Reflections and New Beginnings

Here we are in January 2021, with Covid vaccines being approved and hope for brighter, more normal days just over the horizon. January is traditionally a month for reflection and making plans for the future. This year more than ever and I have an additional reason to be focussed on the year ahead….. my partner has accepted a job offer from Aukland University, so we will be moving to New Zealand in March / April.

Part of me thinks, the middle of a pandemic has to be the worst time to make such a drastic move but then, is there ever a good time? At least New Zealand is one of the few countries in the world who have a managed to control the virus on their shores and, consequently, are leading a relatively normal existence.

We made the decision to move in November and have been decluttering ever since, I am horrified by how much STUFF we have accumulated in our 10 years in this house. In many ways it has been a lovely trip down memory lane, finding trinkets and photos that have languished in a cupboard or box for 10, 20, even 30+ years.

While my felt samples aren’t quite that old (the oldest might be around 10 years old) they did bring back many happy memories as I was sorting through them, trying to decide which ones to keep.

Some of them document some interesting ideas, techniques and experiments that I thought might be of interest to you too….

Colour blending techniques:

When we felt, we are encouraging the fibres to mix and mingle, so when we apply layers of wool in different colours, the colours also migrate and mix, a little bit like mixing paint. This first technique is something I try to get my bag class students to incorporate as it makes for an easy way to achieve subtle tint / tone graduation on the outside of the bag:

The front with colours yellow through burnt orange running left to right
The reverse side with black (tone) and white (tint)

The more this piece is fulled the greater the effect the black and white fibres will have on the colours on the front. By adding a mid-grey between the black and white you can achieve a more subtle change of tone to the coloured side of the felt.

Mixing different colours is also possible and this is so much fun for anyone interested in colour-theory. For this next sample I laid out 2 fine layers of different colours of merino over a green base. Up close (if you click on the image it should enlarge), you can still see the distinct colours in a random marbled pattern but from a distance the colours blend and because I have used colours on the opposite side of the colour wheel, the resulting blends are dulling the top colours and edging them towards greys and browns.

Devore

This sample was made by nuno-felting some hand-dyed cotton muslin to merino wool. Then painting on devore paste, leaving it work its magic for a few minutes before washing the paste out. The paste dissolves / etches away the plant-based fibre (cotton) but leaves the animal fibres (wool) in tact, the grey wool can be seen where the violet / red cotton has been removed.

Layering different materials / fibres

This next sample is one of my favourites although the technique is nothing particularly ground-breaking, it is strips of hand-dyed prefelt, laid over hand dyed habouti silk on a merino base.

This is the back, I really like the way the prefelts on the front have created a subtle, embossed effect on the back.

Adding locks for texture

When most of us think of adding locks to a piece, it is to add lots of fluffy texture with the locks only attached to the base felt at their base but on a workshop I took with Heidi Grebb we explored laying out locks much as you would a final layer of tops….

The bolero jacket that resulted from the “lock texture” samples.

Fake tweed

By laying different coloured yarns (ideally different weights too), it is possible to create felt that looks a lot like tweed. If you use yarns with a high wool content, they will felt into the wool base on their own. If using yarns with a higher synthetic content you will need to add a very fine layer of wool fibre over the top to help anchor the yarns into place.

Inclusions

This last sample is my favourite, perhaps I should stop calling it a sample and think of it as a mini work of art instead… It is three, silk cocoons felted between several layers of Bergschaff.

I hope you found these samples / techniques interesting, if you have any questions about them, please ask!

As part of my mammoth clear-out I have a couple of items listed on Ebay that UK residents might be interested in:

A vintage, fedora / trilby style wooden hat block: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/333849774234

whole Wensleydale fleece, I am gutted to be leaving this behind but I know NZ border biosecurity will incinerate it on sight and that would be even more heart-breaking: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/333851163732

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16 Responses to Reflections and New Beginnings

  1. We wish you the very best of luck in your new home. New Zealand looks wonderful!

    It’s frightening when you realise just how much valuable creative stuff you’ve accumulated over the years isn’t it?
    And it’s very difficult to part with any of it!

