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Rare Earth Magnet on sale! Just add wool for more fun!!

Rare Earth Magnet on sale! Just add wool for more fun!!

A couple of weeks ago the latest princess auto flyer booklet arrived. It is always fun to look through and see what is on sale! Princess Auto is an interesting store that has a vast variety of things, hunting, camping, farm supplies, a bit of blacksmithing, welding, tool boxes, electric bikes, and lots of stuff I am not sure what it’s for but it looks interesting. I sat down to see what exciting things might be included this time. There may be more Bee Decapping combs (which make very cheap emergency wool combs! However, I have a couple of sets so maybe I don’t need to get another pair?) Aha! There is a metal bench on sale, circle that! Is there anything else? YES!! Magnets! (This is the link, they will go back on sale again sometime) https://www.princessauto.com/en/48-pc-rare-earth-magnet-and-dispenser-set/product/PA0008996993 ) 1) 48-piece Rare Earth Magnet and Dispenser Set

Glenn had a couple of things circled in the flyer too so stopped in after work the first day of the sale. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with them but I knew it would be fun and I bet there will be wool involved. These are very strong yet very tiny magnets.

 2) Tiny, tiny Enthusiastic Magnets sticking to a felting needle to show you how tiny they are

I had a question a few weeks ago about making a sheep head, if I make a tiny sheep’s head I bet I can make a broach. Where did I put the wool with the tiny crimp I had purchased from Ginger at Farm Sol at the Wakefield Farmers Market? And more important, can I get more?

The mark 1 prototype I used unlabeled white wool roving, I am hoping it’s Corriedale but I’m not sure. It seemed less enthusiastic to felt than I usually find in Corriedale. So after more stabbing than I would have liked, I did get a basic head/nose shape.

3) This may not be the Corriedale you were looking for (spooky Jedi background music)

4) Eventually there was a head-like shape, sort of

Now that isn’t as sheepish as I would like. (This is why reference photos are really helpful) I know what’s missing,  I will need to add ears!!

5) Ears added to the slightly sheepish head

Now that is a bit better. Next to add the first magnet.

6) Magnet balancing precariously on superior aspect of sheep neck

The magnets were tiny and behaved in a slippery manner determined to fling themselves to their death on the floor!! Alas for the magnet, I used another previous Princess Auto Sales item to find them and pick them up!! (Without bending or crawling around on the floor under the computer desk, even better!!)((I am suggesting anyone doing Dry Needle felting should consider this marvellous invention to retrieve errant needles, and magnets from the horror of nether regions that the floor has become.))

7-8) Extending magnetic picker-upper of things mettle, with built-in light (it Is dark under the table)

The version that is brought in for sales with the light doesn’t seem to be on their website but here is the link for the lightless one. You can likely find something similar at any hardware store, this one says it will pick up 3lbs (that would be one big needle!!) https://www.princessauto.com/en/3-lb-magnetic-pickup-tool/product/PA0008716615

I wound up trying 3 ways of affixing the magnet into the back of the sheep head.

9-10) First I tried lightly felting a bit of wool, then attaching it to the back of the head. This was not totally successful since the magnet migrated lower than where I had been trying to hold it. I also found the needle was very attracted to the magnet when I tried to poke adjacent to it. Interesting.

This did let me find out that the magnet is strong and once embedded in the wool stuck to bulldog clips (some people call them binder clips) with enthusiasm and required gentle prying to get them to let go.

11) Sheep head sticking to bulldog clip

Next, I tried a divot in the superior aspect of the neck or back of the skull depending on your perspective. I placed the magnet in the dent and then added a backing that I had felted flat.

12) Magnet sitting in a bit of a divot and leaving the rest of the loose wool to work over the top of the magnet once it was in position.

13) The magnet was attracted again to the needle so this may not be quite the best solution

14) It was a bit more challenging to keep the magnet where I wanted it but the divot did help.

15) Success! But this took more time but kept the magnet location where I had wanted it.

(16) The third option is “this picture is unavailable” which was a combination of making a dent to seat the magnet and then making a felt backing for covering the magnet. I could have used a commercial felt but it’s so easy to just make a bit more of the wool you are using and you are sure it will match the head if you use the same wool.

