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We Need a New Door Stop

We Need a New Door Stop

Recently we have acquired a new bookcase for our living room.  It was actually made to fit in the space between the front wall and the door of the room.  However it has a sort of lip around the top, the corner of which was banged by the glass of the open door if we were not careful.

2 Views of the book case against the glass (with some of my menagerie in view on the book case)

Obviously we needed something to stop the door before it fully opened. After some thought I decided that it needed to be tall (so that we didn’t have to bend down too far to move it – the floor gets further away the older you get), but it needed to be thin too otherwise the door wouldn’t open far enough to let one of us safely into the room, especially with drinks in hand.

I wanted it to go with the colour of the carpet and I knew that I had somewhere in my stash a blue wool sweater that I had felted (on purpose) by putting it through the washing machine. I finally rooted it out and decided that I would use one of the sleeves, which had a pattern knitted into it.

The Other Sleeve – what’s left of it – the pattern looks a bit hazy but hang in there, you’ll see it later.

Initially I thought that I would make a tall thin pyramid shape to fit in the gap between the side of the book case and the door. I sewed up the cuff of the sleeve and, to make sure it didn’t keep falling over, I begged a piece of flat lead sheet from my husband which I fitted into the bottom of the stuffed sleeve, and then sewed up what had been the shoulder to make the base. 

Well it was ok, but I thought it needed a bit more interest and decided to turn the door stop into a cat.

Out came the felting needles and my scoured merino, which I use as core fibres. Then for the “top coat” I sorted through the blues in my stash – normally jealously guarded because I don’t have a lot now as I use them for sky in my pictures – and found some which almost matched the main blue of the sleeve. Obviously he wasn’t going to be a realistic cat so I tried to “cartoonise” his features, and rather than give him needle felted eyes as I might normally do I fished out some bright orange glass eyes from another stash which would go well with his dark blue face. I used some of the blue to make a wet felt sheet, out of which I cut his ears.

Having made his head, I attached it to the tall thin pyramid. It’s sewn as well as needled on, but even so I was concerned that if he was picked up by his head it might come off. I made a piece of blue cord and attached that as a loop behind his head so that he might be moved safely. And here we have him.

Smiley Door Cat

Not long after this, we acquired a new pinky-grey bathroom carpet and also new pink and grey towels to replace very tired old red ones. Until then we had been using the bathroom scales as a door stop – that door will slam very hard if the wind gets up when the window is open. So now I decided that we would need another door cat.

When we got the new carpet we did not change the basic colour scheme as we didn’t want the hassle of changing the suite (vintage Pampas) or the tiles. The colour scheme is essentially derived from the tiles, which are pink and grey with some crimson detailing. Originally we had a red-ish carpet and red and dark grey towels, but when I bought those towels I could not get a bath mat to match, so I made one by stitching two red hand towels back to back.

Bathroom Tile

As the new carpet shed fibres quite a lot to begin with I thought of making the new door cat out of that fibre, but after a little more thought I realised that that would not be a good idea. We would keep falling over a camouflaged cat in the gloom of a late night visit!

So I thought I might find another felted sleeve, but couldn’t come up with something the right colour. Then, because we still had touches of red in the room, I decided that I would deconstruct the old red bath mat and use one of the pieces for the cat’s body. I had already given away the rest of the old towels to my friend for her dogs.

I felt that a “loaf cat” pose would be best, less likely to tip over if the wind caught the door, but I’d need too much lead sheet to make it a suitable weight. So I visited the garden and found a triangular(ish) shaped piece of rock, washed it and wrapped it in a couple of layers of non-woven cotton towels, secured with masking (painter’s) tape. I made myself a paper pattern of the body and cut out two body sides and a gusset for the base and chest. I cut out the pattern pieces from the towel and stitched it all up (first inserting the wrapped rock and stuffing it with polyester stuffing.

I had seen a cartoon of a smiling cat, which had enormous ears, which looked really cheeky. I thought I’d have a go at making one like that. I started with the core fibre again and got the head substantially how I’d like it and then thought about fibres for the coating.

