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Tutorials and E-Books

Tutorials and E-Books

I was trying to think of a topic I hadn’t posted about lately, so had a quick look back at some of my old posts. I came across a couple talking about writing tutorials, but couldn’t decide which one to use as a “Throwback Post”, so thought I’d combine them for a bigger picture, and for those who missed them the first time round! I’ve altered the wording slightly here and there so they fit together better.

In June 2013, I was working on my Polymer Clay tutorial, so I thought I’d do a post about what goes into writing tutorials or e-books. Looking at a really good one, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s pretty much just getting someone to take photos while you go through the stages, or at the most, stopping to take photos if you’re doing it alone. Then just adding some text to the photos in Word. Ah, if only it was that simple  🙂  Sometimes the shorter ones can be straightforward if it all goes well, but even then there is usually lots of photo editing,  cropping, resizing, etc. and rewrites of the text.

So, what does happen? Well we probably all do it a little differently, but usually I start off with a rough idea, a few things jotted down, then write a brief outline of what I want to include.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ll type this out onto Wordpad, then start to give it more definition, separate it into sections then add info about the content I want in each section. I usually do a copy of this new outline with a list of all the photos I need to take for it or sets of photos, then print it out and start on the photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ll probably re-print the list quite a few times as I work through it and change my ideas. I like to keep a notebook close by when I take photos because I usually end up with ideas for something else I need to include or an idea that will help make another set work better. Also it’s good to take notes about what you’re doing in the photo and at certain stages because it will help to explain the process more clearly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven when I’m not actually working on the tutorial, something will pop into my head, so I usually end up with lots of loose pieces of paper with little notes on. It’s like one idea inspires others and you can’t see how you can leave something out without it seeming incomplete. I thought from the original idea for my Polymer Clay tutorial it would be several pages long and just take a few days to do with careful planning, but by the time I wrote down my outline it was already turning into a mini e-book!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce all the photos have been taken, the most laborious part I find, is going through all the photos…deleting blurry ones first then going back and looking through the rest carefully to choose the final ones. And if you’ve ever taken photos of felt or fibre, you’ll know it usually takes a lot of photos to get the one good shot you need 🙂  I then usually make duplicate folders for resizing. It isn’t unusual for me to have 4 duplicate sets all at different sizes.

Photo foldersWhen it comes to the writing, I usually start by simply describing the process, trying not to overthink it, and use the photos to illustrate this. Then I pester anyone and everyone to read it through for me, it’s really good to get the opinion of someone who hasn’t tried what your tutorial is about, they can ask all the questions you need to answer but might have missed. Once the first draft is finished, I’ll probably ask Ann, Ruth and Marilyn from the studio site and Lyn from the forum to read through too, it’s good to make sure it’s understandable to people all over, and that there aren’t any words or phrases that are unfamiliar, even to English speakers. It’s strange the words we take for granted that are often questioned. Once I’m happy with all the words and pictures, I work on the layout. That’s where the duplicate sets of photos come in, if a photo used in the tutorial only needs to be small and doesn’t show any detail, using photos of smaller dimensions and file size can reduce the overall file size of the document and subsequent PDF. The finished ‘tutorial’, ended up as an e-book called ‘Polymer Clay Simply Made

It doesn’t matter how many times I write a tutorial, and many people will understand this, I always massively underestimate how long it will take. Actually, the underestimation probably increases each time as I think it should be easier/quicker having done it so many times! I started writing a new one in March 2017 on how to make one of those soft, wispy, scruffy, colourful pieces of felt everyone seems to love. We make them in about 45 minutes in classes, so I thought I’d just need one day to take all the photos, except my camera battery died after the layout photos. I probably won’t need all 120 photos, but I like to be thorough! This is the photo of the finished layout:

Luckily, it was bright enough the next day to finish off felting and get the rest of the photos done. This is just before it was rolled in a towel and left to dry:

