous mistakes, I got very good results. More importantly, I learned some good techniques and tips from her classes.

Royal blue wet felted mittens on a white surface
Mittens that I made following Lena Archbold’s online classes, using a sander as she teaches


On my third year, I managed to scrounge some me time to enroll on Felting&Fiber Studio member Ruth Lane’s great online class on Embellishing Felt with Surface Design Techniques: fabulous!

I managed only the module on Printing, Stenciling, and Playing with Thickened Dye on Felt, as my time is always limited, but it was very inspiring and I had a real learning summer, full of ideas and experiments. It was challenging, because I had to learn a whole new set of creative tools, and I am by no means finished with the learning about it. Still, summer is short and I need to pace my creative work during the year, unfortunately: I am constantly adding to my printing stash the odd interesting surface, waiting for the time to play with dyes in future! I would love to take other Felting and Fiber Studio classes in future: during holidays, of course!

Work in progress of a cut out stencil on mylar sheet.
Work in progress of my cut out stencil on mylar sheet for my class with Ruth Lane.

Finished abstract handmade stencil on mylar sheet.
My first cut out for stencil.

An abstract print trial in green and yellow on paper of a handmade stencil on mylar sheet.
I tried it on paper, as it was my first time and wanted to try the printing paint.

A handmade stencil of a peony-type flower
My first burnt stencil, and I still have a bit of work to do on that, as you can see from the printing trials of this.

Stenciled red and blue flowers printed on white paper
My experimenting with the burnt stencil was not as successful as I may have desired, as the sheet should have been scraped for residues of plastic around the holes.

Stenciled flower in red and green on grey felt pinned to a pink and white table cover
The flower on felt is even less defined, not what I was aiming at.

Abstract stencil cut out on mylar sheet
Another cut out stencil that I made for the class.

Abstract stenciled shapes in green red and blue on paper
I got inspired while trying the stencil on paper, it made me think about seaweed, and I added a red and blue fishish shape by scraping paint with random implements.

A piece of blue and white felt is pinned on a pink and white table cover, and it has been printed with green and red stencils.
I ended up making a small sample of seaweed and “fishes” shapes on a leftover piece of blue and white felt that I had left from a bowl…

Maroon and green flower printed on paper among other paint marks in yellow, green and blue
This is my print trial of a handmade stamp with foam sheets, on paper. I was pretty pleased by the result. I have not tried it on felt, yet.

Grey felt with blue and white paint marks on a pink and white table cover.
My experiments with mark making on felt were variously successful, and great fun!

A broken kitchen implement on the side of a grey felt with many blue green and white paint marks
I had so much fun that I am afraid I kept on quite a bit with mark making on felt, trying out different broken kitchen implements, plastic packaging, and various plant parts, even!

I also had some ideas on surface embellishment through stitching and embroidering to try: I wet felted a couple of small key trays in blue to try my hand with.

Two small wet felted blue key trays, with white locks embellishment, on a wood bench
I tried the circular key tray shape first, using up quite a bit of white locks as embellishment.

Detail of small wet felted blue and black key tray with white locks
The bigger one was actually blue and black.

Blue wet felted small shallow bowl with white stitching in progress on a blue and white cushion on a wood bench
This is where I tried stitching for embellishment on a small shallow bowl. More challenging, I did not have embroidery floss and embroidery needles, I just made do with darning thread and a random needle found in a drawer.

A slanted image of a small shallow blue bowl with a white stitch motive on the edges, work in progress, on a blue and white cushion
A work-in-progress pic of the stitching, white on the blue sides of the small bowl.

A blue shallow small wet felted bowl with white stitching embellishment along the edges and raised sides, on a blue and white cushion
The finished bowl has been left in my mum’s care for her keys and glasses and small stuff that tends to wander around.

And, lastly, this summer I have been wanting to experiment with differential shrinkage and manipulation.

I only brought white merino wool with me, with a bit of other colours and silk, a small bag of orange locks, and I came back with a good half of what I brought untouched: I had very little time and I managed to complete only one vessel. I really like it though, and I think that I would like to follow through with my other ideas to try. I found the layers felt easier than what I remembered from my first tries without sander (I lately always use my sander when felting thicker felt, but I did not use it in this occasion): maybe I am just becoming better at wet felting or I get less impatient with my rubbing and rolling and fulling. I did not find the manipulation part of the project as exhausting and boring as I was afraid: possibly because I had to complete the job in two times, a week apart, and it felted faster and better because of that?