17) Now let’s talk about ears.

It is time to use those C40-111’s again, Crown Needles!!! For the first two sheep heads, I attached white ears and then added the wisp of pinkishness to the attached ear. For the third prototype, I build a base layer of the white, then lay in wisps of pink to make the inner ear. Using the crown needle at an angle close to parallel allows the addition of colour to one side without affecting the other. The working depth of the crown needles is much shallower than regular needles. Once the ear was constructed I attached it to the head. This was a bit easier than adding the pink to the ear after it was attached.

18) Time to add the second Magnet and check it sticks through cloths. Yep!

This sheep is still rather naked and needs curls. Remember that trip I took to Wakefield a few posts ago? Well, we are about to find out what happened to those fabulous little locks.

19) The tiny crimpy locks from Ferme Sol Farm in Wakefield Quebec http://www.fermesol.ca/

The locks worked perfectly. The tight and tiny crimp was perfect for this scale of sheep. Her sheep are Icelandic/ Frisian/ Gotland/ Finn and Shetland crosses. These were really fabulous fibre blends.

20-21) Front and back view of the sheep broach with a second magnet to go inside your shirt. This is less damaging to fabric than a pin broach back would be.

22) Here is the sheep with both the curls and ear details added.

23) A bit of online shopping arrived and I have added the two new boxes to the tools I used for this project (you don’t need quite this many needles I actually only used 3needles, which were each different, to make the sheep)

I had ordered two more needle boxes, this time a T-38G-333 and T-42G-222.  The T is the shape Triangle, the first number is the gauge, the G is the tip or point specification, and there is another letter designating the barb specifications which I have ignored and the last digits are the number of barbs per side. So I will leave you with a shot of the new needle boxes (yes there are 500 needles in the new ones a bit less in the older boxes) and the other tools and pieces I used for this project.

Next week I have a choice of things to tell you about, Mr. and Mrs. Mer’s trip to the Carp fair (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) or the mini-workshop I gave on a card stock 7- strand kumihimo-like braid (Monday). There is also going to be another trip up to Wakefield this coming Saturday, to purchase more little locks and hopefully get some good pictures.  It has been a VERY busy four days in a row!! Now it is time to find the Robax-platinum and crawl back into bed for a day or so.

Have fun and keep felting (even if you are wearing gloves – you will hear about that when we chat about the Carp fair!)

GLORIOUS DEVON Part 3

GLORIOUS DEVON Part 3

Back in June last year, at the end of my 2nd post on this felt painting, having remixed the fibres for my palette and removed the fibres I had already needled into the far background of the picture, I redid that bit of work and left you with this picture of where I had got to then:

Starting work

I am pleased to say that I have made considerable progress since then and here I’ll take you along for the ride!

On my next visit to the Hideaway Workshop – my friend’s place where I tend to do most of my work on my pictures – I set to to blend fibres for the palette for the main part of the picture.

Blending Fibres for Palette

I worked on the picture for about 4 – 5 hours once a month, until I was able to take this photo of the results on 26th February 2022.

This was still work in progress and I carried on and in May I was able to take further pictures of details – Red Devon cattle in one of the far off fields; sheep moving on the hill in the middle distance; the beginnings of trees and shrubs in the near distance; and the river in the foot of the valley with woods behind.

Red Devon cattle in one of the far off fields
sheep moving on the hill in the middle distance
the beginnings of trees and shrubs in the near distance
the river in the foot of the valley with woods behind

By then I had done pretty much all I was going to do for the landscape until the final details just at the end, and I needed to get on with the horse.

Now, I was toying with a new idea about how to do this. For some time I have been considering experimenting with the type of scenery often seen in simple stage sets like our typical panto village scene with shops and other buildings. Almost all of which were flat with one side showing a village shop and the other some other building for a different scene. These would be set about the stage facing square on to the audience so that they could see only the side applicable to the current scene, with further buildings painted on the backdrop. Cast members would appear from behind these and various other scenery flats like rocks, or bushes. I don’t have any suitable photos that would illustrate this, but I do have a couple of photos of children’s toy paper theatres which also demonstrate what I mean.

