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Twining with a little help from my friends

Twining with a little help from my friends

Happy New Year!!

November and December were incredibly busy but I am glad to say things have calmed down a lot in the last 3 weeks. The Christmas markets have closed and I have nearly finished writing the first draft of the much requested tutorial on how to make vessels with feet and lids. The lidded vessel pictured below is the main example I will demonstrate how to make in the new tutorial (with a few others for alternative methods to make lids etc):

A purple and orange felted vessel with a flared foot and a lid with a handle

I just need to write one more section, then edit and proof-read it. I hope to make it available in my Etsy shop in a couple of weeks.

Other than this purple vessel I have only managed to complete one piece of work between the markets, fairs and writing the new tutorial….

Back in September I was core spinning with the intention of using the yarn to experiment with adding twining to ceramic pots, you can read the post about that here.

This is the ceramic pot I made, after drilling out the holes I unintentionally filled with glaze. Drilling the holes has made the edges a little untidy but at least I can now get my yarn through them 🙂

blue and green ceramic bowl with holes around its top edge

I used paper yarn for the warp by threading equal sized lengths through each hole. I really like working with this material for the warp, it is stiffer than wool yarns and you can open it out to decorative effect.

Ceramic bowl with lengths of paper yarn threaded through the holes

Once all of the holes contained a strip of paper yarn, I cut 2 metres (6 feet) of a pretty boucle yarn to use as my weft. I folded it in half with one side longer than the other, this is so that when the yarn runs out while you are twining it only runs out on one side making it easier to add a new length of yarn.

Before looping the yarn over the first warp strip, I twisted the bottom of each pair of paper yarns to help hold them in position for the first few laps with the weft yarn. For the next pot I will try tying a knot in each pair of warp strips to secure them as the twist tended to come undone while I was twining, I really needed an extra pair of hands to hold everything in place while laying down the first layer of yarn.

Floki was only too happy to “assist”….

Ragdoll kitten looking at camera
“What do you mean, that’s not really helping?”
Ragdoll kitten rolling on his back while pulling and chewing on the yarn
“Your tension is way off, let me help…”

Even with Floki’s assistance the boucle yarn proved to be too fine for the space between the holes in the pot. I could have used 3 or 4 threads to bulk it up but it had proved so fiddly trying to hold the warp strips in place while twining the first layer I couldn’t face the prospect of trying to do that with 8 strands in the weft so I had a rummage in my stash and found some chunky grey yarn to use instead.

Same pot but with 5 layers of chunky grey yarn woven between the blue warp uprights

At this point I introduced some of my hand spun yarns, starting with the grey core-spun yarn from September (they are the grey bulges you can see at the top of the woven section) and then a yarn with colourful pink and blue beehives.

Woven part has doubled in size and now has bulges of yarn at the top in pink, blue and grey

Happy with the height and shape of the weaving, I tied each pair of warp strips to secure the top of the weaving and opened up the paper yarn before trimming the ends.

Ceramic vase base with grey weaving above and topped with strips of blue paper protruding from the top of the yarn

It reminds me of a blue cornflower.

Same vase as above but photographed from the other side

How has the start of 2023 been for you?

A Spring Update from Down Under

A Spring Update from Down Under

It has been a very busy few weeks with online teaching, two face-to-face teaching events, a dye day and prepping for the Christmas markets that all seem to be happening in November rather than December this year.

The first event was the Auckland Fun Felters retreat where I planned to teach felted vessels with feet and lids but that soon morphed to include triangular plates with feet, using a book resist. Everyone achieved awesome results, unfortunately a couple of people had to leave before I could get images of their pieces but as you can see from those I did manage to catch, we had a very productive weekend!:

Purple and orange combos were popular
This skull vessel was made by Margaret, she has only been felting for a few months but is already making some incredibly creative pieces

In between the two teaching events Margaret (who made the skull vessel) and I had a dye day, she has been learning to spin and wanted to try dyeing some of her hand-spun yarn.

We experimented with a few different dye techniques, all gave beautiful results

The second teaching event was the Creative Fibre Spring Festival in Orewa. This is a new 4-day textile festival north of Auckland. There were classes from a wide range of textile disciplines (eco-printing, crochet, spinning, weaving and indigo shibori to name just a few) and it has proved to be hugely popular, I am pleased to say a repeat event is already being planned for 2025.

I was teaching a 2-day bag making class, we had a range of experience levels from relatively new felt-makers through to several who have been felting for years but they all did amazingly well. Making well-made felted bags is physically demanding but a couple managed to finish their bags in just 2 days and everyone else was very close to finishing.

