I have finally finished my stitching. I think it is definitely slow stitching. last time I had done a practice branch to see how it would go. /2023/01/13/stitching-some-trees/
I wanted to add some snow but felting onto the cotton wasn’t good. and yarn didn’t look right. So I thought, why not make it on some felt and then you can needle on some snow. The branch worked out really well. I do love stitching on felt.
Then I tried to add snow. Nope, it looked terrible. Sorry, no picture and no snow. I was a bit discouraged and was going to give it up as a bad job and then I thought I’d come this far, I should finish the piece.
And here is the finished piece. I used an app that takes out the real background and then you can add a nicer background.
All in all not a bad project with no real purpose other than to slow stitch. I had thought I was doing part of the first quarter challenge but on re-reading it I see I should do the same tree in each season and using an evergreen seems a bit like cheating. I have another idea. I saw a picture of making a tree that looked like it would work well so I am planning to give it a try. so hopefully soon I can show you.
And one last thing as it is valentines day in a couple of days I made a heart.
I am continuing with my slow(very slow) stitching. I have accidentally done part of the first-quarter challenge. Last time I showed you my tree trunk. Next, I got some of my handspun to make the evergreen part.
I pulled a lighter green first. it was much too light. I switched to t a much darker green that works much better. it is a thicker yarn too, which I think works better.
The practice one worked out well so onto the good ones.
The trunk on this one ended up a bit fat but I don’t mind
And the third one
And this is how it looks now
I like it so far but I am not sure what to put in the blank corner. I thought maybe a branch so I did a test one. I may try to add some cones or snow. I am not sure what kind of tree it looks like. What do you think? what would you put there?
I showed you a historical felt pattern sample recently where I used a water soluble stabilizer to create the pattern. Obviously, in ancient times, this product would not have been available. So I needed to try a more traditional method.
I decided to try a different design based on wings. The pattern was printed twice and put one over top of the other in a mirrored pattern. The paper design was covered with plastic so I could lay wet wool down on top of the pattern. This is the method that Ildi uses, thanks again Ildi!
Next, wool yarn was wet down and applied over the pattern. Pre yarn would work better, but this is what I have in my stash.
The colors chosen were two shades of blue, one leaning towards blue green and the other leaning towards the violet side of blue. The fiber was wet down and laid in place. Layout definitely takes time with this method.
Then another layer of the dark blue was laid out on top of the wet wool pattern. I didn’t need to add any water to this wool as there was plenty already available. Next on to felting. The piece was kept in between plastic for the entire felting process but then with fulling, the piece was rolled against itself. Big mistake as this caused the yarn to fragment and pull free in some areas. Sigh.
Here’s the piece after felting and the black was not a clean line. Again, this is partly from using a twisted yarn instead of a pre yarn but also due to the fulling method.
I shaved the black but it is still not as clear as I would like. The design also had very sharp points where I cut the yarn and the ends didn’t felt in as well.
This is the sharpness that I would prefer. These two pieces were made quite a while ago. I made all the felt, then cut out the shapes and appliqued (hand stitched) them down. I then couched a green yarn around the shapes. This is a traditional ram’s horn design that is seen frequently in the Central Asian areas.
As soon as I saw what Lyn was setting as our next Challenge I thought “but I can’t do that”. I have always stumbled when trying to understand Design because, although I can see pattern in a lot of things, I fail entirely in translating what I see into my work. I am very literal in my thinking, and when I see abstract pieces (usually “modern” embroidery pieces) based on images of say, a broken brick, or the reflection in a window, or a rusty piece of metal, or a “fractal”, I think to myself “yes, very clever, but why?” and “what would I do with it?” and “I can’t see that on my wall” (and just occasionally “I wouldn’t give that house room!”). This is why I tend to make my pictures or 3D sculptures as realistic as I can.
I was going to just not bother with this Challenge, and then I remembered that some years ago I had attended a course on Design – I had forgotten all about it and it is relevant to this Challenge.
In August 2015 the Association of Guilds of Weavers Spinners & Dyers included in it’s week long residential Summer School syllabus a course by Alison Daykin – “Design for the Terrified” and I was lucky enough to be allocated a place – most courses were usually over-subscribed. Here is the introductory list of available courses from the brochure for you to drool over!
