I finally started my new hat. first I had to make the template. I started with one I had then changed one side.
I was down to the last of my purple so I decided to use black for the middle layer. the purple is so dark black seemed the best choice. Now I will have enough of the purple to make some mitts after the hats done.
For some reason, I decided to fiddle with the silk for the inside next. It would have made more sense to do it after laying out the wool. the silk sticks out past the bottom. this is sow I can fold it back over the edge of the wool along the bottom. so the bottom will remain open.
Having done this first I had to leave it on because it wouldn’t go back on properly If I took it off. If I had wet it, it would stay without the clothes pins but I don’t like layout out on top of wet stuff.
So onto the laying out of the wool.
All done and ready to assemble.
After wetting it down and wrapping the sides around I added the silk lap.
That’s it for now. I am hoping the open bottom works. I haven’t made a hat that way in years. I should be able to tell you next week in my next post.
The year 2020 has been a strange one for many of us. For me, I sold The Purple Pomegranate, the craft gallery I have owned for 20+ years, in mid March just before the pandemic hit here in Montana, USA. It has been a bit of an adjustment for retirement, pandemic and continuing my Level 3 Stitch course online. I have learned new ways of communicating with Zoom and GotoMeeting as well as working out the best way to stay on track with my artwork and playing with fiber.
So is it a curse or a blessing? “May you live in interesting times.” I think it’s all in the attitude and I have tried to see the positives in the past year. One of the positives for me, has been spending much more time in my studio creating. I haven’t shown you my work for my stitch course but I have spent many hours working on homework and I’m currently creating a large wall hanging. I won’t be showing any of that work until after the course is completed but much of my year has been spent enjoying the exploration into design, learning new stitches and creating multiple samples to move forward with my wall hanging.
Each year I like to look back over my posts and remind myself what I created that year. Many times, I have forgotten all the details and it’s good to see the projects and ideas from the year.
Differential shrinkage and wool layout experimentation was a big part of 2020. I had started these experiments in 2019 and continued looking at different methods throughout the year.
Some of these ideas worked better than others but I learned something with each trial or sample.
I also looked at adding texture with machine stitching but never ended up making a pod with this texture.
I took a break from experimenting on shrinkage and created a felt necklace for the first quarter challenge.
Nuno felted landscapes are one of the items that I sell in a gallery in Bigfork, MT and I decided to create more. The first was this Whitefish River landscape.
The next was of Flathead Lake.
Then another idea for differential shrinkage for the second quarter challenge.
Then I got back into another nuno felted landscape. This one turned into a very slow stitch project that is still ongoing. Some people have asked why I don’t use a different technique that is faster than the tiny hand stitches. Of course, it could be done much faster, but for this year, it has been a nice change to spend the first 30 minutes of my day, by adding seed stitch or detached chain stitch to this slow moving landscape.
So here’s the last iteration and there is more to come so you’ll be seeing this slow stitch project going into 2021.
There was one last nuno felted landscape which was based on Montana wildflowers. All of the landscapes are still sitting around because I haven’t done the finishing and framing bit. I have to quit procrastinating and get that done!
I then went back to experimenting with differential shrinkage and using felt rope. This was the first try and a bit of a disaster.
This was the next try that ended up looking like a felt dill pickle.
The next two experiments turned into yard art and finished up the experiments with felt rope and how it affected structure. I decided that I liked using prefelt better than felt rope for structure in creating differential shrinkage.
For the third quarter challenge, I created a hat that included some differential shrinkage that actually didn’t work out all that well. But since I don’t wear hats, it wasn’t a real loss.
Here’s an experiment with a mystery fabric and nuno felting that I created to sample laying the wool only in one direction and how that affected the shape of the scarf.
For the fourth quarter challenge I made a set of snowman ornaments. These made great gifts for friends for the holidays.
This is the card I created for our annual holiday card exchange. More plans for this design in the future!
That concludes my journey back into 2020 and I am looking forward to an exciting 2021 where I might be able to venture out of the house at some point! All the best to you and yours for a wonderful holiday celebration (even if it’s socially distant) and a wonderful new year for more creativity and fiber goodness!