White wet felted bowl with blue vertical lines, work in progress, on bubble wrap and white towels.
This is the still wet bowl that I wanted pretty ridged. I used only merino wool on that one. Sorry, I do not have another photo, as I left this vessel with my mum, as she loved it and said that she needed to have around beautiful things: I could sympathise.

It was a bit of a complicated summer for me, and it does not signify that I could not felt as much as I originally planned: I am sure that next year will be different!

I find that summer is a very good time for me to try one or two different things and learn, as bringing only a few supplies forces me to focus only on one aspect of my felt, and I very determinedly embrace the idea of learning something each summer. I tried taking online classes during the year, but it gets too much for me with my family commitments and job commitments, it just does not work well for me.

Do you set aside a time specifically for learning or experimenting too?

Another Art Retreat

Another Art Retreat

My last post was about an art retreat and normally, I would just have one a year to tell you about.  But this year, I had two only weeks apart. This is the annual retreat that my small art group does in late summer/early fall at the Kiwanis Lodge on Little Bitterroot Lake.

Landscape of Little Bitterroot Lake with pine trees in foreground and mountains in background on a cloudy day.

This is the view off the deck of the lodge. The weather was a bit cool and rainy but so much better than smoky skies from wildfires.

This year we decided to play around with making our own natural inks, printing and painting with the inks and then doing some bookmaking.

Before anyone points out that many of these types of ink are fugitive and might not last, we realize that. We were just playing around to see what happens and what colors we could get as a result. No “serious” artwork is being made from these inks.

We started by grinding up Haskap berries (Fly Honeysuckle) with a bit of water and straining the result. That is the bright red color on one of the acrylic printing plates in the foreground of the left hand photo. We also ground up beets, grass and kale and tried grinding choke cherries. The choke cherries were a disaster but Sally tried boiling them after she got home and got much better results than the fresh berries.

So Paula had gotten all of us some acrylic printing plates which we covered with ink and then let dry. We left watercolor paper in a baggie with water to get damp overnight and then printed the next morning. The two photos on the left show different prints and the photo on the right was painting haskap berry ink on to a page and soaking three squares of felt in the ink and laying these down on the paper. The ink changed colors depending on oxidization and what paper it was applied to.

Make Ink book by Jason Logan.

This is the book we referred to for various recipes and what mordants or modifiers to use with different foraged materials.

Drawing organic lines with oak gall ink on to previously printed watercolor paper.

I also added further ink (oak gall with ferrous sulfate) to one of my prints with my new fountain pens. I wanted to get used to using the fountain pens so this was good practice.

We then set about making a bunch of inks including hibiscus, acorn caps, acorn caps with ferrous sulfate, oak gall with ferrous sulfate, avocado, turmeric, blue pea flower and walnut ink. Paula also brought copper ink which takes several weeks to make but is the most beautiful blue. We put these in small individual jars with a whole clove to keep the ink from molding. These are now stored in the refrigerator in hopes of keeping them good a bit longer. These should be used fairly quickly. Paula had some that she had stored in the fridge for 6 months or so and they were mostly dull and brown and had lost their original color.

We then set about making little samples of the colors from these various inks. And then you can start adding the different inks together and see how they mix on the page. Such fun!

Table set up with blue pea flower dyes and various modifiers.

Our next set of experiments were with blue pea flower. Apparently, you can buy this as a tea. All you do is steep the blue pea flowers and then add different modifiers. The modifiers that we used were baking powder, baking soda, vinegar, cream of tartar and vinegar. The modifiers change the color of the ink.

Sampling of blue pea flower ink with a variety of modifiers.

Here is some lovely sampling of the different colors that you can get from the blue pea flower inks. They range from green to blue green to blue to purple.

Here are a couple of landscapes that I painted with blue pea flower dye. I love how they mix on the paper and the variations that you get.

You can also paint your paper with blue pea flower ink and then drop dry modifiers on top such as baking powder or baking soda. You really get some interesting effects with that.

Shibori tissue paper dyed with inks glued to watercolor papers to create bookmarks.

We did put some ink on shibori folded tissue paper that could then be overlaid on previously inked watercolor paper and glued down to make bookmarks.

Paper coasters with natural dyed organic patterns.

Paula supplied us with white paper coasters and we played with ink on those too. The left is a combination of walnut ink, acorn caps and oak gall. The right is blue pea flower and hibiscus with baking soda dropped on top while still wet.

