Early Celtic Art Challenge Project Part Two

Last week I showed you the beginnings of my second quarter challenge project here. The next step was to make the pileus hat to the prefelt stage.

This is the resist all set up and ready for wool.

I added two layers of wool on each side that were fairly heavy.

Then I wet it down, flipped over etc. to add all the layers of wool.

Once the resist was covered, it was time to begin rubbing. I could have rolled at this point but I don’t do much rolling any more. I did stick with cold water as I didn’t want the wool to felt too quickly. I only needed to get it so it was holding together.

So I rubbed and felted by hand working the edges carefully for a nice smooth felt.

Then I cut the resist out. The felt is still very soft and needed gentle handling.

After cutting, I refolded the hat in the opposite direction to check the edge and sure enough the corners needed to be trimmed. The indent in the center of this photo is the far edges on the photo above it. Since the resist curved up there, the cut wasn’t even all the way around.

So I just cut it off to make it more even. So I have the basic hat shape in prefelt form ready to apply the prefelt design. I will show you that on my next post.



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So What Have I Made Lately?

I know I’ve been a little crochet sample crazy lately.  But I have actually made some crochet beanies.

On April 11, our newest Grandson Ken arrived about 8 weeks early.  So, I was inspired to make some little hats.

Not knowing what size his head was, I made several different ones. And of course, I had to make a couple for my Granddaughter Lisa. I didn’t know her size either, but as it turned out a couple fit her.

Unfortunately,  because he was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) they would not allow him to wear anything from outside.

The first one I made was blue.  It entailed crocheting in the round and using a couple of different stitches.

Then I made a  green one with basically one stitch.

I figured if it was too big the bottom could be folded up.

Then I made a bigger lightweight yellow which is Lisa’s favorite color at the moment.


I thought these last two might fit Lisa so I put a flower on each.

Without upturned brim.

So, I shipped them all off. And here is the real model.

Ken came home this week. I don’t know if they have tried the hats yet, but here is our new bundle of joy.  Fortunately, now all the tubes are gone, but he really looks happy.

Here you can see the size differences.  It will be interesting to see which one, if any fit him.

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Felt Landscape Picture

Today we have the second in a series of guest post from Forum member Tracey:

I approached a gallery recently to ask if they would be interested in stocking my felt cards.  I took along four cards, three flower and one cottage picture.  I was thrilled when they bought all four! I only have pictures of two of them:

When I was next in the gallery the owner said ‘ We like your little house, can you make a larger picture’, Oh yes I said, whilst inwardly thinking – PANIC!

So here is my attempt.  Firstly I laid out white Merino wool for the sky and added blended blues, white silk caps and blue and white silk throwsters waste.  I then started on the bottom sections laying out green Merino, I didn’t blend the colours but pulled them into sections of wool, as I wanted a rolling hill feeling.

In the  next picture, I guess you will be wondering why the grey thick band, well I am planning to build my first wall! I blended greys with a little charcoal colour and added little bits of white here and there.

I then continued to build the picture adding my little house, this was cut from prefelts.  Prefelt is the stage between soft wool fibres and fully fulled felt, you can make your own or it can be bought commercially. You can use it to cut shapes, lay it on your work and it will felt into your piece. A few trees and wool nepps (little wool balls) by the house, and as the hills had emerged into a dip shape, I couldn’t resist adding a bit of sunshine!

So here is my picture after felting.

Then it is time for a little FME (Free Motion Embroidery).  Some (not all) sewing machines allow you to do this. If you can drop the feed dogs (the little ‘teeth’ that guide the fabric) you will be able to do this.  In effect you are then ‘drawing’ using the needle on your machine, the needle is your pencil!  Because the feed dogs are dropped, it is then down to you to guide the fabric, whilst the needle is drawing. The skill to master is controlling the speed of the machine in conjunction with moving the fabric. I really enjoy it.  Initially I drew the stones in with a magic fabric marker to follow, but then I grew more confident and went freestyle!

For the rest of the picture, I didn’t want to define much of the ‘distance’ with FME, as I wanted it to look exactly that – distant.  I did a little on the tree trunks though.
I then concentrated more on my wall, needle felting some dark sections, especially where the stones had ended up quite a strange shape!, good how you can cover and change your mistakes…..

So here is the completed  piece. I added a few FME grasses and French knot flowers by the wall. Apologies to any dry stone wallers out there!

