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Online Learning: the new and the unexpected

Online Learning: the new and the unexpected

The last time I posted here (in January) I described my plan to take various online felting classes. With all my sales and exhibitions cancelled or on hold I thought this would be a good way to keep me focused and motivated during our 3rd pandemic lockdown. Here’s the link in case you want to look back to January’s post.

This time I’m talking about my online learning since then, including how it has led me in some unexpected directions.

I was part-way through Teri Berry’s bag making class, which was great. I made my third bag, a backpack, and am very pleased with it. I’d definitely recommend Teri’s class. The instructions were clear and comprehensive and Teri was very responsive to my many questions, thoughts and comments. I learned a lot about bag making techniques, which is exactly what I was looking for.

Corriedale Backpack with Canvas Straps

Because two of the bags I made are large, relatively thick, and have to be fulled very hard, I admit bag-making was rather harder work than I’d anticipated. I rent a studio in an old industrial building that is largely unheated so maybe mid-winter isn’t the best time to be working so much heavy, cold, wet wool, but it’s a minor point. I had to use plastic gloves for the first time as my hands became so shredded and I often went home with sleeves wet to the armpit!

I’d planned to take 3 classes over January to March but was irresistibly drawn to a 4th: a 2-session live international felt-along by Aniko Boros (Baribon.Hu) learning to make her beautiful felted tulip pendant with pebble inclusions. Having signed up I realised it was going to be difficult to find the colourful 14 micron merino wool I needed. I only had white. I’ve never dyed my own wool before but I thought, why not have a go?

I already had some acid dyes so I started off with some 21 micron merino before going on to the finer and more expensive 14 micron. Then I tried silk hankies, Corriedale tops, mohair tops, silk fabric, alpaca & nylon …. nothing was safe. I had a blast. I had no idea how much fun dying would be.

Then it snowed and I thought ‘ooh, I could try snow dying’. That turned out to be great fun too. On the right are just a few of the snow dyed fabrics.

I had several colour choices of dyed 14 micron merino by the time Aniko’s workshop came around. The workshop itself was really interesting. A clear and detailed PDF was sent in advance and turned out to be very helpful on the first day when the sound or picture dropped out occasionally. It meant I could see what I needed to do next so was able to keep up. I’m pleased with my pendant (although I still have to add a fastener) including how the dyed wool worked, and feel I’ve learned techniques I will be able to use to make my own designs. Also, it led me into the entirely unexpected joy of dyeing.

Hand dyed 14 micron merino pendant with pebbles: Aniko Boros’ workshop

In the meantime I’d started Fiona Duthie’s online class Ink + Cloth. We practiced adding ink at various stages of feltmaking with loads of potential for using these techniques in future projects.

Above are samples of adding dye / ink before felting (on silk fabric) and on prefelt

These are samples of ink added in different ways to finished nuno felt with cotton and two types of silk. I’d found an image in the V&A museum online catalogue (a fantastic resource) of an early 20th century furnishing fabric with this style of lollipop trees that I was thinking of using for the 1st quarter challenge …but that’s a story for another time.

At the end of this I decided to combine various things I’d learned: to dye my own Corriedale wool tops for a bag and maybe to decorate it with inked or dyed pieces. This is still work in progress as I am not completely happy with it. I decided to let it dry and have a think before doing the last bit of fulling. After I’d laid out the wool I dithered over whether to add silk and prefelt pieces or not as I quite liked the wool as it was. At the last minute I added all sorts of bits and pieces without properly thinking through the design. I fear it betrays its history. A colleague who saw me rinsing it at the studio casually commented it was very ‘hippie, trippy summer-of-love’ which is absolutely not the look I was going for! I will come back to it soon. I included the strap in the photo to give an idea of what it will look like finished.

Now I’m part way through another class with Fiona Duthie: Fibre + Paper. It’s a fascinating process of combining specialist paper with wool. We started by making lots of samples: paper and felt, paper relief, extreme paper relief and paper with prefelt.

