a life of fibre

Dual purpose pot April 14th, 2016

In an earlier post I showed some dyeing I’d been doing that I intended to use on some Midsummer Night’s Dream inspired work. I began this pot by carding up lots of browns with a little grey and black for the interior of the pot, I wanted it to be dark and not detract from the exterior.


Midi continued to oversee my work, it’s nice to have company. For the two external layers I carded up lots of green, all of the carded wool was from my bit bag so it was using up fibres at the same time 🙂



There is: bits of broken skeleton leaf, silk, scrim, synthetic fabric, bits of hessian, silk fibres, mulberry silk bark and Teeswater curls all hand dyed.



Lots of texture all way round.



To become one of my pieces for Midsummer Night’s Dream this is just the start but in the meantime it will serve a dual purpose and become a sample for the textured vessels workshop on 30th April. Once I’ve worked on it further I’ll show it again.

Skeleton Leaf Vessel April 12th, 2016

In the past I used skeleton leaves on a wall hanging but decided it was time to play with them on 3D work.On 30th April I’m running a workshop exploring vessels with surface texture and this will be one of my samples.

I began by laying out 4 fine layers of Merino in the usual way and then placed five of the skeleton leaves on top.


You need to leave a gap between the leaves as that will close up as the wool felts. My trusty helper Midi oversaw all work.


Off the resist and beginning to shape it with my mini and rounded palm washboards. Essential that you use a net to protect the leaves during work.


I’d hoped for a sunny day and some outside shots to show it off instead, you’ve got inside on a damp and grey day – sorry.



Not sure that you can tell in this shot but it’s a  soft pentagon shape, rather lovely even if I do say so myself. You’d expect that the leaves would break with all the rolling and rubbing but it hasn’t been my experience. Top tip – leave the leaves soaking on the wet wool before commencing work and always use a net to prevent breakages. Next workshop Saturday 30th April – vessels with surface texture.


Wharf Wool Fair – Saturday 7th May April 8th, 2016

Only a few weeks to the third Wharfe Wool Fair which this year is being held in Ilkley at the Clarke Foley Centre. Twenty four great stalls selling finished goods, supplies for knitting, crochet, felt making, spinning and weaving plus demonstrations from the Craven Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. With the entrance fee held at only £2 and under 16s free there’s lots to see.

I’ll be running a couple of workshops in the afternoon. A quick flower brooch making session followed by poppy pictures. Each session lasts an hour and costs only £10 – booking can be made direct at this page http://www.wharfewool.co.uk/workshops.php



For those who prefer needle felting Jenny Barnett will be running a two hour morning workshop making owl brooches. Pretty aren’t they?

owl brooch

Please help to spread the word of this friendly little fair by liking the facebook page and sharing this post. If you’d like a few leaflets to hand out just email me and I’ll pop some in the post for you.

Sketchbook April 1st, 2016

Rooting around in the loft I came across an old sketchbook started when I began a City & Guilds in Embroidery. I don’t recall if we were all using the same theme, or whether this was one which I personally had chosen but I was looking at rocks, texture, light.


It’s plain to see that I’m no artist and am never more unhappy then when trying to create with pencil or paint. Actually, paint especially. So I hope you’ll forgive the quality of the work, I’m showing it because I thought it interesting to see the process by which the work evolved.


The image below is huge, worked on brown wrapping paper. It folds into a sixth of the size and that is still equal to A3. Strangely I don’t mind this – I’ve done worse!



Got a little fixated on moon craters. Developing the idea in mixed media, paper and fabric.


More paper 🙁 then finally, fabric 🙂



Back to paper and messing about. I didn’t completely hate this process but I’m never happy doing it.



Moving on to create some texture on hand dyed fabric, using hand and machine stitching plus quilting.



The light areas were created using batik.


More quilting in a different colour way.


I went back to an earlier design and worked it again in fabric but with better results.


However, I just couldn’t get away from the dark hand dyed fabrics, they were really working for me.


The final piece is overlaid with hand dyed scrim and it it quilted using hand and machine embroidery with stuffed quilting technique.


It’s mounted behind acetate so not the best picture but you get the idea. I was actually quite happy with this and still like it now. I’d like to think my work has moved on from this and that I’d make a better fist of it if trying it today. I’m definitely happier working with fabric.  If you like this perhaps I should find one of my sketchbooks / workbooks from when I did my Felt Making City & Guilds course.


Dyeing to …. March 31st, 2016

At the last Metaphor meeting we did a spot of dyeing using fibre reactive dyes on cotton, silk, scrim, hessian and cotton/synthetic mixes.