This photo was taken half way through the second day.

The grey wool in Jenny’s bag was from 4 different fleeces collected over 4 years from one of her Romney sheep, it is interesting how the wool lightens as the sheep aged.
A few of the sample bags I took along to help demonstrate how some different designs can be achieved

Time I got back to work making stock for those Christmas markets…. how is your holiday prep coming along?

If you are in Auckland over the next month or two, you can find out which markets and events I will be attending here. Would be lovely to see you if you can pop out for a couple of hours and who doesn’t love browsing at craft fairs?? 🙂

Spinning for Pots

Spinning for Pots

I confess I have not been able to make much felt this month, I have started a new bag using some gorgeous Gotland hogget (1 year old) locks that have that beautiful graduation from black to white that is characteristic of Gotland lambs wool. This lamb wasn’t shorn in its first year so the locks are unusually long for “lambs” wool. More on that bag in a later post.

I have been spinning, this is 2 skeins of merino “singles” that I dyed after spinning:

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And here they are plied together, I am liking the berry colours but struggling to decide which pattern to use it on, I am thinking a pair of gloves but I found several patterns in a crochet book that I like….

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This was some core spun art yarn, that I am planning to use for some twining (weaving):

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On top of this pot:

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This pot was a bit of a learning curve from a glazing perspective, as you can see, the holes I carefully created should have been cleared of glaze before firing. I have managed to fix it with a tile drill but would have preferred the smoother edges of glaze at the edges of the holes.

I have been making quite a lot of pottery this month, including several lidded pots, all of which were the subjects of some glazing experiments…..

This one has 3 different layers of my favourite glaze combination (it gives a bluey-purple through to crimson red colour with pretty pink spots) with some wax over red underglaze:

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This one is a type of scraffito, where you paint on layers of different coloured clays and then scrape areas aways to reveal the layers underneath. The colours in this photo are not very accurate, they are actually black, lemon yellow, brick red and cream:

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This shallow bowl with a cat design was another experiment, to see if I could paint with coloured clay slip (a watery version of clay). I painted the image on clear plastic sheet in black and let it dry so the colours would not mix but that caused all sorts of problems, not least, the black slip cracked and broke up making it very difficult to add the other colours. The bowl is not a total disaster but I have some other ideas on how better to approach this technique in future.

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Getting in a Spin

Getting in a Spin

Creative Fibre in New Zealand are hosting a series of workshops next weekend, one of which is a beginner’s spinning workshop with Pat Old. She is quite the celebrity in NZ spinning circles but I’m not sure if that is also true internationally…. have you heard of her before?

I dithered about signing up for this class because one of the prerequisites was that you need to bring a wheel in good order, bobbins and lazy Kate. I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to learn to spin and buying all that equipment up front was quite an investment, so I put out some feelers to see if anyone had a wheel they would like to sell. I was (and still am) keen to make art yarns so was ideally looking for a wheel with a jumbo flyer. It took a few weeks of asking around but a friend from Auckland Fun Felters came through for me, she had an Ashford Traditional and best of all, it was already fitted with a jumbo flyer! 🙂

I took delivery of my new toy at the end of May and have been watching far too many Youtube videos ever since 🙂 These are my first efforts….

Autumnal colours spun from a Merino art batt full of textured bits and pieces, probably a bit ambitious for a first go but I was pleased with the results:

Aoifa says it makes a very nice pillow…

After reading Ann’s post on FFS a few weeks ago I had a shock of inspiration and added some orange to the singles I planned to ply post dying with purples and blues:

This is the plied yarn:

After plying I had some “single” left over on one of the bobbins so thought I would have a go at chain-plying (apparently it’s not very PC to call it Navajo plying any more). This method produces 3-ply yarn and in theory you can line up the colours on a gradient dyed yarn so you loose the stripy, “barber-pole” effect. I succeeded in places but definitely need more practice!

I am really enjoying spinning with Polworth (a Merino-cross breed that is better suited to the wet NZ climate), it is a lovely, soft wool. I crocheted this cowl but was not keen on the hot pink.

So I over-dyed it with blue:

One month into my spinning journey, a beginners class in Auckland came up so I toddled along with a friend (Margaret) who was curious but not really interested in taking up spinning (she couldn’t knit or crochet). They gave us some mystery brown and white wool to play with, I am pleased with the results but it is very coarse, too coarse for anything wearable so I am crocheting it into a bowl.

Margaret ended up buying the wheel she had been practicing on in the class (from the same person who sold me my wheel, I am starting to imagine Shirley has a house full of wheels that she has to climb over to move between rooms) 🙂 Margaret is also learning to crochet now she is enjoying spinning – another convert to the wonderful world of fibre!