Above are samples showing different amounts of paper felted into 21 micron merino wool and bottom right combines prefelt and paper. They feel lovely and there seems to be so much potential to use paper with felt in different ways.

This week I made a vessel with paper embedded into the surface. It’s not perfect: I got a bit over-confident near the end and tore some of the surface (you can just see it bottom left, between the two ribs). I’ve been interested in shell shapes for a couple of years so I shall enjoy making more 3D paper & felt shell-inspired objects.

Paper felt shell-inspired vessel

In the coming week I will be trying out adding colour and surface designs with ink and paint plus making samples with some different papers. Fiona’s classes have been really enjoyable with excellent PDFs, photos and videos and lots of class interaction.

All the online classes I’ve taken have been great fun and very inspiring. They have given me lots of new skills and techniques that I will be able to use in my work. And they have definitely achieved my other objective: they have been really helpful in keeping me learning, focussed and motivated during what could otherwise have been quite a bleak time.

Rock Wall Picture Part 2

Rock Wall Picture Part 2

I had a whole day of no work and no grandchildren last week so I got my picture done. Although this is a good thing, I discovered all those little people’s interruptions are actually good. I rather overdid it with the needling and have aggravated my tendonitis again. I need a better needling pad. the one I have is quite dense. It’s good for travelling as it’s light and it does last well but it is too dense to be poking into all day. I know not to poke way into the foam but when you’re doing a picture you always seem to go into it a little.  I got several suggestions for alternatives. Jan had a nicer kneeling pad that I will look for not so dense but still lightweight. upholstery foam is popular and a new one to me was rice in a cloth bag. I may try this for home. I think it would be heavy to carry around. What do you use?

On to the picture.

When I put the rock shapes in I wasn’t very happy that the stuck up a lot from the wall so I wet felted it again. It looked much better, more subtle.

Before wet felting

After wet felting


After wet felting-close

Next for the wall was some moss and some shadows


Adding moss

Next was some shadow to the bottom of the rocks and to the gate.

Adding shadows -close

I added some sheep, I know you are all so surprised. I added the trees to the place markers and some vegetation to the foreground.


Sheep trees and vegetation

That looks ok but it is kind of bare on the top left and the vegetation is a little boring so I added some more trees, another sheep( you can’t have enough sheep) and some french knots for flowers on the vegetation.


Vegetation close

Vegetation close 2

I hope to get a better picture of the finished piece. The camera really doesn’t like the fuzzy white. the piece is 7 inches by 9 inches. It should have been 8 x 10 but when I refelted it I shrank more. it hadn’t originally been very felted because it’s a picture and didn’t need to be. Oh well, I will get a frame and Jan will help me cut a mat to the right size.

Thank You from Zed and the Holiday Card Exchange

Thank You from Zed and the Holiday Card Exchange

Zed wanted me to include her thanks to all of you for your generous support. Here’s what she had to say:

Please could you pass on my sincere gratitude to everyone who made a donation or bought an e-book or tutorial to support me at this difficult time. I was absolutely blown away by the kindness and generosity of so many people.

I’ve had very little motivation to felt or be creative at all for many months, and whenever I did try, it felt ‘forced’ so wasn’t really enjoyable. As well as the generous donations, I also received many comments and messages which have made me feel very appreciated and cared for. In fact, they made such an impact that I felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I’ve been feeling so much more positive. And although I haven’t had chance to do any felting yet, (but who has over the holidays!?) I feel like I have a renewed love for it, and have had lots of ideas for things to make and write about. I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays, and I hope the new year brings great things for everyone. Thank you so much 🙂

Now on to my regularly scheduled post!

Every year on the forum, we do a holiday card exchange where members make fiber art cards to send to their assigned partner. It’s a lot of fun and you get a great small artwork from another member of your “tribe”. It’s always fun to see what everyone creates and the cards are always so different. You can see some of them here. You have to scroll down and go through all the pages to see all the cards that have been posted so far.

