Experimenting with Felt Rope and Structure

I thought I would move on in my experimentation with creating structure in felt and differential shrinkage, this time using a felt rope. I’m not sure why I thought this was a good idea but I suddenly remembered why I don’t make many felt ropes.

I used a batt of yellow short fiber merino and tore it into a strip. I then worked a bit on trying to dry roll it to get some of the air out. But that wasn’t working too well so I added soap and water. The rope turned out OK but is far from perfect. I always forget how much patience these take to do them correctly. Now that the rope was done, how to add the felt to this spiral structure?

I came up with the idea of covering a PVC pipe with lime green mixed 56’s wool. I probably should have used merino but this is what I had grabbed for this project. I covered the pipe with wool and then wet it down.

I wrapped the rope around the wool covered PVC pipe and then began adding wisps of wool over the rope. I wet it down as I went to hold everything in place. I then spent a fair amount of time rubbing and working around the rope so that the wisps would stay in place and hold the rope down to the felt. Apparently, not enough.

Here it is after felting. What a mess. The ends of the rope were coming loose and it looked like my dog Edgar had been chewing on it. (Not really because he would have torn it to shreds in a matter of seconds.)

I took a break and then decided I need to full it much harder. I found a thinner stick to put in the middle and worked the piece with soapy hands as well as rolling it on the ridged mat and banging it hard against the table.

Here is the end result. Not appealing or impressive. But I might try again with a much thicker inner and outer layer of wool.  I also will probably try wrapping the rope around a flat resist instead of a 3D object. I can always full around the pipe or dowel rod after the felt is holding the rope together better. Not totally a disaster but close! I do think it’s good to go ahead and post about something that doesn’t work out as planned. Perhaps someone else will learn something from my trial and error experimentation. And perhaps you can empathize with me that not all projects are beautiful or perfect. What have you experimented with lately?

Posted in 3D, Experiments, Wet Felting | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

More sewing shenanigans (but still no waistcoat)

If you’ve been following my waistcoat sewing adventures, you’ll know I was fairly optimistic I’d have a finished (or, more advanced) garment to show you by now.


Here she stands, in a corner, mocking me…

The thing is… I’ve hit a snag. After finding out the shoulder area needed more work, and realising the pattern I’d bought was more or less useless, I got discouraged. The major mental roadblock was finding out I’ll probably need to remove all the tailor interlining I’d hand sewn in order to fix the shoulder problem; also knowing my pattern-making skills are still in their infancy and therefore can’t be trusted, isn’t helping.

Of course, I’m nothing if not a great procrastinator, and therefore do have something new to show you.

In my free time (ok, when I’m stressed) I managed to follow a commercial pattern and make a new rabbit, as well as her garments.


She’s got a lovely dress as well as some cute boots, plus a very proper-looking jacket!
The jacket was the most complicated make (I also found a couple of tiny instruction mistakes) but the most fun. She looks cozy, doesn’t she?

I had some leftover material and decided to create a smaller version of the bunny. I’m still undecided on gender. This is important as it will define the wardrobe. What do you think, boy rabbit or girl rabbit?


Made from scraps of felt. I’ll probably change those weird eyes!

I had my bunny family sitting on a shelf in my studio. They looked alright there, but… incomplete.


My studio library isn’t fibre-centric at all…

Suddenly I remembered I had a pattern for an armchair, part of the rabbit collection. It looked both complicated enough to be entertaining and simple enough to be finished in a short amount of time. I had to make two.

Well… the pattern had a couple of mistakes (this is starting to become a thing with me, isn’t it?) so I did have to take some time away from it after realising I’d cut the fabric too short in some places. After some consideration, a solution presented itself and I managed to finish one armchair.


I did it in patchwork fashion for a trendy look. I’d never done this type of fabric assembly before, so if there’s anyone reading who understands how it works, feel free to point out any mistakes I might have made.

All in all, I think it came out quite decent, and my rabbit looks comfy and elegant sitting on it.


