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A Robin, Snowmen and a Gingerbread House

A Robin, Snowmen and a Gingerbread House


For the fourth quarter challenge, the Robin is made from ‘stash’ only and is seasonal, and as sometimes happens, my original plan changed after I’d started the project!

I had decided to make a white Merino base, place open weave fabric on it in the shape of a robin, add some sparse Merino wool tops and more tiny pieces of fabric then finish off with a bit of needle felting to make the eye, beak and legs.

I chose some scraps of open weave fabrics …

… and wool in robin colours.

I started by re-using the white Merino wool that had formed the ‘snow’ for the snowmen Christmas card diorama (shown later in this post).  I’d gathered up all the bits of white Merino into a bag with the intention of running it through the carder but then the lazy part of my mind told me to not bother – so I did a very rough layout for the background of the Robin, using the messy white wool, and crossed my fingers.

I netted it over, wetted it and soaped it flat.

Then I cut the robin body shapes from the very open weave fabrics from my stash, then wetted them down onto the white background – I like using these fabrics as they stay flat in nuno felt.  Shown below is the layout before felting.

I tried several times to put a thin, messy layer of the ‘robin coloured’ wool fibres over the fabric so that it would still show through but enable me to add more fabric.  I was hoping to achieve a textured finish with very small scraps of fabric but I couldn’t make it work so I just made the nuno felt and decided on plan B – to embellish with “scribble” stitch.

When the nuno felt was rinsed and dried, I ironed interfacing to the back to make the felt easier to stitch into.

My snow-people family decided to ice a gingerbread house this year and I photographed the diorama for my Christmas cards.  Again, this fits the challenge as it’s made completely from ‘stash’ and is seasonal.

The snowmen are made from white Merino wool tops wet-felted into balls then stitched together.  Their noses are made from orange Merino wool, their arms from floristry wire and I had a great time knitting and sewing their hats and scarves.  Thanks to Annie for suggesting the holly in the hat – it was made from fabric and red Merino wool.

The gingerbread house was made from cardboard covered in silk fabric and the icing is hand-stitched yarn.  The icing bags are made from corners of a plastic bag and filled with Merino wool fibre.

The snow is a layer of white Merino wool tops and the sky is a grey board.

Should you make anything for this challenge, please post your entries on the Felting and Fiber Forum.

2022 Fourth Quarter Challenge

2022 Fourth Quarter Challenge

There are three challenges in the last quarter of this year.  Ann (frabjous fabrica) kindly thought up the first two and we added a third.

So pick one … or do all three!

  1. Finish one or more UFO’s. Wouldn’t it be lovely to start the new year without unfinished projects clamouring for your attention.
  2. Make something only from bits you already have in your stash.
  3. Make something seasonal – perhaps to celebrate autumn and winter, or perhaps to celebrate an occasion such as Halloween, Guy Fawkes Night, Remembrance Day, Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Here are some of our ‘blasts from the past’.

FINISHED UFO: Annie laid out the wool fibres for this piece in June 2019 but only got around to felting it in April 2021!

MADE ONLY FROM STASH: A felted winter hat and a stitched Rudolph picture.

SEASONAL: Felted winter scene with hand and free motion stitching.

Felted ‘Christmas Podding’ with free motion stitching.


We’re looking forward to seeing what you make for this challenge and there is now an easy way to post your photos:

Floral Challenge

Floral Challenge


My ‘floral challenge’ is an homage to this piece of Annie’s free motion embroidery – black thread on white handmade felt.

I started with four layers of white merino wool fibres, wetted and soaped, to make the background.

Then I sifted through my scraps box to find some colourful pre-felt leftovers.

I cut out some flower shapes from the pre-felt, then placed them onto the wet, white wool fibres.  I misted the pre-felt down with soapy water then I outlined the flower …

… and added a stem with thin, black yarn.

I made the rest of the flowers in the same way.

I tried to mimic the pointy grass in Annie’s version, but the yarn wasn’t having any of it!  It stubbornly refused to do ‘pointy’. You have to choose your battles wisely so I surrendered and just used cut pieces of yarn.

I didn’t roll this picture.  I gently agitated the front with scrunched up bubble wrap to set the pre-felt and yarn in place, then I rubbed it, mostly from the back.

White merino fibres always look so dull when wet but they do dry to a warm, delicate off-white.

The picture turned out as a smooth piece of felt, but to make it even smoother, I ironed it when it was dry.