My partner this year was Antje. She is one of our regular contributors here and I correspond with her frequently so it was fun to send each other a card. Since I was working on the concept of using stuff up, I searched in my studio for felt that would work for a holiday card. I found some screen printed red and green felt.

The red pieces had almost berry like shapes and the green had pine needle shapes. Perfect! I just had small pieces so I cut and stitched them into strips and then sewed them all together. I butted up the edges and zigzag stitched them together. They were a bit wonky but I didn’t need perfection. Once I had a post card shaped red and green felt, I needed to add an element. So how about a tree? I found a piece of white felt and cut a fairly wonky tree shape.

Here’s the card after stitching around the edge of the tree to attach it to the background. I then found some star sequins and did a little French knot to hold each one down. I then fused the felt down to a regular white card blank.

Then I found a nice font on the computer, printed it in “matching” color and added a holiday greeting. I did add a little surprise inside but forgot to take a photo of that before I sent it off to Antje. It was a bit nerve racking because it took over three weeks to arrive. I sent a package of wool to Lyn on the same day and that was received in less than a week. But a card in a standard envelope took what seemed like forever. Just when I was thinking I would need to make another card to send, Antje received it. Yay!

Then, just after Christmas, I received a package from Antje, much bigger than a standard card. What could be in there?

She did send this lovely card which is gorgeous. Such an innovative way to depict a tree.

But then, I also got these three items. The birch bark piece on the left is wonderful and since I love trees, it is going to find a prominent place in my home. I love everything that Antje sent me and it was such fun finding these extra surprises. Thank you Antje!

We would love to have you join us next year with our holiday card exchange. Join our free forum so you’ll know when to sign up.



Felt and basketry

Felt and basketry

This is a guest post by Kim Winter of Flextiles.

Some of you may know that as well as being a felter I have recently developed an interest in basketry. Given that I love making 3D vessels and sculptural felt, this is probably no great surprise!

My preferred method at the moment is random weaving, as I love the organic, freeform texture of this technique. After starting with cane, I moved on to work with paper yarn, which I like much better. I think my textile background has instilled a preference for softer materials! 😉

I can also dye the paper with indigo or other natural dyes, like this piece dyed with eucalyptus. And untwisting the ends of the paper produces some delicate feathery effects.

I had the idea of combining felting with random weaving after seeing a photo of a cape gooseberry.

cape gooseberry

I thought that if the orange fruit in the centre was made from felt, it would make an interesting contrast with the paper carapace. So I wove the paper case, leaving a hole at the top, and then inserted a small orange felt sphere and stitched the two together with very fine fishing line. I then finished the top with some twining and a little tassel.

felt and paper cape gooseberry
Photo: Owen Llewellyn

I decided to develop this further into a submission for an exhibition with the theme of “fragility”. With widespread concern about the human effects on our fragile environment, I read that scientists at Kew Gardens estimate that one in five plant species are in danger of extinction due to activities such as intensive farming, deforestation and construction.

So the idea for my piece, called “One in Five”, was to make five stylised seeds combining felt and paper yarn, to represent the fragility of the environment in general as well as their own precarious existence.

The second pod I made was based on a sycamore seed. I needlefelted the two seeds first before wet felting them, and then wove the paper wings around them.

felt and paper sycamore seed
Photo: Owen Llewellyn

I used a similar technique for the third seed, which was based on a bean pod.

felt and paper bean pod
Photo: Owen Llewellyn

The fourth seed was slightly different – no random weaving was involved. Instead, I wrapped several strands of paper yarn together, feathered the separate ends, and covered the wrapped ends with felt to resemble a dandelion seed.