Now… there’s a tiny bit of felting to be had in this story. See the chair’s rounded arms? The pattern tells me to use some wool batting, roll it up and hand sew in place. I had a better idea: I receive a weekly food box that has an insulating padding made of recycled bottles, and I thought, “this would be a great way to reuse it!” Will it felt, though? I brought out my needles, had a go, and success!


Needle felted plastic, who would’ve guessed?

This will be going in the other armchair that I haven’t finished yet. Wish me luck, I hope this second one comes out looking similar, or I’ll have to create a story in my head as to why one rabbit is more deserving of comfort than the other…

So… maybe next post I’ll have a waistcoat? Don’t hold your breath, but fingers crossed.

What have you been up to lately? Any miniature furniture sewing? Tell me all in the comments section.


Posted in 3D, Guest Writer, Mixed Media, Needle Felting, Other Fibers | Tagged , | 25 Comments

Felting Alfresco (Outside! Its Summer!) On to Pet Two. Part 1

Felting Alfresco (Outside! Its Summer!)

On to Pet Two. Part 1

So, this week the goal was to start on Mer-Pet number two. (Sharkette Needs a friend!)

As usual, I did some digging on the internet to find out about them. After a lot of browsing, looking at Spotted Eagle Rays, Bat Rays and Manta Rays I decided on Manta Rays. As I was Focusing on collecting many different views, I started to notice there were differences amongst the photos I was collecting. I think I need to look at words now too. <drat>  While looking for pictures of what a female manta ray looks like I tripped over a post with cool facts about manta rays.


Cool Facts About Manta Rays:

The name “Manta” comes from the Spanish word “Mantilla” or cloak.

  • Female manta have pelvic fins but no claspers (that’s a male thing). Females tend to be larger and generally more friendly towards divers than males.
  • Manta can be identified by their splotch patterns on their bellies. Each is different.
  • Manta and Mobula rays have the largest brains of all fish. They keep their brain warm by a counter-curent heat exchange system using their circulatory system. This keeps their temperature more even than most fish.
  • They are smart and use coordinated and cooperative feeding. They are also social and curious about divers.
  • Rays are in the same family as Sharks and Skates. In the ray family, (Myliobatidae), there are two species of Manta (Manta Birostris – Giant Oceanic and Manta Alfredi – Reef manta) and 9 species of Mobula devil rays. You can tell the two types of Manta apart by their coloration, location and size.
    • Birostis (oceanic) has a ‘T’ pattern and there is a distinctive black/white division on their back and almost no spots on their bellies. Tending to be larger around 7m wide and are more solitary. They can stand colder temperatures and are seen most often off shore. Manta have evolved from sting rays but Manta Birostis is the one who has a vestigial sting on their tails.
    • while Manta Alfredi (reef) have a ‘Y’ pattern fading into the black colouration on their backs and unique spot patterns on their ventral side. They tend to be smaller, around 5m wide and are found more frequently in schools around reefs and tropical islands.
  • The Marquesas Islands are one of the few places in the world where you can find both species.
  • I also found photos showing all black and all white manta as well as a definitely pinkish one. So we should keep watching and see if there is another subset of Manta are discovered.


Ok, time to get to work!

 1-2  I brought out the implements, armature, fibre and photo reference.


Here is the armature I created for the back of the Manta Ray.

I reinforced the leading edge and front scoops (cephalic fins). The black wire running through the body is to help support the posterior aspect, back, of the body. There will be a separate section for the anterior body/mouth. I used fine floral wire to help stabilize the tail extension which like the rest of the body is 14-gauge aluminum – thankyou Dollarama!


I started at the proximal (nearer to the centre or midline of the body) point, attaching with a few quick stabs.  Then wrapped fibre towards the distal (further from the centre of the body) end then back, securing it at both ends.  As you can see, I was able to leave a loop at the end of the scoops. This gave a good location to secure the fibre at the distal end.  (I promise there is no medical vocabulary exam hidden at the end of this post but I bet you would pass it if there was!)