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A Few New Things

We made felt flowers for brooches at the Well Being Centre last week. These are the three layers of one of mine:

I thought I’d found the perfect button when I tried it out:

But just before I sewed it on, I spotted an orange shisha mirror and sewed that on! I haven’t got a photo yet though. I was sorting some felt offcuts a few weeks ago, and thought I’d save some to use for greetings cards because turned sideways they looked like landscapes. I thought it’d be nice to make some new ones too, and was only reminded by someone on the forum (I’ve forgotten who, sorry!) and before I forgot again, I went and made some. I made them quite soft and thin since they’re for cards:

I thought they’d be nice for beginners workshops too. I put a few offcuts to one side while I was sorting, and made a new camera bag. I’ve been using my ‘prototype’ for at least 18 months to see how well it wore.  I suppose it’s two-sided/reversible, but I put the zip so that really this is the front:

I still like the back though, and can flip it if I feel like a change:

While the machine was out, I made a little coin pouch from an offcut:

How two small things can create such a mess though, is a mystery!

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Birdhouse Class with the West Carleton Fibre Guild.

I gave a felt birdhouse class to 10 members of the West Carleton Fiber Guild last week.  The class was held at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum’s  classroom space. They were a really fun and enthusiastic group and they worked hard.

Some how I missed getting a picture of the yellow one. As you can see 9 of 10 picked a gourd shape. For the round one, she decided she wanted a bowl. That’s easy it’s just a round birdhouse the other way up.

Here they all are at the end of the day. This is the only one I have a picture of dry. It belongs to Marie-France Gosselin

All in all a very fun day for everyone.




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IFA Conference

This is a guest post by Anne H. (penguin), one of our forum members who recently attended the IFA Conference that was held near her home. Thanks for the post Anne!

I’ve only been felting a couple of years, and I’m certainly no expert, but when I saw that the International Feltmakers’ Association was holding their annual conference (with workshops of course!) only an hour away from me I couldn’t resist. I was a little nervous going on my own as I’ve done a few residential courses before (for embroidery) but I’ve always known some of the people there – however, the group of approximately 65 ladies (and one man) couldn’t have been friendlier, and I had a wonderful time. If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it!

The whole event was also extremely well organised and there was something to do all the time – although of course you didn’t have to join in with everything. Shortly after we arrived an aluminium jewellery workshop started, and later that evening there was a mini-marketplace with a few members’ stalls and a bring and buy charity sale, and Annemie Koenen, one of the tutors and a remarkable felter, had brought an entire shop with her from Holland – lovely dyed wools, tools, soaps, silks … most of us wanted to go home with the lot!

The meetings are held alternately somewhere in the UK and somewhere … not in the UK. Next year it’s Sweden. I wish I could go! We had someone from Canada and someone from Iceland, and two or three from Holland, although most people were UK based.

The two workshops I did were with Zsofia Marx – hat making, and Chris Lines – Felt Faces. The one with Chris was on the first day and I learnt an incredible amount. I was going to use a pic of my hubby, but he’s got a fair bit of hair and a beard, which would have made him a very tricky first subject. So instead I ended up doing a brooding looking popstar – Chris couldn’t remember who hewas but I liked his face!


One of the ladies from another workshop came round and said, ‘Coo, who’s HE?’ I managed to keep a dead straight face as I said, ‘Oh him? That’s my husband!’ The look she gave me was priceless. ‘I’ll be round yours tomorrow!’ she said … but then I couldn’t hold the straight face and had to confess that I had no idea who it was really.

Chris, the tutor, was horrified that I was using Carex hand soap and gave me a lecture on why olive oil soap was the ONLY thing to use. So why had I taken Carex? Because Zsofia, the tutor for the sculpted hat workshop, had said to bring liquid soap.

Well that evening myself and another lady who was going to be doing the Zsofia workshop next day decided we had better create some liquid olive oil soap – so I made a kind of gel in a tub with a lid, and Pat made a big (lidless) tub of soapy water, which she spent the whole of the next day trying to get people to use so she could get rid of it! Zsofia was most amused at what we’d done and said the soap I had bought would have been fine! A classic example of how every felt maker seems to work differently and swear by different things.

I’m still using my olive oil gel now and it’s great! I have to say that I did actually find things felted much better and much more quickly with the olive oil soap so I’m now a convert!

I didn’t get ‘my face’ finished during the workshop hours so I skipped the talk that was laid on that evening and went back to the workshop to finish off. Just as I’d finished my effort, another lady came in to finish hers, so I stayed and kept her company until bedtime. Unfortunately she’d used Superwash for her background without realising and of course it WOULD not felt! In the end she needle-felted the rest to her background and it looked fantastic so all was not lost.