It was a bit tricky to felt around the paper without making it soggy and droopy. So I ended up applying some matt varnish to the paper to protect it before felting, which worked a treat.

felt and paper dandelion seed
Photo: Owen Llewellyn

The fifth and last seed was the most difficult. I wanted to make a spiky seed case, a bit like a chestnut, but it was tricky to work out how. I eventually made a random weave sphere and then looped short lengths of paper yarn all over it. I started feathering all the ends, but then decided that the overall effect was too much and that I should just feather a few randomly. So I had to reloop quite a few bits of yarn!

felt and paper spiky seedcase
Photo: Owen Llewellyn

Having finished making the seeds, I had to decide on the best way to display them. They would obviously look better suspended rather than lying on a flat surface, but in one of the galleries where this exhibition will be displayed we cannot hang things from the ceiling.

One of the other advantages of felt and paper is that they are both very light materials – each of the seeds weighs only a few grams. So I thought I could somehow mount a branch on a wall and hang them from that.

I spent days looking for the perfect branch. Luckily, we’ve had a few blustery days recently, so there has been no shortage of branches, even on London pavements! I finally found one that’s not too heavy, is an interesting shape and has some lovely lichen.


So then it was off to a photographer friend, Owen Llewellyn, to take some pictures that would hopefully wow the selectors and persuade them to accept my submission. After experimenting with three different backdrops we finally went for a plain grey background, though there also some interesting experimental shadow pics!

five seeds on branch
Photo: Owen Llewellyn

dandelion seed with shadow
Photo: Owen Llewellyn

bean pod with shadow
Photo: Owen Llewellyn

Anyway, it clearly worked, as I have just heard that my submission has been accepted for the exhibition, which will be on display in London at the end of May and Birmingham in October. Phew!

A Felt Christmas Card

A Felt Christmas Card

I sent a card to my partner for the Christmas card on the forum. holiday-exchange-2017   She has it now so I can tell you all about making it.

First I went through my old felt bin to find a thickish piece of felt and cut out a tree shape. It’s a blueish green even if it doesn’t look like it.

I then cut out some red prefelt I had for the background. I did 2 layers for each of these. I did the extra on so if this didn’t turn out I could go with plan B. 

Then I roughly cut out a tree shape form a silk scarf I got at the second hand store. I then layers the pieces and wet it all and trimmed the silk a little.       

Even with 2 layers the prefelt is not very thick so I added red merino to cover the extra silk and make it thicker and more sturdy. I cut the wool to give it a nice straight edge to put up against the tree and give a nice clean line.

After that was done I flipped it over and wrapped the excess around to the back. I wanted to make sure the tree would stick to the finished felt  so I did some poking with my felting needles.

This after the fulling.  I blocked them to square them up. The blue colour of the tree came through the silk more than I wanted so I gave it a shave to bring the green back.

I went through my stash looking for some fuzzy gold yarn to use as tinsel but instead found this yarn with beads that I think looks like lights. I sewed it on and then added some shiny pony beads as Christmas balls and a star.

I thought it looked ok but lacking something.  So I added some 3D sheep. I think they improve it and make it look finished.  

I printed off a post card template from the internet and using fusible web ironed it to the back of the felt. I forgot to take a picture of that but I am sure you all know what the back of a postcard looks like. I like it and my exchange partner seemed to be very happy with it. No I just wait for Canada Post to decide to get mine to me. I am hopeful it will arrive before Christmas.

Here’s  wishing you all a great holiday season,



Felted Mistletoe Ornaments

Felted Mistletoe Ornaments

I hadn’t done much felting lately as I have been trying to get all my Level 3 Art and Design homework completed. So I decided I would make a holiday wreath because I had lots of nice Wensleydale locks that were already dyed green from making my umbrella tree. I thought I had a wreath form so I went out to the garage to get it and lo and behold, no wreath form. Instead I found 9 whiffle balls with jingle bells already inside them that I had used for Christmas ornaments a long time ago. So I decided maybe I could cover them with felt and still make a wreath by attaching them together somehow. I wanted to use things that I already had without buying anything new.