The course was described as offering “help to ‘painting and drawing challenged’ weavers, spinners, dyers, or other textile practitioners, in understanding Design and using this in their chosen medium”. The brochure went on to say: “This course will provide simple, but effective guidelines in design, without the student feeling overwhelmed by theory. The tutor will also leave plenty of room for participants to express themselves in their chosen medium.
“By the course end students will have at least one sketchbook and understand the basics of: colour studies; textural studies; shape; line/stripes.
“Students are encouraged to make samples appropriate to their own textile skills. They may choose to bring their loom or wheel with them, or to develop further sketchbooks if they prefer.”
Frankly this description of the course frightened the life out of me and I nearly didn’t apply, not least because I would be foregoing the chance to take the offered very interesting felt making course. (It’s headline description was “… an ‘adventure with fibres and fabrics’, combining colour, texture and layering to produce felted fabrics for decorative purposes or garments” and that was what I was most interested in at the time.) However after exchanging a few emails with Alison, and reading the three blogs which she sent out about the course I decided to bite the bullet. The first blog post puts emphasis on your “Inspiration” and resulted in a further flurry of emails with Alison, since I had no idea what it meant or what my “Inspiration” should be in this context. She basically said that I should pick a subject which I found really interesting. I was undecided whether to plump for trees, which seemed a very big subject, or sea shells – almost as big but of which I had recently started a collection. In the end I went with sea shells.
The second and third blog posts and a “round robin” email from Alison encouraged us to bring along as many different types of art media as we might be able to lay our hands on, including different types and colours of paper and “mark making” equipment. In addition we were asked to only bring one image of our inspiration, but as many copies of it as possible. (As I hadn’t been able to choose just one shell my image consisted of most of my collection, which also included sea urchin “skeletons”.) We would also need to take a notice board (if we hadn’t already made a mood board – “Er …. what’s one of them?”) so that we could pin up various bits and pieces as we went through the course. We would also need the equipment and materials required to make samples in our chosen technique. As I didn’t know which shell would be my inspiration the “materials” consisted of most of my stashes of fibres, fabric & yarns! I’m sure you’ve all heard of the saying “everything but the kitchen sink” – very apt, my poor car was groaning when I set off with all this stuff plus clothes etc., and I had yet to fit in the friend I was giving a lift to, plus all her stuff and her walking aid. (She was still a bit frail after an illness.)
The Summer School was based at Moreton Morrell Agricultural College in Warwickshire, where (after we got lost twice on the way) I met Alison and the rest of the class members. There were weavers, spinners, an embroiderer and a felt maker – me. Alison showed us her own work, and took us through her process for designing woven fabrics for specific purposes, showing us her mood boards and pictures of finished fabrics “in situ”. Here is a much abbreviated view of how she followed one inspiration from an image of ancient ruins to cloth samples.
She then started us off on our own design journey. Alison suggested to me that I should pick my favourite shell from the picture of my collection and make an enlarged drawing of the shell, both in monochrome and in colour and using different media. I had a go at this, although my drawing skills are minimal. This was before she had found that we would be able to have access to the college’s print facilities, where we could get photographs printed, and colour and monochrome photocopies made on a copier, which was capable of enlarging. We all made great use of this facility – zeroing in on just part of our inspiration image and having multiple copies made on different colour papers as well as plain white – which enabled us to speed up our progress through the stages of the design processes that Alison had mapped out for us.
One of the “tricks” which Alison showed us was to take two images, cut (or tear) them into strips (leaving one side of the paper still intact, and then to weave the two images. This did produce some interesting results.
We also cut strips across an image and used this to reference yarn (in my case fibre) wraps. Using this method enabled us to achieve a colour swatch giving combinations, quantities and placement of harmonious colours.
Once we had all played around with these ideas for a day, we were encouraged to get on and start creating samples in our chosen techniques, keeping in mind how we might use the finished work. As I was interested in making felt for clothing and accessories, I had brought with me copies of designs from specific sewing patterns and tried to pick the patterns that would best suit. I had by this time branched out to using as inspiration two different Sea Urchin skeletons, one Cone shell (and when no-one was looking I did a bit of crochet based on the end of a Conch type shell).