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I take photos for tutorials, I jabber on to myself in my head, giving a running commentary on what I’m doing. I suppose I’m talking to ‘the reader’, so I can make sure all the steps are covered and I don’t miss anything out. This was going really well while I was doing the layout, I’m usually over-cautious (as the 120 photos would suggest) and end up with loads of photos unused. Let’s face it, even a complete beginner doesn’t need to see every step of the wool tops being laid out 🙂 But when I downloaded the photos and looked through, all the photos of adding the embellishments were missing! Where were they? Did I forget to download them and then delete them off the camera? No, because I didn’t download/delete anything until the 2nd day. So where were they? I must have zoned out as some point, wandered off to get a drink or put music on, then got too engrossed in adding all the yarns and shiny fibres because there were no photos between finishing the top layer of wool, and that finished top photo above. Luckily that was all I’d forgotten. Or so I thought! I wanted to show the versatility of the felt pieces and how they can be made into other things, such as the concertina pieces I’ve made into danglie decorative pieces:

So, while I was ‘on a roll’ with the felting, I took photos of the process of how to do that. Here it is all bundled up:

And then how it doesn’t have to become a concertina piece, but a more 3D ‘sculpural’ piece:

But that meant, not only did I not have any photos of adding embellishments, I also didn’t have photos of the finished dried piece! Luckily, I’m used to myself and how gormless and forgetful I am 🙂 And when you don’t have to take 120 photos of the process, doing a layout is really quick and easy, so it wasn’t too time consuming to re-create the piece and take photos of the missing stages.

If you’re interested in any of the tutorials I’ve written, including the ones mentioned here, please have a look at my etsy shop. I also have some larger, more in-depth e-books, Beyond Nuno, and The Right Fibre, which you can find out about by clicking the titles. And just in case there’s anyone who hadn’t noticed, we also have a ‘shop’ section here, and some of my e-books and tutes are listed there too 🙂

Different Fibre

Different Fibre

I did another little fibre experiment a couple of weeks ago. I hoped to have more photos, but the light hasn’t been great again this week. Anyway, this is what I tried out:

And this is one of the locks:

I used 23mic natural white Merino, and this is the finished sample:

This is a close up of the top left where I fluffed up the fibres:

And this is how the migration looked on the back:

This is one of the felted locks:

Sorry there aren’t more/better photos, but did you guess what the fibre is? It’s my friend’s hair who gave me the extensions! I clippered it for her a couple of weeks ago and decided to see how it felted 🙂

More Hair Extensions

More Hair Extensions

I mentioned in my last post that I’d played around with the hair extension fibre a bit more. This is the finished piece:

I twisted some of it around some wool twists I’d previously made, spun some with some white pencil roving, fluffed some up and made a kind of ‘ball’ out of it, blended some with Merino, and used a couple of pieces which were still partly plaited/braided. The two biggest patches on the bottom of this angled photo are, on the left, the loose ball, and in the centre, the blend with wool:

This is a closer angled pic:

This is one of the partly plaited pieces:

I undid the ends of this one, sorry, not the best photo:

This last pic is a small amount spun with pencil roving on a drop spindle. I just twisted it, then used it so it’s loose:

I’ve been trying out more unusual embellishments, so I’ll show that next time!

Experimenting With Fibres

Experimenting With Fibres

I posted a couple of months ago about using some of my friend’s hair decoration as an embellishment. She recently had some more in really nice colours, and saved them for me when she took them out. They look something like this. I took them with me to the well being centre a couple of weeks ago, and it tured out there was just me there that day. So I kind of spread out a little bit!:

These are the fibres/hair extensions, they start out straight, but end up wavy or crimped depending on how they’re used:

I blended some Merino to match:

I started with matching the fibres to the blends:

I used the same wool blends twice:

But used different coloured fibres on top at the other end (not great photos)

As soon as I started to wet it down it felt like there were far too many fibres on top. They kind of look/feel like trilobal nylon, but not quite as fine.

It took a lot to get it felted, the fibres acted like a barrier between my hands and the wool, I had to rub mostly from the back. I even resorted to rolling the felt in a bamboo mat. This is how it looked when it was dry:

You can see how much of the fibre is loose:

Not quite as much at this end:

I tugged off lots of loose fibre and this is how it looked afterwards:

It looked like I pulled it all off, but it was more obvious looking on an angle:

And I had to get a supermacro close up!

I did have another play around with the hair extensions, I’ll show that piece next time 🙂

E-Book Giveaway

E-Book Giveaway

I haven’t done a Giveaway for a long time, so I thought the festive/holiday season is a good time to do another one! So this week, I’m doing a giveaway of my e-book, The Right Fibre.

