a life of fibre

Autumn workshops August 26th, 2014

So far, August has felt like we’ve moved early into Autumn so this seems the perfect time to let you know about my Autumn workshops. In addition to the studio workshop dates in Ilkley I’ve added some weekend ones at Gisburn Festival Hall and Clifton Village Hall (Otley) on a Saturday or Sunday. So do take care to not which venue it’s at and on which day.

Thursday 11st Sept in Ilkley – learn to spin on a drop spindle.You won’t believe how easy it is to start spinning your own yarn.

Sunday 5th Oct at Gisburn – Lacy felt wrap, soft and very warm.

Friday 10th Oct in Ilkley – Nuno felt vases. Combining wool and fabric in 3D work.

Saturday 8th Nov at Clifton – felted soaps. Pebble style or swathed in colour they make great presents.

Sunday 9th Nov at Gisburn – Pleated bags. After making the pre-felt we’ll create scupltural pleated handbags

Friday 5th Dec in Ilkley – Felt for Christmas – felted tree and felted tree ornaments

Saturday 6th Dec at Clifton – Christmas stockings. Style and colour of your choice with plenty of examples to inspire you.

There are a few shows coming up soon as well.

Bristol Wool Fair - 5-7 September
Rheged Knit & Stitch Show - 14 September
Masham Sheep Fair - 27/8 September
Yarndale – 28/9 September

If people would be interested, I can offer an introduction to crochet workshop – what do you think? I’ll be adding workshops for the new year in the next week so keep checking back.


First August 24th, 2014

The skirt went from this


to this


and I got


Ilkley Flower Show is a small local show which I have to say seems to have gotten much smaller this year. The main reason for entering was to ensure that I completed the project and didn’t just push it to the back of a cupbaord. Working with all recycled materials forces you to think and be creative and is very enjoyable – give it a try. Perhaps it should be a workshop theme?


Skirt remodelling part 4 August 22nd, 2014

I bet you were beginning to think I’d never finish this project and I do have to own up to an amount of dithering. Happily it’ is finished. This is a long post with a lot of pictures so grab a drink then relax as I take you through the journey It began life like this.


Then it looked like this.


Ugh! I really didn’t like that. After deciding to turn it into a bag I straightened the edges.


I also decided to add some detail on top of the fabric through needle felting.


And a pocket on the inside. The fabric is flipped the other way so that there’s a contrast and the pocket stands out.


I stitched the side and bottom seams with a few tack stitches then it was ready to be felted together.


Once felted I removed the stitches and dried the bag with the top folded over giving a lovely contrast collar. I did felt a strip of fabric to form a handle but once finished I just felt it was too lightweight for the bag and had to rethink that one. A trip to the charity shops found me this belt which is just perfect isn’t it. Just look at the colour of those beads!


I used some rusty washers from a jar that I rescued from my father-in-laws’ garage some years ago and they’re stitched on with rug wool which I rescued from a skip and dyed up.


After punching an extra hole in the end of the belt I attached it using more rug wool. I’m not entirely sure I like this but I wanted to use only recycled items. If it doesn’t work out I may buy a couple of brass rings later.


After further searching through the jar I found a few more washers and a metal tube (no idea what that was for) which I used to make a fastening.


More of the rug wool used to make a linked chain.


It goes across the bag and the cylinder is used as a toggle fastening.


Do you like it?


I’m pleased the fastening works so well.


It’s a nice long strap and you can see the pattern well on the bag. One of my favourite decorations.


So pleased with it.


The only ‘new’ item in this bag is the wool I used in the felting. I’m entering this into the Ilkley Flower Show tomorrow in the something new from something old category. Wish me luck. I’ll let you know how I get on but most of all I’m looking forward to using this bag. I even made it deep enough to take my knitting needles!

My first shawl August 21st, 2014

I’ve had this yarn in my stash for a while, it’s one of  my first handspun yarns that I thought was usable and is a green and turquoise Merino and silk blend. Being an early yarn it definitely has areas which are thick or thin and even some which are over twisted but it was still usable and I had a goodly amount.