Toy Paper Theatres

I thought I might be able to do something along these lines for the horse in my picture.  By affixing a fairly stiff piece of felt in the shape of the horse to the picture but leaving it’s head and the top of the body unattached and slightly proud.  I was hoping that this would give even more depth to the whole.

Knowing that if I was to needle felt a “flat-ish” horse to the required size, I would actually have to start off with a slightly bigger image – as the more it was needled, the more it would shrink and become out of scale.  So using my copier I enlarged the image of the horse by 10% and then made a tracing of the image.  As I did with the actual landscape picture, I then stitched the outlines of the horse through the tracing onto a piece of thick white felt.  This was a piece of the felt that I used for the background of the landscape, but folded into three.  I needled it and then wet felted it so that it was a solid piece of felt which would if necessary stand up on its own.

starting to stitch over the tracing
ready to colour in

I blended some fibres to make the palette I would use, having decided that the picture I had taken would be a guide to shape only and I’d have a slightly different coloured horse in my picture.

Horse palette

I had by this time removed all the guide stitches from the landscape picture, except the lower part of the Golden Mean lines to guide me where to place the horse when completed.

Here is the horse, substantially finished, about to be cut out of his background.

And here he is having been cut out. 

I have left the top part of the body with the original depth of the backing felt and have shaved down the backs of the legs, the belly and nose so that they will be more part of the picture as opposed to appearing to stand proud of it.  I have also added coloured fibres to the sides and the rear edges for the whole horse so that no white background will be visible when the horse is attached to the landscape.  The final shape of the legs and neck will be refined at that stage, and more grass added around the muzzle and hooves.  I have left the tail and the forelock un-needled to emulate a slight breeze blowing some hairs around. I have also attached some linen threads to the back which I will use to secure the body to the picture. If I don’t do this it is possible that the horse might fall off the picture if he’s only attached by his hooves and his muzzle.

back view

And this is where I have come to a (“shuddering”) halt.

I was hoping that this would be the last post in this series; that I would have finished my picture of the horse on the Devon hillside. However the recent very hot (to us) weather we have been experiencing here in the UK has meant that I’ve had to stop work. So I was getting very behind. In addition, I seem to have acquired an RSI (repetitive strain injury) to the shoulder of my dominant right arm – to be exact “rotator cuff related shoulder pain”. Although I don’t think it was as a result solely of needle felting, I suspect that the action of frequently stabbing fibres for several hours at a time may have contributed to it. It certainly hasn’t helped it. Whatever, it has resulted in my having to put aside my needle felting for the moment. I will post again as soon as I can get back to work and finish this, which has fast become a labour of love. In the meantime this where I have got to.

Back into the Project bag
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

 

 

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!!

Santa Claus is Coming to Town!!

Well it’s definitely that time of  the year, when are lot of us are all getting into the holiday spirit.   I’ve been making some needle felted gnomes and Santas, which have proved quite popular.  As I was making five Santas for my cousin Debbie, I thought I would share them with you.  Alex and I got into the Christmas spirit last year with Alex’s wet-felted Santa stocking so we thought it would be good to keep up the Santa tradition!

 

They are quite easy to make, but a word of warning….  KEEP THEM AWAY FROM CATS!!!!!!!!!!!!  To say I’ve had a few disasters would be an understatement.  Twice Elliot has managed somehow to get his paws on them and he managed to completely destroy one Santa and had me running around trying to catch the marauding feline, as he darted under the sofas, tables and anything else he could see in a bid to keep hold of his spoils.  To see him speeding through the house with a gnome in his jaws, looking like he’d caught the prize mouse was quite a sight.  I wouldn’t mind so much if I hadn’t already provided him with a range of felted mice to keep him entertained in the hopes he would leave my felting projects alone!! But unfortunately, one poor Santa has been completely stripped bare of his beautiful red coat and his beard, not to mention the state on the rest of him!  I still can’t believe this Ninja cat managed to get his paws on them, considering they were in a sealed bag, up on top of the highest of my stacked felt supply plastic boxes, literally 9″ from my ceiling!!  At this rate, I’m going to have to put them in a padlocked box!

I just had to share this….

