a life of fibre

Cable cushions June 23rd, 2016

Where does the time go? I made these cushions during the winter but have only just managed to find the time to finish them off! It’s not that they needed a lot of work but if truth be told I somehow ran out of steam and put them to one side. In a fit of finishing off jobs last week I made them up and cleared the pile of clothing needing repairs, left me feeling rather virtuous.


Made with lovely squishy yet hard wearing Jacob Yarn from The Knitting Gift Shop. It’s simple moss stitch finished with three wooden buttons. Worried that it was a little too plain I hooked up five roses using this pattern from Attic 24. Looks rather good I think.


There was also some lovely mid grey Jacab yarn that needed using up and as I was on a roll with cushion making and had recently mastered a cable or two I set to and made another.


A relatively simple stag horn cable pattern free from New Stitch a Day.


Once I got into the rhythm of this it was a joy to knit.


Don’t you just love envelope cushion covers? Such little sewing to do. Closures for this are 6 mis-matched buttons from my stash.


Of the two I think I prefer the grey, probably because I think I’m hooked on cables, I just love the texture and the Jacob Aran wool from The Knitting Gift Shop is just perfect for it. You can see my previous cable attempt here

School workshop June 19th, 2016

School workshops are fun but are often very quick affairs of just an hour or two. Imagine my delight when a local shool, Moorfield School, commissioned me to create a wallhanging with the upper sixth to be a permanent feature in the dining hall. Discussion with the art teacher led us to working in neutrals with a tree theme. I was so looking forward to the day.

We began by laying out the background fibres onto a piece of cotton muslin. I was using the muslin because I wanted the hanging to have extra strength. As the tree was to be quite pale I wanted a slightly darker background and chose fawn Masham, sandwiching some white between the layers to keep it lighter still.


Every once in a while we swopped activities so that everyone got chance to have a go at everything. The girls laid out backgrounds. made wet felted berries, flat felt with mulberry silk on and cords and needle felted some large balls to chop in half and hide under the tree roots.


On top of the Masham we put milk protein and tussah silk followed by all the cords to form the trunk and branches. The cords were made with Merino, some had inclusions of Wensleydale locks, cotton scrim and flax fibres for a little deeper colour.


Finally we added real skeleton leaves and leaves cut from the white felt made earlier, It was really starting to look good and then there was the hard work of felting the whole thing together. The girls worked very hard both rubbing and rolling the hanging. Once felted it was time to stitch on some more skeleton leaves, white felt leaves, beads, buttons and berries to create a very full and textured effect.


It always looks a bit flat when wet but once dry it comes to life. If you look at the base of the tree you can see the texture created by hiding wool balls under the roots and including more Wensleydale fleece and wool nepps.


Just some of the many berries that were made.


There was scrim, cords, fleece, flax, cotton chenille and lace in the trunk



The girls worked very hard and it was so, so worth it, the hanging looks fantastic and now that the channel is on the back for hanging I’ll be delivering this tomorrow.


A great days work, don’t you agree? It will look splendid in the hall.

Textured vessel workshop June 7th, 2016

I always look forward to workshops, to seeing what people make but, on the day, some workshops seem to have a really good feel about them that makes them stick in your mind as a good one. This workshop was one of those, great atmosphere and I just loved what people made. It’s a fab feeling to think I helped them to achieve such brilliant results, especially as two were new to felt making.


Unusually, I took a couple of shots during the laying out process and the one below is my absolute favourite, so pretty.


In the flesh it looked like a most delicious cake! The monotone below also caught my attention., I was drawn to it’s curly exuberance.


I just had to show you this one again, finished, with the lace on the bottom which reminded me of a potters’ mark.


And a full frontal of it!


The next two were made by new felt makers and, for me, the red one has a romantic feel, love the vibe.


What can I say, purple and orange are one of my favourite colour combinations, I was always going to love this.


It’s hard to believe at times that every one of these pots came off the same shape resist. It’s about where you cut and how you shape. This next one really did have the feel of an underwater scene so scalloping the opening was perfect.


The ‘cake’ somehow became less cake and more vintage as it was felted and the plain white second opening really helps to set it off.



Sadly people weren’t willing to leave their creations with me 🙁 I guess I’ll have to make my own.