 4-6 Wrapping the wire securing at both ends

I added a base layer wrap to the armature to give a bit more support for the fibre that would be added later.

 7-9 First layer of skin for the wings

I then began adding the dark split from a piece of the batt and then adding more to build up the midbody section.


10 Back or top of manta ray

  1111 underside of manta ray

This brings us to the missing bits. We are missing the inner mouth structure, gills and the rest of the abdomen/body.

(Manta ray Undercarriage armature.)

So its time to create an armature for the mouth/abdomen.

12 12 Armature for mouth gets measured

Glenn arrived home and I moved to working from the bench in the front garden. Glenn enjoyed one of the gravity chairs and was just falling asleep when we started to hear Harp music which seemed to be coming form the other side of the front hedge.

13-14 working in the front garden

1515 Yes that is definitely a harp being played next door!!!

Our neighbour was hosting his other neighbour on his bench with her Harp! (He likes his lovely green grass, unlike my front yard, which has almost no grass.)


 16 What a wonderful way to felt, to live music! (Usually in the summer she plays harp at weddings. I hope she will be practicing in the front yard again soon!)


We use to have someone who played bagpipes at sunset from somewhere behind our yard. He or she was also vary good. i always hoped i would find them and be able to request Alice Cooper or a bit of really old Black Sabbath. in more normal years we would heading down to the Ottawa Bluesfest and watch live bands, mostly Alt rock, old rock, techno, industrial, prog-rock and yes even blues but only once or twice. i usually brought my drop spindle or one of the portable spinning wheels. It was fun to see bands we had never seen before and some we had. Muse, Alice Cooper and Gretta Van Fleet were particularly enjoyable!

this summer will make us appreciate all the things we use to enjoy once we get to do them again!  so back to felting!!

Posted in 3D, Needle Felting, sculptural felt, Uncategorized | Tagged | 10 Comments

Cotton dyed and some new fibre.

This week I dyed the cotton for the guild poker challenge and 3rd quarter challenge. The cards I picked for the poker challenge are cotton, blue, and metallic.   I didn’t want a solid blue so I used blue purple and blue/green. The blue cot absorbed into the green and purple and pretty much disappeared.

I thought I would overdye it with some blue. I just wanted to shift the colours. If you look carefully you can see blue water in the middle.

it didn’t really work. it may be a little more blue but I am not sure that isn’t just wishful thinking. Oh well, both blue/green and purple have blue in them.

I also received the Art Batts I bought in a friend’s online auction.

and this one

It is nice that they are so similar inside and out. Some I have bought have been completely different on the inside with different colours and/or fibres. I think these will be fun to spin.


Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Autumn Nuno Slow Stitch – Considering Value

I updated you about my autumn nuno landscape project about one month ago in this post. I had been discouraged with the project and it was languishing. So I asked for suggestions and I appreciate all the support. I decided to go ahead and keep working on it but only doing about 15-20 minutes a day. (Click on any of the photos to enlarge.)

Here’s what it looked like one month ago. I decided to start filling more of the middle ground with a combination of neutralized red and green seed stitching.

Here you can see how much seed stitching can be completed in short spurts. But I was still dissatisfied with the piece. Why was that? After working on it steadily, I took some time to look back at my reference photo and see what I had missed. Then I realized that I didn’t have enough dark values to show the shadowed areas in the landscape. Aha!

I started by adding a more neutralized green in the area between the aspen trees. I used a much thinner thread (1 strand floss) and smaller stitching. It darkened up the area a bit but that wasn’t enough.

So then I started adding a dark brown in the same area. Again, I used one strand of floss and smaller stitches. I am still essentially doing seed stitch but piling it on top of other seed stitches.

So here is how far I have gotten with my slow stitching. I am happy that I figured out what was bothering me about the piece. There are still lots of more shadows to add in to give the impression of lines of trees. I also think that I will add a more neutralized green over the distant pines in places. The more stitching I add, the more it seems to need. But at least I am moving forward.