I have also been playing with making slubby and chunky yarns and then dyeing it:

I found a few books on spinning at the library, the first one I read, Hand Spinning by Pam Austin was a bit disappointing, it didn’t cover anything I hadn’t already learned from watching YouTube videos. Frustratingly it mentioned a limited selection of art yarn types but didn’t offer any information on how you might spin them.

I found Spinning and Dyeing Yarn much more useful, jam-packed with technical, how-to information and lots of drool-worthy photos of beautiful yarns by different artists to give the reader inspiration and something to aspire to. For me, I was very taken with the art yarn chapter – I had no idea there were so many different species of art yarn and for each one there is at least one page explaining how to create it yourself.

I have only just started reading Yarn-i-tec-ture but I find the concept behind it intriguing, that you can spin a yarn with exactly the properties (stretch, warmth, shine etc) and colours you want…. Can’t wait to see if it delivers on that promise 🙂

I had to share these with you, there are several of them along the Wellington waterfront, they were very popular for selfies so I only managed to get photos of two of them but they are so cool I just had to share. Something for me to aspire to on my learning to knit journey! 🙂

Following several requests, I have posted my Concertina Hat and Snail Hat tutorials on Etsy. If you enter code FAFS30 (before the end of July) you will receive a 30% discount at check out. Alternatively, if you prefer a more interactive learning experience, the full online course, including the “taking it further module”, will be starting again in October, for more information and to sign up for notifications when registration opens please follow this link. Or for the bag class this link.

Monstrous Felting Retreat

Monstrous Felting Retreat

A few weeks ago I experienced the delight that is the Auckland Fun Felter’s Retreat, 2 full days of felting bliss! 🙂

We were 13 like-minded ladies at a retreat centre, tucked away in a quiet and leafy corner of west Auckland, we had the entire centre all to ourselves and were blessed with some lovely weather.

Jenny, our organiser extraordinaire, asked if anyone would be willing to teach / lead a short workshop on Saturday morning. Due to the pandemic, I haven’t had the chance to teach face to face since 2019 so jumped at the chance and then immediately panicked that I had nothing to teach this incredibly creative and experienced group (most of the members have been felting at least as long as I have!).

After several weeks mulling it over and talking to other AFF members I settled on “animal textures in felt”, I thought this would lend itself to a series of pre-prepared samples that we could discuss the potential pitfalls and then each member could incorporate one or two into their own project. This group is so experienced I couldn’t imagine any of them wanting to waste their precious felting time watching me laying out fibre over a resist.

We all arrived on Friday afternoon, settled into our rooms and started playing with our fibres in the main hall. After talking to a few members I realised not everyone would be happy for me to share some samples and tips on how to achieve different effects, they wanted a project to follow…. my heart sank, I hadn’t planned for this, how was I going to come up with a project that included, fur, scales, eyes and locks before tomorrow morning?!!

So it was that Fugly was born….

A little pod critter, with eyes, scales on his back, a lambs tail and an unfortunate ear-hair problem – for the record I would never normally recommend trying to cram so many different techniques onto one item but now he is finished I do find Fugly quite endearing 🙂

To my surprise most of the group also made pods that incorporated most or all of the techniques and we ended up with a ?gaggle, ?fright, ?laughter <insert collective noun of your choice here> of funny little monsters:

A couple of members applied to techniques to small bags with great effect…

This weekend was such a success we agreed to do it all again in just 6 months time! 🙂

Concertina Hat and Felted Bags Classes – Registration Now Open

Concertina Hat and Felted Bags Classes – Registration Now Open

I always look forward to each new iteration of these classes, its always exciting to see how each new group of felt-makers will interpret the weekly tutorials, looking back at the photos in the class galleries it is hard to imagine they were all following the same instructions! 🙂

These are just a few of my favourite creations made by students from previous classes.

If these photos have whetted your appetite and you would like to see more the full galleries are here:

Hats

Bags

Key dates for both classes:

15th March – registration closes
17th March – first tutorial will be posted
24th March – second tutorial will be posted
31st March – third tutorial will be posted
We will have use of the forum pages until 28th April so you can carry on making and sharing your creations with everyone or catch up if you need to take a week or two off during the course.

The tutorials for both classes contain step by step instructions and lots of colour photographs illustrating each steps. They will be pdfs for you to download and keep for future reference.

For more details and the contact form to sign up for these classes please follow these links:

Concertina Hat Class

Felted Bags Class

Thinking of joining in the fun but have questions about these classes? Please post them in the comments below or use the contact forms on the class pages above.