Head ready to be covered in “Top Coat” (for some reason enlarged umpteen sizes)

I did not have exactly the right red, so had to blend a couple of pieces of pre-dyed merino tops which seemed to work ok. I did the same to make a pinky-grey blend for the chest, face and inside of the ears. I had decided that I would make the cat’s chest a similar colour to the carpet which meant that I had to make a wet felted sheet of the pinky-grey batt to cover the original red towelling. I cut the felt into the shape of the chest gusset, leaving enough for a pair of large ears.

I needled some of the red onto the back of the ears, and this resulted in a darker pink on the inside where the needles had pushed fibres right through, which was actually a benefit I think. I needled the blended red on to the back of the cat’s head and neck, and the pinky-grey onto the face, attached the ears and gave him a darker pink nose. I “shadowed” the smile and blinking eyes and I also gave him some laughter lines.

Nearly finished head, along with my felting cushion and a trapped needle holder

Then I stitched the head onto the neck, and the chest piece over his front, catching in the head at the neck.  I covered the join with more needled fibres and, using another piece of towel, attached a handle to the back of his neck so that he could be moved without his head coming off.

Loving Blinks from the new Door Ward

My husband has already named him Yoda.  We each confessed the other day that we both chat to him (in fact I pick him up and cuddle him too – he just fits into one arm)

What about the poor tatty sheep at the beginning of this post? Well, many years ago now, when I was a fairly new needle felter, I decided that I’d like to make myself a door stop for my bedroom door. I had acquired from our Guild a Jacob fleece, which, as it turned out, was ideal for needle felting. It certainly wasn’t a lot of good for wet felting – it wouldn’t, whatever I did to it. I suppose I must have had an old ram’s coarse and kempy fleece palmed off on me, when I was too naïve to know what I was getting – no wonder it was cheap!

Anyway, I got a body shaped pebble out of the garden, and washed it, wrapped it in some of the un- wetfelted fleece and started in with a No.36 felting needle (I only had 36 triangle and 38 star needles in those days- oh and a No.19 which was so thick it wouldn’t really go through anything I had with any ease). I bust quite a few needles before the pebble was covered. I added a neck to one end and then decided that my sheep would need eyes and a pair of horns. At that time I did not know that Jacob sheep often have 4 horns and wear them as if they had put them on in a hurry in the morning whilst still half asleep!

I made the horns and eyeballs using pipe cleaners and white Fimo polymer clay, baked and painted with acrylic paints. At that stage in my career I had not thought of using PVA glue on needled fleece to make horns. I needled a head shape around the horns and eyes, and then attached it to the neck. It did not occur to me to strengthen the neck with the ends of the pipe cleaners, I had cut these short and just put the horns on either end, and did the same with the eyes.

Well it all worked and for years he sat by my door, getting moved when necessary with my foot.  Now he’s a sad old thing, but being sentimental I can’t bear to get rid of him, even though he’s lost a horn and is definitely the worse for wear.  Perhaps I’ll give him a “makeover” sometime.

Poor Old Jacob, grown old and infirm in service

 

 

Deconstructing/Reconstructing

Deconstructing/Reconstructing

With the first quarter challenge being all about making samples by deconstructing/reconstructing different materials I had intended to spend a day doing precisely that and detail them in this post. Like a lot of well intentioned plans time slipped away and I’m sitting here with no new samples and a post to write!

For the sake of getting this post out on time I’m going to have to cheat and show some of the deconstruct/reconstruct work I’ve made in the past.

This sample was my first attempt at Nuno Felting, made with synthetic sheers and some cotton fabrics. I remember thinking at the time “never again” as the process seemed to take forever! Obviously I did do it again and soon learnt which fabrics I prefer to work with. This sample eventually got cut up and used for brooches. Thanks to Helene and her post, which you can find here, for reminding me about these.

My second sample had silk fabrics top and bottom, cut from charity shop scarves, with a piece of my aunties wool shawl in the centre. As you would expect, being somewhat bulky, the wool section shrunk far less than the silks but all three pieces felted very quickly and easily so I was encouraged to go on and make lots more Nuno felt.

It hung around for quite some time before I decided to cut it down, add some stitching and put it in a frame. It’s now a lovely reminder of aunty Das who has since passed away.

Off cuts of prefelt, or deconstructed fully felted pieces, never get thrown away as they are always useful for cutting up and using as inclusions beneath fabric when Nuno felting.