It isn’t a project based book – I don’t tell you how I think you should use fibres, it’s an objective look at them. I profile 20 different embellishment fibres, and show lots of photos of how they look after felting in various ways, so it’s easy to compare them with each other and see similarities and differences.

There is also a section detailing various things which affect the way a fibre will felt and look after felting, so by the end you have the information you need to choose the right fibre and give you more control over the outcome.

For more information, have a look at the full blurb on my blog. To win a free copy of The Right Fibre, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. If you’d like to spread the word through your blog or facebook etc, it would be very much appreciated but it isn’t a requirement. I will randomly draw the winner 8 days from now on Monday 31st Dec 2018, so please check back to see if you’ve won. Good Luck!

EDIT: SORRY! I completely forgot to link to the blurb on my blog! Thanks Ann 🙂

Felt Layout From A Painting

Felt Layout From A Painting

I really liked using a painting for inspiration on the last felt piece I made, so I thought I’d do it again and take more photos of the process. I had a look through some photos and found one I liked, then started the search for the actual painting. I was a bit confused because the photo and actual painting didn’t quite match, but I realised the photo was from while I was working on it, so it wasn’t quite finished! I took a new photo of the finished one:

I used a similar technique to the ones I showed last week, thinly overlaying acrylic paint. This looks different because it’s on a different type and weight of paper. I started with a couple of layers of Jonquil Merino, it looks more like a ‘Buttercup’ in the photos, but it’s really a prime yellow:

Originally I planned to do all aditional layers with fibres, but decided to do some more ‘background’ with Merino. I don’t have exact matches for the colours, but they’re closer than they look on these photos.

I realised that I always lay my felt out in a ‘landscape’ orientation, for some reason – it just feels natural – but it meant I was working from the painting the wrong way up. It didn’t occur to me straight away to just rotate the layout. I got there eventually though! So, once I turned it around, I added some black prefelt ‘blobs’ :

Then added some more Merino. I did add it thinly, but 3 photos of a few wisps and a few wisps more didn’t seem to show much, so this is all the Merino I added:

This is the first lot of Nylon Staple fibre I added, the blues and blue/greens:

It looks like a lot, but really isn’t, I think it’s just because it is bright. This next photo is the yellow and green/yellow Nylon added, which again looks like a lot:

When I compared the layout to the original photo, it’s obvious it’s more of a ‘copy’ than just inspired by the painting, but not quite right, either, so I might make a few adjustments before I felt it.

I’ll show the finished piece next time. I forgot how much longer it takes doing a layout when taking photos of the process so ran out of time to felt it.

Felting With Nylon and Soy Fibres

Felting With Nylon and Soy Fibres

I made a few more fibre samples this week. I thought I’d use the same template for all of them to do comparisons. In the end, I only did a ‘normal’ sample and a ‘fulled hard’ sample of Trilobal Nylon for a direct comparison. Though thinking about it, for a ‘proper’ comparison, I should really have used the same colours! Each sample has two layers of the fibre, and 4 thin layers of 23 mic Merino. This is the Trilobal Nylon sample which I felted and fulled in the way I usually do:

Here’s a close up of the ripples/texture:

This is the Trilobal nylon sample I made and fulled hard:

The texture was interesting, especially where I used different colours for each fibre layer:

This next one is Soy top which I dyed, the tops all look nice, shiny, metallic shades, but for some reason, they now look a bit like wet tissue. Maybe two layers dulls the sheen?

The silver end looked quite nice:

My favourite piece was the Nylon Staple sample. It had a really nice, thick texture:

You can see it a bit more on an angle:

At first I was a bit disappointed with all the migration, because it covered some areas:

But, then I noticed there was something quite regular, almost geometric about the migration:

It can always be disguised by using a matching colour, or made a feature of by using a complementary colour. Here is a photo of all the pieces next to each other:

And, for reference, the bigger Trilobal Nylon sample on the template I used:

About The Studio Site

About The Studio Site

Can you believe it’s just over 5 years since we first started the Felting and Fiber Studio site and blog? We’ve had a lot of new visitors and commentors on the blog recently, and lots of new members on the forum too, so I thought it might be time to do a reminder about everything we have to offer here on the Studio site. The main page where all the blog posts appear is the ‘Home‘ page. Whenever you open the website up, this will be the page it brings you to, so after having a good look around, click ‘Home’ to bring you back here.