As you can see, I’m still leaning towards the literal/representational side of designing.
Alison also encouraged us to take our cameras and go out around the college grounds and look for more inspirations for design. At this stage we had all got used to looking beyond the obvious and came up with some unusual images. This was the one I chose to do something with – don’t ask me why – it’s just a picture of the wood surround (and my toes) to a raised flower bed outside the portacabin which was our workshop, where we all congregated for coffee, snacks and chat.
Being full of enthusiasm for the project, I cut down the photograph to a corner and then cut out the image of part of the surround.
which I then had enlarged and with several copies started to develop the design
This is the design I finally ended up with.
There are five versions in this picture, the basic design on top with four colour changes of the small “pops” of colour. And here is the jacket pattern and a tracing of the design.
The last day of the course was mainly taken up with visiting the rooms where the other courses had been taking place for a grand Show & Tell. To this end, we had packed up all our equipment and materials and set up our notice boards and work tables as displays of what we had been doing. Here are mine
And here are some of the displays of other class members’ work. Not all of them I’m afraid, I had camera shake by then so I’ve only included the less blurred ones.
The whole Summer School experience was great, with evening entertainments, a fashion show, a display of entries for the Certificate of Achievement “exams”, a traders’ market (I spent too much money as usual) and a trip to Stratford Upon Avon for a tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Theatre with a chance to see some of their costumes “up close and personal”.
We inhabited a bubble, with little contact with the outside world. (There wasn’t even a signal for our mobile phones, short of climbing a hill and standing in the middle of the road.) A wonderful experience and I’ve enjoyed revisiting it.
I am afraid that by the time I got home again I reverted to type and have not made any fabrics, felted or woven, from any of the designs. I just did what I usually end up doing after returning from a workshop – I put everything away and forgot about it! So I still don’t have a 2nd Quarter Challenge piece to show you; though as a result of writing this post and after seeing some of the pieces which FFS members have posted, I do feel better about the possibility of designing from random observations and images.
I am looking forward to seeing what the next quarter’s Challenge will be.
I was asked by my local community arts centre to run a felting workshop to contribute ‘something’ to a community art installation to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s forthcoming platinum jubilee. The wonderful Horsebridge Community Arts Centre in Whitstable is creating a ‘tea party with a twist’: everything will be hand-made and not necessarily from the usual materials. Think papier mâché teacups and crocheted sandwiches. The Horsebridge received a grant from Arts Council England to create their installation which meant participation was free but I would get paid to run the workshop – a win-win!
I mulled over what the ‘something’ might be and decided to run a workshop making wet felted flowers as table centre pieces.
I decided early on to take my colour inspiration from the Commonwealth flag – royal blue and golden yellow. This would reduce the choices people would have to make (which often take a long time!) and would be a change from the red, white and blue of our national flag.
I’ve not made flowers before so set about designing something that was as simple as possible to make. The creators were unlikely to have any felting experience and we were going to do this in 2½ hours – both demonstrate and make.
By now my friend Sue (a ceramicist) had agreed to run another workshop making slab pot vases for the flowers to sit in, so they needed to stand in a vase. I took some wool away on a trip with me and started trying out designs.
Prototype One: a loopy sort of flower made by laying out 5 separate petal shapes of wool (herring-bone style layout) then felting them together with a little wool in the middle.
I thought it was OK but getting the petals even was a little challenging and we’d have to use wire for the stems. I wasn’t sure they’d sit very well in vases and I generally thought I could do better, so moved on to my second design.
Prototype Two: I liked this a little better. It was laid out in a flat circle and the petals were cut part-way though fulling. It seemed pleasingly tulip-shaped. I wasn’t content to settle quite yet, though, as I had a few other ideas to try out.
Prototype Three: a more complex design laying out one larger circle of wool then covering it with a circular resist with a hole in the middle and laying out a smaller circle of wool on top of the resist, ensuring the two layers joined together through the hole. Not surprisingly, I realised that this was going to be way too complicated to create in the time available. The fulling took a long time. I did like the blue edging on the petals though so carried this through to the next sample.