This little fossil sample was a trial using Merino fibres and cotton wadding left over from a quilting project. The wadding felts very easily and is useful for creating ”lumpy” relief designs.

One of the great things about making felt is that, even if it doesn’t work out how you wanted, it needn’t be wasted. This mossy pebble necklace is an example of that. I had intended it to be asymmetrical but when it was finished it wasn’t asymmetrical enough. There’s a fine line between something looking intentionally asymmetrical and looking like you tried to make it symmetrical and failed! This looked the latter….. just plain wonky!

Thinking I would work on it at some point I left it on display next to a grey Bergschaf bowl……… and months later had a light bulb moment! The necklace was deconstructed and recycled to create the large surface “bumps” on this bowl.

Another deconstruct project was this triangular scarf. I loved the combination of the Superfine Merino and Viscose Fibre but wasn’t particularly happy with the design of the scarf. Several months later, after never being worn, it got cut up, pleated, beaded and recycled to create this chunky, highly textural bracelet.

My final samples were inspired by a photograph I took of barnacles. I can’t remember now what they were attached to but I saw them in the harbour in Ullapool and just loved the shapes and colours.

The hand dyed cotton fabric, left over from an old project, was given to me by a friend. The barnacles are constructed from several pieces sewn together on the machine and stiffened using acrylic wax. The next step will be to sample materials and techniques to create the very textural background.

If you have any deconstruct/reconstruct projects you would like to share, big or small, we would love to see them over on the Forum.

Fingerless Mitts or maybe they are Gauntlets or Wrist warmers

Fingerless Mitts or maybe they are Gauntlets or Wrist warmers

I am super busy getting ready for our last farmers market of the year. We sold so many meat pies I will be frantically trying to make as many as possible for this Saturday. I thought you might like this fingerless mitts post I did a few years ago.

 

I decided I want to sell some fingerless mitts this fall. Or maybe they are gauntlets or wrist warmers? Does anyone know what the difference is?

First I have to make a pair of resists. I traced my arm from knuckles to almost my elbow.  then measured around my arm to see how much I had to add for depth. then I figured on 30% shrinkage.

fingerless mitt resist

Naturally, I picked purple wool. I used about 60 grams for the pair. mostly because that is what was in the ball of wool I grabbed.

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fingerless mitts ready to felt

Here they are finished

fingerless mitt finnished

They turned out fine and they fit me and my much thinner daughter so sizing is good.  I may add some stitching and beading.  I think they are a little heavy or thick. I was going to put a thumb hole in but I think it would be uncomfortable with the thickness. Next time I think I will use 40 grams of wool and see how that goes.  I may try making the part over the hand pointed too. I think it would look nice.

 

More Samples with Interesting Results

More Samples with Interesting Results

We’ve been talking on the forum about how important it is to make samples, especially when using new fibers or unknown fabrics.  It’s better to take a little time to make a sample, than to waste a lot of time and fiber.

I still had one fiber from WOW I hadn’t tried.  It was actually a Jacob batt.  The batt was very uneven so I used two layers and still ended it up with a couple of sparse spots.  I only felted the samples to the prefelt stage so I could use them in another project.  The end result of the Jacob was it was very loose and spongy.  I’m tempted to full it to see what happens.  It is very similar to the Black Welsh I featured in a previous post.

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I recently did an experiment with one of Fiona Duthie’s 15 minute projects called Mountains.  It’s lost it’s bowl shape a little, but I really liked the curliness of the base, but couldn’t remember what fiber I used.

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I have been trying to use more of the coarse fibers I have.  But I have been terrible about remembering to write down what I’ve used.  I thought Icelandic was harder to felt.  It has a very long staple, dyes well, and whenever I use it in has to be shaved when finished. So, I decided to make a prefelt of this as well.

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What I discovered is it is soft at this stage, but felted easily.

So, have I been badmouthing the wrong fiber? I have a fair amount of Cheviot so I figured I would experiment with that as well.  The Cheviot had a shorter staple but the resulting prefelt was soft and a little lighter in color than the Icelandic which I thought was a lighter color. Hmmm.