1-home-pageThe ‘Contact Us‘ page is for getting in touch with us about anything which doesn’t relate to any of the blog posts or other pages. Maybe you have an idea for a Guest Post, or some info we can add to the site, or just want to make sure you don’t miss out on any classes! Leave your name and contact email and send us a message in the ‘comment’ box.

2-contact-usIn the drop down menu under ‘Online Classes‘, you’ll find a list of the classes we offer.

3a-online-classesIf you hover over each one in the menu, you’ll find they all have sub-pages, where you will find more information, testimonials and galleries of work produced by the students who took the classes.

3b-online-classes The ‘About Us’ page tells you a little bit about why we started the Studio site, and there are sub pages for each of us with some info about ourselves and our interests.

5-about-usThe Felting page gives a brief outline about what felting is, and in the drop down menu, different types of felting: Machine, Needle, Nuno and Wet, all have their own pages with more in depth info and sub-pages with galleries of examples.

6-felting-pageMost fibre artists like to branch out a bit from their main area of interest, and you probably know from our blog posts that we do too, so it’s no surprise we have a ‘Mixed Media‘ section on the website. As well as the Mixed Media page, there are sub-pages for Beading, Hand Stitching, Machine Stitching and Surface Design. Each of these pages also have gallery pages featuring lots of work and inspiration.

7-mixed-mediaThe Fibers section is packed full of information about wool and other animal fibres. The main Fibers page explains some of the different terms that are used to describe wool in its various stages of processing. The Wool and Other Animal Fibers page has a lot of information about wool, and animal fibres such as Alpaca, Angora goat, Llama and Camel. There is also an explanation of the Micron and Bradford Count systems of measuring a fibre’s fineness or coarseness; and a PDF guide to the most common sheep breeds and their Bradford and Micron numbers. The gallery page features photos of different animal fibres. Preparing Fibers has a guide to processing your own wool, from washing a raw fleece to carding it into fluffy batts ready for felting or spinning. There is a photo set and detailed description. And if you want to go even further in fibre prep, have a look at the Dyeing page for some inspiration.

8-fibresThe ‘Other Fibers‘ section has lots of photos and info about the fibres and fabrics we commonly use in felting such as silk and organza fabrics; fibre prepared into tops like bamboo, banana, viscose, and the more unusual fibres like crimped nylon, plastic and Angelina fibres.
There are individual pages for Silk; other Protein Fibres; Cellulose Fibres, Synthetic Fibres and also Fabrics. The gallery sub-pages for each one feature lots of uses of all the different fabrics and fibres.

9-other-fibresA site full of info wouldn’t be complete without a Tutorials section. There are free Dyeing, Felting, Fiber preparation and Mixed media tutorials all written by one of us, including a video on how to make your own roving using a diz, PDFs on Degumming silk and dyeing it; Stitching on felt, making mixed media wall art, using a sander for wet-felting, a beginners guide to using a drop spindle and dyeing with food colouring.

10-tutorialsAnd if you can’t find what you want there, there are also links to outside sites in the Links/Resources section, including rosiepink’s free felting tutorials and their fantastic e-book showing how to make amazing felt artwork and some felting and fibre suppliers too. A fairly recent addition to the site is the ‘Shop‘, where you can safely and securely buy various books, e-books and tutorials on wet felting and needle felting.

11-shopOne thing the Felting and Fiber Studio site needs and which has helped it be so succesful is a Community.

12-communityWe’ve been so lucky to get to know and become friends with so many like-minded people from all over the world. From 4 of us starting the site 5 years ago with a handful of supportive friends commenting and spreading the word, we’ve grown to have almost 350 regular followers; a very popular forum; lots of fellow fibre artists and bloggers regularly contributing with guest posts; and really popular online classes. So as well as this post being a guide to what’s available on the site, it’s also a chance to say Thank You to everyone who’s been with us since day one, and to those who’ve joined us along the way, and supported us not only with blog views and comments and writing blog posts, but with sponsoring banners on the forum to pay for hosting and to keep it ad-free. Thanks! 🙂

e-book Giveaway

e-book Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago I showed a photo of a fibre sampler I made at the well being centre, made with all staple fibres. Last week we made ones using lots of embellishment fibre tops, from Left to Right: Ingeo, Hemp, Viscose, Ramie, Soy, Flax, Bamboo, Banana

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s a closer look:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUsing lots of fibres gave me the idea to do a Giveaway of my e-book, The Right Fibre.