Here a three of the books that I created at the retreat. The middle one was using a bit too thin paper which had not been ironed so it is a little sad. But I learned how to fold the triangular pages which was fun. I was using papers that I had previously printed with deconstructed screen printing.

I took my tree specimen book with me and painted one of the plastered pages with oak gall. The photo on the left shows that page which was interesting. The photo on the right is Sally’s book where she has collage parts of the page and added oak gall ink to as well.

We had the best time and thanks to Paula for most of our supplies. We also want to thank the Kalispell Kiwanis Club for letting us stay at the lodge each year!

Question: What needle is that? (Part 2)

Question: What needle is that? (Part 2)

When last we left off we had considered where we get our needles and the pros and cons of buying from the manufacturers or the resellers. We also reviewed the parts of a felting needle and the gauges we usually use (there are more gauges and shapes that we don’t tend to use too.)

Keeping track of your Needle Gauges

Usually there are a few ways to do something and you can decide which way works best for you. I do only have a few absolute rules about needles, here are two that I find useful;

  • -the sharp end goes in the felt and not in your fingers (this reduces the use of bandaids)
  • -an unmarked needle that has left the box (or original packaging) does not return to the box (It keeps the needles in the needles boxes from getting mixed so I am sure of what is in each box).

Now, let’s look at a few options on how to keep them organized once they have left their needle box or packaging.

Option 1 (one supplier or being extremely organized)

If you acquire only one colour system (use only one suppliers) or if you carefully kept track of each needle, use one gauge at a time, then return it back to its original packaging when you are finish using it, you will always know what needle you are using.  If this is working for you don’t change, unless it’s driving you mad. If this obsessive-tidy-neatness-technique dose not sound like you, we need a few other options. (I am not in this category)

Op.1 one supplier or

extremely organized

Pro Con
 For one supplier, It is easy to keep track of what needle is what gauge as soon as you learn the colour system your vender uses. You only have one place to buy needles!!! This can limit acquisition opportunities. (NO!!!!)

You have to be very organized, if you are working with more than one colour system.

Ann’s Option (2):

Re-colour to your own colour code. There are a number of ways to do this, the most common I have seen is Cheap Nail Polish (another reason to visit the dollar store). You may try warm (Red is a 32gauge) to cool colours (46Gauge is an Ice Blue). Or you could just go for odd colours that are on sail. Just keep track of what gauge is what.  Some of the holders do not suggest using painted or coloured needles with them.  If your favorite holder is one that does not like painted needles, leaving the needles un-coloured and just labeling the holder, may be the way to go.

Another ways to colour needles would be a spray paint for mettle like Tremclad or similar products. (Cover the working part and tips of the needles when you spray or you will reduce the effectiveness of the barbs.)

I have also seen a product described as “Tool Dip” used to coat the shank of the needle up to the crank. It was described as being more comfortable to hold than the thin needle on its own.

For my students I have used coloured kids hair elastics from the dollar store augmented by ones I have found on line. The best ones I have found were small circular ones that seem similar to the more expensive ones used to make bracelets. There are also hair elastics that are more plastic and less rubber that are larger but tend to brake quickly.(Try to avoid those.)  7 boxes of 500 needles each, with note stateing designation and colour of elastic that gauge/shape7) colours of elastics that go with each needle box I have presently.


Option 2 Re-colour

Pro Con
You chose the colour system o   Some colours chip, rub or flake off, leaving you guessing again, what the gauge is.

o   You need to acquire the colours of paint or dip and also have the mess and time of labeling each needle.

o   May not fit in all the holders after the colour is added.

o   Elastics will eventually brake and you are left with an unmarked needle (unless you can identify it by its lacking from the ones that remain.)

Option 3.1 (Grouping on work surface)

If you have Lots of unlabeled, unmarked or randomly coloured needles stuck into something waiting to be used (Yes that sounds like me.) I often use two similar working methods to keep my needles sorted when using them. On both my foam (pool noodle foam kneeling pad) and the thick wool pad, I keep track of my needles by where their located on the pad.  From left to right I have them grouped in course, medium, fine and extra fine if I have one.

sheep wispers in progress, working on pool noodle foam pad. the top end of the foam pad showing the parking sopts at the top for the various gauges of needles8-9) Working on the whispering sheep. Foam kneeling pad from dollerama. Keep working needles grouped by gauge in the top portion of the mat.  