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When I went with Cathy to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, I purchased some Navajo Churro which I have never used.  It had a short staple and was coarse to the touch and filled with little knots.  The resulting prefelt was very hairy and much flatter than the others.  It reminded me of Gotland I had made a sample of a while back, but while they look similar, the Gotland was very smooth to the touch. It also had been fulled, so that may make a difference.  The Churro was very hairy.  I have some white Churro I will try dyeing later on.

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Last but not least, I made a Romney prefelt and found my curly fiber.  (its more noticable at the sparser edges. It is rougher to the touch but I like the cobweb wavy type look.  It also has a long staple.

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I had done similar samples using habatoi silk, mulberry silk fiber and yarns on each of them a while back, fulled, dyed and then stitched them together. Here is the Four Day Dye Experiment http://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2014/06/15/four-unintentional-days-of-dyeing/

These samples were fully felted and it is hard to tell the difference except to rub my hands over them. The Icelandic and Domestic 56 are coarser to the touch than the Cheviot and the Romney.  Different than at the prefelt stage.  I think in the future I may take a smaller sample to full and compare obviously they are different.

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Now as a preview to some more future sampling on a pile of fabric samples to test.

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What is your experience with sampling?

 

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival 2015

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival 2015

Last year Cathy (Luvswool) and I attended the Midwest Fiber Fair and were disappointed there were no live sheep.  So, this year we decided to attend the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival in Jefferson, WI.  Since we weren’t sure how big the Festival was and it was a two hour drive one way, we booked rooms for that Saturday night.

They had an extensive schedule of events and classes.  Since we were interested in the Stock and Whistle Dog Trials, that’s where we headed first.  We were under the impression they had started at 7 a.m. and we arrived around noon.  We waited for almost an hour on a cold bleacher with the wind blowing like mad while they had meeting and set up the field (obviously they didn’t start early.)  Fortunately, a gentleman with a headset and speaker was walking around answering questions and keeping up apprised of the activity.  The first up were the more experienced trainers and dogs.  It was hard to get good pictures because of the distance and the fence. The event itself lasted less than 10 minutes.  Still unsure of what we were seeing, we listened to others around us say the trial went well.

 

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Cold and hungry we headed for the food stands.  After a quick lunch we perused an auction and saw a bit of the Make it with Wool competition and saw the Wonderful Wisconsin Quilts and Wall Hangings Exhibit.

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There were two long buildings packed with over 130 vendors.  However, it was fairly crowded and dark so we didn’t take a lot of pictures.  Most everything was fiber, tools, and some finished goods.  We ran across this display and thought of Zed who has been thinking about fiber packs.  We thought this was an interesting way to market a variety of mixed fibers.

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We even found a a copy of Ruth’s book on a display shelf.

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There were contests and displays of all sorts and dozens of classes.  We visited the class building but weren’t able to access it.  They also had a Walk and Knit Relay challenge, and a Kids Fiber Camp in addition to judging for youth activities and sheep.

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We had to visit the Lambing Barn, but passed on the Carcass competition. Here are the lambs born that morning.20150912_132256

There was also a Hall of Breeds, a couple of breeds we hadn’t heard of.  But we did get to see many breeds we were familiar with. Although there was an Icelandic sheep there, a vendor told us she had just been to Iceland and our sheep look nothing like the real ones. Huh.

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The shearing demonstration was next. The gentleman doing the shearing gave us an explanation as to why the moccasin shoes he was wearing were important to the shearing process.  Having his feet close to the ground and animal,  he could easily feel the slightest movement of the sheep between his legs to make adjustments as he sheared.  He has been shearing for 38 years and does this all over the world. When asked how long it takes to shear one sheep, he answered in averages depending on the type of sheep, size and location.  Evidently, shearing in New Zealand is quick.  Sorry about the angle of the pictures we didn’t know when we sat down what view we’d have.

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Really the whole Festival was indeed about sheep.  There were even classes for sheepherders.  By the time we got around the whole fair, we had to make one more run through the vendor buildings.  We couldn’t go home empty handed.

Cathy bought a handmade broom, black silk tussah, camel/silk roving, white Navajo churro, linen embroidery threads, hand-dyed silk thread,  and an eco-dyeing book.

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I bought grey and white Navajo churro, black corriedale and black silk tussah.