The hat making workshop was terrific – Zsofia, a Hungarian-born lady now living in Holland and speaking superb English, was delightful. She started us off by showing us a variety of hats she’d made and then had us all trying them and telling each other, frankly, if they suited or not, while we looked in the mirror in the ladies’ toilets – as there were no mirrors in the classroom! This meant that most of us ended up not making the hat we liked the look of sitting on the table in the workshop, but the hat that actually looked good on us! I wanted to make the hat with the crazy rose sticking out of the side but it looked terrible on me! (two back on the right of the photo):

So I made a much more simple, pleated hat instead.

’Thanks to some excellent advice from the Felting and Fibre Studio forum I’d taken a selection of colours too. My intention was to make the hat purple with some peach decoration, but that was shouted down by Zsofia and the other ladies, so I stuck my hank of turquoise/green stripy merino roving on my head and said ‘What about this then?’ and they all said that suited me perfectly, so my purple hat ended up green! So much for trying to move away from my comfort zone – but at least it goes with a lot of clothes I’ve got, and my glasses; I always gravitate towards turquoise!

The hat was laid out on a 2D resist with coarser wool inside and the finer, coloured wool on the outside – except that the layout was inside out so the merino was against the resist and the other wool, in my case Corriedale, was on the outside.


Corriedale wasn’t the best choice as something a bit courser would have been good, but I had a lot left over from the Chris Lines workshop so that’s what I used!

Zsofia took us through the whole process from laying out, to wetting out and rolling, rolling, rolling … and then eventually cutting out the template (see photo below).

Then came fulling the hat into a 3D shape, first getting rid of the ‘seam’ from the template, and then gradually shaping the hat through rubbing until we had a fairly shapeless and ugly cone!

Then the magic happened as Zsofia showed us how to pleat the hats and set the pleats using steam.

I must say I’m really thrilled with the result, and was amazed that we all got a finished out of the process and that they were all so different!

After the second workshop we had the ‘Gala dinner’ where we were all asked to wear something we’d felted. I took a couple of scarves and also a completely mad, over the top jacket which I’d made for an exhibition a couple of years ago but never worn. I mentioned this to a few people on previous days and the answer was basically, ‘Look luv, if you can’t wear it here, where can you?’ so I braved it and it elicited much interest and some complements, so I was glad I did!

The following day we had a big show and tell in the main hall where we got to see everyone else’s work. I didn’t photograph everything but I was especially taken with the tops and dresses from the Vivienne Morpath two-day workshop:

And of course the variety of Felt Faces we managed to produce between us:

as the AGM, (which was relatively painless as these things go), and then lunch and homeward bound.

All in all a terrific weekend and I’m so glad I went. I hope I’ll be able to go to many of these meetings in the coming years.




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Early Celtic Art Challenge Project Begun

I finally had a little time to begin working on a piece for the 2nd Quarter Challenge. Ann chose the Early Celtic art period and so I followed the links that she gave in her post. I didn’t realize there was a difference in later Celtic art (which is what I always think of when I think Celtic) and earlier art. I have been wanting to make a hat for a while now. Not sure why but I haven’t made one in quite a while so I decided I would research hats from the same time period and add an early Celtic design to the hat.

I found my design on the Ancient Celts site that Ann recommended. Then I researched hats in that same time period and found the Pileus. Now I am not sure that Celts wore this type of hat but it is from the same time period and was made from felt. It actually was worn by freed slaves and is conically shaped with no brim.

So here is a printout of the design, I used the bottom one. And then I enlarged it to fit the brim of my hat. I drew it by hand and then used permanent pen so I could see which line I was to follow.

As you can see from this closeup, I changed my lines as I went along, drawing with pencil first.

Here it is after cutting it out. And again, I didn’t follow all my pen lines. If I felt that I had drawn an area so it was too skinny, I cut to give it more width.

Here is the resist I am using for the hat and the design where it will go along the brim.

I then pinned it down to prefelt so I could cut it out.

I folded the prefelt into two layers so that I would have prefelt pattern all the way around the brim on the front and the back of the resist.

And here it is after I cut it all out. These hats traditionally are white with minimal decoration. So I am going to make the hat white too. So it will be white on white. If the pattern doesn’t show up well enough, I will do either hand stitching or machine stitching to outline the Celtic pattern.

The plan is to make the hat to prefelt stage and then stitch the cutout prefelt on to the hat to hold it in place better. I don’t want to have to worry about the pattern shifting around when I am felting it. So next time, I will hopefully show you the finished hat.

Posted in Felted Hats, Wet Felting | Tagged , , | 15 Comments