a life of fibre

Hackles February 23rd, 2015

Wool blending hackles are used to mix fibres to make special blends of combed tops. I’ve never used hackles so before I went mad and bought or made some (they are expensive) I borrowed some from Freyalyn to give them a try. So here’s a quick picture guide of what you do.

Fix the hackle to the table.


Take a length of fibre and using just the one hand flick it forwards down onto the spikes then pull your hand backwards – this leaves some fibres on the  hackle. Work your way right across the spikes.


Take another colour/shade and repeat.


With this side view you can see a lot of fibre can be packed onto the hackle in layers of shades / colours.


Next you need a diz which is a disc or oval made of wood, plastic, cardboard or, as in this case, shell with a hole in the middle.


Twist the tips of a few fibres to help you thread the it through the hole.


Push the diz toward the comb as you draw the wool off the comb to form the top.


Work your way back and forth across the spikes until all the fibre has been pulled off. You’ll have a lovely stripey narrow combed top which will look great whether you spin or felt with it.


My verdict – lovely result but I can’t see me using it often enough to warrant the buying or making of  a hackle. I’m so glad I tried it out though.

Tree of life 6 February 17th, 2015

I wish I had more time to pursue this topic as I’m so enjoying it. In my head I can already see it leading to a whole series on trees if only I can find an extra day in the week. Do you remember this one?


You ought to be able to tell from the photos but I’ve cut this down into a perfect circle which really emphasises the tree. I rarely cut felt as I’m not keen on cut edges but in this instance it works brilliantly.

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Holding it up against the window with the light behind turned it into a silhouette – loving it but you can’t see the beading on either of these photos.


It was Rosie’s idea (thanks Rosie) to bead the tree, I was frightened of spoiling the serenity of it but the beads just add to it. Judge for yourselves.


It’s tempting  to make lots more of these but what would I do with them all ?

Valentine February 15th, 2015

Hubby found a great card for Valentine’s Day. Do you like it?



Sheep door stop February 10th, 2015

Last month I made a paper weight as a practice run for this sheep door stop. Popular advice was to give my sheep ears, don’t say I never listen to you.


Looks like a bad hair day on this side as the Cotswold fleece I used was long and wavy. Some sheep look a bit the worse for wear by the time shearing comes round and mine is no exception!


I haven’t modelled this on any particular breed, I just went with what I felt. The main reaspon for the dark legs / base is that it will be on the floor which isn’t known as the cleanest place in the house.


I had great fun doing the face. It’s weighted with stone supplied by Sue and Skye and I’m looking forward to a small flock being created at the workshop this Friday.

Coast February 4th, 2015

For weeks now I’ve wanted to visit the coast and we’ve been prevented in doing so by all manner of irritating events until last Saturday that is. We were up early, our teenager had other plans (sleeping later, boyfriend, friend) and so with a whole day to ourselves we set off at 7.30am. As it’s quicker to reach the west coast we went west to Blackpool.

Last time we visited there we parked at Lytham and cycled up the sea front. Arriving at 9am we found a spot on a quiet side street and set off in search of breakfast.What we really needed was a small fiendly steamy cafe with hot food. The first cafe we came to failed on the friendly front but we quickly came across a second that more than made up for the first. It was warm, steamy, good grub and we had a lively conversation with the owners. They make Simon and I look like layabouts as they run the cafe 7 days a week with just the 2 of them and have no days off from Easter until November!

Suitably fortified we set off north up the prom. Oh my goodness it was windy, one of those days where if the wind drops slightly you feel yourself move faster as the resistance has been removed and it was cold, very cold but with a heart warming sunny blue sky. Photos? No, sorry, left the camera in the car by mistake.

Not having visited Fleetwood for nigh on 40 years we decided to catch the tram up and take a look around. We thought about walking all the way back down to the car at the South Pier but after a twenty minutes march we thought it was perhaps over ambitious and we caught the tram back to Clevelys heading straight onto the beach.

We hadn’t been on the beach a minute when I started spotting driftwood. No wanting to carry it all the way back I took note of the spot so we could come back later with the car and collect it. A few yards further on we came across this.


Simon could only just lift it, it’s quite a size and was very heavy with sea water. I got the wanties, Simon liked it too so we again took note of where to find it and continued with our walk. For most of the walk we were the only people on the beach, passing just one or two dog walkers. The sun shone, the wind pushed us from behind and the road was so far above us that we couldn’t hear any road noise just the sound of the crashing waves and the wind.