The Right Fibre smallIt isn’t a project based book- I don’t tell you how I think you should use fibres, it’s an objective look at them.  I profile 20 different embellishment fibres, and show lots of photos of how they look after felting in various ways, so it’s easy to compare them with each other and see similarities and differences.

compilation 1There is also a section detailing various things which affect the way a fibre will felt and look after felting, so by the end you have the information you need to choose the right fibre and give you more control over the outcome.

compilation 2For more information, have a look at the full blurb on my blog. To win a free copy of The Right Fibre, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. If you’d like to spread the word through your blog or facebook etc, it would be very much appreciated but it isn’t a requirement. I will randomly draw the winner 8 days from now on Saturday 3rd Dec 2016, so please check back to see if you’ve won. Good Luck!

compilation 3The Giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering!

Online Wool and Fibre Suppliers

Online Wool and Fibre Suppliers

Lots of other fibresI posted a while ago asking for everyone’s favourite online wool and fibre suppliers with the intention of doing a price comparison. I wanted to see which stores would be the cheapest depending on where in the world you lived and how the prices compared to other countries. (More precisely, US, UK, AUS and Canada as that is where the 4 of us are from).

Well, it took a few days to go through the most popular sites. I had to find 5 items that they all sold, make adjustments for different weights to make sure the comparisons were fair, then convert into different currencies. My original intention was to produce a chart comparing the cost of items from each online store so it was easy to see which was the cheapest depending where you were ordering from. Once I started looking into it though, it seemed a little unfair, I never had the intention of singling out stores for their high prices, I just wanted to find the cheapest.

I can’t say I was completely surprised by the results, but I did think the suppliers would have had more competetive prices for people buying from their own country. Not so. Once all the prices were added up and the currencies converted, there was one online supplier who was cheapest by far, no matter where in the world you live . World of Wool. What was surprising however, was that even when the price of shipping for 500g of fibres was added on, they were still the cheapest. And not by a small amount. The next cheapest online store cost 1.7 times as much, and that’s without shipping.

The biggest surprise was just how expensive some sites are. As well as the 4 main sites, I took a look at all of those suggested. Most of the sites I looked at were charging anything from 6 to 35 times the World of Wool retail price for some common items, such as Silk waste, dyed Bamboo top, Nylon top and even Silk noil. It really put into perspective the prices which small businesses charge, which can seem a little pricey at times. But when you consider that it is often just one person working from home, not having the wholesale buying power of large businesses and often doing every aspect of the job themselves, from degumming silk waste or hand painting dye onto fibres, to taking orders, picking and packing, and then going out to the post office, it suddenly looks like a bargain.

This isn’t how I expected the research to go, but it does tie in nicely with our recent posts about supporting our community of small or local wool and fibre producers and suppliers. Three sites that I looked at particularly deserve a mention: Gemini Fibres in Canada, Sara’s Texture Crafts  and Norwegian Wool in the UK. Gemini Fibres and Sara’s Texture Crafts were the only 2 other suppliers who had a very large range of products (which also goes to reducing our costs as there’s only 1 lot of shipping to pay) and they have reasonable prices too. Norwegian Wool mainly focus on Norwegian wool and yarn and short fibre Merino. Their site is really interesting as you can choose where you are purchasing from to see the prices in GBP, €uros or US$, and their prices are also cheaper for C1 and C1/Pels than I have seen on other sites.

I know it isn’t always easy to work out if we are getting a good deal, especially buying from overseas and in different currencies (World of Wool have all their prices listed in US dollars aswell as GBP), but there are a few things we can do to save ourselves money. Consider the weights of the fibres we’re buying as well as the price, $2.99 might not seem a huge amount of money to pay for a fibre, but if it’s only for half an ounce, that actually works out at $21 for 100g or $23.92 for 4 ounces. 100g or 4 ounces might seem like a huge amount of fibre, but the fewer times you have to replenish stocks, the less you have to pay in postage. Buying between friends can cut the costs down and if there are a few of you, you could get discounts for larger quantities.

If anyone is interested I simplified a couple of the charts that I made for the price comparisons and included a chart of prices for some popular felting fibres and conversions into AU$, CA$, US$ and €uros.

Online Suppliers comparison results

Thanks to everyone who commented in the original post and on the forum and told me what they were interested in and what to look out for.