Challenge and Corona have been best bed buddies since the end of February, but I will ignore that pairing and concentrate on Challenge and Christmas.
Christmas has always been my best time of year. As a child I was surrounded by the twinkle of white lights, the smell of pine trees everywhere, the wondrous spectacle of the original Christmas markets and the delicious variety of Christmas baking, particularly my favourites – Stollen and Lebkuchen (gingerbread), ohh and not to forget – Printen. I’m so pleased Albert married Victoria and brought many of the traditions with him.
Over the years I too have continued the traditions….Christmas lights must be warm white, presents are kept secret until Christmas eve and then opened in sparkling candlelight, with each person having a special Weihnacht’s teller – a ‘Christmas plate’ filled with nuts, fruit, special biscuits and fine/fun chocolates. So you see the Christmas magic has never left me….although some might say that now has something to do with the glühwein! 😇 😊
It used to be when the children were younger and at home that every November, we created cards, ornaments, and goodies such as sweets, biscuits, jam or chutney, as giveaways to our friends and neighbours. I miss those special hours and look forward to a time when the world shrinks a little more so that I’m close enough to my grandchildren to repeat similar fun creative activities.
Left to my own devices over recent years, each November I set to ‘making’, being creative in a variety of mediums and I present a few of them below. Although this Christmas has been more difficult I have managed to meet two set challenges….our village Advent calendar window and the Fourth Quarter challenge which you will have read about already. Getting this post written has been another – albeit skidding in at the last moment!
The Frӧbel stars (left) are made with 45cm long paper ribbons and I used these as my theme for one November village craft group meeting. Fingers and thumbs somehow didn’t co-ordinate with the brain for some of our group – resulting in so much hilarity we had to contend with a pile of wet tissues too. Too be fair they are fiddly!
Wire beaded snowflakes and angels. The skirt of the angels is created using quilting pins and are great fun to make.
Fabric fir cones – another craft group activity and one which I’ve also taught at a conference workshop – uses pieces of fabric, or lengths of ribbon, folded and pinned (using short 12mm pins) to polystyrene eggs. They don’t have to be seasonal and can be made with fun colourful, or muted sophisticated, fabrics/ribbons on other polystyrene shapes such as balls.
The 3 tiny ones (finished 2.5 x 1.5cm) were extremely fiddly!
Each point of the paper stars was made using a sheet of square tracing paper and then interlocked into the next point – the translucence of the paper is very effective hung in a window.
Just simple folding of square paper and a few cuts are needed to make these trees. A few years ago I made a forest of different sizes which combined with lights made a lovely table decoration. I love the design looking down onto them.
Yesterday evening I actually managed to run a workshop on these trees as part of a Zoom meeting with a non-craft group….heads were bowed, comments were continuously made (some = ***!!!***), laughter was shared, all I could do was listen and repeat my stage demos. I couldn’t see what anyone’s fingers were doing to help, although I did see some wine glasses being raised! Taadaa, despite several misplaced misgivings everyone produced a duplicate of the original.
(An aside….I still prefer in-person workshops both for learning and teaching.)
Last year I was super productive making many sock snowmen, gnomes and Ferrero Rocher ‘hats’. I only have 2 figures remaining in my possession (the 3rd is borrowed from my mum), the others I managed to sell at a craft fair.
In addition to these I also experimented with tinsel and felt.
Tinsel was de-constructed and ironed before being incorporated into coloured or white felt.
Once dry, I used a variety of decorative machine stitches to finish the felt. I enjoyed creating these cards and at some point hope to make more.
As I sent one of these for the Holiday card exchange this year, I’m feeling extremely guilty – I have forgotten to let my exchange partner know that I received her beautiful card with her warm greeting inside….so Ann in Canada here it is, for all to see! Thank you.
This November I decided to make tiny elf boot ornaments, with my grandchildren in mind, to meet the Fourth Quarter challenge….a challenge it certainly was!
They are tiny (as you can see against the coin) so getting my fingers in and around the point was oh so very fiddly! (Karen – now you know why I made my comment and have sympathy!). Each pair took quite a while to make including the embroidery. One poor elf was in need of a new pair of boots, but I did darn the holes in his old pair (centre) 😂
Over the decades there have been many cards made in our family, and this post has given me the opportunity to dig out a few and reminisce.