Prototype Four: I wanted to try adding a felt rope stem so it would sit nicely in a vase without using wire so needed a fairly simple flower shape if there was going to be time to add the stem to the design. I made a felt rope in blue, keeping one end dry and fluffy to attach to the flower head. The head was laid out in a single yellow layer, radiating out from the centre, in a similar way to prototype 2. I joined the stem as I wetted down the wool and covered it with a piece of bubble wrap with a hole in the middle for the stem to poke through. This would prevent the body of the stem felting to the flower.
Once the flower and stem were at prefelt stage and the stem was securely attached, I picked up the flower by the stem and rolled it closed, mostly between my palms, to shape it into a 3D rather than flat flower.
Yes, this seemed just about do-able within the time and was reasonably simple for inexperienced felters to make. If anyone ran out of time they could skip the petal-cutting stage and make a cone-shape flower so they wouldn’t have to heal all the edges and shape every individual petal.
By the time I got back to my studio the right coloured wool had arrived, along with some yellow tussah silk. I already had blue and yellow nepps so I could set about refining my prototype. A few design changes: I decided we’d run a second layer of wool just around the outside of the flower head circle as this would give the petals a bit more body. Second, I’d add add nepps to the centre and a few strands of silk to the petals. Here’s the new layout.
And here’s the finished flower: advanced prototype 4!
Yes, I was pleased with the improvements and fairly confident the flowers would sit comfortably in their vases. I parcelled out the wool, nepps and silk and gathered together all the equipment ready for the workshop. It took a while!
Normally I teach a maximum of 8 people at a time but as this was a small make I rather recklessly committed to 16 – thinking I could have 2 people per table. Not a problem until I started to seek out 16 towels and 16 mats…..but it seems my hoarding tendencies came good! Cutting out 32 pieces of bubble wrap (16 of which needed a hole cutting in the middle) and 16 pieces of net started to feel like I was on a production line. Happily, though, I got everything together just in time for the day of the workshop.
Here’s the teaching room at the Horsebridge with everyone setting to work – a lovely light, airy and spacious room with people well spaced-out.
A couple of work in progress shots
And lots of happy felters with their beautiful creations.
The workshop seemed to go well and we produced plenty of flowers to add to the installation. I made sure people took photos of their own flowers as they can collect them after the event, if they want to.
Here’s most of them gathered at the end of the workshop.
Lessons: we needed more time! It’s hard to estimate how long it will take to demonstrate something and for people then to make it. I’d opted for 2½ hours but with hindsight should have gone for 3. I’ve left myself quite a lot of ‘finishing off’ to do – to make sure stems are firm enough for example – before the flowers go into the installation in early June. I could wrap the floppier stems in florists wire but I’d prefer them to be fully felted. It also took me way longer than I’d realised both to develop the prototypes and prep all the materials. Happily I was able to put the time in and I’m now fully ready for any future flower felting opportunities!
The installation is from 2 June and I’m really excited to see how it all comes together and how the flowers fit in. I took part in a couple of the other workshops: making slab pot vases and monoprint doilies. There’s something really joyous for me in taking part in a community art project and the Horsebridge have done a wonderful job in involving lots of people in the installation. As well as a series of workshops, they’ve sent out lots of making kits for people who can’t get to the centre to make things and worked really hard to involve lots of different members of the community. If you’re interested in the end result I’m sure the Horsebridge Arts Centre will post photos so here’s a link to their website. https://thehorsebridge.org.uk/ and a big thanks too to Arts Council England for providing the project funding. https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/.
I’ve been running a felt study group and I wanted to share one of the more interesting samples I did in the group. I had some white welsh mountain sheep wool. I have no idea where I got it it was raw and I have had it for years because I didn’t know what to do with it.
The Welsh Mountain sheep is usually white with a white face with no wool on forehead or cheeks and white legs with no wool below the joint. Females are polled but rams usually have curved horns, although some are polled. The fleece is thick and moderately long and the tails are not normally docked.