We were so glad we hadn’t tried to walk back from Fleetwood, even the shortened journey took 2 hours and we’d already done a considerable amount of walking prior to that. By the time we reached the car we were convinced we had blisters and our legs were feeling the strain. No time to dally though we had driftwood to collect.


Rushing straight back to the beach we headed for the larger piece first and Simon manfully carried it off the beach, up the steps and along the road to the car without even swearing. I carried the piece you see below. Well, I did try to help with the larger piece, honest but he wouldn’t hear of it.

After this we finally went in search of lunch, it was 3pm, oops!


It looks different from each angle. These aren’t the best photos to show it off but until it dries out and the weight lightens I can’t move it for a photoshoot. Originally I’d thought this might go in the garden but I’m actually quite fancying having this in the house once it’s dry. Now all there is left to do is clean out the boot of the car, he might not have sworn whilst carrying the wood but he was quite distressed at the state of his car boot afterwards. He indulged me anyway, must be love.

Tree of life 5 February 1st, 2015

Do you remember this from earlier in the series?


At the last Metaphor meeting I played with applying a little fine sparkly thread to the outlines of the branches and it encouraged me to do more so I cut a circle surrounding the tree. One of my original sketches had the tree within a circle and I really liked the containment.


Much improved don’t you think? You can perhaps see that I’ve been busy beading it too although you can’t see the sparkly thread at all in these photos, just too fine I guess.

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Generally I prefer round sead beads but as I was trying to use only what I already had, I settled on the short silver bugle beads and I’m delighted I did. This tree now has a cold almost ethereal quality about it. Ghost tree perhaps.


I’ve been busy beading another tree too and I’ll show you that next time if I ever manage a photo that does it justice.

Tree of life 4 January 30th, 2015

Using much the same technique as before I began with a piece of BFL pre-felt and a paper sketch of a tree.


Cutting out a patteren from the pre-felt with nothing to guide me is too difficult so pinning the paper to the felt allowed me to cut through on one side of each cutout piece. The actual cutout was completed once I’d removed the paper. I really hope that makes sense to you!


Instead of laying fibre behind I used a second piece of BFL pre-felt onto which I had nuno felted some lace. I didn’t attach them through needle felting just laid the two pieces together and rubbed carefully so that they wouldn’t be disturbed.


Technically this has worked but I’m not at all sure that I like it.However, when I went to the last Metaphor meeting Rosie took a liking to it as a background and has taken it away to work on it. Once she’s worked her magic we’ll put this into the exhibition as a joint piece. I can’t wait to see what she does.

Tree of life 3 January 28th, 2015

Do you remember this page from my sketch book?


Using the bottom image as my inspiration I created a piece from BFL felt leftover from a previous project.



Fine blanket stitch along the edges of the cutouts and lines added in the centre to accentuate the curves. Do you like it? I do.

Purple poppies January 26th, 2015

Absolutely ages ago I started a notebook cover of purple poppies on a background of grey carded BFL using standard A5 sizing. What better time than the start of a new year to finish it.


Above is the view of both front and back of the notebook. I forgot to take photos during felting but the finished book is below.


It’s finished in black blanket edge stitch and embellised with french knots in the centre of the flowers.


There’s also a little fine running stitch on the black stalks, black running stitch on the black centres and some lilac running stitch on the lighter areas of the flowers.


I enjoyed making the poppies in traditional colours but if anything I think I’ve enjoyed the purple ones more. The notebook is now for sale at £28 including postage, just email me if you’d like to buy.

Tree workshop 2 January 24th, 2015

Working from the same simple sketch and another piece of pre-felt, I began by cutting out the curving lines of the tree.


Each curve was then outlined in purple and a mix of red fibre laid behind and needle felted all over. Small circles of yellow pre-felt were added in the crook of each bend and attached with a quick stitch in red wool.The sections of red wool that I cut from my previous piece were twisted and laid onto the trunk for additional texture.


As before, I felt the tree went too much into the background. To combat this I added some stem stitch across the twisted bits of red on the trunk and then purple stem stitch along each of the curving lines of the tree.


On each of the yellow circles I added a little trio of red french knots.


Another great set of colours.