Bearing in mind that the next item I make will be under the theme of Midsummer Night’s Dream, I chose woodland colours. I’m thinking forest, tree bark, lichens, can you see it?


I’ve been carding wool in mixes of greens and browns and will show you the pot as it develops – there’ll be more to it than just the felting.

Seat pad March 25th, 2016

Do you ever find wooden chairs cold to sit on? I do, they’re cold to sit on and hard for the derriere if you’re sat there any length of time. The obvious answer is to make a cover for them which I did do some time ago from part of my stash but the family didn’t like them and they were always slipping off.


I made a seat cover for my daughter’s new drawers and was fortunate to have some leftover foam – 2″ thick so nice and comfy. The lining cover is created from an old sheet which had an irreparable rip down the length of it – don’t ask!


It would have been a very quick project if I’d used the sewing machine but I really felt like having a simple soothing project to work on at night. I’ve always enjoyed hand sewing so this is what I decided to do for the cover. Every stitch by hand.


Every stitch hand stitched, both layers of covering. The exterior fabric was made from a piece of upholstery fabric that I bought for £1 at the Fent Shop in Skipton. Some of the fabric was used to make a bag so it’s been £1 well spent and the seat is very comfortable and has the family seal of approval.

Surface textures March 20th, 2016

My next workshop is on the 30th April where we’ll be looking at surface textures on vases. Surface texture can be created by the addition of fabrics, threads, pre-felts, cut backs and objects between the felt layers. Cutting through adds another aspect to the work too.


To learn more and spend a day experimenting  book a place for Saturday 30th April.

Introducing Ganli March 17th, 2016

This is the latest needle felting kit that I’ve developed for Adelaide Walker. It was way back last Autumn when I had the idea but it was only last month that I found the time and energy to develop the idea into a reality.

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We’ve never named a kit before, what do you think of the practice? It’s 100% Shetland wool including the hat which I dyed the fibres for myself. Being Scottish wool we unveiled it at Edinburgh Yarn Festival last week and it’s available to buy online now.
I have so many more ideas for kits but they do take a lot of time to create and time isn’t always easy to come by. What would you like to see me create next? What would make a good kit?

Bag workshop March 16th, 2016

Saturday was lovely and sunny outside and in as we created some fab felt bags.


The small blue/green bag on the left was made by Mandy. It’s only her second ever piece of felt and she made a great job of it even venturing into adding a pleat. On the right is the blue / red bag by Chris who decided upon a spiral pleat repeated on both sides.


Repeating the spiral pleat, on both sides, in the same position also made a wonderful gussett on the bag. Gill wanted a large fairly plain bag for everyday use. It had an internal pocket and was destined for a leather strap.


Irene was very taken with my leaf shaped bag and created her own autumnal version with a green interior. Many pleats means more stitching and felting but it was on it’s way to completion by the time she left. I can’t wait to see a photo of it finished.


Irene was also inspired to try one with more pleats and this shape I created based on a shell but Irene’s colour choice of turquoise with a white interior was stunning.


It was a joy to work with these lovely ladies and a very big thank you to them all for their help in tidying away. Clifton Village Hall is a really nice small hall with views into adjoining fields full of sheep and donkeys. All my workshops are being held at this venue for the remainder of the year, I hope to see some of you there.

Cabled cushion March 11th, 2016

Only once before have I attempted a cable and that was on a pair of mittens for my daughter. I found it quite difficult but  persevered and was actually quite glad when it was over. Why then did I decide to create a cable cushion? perhaps it was the luscious Jacob aran yarn from The Knitting Gift Shop. You can buy it now in cream and silver grey.


I’m quite proud of it. I must have done the first couple of dozen rows about seventeen times before I really got the hang of the pattern and started to make progress.



The cable part of the pattern is a saxon braid which I found here, the remainder I made up myself with a lot of angst involved.


The Jacob aran is a beautiful wool to work with. One of the most helpful tips I found on the internet was to use a lifeline which is just a spare piece of yarn in a contrasting colour which you can thread though every few rows whilst the stitches are still on the needle. If you then make a mistake you can then unravel the last few rows without it going further. Although this was suggested for use with lace knitting it was extremely useful with cables. Being a beginner with cables I couldn’t always determine which way the stitches were twisting, the lifline meant I could pick them up again all facing in the correct direction.


A favourite part of finishing a project is choosing buttons from Duttons for Buttons and I think these suit this project particularly well. I have more of the black Jacob which I’m knitting into a second cushion, not a cable this time but still textured.