a life of fibre

The Darling Roses June 19th, 2015

Last Saturday I was invited along to the Darling Roses WI meeting to run a short needle felting workshop. The invite included a free lunch (very good it was too, especially the gingerbread thanks Debbie) and I was lucky enough to catch the end of a fascinating talk about death/burial customs in the Victorian era and a talk from a textile artist about their practice and how they approach designing. Beautiful work on display.

We had only two hours for the workshop so I figured a needle felted sheep would fit the bill perfectly.


What a lovely, friendly, chatty bunch of ladies they were. If you’re considering joining a WI I’d definitely recommend this one. You can see what fun was being had.


Demonstrating in mid air isn’t very easy but they managed to follow my instructions okay and here’s a close up of a finished sheep to prove it.


Everyone was eager to participate in the group photo shoot.


Aren’t they great?



Very pleased and proud!


Silk carrier rods June 16th, 2015

Have you ever used silk carrier rods in your work? They’re a by product of the silk industry. As silk is reeled off the cocoons small deposits are left behind on the rods which has to be cut off. Due to the serecin in the silk the rods usually retain their cyclindrical shape. After soaking you can split the rods into layers and add into your felt. They dye beautifully, can be used in creative textile and one lady has even told me she spins with them. I think that last one may be beyond me.

Silk is becoming harder to source and the last consignment of silk carrier rods to Adelaide Walker weren’t as cylindrical and straight as previous lots.


Now I soak and peel mine but a customer really wanted to use them to represent figures in her work so needed the more rigid shape. As the sericin is still present I didn’t see why they couldn’t be reshaped. I quickly came to the conclusion that I needed something around which to form the shape – a knitting needle.


The rod was soaked for 10 minutes first but I think I’d probably have got away with wetting it down well or soaking for only 2 minutes. Wet and floppy, it wouldn’t stay on the needle so I used a little sewing thread just to keep it in place. It wasn’t wrapped tightly and the thread wasn’t even knotted it just kept it in place during drying.


Hasn’t it worked well? Once dry, the rods slipped easily off the needle and are wonderfully straight and rigid. It leads me to believe I could have formed other shapes too and probably would if I could work out what to do with them afterwards.

Ruana Shawl June 14th, 2015

I’ve been lucky enough to spend three days this week at a workshop with Robbin Firth of Heartfelt Silks. Robbin is visiting the UK to run a number of workshops and the Ruana shawl is the largest piece of felt to be made during her visit.

First off, Robbin had to contend with irregular sized / too small tables, people who hadn’t brought the right stuff (oops!) and working away from home without all her usual bits to hand. She did an excellent job.

I’d dyed up some silk chiffon but decided instead to go for using the undyed silk paj that I’d also brought with me. You think by now I’d know well enough that I should have washed it first to remove the dressing, but I didn’t :-(  It still works okay but just meant more rolling for me.

To add interest to the silk side of the shawl I laid down lines of coloured tops in purple and some nepps in purple and blue. The hope was that the coloured lines would show through the silk and that the nepps would add texture.


On top of this I added Merino tops in four shades of blue and finished the edge in BFL dyed curls. As I worked up the shwl I began to add purple into the blues, then to gradually remove the blues until I worlked in purples at the far end, finishing again with the same fringe.


At the purple end of the scarf I laid down blue tops in lines along with more nepps.


Even though we had 4 tables apiece to work on sometimes nothing but the floor would do. Here you see Robbin and her daughter Kirsten helping with Gilly’s shawl.


Sue had to leave early so her shawl isn’t in the group shot, lovely isn’t it?


From left to right :  Yvonne, Androulla, Gilly, Louise, Robbin, Liz, Helen, yours truly with her eyes shut! and Kirsten.


Great fun and not long until my next workshop with Robbin on 24th June.

Bempton, Filey, Nunnington May 31st, 2015

It was a bright clear day, it was early and we didn’t need to wait for our teenager to emerge, the day was ours. We shot across to Bempton Cliffs as quickly as we could and were mildly surprised at the numbers of people who’d beaten us there!

We go every year to see the sea birds nesting. There are thousands of gannets and kittiwakes not to mention guillemots and razorbills plus some puffins, fulmars and even a few tree sparrows around. The kittiwakes were the only ones we saw with eggs in their nests. I didn’t take photos (no camera) but spent my whole time just watching and abosrbing the sounds.

Walking beyond the sea bird colony viewing areas we continued along the cliff and I was struck by just how much red campion was in bloom.


I used the camera on my phone to take these pictures, even though I couldn’t see what I was taking thanks to the sun on the screen. Isn’t it wonderful.


Our next stop was only a few miles away at Filey where we planned to take a beach walk out to Filey Brigg and also indulge in a fish and chip lunch. You can imagine how delighted I was to discover large areas of rust on our beach walk.



just loved all the circle patterns on this one.



I took so many images.




The majority of these photos were taken portrait style but when editing I found I preferred many of them landscape.



Did I mention I took a lot of photos?







The last set of felt work I did focussed on the tree of life and my next set is going to focus on rust. I love rust, can you tell?




I’ve already begun some dyeing experiments using rust and I’ll show you those in a later post. After Filey we stopped off at Nunnington Hall on our way home and saw these splendid chaps in the gardens.