Can you see the difference when you compare the piece side by side, before adding darker values and after? Do you think about value contrast when you’re working on a composition? Do you have any tricks for seeing value contrast better?

Posted in hand stitching, Nuno Felting, Stitching | Tagged , , , | 14 Comments

Little 12″ x 12″ samples

I was watching a video where Jenny Grant, a mixed media artist from Sweden, https://www.jennygrantart.com/ was using a credit card to push paint through a stencil onto paper. It made me curious about trying the same method on fabric. I have used acrylic paint on fabric before but thought I would try out some PROfab Transparent Paint I had purchased a while back and never gotten around to playing with. I’ve been making 12” x 12” size quilts to donate as fund raisers for a quilt guild I belong to called Contemporary QuiltArt Association https://www.contemporaryquiltart.com/. They are a nice size to be able to try out new techniques. I searched through my stencils and found this large one. Surprise, surprise it reminds me of my tile quilts. Right up my alley!


I have been using a fabric called Radiance for my tile quilts. It is a fabric made by Robert Kaufman and is a 45% silk/55% cotton blend. I like that it is shiny and puffs up quite nicely to form what I call the grout in between the fabric tiles once they are quilted down. I used two different colors of blue for this one. This was my third sample. I kept smudging paint onto the edges so I decided to put masking tape around the edges of the stencil before painting to try to keep the sides free of paint, but then I was having trouble pulling the tape and the stencil off the fabric. Next time I’ll tape the fabric down first and see if that helps.

paint #1 original

Next, I copied the stencil onto heavy butcher type paper so I could number the pieces. These would become my pattern pieces. I wanted to make more than one sample, so I wanted to be able to reuse the pieces. Once numbered, I took a photo of it to keep as my reference master.

pattern pieces


I cut my fabric patterns out smaller than the painted shapes so I would still see the paint behind the fabric. I cut these out using an Xacto knife. Not very big pieces!

cut pattern pieces

I just started playing with colors that spoke to me. I seemed to focus mostly on fabrics that had circles or dots on them.

Here is the finished 12” x 12” quilt. I fused the fabric pieces onto the painted areas and then quilted them. I found that the PROfab paint was much easier to quilt over than acrylic paint and had a much softer hand as well. I’m a convert! It was a fun experiment and hopefully it will sell at our fundraiser. The exhibition is called Big/Little and we are to make a 12” x 12” quilt and a larger quilt for our entries into the show. I think I will now make my own stencil for the larger quilt and use this same method. I like how the paint peaks out behind the fabric.

Painted blue

Here is another one where I had used black and red PROfab paint. I used the same stencil and got to reuse all my numbered cut out templates for the fabric pieces. This one was really smeared around the edges so I had to put additional Radiance around the edges of it to try to clean it up a bit.

I am trying to educate myself about the Black Lives Matter movement and found myself working through some of the emotions that came bubbling up. What I am reading today is much different from the American history I was taught when I was in school and I find all of it quite disturbing.

No More

It’s not bright and cheery like the first one. I’m not sure I will offer it up for my guild’s fundraiser. What do you think?

As a footnote, I had mentioned in my last post that I was going to fix my dog’s eyes on my Saint Koko quilt. Well, that has not happened yet. Maybe by my next post!

Stay safe!     Tesi Vaara



Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

The Mysterious Package! Is it a wool bomb?

As Ann mentioned in her post we caved and succumbed to our basic default settings, BUY MORE WOOL! There was free shipping if you ordered enough.  We both wanted footwear and Ann spotted these lovely colours natural and unnatural!! Did I mention there were colours and some were BLUE!!! How could I say no? ( Please don’t buy all her blue I would like to get a bit more!!!)


We spent a long time debating amounts and colours eventually settling on Grey, Really Dark Grey, some more Grey and some natural cream in the large 500gr batts as well as a Purple and a Blue, both over-dyed on Grey.  What can I say? There was a sale, we got excited. We spent a lot of money at the on Etsy.com. (Remember don’t buy all the blue please.)