If you have trouble remembering where each group is located, draw, sew or otherwise indicate the parking spots for your needles. Usually at the top of the mat is best, since it is not in the working area, you are less likely to accidently brake the needle by knocking it with your hand as you work. Try to be attentive to what your working style is and adjust the location to best suit you. (NB: if you have the pink, blue or red pen tool, which holds 1 to 3 needles. try not to stick them into the foam it is very easy to nock into them. Since they are taller than the average needle, they can easily snap when nocked by your hand or forearm). (Well, if you have an accident, at least that would mean you might be able to go shopping again!!)

For the firm felt pads similar to those sold as quilters ironing pads (.5inch thick) some are very firmly felted and can be resistant to needle penetration.  If you have one of the extra firm options please see “Option 3.2 (Adjacent storage)” for some suggestions.

When I am working, the needles are stuck in across the top of the working surface. For storage in my foam pad (foam like pool noodles), I again group the needles but move them to the top edge of the pad. Don’t leave them in the end of the pad when you resume working.  You can hit one of the stored needles and break one or the other, or both.

diagram looking from the top of the foam pad, with the needles in both a working and storage location.10) Diagrams showing the top end of a foam pad. The needles are first shown on the top for working (grouped by gauge), then the end of the pad for storage and travel. (Push the needles in so they don’t catch and brake during storage or travel. Remember to move them all back to the top surface when you want to resume work.)

option Pro Con
Op.3.1 Grouping on work surface Needles are close to hand

Works well on larger and softer work surfaces

–        Needles are safer if stored deeply in the end of a foam pad for storage or transport. (storing at the end doesn’t work for all surfaces)

Storing needles in the work surface Can accidentally brake needles off in the pad if not careful.

–         If needles are forgotten in the end of the foam pad, needles can be broken when work resumes.

–        Before you dispose of degraded foam, check for needles stored in it.

–        Not good for thin hard or side-less pads.(some have slopes rather than sides)

Option 3.2 (Adjacent storage)

When I am using my 6” x 6” wool pad, there is often no space on the pad to hold and store needles.  When I can’t store them on the pad, I have used half a foam pool noodle (on sale in the fall when outdoor water activities become chilly and challenging).  Again, pull out your permanent marker, and label where you will put each gauge or grouping (course (32g) / medium (36g-38g)/ fine (40g-42g)/ ex-fine (46g)).  if you need to, add a spot just past “course” for reverse needles.  That will help keep you from grabbing them by accident, (which could happen if you were storing them just by gauge).

half a pool noodle labled in sections to store needles by gauge11) Half a pool noodle derived in sections labeled by gauge.

If you want to upgrade the look of your studio or work space,(pool noodle may not be the accent you had in mind for your desk?- they do come in other colours and shapes and you can use English spelling instead of mine.) I have seen and admired very cute tea cups filled with wool that can also hold needles like a pincushion. I would suggest if you only use one tea cup, using sections of different colour wool to suggest where to store each gauge or using a needle and thread to mark out the parking spots. If you have a bigger work surface, maybe a selection of tea cups, one for each gauge and for specialty needles would work.

option Pro Con
Op.3.2 Adjacent Needle Holder Using an adjacent space allows more workspace on your pad or work surface. Not attached to work so may get separated (mysteriously wander off).

Option 4: Use a needle holder and label the holder.

I have a number of different needle holders.  The holders I have can hold from a single needle up to one that will hold 20 needles. They make work faster and most are more comfortable than holding a single needle.  Getting a collection of some of your favorite holders/handles shapes allows labeling each holder with the gauge in them. If you keep the needles not yet in use separately stored and labeled, then you can be sure to switch out the occasional broken needles with the correct one.  I know my fake clover tool has T-42 222’s. If I can find the 10 needles I just bought (found them!), the Twisted/Spirals 40g’s, I can label the other punch tool so I will visually know which is which.


If you securely use painters tape on the holder, than mark the tape, you can change both the tape/designation and set of needle you are using until you have enough holders for each gauge/shape you would like to have in them. The multi tools with closer needle spacing work best with fine gauge needles, whereas the wider spaced multi tools can accommodate courser needles. Remember if your holder can hold 7 needle, you don’t have to put all 7 needles in.


A selection of differnt needle holders, from sigle needle holder to the 20 needle holder.12) a selection of needle felting holders, there are examples of holders that can hold as few as one needle to one holder that can hold 20 needles.


