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1st Quarter Challenge – Part Two

1st Quarter Challenge – Part Two

When I posted last time, I showed you the felted portion of my 1st Quarter Challenge piece. The next step was to start free motion machine stitching to add more detail.

First to find some thread that would work with the colors of the felt. I used all of these except for one of the reds.

I started with dark green thread and worked on the stems, leaves and bud. I kept the inspiration photo by my sewing machine so it was easier to see where I needed to add stitching.

Next was the light green thread. I just used it for  a few highlights on the stems, bud and top of the big leaf.

Now on to the poppies. I used a light pink for highlights. Somehow, I always forget how much the machine stitching compacts the felt. It makes the unstitched portions feel very puffy.

Then I add some yellow for the centers of the poppies.

Next is the medium value red. You can’t see it very well because it is the same value as the main poppy color. But perhaps it gives a bit more definition of the edges.

Then on to adding a little more dark value where it was needed. Afterwards, I put it up on the design board and stepped back a little. Looking for anything that didn’t look right or drew the eye too much in one place. The areas that bothered me were the top poppy there seemed to be a straight pink line coming down to the bottom of the flower. And the bottom poppy, I thought the pink at the bottom center was a bit too much.

So I added a bit more burgundy in those two areas to tone down the pink just a little. So it’s complete. You can click on the photo to see it up close. Thanks for the challenge, Lyn and Annie!


1st Quarter Challenge Part 1

1st Quarter Challenge Part 1

Lyn and Annie posted the 1st Quarter Challenge at the first of the year and I have been considering what I wanted to create with 1900-1909 in mind. Then I remembered the Antique Pattern Library. This is a free online resource that has PDF’s of interesting antique patterns and magazines. There are a lot of different categories to explore. If you haven’t checked it out before, you should take a look. There is loads of inspiration to be found there.

So I put embroidery in the search box and then looked through the options. I found this magazine from 1902-1903, perfect! If you click on the link, you can view the entire PDF. I had decided that I would use one of the patterns in this magazine to create a felt piece and then add free motion machine embroidery for the details.

So I chose the poppies. This was originally intended for silk embroidery in a traditional long and short stitch. I decided to use the photo for inspiration and go from there.

My studio is piled with stuff all over the place as I am working on a large wall hanging for my Level 3 Stitch course and I didn’t want to climb over a bunch of stuff to look through all my wool. So I used what I had already out. I can say I was challenging myself to a limited palette or it could be I was being lazy.

I used prefelt that was left over from Christmas ornaments and some other bits of green that were still out from some of my differential shrinkage projects. Hmmm…. perhaps I should clean up the studio a bit? Here’s the layout. I am planning on adding all the details with stitching after felting. I also decided to leave out the separate stem on the design and just go with two open poppies and a bud.

Here’s how it looks after felting. I didn’t full it heavily since it will end up being framed. I will have to use a stabilizer for free motion machine stitching as it is quite thin. It’s drying now and I will show you the added stitching in my next post.

If you have created something for the 1st Quarter Challenge, we’d love to see and hear about it over on the forum. 

2017 Quarterly Challenges

2017 Quarterly Challenges

Happy New Year to everyone and we hope that you have a very creative year in 2017. We like to give you a little creative challenge every quarter and this coming year, we will be emphasizing various art periods. Each of us will choose a different art period and then challenge you to create felt or other fiber art with that art period as your inspiration.

There is some great information about art periods at the following websites:

Arty Factory

The Art Story

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Matisse - Woman with a Hat - Wikipedia
Matisse – Woman with a Hat – Wikipedia

I have decided on the art period called Fauvism. I have gleaned all this information from Wikipedia and The Fauvist movement started in 1899 and ended in 1908, so it was a relatively short period of time.

Wikipedia’s definition: “Fauvism is the style of les Fauves (French for “the wild beasts”), a loose group of early twentieth-century modern artists whose works emphasized painterly qualities and strong color over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism.”

Matisse: Open Window, Wikipedia
Matisse: Open Window, Wikipedia

The Art Story website gives more information:

“Matisse emerged as the leader of the group, whose members shared the use of intense color as a vehicle for describing light and space, and who redefined pure color and form as means of communicating the artist’s emotional state. In these regards, Fauvism proved to be an important precursor to Cubism and Expressionism as well as a touchstone for future modes of abstraction.”

Seine Chatou, Maurice de Vlaminck, Wikipedia
Seine Chatou, Maurice de Vlaminck, Wikipedia

Key Ideas (from

“One of Fauvism’s major contributions to modern art was its radical goal of separating color from its descriptive, representational purpose and allowing it to exist on the canvas as an independent element. Color could project a mood and establish a structure within the work of art without having to be true to the natural world.”