They were of course very noisy, they always are aren’t they.


No females around so no displays :-(


Tempted to make my next work all about peacocks but looking at the evidence above, I’d better stick with rust.


A local walk May 30th, 2015

We’ve had some beautiful sunny days over the last couple of weeks and I often feel I don’t get out and about enough so when I last had a lovely day and not such a busy schedule, I took myself off for a short local walk.

I’m not a fanatic of walks in the woods, prefering the open hills, but you just have to visit when our native bluebells are out. The walk began with a snicket, steps over the railway, shortcuts across open spaces, quiet back streets and a walk through the cemetery emerging onto the river bank. A quick hop across the suspension bridge later I entered the woods.


There’s always dog walkers in the woods but on this day there were lots more people wandering and photographing the flowers, plus two groups of nursery age children squealing and having fun.



I love to see funghi at any time of year and trying to spot them is something I do whenever I enter woods. The higher I climbed through the woods the quieter it became until as I reached the upper edges I realised I hadn’t seen or even heard anyone for quite some time.


It was so peaceful it was a shame I had to leave but I enjoyed my walk back down through the flowers and out to the river.


It looks so quiet and deserted yet it’s only about 300 yards from the centre of town and you can see we hadn’t had much rain. Mother Nature has well and truly taken care of that over the last few days and I doubt very much that there’d be many pebbles to see in that spot now.

My spring wreath May 22nd, 2015

Life rushes by so quickly that I’ve only just realised that I never showed you the full pictures of my spring wreath. I made it as a sample to inspire people at the workshop but love it and now have it on my front door.


A polystyrene half ring was used for the base, which was covered in carded Merino in shades of brown and green. Early spring when the daffodils are out doesn’t have masses of green which is why I wanted to include browns.


There’s a contorted willow in my garden which is now somewhat denuded of small branches as we availed ourselves of it’s bounty.


There’s very little variety of plant material in the wreath, just daffodils, willow and a few leaves, which just goes to show that less can be more. I think it’s very successful.


The stamens were made separately and needle felted in afterwards.


Our door shows it off wonderfully. I seem to have taken a lot of photos don’t I? Did I mention I like it?


There are so many more wreath ideas zipping about in my head that I must make time soon to make another one.


Nuno felt workshop May 21st, 2015

Foolishly I decided to go online and check a few things this morning before I wrote this blog – 3 hours later and I’m finally writing it!!!! Technology must be one fo the greatest time wasters there is so I have just made myself a promise to spend less time on it.

We began the workshop by making small narrow nuno samples just large enough to be a scarf if required. For this we used cotton muslin as the fabric and tried out various ways of laying the wool, changing the ends and incorporating frills.



Muslin gives greater texture than the silk chiffon which we used later and so is good to practice on and compare end results. Sharon had a finger injury and spent the day trying valiantly (but ultimately fruitlessly) to keep her injury dry.


It’s interesting to see scarves being laid out and then contrast that with the finished item.



Kathryn’s scarf was beautifully laid out and was double sided. In fact, everyone made double sided scarves, some looked the same on each side and others were different on each side.



There’s a wonderful variety isn’t there?




The last two were made using the same coloured chiffon base but the addition of different wools and patterns means unique results. I love the nuno workshops, perhaps I should plan more?

Nuno + devore May 13th, 2015

I’m running a nuno devore wrap workshop in December and have been playing around with samples. This latest one is a charity shop find, no label but I believe it to be wholly synthetic.


A silk/viscose mix would have been better. It’s a blue grey in colour although the later photos show it as more blue. I thought it was quite pretty if a little short.


I carded up a mix of black, navy and cornflower Merino from Adelaide Walker and added some dyed throwsters silk waste for extra interest. As the scarf was so short I laid the fibres going across the scarf meaning that it would get narrower but not shorter. To compensate I also added a wool border right around the fabric making it wider and longer.


You can see from the way the scarf has crinkled that I laid the fibres in one direction.


I’m really rather enjoying the texture and weight of this scarf. The carded Merino colours compliment it beautifully.


It’s amazing how few devore, especially silk devore, scarves end up in charity shops. I know I can buy fabric by the metre but I don’t want all my samples the same so I will continue to explore the shops and see what I come across.


I can feel a non devore wrap coming on – must dash and play. Byeee

Wharfe Wool Fair May 11th, 2015

It was Wharfe Wool Fair last Saturday, the second time we’ve organised this fair and it was just as successful this year as last. Organising a fair is hard work but worth the effort as everyone, stallholders and visitors alike, seemed to enjoy it so much.


In addition to the various stalls the local guild of weavers, spinners and dyers were demonstrating.


There was a needle felting workshop with Jenny Barnett.


A drop spindle spinning workshop with Freyalyn Close-Hainsworth.


A wet felting workshop with yours truly.


We only had two hours and the ladies made some splendid felted vessles in that time. Wool used was Bergschaf from Adelaide Walker.IMG_1401

So pretty May 8th, 2015

I planted these last Autumn so it’s the first time I’ve seen them bloom.


I like tulips but these particular ones I love.


The colours are so beautiful I think I need to buy more this year.