Breeders give a high priority to hardiness, milking ability, mothering quality and lamb survival. (Lambing percentage can be 130%, which rises to 180% under favourable conditions on improved pastures.) It was not always thus; the 18th-century English agriculturist Arthur Young described the Welsh Mountain sheep as “the most despicable of all types” and a judge at an agricultural show in the 1880s described it as “a diminutive ill-shapen animal with its shaggy coat more reminiscent of hair than of wool”
I had a shoebox sized amount. As you can see not the nicest looking stuff, a bit like a horse’s mane.
I washed it in a laundry bag with some dish soap.
It took 2 washes but it came out a lovely white, white horse but white.
The locks average about 10 inches long.
I weighed out 25 grams and divided it into 4 and carded it into little batts. Each batt would be one layer of the sample.
The samples were all laid out 10×10 inches for easy calculation of shrinkage. At this point, I was skeptical that it would felt at all, it is so much like stong, straight hair
The piece was rubbed and rolled to felt and then rolled on a textured mat and scrunched for the fulling. Throwing doesn’t work well with such a small piece.
Much to my surprise, this is the final result. It’s a bit wonky but that’s down to my hand carding
It’s about 40% shrinkage and it is rock solid. The most I got of any of my samples. It is rock solid. I tried to felt it more but it wouldn’t budge. All the samples were made with 25grams of wool. It makes me wonder about people that say they get 50% shrinkage on their felt protects. Are they measuring differently or are they using very thin layouts? I could see this felting more if I used half the amount of wool. so if I made a sample 20inches by 20 inches with the same wool I would get a higher shrinkage rate. What do you think?
It’s that time of year when there are lots of Christmas fairs coming up & I need to make some festive items.
Recently, I picked up some Christmas-themed small wooden blanks (for tree decorations, or maybe gift tags) very cheaply in a charity shop. I started doodling on them with acrylic pens and found I was enjoying myself – it made me think about the recent popularity of adult colouring books. Good for mindfulness.
Some examples of the painted blanks – there was quite a variety of shapes.
I know these aren’t fibre-related but it set me off thinking about doing something similar with felt. I bought some bauble-shaped wooden blanks online and after colouring a few in (colouring in is a little addictive) …..
Some of the painted baubles
….. I decided to make a sheet of white felt, decorated with bits of vintage lace, old tatting and shadow-work embroidery, all bought in charity shops. I have a box full of old strips of hand and machine made ‘lace’, old dressing table doilies, bits of fine crochet….anything I think might felt. I thought this was an ideal opportunity to do some creative up-cycling.
As I was making the felt it struck me that I have lots of handmade felt off-cuts, test pieces and samples that I could use in a similar way. A good opportunity to recycle work and release a little studio space. To continue my recycling theme, I even used charity-shop-bought crochet cotton for the hanging strings.
These were cut from square samples I made during Fiona Duthie’s Ink + Felt class
Left, some more ink + cloth samples. Right, samples I made for my ‘hippie’ bag earlier this year
Left photo: Top left a nuno sample I made using recycled linen; the others were off-cuts from other projects
Right photo – the yellow was a coaster I made with coloured yarn; the green and pink are nuno samples, the blue is an example of paper felt with some acrylic pen
Finally, I painted some of the wooden bauble-shapes white, and married them with a broad strip of black vintage lace.
So, the chance purchase of second-hand wooden blanks led me to upcycling vintage textiles and recycling some of my own felt off-cuts and samples. I love seeking out and using second-hand materials, especially small hand made things, usually made by women, that tend to be disregarded by many people. Often they are from something that has worn out, like a pillow case, or is rarely now used, like dressing table sets or antimacassars.
I have one particular piece of embroidery on fine silk that I couldn’t bring myself to use. The work is so fine I endlessly marvel at the skills of the woman who made it. It’s so intricate and beautiful with such tiny stitches it makes me feel slightly sad. I bought it in a charity shop for £2. To me it’s a disregarded masterpiece.
Silk and embroidery (hand / finger included for scale)
The silk is starting to disintegrate and I’m really not sure what to do with it. Any suggestions?
I ordered some sari silk a while back as part of a larger order from World Of Wool. I am ordering wholesale so I ordered 1 kg of each of the colours I wanted. the first 2 look very similar here but the first has a lot of green and red and the second has quite a lot of black. I had expected the pink one to be much more purple. It is called Royal Robe. Every batch is different, so you are always taking a chance. It would be great if they took new pictures for each batch but I suppose that would be a big hasssle for them. And they do warn you so no complaining.