The finished picture (below) is approximately 53 x 25cm (21”x10”)

I couldn’t stop there with the floral challenge so I found a ‘youtube’ crochet tutorial ‘Ditsy Daisy Bunting’

My bunting flags aren’t as neat and triangular as Catherine’s but I had fun making them!

This would be a great make for yarn bombers wouldn’t it?

If you make something for the floral challenge, there is now an easy way to post your photos onto the Felting and Fiber Forum:

2022 Third Quarter Challenge

2022 Third Quarter Challenge

Calling all felters, spinners, weavers, knitters, crocheters, sewists and any other fibre crafters!

This challenge has a floral theme and the aim is to have some fun making something inspired by flowers, grasses, seed-pods, seeds or leaves etc – realistic or imaginary.  You can make just a sample or a finished piece, and it can be for artistic or practical purposes.

We’ve dug back through our photos for a few of our ‘floral’ efforts depicted in various fibre mediums:

Needle felted corsage with beads – brooch back stitched to reverse.

Holly leaves stitched and cut from pieces of colourful handmade felt.

Leaves cut from handmade silk paper then felted into merino fibres.

Art Yarn reminiscent of the colours and textures of a summer flower border.

Free motion embroidery – black thread on calico – inspired by photo of plants in the canteen at work.

Free Motion Embroidery – black thread and acrylic paint on calico – inspired by rudbeckia in the garden.

Flowers cut from a piece of fabric and enhanced with stitching to make a greeting card.

Handmade felt rudbeckia and hydrangea enhanced with acrylic paint to make a table centre – inspired by a hydrangea growing up through rudbeckia.

3D felted spring flowers, pushing up through snow, handmade felt table runner.

Felt and free motion stitching of dogwood stems and rudbeckia seed heads.

Handmade felt appliqued with free motion stitching to fabric.

Handmade felt appliqued with free motion stitching onto handmade felt.

Rose – crocheted with embroidery silks then sewn onto a bag.

Handmade felt flowers with free motion and hand stitching to make a card topper.

Wet and needle felted imaginary flowers.

Free motion stitching – black thread on handmade felt.

We are looking forward to seeing what you make for the floral challenge and there is now an easy way to post your photos:



Second Quarter Challenge – The Bird Bath

Second Quarter Challenge – The Bird Bath

Annie and I were having lunch and looking out into the garden where a pigeon was having a good soak in the bird bath …

… and Annie said “he needs a rubber duck” and that’s how inspiration struck for the second quarter challenge!

I decided on a cartoon-like picture because the idea is funny 😊. My plan was to make a simple picture in the form of a ‘jigsaw puzzle’ of nuno felt shapes.

I inserted the photo into a word document, stretched it sideways a tad, then printed it as large as possible on my home printer – 29cms (just under 11½”) wide. Then I traced the main outlines and added the outline of a duck.

First the difficult part – choosing the fabrics to make nuno felt!  I have many boxes of fabric to sift through so it was a mammoth task – here’s just one box.

And a couple of days later, here are eight nuno felt pieces.  I made two for the pigeon (top right of photo) because I couldn’t make my mind up about which fabric would work best.

I made a tracing paper cut-out so that I could mark then cut the main outline from the green nuno felt – unfortunately I lost the curve at the end of the pigeon’s beak during cutting.

I put some baking paper on my ironing board then a piece of heavyweight iron-on interfacing (slightly smaller than the green nuno felt) on top of that with the sticky side up.  Then I put the green nuno felt on the top.

I used the freezer paper method to cut out the shapes for the bird bath, duck and pigeon then simply inserted them in place.  (See this blog post for how to use freezer paper to cut shapes from felt )

Once everything was fitted together, I realised I’d made a mistake.  I hadn’t put a board under it to flip it over to iron the backing on (the felt wouldn’t allow enough heat to reach the iron-on interfacing so it had to be ironed from the back).  So I took a deep breath, grabbed hold of the baking paper and flipped the whole thing over.  It worked!  I ironed the interfacing to the back of felt and all the pieces were held firmly in place.

I pushed some thin, black darning wool in the teeny gap between the nuno felt pieces to make an outline – I used a ‘blunt’ needle that is designed to sew up knitwear to push the wool right in.

When I’d finished inserting the black wool I thought it looked too ‘heavy’ so I pulled it out from around the pigeon and duck then replaced it with thin, blue darning wool.

I stood back to look at the picture – what had I been thinking – the birdbath was ’floating’ on the background like a flying saucer!