Barges on the Seine, Maurice de Vlaminck, Wikipedia
Barges on the Seine, Maurice de Vlaminck, Wikipedia

“Another of Fauvism’s central artistic concerns was the overall balance of the composition. The Fauves’ simplified forms and saturated colors drew attention to the inherent flatness of the canvas or paper; within that pictorial space, each element played a specific role. The immediate visual impression of the work is to be strong and unified.”

Paysage Color, Jean Metzinger, Wikipedia
Paysage Color, Jean Metzinger, Wikipedia


“Above all, Fauvism valued individual expression. The artist’s direct experience of his subjects, his emotional response to nature, and his intuition were all more important than academic theory or elevated subject matter. All elements of painting were employed in service of this goal.”

Charing Cross Bridge, Andre Derain, Wikipedia
Charing Cross Bridge, Andre Derain, Wikipedia

One of the main reasons that I chose this art period is that I thought it would translate well to felt. The simplicity of form with saturated colors sounded perfect for felt. And then we also get to be “wild beasts” while we’re working on this challenge for the first quarter. So I challenge you to look up Fauvism and create a piece of fiber art in that tradition. Go wild with colors and express your individualism!

Please show us your creations over on the forum. We’d love to see what the wild beast in you brings forth.

Don’t forget to sign up for online classes here:

Experimental Screen Printing

Felting Fantasy Fish

Creative People on the Forum

Creative People on the Forum

Each time we have a quarterly challenge, there is a place to post everyone’s creations on the forum. This first quarter challenge has really brought in some great ideas and entries. The challenge was to use a flat resist in felting in a way that you hadn’t before. You can read more about the 1st Quarter Challenge here. I thought it would be fun to show you what everyone has created so far. And if you haven’t done anything for the challenge, there is still time as it lasts through the end of March!

These are in no particular order and I am using people’s forum user names rather than their real names. If you’d like to join us on the forum, please click on the forum button on the side bar, we’d love to have you!

These entries are from Frances. She made a rosebud pod, a vessel within a vessel and a scarf with a sleeve. You can see how to make the rosebud pod here.

ann vessel

Ann showed us her version of using a book resist in a previous post but I wanted to show you this configuration of it that she posted on the forum. If you want to know what a book resist is, please take a look at this tutorial post written by Terri here.

Carole aka craftywoman created the layered pod above. We all decided it had a very interesting organic look to it.

Next up is this puppet created by Janekiwi. You can see the resist that she used and the finished puppet on the right. His name is Garlic 🙂

Jill in progress

Jwugg created an “octopod”. Here is the in progress photo where she is using a book resist.

octopod 1

And here is the result. Just love this photo out in his habitat.

lyn giraffe crackles

Lyn posted two pieces using the same “cracked mud” technique using resists to create the cracked effect.

These pieces were created by Blythwhimsies. She used metallic fabric under resists in the top two photos and used a different resist than she had before in the vessel in the bottom two photos.

Mwes created the two vessels above. You can see the layouts/early felting stages on the left and the finished vessel on the right.

These projects were created by Halay. She used some different shaped resists than she had in the past.

Smiff created two different vessels with different book type resists. It is interesting to me that shaping makes all the difference in the world when you use these types of resist. Making the “leaves” become indentations really gives an entire different look to a vessel. Also where you cut the resist out makes a huge difference as well.

I believe Zed already showed her entry on a post here of her flower shaped pod.

The hats above were all created by Teri Berry. She used a variety of resist shapes and added some embellishing techniques including adding foil to her flame hat. All of us on the forum decided she should get a Royal Appointment to make hats for the Queen.

zara vest

Zara created this nuno felted patch mosaic vest on a resist type she hadn’t used before. You can see the variety of fabrics she used in the close-ups.

And I already showed you mine on a prior post but here’s the “thing” I made with a book shaped resist.


A late addition by Luvswool, a cat cave.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing everyone’s creations. The creativity is astounding and I hope that if you haven’t tried something for the challenge that you will be inspired to try felting with a resist in a way you haven’t in the past. It was great fun and we have had a wonderful exchange of ideas on using resists on the forum. So join the fun! Do share anything with us by adding it to the challenge thread on the forum.







First Quarter Challenge 2016

First Quarter Challenge 2016

The overall theme for this year’s challenges is felting techniques. We had a poll and vote over on the forum and “Choose a Specific Felting Technique” got nearly 60% of the vote. So each quarter, one of us will post a specific felting technique which will comprise that quarter’s challenge. We hope that you will consider participating this year and trying out a new technique or adding a twist to a technique that you might have already done. You have three months to complete the challenges and then we’d love to see what you created. You can share your results over on the forum under “Studio Challenges” or you can contact us here and write a guest post about your entry. The more the merrier!