That is a lot of sari silk.
I did make up some small bags of it and sold them on the guild’s Facebook page. I will offer it again soon. I still have lots. I haven’t played with it much at all. So last weekend knowing it would be rainy at the market, so slow and I would be bored, I grabbed some of the silk and a spindle to try spinning it. I brought an older cheaper spindle because I knew I would probably be doing as much dropping as spinning. I was right. It is very short and very frustrating to try to spin, especially since I usually do more of a long draw. I tried for a while then gave up and plied the tiny amount I had spun.
I told you it was small. Here is a close up.
It is very pretty and shiny but I will not be spinning more this way.
Next was to try blending some with some wool.
I picked these two shades of merino. I think they are mallard and duck egg. They seem to be the same colour but have different saturations of the dye.
And these 3 sari silks to blend in. Looking now I see I picked the 3 primaries.
First I did the turquoise lagoon. I did a layer of the dark, then the light and then the sari silk. I carded it several times to blend it and then rolled it into a rollag
It is very subtle but I think it will add some shin and interest when I spin it.
Next, I did the Salsa, I did the same thing a layer of each of the wools and then some sari silk
And lastly the wildflower
Now I have to spin them up. They are not the neatest rollags but I think they will work. I will do some recarding if I have to but I hope I don’t have to.
At the moment I seem to be really squeezed for time. I have managed to start 3 small things
First I wanted to do another vase cover. I used a bat that was made on a blending board. I pealed a thin layer and then filled in the holes. I like the autumn colours.
That is as far as that got.
Next, I wanted a little bigger landscape I could needle felt and stitch on, so cut a 5×7 inch piece of the soft thick prefelt to use.
I wrapped the wool around the piece so there won’t be grey edges.
And that’s as far as that one got. I have it rolled up with the vase cover so they can be rolled at the same time.
Then, oh my I still have a few min. I had some well-fulled wool fabric a friend gave to me. I think it used to be a coat. I cut out a small piece and brushed up one side with my wire dog brush to see if it will stick together well with wet felting. Then added some fibre
The difference is hard to see. the left is the unbrushed side and the right is the brushed side.
I had intended to just add 2 colours and felt it to use for trying out stitching on the new water-soluble stabilizer I ordered. But before I realized it I had made another landscape. Oh well, that’s ok, I will have to try again to make some practice pieces.
That is as far as I got with that one. I will probably wet it and add it to the other roll and then do them all at once. Maybe next week I will have them felted. With this time of year being very busy for me, it makes it hard to get some felting in. I try to get some in every week so I can share with all our friends and followers.
A while ago on Facebook someone posted they had made felt covers for lanterns. they had ordered a workshop in a box with everything in it but I like to figure things out myself. They didn’t look too hard to do. I think someone here might have done something similar here too but I don’t remember properly.
I started out thinking I wanted a clear plastic cylinder to use as the base. I couldn’t find anything, except, of course, I could find them with other things inside them. But then I went to the dollar store and found a tall glass vase for only $4. Available trumps ideal every time.
I started out working out the size.
then I made a resist to those numbers and one that was taller.
For the tall one, I was going for a landscape feel, grass, sand, water, sky. The layout is very thin so later the light will show well.
The second one was my granddaughter, Autumn’s choices of colour and sparkle.
The felting was easy and fast as there wasn’t much wool involved.
Here is Autumn’s cover
And with a string of battery-operated LED lights inside.
This is mine. The darker blue of the deeper ocean looks very green now. I think the scrunching of the water area adds some interest for when it doesn’t have the lights on.
And with the lights inside
Although they both look interesting with the lit up even in the daytime.
There are lots of interesting things you could do by adding a hidden design that only shows up when lit. You could create a scene on the outside and hide things inside that change the scene when lit. I wonder if you could write a message that would show up when lit. that would be a challenge. I would like to try a thicker cover and see how it works with the lights. I may work this into a short workshop. A fun afternoon or evening making lantern covers.