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Three Tall Trees

Three Tall Trees

Today we have a guest post by Karen from Lincs In Stitches.

Three Tall Trees

About eighteen months ago I discovered LINQS, a group of 5 ladies who had thrown down a challenge to anyone residing in Lincolnshire to create art quilts influenced, in any way at all, by the work of the great British artist David Hockney.  Joining this group proved to be a great move for me as I’ve made so many good friends, all with a common interest, and learnt such a lot from being in their company.

Researching Hockney’s work was an eye opener.  Before visiting the Hockney Gallery at Salts Mill the only paintings of his that I was familiar with were the “poolside” ones.  At the Hockney gallery in Saltaire, Lancashire I found myself drawn to his landscape paintings, in particular his depiction of trees.  Some of his work I really liked while other pieces I strongly disliked but the time spent researching his work led me to developing a fascination of my own for trees and woodlands, particularly tree skeletons stripped bare of their leaves in Winter.  Influenced by what I had seen I began photographing trees wherever I went and my Three Tall Trees 30” x 40” quilt is based on a photograph I took while out walking in the woods at Woodhall Spa.

woodhall spaOnce I had worked out my design on paper I set to preparing my fabric for colouring with Procian dye by soaking it in a solution of soda.  Unfortunately I think I must have used too much soda.  Although I covered it before ironing I still managed to burn the entire area of fabric above the tree tops!  My nice crisp, white sky was ruined and my heart sank at the thought of having to start all over again!  I set the fabric to one side, put the kettle on and broke out the cake……feeling happier now I decided, rather than start again, to cut out the woodland, back it with Vilene and make a huge piece of appliqué. Not only did I save myself time and fabric but this also turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it was so much easier to handle under the machine than the whole cloth would have been!

colouring the fabricLayers of organza and netting were used to create shading and depth for the forest and then the background trees were stitched by machine using various coloured threads.  I made a test piece first using free machine embroidery but it wasn’t giving the sharp edged look I wanted so I swapped to using the walking foot instead.

layers of organza and nettingThe textured woodland floor was created with painted muslin, organza and hand stitching.  Vilene has become one of my favourite materials to work with as it won’t fray and can be cut, painted and sewn so easily, I found it was ideal for making the foreground trees which I painted using Inktense blocks and then added some detail with Inktense crayons, blending the colour with water.  Once the the finer tree branches had all been hand sewn the three tall trees were tacked in position.

foreground treesThe final stage was to add a backing and then machine sew through all the layers to quilt the three trees in place.  I figured I didn’t have to do too much more quilting with the backing on as I had done plenty of sewing through the various layers as the piece had progressed.  As far as I was concerned  it was already  “quilted” but I made sure that it had enough quilting across the work to hold the back in place.  It’s now finished and will be going on tour nationally, with the rest of the LINQS “Inspired by Hockney” quilts, starting with the  Springfields Quilt Show in Spalding on June 3rd

finished quiltMany thanks to Karen for writing this post for us.

2nd Quarter Challenge Guest Post

2nd Quarter Challenge Guest Post

Today we have a Guest post by Leonor from Felt Buddies:

A few days ago, I decided to respond to this quarter’s challenge and make a colour palette out of a favourite picture of mine. I decided to go with one of my cat Squish.

I used Color Palette FX. If you are using an image of something real, you can almost make sure the colours will go well with each other in different ways and thus have a nice palette to work with.

Jungle SquishIn our daily lives we get so used to just looking at things with narrow focus – my cat is black, his eyes are yellow, plants are green, light is white. But if I take the time to actually notice things properly, I’ll see that there is depth to his black, with purples and blues showing, and his eyes have a beautiful green popping out. The plants are at least three tones of green and the reds and oranges just catch your eye. And look, the light is white, ecru, and yellow.

This is the result of the website’s narrowing of colours, still probably more than I’d notice with a naked eye.

Squish PaletteThe next step would be to choose the colours and the medium to work them. I went with a limited palette of the closest colours I had in my fibre stash. Below, starting on the bottom left: sari silk waste, natural white mohair, three batches of merino (purple, mint green and forest green), short silk fibres and dyed bamboo.

StashThen it was drum carder fun. I had to decide how to layer the fibres: most of the merino was placed first and then I added the other fibres, placing some in between the wool layers as well.

Drum Carder 1More fibre added. I just kept adding fibre until I ran out of merino (or the drum was full, whichever came first. It was the former.)