My challenge to you for the first quarter is to use a flat resist in felting. Now if you’re a beginner and you have never used a flat resist before, that could mean you might want to try a simple circle to make a beret or a pod. Lyn and Annie from Rosiepink have a wonderful tutorial on wet felting a pod over a resist that you can see here.

Or if you have a bit more experience, you could try using the same resist but make different shapes when fulling the resulting felt piece. The photos above show the shape of the resist on the left. Both of the felt vases were made on the same resist but look very different because of shaping and embellishments. So how many shapes of felt could you make from one resist?


remove resist

Maybe you have been wanting to make a felted pair of slippers but it hasn’t happened yet. You could follow Nada V’s tutorial on using the ear shaped resists shown above. Or perhaps try a new shape of hat, bag or mittens. The possibilities are endless.

Resist Shapes

How many shapes of resists can you create? I wrote a post about resist shapes a while back that might get your brain working.

If you have lots of experience with resists, have you tried stitching multiple resists together to make a complex shape? Perhaps you haven’t tried seamless clothing and want to go in that direction with a resist. What would happen if you stacked resists on top of each other with felt in between and kept layering different shapes? What if you cut your resist from a different angle or made a different opening? How would that affect the end result? What would happen if you added “ear shapes” (as in the slipper tutorial above) to a resist and cut it open from ear to ear? Maybe you haven’t tried using resists as surface design. Zed wrote a post about Surface Design Using Resists last year to give you some ideas. The skies the limit on what idea you could use with flat resists and wet felting.

So your challenge is to use a flat resist in wet felting in a way that you haven’t before. The suggestions I have given are just a starting point. Let’s put our thinking caps on and have fun playing with resists!


Jackson Pollock Piece Finally Finished.

Jackson Pollock Piece Finally Finished.

I started my first quarter challenge back at the beginning of February. I made a piece of nuno felt using black wool prefelt and white silk to make a canvas.

beginning beginning felted

Finally the other day I decided to try out my idea on how to paint the canvas. I thickened some die with arrowroot powder. I was aiming for a paint like texture. I had never thickened dye before and I didn’t want to spend any money ordering something special. I looked up thickeners and arrowroot was the one recommended for acidic things.  It is a very fine powder.

thickened dye

I added a little to each small batch of acid dye and heated it a little. The first one I heated too much and it was like vulcanised rubber in the bottom of the cup. lesson learned less powder and less heat.

I started with yellow.It wasn’t dribbling how I wanted so I thinned it down. I didn’t like that either it  spread out too much. For the next 3 colours I poured it from the cups and moved them across the canvas quickly. That worked really well. Then I heated it in the microwave.

dye applied 1 into the microwave 1

While I was doing this I realised I had not put any vinegar in the dye. I heated up some water and put it in a basin and when the canvas come out of the microwave I put it into the acidified water and heated it in the microwave a bit and let it cool. having to put it in the water bath blurred the lines a bit but the arrowroot made it stay put for the most part. as you can see the thickened yellow is what moved in to the water the most.

after microwave vinigar bath 1

When I rinsed it and it felt really slimy. I thought I rinsed it well but it was harsh and stiff feeling when dry so I gave it a good wash with some shampoo. This is the finished piece. I think its very Pollock like.

finished pollock

I haven’t ironed it yet but I think I will and use the heat and steam to square it up.

First Quarter Challenge – Inspired by Jackson Pollock

First Quarter Challenge – Inspired by Jackson Pollock

When I first announced the 1st quarter challenge, I knew which Jackson Pollock painting would be my inspiration – The Deep. I don’t particularly like his multi-colored paintings as I find it difficult to put all those different colors together and come up with a coherent design. So I was drawn to the neutral colors and nearly monotone color scheme in The Deep.

I had originally planned on doing the felted piece in multiple layers, felting each layer separately and then putting the piece together after felting. But when I got out my supplies and saw the cut up pieces of white prefelt, I changed my mind.

Materials for Jackson Pollock Challenge PieceI had a black prefelt scarf length piece that I folded so there were four layers of background prefelt. I then had bunches of scraps where I had cut up a white prefelt scarf for a sample for when I was writing my book. Of course, I saved them as I knew at some point, I would use them. I also had some crimped nylon fiber that Zed had sent me ages ago but I had never tried. I thought it would be perfect to put along the center black section and add some bright white. I also used a bit of white banana fiber as well.