RIP Santa!

And here is the culprit…..

You may recognise his mug shot from his last felting crime!

 

Anyway, back to the main topic for discussion, the needle felted Santa!  I used some off-white core wool to make the body.  It’s very narrow as you can see, so I had to roll it very tightly to make the body,  For the life of me I can’t remember what wool it is I’m sorry, other that to remember it was a batch of core wool I bought last year.  But it works really well for this kind of project, and it felts quite nicely into quite a firm ‘body’.

  Core Wool

Santa’s body

I made the body about 5 1/2″ long – but you can make them as big or small as you like.  I don’t tend to weigh the wool as I just ‘go with the flow’ but I would suggest that if you have to make a batch that are all the same size, you would need to be more precise with the quantities you use.   I like to firm up the underneath/bottom of the body, so that he will stand up on his own.  We can’t have Santa looking like he’s had one to many Sherries can we!!

Once I have the body made, I start on the hat.  I like to be quite ‘freehand’ with the hats as well as the coats!  Again I haven’t weighed anything, I just like to guess my way through the process.  I find that because I have such a busy life, it’s nice sometimes not to worry about being precise about things (as you can see!)  The great  thing I have found about needle felting, is that it is easy to add extra wool when you haven’t put enough or when you find a thin spot!

 

I literally just lay out a piece of wool batt roughly the size to fit around his head!  Then I get started felting!

I like to use a multi tool, as it felts quite quickly.

Then I start to wrap the wool around Santa’s head..

As you can see, there is a little white poking through, but this didn’t matter as I was able to fold the wool down over that part of his head, to make the tip of the hat.  I continued needle felting it into a rough shape that resembles a lop-sided bobble hat.

Here I’m starting to felt the tip of the hat into shape…

Once I’m happy with the shape of the hat, I felt it so the tip drapes down the side of the hat.  That way, I can attach a nice bobble on the bottom, using a small ball of the core wool again.  (I forgot to take a photo of me doing this bit!)

                     

The next step is to give him a nose.  I use the same process as for the bobble, using skin coloured wool batt, and folding it tightly upon itself, to form a tubular ball.  I needle felt it until it holds its shape, before attaching it to Santa.

It’s quite a large nose!

To attach it, I like to poke through where the nostrils would be – that way, you can get it securely attached and create nostrils at the same time!

The last step is to make his cloak.  Like the hat, I was very laid back about the whole process, so didn’t weigh the wool and guesstimated the amount I’d need (not helpful I know but sometimes it’s so nice just to play with the wool and let it find its course!)

 

 

  Apologies for the blurry image!

As you can see, I felt away until I have a rough size that will wrap around Santa’s body.

The next step is to firm up the bottom of the cloak, wrap it around Santa and start giving his cloak a fur trim (enter the core wool again, which is great for this!)….

         

As you can see, I start the fur trim before I wrap the cloak fully around him – it’s easier to tuck in the loose ends of wool that way.

  I work the trim all the way around the cloak, and finally add trim around his hat.  It’s important not to ‘over-felt’ the trim, because you want it to look like fur rather than felt.

 

The final step is to attach his beard.  For this I’ve used some lovely off-white locks.  They look great as a beard.  I attached them by needle-felting them in underneath his snout! That way, they can be firmly attached but still free-flowing.

We hope you like our Santa…

Merry Christmas to you all, may you be blessed with a a wonderful, happy and healthy 2022.

Best wishes, from Lisa, Alex and our Christmas friends xxx

P.S. The gnomes are just as easy to make, using the same method as for Santa!

 

 

Autumn Pumpkin

Autumn Pumpkin

It’s that time of year again, when the long warm summer nights are fading and the nights are drawing in.  I love all the seasons, but the Autumn season is one of my favourites as I love the colour pallette nature provides, with its hues of amber, yellow, orange, red, brown and every shade in between.  It’s the time when the earth starts going to sleep, sound in the knowledge of new beginnings in the spring.