Initially I tried it on 4mm needles but the knitting was dense and didn’t have the drape I was looking for so I restarted on 6mm needles which were much better, especially when I encountered a thick bit. The pattern is not a particularly difficult one, in fact I’d say it was quite easy but what attracted me to it was the yarn used in the photos and the fact that it would be long. I love long scarves and found this one as a free pattern on Ravelry.

It wasn’t many rows before I was running out of space on my needles but fortunately a friend loaned me a 6mm circular needle. My first ever circular needle to knit my first shawl using one of my handspun yarns for the first time. Whilst knitting it I have to say I wasn’t very keen and was planning on gifting it away and oh how that position has been reversed, it’s mine all mine. Better let you have a look at what I’m on about.


That’s it after washing, being blocked.


I couldn’t wait for it to dry in case the sun disappeared so it’ll have to go back on block later to dry. You can see it’s not a difficlut pattern and yet there was a section of about 10 rows where I had repeated brain malfunctions and had to keep unpicking the work. Not being brave enough to take it off the needles and rip it back I did this the slow laborious way, one stitch at a time! After a whole weekend of messing about I finally got beyond that section and then rapidly finished the shawl.



It felt important to me to use this yarn and to finish the shawl even if I didn’t like it. In case you were wondering, I love it and have already worn it. It did turn out to be very important to use it and has actually taught me quite a lot about the spinning of the yarn. I needed no help to understand that it wasn’t perfectly even but it was enlightening to understand how that felt in use. Uneven yarn isn’t a problem, there are plenty of yarns on the market which are exactly that but I’d not used one before. Having every inch of yarn back through my fingers helped me to understand how to spin my next yarn to achieve whatever effect I want.


My spinning now is finer and much, much more even. It just goes to show that even imperfect yarns can look lovely made up. If you fancy learning to spin then why not come along to my spinning workshop on Thursday 11th September and let me introduce you to this ancient and absorbing craft. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can catch on and start producing your own unique yarns.

p.s. Update on the remodelled skirt very soon, I promise.


Present ta-dah August 14th, 2014

A couple of weeks ago I gave you a glimpse of my latest w.i.p. and can now fully reveal it. As it was a present I had to wait to reveal it until it had reached it’s destination.


The pale colour is sand, a pale grey and three blues. In July we were on holiday in France when we stayed at the Blue House B&B in Ducey. If you’re ever in the area you have to go. Staying with Nick and Di is like staying with friends, they make you feel so welcome and put their home and garden at your disposal. Plus they have 2 rather cute dogs. Here’s Franc.


In the morning when he was full of beans both ears would be upright. Throughout the day he could be seen with just one ear upright unless he’d just had a nap. Both ears would be down by bed time. He’s only 3 months old in the photo and is growing at the rate of a 1lb per week. So cute. Millie, their older dog, is still wondering when he’ll be leaving although she puts up with his antics very well.

Being the Blue House B&B I obviously needed to make the cushion in blue and as they have pets I made it from acrylic wool so it can be washed in the machine.


The buttons are recycled from my stash. If clothes are worn out I always recover any reusable parts like buttons and zips.


Sunshine bleaches the colour out a bit in photos, they were a little more vibrant than this.


I was very pleased with how it turned out and have it on good authority that it’s been road tested by Franc.

Skirt remodelling part 3 August 11th, 2014

Just a brief update. After dithering for days I finally made the decision to chop out the triangular panel at the back and have it as a simple straight wrap around. I stitched the seam then tried it as a skirt – really really not liking it, it’s just too bulky.


So it’s not going to be a skirt. It’s lightweight, warm and bulky. Suggestions please for what else I can make with it. I’m considering starting again and perhaps using it in a nuno felted bag.