Layout with Pre-FeltNext I laid out all the prefelt pieces. I hoped that all the different sizes of white prefelt over the black would end up looking like brush strokes. Some areas had more prefelt pieces than others to give the mottled grey appearance on the edges of the original painting. I added just a little bit of yellow-orange prefelt in torn pieces.

Addition of Merino Fiber in Lay OutI added the banana fiber and the crimped nylon along the edges of the center black section. In hindsight, I should have added more nylon. I also added some merino fiber around the edges as I was afraid that the outside would not be white enough with just the prefelt.

Completed PieceHere is the finished piece. You can click on the photo to see it enlarged. I liked the results and the process was really speedy since I started with prefelt.

Center SectionHere’s a closer view of the center section. I’m not sure I got the depth that the painting has but I do like the results. I also see that the original has much more blue and green tones around the edges, but I wasn’t trying to do an exact rendition.

Banana Fiber and Crimped NylonThis photo shows the banana fiber running from top left to top center. You can see some of the crimped nylon just right of the center of the photo.

I hope that you’ll try the challenge even if you aren’t really inspired by Jackson Pollock. Perhaps you could just take a small portion of one of his paintings and enlarge it and use that as an inspiration. Or look for one of his less well-known paintings or something from his earlier work. It is fun to try working from a different point of view. We’d love to see what you create.

And The Winner Is…

And The Winner Is…

Last week, in my cheese cloth post, I offered a give away of hand dyed cheesecloth. There were 14 people who replied and chose #1 out of 14. So Lyn, you have won the give away. Congratulations! I wish I could give everyone some of the cheese cloth that sent me, but we’ll all post our results to show you what we created. Lyn please e-mail me the address where to send the cheese cloth. Hopefully, I’ll get it dyed tomorrow or over the weekend.

Homeless Love by Mary Pal

I thought you might enjoy another cheese cloth portrait by Mary Pal. If you didn’t get a chance before, do check out her website.

On another note, have you started on the first quarter challenge? You might want to check out the forum challenge section as Carole has done a wonderful challenge piece and even has a video of her “Jackson Pollock” painting technique. We’d all love to see your challenge piece too. You can just reply to the forum thread that in the link above. You do have to be a member of the forum to post but that just takes a quick sign up.


First Quarter Challenge 2014

First Quarter Challenge 2014

We have decided that this year for the challenges, that we will have a central theme and base all the challenges on that theme. The theme for 2014 will be famous artists. This does not necessarily mean that we will be picking our favorite artist but perhaps an artist that we would like to learn more about. Or maybe one that we think will be able to be interpreted fairly easily in fiber. So each quarter, we will name the artist and the challenge will be to create something in the spirit of that artist. You don’t have to “copy” one piece exactly but the feel of whatever you create should be in that artist’s style. You are free to interpret that artist’s work however you would like. It also might be fun to take a few minutes and learn a little about that artist’s life, history and what they have contributed to the art world.

Jackson Pollock “action painting”,

I have chosen Jackson Pollock for the first quarter challenge. Jackson Pollock was an American painter, and is possibly the leading force behind the abstract expressionist movement in the art world. The photos used here and the information about Jackson are from There are several other websites about Jackson Pollock as well as lots of photos of his work when you search images.

Convergence by Jackson Pollock

When I was growing up, my mother always got us a jigsaw puzzle at Christmas time to put together as a family. One year, we got a puzzle of one of Jackson Pollock’s “poured” paintings. I don’t remember how many pieces it had but it was over 500 pieces. It was probably the hardest jigsaw puzzle we ever put together. So hard, that after it was together, my mom covered it with some type of glue and hung it on the wall.  I think the puzzle was based on ‘Convergence’. If you check out the Jackson Pollock site, there is a puzzle that you can try out. It took me 7 minutes and 41 seconds to do (with a few interruptions) so see if you can do better.

The Deep by Jackson Pollock

I didn’t know much about Pollock before I decided to pick him for the challenge. It sounds like he had a hard life, struggling with alcoholism and dyeing at the age of 44 in a drunk driving accident. His most well-known work is in an abstract style and used a ‘drip and splash’ technique. Pollock said “It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.” And also, “On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.”

Full Fathom Five by Jackson Pollock

One of the reasons that I picked Pollock was because I thought that he could be interpreted well in felt. Of course, you don’t have to make a felt piece to enter the challenge. You can use any media that you would like. If you do create a piece for the challenge, you can either post it on the forum, Flickr or contact us and we will feature your entry here on the blog. We would really love to see what you come up with and I hope you’ll enjoy challenge.