Drum Carder 2The bottom of the batt…

Bottom of Batt…and here the top of the batt is in all its glory. I really like how it turned out.

Long FibreThe finished item. That top left pile is fibre I took out of the drum carder when I was done.

Rolled Up Fibre 1bMy next step is to spin this, but as always, I still fear my spinning knowledge won’t do it justice, so I suspect it might stay in my stash for a while. Here’s hoping for some (near) future courage…

Rolled Up Fibre 2How about you, what are your plans for this quarterly challenge?

Wool Experiment

Wool Experiment

Our Guest Artist/Writer is Leonor Calaca from Felt Buddies

A while back, I saw a blog post written by Marilyn, aka Pandagirl, about how some fibres merged (felted) together by using the wet felting process. You can read that post by clicking here.

Being someone who knows only about needle felting (and believes to have much, much more to learn), and who had never before tried some of the fibres mentioned, I was very curious as to how they would perform under the barbed needle. I asked Marilyn about it, and she was generous enough to send me some samples to try myself.

There were nine samples to try, and some of them were fibre blends. I decided to go about this by analysing each sample by touch and sight, then taking a small portion out and needle felting a little ball; a round form would allow me to see whether the fibres would take a 3D format well, and easily (or not).

samples together

I also used The Field Guide to Fleece book, by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius, to help me understand a little more about each fibre. This book referred to some fibres being curly (having ‘crimp’), but all my samples were straight, which has to do with the way they were commercially processed (this is the reason so many of our fibres shrink when wet felted).


This sample was a dream to touch and smell! It is so soft and the colour is absolutely lovely, too. The Yak needle felted very easily, and the resulting ball was springy and so very soft. This might be my new favourite fibre!

This sample arrived slightly felted in its bag, which tells me Gotland might be one of those fibres that need careful storage and not too much friction or weight on it. It is a soft, shiny fibre.  My ball was a little fuzzy, with a slightly scratchy finish. It smelt wonderfully sheepy!

Navajo Churro
This sample was also a new-to-me fibre, and I was very curious to see how it would behave. It is much coarser than what I’m used to (merino being my main source), but I find coarse fibres to be much nicer for needle felting.
My first thought when looking at this fibre was that it would make great mock bird nests, it mimics the materials and branches really well!  Navajo Churro needle felted really easily, as expected, and I got a fuzzy ball as a result of the coarse nature of the fibres.

Organic Polwarth/Silk
This is a very shiny and, obviously, silky blend. I’d say it’s a 50/50 blend. I’ve yet to work with Polwarth wool alone but this blend made both a very nice combo to the touch.  It felted easily, although it took a little for me to get that ball shape, which I suspect is the silk’s doing, being the slippery fibre that it is.

Although Merino is possibly one of the most used fibres in felting, and well known for its softness, this blend isn’t as soft as I’d expect, nor as soft as the Polwarth/silk blend I mentioned above. It is, however, very shiny due to the silk content.
Again, due to its long staple length, it’s harder to make a circular shape. The shine ended up a bit muted because the fibres are randomly pulled together when needle felting – I’d say one would keep the shine best with the wet felting technique.  As you can see, the colours came out rather muted due to this type of blending.

A very soft and shiny blend, possibly a 50/50, it took a bit to felt and the shine was a bit lost with this technique.




Blue-Faced Leicester
If you like spinning, chances are, you love BFL. This is a very lofty fibre, although this particular sample wasn’t as soft as alpaca or merino. It needle felted very easily and retained its shine very well.


POY Corriedale

This blend has a long staple, is very soft and has a lovely sheepy smell. It needle felted very easily and I was able to make a ball very quickly, despite the staple length.
Although it’s a curly fibre, this sample was straight. It’s got a lovely lustre, and is softer than Gotland (which is, incidentally, something my reference book disagrees on). This was, by far, the fibre with the longest staple length I’d ever tried!  The Teeswater doesn’t felt very easily and it took me a while to get it into a ball. Also, because it’s a long staple, it was harder to get a smooth finish on the size I did it in.

Another curly fibre that was processed to be straight . It’s a longish staple, very soft (but less so than Yak)  Although it felted, it resisted my needle a bit. Some strands wouldn’t blend in with the rest.





So there you have it, my little experiment. Feel free to ask any questions you might have, and tell me all about your own experiences with different fibres!

Thanks Leonor for this informative experiment with needle felting!