I got an email (Hotmail is sometimes intermittently working and then sends mail the long way around the planet) a couple of days after we had placed the order, requesting a phone number for shipping. I seemed to have missed that in the order instructions.  3 days later, while working in the side yard studio, a nice man from Fed-X came up the driveway looking a bit confused by the potted trees and the rest of the garden. Sharkette and I put on masks (you saw the photo of her mask not fitting her well) and received the mysterious black taped package…insert spooky music here… OOOOH! Now I have to wait for Ann so we can open it together!!!!

11 Wool bomb?

Oh, the stress of waiting! So of course I dropped it off to her at the farmers market so I would not be tempted to peek! I was the mother of Evil, he was so cute and had such soft fur, so I left the temptation for Ann. She promised to bring it on Monday for the Great Unwrapping!!


2 2 Due to the stress, I’m sure I also picked up two fleeces at the other end of the market, a Shropshire and a Canadian. Both were large Rams and were much softer than I expected.  They are now waiting for the humidity to drop so I can skirt and wash them!

3-5  I hid them under my studio table so no one would know they were there.

   6-8  I re-bagged them into the giant ziplock bags from Dollerama it definitely needs a lot of skirting but it should be worth the work!

The day of the Great Unwrapping finally arrived.  Well the package arrived Friday morning and this is now Monday morning so you know the agony we had to endure waiting 3 whole days; the same length of time it took to get here from Lithuania!!!

  9-10 Ann in the guild library

We were both in at the guild studio, wearing our masks, to finish pulling books for guild members, update the library cards to match the membership list and receive library books that were still out with members. (There are a few that are now overdue! You know who you are!  Please follow the instructions on the guild web page and arrange to drop them back into the studio)


We were very good and got the books pulled and cards updated before we carefully approached the package.  Now we would find out the burning question, is this all the wool we ordered?  It seems so small?

500gr / 17.6 oz each of Bergschaf Tyrollean Wool   – 2x  Light Grey 1 X Dark Grey and 1x  Natural white(cream) =2000gr


100 gr / 3,52 oz each of Dyed Bergschaf Tyrollean wool   – 1x Blue, 1x  #56. Purple Grey Mix

Total of 2200gr of wool!! How can all that wool be in such a small ball?


After a quick debate, I had the camera.  She had scissors! We got to work. Ohh I should film this!

Video 1 – getting through the outer layer

Video link to YouTube  https://youtu.be/NAemxDW5GH0


Video 2 – the bag inside


Video 3 – commentary on contents

Video link to YouTube


11 11


Here is the 100gr of natural grey overdyed in a beautiful blue. The black plastic and tape outer wrapping can be seen to the right of the table it’s amazing all the fibre fit into it!


I am planning boots with mine.  I think Ann will be making slippers. I have to look at soles and see if I can get rubber soles or if I should go with leather. My feet have been freezing lately and I am planning them as indoor boots. I had a pair of outdoor mid-calf boots about 20 years ago that were slit at the sides with the front and back overlapping. They were easy to put on and were great with calves that use to do horseback riding ( so not twigs). I want to try to recreate something similar.


I am suspecting more fibre will be required after looking at Ann’s sample so I will hope there is another sale happening Soon at


Now I better get back to working on Mer-pet two!!

Posted in fibre, Uncategorized, Wool | Tagged | 9 Comments

Some more interesting samples

This week I made some more samples. The first is a sample of California red that my friend Bo gave me to try. the wool is an oatmeal colour with red hairs in it. There is only a small amount she had combed.

It felted quickly and well. It is fairly firm. I don’t like the hairs init. I am sure they will shed out. They are not held in the felt very well at all and slide out without and force. it might be good for backing a fake sheepskin.

Finished wet:

Finished Dry

The next one I did was some wool I just got from Lithuania. Jan and I ordered some wool while there was free shipping. Jan will show you the unboxing in her next post.