Ergonomically speaking the single needle used directly in your fingers can become uncomfortable with extended use (muscle cramps and spasms can occur). Some felters will find it uncomfortable much faster than others will, especially those with finger and joint conditions such as arthritis.  Recently a larger version of the single offset wooden holder has become available which is, for most people, more comfortable than the thinner version.  If you do not find the pen shaped tools comfortable, then try the more nob shaped ones. The Nob shaped handles come in a couple sizes but usually have the ability to hold more than one needle, you can always decide to have only one needle seated if you need more control.

To reduce the likelihood of injuries, you can try to use larger muscle groups (larger muscles fatigue slower than smaller ones). Keep changing which joints are doing the primary work (shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers). Take brakes; drinking tea or water will have the bladder help remind you to take a break.  Slow down on the enthusiasm of both the rate and depth of stabbing the wool (remember working depth –the fiber is moved by the barbs so the depth of the barb is important.  Do not go deeper than you need to accomplish what you are doing.  Adding an appendage requires greater depth than blending a surface colour. A door mirror can be helpful if it is propped so you can glance at it intermittently as you work. Check if your shoulders are elevated or curled forward (protracted). When you are focused on felting you can forget about posture!

option Pro Con
Labeling holders You know what needles are in use as long as you




Ergonomics – most holders are more comfortable than holding a single bare needle and reduces hand cramping and muscle fatigue.

You need holders for each gauge and shape of needle you have purchased.  (Some of the holders are quite pricy)


Not all shapes are comfortable in all hands it may take a few options to find the ones that work for you.

Comparison set of needles.

A few of our local resellers have “sample or variety packs”. These are a group of needles in a variety of gauges and sometimes shapes. If you have an example of the main gauges you can compare the size of the working part from a needle you know the size of to one you are unsure of.  With spinning, there is a tool that allows you to check the size of yarn and the angle of twist. For knitting, there is a tool with different sizes of holes to determine unlabeled knitting needle gauges.  We don’t have a similar one yet for felting needles, hummm…. Let me think about that. If I could find my wire pulling plate that may be worth trying. (If only I could remember where what safe spot I put it in is… Drat oh well it might even be too fine!)

selections of labled needles from 3 different venders13) A set of needles from one of the china Resellers, Fibercraft has a larger sample pack but i didn’t find mine this is a smaller sample pack of star needles, Olive Sparrow has a set of needles in different gauges, and shapes.

Looking at the needles

I have a good ring light with a magnifying lens in the center. I purchased it for pulling guard hairs out of Quiviot fiber. It would also be helpful for those who are not as short sighted as I am, to look more carefully at their needles. Don’t just look at the gauge, sometimes there is an obvious difference between needles such as the 38g is a 333 barb needle the 40’s have the 222 barbs. While the 42 is a spiral 222 and the 46 is a crown needle so 111 barb designation. If you had a set like this, you could see the difference between gauges just by the barb number and working part shape.  There are also different barb spacing, so that may give you a clue as to which needle you are looking at. This requires you either, have the original specifications, or you made yourself a note when you bought them.

needles i have purchused but have not yet uised. they are in plastic tubes with screw top lids. there is a small lump of wool roveing at the bottom to keep the tips from dulling.14) Plastic vials with screw top lids. Add wool to the bottom so the needles don’t bang their tips on the end of the vile and dull.

Feel or palpate the needle (carefully)

You are likely also able to trust your fingers and carefully feel the working part of a known and unknown gauge needle. Palpation is a skill that gets better with practice but you can probably already tell the difference between course, medium, fine and extra fine. It is defiantly more of a challenge to separate the two fine gauges (40 and 42).  It’s also helpful to use the feeling (or end feel) as the needle goes into the felt. 42’s should feel smoother, and effect less fiber migration than the 40g, which is technically courser.  Palpation/Feel can mislead you on determining gauge; read the * in the “Con” column in the next table.

Another option is using a caliper tool

I bought a caliper tool for assessing armature wire as well as a couple metal plate wire gauges. (There are a couple of systems to size wire using the plates so it gets confusing. There is math involved when you look up how to use the info from a caliper with a wire gauge chart. Most of the charts I was looking at for armature wire didn’t get to the higher numbered gauges (40-46) which would cover our needles. If you have digital calipers that are fine enough to measure and compare to a labeled needle, with the unlabeled, then this is another option to sort our needles.  If you don’t find a fine measurement caliper already in your studio or workshop and suddenly want to acquire one, I found calipers on sail at Princess auto. One of the groups using them are sheet metal workers, to gauge sheets of metal (seems reasonable). You may have a friend who has one, check and see if you can borrow it to see if it would work for you.