I searched through my wool and found a variety of yellow, yellow-green, green and blue wool. I created three batts on my drum carder. I took photos but none came out so I’m sorry I can’t show you a photo of the batts. I covered the whiffle ball with a portion of batt, tacked it in place with a felting needle and then covered that with Wensleydale locks.

Here’s a photo to show you how much wool is on the outside of the ball before felting. Very squishy!

Next I tied them up into a leg of pantyhose. This is the same way I make cat toys. Then I threw them in the washing machine with a load of wash.

Here they are after felting. I was still thinking that I would make them into a wreath but when I laid them out, I just wasn’t impressed with it.

Here’s a closer look so you can see the locks. So what to do now? I definitely needed to add more color than the green so I went to my studio to see what I had in red. I found burlap ribbon with red threaded through it that I was sent to try several years ago. You can see more about the burlap here. I decided I would make individual ornaments and make them into mistletoe.

So I machine stitched the burlap together around a hanging ring. The rings were actually the only thing I bought for this project. Everything else I already had in my studio. The little snowflake “buttons” were stitched on by hand.

I then cut some mistletoe leaves out of several pieces of hand dyed felt that were left over from making a couple of hand stitch books. These I hand stitched together and added a few clear E beads to represent mistletoe berries. I used beading thread for the stitching and to put all the parts together. It was interesting threading a big long darning needle up through the whiffle ball to connect the burlap ribbon to the top of the ornament but I got the construction all worked out in the end.

I connected the ball to the ribbon with some pewter beads that I had in my stash and added the red bow from scrap felt left over from some felt poinsettias. This is a link to the tutorial on how I made the poinsettias.

And here they are, felt mistletoe ornaments to hang and steal a kiss from your sweetheart. I’m selling them in the shop so we’ll see how they go. I still have no holiday wreath for the door but I did use up some more scraps and supplies languishing in the studio.

What are you felting for the holidays?

First Quarter Challenge Done.

First Quarter Challenge Done.

It’s not even the last day of march and I have my First Quarter Challenge piece done. Here is the link to the challenge if you haven’t see it yet.

It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to remake an existing Fauvist painting. Then I remembered a couple of pictures I had when I was a child that had ballerinas in them. One was them dancing at night and one in a French garden. I doesn’t know where the pictures are now but what I remember is that they felt very happy. Fauvism should express emotion with simplified form and bold colour so that was the choice.

I did what I usually do for back grounds, a piece of cotton gauze between 2 pieces of prefelt. It measured about 14×14. Then I positioned my ballerinas. I used silk hanky pieces for the dresses.

I used prefelt, merino top and the large blue piece is a small left over piece of batt I made last year.  I then wet it all down and felted it down to 12×12. For an art piece this seems to be enough shrinkage. the size lets me use it for my guilds upcoming art show celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

Here it is after felting I think it qualifies as Fauvist.

It was ok but I wanted to emphasise the ballerinas more so I made their skirts 3D by needle felting some more silk hanky on to them.

I liked it before but I like it much better now.


I hope those of you that haven’t made anything yet will be inspired to so something before the end of the month. It was fun.


Out of the box Part 3

Out of the box Part 3

This is the 3rd and final set of pictures from this exhibit.   the first is here: and the second here: Again I apologise for some of the odd angles as it was very crowded with people enjoying the exhibit. In the last picture you may find it hard to see but the is a very long weaving draped across  the ceiling.

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Holiday Crafting?

Holiday Crafting?

Are you making any fun holiday items for gifts or to sell? I usually end up making last minute gifts or ornaments but it appears that this year (knock on wood), I won’t be making any. I thought I’d show a few efforts from prior years and then give you a few links to some good ideas I found online.

finished ornaments

These are some ornaments that I made in 2011. They are made from felt scraps and then stitched together. You can get a little more information about how to make them in this post. If you have the scraps on hand, these are fairly quick except for sewing on the ornaments but you could always glue them on.