This sample I am very happy with. It felted quickly and very firmly with no stretch. Usually, when a piece of felt is still wet you can stretch it this way or that to square it up. This one had very little give, perfect for some boots or some baskets.

Finished Dry. I think it would have been smoother if I hadn’t given it a really good scrunching.

The last sample was a new sample for my guild poker challenge. I used a much denser fabric. Even though is heavier it is still an open weave, and slightly wrinkled. On the front, I put some of the same cotton, scrunched up, then some sparkly nylon, silk and at the bottom some viscose.

This is what it looks like dry. There was lots of migration so everything was well stuck. I will leave these one big so you can see them well without having to click on them.

I think this cotton is just what I want. The next job will be to dye some of it for my project. It will fit right in with the 3rd quarter challenge. I am going to keep what I am making a secret for now.  😉





Posted in fibre, Inspiration, Nuno Felting, Uncategorized, Wool | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Summer Sunrise – Nuno Felt Landscape

I have been working on a set of nuno felted and stitched landscapes and I have finished another one. This one I am currently calling Summer Sunrise unless I come up with a better name.

Here’s how the piece looked after nuno felting. It reminded me of flowers so I thought I would go in that direction with the landscape. I googled Montana wildflowers at sunrise and found several photos to use as guidance and inspiration.

I started by free motion machine stitching a line of mountains and some tall, skinny pine trees.

I added a few lines of grasses so the trees didn’t feel like they were floating.

Then to add a few mid-ground lupines. I just kept moving down the piece as I created these from background to foreground.

Then the lupines needed a little greenery and leaves. Now on to the main attraction, the foreground flowers.

I created the foreground flowers and leaves with hand dyed silk organza. I fused them together and then fused them to the surface of the nuno felt. Here’s where I forgot to take many photos. I get involved in the process and forget all about taking any photos.

Here’s a midway photo. I used free motion machine stitching to add the details and lines. I kept layering and stitching the flowers and leaves.

After I got the two large leaves applied at the very bottom, I felt that they were too bright green and really drew your eye right to the bottom of the picture. So I decided to darken them up more. I added darker thread but ultimately, they were still too bright. So I used oil pastels to tone down the bright green.  I also used oil pastels in the mountains just to give a little bit more definition of the mountains in the distance. So this one is complete and I’m still working on the slow stitch one. I will have an update on that one next week.

Posted in felt art, Free Motion Stitching, Nuno Felting | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

2020 Third Quarter Challenge

This year’s theme is ‘Personal Items’ so the third quarter challenge calls to all felters, spinners, weavers, stitchers, knitters, crocheters and mixed media fibre artists to think ahead.

With apologies to our forum friends in the southern hemisphere who are looking forward to spring, we need to think about the coming cooler months.

All the shops have their summer sales now so that they can clear the way for the new autumn/winter stock that will be on sale by the beginning of August.

So the challenge is to make something that will keep you warm!

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

Josie (forum member) is knitting a lap quilt…

challenge blanket

…Arlene (adventures in felt) has just made her first pair of mittens…

challenge mittens

…and last year Judith (koffipot) showed her woven scarf on the forum…

challenge scarf

…and if you’d like to make a hat but don’t know how, then Teri Berry is running an online class via the Felting and Fiber Forum. The class will run in July / August and registration opens on 2 July 2020.  The price for this four-week course is £50 GBP (approx. $66 US, $85 Canadian, €56, $88 AUD, $97 NZ) and the number of places will be limited to 30 students.

The first felting tutorial will be posted on 16 July 2020 with another tutorial posted in each of the following 2 weeks. The class forum will remain open for you to share your work and ask questions until 27 Aug 2020.

Here are a couple of her hats…

challenge hats

So get your thinking hat on.  What can you make, in your favourite medium, to help keep you warm this autumn/winter?

Please post your photos on the Felting and Fiber Forum in the studio challenges section.


Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments