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Author: kikistextileart

Left-overs? Yessss!

Left-overs? Yessss!

A bit ago I found myself with the usual thousands of small left-overs from cutting up pre-felt or fabric and yarn for different projects: pieces too small for beautiful regular patterns of shapes, but I really could not see myself throwing them away…some may say that I am a bit of a hoarder, I really call myself a forward-looking creative (it applies also to scraps of paper from paper projects, and bits and bobs from many other creative ideas and ventures)!

I am certain all creative types here will sympathise, at least all hoarding ones!

Anyway, what to do with all that treasure of tiny pieces? Wet-felting is downright wonderful for using all of that to magnificent effect, even the shapeless or tiniest bits: they all become embellishments for your project. Just find yourself a nice wet-felting idea that fits with what you need, and then make it interesting and colourful with all those scraps!

My project to use up some of my stash of scraps is an easy but very effective bowl, made with a very simple circular resist: any bowl or vessel looks stunning with bold solid colours and with the addition of scraps of pre-felt, fabric and yarns, I find.

Here are the steps to make a colourful wet-felted bowl, with the aid of a sander if you have one, although it is not necessary to use one, especially if your left-overs are all wool based and so very easy to felt in.

Bowls are very forgiving of mistakes in layout when you make seven or more layers, so they make for a fun layout practice. I used merino wool, as it is the wool that I have mainly, and also one of the types of wool that I like best working with: it felts very easily, and is just so soft to handle!

For resist, I just cut a circular shape from a bubble-wrapping sheet, easy peasy.

For an easy and fuss-free explanation on how to wet-felt with resists, I recommend Rosiepink’s tutorial “How to Make 3D Felt Vessels“.

Colourful pieces of pre-felt and yarns on a circular plastic resist.
Starting by adding the left-over pieces on a circular resist. If you are particular with your design, it’s better to lightly wet and soap them, so that they will stick to the place where you want them: I just added them randomly, so that some would go over the edges of my resist, to have a more natural look.
A circular resist with a first layer of embellishments and a second starting layer of dark grey wool laid from the edges towards the centre.
Laying out my wool in a contrasting though neutral colour, starting with the edges of the resist.
First layer of grey wool on a circular resist.
The first layer is all done, in a ray-pattern. I decided to add a second, lighter grey to the background.
First layer of grey wool with additions, on a circular resist.
I added a second layer of wool.
Beginning of second layer of grey wool on circular resist.
I began my third layer from the edges again, changing my layout for a more random one, but taking care to cover all of my surface.
Wet-felted bowl in progress, first two layers of wool wetted and soaped on a circular resist.
I wetted and soaped it, put a net on it and gave it a light rub for a few seconds. Then took off the netting with care.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with a circular resist. Second side.
And I turned the resist to the second side. I do not know if you can see it from the photo, but I folded in all the decorations that where overhanging from the first side.
Work in progress of a wet=felted colourful bowl with a circular resist.
Here we go again with the scraps, always fun! If you had a kind of pattern on the first side, maybe you will want to keep to it on the second side as well. Luckily, I just could place them randomly.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with a circular resist. First layer of wool on the second side.
Starting on the first layer of wool on the second side, I decided to make a uniformly dark grey background. I followed the same layout pattern as for the other side, but I did put less wool on the edges, as they were already covered.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with circular resist. Second layer of wool of the second side.
Second layer of dark grey wool on the second side.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with circular resist. Third layer of wool on the second side.
And this was me starting on my third layer on the second side: I used lighter grey again, just because I was fed up with the dark grey.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with circular resist. Fourth layer of red wool on the first side.
After wetting and soaping and lightly rubbing the second side, I turned the resist again to the first side, and folded in any overhanging wool from the edges. Then, I decided that grey and I were done for the evening, and I switched to bright red for my fourth layer: oh, more fun!
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with circular resist.
I went on with three more layers of red on this first side, for a total count of seven layers of wool.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with a circular resist. A white lock on red wool.
I did not forget to mark the first side with a small wool lock on the centre, just to be sure when I had to cut through the felt. Then I put a net fabric on it, wetted soaped and rubbed this side. Carefully removing the netting before turning the resist again.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl with a circular resist. The second side has final layers of red wool and embellishments of white wool locks.
I repeated the layout on the second side, but I added lots of wool locks as embellishments, also to distinguish it from the first side. I made sure some of the locks were going over the edges, to fold them in when I turned the resist again. I also put my netting on it, wetted soaped and rubbed it, then took away the netting very carefully.
Working on a wet-felted bowl with a rolling pin by World of Wool.
Making sure that all the locks stay well put is a matter of rubbing, either by hand or with a sander if you have one: your rubbing can become more vigorous if you see that everything stays put, and you can also start using tools, such as the one in the photo that is by World of Wool.
Kiki Peruzzi rolling a prefelt bowl to make felt.
Rolling your bowl comes next. I usually sandwich my prefelt in two layers of bubble-wrapping, then roll the whole on a plastic pipe (actually, I use a percussion tube, temporarily leaving my children without a musical instrument…well, I know, but what can you do?). I then roll the lot into an old towel and fix it in place with rubber bands. The rolling was a bit long with this bowl, because I wanted a firm felt. I made sure to unroll and reroll the lot to work on both sides and on every direction for the same amount of time.
Work in progress on a wet-felted bowl, after-rolling photo of the bowl on its red second side with white wool locks.
After rolling it for a good while, it was apparent that the bowl-in-progress had shrunk and I could feel the wrinkled resist: time to take it out.
Work in progress of a wet-felted bowl, a circular piece has been cut from the bowl to make an opening.
Cutting a nice circular opening with scissors on the first side of the bowl (the one marked by the small wool lock) gave me the chance to keep a circular shape that I later worked on to make a small colourful key holder.
A wet-felted circular bowl in grey and many coloured bits on a side and red with white wool locks on the other side, still wet on a white background.
After working with soaped hands on the edges to seal them, I turned the bowl inside out and worked on the edges a bit more. Then went on rubbing the whole bowl on the plastic bubble-wrap.
A wet-felted colourful bowl on a bubble-wrap and white towels, with a white brushing sponge inside it.
I personally find a netting brushing sponge very handy for rubbing the inside of bowls, as it is easier for me to grab than, say, a piece of bubble-wrap. Mine is from The Body Shop, but one can find a similar one in any shop selling personal hygiene products. I find it also useful when folding silk fibers around a resist, it works better than using your hands, as the fibers do not stick to it.
Wet wet-felted colourful bowl on bubble-wrap and old white towels.
I wanted a firm felt, so I immersed my bowl in very hot water a few times, with rinsing soaping and rubbing in between ducking it in water.
Wet-felted colourful bowl seen from the side, on a bubble-wrap and old white towels.
I needed to rub the sides very well, to erase wrinkles and small defects of wool over-eager layout. While doing that, I was also encouraging  the shape of my bowl to how I wanted it to be, by shaping it with repeated movements of my hands.
Colourful circular bowl seen from above on a white background.
And here is my finished and dried bowl, seen from above.

I called it Tuttifrutti Bowl, as it seems so yummy! Its size is good for holding fruit or just making for a decorative show-stopper.

So, have a go at using all your stash of small bits on a colourful and fun wet-felting project!


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?

Coming together for art, fun and others: community textile projects

Coming together for art, fun and others: community textile projects

Going around here in West London and in England, I have come across some textile-based community projects that maybe you will find interesting.

They are crocheting and knitting public projects that use those skills creatively to raise awareness and educate the public, and also inject beauty and fun in our lives of course! Maybe something similar is done in your own neighbourhood and community: it would be nice if you could share other similar projects in the comments.

The first couple of projects that I want to show you are projects that I came across to inside the Royal Botanics Gardens Kew or Kew Gardens.

This is a UNESCO World Heritage site that holds a collection of more than 28,000 taxa of living plants and around seven million of dried specimens in its herbarium, not counting the lovely historical buildings and surroundings that make for an enchanting visit: it is definitely a picnic favourite of Londoners and tourists alike, although the ticket is a bit expensive. I personally always try to go for the Orchids Festival, as I am a fan of orchids, but my kids like the yearly Children Science Festival!

Here are the links to the Kew Gardens official website and to the entry on them in Wikipedia.

In a small and quiet separate greenhouse very close to the famous historical Temperate House we found two textile pieces: one horizontal artwork about Food Security, and the other a vertical artwork about natural life classification for plants or the Plant Tree of Life.

Both were created as community projects by people coming together to express what the themes meant to them through knitting: the Community Learning group of Kew Gardens is aimed at people who may have difficulty in accessing the Gardens and would like to know more about plants and be involved.

Two placards on the wooden wall, both showing photos and a short descriptive text relating to Kew Community projects, titled Knitting Nature and Kew and food security.
The explanation of the Community Projects at Kew in general, and of the one on Food Security in particular.
Detail of one placard, showing a closer view of the photos: a group photo of participants to the Community Projects and another of knitted potted plants.
Here is a closer look at those photos on the signs: a group photo of the participants and a photo of their works!
A textile artwork hung on a wall, made of 32 knitted colorful squares representing edible plants and cooked food, and the words Kew & Food Security.
Here is the work on Food Security: quite colourful!
A placard explaining the Tree of Life community project at Kew Gardens and about Knitting DNA-inspired artwork.
This sign explained the Tree of Life project in Kew Gardens.
Detail of the two photos on the sign explaining the Tree of Life project, one a group photo of knitters at their work and one a photo of knitted yellow yarn on a hand.
Here is a close up of the two photos of the sign about the Tree of Life project: those ladies seem to be enjoying themselves!
Photo of the knitted artwork Plant Tree of Life on a wall: it represents different groups of plants by symbols and by their names. They are Asterids, Rosids, Early diverging eudicots, Monocots, Magnoliids, Gymnosperms, Lycopods, Ferns.
This is the knitted artwork itself, Plant Tree of Life.
Detail of three knitted water lilies in different colors.
A detail from the Plant Tree of Life, three knitted water lilies.
Detail of Plant Tree of life, knitted bees on a flower and a skeleton below the writing Asterids.
The bees were quite cute, but the skeleton sure was a bit scary!
Detail of the Rosids group of plants in the Plant Tree of Life knitted artwork: a lot of knotted colorful flowers and bees.
The Rosids understandably had some more bees going around.
Detail of Monocots in the Plant Tree of Life, with knitted grasses.
It seemed quite interesting how they managed to make the Monocots as well. Most monocots are grasses, but this group sees orchids as well: I kind of wish they made some knitted orchids, just to add a bit more colour to this group.
Detail of Gymnosperms on the Plant Tree of Life artwork. There is a knitted DNA chain.
The Gymnosperm group was represented by a DNA chain as well.
Detail of knitted dinosaur and ferns on the Plant Tree of Life artwork.
Those knitted dinosaurs on the Ferns group were quite cute.
Detail of knitted fishes on the Lycopods group on the Plant Tree of life artwork.
I have no idea why they put a lot of fishes on the Lycopods group, as those plants used to grow as tall as trees, before becoming almost extinct (probably because of drought conditions). They are similar to moss today.
Detail of many knitted ladybirds and a knitted flower in the Magnoliids group on the Plant Tree of Life artwork.
Those Magnoliids sure attract a lot of ladybirds!