Christmas Tree Ornaments
Christmas Tree Ornaments

These are ornaments that I made in 2009. These are wet felted over a large whiffle ball (plastic ball with holes in it) and then the designs are needle felted. I can’t say that these are quick and easy as the needle felted designs take quite a while. You can see a few more photos of these here.

I made these poinsettias in 2010 and there is a tutorial here if you’d like to try some. They can be used as pins/brooches, ornaments or added to other ornaments.

Here’s a combination of the two types of ornaments. Instead of needle felting the white yarn down I couched it down with gold thread. This was an ornament I made for an exchange.

Now to a few gifts I have made in the past. One year I made ‘everyone’ coaster and trivet sets. This is the leaf set that I printed with thickened dye and then stitched.



These are stitched petroglyphs.

This is the floral set.

And finally the Montana Griz Fan set. I don’t seem to have a good photo but here they are drying.

And then there was the year of the fabric bowls.

I made a few as you can see. These actually take quite a bit of work as you have to fuse the fabric to interfacing on both sides and then zigzag it all together and around the edges.

This year has been a bust for making any gifts or ornaments. I did make one post card for the forum exchange and that has been it. But I would love to see anything that you have made as gifts or ornaments this year or in year’s past. Just join us on the forum and post about what you’ve made.

I have included a few links below for some fiber related ornaments and holiday gifts.

Knitted Christmas Trees (thanks to Leonor for pointing these out on Facebook)

Needle Felted Gnome Ornaments

Wool Ornaments That Could Be Used Year Round

Felted Acorn Garland

Wet Felted Snowmen

Wet Felted Lanterns






Same Picture, Different Techniques and Outcomes

Same Picture, Different Techniques and Outcomes

A while back, I purchased Moy Mackay’s book Art in Felt and Stitch.  I like her use of bold colors and particularly like her flower and bird pieces.  While chatting with Cathy (Luvswool), I learned she also had Moy’s book and we both liked one particular vase of flowers in the book called Anemones.  We decided to do our own interpretation of that picture below.  (The quality is not great because I took a picture of the picture in the book.)

Moy anemonesCathy —

Moy lays out her fibers from start to finish, with “brushstrokes” of fiber, much as a painter applies paint to the canvas.  When she is finished laying out her merino roving, she then felts the entire picture as one piece.  Later, she needle felts details and then embroiders with machine stitching.

My approach was a bit different, in that I prefer to layout my base first then wet felt it so that I end up with a pre-felted white base on which to paint my picture.  I had previously used this technique in creating other felt painting and so was comfortable with the approach.  After my white domestic 56’s base (2 layers) was completed and dry, I began the process of laying on merino fibers in various colors, not exactly the same as Moy.  I added tussah silk highlights and then wet-felted the entire piece.

After drying, I began to needle-felt details, such as shadowing for the vase, some detailing for the flowers.  I chose not to machine stitch or hand embroider, rather I allowed the needle felting to be my finishing.

Cathys Moy

Newly armed with a stapler gun and some stretcher bars, I backed the 12″ x 12″ piece with blue commercial felt and framed it.


Marilyn —

I chose to follow Moy’s method as mentioned above in Cathy’s description. For me there were a few firsts — I had never “cut” roving, had done free motion machine stitching or embroidered felt.


I made the base from batts I had made using dark colors, then added the lighter accents, the vase, then built the picture from the background forward laying out the background leaves then cut the flowers and laid them out.  I added some silk embellishments, angelina and nepps, then I wet felted the piece.

moy layout

After it was dry, I needle felted around the vase and added needle felted shadows on and around the vase and some details in the flowers.  My challenge came when I started the machine embroidery.  The felt around the flowers was thick because of the layering of the background leaves. My machine wasn’t happy about that.  After a couple of broken needles and a lot of frustration, I finally finished.  I added a couple of hand embroidered flower details to finish it.  I enjoyed trying a new technique, but will keep in mind the potential thickness issue when doing anything similar again.

Moy 2

After cleaning it up a bit, it is now sitting in the “to be framed pile.”




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