New date for eco printing workshop May 18th, 2016

As people have shown so much interest in this I have added a new date of Monday 20th June at Clifton Village Hall, Otley, West Yorkshire. You can book direct here.


Eco printing workshop May 15th, 2016

I ran this workshop yesterday and spent some time preparing for this last week. Imagine my horror when I learnt that I had no idea what had happened to the samples I made last year!  I’ve had a busy few days making samples, mordanting cloth and generally preparing. One of the biggest headaches of course was that I had only one steamer and there’s no way that would have taken 8 bundles. Fortunately Hubby is very understanding and spent some time constructing a steamer platform for inside my old jam pan – problem solved.

People brought leaves ready pressed and we set to laying the plant material out between a layer of cotton muslin and one of silk gauze.




They look like very beautiful works of art. We tried to use as wide a range of leaves as possible to give a greater variety in the finished printing. Whilst we were waiting for the bundles to steam we made flowers.


As you can see, I restricted the number of wool colours we had to work with to just black, white, olive green and old gold, all chosen to enhance the finished printing. You can not believe how exciting it is when the bundles are opened.





Once people had chance to look at the results it was time to decide whether or not to apply ferrous sulphate to the print. This will darken the print and in some cases bring out areas which look blank and can be done by spraying or painting on the solution.


I’d made up two solution; one weak, one strong. Most people started with the weak solution but in the interests of experimentation, couldn’t help themselves and ended up trying both.


It’s amazing how much of the detail is retained in the plant print and sometimes, unexpected bonuses like outlines.






After much oohing and aahing we started the business of nuno felting. Most felted the silk but a couple of people chose to use the cotton muslin. From left to right: muslin on a white wool base, silk bordered, silk on a white wool base.


The next three are all on silk, the first two on white wool bases and the far right on a green wool base.



A dramatic border on the next, framing the print beautifully.


A white ruffled border. Although I like the white I’m not sure if the ruffling doesn’t detract from the printing a little but it is very pretty.



We didn’t know exactly what plant prints and shades of dye we would achieve but you can see now, why I restricted the Merino colour choices. Don’t the brooches look well with the finished scarves?


If I can fit another workshop in in the next couple of months I will but it’ll be a mid week workshop. Anyone interested?


Wharfe Wool Fair May 8th, 2016

We couldn’t have asked for a better day for the fair, the weather was absolutely gorgeous and we had lots of visitors. The morning in particular was very busy but I didn’t see much of the afternoon as I was teaching.




What a great set of flowers were made, each so pretty, there were several I’d have liked to have kept but no-one was willing to leave them.




In the poppy picture workshop everyone had the same colours and instructions and yet we still ended up with quite distinctively different end results. Isn’t that amazing. I had wondered if we’d manage to complete it in the hour but everyone was very focussed and we did achieve it. In each session there was a member of the younger generation too, it’s always good to have a mix.


If you’d like to see more pictures from the day then pop across to facebook and take a look at the album.

Catch up May 7th, 2016

Hello, have you missed me? It’s been another one of those periods where I’ve just been too busy to do much blogging, sorry.  As well as busy on the work front it’s also been exam time for my daughter. All art type exams are held incredibly early and after much stress over the last few weeks as she rushed to finish her work, had a meltdown over her photos and regained new confidence in her topic, the photography exams are finally over, phew! One A level down and 2 more to go next month. We hope she does well in the exams because she is working incredibly hard towards them and it would be nice to see the effort pay off.

I ran a nuno scarf workshop from home for a family group of three and it wasa very enjoyable day. The ladies worked hard as you can see


and created three, very different, but lovely designs. Two of the scarves had a frill down one edge.WP_20160419_13_01_21_Pro

After that it was off to Builth Wells for WonderWool Wales where we had a very nice time and I even managed not to buy another spindle. It is still calling to me though so if I see it again I’ll definitely be buying it. I also abstained from any woolly purchases choosing instead to come home and start spinning up the wool I bought at Yarndale last September, Wasn’t  I good?

Last weekend I taught a 3D vessel workshop but I’ll save those pictures for a separate post. Today I’ll be teaching two short workshops at Wharfe Wool Fair.

logo with background

Doors open at 10am at the Clarke Foley Centre in Ilkley.

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.