Something for the garden

Something for the garden

With the weather warming up, we have been looking for some garden furniture ever since the most severe lockdown restrictions began to lift in September, but almost all of reasonably priced wooden furniture has sold out and no-one knows when more will be delivered. Living at the bottom of the world has its advantages but access to products and materials while shipping containers are in disarray all over the planet due to the pandemic is not one of them. Most imported items, from cars to sofas, have been subject shipping delays of a year or more.

We ended up settling for a garden lounge set that isn’t as comfortable as some of the display sets we looked at, the seats are a little too long in the base but that is easily fixed with some additional cushions. I spent this weekend making a set of cushions and some matching fabric coasters / “wrist-warmers” for the the chairs.

Cushion covers are very easy to make and a great beginner’s sewing project so I thought I would share my method with you. I hope this isn’t too patronising for the more experienced sewers among you.

  • I started by cutting 2 squares of fabric, the same size as the cushion inserts, plus a 1cm ./ 0.5″ seam allowance on all 4 sides. A 60 cm sqare cushion needs 2 pieces of fabric measuring 62 x 62 cm.
  • Placing right sides of fabric together I stitched along what will become the bottom edge of the cushion cover, leaving a 1 cm seam. If the pattern on your fabric has a right way up, making sure this seam is on the bottom will ensure your zip is out of sight on the finished cushion.
  • Press the seam open with front of the cushion facing towards the table (I was lazy and pressed it open with my fingers rather than getting the iron out, as you can probably tell from the crumpled state of my fabric! 🙂 ):
  • Lay the zip, right side down, so the teeth line up with the line of stitching. Pin into place and using a zipper foot, sew down both sides of the zipper tape. Tip – the zip does not need to be the full width of the cushion, I think the zipper looks more professional if it stops an inch or two before the edge of the cushion. You can cut the nylon zips to make them shorter if you have one the right colour but it is too long.

Sew across the top and bottom of the zip so the zipper will not be able to run as far as the metal staple.

Using a seam ripper, remove the stitching holding the two sides of fabric together, stopping approximately 2 inches before each end (and before the line of stitching you placed across the zip).

Open the zip enough that you can easily pass your hand through the hole.

Fold the 2 squares of fabric so the right sides are together again, pin into place and stitch around the 3 reamining sides, leaving a 1 cm seam allowance from the edge.

Open the zip the whole way and turn the cover the right way out, I like to use a chopstick or pencil to push the corners out so they are nice and square.

Insert your cushion and close the zip! et voila!

I also made some fabric, wrap-around coasters to protect the arms of the new furniture from the condensation cold drinks often shed in our warm, humid climate. I started by making a sheet of felt and cutting it into four rectangles.

Then, using the chairs as a guide, I cut out a rectangle from each end so they would wrap around the arm either side of the upright piece of wood.

I cut a slightly larger rectangle of fabric and trimmed it so it was about a cm wider than the felt shape (see the piece on the left) before using fabric glue to fold over the edge of the fabric and tack into place on the felt.

Once the glue had dried, I stitched around the edge of each shape before attaching a piece of velcro to 2 tabs on each coaster and wrapping around the arm of the chair.

I am looking forward to spending the rest of the summer sitting in our “granny and grandpa” chairs on the veranda now 🙂  Fingers crossed the chickens don’t roost on the chairs and poop all over my new cushions….

You can never have too much felt art

You can never have too much felt art

Since we moved to our new home in May we have been steadily adorning the walls with the pieces of art that moved with us, as we were deciding what to hang where, Mr TB pointed out that more than half of the art work on our walls is made from wool. I couldn’t disagree but still felt compelled to make a new piece to hang in the hallway, opposite the front door. Something colourful and cheery to greet any visitors. Much to my surprise, instead of complaining that we have too much wool on the walls, Mr TB helped me hang it…

I really wanted to play with a piece of silk purchased at Fibretron (a fibre festival in Hamilton, NZ), it has this wonderful wavy texture and can be peeled into fine sheets a little like silk hankies. I used some to decorate a large sheet of felt, layering and blending different colours as I went.

Once felted, I cut up the sheet into large petal shapes and continued felting them while shaping and blocking them, before laying them out to find an appealing arrangement.

At this stage I felt like the centre really needed something, a complimentary colour perhaps? So I had a play with some different colours…

But they didn’t quite feel right.