Digital callaper in padded plastic box with instructions.15) Digital Caliper from Princess Auto

Ultimately, I can work just fine not knowing the gauge of a needle.  I can choose a needle by comparison of how they feel in use.  Is it moving the amount of fiber I want it to? if not, I will switch to the other one. That said, knowing what gauge you are handling is preferable since it can increase the speed of felting (no searching and testing needles each time you need to change gauges). It also lets you quickly replace a broken needle, ether in a tool or a loose one you were using. (This requires you to store spare needles safely, and labeled with some basic info; Designation: (ideally gauge, shape, barb number, length), the source so you can reorder when needed (their web address or store name), cost per needle or per group when purchased (it’s not necessary but it’s helpful to tack).

option Pro Con
2 groups of needles

-ones that are in use

-ones you have purchased and have not yet been pulled out to use. Labeled Gauge/Shape/# of barbs and where you got them (so you can get more)

You can compare the needle in use against the known gauges you have purchased.

Makes re-ordering easy

-Requires keeping track of your needle inventory

-Requires you write notes about each needle type (kept with the needle), where you got it and price.

-Requires that you find a storage option, that will be safe from humidity and prevent needle damage.

Look at the needle You may be able to sort some needles by shape or barb number if you remember their gauge. Memory….it can be a fickle thing…..
Feel / Palpation You can often tell from the feel of the working part or the way the needle enters the felt if one needle is finer or courser than another even if they look very similar. * You can get stuck looking at two T-40g needles that just have different barb number or spacing and not be sure if they are truly the same or different. (You may be feeling the difference in drag by the change in barb number or barb shape rather than the gauge itself.)
Wire Tools to assess the gauge Cool there is a tool that may help!!!

Digital calipers (can get expensive), see if you can borrow a pair if you are determined to use them to match mystery needles to labeled ones.

-Drat the plate versions I have don’t go fine enough for our needles!!!

-the really fancy fine calipers are not cheap, so look at the sale priced ones or “student quality” rather than Professional as long as they go fine enough (46ga).

I hope this gives you a few more strategies to sort out Mystery Unlabeled Needles or even better, Fabulous free gifts of needle from friends! I am sure you have tried or thought of most of them, but I hope I have something new for you to try too. Have I totally missed a brilliant solution that you use? Please let us know! It’s great to share ideas rather than having to find the same solutions independently. Let’s not have to reinvent Animal husbandry and selective breeding for fine fiber!!

Have a fabulous last long weekend of the summer, and the fall fiber festivals are just around the corner!!

my small clear box of tools, has multi tools, sizers and other usefull tools. the other needles are in another box if not in the foam or wool pad.16) My small travel box of tools I have the single needles ether in a second small box or in the work mat depending on what work surface I want to take with me.(yes the Smarties are candy coated chocolate and I am sure are valuable indispensable inspirational tools.)

Bringing up the colour

Bringing up the colour

It was back to school week so I was busier than usual. re-adjusting times and schedules.

Last time I showed you the finished visor. It had a lot of fulling and it was nice and sturdy. When the piece is well fulled, you often end up with a dull picture. This is caused by the backing fibres migrating through the coloured fibres. Sometimes they end up dull or fuzzy looking.

When I make pictures that will be mounted or framed I fix this by not fully very much as the picture will not be handled much and it will have the matting to help support it. for something that will be handled or used more light felting won’t help so it’s time to break out the the razor and shave it.

I get them at the dollar store. notice I did not pay the pink tax for my razor, I buy the cheapest ones they have regardless of the colour. It’s a pretty simple thing to do and it makes quite a difference. I hope the pictures show it well enough. It is hard to pick up with the camera. I tried to do one half at a time for you.



and lastly, the sheep, I think it shows the difference very well.

I shaved the rest of the piece as well. This is the pile of fluff.

Here are the before and after pictures


Before Shaving


After shaving

I think I still want to add some stitching I am just not sure what. outlining seems redundant. Maybe I will add some leaves scattered about. and I don’t know about eyes for the sheep. Curved lines make it a bit cute and like it is sleeping and round makes it look odd. Sitting here looking at the flower, I can see something else now, how about you?

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