    • teriberryguest says:

      Thank you ladies, I confess I am a bit of a hoarder, I had a box full of recycling I was planning to incorporate into a felt sculpture but I will just have to start hoarding Kiwi trash instead! 🙂

  2. AdventuresInFelt says:

    Good luck on your new adventure! The wonderful thing about felting is that it can be done anywhere and you can still do your hat course, if from afar. My goal is to felt more and try new things, not much different from last year, but hopefully with the experience I gained, the quality will be better. Decluttering can be a challenge, but when you really think about it, it is only stuff and you can make more. If you can’t bear to part with things but can’t take them with you and can’t sell or don’t want to throw away, maybe some people will be happy to take them off of your hands.

    • teriberryguest says:

      Thank you, yes, there are a lot of things we have had sat in cupboards for years that are still perfectly functional but not valuable enough to sell, Freecycle / Trash Nothing has been invaluable for saving those items from landfill but as the lockdown rules get tighter there are fewer and fewer opportunities to rehome things.

  3. Having got to know you better over the past months of our Felting Fundays, I am going to miss you a LOT! This is a fascinating article and so typical of how you share all the techniques you have discovered.
    Looking forward to years more ‘meetings’ on Jitsi and hearing all about your adventures – just wish we’d made a similar move many years ago!
    Very best of luck

    • teriberryguest says:

      Thank you Nancy, I am sure we will be able to make the Jitsi meetings work and still have fun playing with wool from a distance 🙂 I am not going to miss you because we will still meet regularly, just not in the same room like we used to! 🙂

  4. Karen Lane says:

    Very exciting news Teri! I hope you will both be very happy in your new home.
    You’ve shown some very interesting samples, including a couple of techniques I’ve not tried before and which I’m now going to have a go at.
    Marjolein Dallinger said that her move to Canada had a huge influence on her Feltmaking, in a very positive way. With new experiences, scenery, people, etc your move to New Zealand will bring new sources of inspiration and who knows what you might be making this time next year!

    • teriberryguest says:

      Thank you Karen 🙂 I have a sneaky feeling being surrounded by soooo many sheep will be influential! 🙂 But of course the scenery, culture and lifestyle too 🙂

  5. ruthlane says:

    Best of luck on a smooth, uneventful move. Thanks for sharing your samples, it’s always good to see and remember a technique again that you tried, even if it’s years later. Usually, it gives me new ideas on other experiments that I might try now combining old and new ideas.

    I look forward to learning more about New Zealand after you’re settled.

    • teriberryguest says:

      Thank you Ruth, I am ashamed to say I made these samples to test out ideas, made one or two pieces based on them and then forgot about them! I would love to have a dedicated studio space where I could plaster the walls with them, maybe in the new house… 🙂

  6. Congratulations on the move, so exiting for you. With all those sheep in New Zealand I am sure you will have a lot of fun felting. I am looking forward to hearing about your new adventure. Good luck and I hope you have an uneventful moving day at both ends.

    • teriberryguest says:

      Thank you Ann, I confess I am looking forward to the sheep, have even toyed with the idea of having my own flock but that really is a pipe dream, I suspect the reality of sheep husbandry is a lot of hard, physical work!

  7. Leonor says:

    Moving to New Zealand, how wonderful! Say hello to the sheep for me 🙂 I’m sure we’re all envious of your closer source of fibre.

    Did you stitch the information directly on your samples? How did you do it? It looks like a great way to make sure the information doesn’t get lost with time (as it might with labels)… Love them squares!

    • teriberryguest says:

      Thank you Leonor, yes, I used machine embroidery to “write” details of each sample in a way that can’t be easily removed. Afraid my machine embroidery skills are not good enough to create small letters so I am usually limited to just one or two words per sample.

  8. Jane says:

    Hi Teri, I love all your wonderful samples. Good luck with the move, and welcome to coming to New Zealand! I am based down in the South Island in Christchurch but I know Auckland has a really fun felting group. I will send you some links and names so you will have some fibre contracts ready for you in Auckland. You must of been gutted to have to leave that lovely Wensleydale fleece but I am sure New Zealand will be able to provide some good fleeces to make up for it.

    • teriberryguest says:

      Thank you Jane, yes, please do send some links to Aukland felting groups, I have been looking online but only really finding spinning groups and individual felters in the Aukland area. I was toying with the idea of having my own flock of Wenslydales and BFLs but i am pretty sure looking after sheep is much harder work than it looks!
      Hopefully we will get to meet in person at one of the Southern Felting Convergences?

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