They have become more sophisticated over time and no longer use the red corrugated paper that wrapped around biscuits, complete with lick and stick stars – ooh so many memories. For close family and friends, EPH too continues his cartoon renditions of our 4 year old Raffles.
As I write this post the 13th has not yet arrived, but here is a sneak peek of the window display (complete with a ‘spot the difference puzzle for you!’). It will look more distinctive as day turns to night.
As this year comes to a close, I wish everyone – a creative, adventurous, and importantly, a healthy 2021 to come.
Hummmmmm. I would like to make an ornament, using the cookie cutter needle felting technique. Now, what do I have as options? I have been collecting cookie cutters for over 30 years now. My original Christmas cookie cutters were dinosaurs. (the T-Rex was Santa! and the Triceratops had tricky horns to get out of the cutter.) Eventually, my collection grew and I added more traditional X-mass shapes to my collection.
Unfortunately, most of my 2 boxes of cookie cutters are stored well out of my reach at the moment and Glenn is off at work so can’t extract them for me. I should have remembered they were out of reach and no longer in the bottom drawer. (mumble)
Well, what do I have for options?
1 A bat, vampire teeth, a coffin, a cat, a moose and an Ikea set of snowflakes. As much fun as the vampire cookie cutters are, I think they don’t say X-mas to most people. So they’re out.
2 As much as I love cats I don’t think I will try a holiday cat this time. (how would I choose between Timothy in Orange and white, Miaka in Black and white or Evil in all black? Someone would be feeling unloved.)
3-4 we are left with two highly festive shapes, snowflakes and moose. But there was that incident on highway 401 while travelling to Oakville last week. We were not involved but it looked very gruesome. No maybe not the moose.
5 So it’s the “Vinterfest” Snowflakes from Ikea. (They may not be sold out if you check your local store)
As I understand the concept of the cookie cutter, it is to provide a structured shape to contain the wool as you inflicted horrible stabbing upon it. The sides make sure the wool has nowhere to run! (i love needle felting it is such a gentle relaxing pastime! <Grin>) The nature of the wool compacting as you poke it means extra attention and the addition of more wool is required along all the edges and protuberances.
6 I think that was some of the white Corriedale wool and the needle was a T36 or T38.
7-8 As the wool shrunk below the rim of the cookie cutter I added more fibre to the thinner areas. I also turned it over so I was compacting from both sides. If you wanted a thinner snowflake you would not keep filling it to the top of the cookie cutter. Whether you make a thick or thin shape it would still work best if it is fairly firmly felted.
9 I switched to the pen holder with two T42 needles (I had to look around for it. I had left it in Mr. Mer’s Glute muscles.) I focused on adding short bits of wool around the perimeter of the cookie cutter. I was amazed at how much more wool it absorbed at this point.
10-11 Once it was very firm to the touch I started to extract the snowflake to see if it would be stable.
12 Ooh, nice solid snowflake. Better not get hit with this one, you could poke out an eye!
Hum, now it’s looking a bit plain. I got that lovely variegated thread that had been donated to EcoEquitable a few weeks ago (they are a not for profit group that teaches sewing and recycles fabric and sewing supply). I bet it would make lovely crows-feet and a star.
13-14 Oh well the variegation is longer than I thought but I still like it. Now, where will I put it?
15 OH NO! Mr. Mer swam through, grabbed it and has run off with it!! That will teach me to store the needle pen in his butt!
I thought the elf boots she made were so cute I would have a go at making some for our tree too.
I drew one out the size I wanted then scaled it up.
I traced it. I like this underlay. You can see through it to trace things out. I have some blue stuff that’s opake and I have to cut things out to trace around or work it out, right on the underlay with a marker.
Then I have some “sheep” wool in a batt that was a nice gree so I laid it out wet it and started the rubbing.
I did some rolling with a mini pool noodle and some shelf liner. when it was ready I cut them apart.
I worked them one at a time. you can see the difference between the start and finished.