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We were glad we had rooms for the night.  We had dinner in Whitewater and returned home in the morning satisfied we had seen plenty of sheep.

 

 

Twist Fibre Festival

Twist Fibre Festival

Last time I showed you my booth with my 2 friends. This time I will show you some of the other things that were at Twist.  Some of the things you may not see at most fiber festivals.

The national judging for the Canadian Cashmere Producers Association was at the Twist Festival this year. The fleeces were beautiful. http://www.cashmerecanada.ca/

cashmire winners

cashmire winners 2 cashmire winners 3

This is Sayward Johston, she weaves and knits in wire. http://saywardjohnson.ca/

sayward twist 2 sayward twist

These are some baskets by Janet Whittam. She is a great textile weaver too. http://www.handweaving.ca/

Janet Whitem baskets

This is an interactive booth. They are doing finger weaving. In this case it is called Ceinture flechee.  A sash used by the Quebec Voyageurs in the 19th century to tie jackets around their waist to prevent the cold from creeping in. ceinture flechee

 

center fleshe 2 center fleshe 3 center fleshe

There was and art project going on outside the event. They were making an installation of sheep decorated with bailer twine. People were helping add the bailer twine.

sheep art project

And just in case your feet were giving out before your shopping was done, there was a place to get them massaged so you could continue on.

foot massage

It was a fun and busy show. I didn’t have a lot of time to look around but there was a lot of fiber in all forms and tools for everyone from beginner to expert.

More Cup Cozies

More Cup Cozies

This week I made more cup cozies. I made 2 sets of flat ones that will have buttons. I started out with a rectangle. I decorated them in a random way. I then cut them into 4 at the prefelt stage. The purple has some orange blobs of orange throwers waist. It should show up again when they are dry. The green has some of my hand spun single yarn. It is quite stable until you wet it then it get its twist back and goes all crazy.

purple cup cozies green cup cozies

I finish them on a glass wash board. It is very fast.

roling on washboard

These are the rest of the ones I made. They will get buttons. Some will fit a coffee mug and some will fit travel mugs or water bottles.

fan of cup cozies

Here are some of my buttons I will be picking through for these. I have many more if I need them. I will use a thin round black elastic loop to close them. That way I think people may be able to adjust them by looping them once or twice as needed.

buttons

I also made some that are like the cardboard sleeves you get at take out places.

tube cup cozie black with white silk white with black silk

The multicoloured one was made using a batt and prefelt triangles I cut out of some scraps. The black one is regular merino top with a white silk hanky stretched over it. The white one is made with prefelt and a black silk hanky stretched around it.  The white one shrank much more top to bottom then the other two. I didn’t look carefully at the piece I had before using it. Prefelt is directional. If I had looked I would have used it in the other direction.

rolling tube cup cozieI use the washboard to finish them as well.

This is the group drying. I really like the way the back and white ones look like marble.

finished tube cozies.

If you made it this far here are two unrelated pictures. One is my grandson helping me with my ice cream cone at the farmers market on Sunday.

icecream

And the turkeys I showed you  a few weeks ago. The first one is when they are 1 week old. They are now 4 .5 weeks old. They grow very fast. They will be moving to new quarters this week.

turkeysturkeys

 

That Doesn’t Look Like My Old Jeans

That Doesn’t Look Like My Old Jeans

A while back I made a note to myself to make paper from and old pair of jeans.  I wanted to play with some fiber in a different way from felting.

The first thing I did was to cut the fabric into small 3/4″ squares, discarding the seams.  Then I dragged out my old papermaking equipment which includes an ancient blender.

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Using warm water I filled the bender half way, then added a pinch of the squares and ran the blender for 30 seconds or so until the water turned blue.  This was a long process since I couldn’t overload the blender.

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The resulting pulp was strained.  When I had about a quart (1.14 liters) of pulp, I gave the blender a rest.

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The set up for making the paper included a big container of water, a mould, deckle, pellon and blanket sheets. The deckle in black, the screen covered mould on the left.

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Using a handful of pulp, I added it to the water and agitated it. With deckle on top of the mould, I submerged the pair into the water at a 45 degree angle and came out with a pulp filled sheet.  Without going into all the nitty gritty of all the papermaking steps and terms, I couched (pressed) the paper onto a wet pellon sheet and repeated the steps until I had used up all the pulp and had a pile of sheets.