Cathy’s Nuno Felt Projects

Cathy’s Nuno Felt Projects

We have a guest post today from Cathy (Luvswool on the forum) about Nuno Felting.



Following are my three attempts at nuno felting, none of which has been very successful.  I am posting here, hoping to get some recommendations.  Any advice offered will be welcome.  While I understand it’s difficult to compare processes–you will not know exactly what kind of wool I used, what temperature the water was, the quality of my silk–still I hope the photos will help explain.

After having watched numerous videos and studying books on nuno felting, I purchased some silk scarves (silk gauze) from an Etsy shop.  These scarves were approximately 12 x 57 inches and particularly recommended by the shop owner for nuno felting.  I wanted to make a scarf that looked light and lacy with some silk showing, so I used wisps of Merino wool and some silk hanky pieces which I lightly placed on top of the peachy/orange silk scarf, just one layer. (Sorry, no “before” photos)

photo 1bphoto 2After following the nuno felt instructions carefully, I ended up with some of the pieces felted and some not, as you can see from above photos.  Not a good start.  Figured it could be the silk quality or the water temperature?  Not enough wool?  I set the project aside.

Project #2 – I had some silk scraps from vintage Japanese kimonos, and thought I should do some samples before attempting another “real” project.  So I used white and red Merino wool on top of silk, lightly nuno felted to make “pre felts”.  Silk scraps literally peeled away when I lifted the corners to check on my progress.

photo 3photo 4Project #3 – I purchased a remnant of beige silk chiffon from a nearby shop, Vogue Fabrics, which has an amazing selection of fabric, including lots of gorgeous silks.  Huge remnant section so I did not need to break the bank.  Clerk did a “burn test’ so I was assured to be purchasing silk, not synthetic fabric.

photo 5I used three layers of wool, not being sure this was actually Merino, since I bought this on ebay and the seller was unsure what type of sheep’s wool.  It felt a bit rougher than the soft Merino I usually use, but nothing to lose, right?  Although I did not photograph my first go-around, there were approximately 20 “holes,” that is, I could see the beige chiffon through the wool (nickel to quarter size holes), and it did not look good. Underside after nuno felting:

photo 7Next I needle-felted the same wool, along with some light green Merino wool, onto the holes.

photo 8Then I wet-felted the entire piece. After rolling, I rinsed in hot and cold water, fulling (throwing in sink), vinegar dip & cold water rinse.

photo 9Now it looks better, but I still do not consider it to be a successful nuno felt project.

photo 10bProject #4 — Here is my piece of light green silk gauze (as purchased from Etsy shop mentioned in Project #1) ready to be nuno felted.  Awaiting your suggestions and comments!

photo 11

Expanding the Felting and Fibre Community

Expanding the Felting and Fibre Community

Most of our readers will probably know that apart from the four of us who do this blog, there are a lot of regular commenters who contribute too. We also have lots of regulars over at the forum and we know from the stats that we get an average of 160 ‘unique’ visitors to the site every day. We’d like to give anyone who’s interested the opportunity to get more involved.

You probably know that we’ve already had a few guest artists and writers. And we want to expand that. We want to do more ‘Meet the Artists’ but we’d also like to meet the suppliers who make all this possible: the people who provide us with our fabrics or wool, fleeces and animal fibres; the people who dye the wool, threads, yarns and fibres we love to use; those who sell haberdashery supplies or jewellery findings…anything we use in the production of our felt, fibre and mixed media artworks.

We’d really like to feature more guest writers. The posts we’ve had before were really popular. So, if you have something you’d like to write about that you think our readers would be interested in…a visit to a fibre fair or maybe a farm; your experience of selling at a craft fair or market; a project you’re working on; a tutorial you’ve written or maybe you just want to tell us about your craft, we’d love for you to get involved. It doesn’t have to be a unique article, it could be one you’ve written for your blog. And it doesn’t have to be new, we’re always interested in reading about felt and fibrey things and we may have missed it. You don’t have to have your own blog either or have written something before, and it doesn’t have to be a certain length.

B and J FabricsSo, if you’re interested, let us know. Leave us a comment in reply to this post and we can email you back, or PM one of us on the forum. If you have something you want to promote or feature for a specific date, like a craft or fibre fair, try to let us know in good time so we can schedule it. Thanks 🙂  Oh, and if anyone missed the post about it on Facebook, the last day of every month is a  kind of Promote your Product day, detailed here.

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