It needed its stand, as in the original photo.

I cut a stand shape out of the green nuno felt then filled it with a piece of dark blue nuno felt.  I turned the whole piece over and put a patch of iron-on interfacing on to hold the newly inserted piece of dark blue felt.

I wanted to put some detail on the pigeon and I experimented with sewing but it didn’t look right.  So I simply drew a few feather details onto the nuno felt with an indelible black laundry marker pen.

I needle felted blue darning wool to make the rim of the birdbath then needle felted the duck and pigeon eyes directly into the nuno felt.

When I made the green pre-felt I wasn’t tidy with the edges because I had intended to trim it, but in the end I decided that it looked good with rough edges so I left them as they were.

Here’s the completed picture.  The photo below is very true to the actual colours of the nuno felt – unlike some of the process photos above that were taken in varying light conditions!

I put the textile picture into a glass fronted clip frame to hang on my wall.  Job done!


If you’d like to take part in the second quarter challenge, it’s now very easy to upload your photos – just click on this link –

And should you wish to write a guest blog post about your fibre work, please contact Ruth Lane through the ‘Felting and Fiber Forum’ –


2022 Second Quarter Challenge

2022 Second Quarter Challenge

A big ‘thank-you’ to Jan for suggesting the idea for this quarter’s challenge, so come on everyone – let’s get inspired to just have a go!

Take a short walk from your door, perhaps just into your garden or a few hundred yards up the road.

Really look at things that you might usually pass by without noticing the detail.

Take photos or make sketches that could inspire you to felt, knit, weave or sew something – be it a small sample or a finished piece.

Look up as well as down.


Flaking paint.

Tree bark and lichen.


Look closely at small flowers.

Church window.

Bath time.

Snail shell.

Lichen, moss etc.

Wrought iron.

Colours, textures and patterns.

Annie made a flippant comment about one of the photos above, and after having a good laugh, we both thought ‘Why not?’  So now I have the inspiration for my challenge piece!

We would love to see photos of challenge pieces and it’s now very quick and simple to upload your photos – please use the link below.

2022 First Quarter Challenge – Making Samples (Textile Deconstruction and Reuse)

2022 First Quarter Challenge – Making Samples (Textile Deconstruction and Reuse)


I have a pile of old knitwear items that are nice colours but are now way too small for me.  They aren’t good enough to donate because some areas are worn and bobbly but most of the fabric is still good. Usually my first thought is to cut up and use old fabrics as embellishment in feltmaking but this time I decided to try something else first.

I’ve seen other people make scarves and jackets by patching pieces of old knitwear together so I decided to kill 2 birds with one stone and make a patched sample, but also take the opportunity to conquer my avoidance of my overlocker.   I’ve only used it once or twice very briefly and not terribly successfully, and since then it has sat in the corner mocking me.  It was time to be brave!

So I cut some small pieces from the knitwear and went for it. I like the way the fabric crinkles and goes wavy on the edges if you stretch it as you sew.  Success – I had joined several pieces together.  My next issue was that the overlocker was threaded with 4 cones of white so I decided to be brave and change the colours!  Three YouTube videos, lots of eye drops and some careful administering with the tweezers later and I had 4 different coloured threads in the machine.  Hurrah!  You can see in the photo the first sample on the left is with white thread and raw edges and the second sample on the right has the coloured threads and also I cut sections from the sleeves so that there would be no raw edges to fray.

Now I have some new confidence with the overlocker and a decent sample that may well turn into an actual scarf one day if I can get in the right mood to cut about 100 more pieces!  The knit fabric works well as it is cosy and is not itchy.  I’d love to be able to wear wool, but my skin is too sensitive to it 🙁

You can see in the photo above that I got some nice scraps from doing this that I used in my next sample.  Double bonus!  I currently have some ideas in development for some artwork based around stylised trees and these scraps lent themselves to it nicely so I laid out some of the scraps on to a small base of white Merino fibres and began felting.  For my artwork I often only take the felt to somewhere between soft felt and felt, but quite often not fulled depending on what finish I want and how much I want to distort the fibres and fabrics.  I took photos when it was softly felted then carried on until it was well felted but in this case I preferred it at the halfway stage as it looked fresher somehow and not overworked.

For my next felt sample I used unravelled yarn from one of the old pieces of knitwear.  I had been fiddling around with it and decided to pull it apart.  Where it had been so tightly knitted the yarn kept a fabulous crinkle in it.