I have some gold Beada tinsel, non-tarnishing that was probably bought in 1960. It is a thin cord. I used it to make the laces.
having success I decided to make some more. Now, you would think after all this time and the fact that I warn my students about directional shrinkage, I would have known better than to lay the wool (merino top) across the boots because it would be easier to wrap it around. Needless to say, the foot part is much thinner. So perhaps they belong to some clown elves.
I think I will try it again. They are fiddly to finish but I enjoy having something to do with my hands watching BritBox shows in the evening.
I want to thank all the people and companies that donated to this effort as I had asked for samples of different breeds of wool, other fiber that felts and different embellishments. That’s how I got a wider selection of fiber. For each sample, I documented the type of fiber, the type of processing (batt, roving, raw wool etc.), how long it took to felt, the amount of shrinkage and any comments about the felt that I thought were good to remember. Each sample started with the same size layout and were all felted in the same way. I guess I should have documented exactly what I did but this was in 2011 and now I can’t remember exactly how they were felted or fulled.
I put all the samples on black construction paper with a small piece of double stick tape and a label beside each piece. These were put into plastic sleeves and stored in a large loose leaf notebook. You can easily slip the pages out of the sleeve to be able to touch the samples and look more closely. Most of the felt samples (without embellishments) are the natural color of the fiber. You can click on any of the photos to get a closer look and be able to read my documentation about each fiber.
Pelsull/C1 Blend and Dorset
Blue Faced Leicester and Corriedale
Falkland and Finn
Gotland and Icelandic
Merino and Norwegian C1
Pelsull and Polwarth
Romney and Wensleydale
Alpaca and Angora Goat
Angora Rabbit (smaller sample due to limited amount of fiber) and Bison Down
Camel and Cashmere
Llama and Yak Down
The second part of the notebook is about embellishments. I used a merino wool and applied the embellishments to the surface. I didn’t do much documentation on these except to state what the embellishment fiber is.
Silk Top and Silk Cap
Silk Throwsters Waste and Silk Hankie
Silk Carrier Rods and Silk Noil
Rainbow Nylon and Angelina Fiber
Fake Cashmere and Tencel (viscose)
Banana Fiber and Sea Cell Fiber
Flax and Wool Nepps
Wool Slubs and Wool Locks (flat on surface)
Wool Locks (ends loose) and Pre Yarn
Specialty/Novelty Yarns and Cotton Fiber
Soy Bean Fiber
I have always been an advocate of doing samples before starting a project. I think it really saves effort, time and money so that you have an idea how something will work before doing a larger project. Do you make samples? Do you document the results? We’d love for you to share your sample process over on the forum.
If you have any questions about the samples above or about using a specific fiber, feel free to ask in the comments below.
Looking back at this link, I realise I sold the sea picture I used as the blog header this week. Happy times! A couple of people asked in the comments if I’d also show how I’ve made beaches, so here we go.
The beaches where I live are mainly pebbles, but there are sandy beaches a little to the east and I’ve used both types of beach in my pictures.
Here’s a picture of two Sanderlings at Minnis Bay: a lovely sandy beach with chalk rocks embedded in places in the sand.I’m starting with this as it was an early picture and the first time I thought of using a blue cobweb felt overlay to represent a wet beach reflecting the sky. It’s a technique I like and use quite a lot.
Layout for and final picture “2 Sanderlings, Minnis Bay”
There’s a pewter-coloured base for the sand and light prefelted sections and silk fabric pieces for the chalk with a bit of darker shading around them
Here’s another Sanderlings picture, also at Minnis Bay. This time I’ve used a few different sandy shades to add the idea of shade and texture in the sand.
Pebble and shell beaches are more common in my pictures as this is what I see when I walk near home. There are quite a lot of variables in how I create them. Some choices are for ‘artistic’ reasons (how do I want this to look and feel?), some for experimental reasons (what would happen if?) and some are entirely pragmatic (what suitable bits of prefelt and felt offcuts do I have kicking around at the moment?).
