a life of fibre

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.

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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.

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.