Skirt remodelling part 2 – Decisions July 30th, 2014

I’m considering entering my skirt (finished!!!) into the Ilkley Flower Show under the category ‘something new from something old’ but my skirt will still be a skirt. Opinions so far seem to be that it would meet the category requirement – do you agree?  The reason I’m considering entering is that the show takes place next month which will force me to finish the skirt, otherwise I fear there’s a very real danger of it being hiddeen in a cupboard and forgotten about.


I like the texture I’ve achieved on the felted sections but the weight of those is pulling the non felted section out of shape. The central triangle won’t hang down and, as expected, the join is ruched where one section is felted and the other not.


So I have 3 options unless anyone can come up with more for me. First – stitch some pleats into the triangle to hold it in place and give it fullness at the back. I don’t think this will look that pretty and then that section will be markedly different in length to the rest – see below.


Option two is to use two of the triangular pieces which I’ve already removed to create extra thickness in this area. It looks okay and if I stagger the lengths it will also give me frills. The contrast between felted and not is nice.


Or my third option is to cut out the central back triangle and just stitch it straight up, which makes it more structured looking. It needs darts for shaping and a wasitband but you get the idea.


Part of me wants the straight wrap around and part wants the layered frill section in the back. There is a difference in material weights and I don’t know if it will behave or feel odd on, perhaps those of you with more experience can help me here. I do know that there is a slight risk that unless handled carefully during washing the felted sections could shrink a little more which would affect the back again. Think I’m talking myself into a straight wrap around but I’d love to hear what you think.

Skirt remodelling part 1 July 27th, 2014

I bought this skirt about three years ago, I adore the colours and yet hardly ever wear it.


It’s a very thin cotton which makes it rather too cool to wear  in winter and yet it has so much fabric that I end up getting too hot and bothered by yards of the stuff round my legs in summer. Although it had a piece across the hips (it probably has a name but as you’ll soon see I’m no dressmaker so haven’t a cluse what it’s called)  so that most of the fabric was below hip level it was a dreaded elasticated waist. Love the fabric but the style isn’t flattering to my ample hips.

I’ve been wondering how I could re-use the fabric then decided to be brave and transform it into a new skirt – shorter and wrap around. To begin I removed the waist section. The main portion of the skirt comprised  6 rectangular and 6 triangular pieces. I cut out 4 of the triangular pieces removing much of the excess and cut the skirt open on the sixth triangular piece.


You can already see how much less fabric there is now and removing the waist section has made it shorter. Two of the triangular pieces remain, one at the end just in case I need the extra length to wrap around and one in the centre back.


You can see the back looks longer and fuller where I’ve left in the final triangle. The plan is to nuno felt the 6 rectangular panels leaving the back triangle clear of wool. I quite fancy the change in texture and the fullness remaining but it’s a risk, the fabric could easily go out of shape. If it doesn’t work then I’ll go back and nuno the triangular sections later.


Using the surplus waist section I did a test piece and satisfied that I still liked the fabric when finished, carded up fibres. I’ve used Peacock, Turquoise, Sea Green, Forest Green and Maroon Merino from Adelaide Walker.

Gorgeous isn’t it. This is quite a big job  and my table is too small so I worked on the floor.


All laid out except for the central triangular section as you can see.


Once laid out and wetted out I rolled it up and worked on my kitchen worktop. In this hot weather it’s actually the coolest room in the house.


Just unroll a section at a time and you can work on very large projects in your kitchen which has the added benefit of being the right height. I have some concerns about how this whole thing is going to work out but now I’ve had a break think I’ll go and do the final felting and fulling. wish me luck.

W.I.P. July 21st, 2014

We’ve been away on a family holiday to France and had a wonderful time. I came back with a mission to make a crocheted gift so here’s a quick peek at what I’ve been busy with.


I have plans for some felting this coming weekend but in the meantime I’m off to finish the crochet and will reveal all later.

Just had to share June 29th, 2014

I came across the artist Hilary Fayle on the internet this morning and am so impressed and amazed that I wanted to share her work with you. The embroidery into leaves is incredible but her cut work is truly amazing and it’s all so delicate.