This is a Big Wave picture that is now owned by a friend of mine. Here I have cut up felt and pre-felt into pebble shapes and put them on a base of several layers of sandy coloured wool tops. I then laid a bit of blue cobweb prefelt and silk over the pebbles nearest to the wave to give the impression of the remains of a previous wave over the pebbles before wet felting everything together
This is a similar picture where I’ve added more patterned silk scraps (recycled charity shop scarves) which are topped with wisps of wool to help them felt in.
Here I’ve taken a different approach. Whitstable is on the north Kent coast of the UK. It’s famous for oysters and has a very long history of oyster catching and farming. Empty oyster shells are piled up on the beach next to a local restaurant to be reused for farmed oysters. When it’s quiet, turnstones pick over the shells, ferreting out bits of left-behind oyster. I love the turnstones! You can see one in action in this video and hopefully see where they get their name from.
I’ve made a few turnstone pictures. In this one I prefelted lots of oyster shells for the foreground then snipped up loads of different coloured tapestry wool for the beach as I wanted a more distant background impression rather than individual pebbles. The tapestry wool is all from charity shops: I really like recycling old and second hand materials.
It took a surprisingly long time to snip all that wool into a large plastic washing up bowl ready to mix it up and lay it out on top of sandy wool layers. It also made a bit of a mess as the felting threw up lots of loose wool strands because the fibres were very short.
Another experimental approach was a picture I made earlier this year using pieces of recycled silk (cut from charity shop scarves, of course) on top of a couple of layers of wool tops with some wisps of wool on top for colour and to help attach the silk. This gives a different feel – more impressionistic – but still (I hope!) the impression of a pebble beach.
This penguin picture was a commission. Unusually I was working from someone else’s photo rather than my own observations and pictures. By necessity the felt picture is similar to the original photo (though I had to give the penguin on the right a proper head!). I custom made various sheets of light grey pebbly prefelt which I cut up to make this beach as there’s quite a lot of it so I couldn’t just rely on scraps.
And finally, I think this is my favourite beach so far (maybe apart from the oyster shells). It includes several of the techniques I’ve described. I pre-made some shell shapes and used prefelt pieces for pebbles. There’s lots of silk too – I think I may have put down a whole sheet of silk on top of wool layers then added the rest on top of the silk. This gorgeous ringed plover was standing on a shingle spit that juts into the sea just along from my house and I felt this was a good representation of that particular terrain.
Do you have a favourite? Or anything you don’t think really worked? I’d love to hear your views.
After a long pause from felting to work on the Guild Library survey (why did no one tell me data analysis was so much fun?) with interruptions to torture incent unsuspecting flax plants, I am now back to working on the Mer’s. Shark Boy is coming along nicely but seems to be missing something… hair!! They will all need hair, but I want it to work with their tail colours too.
Well, I should have some locks or at least some bits of fleece that might work for long hair, because what Mer would not want long hair? All that floating along behind them in the water, looking flowy, and lustrous. Gorgeous tresses, getting in their eyes when they are hunting. ok maybe a braid might be better or another somewhat controlled hairstyle but long, defiantly.
I am imagining picking up bits of colour from the body may be a base of black or dark gray with streaks and accents of some of the body tones. Since Hair should be different than skin, I want to use a different fibre than the Corriedale I have used for the body. Something with a bit more body, (without the use of styling products or heavy conditioners).
In 2019 I picked up a couple of “Coarse” fleeces from the Wool Growers Co-op. Both are quite soft but are more towards a wavy hair than a fluffy crimpy type of sheep. Both are off white to light gray. I also have a reddish-brown Shetland fleece that might be interesting overdyed. I collected a sandwich zip lock bag of each from my stash and turned to the problem of changing their colour.
I need hair dye! Well, I have threatened my hair with that if it didn’t do something interesting as it’s progressing back to the “blond” I was born with. (Ann says it’s a shade of light gray, I claimed it’s just transforming to blond a very light shade of blond that I hope one day will be white) so I don’t have any hair die and none in greens and blues. Humm.
1 I don’t have any hair die
I do have some old Ritz dies in the basement but they are for dyeing medieval gowns so a bit too much for small samples of fleece. I have heard rumours that you can use food colouring to dye with. Yep, checked youtube, they seem to show only dyeing yarn but it should work with what you make yarn with! Ok, check the kitchen, no food colouring. I have a plan! Ask Glenn to pick some up on his way back from work! Thanks, Glenn.