I have recently been playing with making different sculptural flower shapes and had one sitting on my bench. This looked much better, this is the piece after I had started gluing and sewing the petals together:

I tried making another central flower in the same blues as the large petals but it didn’t look half as good, it’s funny how some, unplanned, random elements just work together isn’t it? More on the blue flower at the end of this post…

Here is the final piece assembled and hanging on the wall:

It had been hanging on the wall less than a week before one the fluffy terrorists discovered that, if he jumped really high (4 feet off the ground), he could rip the petals off and add to his collection of toys. So far the hanging has lost 2 petals….

Floki with his “prizes” – if you look closely you can also see muddy paw prints on the wall

There were quite a few pieces of felt left over after making this hanging so I re-purposed them to enlarge the small blue flower I made with the intention of it becoming the centre:

Now I feel inspired to make a whole bunch of these to create an artificial flower bouquet….

Summer has finally arrived here in Auckland, I hope the weather is being kind wherever you are.

Going Dotty

Going Dotty

A few weeks ago I was indulgently scrolling through Pinterest, as you do, and came across a ceramic vase with a pretty, colourful pattern around its rim.

This inspired an experiment to see if I could achieve a similar efffect in felt…..

I made a collection of cords in different colours, cut them to rougly the same length and sandwiched them between 4 layers of wool tops.

These were felted to the prefelt stage before cutting into strips and laying out on 2 more layers of wool:

Then covered with 2 more layers of wool before felting to the firm prefelt stage.

I wanted to shape it into a bowl, so draped it over a hat block and rubbed it vigorously to make the sides shrink onto the shape of the block,

The colours from the cut ropes were already migrating through even after a few minutes of rubbing.

After lots more rubbing and a trim it was holding it’s shape well.

I had always intended to shave the finished bowl bring out the colours in the spots but found shaving hasn’t made that much difference to the colour intensity of the spots:

Before shaving
After shaving

I am really pleased with the colourful effect from this experiment and will persist with the shaving.

Auckland Fun Felters

Auckland Fun Felters

The last few months have been life-changing, first moving to New Zealand in March, two weeks in quarantine, buying a new home (complete with 12 chickens), starting a new job, adopting two kittens, finding Auckland Fun Felters (AFF) and the wonderful felting activities on the North Island.

Don’t be fooled by the cuteness, when they aren’t sleeping they are tiny little terrorists!
Aoifa (pron eee-fa) – giving us her sternest look
Floki
Aoifa “helping” to unpack the studio

AFF are affiliated with Creative Fibre, I first found Creative Fibre online before we left the UK and confess I was worried when I read their interests lean heavily towards spinning and weaving, having belonged to a Spinners Weavers and Dyers group in the UK where felting was a dirty word and the committee behaved like felt-makers were contaminating the purist application of spinning, weaving and dying I was a little hesitant about joining.

I am so glad I took the plunge and went along to my first meeting in May, AFF are true to their name and such a fun group of ladies, and everyone is obsessed with felting and the associated skills. I immediately felt like I had come home 🙂

Each meeting involves a show and tell and announcements of upcoming events we might be interested in, at my first meeting that was Woolfest in Kumeu (held annually north west of Auckland). I arrived after lunch and most of the crowds had already been and gone, it was rather lovely being able to get to all of the stands without having to fight my way through:

You can just about make out the AFF stand to the left of the door in this photo
Having been deprived of hugs and cuddles for so long during lockdown this stall naturally pulled on my heart-strings
I couldn’t resist buying a bag of Gotland locks from this stand

Back to the AFF show and tell, Lynn took us through a collection of gorgeous items our members had made:

Isn’t Lynn’s waistcoat stunning?
These eco-printed tiles were inspired by Fiona Duthie’s Creative Sparks video

These tiles will be crocheted together to make a blanket that will be raffled at next year’s Woolfest:

I managed to make one during our session on Saturday, the only rule is that that the design had to use just straight lines, I can’t tell you how desperate I was to add a red dot to the middle, some of my triangles became a little curved during fulling too:

After the show and tell, Lynn demonstrated how to make silk paper using spray starch:

These elegant little bags are an example of what can be made with the papers:

Another benefit of belonging to this group is the extensive library, including the back catalogue of my favourite magazine, I think I have died and gone to heaven!! 🙂

And just to show what a small world this is, I discovered Robyn (a fellow FFS member and a former student of my hat class) is also a member of AFF! Robyn is working on a blanket square for her own personal blanket.

That reminds me, lots of keen felters have been asking when the concertina hat class and the felt bags classes will start again, I am delighted to announce the next iteration of both classes will start on 19th August (registration will open a couple of weeks earlier on 4th August). If you would like to receive a reminder when registration opens please email teri@teriberry.com saying which class you would like to join.

More information about these classes can be found here:

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