If you would like to try your hand at knitting nature, as those ladies did, here is a link to some free patterns on the Community Learning Kew website that you might try. The Community Learning group is the one who created those two beautiful works and it is made up of people who face some barriers to accessing the Gardens and are part of an organisation who applied for a Community Learning Access. Barriers to access may be such as some physical, mental or psychological impairment or social and financial barriers.

The other project is way more informal, has been going on in my Ealing neighbourhood for a while and I recently saw another one in Norfolk, and realised that it is something widespread in England, UK: all British crocheters and knitters, please, let us know about something that you can see around your neighbourhood as well.

So, now that I have created a bit of suspence, here it is, a Pillar Box Topper: a crocheted or knitted shape is fitted on the top of the iconic red Royal Mail pillar boxes, and on top of that layer there are different clever crocheted or knitted shapes representing a theme, to raise awareness on charity associations or local features or something that takes the fancy of the artist. I gather that it is not usually something that you need to plan with the approval of Royal Mail, as long as you keep well off the critical bits of the post box, and do not cover the hole or the signs.

A typical red British Pillar Mail Box with a crocheted topper on a street in London.
Here is one that I love, it’s close to where I live.
A view of the Pillar Topper from above, showing knitted mittens, a knitted red heart, a knitted bowl of soup and a knitted cup of tea, a knitted scarf and jumper, and the words Ealing Soup Kitchen.
As you can see it has been knitted in proud and creative support to Ealing Soup Kitchen and it features warm items of clothing (mittens, scarf, jumpers and the like) and of course a cup of tea and a bowl of soup.
A detail of the Pillar Box Topper, a small yellow crocheted coat with hood.
This tiny yellow coat with hood is quite lovely.
The sign attached to the Pillar Box Topper says Crocheted with Love (heart drawing) for Ealing Soup Kitchen.
Here is the sign for this Topper: on the other side it has a QR Code that you can scan to support the Ealing Soup Kitchen.
A red British Pillar Box with a crocheted and knitted Topper featuring cars and a road.
This one had building works around it, so I could come at it only from one side, unfortunately. It says “When I’m Driving in my car” and it has been made just for fun.
A detail of a crocheted and knitted Pillar Box Topper that shows a knitted blue car attached to a grey crocheted road.
That is the best detail photo that I managed to take of it: the cars are knitted, whereas the topper itself is crocheted.
A closer view of the Pillar Box Topper that is car themed.
I came back once the building works were finished and took a couple better photos.
Detail of car themed Pillar Box Topper, showing a smaller yellow knitted car.
Here is the view from the other side! Clearly an enthusiastic driver.
A knitted light brown Pillar Box Topper with knitted dinosaurs on top of it.
This is one that I have seen close to Cromer, Norfolk, on the Jurassic Coast, while I was holidaying there. There was a lot of glare, so I did not quite manage to take good photos and also not have my shadow show.
A detail of knitted Pillar Box Topper, Jurassic Coast themed, with a Mammoth, and different dinosaurs.
Here is another view of it. The Pterodactyl is attached to the Mammoth top quite cleverly.
Detail of a Pillar Box Topper seen in Cromer, with smaller and larger knitted dinosaurs and a Mammoth in the center.
Maybe you can catch other details here.
A British red Pillar Mail Box with a colorful crocheted Topper on it, featuring flowers.
Here is another crocheted one that is close to where I live: it is simpler, with plenty of colour!
Closer view of Pillar Box Topper with crocheted flowers and very colorful yarn.
Here is a closer view.
Closer view of a Pillar Box Topper with crocheted flowers.
And another view, from a slightly different angle.
A detail of crocheted smiling daisy on a crocheted Pillar Box Topper.
I like the smiling daisies!
A crocheted rose in bright fuchsia color on a Pillar Box Topper.
Most of the flowers seem not overly difficult to make, but impressive on the topper, like this rose in bright pink.
A coronation themed Pillar Box Topper on a London street.
We had some quite simple ones for Coronation Day where I live: I guess our neighbours were not overly enthusiastic but made the cheering effort anyway.
A Coronation themed Pillar Box Topper in white blue and red, with a small crocheted crown.
Another quite simple one in the colours of the Union Jack for Coronation Day in my area.


There definitely are various charity associations doing this, but it is also used just for a bit of fun and to commemorate events as you see. It is quite popular here: check out its history here on Wikipedia, and here you can find a blog with the list (unfortunately around 2 years old, sorry) of the places where you can find them in UK and links relating to groups of Post Box Toppers enthusiasts.

And, if you wish to try, here is a link to free crochet and knitting patterns for Post Box Topper by the Townswomen’s Guild: of course, those are only the basic Post Box covers, without all the knitted and crocheted embellishments. There are other free patterns online, if you wish to try your hand at one.

Starting on a needle felted bunting

Starting on a needle felted bunting

As you may have guessed, my family lives in London, United Kingdom at the moment, but English is not our mother-tongue. We happen to celebrate our birthdays all in UK, though, so during the years I managed to collect a few birthday party buntings here: of course, all of them celebrate “Happy Birthday!” in English and none in our language, Italian.  Also, I only have a short felt one and all the rest are plastic. I like the felted one a lot better than the plastic ones, it’s so much easier to store without worrying about creases, it is always in perfect shape and luxurious looking, even though it was not actually more expensive than the flimsy Lego themed one!

I decided to make us a new felted bunting with the Italian equivalent of “Happy Birthday!” written on it: as it will use Italian words, it will be longer than the English one, and I will be able to add more elements to make it longer still. It will be very colourful and it could be used for all our birthdays for years and years to come, and no more worries about creases and folds. It seemed a nice plan.

It is a fairly easy basic kind of felting project: one just needs to make as many flat triangles shapes as needed to spell the words and punctuation (in my case “Buon” and “Compleanno!”, so it’s 15), with one more for the space between the words, and as many more for decoration as one likes. On the triangles, you can needle felt the letters in contrasting colours.

Then, a satin ribbon will be passed through slits on the upper part of the triangles: this will mean that one will be able to adjust the length of the bunting to different size spaces. If you do not wish to have an adjustable bunting, you could make a felt cord of the desired length and attach the triangles to it at fixed intervals by needle felting or sewing them to the cord. And the bunting will be ready to go.

I wanted to go for needle felted triangles, although I guess it could be a much quicker job if you wanted to wet felt them : just wet felt different wool colours and cut them in triangles, then seal the edges with rubbing.

Well, I need the needle felting practice, so I took out my needle felting supplies and had a go at making a needle felted triangle shape.

Red merino wool laid out in a vague triangle shape on a foam mat
I laid out the wool on a vague triangle shape on my small foam mat
Needle felting supplies on a wooden table: there are some red merino wool, two wooden needle holders, a small plastic box of felting needles and two white finger protectors on a foam mat
My supplies for needle felting are laid out on my foam felting mat.
On the foreground, Kiki's hand is holding some needle felting needles in different colours. On the background there is red merino wool on a foam mat on a table.
I have different sized felting needles that are colour coded for ease.
Two wooden felting needle holders are on the foreground, and there is some red merino wool on a foam mat on the background
My two wooden needle holders, one can hold 6 needles and the other only 1 needle at a time: I enjoy the feel of the wood!

I needed a thicker needle for the first shaping stabs: that would be a 32 gouge, that is silver coloured in my set.

On the foreground a 32 G felting needle, on the background red merino wool.
My, it is quite thick, you can see the gouges quite clearly.
A 32G felting needle gets placed in a wooden needle holder
My one-place needle holder is quite easy to use: just insert the needle into the gouge of the inner bit, and push the inner bit+needle into the handle.
Kiki's thumb and index finger into finger protectors.
Donning my finger protectors that I bought at
Felting needle stabbing at red merino wool
Now I can start roughly shaping my wool!

Never mind the photo, that I was taking with my phone while moving the needle with my right hand: I actually started shaping my triangle by stabbing and shaping the edges of the triangle first, then moving towards the center.

I lifted the shape from the foam mat and stabbed a bit more on the other side as well, adding some more wool if I thought that some parts were uneven or not thick enough.

A vague triangle shape in red merino wool on a foam mat
It is taking shape nicely on a side, let’s see the other..
A red merino wool triangle shape a bit distorted on a foam mat
That is the fluffy B side: it needs working on.
Red merino wool being stabbed with a felting needle on a foam mat
I noticed some thin areas in the corner, so I added wool in.

Then, I saw that it was the time to change the needle to a thinner one.

A triangle shape of red merino wool prefelt on a foam mat
It is coming along well, but still a bit too fluffy: time to change needle.

I usually like to use a 38 gouge needle, colour coded red in my set, to do more detailed work when I am needle felting. Sometimes I pass through the 36 gouge needle (green one in my set)  before the 38 g, or use a 40 g needle (blue in my set) to finish, but in this case the job was fairly basic, and I did not want to change too many times.

A 38 gouge felting needle is shown on the foreground while prefelted wool is on the background
Choosing a 38G felting needle to go on with my project

After stabbing more, I felt that the shape was looking good. If you wanted it more regular, and were not lazy like me, you could make it more regular  than mine by starting at the beginning with a rectangle shape and then folding the rectangle in half diagonally into a triangle shape, and stabbing more. But if I have to make more than 15 triangle shapes I am not going to bother making them regular: I am just so lazy!

Triangle needle felted shape in red merino wool on a foam mat
My first triangle does not look too bad, although it is a bit irregular.

I guess one could stab on and make the shapes very firm, but I have no patience and was eager to go on (14 plus triangles to go, you know…), so I selected a bit of merino wool roving in teal for the first letter to add to my triangle shape. You do not need a big amount to complete one letter, you can use leftovers from other projects. I like to use carded merino slivers if I have them for small areas of flat needle felted decoration, I find that it is easier to shape them into small regular shapes.

Some teal merino wool roving on the foreground, a red triangle felt shape in the background
A small amount of merino wool roving is enough to shape the flat letter on the triangle shape.

I used the same red 38G needle to stab the teal wool on the triangle shape. It is not difficult to make the wisps of carded wool take the shape that you want, you just need to work on the surface, really, without stabbing too enthusiastically.

A felting needle stabs into some teal merino wool on a red prefelt
Stabbing the teal roving on the triangle shape to form the first letter.
A felting needle shaping the letter B in contrasting wool on a prefelt
The letter is getting shaped bit by bit.
A triangle shaped element for a felted bunting, with the letter B on it
The first letter is done! B for Bravo!

I managed to finish my first letter quite quickly, but, guess what, I stopped there and never mustered the will to make all the other 14+ triangles! Well, the first birthday coming is not till ages….

P.S. the nail varnish was courtesy of my daughter, who wanted to play nail decorator that day!

Felting and thinking

Felting and thinking

I wish to show you my last abstract piece: I am quite proud of having included free crocheting and free knitting bits and of having gone bigger than my usual size, all things outside of my comfort zone that were inspired by other artists’ and crafters’ works.
Neutral and white coloured felted abstract artwork with textile embellishments on a white wall
“Good girl bad girl” abstract felt painting, around 80 x 50 cm.
It was about experimenting with felt without the distraction of colour, and I decided to use undyed or white and whitish materials, so as not to distract my eye from the final purpose. This made me think about “lack of colour” and “white” in terms of emotions and morals: how you are not supposed to show a lot of true emotions if you are a “good girl”, how the colour white has been linked to “good” in certain cultures, how silence and demure behaviour (not showing your colours) had been linked to “good behaviour”  in such cultures.
So, this has made me think about what “good girl” and “bad girl” meant when I was growing up, and how problematic those concepts have become for me in time (and have been even then). This led to me choosing specific fabrics and fibers, and techniques to add to the piece. So, I guess, concepts and techniques called one to the other from the beginning of my project and I can’t say which came first, if ideas to express or techniques to try.
I thought of the piece as layered, as our life experience and identity are layered, and being a “good girl” or “bad girl” is not something straightforward either. So, firstly I made a layer of felt to go over a pre-felt background.
But how to make the surface layer? I remembered about the layout for cobweb scarves that  had been suggested in the  Felting and Fiber forum, the one that is made by tearing a long length of merino tops and then carefully teasing the whole length open: I wanted holes and different thickness on my surface layer of felt, so I went for that type of layout for it and it worked very well.
Kiki's left hand is opening up a long bit of natural white merino wool on the bubble wrapping sheet on a table. There is another bit of merino wool waiting on the side.
Laying out my natural white merino wool on for the cob-webbish upper layer
Table covered with towel, bubble wrapping and natural white merino wool in a cob web layout
How the cob web layout progressed
The surface layer was embellished with undyed locks, undyed white eri silk fibers, scraps of undyed habotari silk, white flax, and silk carrier rods. Its shape is very irregular and there are vertical holes from which one can peek at stuff underneath. I liked the fact that it’s not one single white, but many different shades of undyed natural white and of bleached or optic white. Even stretching the idea of “white” a bit to include cream and beige even.
I added a natural-fiber net that I got from my grocery shopping, and on the background strings gotten from labels of clothes and scraps from a cotton handkerchief, to remind me of all the mother-work wife-work women-work that is the “good girl” ‘s lot in life.
Cob web layout of natural white merino wool and embellishments on a table covered with towel and bubble wrap
An overview of my upper layer layout with all the embellishments before felting
Detail of a vegetable carrier net, silk carrier rods and natural wool locks on natural white merino wool
Some of the embellishments that I added on the merino wool : you can spot the vegetable carrier net, locks and a silk carrier rod.
Detail of natural white habotai silk scrap on natural white merino wool
An habotai silk scrap and some locks on another part of the upper layer merino layout before felting
Embellishments on merino wool before felting are used to bridge gaps between merino wool parts
In various areas I used the embellishments as bridges over the holes between the merino wool parts, so as to link all the parts together.
I lightly rubbed it and then used the sander to be sure that all the bits could stay firmly in place. I did not want it felted firmly, and I rolled it only a few times in two directions, horizontally and vertically. I washed it and left it to dry.
Wet prefelt of the upper layer of Kiki's artwork on a table
This wet prefelt of the upper layer does not seem too exciting, yet, but the holes seem just right for what I want to do.
In the meantime I prepared the background layer, with 3 layers of undyed merino wool in a simple horizontal-vertical lay-out. I rubbed it and rolled it a few times, leaving it at the pre-felt stage. I washed it and let it dry.
On the second day, I combined the two layers, that were mostly dry, and all the other embellishment elements.
Two irregular layer of natural white wool prefelt on a brown carpet
I laid out the two prefelt irregular layers on my carpet to have space to work on them and add all the sewing.
I wanted to explore what it used to mean to be a “good girl” and to make mistakes and be a “bad girl”, so on the background and peeking through the holes I placed different things that had been linked to women’s craft and life, including commercial lace, scraps from a child’s wool vest (mothers always used to make their kids put their vest on underneath their shirts) and different fibers and yarns, and strings (women forever tying and untying shoes clothes bags families).
Strings, lace and scraps of upcycled wool fabric on prefelt natural white merino wool, on a brown carpet
A detail of some of the embellishments that I added to the bottom part of the artwork: strings and lace and scraps of an old merino wool baby vest.
On the background, like alpha and omega at the top and bottom, I also wanted “wrong” (but free) crocheting and “wrong” (but free) knitting pieces, and the making of those was an experience in itself, as I found very hard to let go of purpose and of “perfection”, especially in the knitting. I used a cotton yarn for the crochet and a mixed wool yarn for the knitting, as those two types of yarn are most closely related to those crafts to me. I have to say that I quite enjoyed the free crocheting and I maybe will use it again soon, whereas I doubt that the freeform knitting will become a favourite of mines!
On the foreground there are Kiki's hands knitting with a beige yarn, in the background there is Kiki's artwork in progress
My “wrong” knitting at its very beginning
On the foreground there are Kiki's hands crocheting with a white cotton yarn, on the background there is Kiki's artwork in progress on a brown carpet
My foray into free form crocheting
Detail of a white crocheted embellishment in an irregular shape, on a natural merino prefelt on a brown carpet
The irregular shape of the crocheted embellishment quite pleased me.
A detail of a knitted embellishment on natural white prefelt merino wool on a brown carpet
On the top, the knitted embellishment is waiting to be sewed fast and then felted into the artwork.
After placing all the elements where I wanted them to be, I hand stitched them in place with a few hidden stitches each, starting from the top and the outer edges towards the inner parts and the bottom. It took me a bit, but it was essential, as I was much more confident that nothing was going to move when I went on with the following wetting and sanding and rolling. I hate hand sewing, but this time I felt that it was worthwhile!
I washed and dried the piece, and then waited to see if anything else was needed: I often find that I need to let the work get washed and dry out to be able to see what is not fine yet! In fact, I found that the merino wool vest scraps had not quite felted in as I wanted them to do,  so I decided to needle felt them with a bit of added merino wool top fiber. This gave me the itch to add a few needle felted 3D shapes, vaguely organic shapes that are a symbol of the “good girl” sense of her body.
A felting needle working on a merino wool sphere attached to Kiki's felted artwork
A needle felted sphere shape seemed also a good idea
A felting needle is gently stabbing at a doughnut wool shape on Kiki's felted artwork
I added some needle felted organic shapes
I really liked the journey and I think that the piece says what I wanted it to say. Moreover, I enjoyed trying new things in making it, and using those techniques in an organic way to express a world of meanings and experiences that I hope will find resonance in the viewers.
Detail of Kiki's artwork: in the center there is a tight spiral made of a scrap from a merino baby vest.
Some of the embellishments on the finished artwork upper part
Lower left detail of finished abstract artwork by Kiki
Lower left of the finished artwork
Upper right corner of the finished artwork by Kiki: the two felt layers can be seen, along with many embellishments
The upper right corner shows clearly the two layers of felt
Lace embellishment detail on Kiki's finished artwork
The laces have not really felted in, but I was not expecting them to: it’s synthetic commercial lace, so I make sure to sew them to the felt quite well.
My story in 1000 stitches (or so)

My story in 1000 stitches (or so)

Hello, Felting and Fiber friends.

It’s me again, a beginner felter, a novice in knitting and crocheting

(have I told you the story of my then-boyfriend’s knitted scarf? the one that kept getting longer and longer the more he used it, and his mother, an accomplished knitter and crocheter who knits a new woolly jumper for my kids each Christmas, kept undoing the last bit of the scarf and fixing it? well, he is my husband now, it goes to show that even disastrous knitting is useful…)

no skills in weaving, BUT I used to do quite a bit of embroidery, and that’s how I began my adventure in textiles, so I better tell you a bit about it.

I started with cross-stitch as a little girl (maybe 10-11-years-old) at my local Parish: an ex-teacher of Feminine Skills at schools (yes, she was that old that the subject existed with that name when she used to teach) had accepted to run a class of basic embroidery stitches for little girls at the Parish, with the aim of having a few of them join the Parish group of embroiderers who would sell their works for charity once or twice per year at the Church. She was a spinster, with loads of nephews and nieces to dote on, and she was prim and welcoming: we addressed her as Miss, Signorina in Italian, ate the cookies that she brought as treat, and loved her. My mum accepted to send me only if I promised not to lose my time and sight on finicky embroidery, and at the beginning it seemed that we were making quite small designs, such as cross-stitch butterflies for cards, or a grass stitch embroidery on a cotton bag that was supposed to hold bread.

I have kind of disappointed my mum during the following years: the idea of painting with thread caught my fantasy, and I started spending more and more time (sometimes secretly) embroidering, especially cross-stitch. Miss and the group of local embroiderers were an oddity like myself, all guiltily enjoying together an outmoded craft while chatting away a few hours. My schoolmates were half in awe of my skill and half disbelieving that I could spend so much time on that.

In time I cross-stitched a lot of things, cushion covers, cards, bathroom towels, tablecloths of various sizes (never the big ones, though) and place mats and runners, babies’ bibs, alphabet samplers and Christmas decorations… I loved the fact that you could achieve marvelous paint effects just with thread and a wise design. I also liked the idea of following a pattern, and the repetitiveness of the cross-stitching itself, that helped me calm down in difficult times and made me happier.

I used to have a subscription to two main Italian magazines that were my inspiration:

  1. one is the monthly “Le idee di Susanna”, skewed towards cross-stitch, but with loads of practical crafting ideas around it, and also a bit of knitting, crochet and sewing thrown in to entice you to more. See it here if you are curious.
  2. the other was a magazine about any kind of embroidery, especially the free stitch types of hand embroidery, it makes you dream about the highest skills of the ancient embroiderers and the top modern ones, and had been published since 1929. its past issues of the Sixties and Seventies were more practical, with knitting and useful sewing, and are still traded online by crafters. Unfortunately, it has gone downhill very quickly around the 2010 after being sold to a new publisher, and I can’t seem to find any recent issue, so I guess it is not active anymore. Such a pity, but I guess I could sell my old issues for a good price in a few years! See some of its cover images here.

Most of what I embroidered and made in those years was sold for charity or gifted to friends and family, and there weren’t mobiles to take a quick photo, so I do not have much left of them. Not because I am particularly generous, you know, it was just safer not have all those proofs of my not-studying lying around the house… Anyway, I did not need twenty baby bibs, but they were all so cute that it was hard to resist when my nephews were arriving… Oh, well, some of the bibs actually came back to me when my kids were coming in turn, so.

Here are just a couple of bathroom towels that I cross-stitched for myself when I started getting serious with my then-boyfriend (way after the longest-scarf-of-all-times): I have the photos only because those were on linen, and thus light enough to come with me when we moved from Italy to England. I loved cross-stitching on linen or cotton-linen blends: slower, but the final effect is so neat and lovely!

(I apologise in advance for the fact that none of the things are properly ironed or pressed: those are all things that I fished out of drawers as they were, and I can not face the iron at the moment, please forgive me!)

A set of white towels embroidered with a blue cross stitch pattern of flowers
Cross-stitch embroidered towels with a blue pattern.
Detail of blue cross stitch flowers on a white linen towel
Detail of the blue cross-stitch pattern: it repeats itself three times to achieve the right length.
Back of a white towel showing a neat cross stitch blue floral pattern
I always like a neat cross-stitch back.
A set of white linen towels embroidered with a pink roses cross stitch pattern
Pink roses cross-stitch towels.
Detail of a pink roses cross stitch pattern on white linen towels
Detail of the pattern: you can see that the rose is the unit repeated to achieve the right length.
Pink rose cross stitch pattern towels on a heating rack in a bathroom
I noticed some humidity stains on the towels (that’s how much we use them!), so those are now getting their duty time in our bathroom!

We have some more cross-stitched towels in storage boxes in Italy, to gather dust there, along with a few other embroidered things. Here are cross-stitched place mats that I embroidered on an ecru linen-cotton blend fabric, that we use as breakfast place mats. I embroidered the edges with the simplest point-a-jour: I am not really a fan of making point-a-jour, but I like having my edges neat and hate hand-sewing even more!

A set of two ecru place mats with a floral cross stitch pattern and their matching napkins
Cross-stitch place mats and napkins for our breakfast.
Detail of cross stitch embroidered place mat and napkin with a floral pattern
Detail of the place mat and napkin
Detail of a jour bordering of embroidered place mat
A view of the a-jour that borders the whole mat and napkin
Back of cross stitched place mat with floral pattern
I always check my backs!

During my University years I started improving my free-stitch embroidery skills, and could not resist a forage into the variety of embroidery stitches that I was seeing on my magazines. Firstly, just learning about patterns and stitches, I soon started to use elements from books and magazines and adapting them to my needs and taste to create new things. Lately, I created a couple of things completely to my own designs. Here again I am afraid that I do not have much to show, because most of my creations were gifted to special persons or are in storage boxes in Italy at the moment. One day we will get all our stuff out of storage, who knows.

I only have three examples of my free hand-embroidery to show you: two of them, bathroom towels and a small tablecloth for teatime, I have brought with me to England, and the third is a small curtain that I have embroidered and hand-sewed for one of my best friends, and she graciously sent me the photos during the Christmas holidays.

So, here we go.

The bathroom towels are of the finest linen and I wanted a refined effect. It took me ages to complete the complex point-a-jour of the border, but it gave me plenty of food of thought for other embroidery projects (more on that later on). The embroidery itself is white on white: my initials framed by flowers and leaves for the main towel, and a smaller version of the initials for the small towel. I am afraid that I do not know the names for the stitches in English and I am kind of hazy about the Italian names as well right now: we are talking about nigh on twenty years ago, and even then I tended to focus on doing more than on names. The design of the embroidery was taken from a book or magazine that I had, and I modified it only a bit to simplify the framing elements, if I remember correctly.

Hand embroidered towels with my initials white on white
Towels embroidered with my initials, white on white.
Embroidery of initials C and P, white on white, with flowers embroidered left and right of the initials
Here is the embroidery: I hope you like it.
One bigger and three smaller embroidered flowers white on white on the left of the initials, with swirls and leaves and dots
The flowers on the left of the initials.
Three small embroidered daises with two bigger and several smaller leaves, and swirls, white on white
The flowers and leaves on the right of the initials.
Detail of a double a jour bordering on fine white linen,  a knot groups strands at regular intervals in the center of the drawn thread part of the hem.
This bordering took me ages: just tell me if it was worthwhile!
Neat back of embroidered initials towel white on white.
My fascination with neat backs goes on: I am quite happy with this one, what do you think?

As to the teatime tablecloth, we use it as breakfast table tablecloth: I like my breakfast as you may guess! and I really need something fresh and lovely for it to work, as I am not a morning person and waking up to ugliness would be too much. This is finest cotton, very lightweight and almost see-through. I designed it completely, and I wanted it quite simple and colourful. I started by edging the border: at the beginning, it was a lot of fun changing colours randomly every little while, but it was a long way to the end, I can assure you.

Embroidered teatime white fine cotton tablecloth with a hem embroidered in different violets and greens and small groups of embroidered flowers scattered on the tablecloth.
My favourite breakfast tablecloth: violets on a snowy white fabric.
Multicolured embroidered hem in different greens and violets and white.
I changed threads randomly to achieve a multicoloured look for the border.

The violets were quick to embroider, I remember, just a stem of grass-stitches and the violets themselves done with different violets or white (also mixed together) in lazy daisy stitches (is this the right name? I think so, I felt very lazy for sure, I wanted to finish it quickly). The leaves I outlined with grass-stitch and chose to cover only half with satin/full stitches in different greens. I like how it feels a very easygoing and modern type of tablecloth, in the end.

Embroidered violets 1 are white and pale violet, with pale green and medium green leaves
Which of the violets do you like most? Number 1
Embroidered violets 2 are medium and pale violet, with medium and pale green leaves
Number 2
Embroidered violets 3 are white and pale violet and a mix of the two, with dark and pale green leaves
Number 3
Embroidered violets 4 are dark and pale violet with pale and dark green leaves
or Number 4?
Neat back of embroidered violet on white fine cotton
I am satisfied with the backs as well.

And, lastly, the curtain that I made for my friend. Well, that was my first curtain, so I just could not reassure my friend of the final results: she was a bit doubtful, and also more than a bit afraid of my mum’s disapproval of me “wasting my time in useless old stuff”, I am guessing.

I presented her with my idea of design for it in a secret meeting at my place: she was going to live in a terraced house and I adapted her a terraced houses outline, taking inspiration from one of the magazines, that had a very intriguing design. In my mind the idea was already taking shape drawing from my experiences with variants of point-a-jour , openwork and different embroidery stitches, but she had to take a leap of faith and trust in my skills.

We went together to the market to buy the fabric, and she sensibly opted for a mixed synthetic and cotton: after all, she would have to wash it, not I! It took my around 2-3 months to finish it and present it to her: I remember that I was so excited when she lastly saw the finished curtain!

A white curtain with an embroidered outline of terraced houses, one different from the other, white on white
My terraced-houses curtain. Courtesy of Alessia Fabris: 18-years-old and still going strong!
Details of three of the terraced houses embroidered on my curtain with different embroidery stitches and thread work and openwork
All the houses are different! Courtesy of Alessia Fabris

I wanted all the houses to be very different one from the other: each of them has a different door and various windows made using different types of stitches. I made the windows all openwork, and used this as a way to practice different openwork effects. I hand sewed it completely, as I did not have a sewing machine.

I asked my friend to take photos of some details to her taste, and she sent me these:

Detail of an embroidered door on a terraced houses curtain, embroidered with a counted stitch pattern
Detail of one of the doors. Courtesy of Alessia Fabris
Details of embroidered and openwork front door on my terraced houses curtain
This door has a couple of windows on top. Courtesy of Alessia Fabris
Four openwork windows and an embroidered door on hand embroidered terraced houses curtain
I am amazed that those openwork windows are still looking fine after 18 years of washing cycles! Courtesy of Alessia Fabris
One of the embroidered houses on my embroidered terraced houses curtain
The same house seen a bit farther away. Courtesy of Alessia Fabris

My friend reported neighbours and passersby asking for information on her unique curtain that they could see from the outside, during the first years that she lived there. I want to think that it helped her make friends there faster.

I then went on to make two free hand embroidery curtains for myself before my daughter was born: both white on white, a small one designed by me, all butterflies of different sizes and was actually a sampler of stitches and openwork. The other one quite big, an adaptation of an idea and design from a magazine, was embroidered on all the borders (apart from the upper one) with a continuous repetitive swirling pattern, all in one single easy type of stitch, chain stitch. I finished it with my belly growing and going in the way of embroidering and sewing, but I got it done, and had the help of my first sewing machine to finish it faster. Still, it took me a couple of months to finish it (I was not working, and paused most of my attendance to my second degree at University due to not being able to move.), and none too soon: my daughter was born shortly after the last stitches.

As to point-a-jour, openwork and needle lace, they made me sweat swear and tense, but I love the look of them once it is finished, so my big unfinished project of embroidery is a linen towel set with a maybe 8-in-height border (20 cm) of openwork-needle lace. I got through maybe half of it on the first towel. I guess that it must be in one of the storage boxes in Italy, although I could swear that I brought it to England when we moved, still hoping that in time I would be able to go on..that was around nine years ago! Embroidering takes too much time for my current life style!

I hope that I gave you some ideas of embroideries to try!

See you next time for a bit of felting!


The Beginner’s start

The Beginner’s start


I am Caterina, and you probably have seen me around the Forum asking questions about felting and trying to learn from scratch and the web.

I have started felting just around the time we were all stuck at home with the pandemic, and it was a revelation, though not an instant success 🙂 I guess the other beginners here will sympathise with my struggle to get a precise idea of steps to take in order to get the magic of felt to work perfectly: I was instantly fascinated by the sheer freedom of not having a set of precise rules to follow to get there, and at the same time frustrated by so much choice of different paths to take!

I guess that it is the fact that this is based on traditional craft, and, like many crafts and women’s works, it is a fluid collection of honed instincts, oral passed wisdom, intimate physical knowledge of materials and creative whim. Like cooking, like spinning I guess, like parenting I am finding. And all those hundreds and thousands of years of crafting, I suppose: felting is so old and it shows on how many ways of going about it there are around, from before humans could leave written shape to their rules and steps.

So, I guess felting is something that you need a community of fellow humans to help you figure out, through apprenticeship, passed wisdom and experimentation: I am glad that I found the very supportive Felting and Fiber Forum community to guide me through my beginner’s steps on wet and needle felting.

My first experiments had mixed results, and all the successive tries have not changed this trend also!

My kids were very forgiving with my first needle felted tiny penguin, a misshapen thing that my son instantly appropriated and called like his younger cousin ( I am not sure what that says, I wouldn’t want to overthink it..). It is so tiny that he lost it a million times already,  and I had time to curse my decision to make it so small while going around the flat looking for a squishable scrap of wool called Giorgio!

needle felted penguin
My first try at needle felting

My daughter asked for a cat: I will not go into that, it’s best left forgotten. I only have blurry photos for it, mercifully.

Needle felted toy cat
Is that a cat, mummy?

She lost it soonest, and is now wary of asking for more pet animals (she is very kind and well behaved and couldn’t bring herself to say “What’s that thing??” to my face, it was a gift, you know, and she had seen me poking needles into my fingers for a long afternoon).

Luckily for my kids, I then dramatically improved my animal shaping skills by using real life photos as reference and learning to change needles as my felting progresses. (I still occasionally poke my fingers, I am told that this is normal?) A Waldorf style little playmat with tiny needle felted animals ensued, and I discovered the possibilities of wet felting that really got my mind reeling.

Felted playmat
My first Waldorf play felted mat, with tiny polar animals
Needle felted toy polar bears
A mummy and her cub for the polar landscape
Needle felted toy penguins
The Penguin family
Needle felted toy seals
Surely we need seals as well?

I felt on top of the world, and decided that I could make more of those playmats with animals, and start a home-based business! The idea was not exactly new: there are several businesses selling that type of toy on Etsy, as I discovered in time! Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that: I decided that I wanted to understand regulations on selling toys in United Kingdom, and found out that I could not really make those tiny needle felted animals pass official Health and Safety regulation tests. They are just too tiny, and too easily breakable, and I like them as they are. Also, it costs to have some of tests done (you can do some of them in your home, but not all of them).

If you are interested in understanding the requisites for toys in UK and Europe, check current Regulations for Health and Safety of toys with the British Toy & Hobby Association, that is the biggest Toy Makers association in United Kingdom, here.

Here is another maybe interesting link, to the British Toymakers Guild.

Here is a list of Toy Makers associations in United Kingdom, if you feel like checking other Toy and Games associations.

Other people would maybe choose differently, one could market the toy as something else, forget the labels and hope for the best, but I, on my part, would not feel comfortable with the idea, and decided to shelve the handmade toys budding business. I made only another play set for a friend’s 7-year-old kid as Christmas gift: I had other experiments to try, and wet felting to explore! More on that in following posts..

I am sure that many have had to shelve craft business idea, after discovering that they were impractical, or not profitable or not-the-right-time-for-this, or not really what their heart felt like making: I would love to hear about what those ideas were and the reasons for letting them drop. Please, leave a comment and tell us about your shelved plans.