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The next step was to press the paper in my homemade paper press.

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After letting it sit awhile, I gently placed the paper on a white board and used a haki brush to place it on the board to dry.

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Since the blender was old, the fiber didn’t get chopped very fine, but it made an interesting texture and look with the various long fibers running through the paper.

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Like an old pair of well worn jeans, the paper is soft. One side is smooth where the paper dried on the whiteboard, the other is textured.

I could run it through the process again, but I think I’ll try to felt with it before I do.  What would you do with denim paper?

Second Quarter Challenge

Second Quarter Challenge

This quarters challenge is using a photo to generate a colour palette to work with.  Often you have a photo that has colours that are really appealing but its not easy to pick out all the colours. There are some great palette generators on line. They can help you find all the colours in a picture.

Some generators only give you a few colours some give you a complete palette. I used my Easter soap picture to try them out. Some had a hard time with the yellow and the deep pink but generated nice palettes.

These first 2 are advertised to generate palettes from photos. The first is http://www.degraeve.com/color-palette/ It gives you 2 palettes from the picture but only 5 colours each. It gave me red for the pink and completely ignored the yellow.

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The second one I liked was http://www.palettefx.com/ It gives you a better range of colours and the colours were more accurate to the picture. The nice thing is  that if you click on any colour in the palette it gives you the compliment and the triad.

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I thought some people might like to break their pictures into colour and pattern to make a felt picture.  I tried a couple of cross stitch pattern generators.

This one http://www.pic2pat.com/index.en.html generates 19 possible cross stich patterns each one uses a different number of colours. It will generate a palette and pattern if you click on them.

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Than I tried this one http://stitchboard.com/pages/pattern/freePatternWizard.php It will make a beading, crochet, cross stich or knitting pattern. It has lots of options and if you join( it says it is free) you have even more options. I did it as a cross stitch pattern.

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I couldn’t find any for other kinds of stitching so I googled quilt pattern generator and found the Victoria and Albert museum. http://www.vam.ac.uk/microsites/quilts/patchwork  It creates a much more abstract picture. You can up load your own picture or you can use pictures from the museum. The thing I didn’t like is the colours are not  bright. The yellow is mustard and not sun yellow. 

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I hope that you find these useful and inspirational when you try this quarters challenge of using a picture to pick your palette for making a felt piece. Remember you don’t have to use all the colours in any palette and you could split it and use some in the felt and some in stitching or beading you add after the felting. Please show us what you do here: http://feltandfiberstudio.proboards.com/thread/2196/second-quarter-challenge-2015

 

This and That…

This and That…

I had been traveling during the holidays and on the return home I had to start working on baby shower favors for the shower I’m throwing in California for my daughter in law later this month.  It’s an exciting time, but also stressful with additional travels for graduations and birthdays coming up.

One of the first things I did when I returned was to go to The Fold to stock up on fiber.  I needed primary colors to work on the color wheel for our first quarter challenge.

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I also bought some Yak and ramie.

I’m not a pink person, but my first granddaughter will be born soon so I stocked up.  I’ve been making booties for party favors, but I don’t think I bought enough roving.  Thank you to forum member (Tina) Cherry for providing me with the template.

While we were in Hawaii my husband Craig and I  had the opportunity to meet Tina Cherry and her husband for lunch at Duke’s On The Beach.  Thanks for lunch Tina and Stan!  We had a great visit.

 

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Samples made.

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I wanted one side to be lighter than the other so I proceeded to make batts combining white and pink to lighten the color.

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I made 12 resists. Since I’m not sure how many people will attend the shower, I expect to make extras.  I used two layers. One light and one darker.

Process started.

 

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Here’s the third side done waiting to put the final layer on.

2015-01-25 16.32.01So far I’ve made 24 experimenting with different ways to speed up the process.  Since we are in the middle of a blizzard here in the Chicago area, I ordered more fiber from Paradise Fibers in Spokane.  I’m hoping it will arrive by Wednesday when I’m sure to be out.  And of course, I have to decide how to decorate and fill them.

Well, back to the resists for round two…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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