So I had collected samples of the two coarse fleeces and a bit from one of the Icelandic. My final fibre to add was horsehair to give a bit more body. I have some dark and light tail hair but unfortunately, it was clumped together and tangled. I was able to extract some and got them laying parallel, held together with a bulldog clip.
Now what do I cook all this in. it’s a bit small for even my smallest pot. Hummm. I am not using the plastic organizer trays I was using for saucers on some of the outdoor plants. I wonder if they would go in the microwave? They don’t say that they don’t go in the microwave!
2-3 Plan B
I am likely too impatient but I soaked the fibres in warm water and vinegar to prep them for dying. I realized I could fit most of my samples in one organizer and left one sample in the other. I let it soak until the fibre seemed quite saturated and removed some of the excess water.
4-6 Soaking in water and vinegar
When I could not stand the wait any longer, I dripped in drops of strait blue die on one end of the containers.
7 Dye just sitting there
Well, that was disappointing. They just sat there, maybe I took out too much water. I think it needs a poke to inspire the die to migrate a bit. (One of the YouTube videos poked at their skeins in the dye bath) where did I put the spare take out wooden chopsticks? Found them! Why are they with the plastic straws? (maybe filed by the similarity of shape?) Poke, poke, stab, poke and the die is migrating along the top. Ok, let’s add some green and see if we can get a bit of migration and mingling. This is starting to sound quite social. I should put out cookies and make drinks! Again, green drips just sat there. Maybe a bit more water, AH! Yes, now it’s mingling better. More poking but not stirring and I have a nice blue-green, not the Prussian blue I was hoping for but it’s not the right base blue I suspect.
8-9 Poked with chopsticks then tipped the container to migrate the dye
Next, I dripped in some yellow to both samples and worked that in with more poking. Finally, I tipped the containers and got the unattached die to migrate towards the undyed parts. I assessed how it looked and deemed the blue was not quite what I wanted. Maybe a bit of red to get the blue a bit more towards purple would be better? Let’s try that on the samples with the darker one. A few drops! Oh, my! Red is an aggressive colour! Well, I’m not sure you would call that blue but it is investing. Let’s see what it looks like when it’s dry.
10 3 drops of red
11-13 Heating it up, then letting it cool
Now on to the microwave, let’s guess a minute at a time. Two minutes total gave a nice hot dyebath but still a lot of suspended die. I cooked both for 2 minutes covered with cling wrap and remembered to take the mettle bulldog clip off the horsehair before I stuck it in the microwave. Now let it sit covered until it cools down on the stove and see if I have suspended dye left in the wool.
14 one leaked but it did seem to have survived the microwave
Usually, I am much better at this patents thing, maybe I will go make some oolong tea. In addition, one of the last of the season’s butter tarts made by Ann. She is amazing and her butter tarts are Really good!
15-16 Oolong with one of the last tarts of 2020.
17 Cooling fibre on the stove
Enjoyed the Butter tart, drank most of the tea and worked on the computer….. Then went to drain and rinse the wool samples. Looking good!! I added some soap and re-rinsed, seems to have mostly stopped leaking blue.
18-19 Rinsing in the sink
So a light squeeze and draped over a chopstick and paper towel to dry.
20-21 set out to dry
Went back to the computer (played Rune scape) then back to the kitchen to check on the wool and start dinner (miso and ginger soup with shitake mushrooms, onion and noodles). The wool seems to have left a few spots on the paper towel but is looking very colourful.
22 a bit of staining on the underside of the paper towel
23-24 dyeing made me hunger for dinner
25-26 Dry and ready to use
It was interesting to see how little die the white horse tail hairs picked up. I may get better results by letting them simmer overnight in a die bath but there is a bit of colour and they may still work.
It has been years since I got a chance to dye anything and this was a lot of fun. I will have to keep an eye out for variegated grey fleeces in 2021 and consider doing some dyeing outdoors next spring. (Glenn does have that second forge but it might make the dye bath a bit too hot. So maybe I can use the barbeque.) Have fun and happy felting!