It only unravelled in short lengths, I assume that’s because of how I cut it on the seam.  I laid a few strands down, then bunched a few up then also scattered some tiny pieces on. I think this could make an interesting addition to a landscape or a picture of a bunch of flowers.

I was intrigued by the unravelled knitting so set about fiddling with the knitwear I had been dismantling for the overlocking experiment.  Cutting a ring or strip from some of the knit fabrics and then gently stretching them resulted in an interesting elongated knobbly bobbly string of fabric – not yarn, not complete fabric, but something in between.  Magic!

I haven’t felted with these yet but will do and will report back.  In the photo below the inner circle is a slice of sleeve before stretching, the outer circle is after stretching.

I also got carried away and began unpicking another piece of knitted fabric which has interesting potential, but haven’t yet had time to try felting with it:

I’ll come back to the knitted fabric experiments at a later date.

I wanted to do another thing other than my default feltmaking so I decided to try some more fabric applique on paper with free motion stitch, as I like the effect.   I rummaged in my fabric scraps and found an offcut of upholstery fabric with birds on called ‘Birds and Berries’ by Sanderson.

I cut out a bird and a few other motifs then glued and free motion stitched them to some cotton rag drawing paper (approx. 20cm / 8inch square).  Then I freehand cut some hearts from scrap paper, tea boxes, sweet wrappers and collage papers then glued some on and stitched the rest on.

I really liked the result so went on to make a card for a golden 50th wedding anniversary in the same way but much bigger, 30cm x 30cm (12″x12″).  I loved the result but I regretted the size when I was cutting and attaching 50 hearts at midnight the day before the celebration!

Most of my textiles work involves feltmaking and much of what I use to embellish the felt is repurposed e.g. pieces of fabric cut from an old item of clothing or threads frayed from some old fabric.  I enjoy making small samples to see how different fabrics and fibres will felt before making bigger projects. Samples are quick and easy to make and can’t go wrong – you just experiment and discover new things, both good and bad, what works and what doesn’t work quite how you might have expected.

I am looking forward to making many more samples – the more you make the more ideas you get! 🙂



Do have a go at this challenge no matter what materials you prefer and no matter how new or how experienced you are.

The first challenge for this year is to make one, or more, experimental textile samples using repurposed items such as old clothing or furnishings.

For example, you could deconstruct an old shirt and use specific pieces or just rough cut pieces or even shred the fabric down to threads.  You could unravel an old sweater or scarf to reuse the yarn, or make ‘yarn’ by cutting lengths from an old t-shirt.

So why only make a sample?

Well, it’s quick, fun and there’s no pressure to get something right. It’s a great risk-free way to get creativity flowing and can lead to further experimentation or perhaps a new project. Sampling gives you a chance to test an idea before embarking on a project and it can inspire future work.

Look around at what you have and ask ‘what if?’  Then make a sample to see what happens.

Here are some of our samples of ‘textile deconstruction and reconstruction’:

This large scarf had a few holes in it and wasn’t fit for purpose.

Some of it was cut into strips then knitted to see how it would look and feel.

Old scarves and blouses can be used to make nuno felt.  If you’re unsure whether the fabric will work or not, make a sample!

Small pieces from three different garments were cut into rough shapes then placed onto a few layers of merino wool before felting.  The sample shows how each piece of fabric looked after felting.

This experimental sample is a scrap of fabric cut from an old garment then embellished with stitching.

This is a slice of the sleeve of an old sweater splayed out and stitched down.

Old t-shirts can be cut into strips to make ‘yarn’.  Seamless t-shirts are best as you can just cut round and round – with a seamed t-shirt you have to make joins in the ‘yarn’.

This red t-shirt yarn …

… and some of this recycled sari silk …

… were knitted together, as an I-Cord, on giant needles to make interesting ‘rope’.

Some fulled felt that was left over from a very colourful project was cut into small pieces, laid on top of loose white merino fibres then felted …

… the result was a colourful, textured piece of felt.

These shoelaces were rescued from discarded trainers.  They were handstitched to a piece of velvet and the sample was an experiment to try to ‘abstract’ rhubarb.

You may already have a stash of deconstructed stuff e.g. ribbons saved from gift wrappings, short lengths of yarn from old sweaters/scarves, lace from old blouses etc.

This weaving sample was made from such a stash.

So, look around at what you have to hand and ask ‘what if?’  Then make a sample to see what happens.

Please post a photo of your experimental sample onto the Felting and Fiber Forum under ‘Studio Challenges’ in the thread ‘2022 First Quarter Challenge’.


hippie-style crocheted top & colourful floral felted pod – 4th quarter challenge

hippie-style crocheted top & colourful floral felted pod – 4th quarter challenge


In the late 60’s I was taught how to crochet by my Aunt Doris and I loved it.  She showed me how to read a crochet pattern and the first thing I made was a green mini dress for myself.

At that time the ‘granny square’ became popular and I made a long, sleeveless jacket for my mum from brightly coloured squares edged with black.

So coming up with a challenge idea was easy for me.  I had a search of the internet and found a free pattern by Michelle of The Snugglery (free pattern) The pattern is for a 60’s hippie-style top.  Perfect.

I auditioned my stash of yarns and picked out some bright ones that I thought went together well – orange was a very popular colour in the late 60’s.

I made 8 traditional granny squares to measure 16.5cm (6½”) each – all the same as the one shown below.

If you’d like to know how to crochet a traditional granny square, there are many free YouTube videos – here is a good one but be aware that US double crochet stitch is UK treble crochet stitch.

how to crochet a granny square


How frustrating is it when you come to a knot in the yarn?

Here is Michelle’s pattern showing how to join the squares….

… and here are my 8 granny squares stitched together but not yet joined to make one piece.

A fringe, made with 3 strands of yarn, is essential to the look of this top.  I decided it would be easier to attach a fringe while the squares were flat on the table before joining them to make the top complete.

The thin straps were crocheted using 3 strands of yarn and a simple chain stitch.

Here’s how I kept the 3 yarns from tangling.

The finished top will be donated to a retro charity shop and I hope someone enjoys wearing it – even if it’s for fancy dress!  Here’s the ‘flat’ shot …

… and after much persuasion, here’s Annie modelling it, but she refused to take her tee-shirt off!


I’ve had plans to make some more pods for a while now and as flowers were popular in designs in the 60’s I thought I’d make a floral one for the 4th quarter challenge.

Usually I put the design on the outside after the fibres are all laid down but this time I decided to do it in reverse. I think it would have worked well with a simpler design but it bent my brain trying to lay down felt flowers, yarn outlines and background fabrics in reverse!

In the end I laid out the design for the first side face up over a template circle so I’d only have to do the other side in reverse.  It was quite complicated with having to wrap the design round the edges.

Then I put the resist on top and flipped it all over so that the design faced into the resist.

I laid down the first layer of fibres over the design then carried on making the pod in the usual way.

After I took the resist out I turned it inside out to reveal the design then carried on felting to shape the pod.  I didn’t really think it through – maybe it would have been easier to just put the design on the outside.  But it was fun to make.  Although it’s not perfect it’s not wasted time – any time spent experimenting and making is time well spent if you ask me!







The fourth quarter challenge is to felt, spin, weave, knit, crochet or sew something inspired by the 1960’s – a decade that exploded with colour in art, fashion, homewares and music!

Although ‘pop-art’ originated in the 1950’s it flourished in the 1960’s, and Andy Warhol created many versions of his portrait of Marilyn Monroe …

…and Versace made a gown using Warhol’s prints.

Psychedelic and hippie art was everywhere! On posters, clothes, musical instruments and vehicles.

The world of pop music embraced the wildness of design in the 1960’s. Heinz Edelmann’s illustration style for the Beatles’ animated film ‘Yellow Submarine’ was revolutionary…

… and this album cover must be the most recognisable.  Jann Haworth and Peter Blake designed the cover for The Beatles ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

Peter Max was an influential designer.  Below left to right: He painted this design for Capitol Records, this ‘love’ poster and he designed this fabric.

Flowers featured a lot in 60’s fabrics that would be made into clothes, curtains, lampshades and furniture.

Flowers were also popular in many wallpaper designs.

Mary Quant was an influential fashion designer in the 60’s – she did use colour but she’s well-known for her black and white designs.

And who hasn’t heard of ‘Biba’?  This is one of her dresses. Photo courtesy of V&A.

Fashion was very flamboyant.  Look at these ties for men. Photo courtesy of V&A.

And shirts could never be too colourful.

Machine embroidered clothes were very popular.

Jewellery was bold, bright and chunky.  Photos courtesy of V&A.

Perhaps you remember the 1960’s?  Perhaps you’ve only read about them.  But we hope you find something in that decade to inspire your work.  Please post anything you make on to the ‘Studio Challenges’ section on the Felting and Fiber Forum

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