a life of fibre

Pleated bags October 31st, 2014

I’ve already shown you a couple of samples for the pleated bag workshop and now here’s a tote bag made entirely in Merino wool.

Background laid out.


Wet out and tidied


A quick rub with my palm washboards


Time to stitch in some pleats at the pre-felt stage.


On both sides


Working the pleats is made easier with the Wedge Washboard. It’s a little bit big but I understand they’ll be bringing out a mini version whcih I think will be perfect. I’ll be sure to let you know as asoon as they do.


One side finished.




You can really see the structure of the pleats. And now for the second side.




I intend to bead the centre circle on this side. If you fancy coming to the pleated bag workshop on Sunday 9th November there’s still a couple of places left.


I might have October 29th, 2014

I might, just might, have brought one or two things home with me from the wool shows over the last few weeks. Want to see them?

This came back with me from the Rheged Knit & Stitch Show. It’s called a Spurtzleur and is made by Jon of Natural Born Dyers. The shaping was irresistible and it’s a tool for spinning. Very easy to use.


These came back with me from Yarndale and no, I don’t have a project in mind but I just couldn’t resist them. Who could? So pretty, so tactile! From Jack Button.


At the monent I seem to use my drop spindle more than my spinning wheel so it shouldn’t really be a great surprise that this spindle came home with me from Bakewell Wool Gathering. It’s a reasonably heavy spindle at 42.5g and came from Turned on the Cut. Considering how many shows we’ve attended I feel I’ve been rather restrained, don’t you?


Hmm, I was feeling quite smug that I hadn’t bought much but then I remembered this glorious hook that I bought at Dumfries. It’s for threading the yarn through the orifice on my spinning wheel and it was made by 18 year old Nathan who only recently took up blacksmithing. It’s wrought iron, heavy and substantial feeling plus absolutely gorgeous. I think I’d have bought this even if I hadn’t had a use for it.


That’s positively the last thing (I think).


Sneak peek October 24th, 2014

This is a very quick sneak peek afor an upcoming workshop. Can you guess which one?


Remember this? October 22nd, 2014

Do you remember this bag? It’s one of the samples for my pleated bags workshop on 9th November at Gisburn


I made the strap long to go across the body but was never really very happy with it. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve kept looking at it and pondering what could be done even down to contemplating cutting it off. Eventually I had a much better idea. I pleated the handle.



It suits the bag so much more and really emphasises the pleating and texture. I’m chuffed to bits with it!





Pots October 18th, 2014

First chance I’ve had to show you what people made at last weeks workshop. Fisrt up, a magnificent specimen by Tracey. This was the largest pot made on the day and the colours were wonderful and really sang in the sun. The crystal organze used twinkled in the sun too.


This little pot is actually the second piece of felt ever made by Abi. I liked the warm colours together and the fabric used for decoration was a heavy woollen one which worked well.


Anne made this monochrome pot with her daughter in mind and used a couple of different synthetic fabrics which gave the larger textures she was looking for. This too twinkled in the sun.


Below is the first ever piece of felt made by Abi. In the words of Bruce Forsyth “Didn’t she do well”. A great colour combination.


Anne also made two pots but instead of hand modelling the shape as with all the others, this is formed around a small vase and so can actually be used for fresh flowers.


I’ve been promised a better photo when it dries.  Here’s a group shot to leave you with.


All together now – Didn’t they do well!


Cake October 17th, 2014

We had a birthday in the house this week, our daughter Charlotte is now seventeen.  I always bake a cake for her birthday and it’s always a surprise which she loves as she says it’s like another present. This year I was inspired by the pastel chunky knit sweaters, snoods etc. that are in the shops and which are beloved by her.


I’ve never used fondant icing before so first things first was to go and look up what on earth I was supposed to do with it. Buttercream icing was mentioned for filling in the gap between layers on the side and for across the top to help stick the icing on. Easy I’ve made bettercream icing before. It’s always a bit stiff though and has pulled the cake apart in the past but my source said to us a little milk to help loosen the mix if that was the case. Do you know I did and it worked. Or at least I did after I’d first added water because I’d forgotten what I was doing.


It didn’t say how to stick on the other icing decorations and I hoped that pressing harder would work and it did until I came to the final decorations.


I couldn’t get the little pearl balls to stick on and they were rolling and bouncing all over. Fettled it in the end though, brushed those areas with a little water and it worked a treat.  Not sure it looks like chunky knit but I’m very pleased with the texture and how it turned out plus, best of all, she loved it. And yes, it’s not your eye,s it is lopsided but it still tasted good.

Mules October 13th, 2014

In this instance I’m not referring to a pair of slip on sandals but the pair of  hand warmers I made last week. My Daughter is dating a farmer’s lad and I was very kindly given 3 fleece to play with – a Mule, a Balwen and a Zwarbles. Although I’ve had very little time to properly look them over and decide what I want to do with them I did have a little play and pulled out some of the softest part of the Mule for a wash ……


and a card …….


Wool is like an amazing cloud when it’s been carded. Even though I’d washed the fleece I could still feel the lanolin in the fleece and knew I need a little more soap when I began to felt with the fibres. As I’ve been crazy busy I wanted a small project that I could finish quickly and also to assess what I thought of the fleece as it’s the first time I’ve worked with this particular breed. I chose wrist warmers …….


Now here I have to admit that I’m not sure which fleece I’ve used to decorate the edges as I dashed out to the garage in the dark and grabbed a handful of coloured wool. Not even sure which sack I took it from but once I get the fleeces out of the bags I’m sure I’ll be able to tell. I hope.


The finished wrist warmers worked out well. They’re very warm. Unfortunately I can’t wear them against my sensitive skin but perhaps I should gift them back to the farmer as a thank you for the fleece. What do you reckon?



Table runner workshop October 10th, 2014

To be held at Clifton Village Hall in Otley on Saturday 6th December. Table runners may not only be used on tables but can look magnificent suspended on the wall as art so you’ll be able to choose how you use your runner. Why not sometimes hang it on the wall and sometimes use it on the table?  Landscape?






These are all rectangular but there’s no reason why it can’t be round, oval or square. I have a great idea for a new one so I’m off to start work on it now :-)  More details and booking for the table runners on my workshop page.

Pleated bags workshop October 8th, 2014

A new workshop taking place on Sunday 9th November at Gisburn Festival Hall. This is a new venue for me and it’s a lovely light space to work. Initially we’ll make prefelt (part made felt) then insert pleats and then move on to finishing our designs.


The pleating gives a sculptural quality to the bag.


I made one very large piece of pre-felt so as well as the bag above I also made the one below.



A cute bag. The prefelt is white Norwegian with carded Blue Faced Leicester on top. Felt handle, off cut of pre-felt for the flap and a felt button. I’m very pleased with how this worked out and am looking forward to showing you my next example. Further details and booking on my workshop page.

Felted soaps October 6th, 2014

A quick fun workshop in which you’ll make several felt covered soaps to either adorn your house or give as gifts this Christmas. Otley, Saturday 8th November, 10am – 1pm.


Landscapes, shapes, patterns in soft merino wool or more natural shapes in the finest of British fibres,  Blue Faced Leicester.


I’ve used silk fibres to represent the veining found on beach pebbles. Fancy joining in? – see my workshop page for more information and booking.