 

As our blog this time falls a few weeks before that famous holiday date at the end of October, we thought we would make something that people would have time to make before the holiday period arrives.  Hense, we made a pumpkin.   I apologise in advance that this blog is not unique, as others have done this before but our original plan did not seem such a good idea once the pumpkin was made.  I had planned to make one that could be used as a ‘trick or treat’ container.  But once it was made, I just wasn’t sure that it would be strong enough to hold up to my plan to cut a 3/4 circle for the lid and still hold its shape.  The idea was to find out who would be brave enough to slide their hand inside, to find out whether they were dipping into a treat, or a trick.  Although the pumpkin held its shape well, I did not feel it was quite strong enough to fulfil the purpose, so I’m afraid I chickened out because I didn’t have enough time to make a second pumpkin if it all went wrong!! But it’s still something I would like to do in the future, now that I know the strength of this 3 layer pumpkin.  So next time, I’ll make it with 4 layers!

 

I’ve made a small pumpkin before, using the method demonstrated by an American lady, in her weekly tutorials on Living Felt.  That turned out really well so I decided to use this method again, only making the pumpkin much larger.   I searched my house and garden for a circular template, and found a large green planter tray that I use to catch the water underneath some of my bigger pots.  It measured 38cm (15″) in diameter and was perfect for the job.

 

    Here you can just make out the planter tray, holding my palette of wool batts and merino tops.  Also, you can see my first born little pumpkin that I made last year!  He had to make an appearance (can’t have them feeling left out!)

 

I chose a two-colour wool for the outer layer, that was a combination of a yellow and red carded together.  For the inner two layers, I chose a lighter yellowy colour, so that the inside of the pumpkin would be paler than the outside.  (At this point, I was still planning to make the pumpkin trick or treat pot.)   The red and yellow mix for the outer layer weighed 1.3oz  and the yellow wool for the pumpkin flesh weighed 2.4oz, as I would need two layers of this colour.  The merino tops were for decoration and accent colours on the outside of the pumpkin.  I also wanted to add in some additional bits and pieces, to add interest to the surface of the pumpkin, so I collected some silk hankies that I already had in my supplies, and also some orange neeps and curly tops (which in the end I didn’t use in the wet felting process).

I love these colours!!!!!!!!!         

 

I then started making my resist.  Making the circle was the easy part, but I then needed to make eight petal-like protrusions, to form the lobes of the pumpkin.  My partner did look at me rather strangely when he saw me rummaging through the crockery looking for a suitable saucer-like object that would fit nicely for the job.  I eventually found a bowl that was a good fit, and used this as a template to make the lobes around my circular resist…

 

  As usual, Eccles had to get involved!  She is not a problem, but Elliot (her brother) decided to strike while I was looking for the bowl, and pinched three of the merino wool tops off the tray.  By the time I came back, I had three bird’s nests which I then had to card to get them back into some sense of order!  That cat has such a passion for wool, it’s unbelievable!   I don’t have a photo to show, as I forgot to take one but he really made a mess of them!  He also managed to pinch the little pumpkin out of its box where I had safely (or so I thought) hidden it.  I later found it under my dining room table, where he’d left it after playing with it!  I must be mad to have taken in another rescue cat, but she is adorable and I couldn’t resist!  Here is Penny!

I think you can  safely say she’s made herself at home!!!!!                                           

 

Anyway – back to pumpkins!  I then began laying out the fibre.  I started with the yellow wool batt, putting two layers on each side of my resist.  I added soap and water and covered with a mesh before gently agitating the fibres to start them knitting together.  After a little gentle agitation, I flipped the resist before  folding over the edges of the wool each time ready to start the next layer.

          from this…………………………………………………………………………………………………….to that…             

 

After putting two layers of yellow fibre on each side, it was time to put the red and yellow mixed fibre….

  Here you can see I have put one layer and flipped the resist ready to do the other side.  You can see the edges of the reddish fibre curled around the edges of the resist.

And now, the final layer…

I love the effect of the two-tone fiber, which shows well in this photo in contrast to the yellow above….       

 

Now for the fun part!!  Time to start the embellishments.  I used some of the wool top to accentuate the lines in between each lobe, and I wanted to try out some silk hankies to make some sheen on the pumpkin.  Here are the different designs I made on each side.  I wasn’t sure how dark to go with the wool top lines, so chose a brown for one side, and a redder colour for the other.  I went with an olive green for the silk hanky.

 

            I left ‘tails’ at the edges, so I could wrap them around the other side.

 

Now to start felting.  Recently, I purchased a sander because I do suffer a little with my joints.  I hadn’t tried using it yet, but thought I would give it a try on this project.  I would say at this point, that anyone considering the use of a sander in felting, needs to do their research.  I was quite scared at first, as electricity an water (as we know) don’t mix.  Also, some countries don’t have the safety systems built into their domestic electricity supply, so doing your research before embarking on using an electric sander is a must.  But having done my research and purchased my sander, I thought I had better try it out.  I only used it at the beginning of the process, and I was careful not to take the sander up to the edges of the resist, only using it in the middle and in between each lobe.  But it certainly helped considerably, and after I had finished the project, I didn’t feel my usual pain and fatigue, so that’s good!

  I can’t wait to make a scarf next!!!!!

 

After using the sander, I hand-felted the edges of the pumpkin, to make sure it was all nicely knitting together before I started rolling it.  Once I saw the felt was starting to shrink, I removed the  resist from inside  the pumpkin.  Easier said than done!! I didn’t want a large hole left in the pumpkin, but my resist was quite thick and firm, so it took some time to remove it as I also wanted to keep the resist for future use (I know, I’m a skinflint, but I’m also ecologically conscientious).

After the rolling was finished I fulled the pumpkin by throwing it a little until I was satisfied with the shrinkage.  Then it was time to rinse the soap out, give it a quick soak in vinegar water to restore the PH levels and I always like to give a final rinse in water containing a nicely scented essential oil.  I love to hold my small pumpkin and smell the fibre, as it often helps my emotional wellbeing at times when I am stressed.  Is that strange?! But it works for me!

 

After removing the excess water by wrapping it in a towel, I then stuffed it with a shredded bed sheet.  Wow – I was surprised to find I could fit a whole king-sized bed sheet in that pumpkin!

    and then I tied string in between each lobe, so accentuate the shape as it dried

 

Once it had dried, quality control arrived for his weekly Chinese Takeaway!  Alex checked my work and told me that he really liked the pumpkin.

By the look on Alex’s face, I can see I’m going to have to make another one because his sister Lizzy has been patiently awaiting a pumpkin for her new home!!

 

Once it was fully dry, I removed the copious amounts of shredded sheet from inside.  It was at this point, I had cold feet about cutting a lid in the top.  Although it kept its shape well, I was not sure how cutting it open would affect the stability of the structure so I decided at this point, just to stuff it and keep it intact.  I will try this idea another  time though, because I would like to make a felted ‘creepy hand’ to poke out from under the lid.  Seeing people’s reactions would be funny!

 

I decided to make the stalk out of needle-felted wool.  I chose different shades of green, charcoal grey and yellow to felt together to make the stalk.  I also put a pipe cleaner inside, so I could bend the stalk into the shape I wanted.  I also needle felted a leafy-looking base at the bottom of the stalk, just for effect and added some bright green curly tops to look like tendrils.  I did make a pumpkin leaf for it, but in the end I didn’t like it so did not use it.

 

I quite like the yellow accents on the stalk……..           

 

It didn’t take Elliot long to get involved!  But then again, he’s the right colour isn’t he?!!

 

 

And here’s a photo taken in natural light for colour comparison……

 

We hope you like the pumpkin.  Happy Autumn!!

Lisa and Alex

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needle felting a toadstool

Needle felting a toadstool

Is it too late to wish you all a Happy New Year?

I haven’t properly picked up my felting needles in quite some time. I can’t tell you why, but my mind just hasn’t been “in the right place” to make anything particularly unique.

Things changed when I got commissioned to make a mushroom sculpture. It was just simple yet challenging enough for me to see if this would finally open those creative doors. The client wanted something similar to what I’d made before, so all I had to do was look at an old photo and start felting. I’m not copying something that needs to look exactly like something else, but it’s also not mindless felting. Perfect.

This is the old mushroom she saw in my online shop and wanted another of (sorry the resolution isn’t the best):

I really enjoy looking at past work because I’m often surprised at the fact this is mine. Do you get that feeling with things you created a long time ago? I am particularly chuffed when I get that “oh, that’s pretty” feeling before it registers it came from my brain.

Now, for the new sculpture. I gave my client a few fabrics to choose from, but she went for the same as the first one. Not surprising, as she really liked the original item and was very motivated to have a mushroom like it.

I started with wire wrapped in wool to make the stem. The top was created with leftover wool felted into shape, then I sewed the fabric to the top and some tea-stained gauze to the bottom.

The base looks very messy, so I’ll be adding some wool to cover it.

Then comes the fun part: assembly!

I chose some hand dyed mohair locks, plus some natural Wensleydale ones and put it all together. After that, I sewed the beads and stones here and there. Here’s the finished item:

The finished object is just different enough for me not to feel I made a complete copy, and the familiarity helped make the felting process easy enough for my Lockdown Brain to not feel too flustered.

Finally, not related at all, but here’s a photo of a lovely Edinburgh sunset for your enjoyment.

Have a lovely weekend and thanks for reading!

Do I have a finished vest? (Spoiler: I don’t)

Do I have a finished vest? (Spoiler: I don’t)

Hello! I hope everyone is doing well, or at least managing not to randomly yell at walls.

If you remember, the last time I wrote I was working on a Victorian-style waistcoat mockup, and I was determined to have the real thing ready soon. Famous last words!

Once lockdown happened, my energy levels plummeted, lots of food was eaten with no exercise (in which my waistline might have increased ever so slightly, making the waistcoat a bit more er, snug) and my creative mojo went out the window.

So… this is where I am now:

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After two mockups, I thought I was ready for the real deal. However… see the puckering on the armpit area? It’s driving me mental and I don’t know how to sort it. I’ve tried pinning and tucking but so far, nothing has helped. Argh. Suggestions?

The good bit is, I definitely did practice my tailoring techniques. Using horse hair canvas and a special type of tailor stitch, I partially lined the inside of the waistcoat to make it sturdier. This also helps with shaping – see how the lapel is bending in the right direction? That’s the horse hair canvas and the stitching doing its magic. Behold, my tailoring efforts below.

 

Another issue I’m having is the fabric itself: since the wool is on the thick side, each bit I add (such as the inner lapel) adds bulk, for which the pattern doesn’t account. That, plus my recent indulgence in delicious comestibles, and I’m in trouble… Next Winter should be interesting.

Another thing I’ve done so far is to topstitch the lapel by hand, so the fabric doesn’t pucker when the waistcoat is buttoned up. I think you can tell the slight difference between the topstitched right half and the left, yet to be worked on:

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And that’s pretty much me done for the moment. For those who might complain that I’m not showing any felting, look! I’ve needle felted a couple of little balls to see if they look good with a bead, for knitting stitch markers. What do you think? I’m not in love so far.

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Finally… I need a distraction from all my recent mask making, so I’ve decided to work on a miniature felt jacket for a lady rabbit I sewed a while ago. Naturally, Quality Control Kitty was there to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes.

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Hopefully in my next post I’ll have a finished waistcoat and a mini jacket to show you…

Oh, and one last thing: I’ve been having trouble commenting on everyone else’s posts, which makes me very sad. Tech is annoying. Please know I’ve been reading them. I really, really hope the tech issue doesn’t impede my being able to reply to your comments, fingers crossed!

Have your lovely selves a great day 🙂

Needle Felted Animals

Needle Felted Animals

Since I started running workshops in 2017 I’ve often been asked if I will teach needle felted animals, maybe how to make a hare or a fox, etc. and my answer was always the same….. “sorry no, but I can put you in touch with someone who will”. There are so many terrific needle felters out there and, not only that, I didn’t really fancy spending hours stabbing fibres when I could be wet felting.

That changed when I got an email last November from a guy who wanted to buy his wife a needle felting workshop as a Christmas present. It was time to change tack so I agreed to run the class and immediately went out and bought various grades of wire and pipe cleaners and started hand carding fibres to make my first hare.

I didn’t concern myself too much with realism or body part proportions! Harriet went through several stages, at one point looking like an otter, at another like a kangaroo, before blossoming into a hare.

By the time she was finished I was hooked!! Two more hares followed in quick succession, the last one being this simplified version to use as a one day workshop for anyone who hasn’t needle felted before.

Happy with the hares I turned my thoughts to making a squirrel. If you google “anatomy of a (whatever)” you will find lots of diagrams and images of skeletons which can be used to get the correct proportions and shaping for your animal armatures. I used one as a reference for making my red squirrel armature as I wanted this one to be as lifelike as possible. It’s also useful to save photos, taken from all angles, of whatever animal you are making and refer to them constantly. I know a lot of felters use glass eyes for their animals but I decided to stick with felting mine as I think you can achieve more character that way.

Each animal is made with Cheviot fibres for the core and then cladded with carded Bergschaf or Corriedale. I was very pleased with how this one turned out.

I recently made a frog and this turned out to be my favourite piece. He seemed to take the longest but you can place him in all sorts of different poses and I just love him! Again, a quick search on the internet produced a diagram that was used to get the proportions and create the armature.

I changed my mind about the colour scheme part way through so he ended up with pink feet and a green body which just looked wrong! I couldn’t face starting again with the feet so I simply dipped his toes in Inktense paint and cured his problem!

So as you can see, this reluctant needle felter has really got the bug! I’ve done my first two classes and I’ve four more lined up, which I’m really looking forward to. The Christmas present of a hare workshop was well received and that particular lady, Jo, has since been back and made a red squirrel and her daughter in law made the lovely mouse…..pretty impressive for first attempts!

Jo’s Hare

Jo’s Squirrel

Janes Mouse

My only problem now is deciding what to needle felt next!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year Everyone.

I hope you had a great time ringing in the new year and are enjoying the first day of a new decade.

Time to think back to what I have done and what I want to do.

Last year I did some experimenting with pots.

Did some more artwork

Took a few classes

And taught a few classes.

I took on organizing my guilds annual sale and exhibition with the help of an amazing group of people.

Next year, I am not really sure. I am chair of the sale and exhibition again this year.  I know I am doing more teaching (LINK) and I need to update and sort out my website.

Plans early this year are to get the pictures done for an online class. Jan is going to help with this so I have to get felting to have different stages so we can film more in one day. I am sure Ruth has lost hope of me ever getting it done.

I want to do more artwork with hand stitching. I really do enjoy sitting and stitching. It looks so nice on the felt. To that end, I made a few picture blanks between Christmas and new year. Sorry Its not a great picture I just did it quick while writing this.

Beyond that, I really haven’t planned much. Do you have plans for the year, big or small we would love to hear what they are? We would also love you to share pictures and chat about what you are doing over on the Forum. (LINK)

 

Third Quarter Challenge – Part 2

Third Quarter Challenge – Part 2

I showed you my ideas, concepts and sketches for my cityscape last week. Now on to the felting.

First I needed to make some prefelt for the buildings. I had a mixed brown batt already in my stash so I decided to use that as the buildings in my inspiration photos were variegated brown.

Once I got the brown wool to prefelt stage, I let it dry and then used my sketch to make pattern shapes for the buildings. I used tracing paper to trace the shapes and then cut them out of the prefelt. This is when my perspective began to go wonky.

I found a piece of hand dyed silk in my stash that looked like night sky. I put that over a piece of commercial white prefelt and then laid down the black base, trees and prefelt building shapes. I thought they were well positioned for the perspective I needed but with felting they must have shifted slightly.

Here it is after felting. The buildings are getting wonkier. There is a reason that I don’t usually felt man made designs. I have difficulty keeping the perspective correct and as I progressed in this process, they just seemed to get more and more off as I went. But I had hopes that with the addition of windows and doors, this would improve.

I did fold the extra silk fabric to the back and hand stitch it in place. This gives the edge a more finished look.

I eyeballed where the windows and doors should go and tried to get the perspective correct with them. But that didn’t really work out so well. In hindsight, it might have worked better to stitch my lines for the wooden siding first and then added the windows and doors afterward.

Next week, I will show you the machine stitching and the finishing technique I used to get a starry sky. If you have created a cityscape, please go over to the forum and post it here. 

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