a life of fibre

Tree of life 5 February 1st, 2015

Do you remember this from earlier in the series?


At the last Metaphor meeting I played with applying a little fine sparkly thread to the outlines of the branches and it encouraged me to do more so I cut a circle surrounding the tree. One of my original sketches had the tree within a circle and I really liked the containment.


Much improved don’t you think? You can perhaps see that I’ve been busy beading it too although you can’t see the sparkly thread at all in these photos, just too fine I guess.

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Generally I prefer round sead beads but as I was trying to use only what I already had, I settled on the short silver bugle beads and I’m delighted I did. This tree now has a cold almost ethereal quality about it. Ghost tree perhaps.


I’ve been busy beading another tree too and I’ll show you that next time if I ever manage a photo that does it justice.

Tree of life 4 January 30th, 2015

Using much the same technique as before I began with a piece of BFL pre-felt and a paper sketch of a tree.


Cutting out a patteren from the pre-felt with nothing to guide me is too difficult so pinning the paper to the felt allowed me to cut through on one side of each cutout piece. The actual cutout was completed once I’d removed the paper. I really hope that makes sense to you!


Instead of laying fibre behind I used a second piece of BFL pre-felt onto which I had nuno felted some lace. I didn’t attach them through needle felting just laid the two pieces together and rubbed carefully so that they wouldn’t be disturbed.


Technically this has worked but I’m not at all sure that I like it.However, when I went to the last Metaphor meeting Rosie took a liking to it as a background and has taken it away to work on it. Once she’s worked her magic we’ll put this into the exhibition as a joint piece. I can’t wait to see what she does.

Tree of life 3 January 28th, 2015

Do you remember this page from my sketch book?


Using the bottom image as my inspiration I created a piece from BFL felt leftover from a previous project.



Fine blanket stitch along the edges of the cutouts and lines added in the centre to accentuate the curves. Do you like it? I do.

Purple poppies January 26th, 2015

Absolutely ages ago I started a notebook cover of purple poppies on a background of grey carded BFL using standard A5 sizing. What better time than the start of a new year to finish it.


Above is the view of both front and back of the notebook. I forgot to take photos during felting but the finished book is below.


It’s finished in black blanket edge stitch and embellised with french knots in the centre of the flowers.


There’s also a little fine running stitch on the black stalks, black running stitch on the black centres and some lilac running stitch on the lighter areas of the flowers.


I enjoyed making the poppies in traditional colours but if anything I think I’ve enjoyed the purple ones more. The notebook is now for sale at £28 including postage, just email me if you’d like to buy.

Tree workshop 2 January 24th, 2015

Working from the same simple sketch and another piece of pre-felt, I began by cutting out the curving lines of the tree.


Each curve was then outlined in purple and a mix of red fibre laid behind and needle felted all over. Small circles of yellow pre-felt were added in the crook of each bend and attached with a quick stitch in red wool.The sections of red wool that I cut from my previous piece were twisted and laid onto the trunk for additional texture.


As before, I felt the tree went too much into the background. To combat this I added some stem stitch across the twisted bits of red on the trunk and then purple stem stitch along each of the curving lines of the tree.


On each of the yellow circles I added a little trio of red french knots.


Another great set of colours.

Tree workshop January 22nd, 2015

Last Autumn I attended a workshop at York Feltmakers run by Jackie Lunn  we were experimenting with pre-felt techniques. I decided to use it as an opportunity to create more tree pieces and made a quick sketch to get me going.


As requested, I’d made some pre-felt in advance from leftover scraps pf Merino. A little yellow laid out and needled in gave me some cutting lines.


Small circles cut out at the top of the tree and a few areas on the trunk too.


The technique was then to lay fibres out acrosss the back of the pre-felt and secure with needle felting all over. Behind each hole I put a circle of blue/green fibre in various shades. Some of them courtesy of Jackie who’d brought her bit box along for us to rummage through.


The mix of red/oranges with blue/greens is one of my favourites. Needle felting across the piece from back to front pushes little spots of the background colour forward. I felt that the background was then a little busy and the tree was less visible.


A little work with thread brought the tree forward again. I’ve done a running stitch along each yellow line of the tree, I did try stem stitch but it felt too heavy. In each blue circle I’ve put french knots in various shades of blue.


It’s turned out well. There’s a second workshop tree in progress which I will show you soon.


Tree of life 2 January 20th, 2015

Following on from my last post, I’ve now tried the tree on an oatmeal BFl background rather than the ecru.


What do you think of it? I’m not sure I like it on this background, I could try it on a fawn Masham or light grey Swaledale. Thoughts anyone?

Tree of life January 19th, 2015

A tree of life was one of the designs I looked at as part of my mythology investifations in the work I was doing as a member of Metaphor textile group. When we agreed the exhibition that will run in March this year the theme of make do and mend was decided upon.


I’ve chosen to re-use my earlier tree of life design (sketchbook page above) and to work in various techniques to develop it further plus I’m trying to do the whole thing using just my stash or items bought from other peoples’ stash, nothing completely new if I can help it.

When a member of the group wanted to de-stash she brought some mulberry bark along for sale and I was tempted, very tempted. It’s so beautiful and shiny and once you’ve soaked it in water for a while you can manipualte it. There was a small piece which had become detached from the rest and I could visualise it split and manipulated into a tree shape.


I really loved the way this looked and I wondered what it would look like if I added some silk fibres behind the tree to kind of fill it our a bit more.


Having covered it with BFL and mulberry silk fibres I then covered the whole item in 2 layers of BFL wool in an oval shape.


There’s something about the shining white tree on a natural white background that really appeals to me but I am worrying that the tree itself isn’t obvious enough. I may have to play with the background colour a little more.

Practice run January 10th, 2015

Before beginning any large project it’s worth doing a practice run or sampler. I intend to make a large sheep shaped door stop so making a smaller version that could act as a paper weight seemed a good idea. First the resist.


The silhouette looked good so I began the laying out. The black for the legs is black Shetland and the body is White Welsh.


It really needs some texture don’t you think? These Blue Faced Leicester curls are the perfect scale for smaller items, I have some Cotswold fleece I’m keeping for the larger version.


Once it was off the resist and beginning to shrink I decided to add a few facial details. I’m not entirely sure that trying to needle on eyes and mouth on wet wool whilst standing up was a good idea. Definitely not one to repeat unless I want a crazed or cartoon type face on the larger door stop.


The shape has worked out very well so all I need is a larger version for the door stop. I would change the ‘legs’ section of the resist to make it much deeper. The extra depth would allow for the fact that it needs a large area to stand on to keep it stable. It will of course be weighted but a stable base is essential.

I didn’t add ears but I’m not sure it needs it, what do you think?

Spinning January 6th, 2015

I seem to have done quite a lot of spinning in the last 6 months and I think that’s mainly because I’ve done most of it on a drop spindle which is extremely portable. You can just pick it up and put it down at will with no need to drag the wheel out of a corner. Don’t get me wrong, I like spinning on the wheel it’s just that I like the drop spindle even more and it takes up so little space in an overnight bag and I can spin my yarn whilst demonstrating at shows.


From left to right – hand dyed Swaledale plied with BFL,  hand dyed Jacob/Bamboo and dyed BFL. The first is destined for a friend but the seond two are for me to use. I really really love the Jacob/Bamboo and I’m hoping that I’ve managed to spin it fine enough that I’ll have sufficient for a laceweight shawl or scarf. I adore the colours of the BFL which are natural brown blended with blue, purple and a little turquoise but I have no idea what I’ll do with it. Fingerless mittens perhaps?