a life of felt

Take a photo April 16th, 2014

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Have a go at creating it in felt

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Pots April 13th, 2014

I had two cameras to hand on Thursday, the first one was throwing an error which I couldn’t sort and my lovely daughter had stolen the SD card from the other so I had to make do with my mobil. Ssorry about the quality folks. The first four are all Blue Faced Leicester wool. This lovely shape is from Sue.

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I really liked the square shape that Kay went for but have it on good authority that she has since changed it.

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Nicki’s little pot was delightful.

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Jane turned up despite feeling very under the weather and made this lovely little pot. Both Jane and Kay added silk to their pots which’ll help them shine when they dry out.

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I just love the fiery colours and exuberance of Jane’s second pot.

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Nicki created her second pot to reflect the colours of the woodland she can see from her kitchen window. Very successful.

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Kay’s pot had a strong retro feel and was made in my favourite shade of blue.

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Sue’s second pot matches the colours of her kitchen rug and this ridged shape is so good.

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It was a real pleasure to teach this group and thanks for the flowers Kay, they’re just beginning to bloom and make me smile each time I see them.

I’ve been thinking April 5th, 2014

This is a phrase my Husband usually dreads as it always seems to involve more work for him and I think he’s not wrong! With all my teaching, attending wool shows and working at Adelaide Walker it’s very hard sometimes to keep my blog up to date. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, sometimes there’s a long list, it’s just that I don’t always have time to organise my thoughts, find and amend photos and have a chat with you lovely people.

So, I’m thinking that I’ll start to use my blog more like I use facebook, where it’s short and sweet. I could close the blog but not everyone is on facebook so I think I’ll keep this going and use it in a punchier format.

I’m also considering one or two visual changes to my site and I’d be very grateful for any suggestions you might have. What would you like to see more/less of? How can I improve it?

Workshops will also be changing in the Autumn when I introduce some short sessions alongside the ever popular day long workshops. What would you like me to teach?

You’re so generous with your time and thoughts that I know I’ll get some good suggestions.

Playing with dye March 31st, 2014

At Adelaide Walker we sell a blend of Jacob/bamboo which is lovely to felt with. For ages now I’ve been wondering what it would look like if I dyed it with fibre reactive dye. My expectation was that the bamboo fibre would be dyed but the wool would not. Experimentation time!

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This is the Jacob/Bamboo before I began. Lovely isn’t it?

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This is the fibre afterwards and it looks waaay better than I’d hoped. The brown of the Jcaob wool makes the pink of the Bamboo look even deeper and richer. Whilst I was at it I also dropped in some cotton muslin, tussah silk and corn fibres. The corn fibre is over on the left and you can see that it took very little colour at all.

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I’ve spun a little up just to see what it would look like after a hot wash,I was worried that a lot more colour would come out but it hasn’t and it’s so gorgeous I’m in love. I wish I’d dyed up more of it.

Added – I should have said how I dyed this – I soaked the jacob/bamboo fibres in cold water with a tiny drop of soapfor an hour. Then I added the fibre reactive dye and left overnight. The cotton and silk I wet under the tap (no soaking because it was too late by then) and added to the dye bath. I added salt to fix the dye and rinsed the silk and cotton in hot water after dyeing to remove any excess. I rinsed the jacob/bamboo in tepid not hot water because I didn’t want it to felt. After I’d spun it into yarn I did wash with hot soapy water to remove any excess dye.

Palm Washboards March 22nd, 2014

A Palm Washboard is a felting tool designed and produced by Robbin and Harry Firth of Heartfelt Silks. As you’ll see from the images below the bottom of the tool somewhat resembles a meat tenderiser and has a very comfortable handle. I first came across it when one of my workshop participants, who’d been on a trip to the states, brought it in with her and kindly allowed everyone to try it out. Some months ago Adelaide Walkerrbegan stocking the tool and this week we received a new shipment which also included some EDGE tools and Rounded Palm Washboards. I thought the time had come to write a review of the tools plus it was my excuse to give the new ones a go!

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I’ve used the standard Palm Washboard quite a bit and anyone who’s been to a workshop recently has been able to try it out. It’s great for replacing my use of a carrier bag during the wet and set stage and it does keep your hands out of the water for longer. However, I’m a heavy handed felter and with wood between you and your work rather than a slim piece of plastic it’s harder to feel what you’re doing to the felt. The main problem for me, is that unless I’m gentle I will move fibres around and I’ve noticed this with people in the workshops too. So, be gentle and it’ll do its job very well.

I feel I should also mention at this stage that when I use the washboard with my usual vigour that it produced more lather from the soap than normal so don’t overdo the soap. If you replace rolling with use of the washboard throughout then I’ve also noticed that you’ll see a slightly smaller shrinkage rate. None of these are negatives, just things to be aware of that may affect how you normally make your felt. It’s noticeable at workshops that anyone with arthritic hands has really found this a useful tool and we’ve all loved working with it.

Fibres will still find their way up through the net so you will have to stop and remove it occasionally but my observation is that there’s fewer fibres coming through than when I use a plastic bag to rub.

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The photo above shows that it’s not just for rubbing with but also for rubbing against. Wanting to play with the smaller tools I decided on making a small vessel so I could try them out. Again, be gentle during the wet and set stage, change the angle of your washboard as you use it round the edges and use a scooping movement that brings the fibres towards the centre each time.

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I’ve tried to show you the angle in the photo above. If you use a pushing action you have a high chance of pushing the wool fibres off the resist. After trying this I tried the Rounded Palm Washboard at this stage and noticed immediately that I could feel the pressure I was putting on my work far more. Once the felt was off the resist I began using it to shape. It is important that you use a net between you and the felt at this stage (especially if, like me, you’re heavy handed) or you will cause some of the fibres and decoration to roll and it may ruin your finish and your pattern.

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I didn’t want a large hole in the vessel and so couldn’t fit the rounded tool into the opening initially so I tried using the EDGE Washboard.

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It’s like holding a nailbrush and it was quite effective at firming the felt. I could see how I might use it inside handbags and any 3D work which was a little narrower and you couldn’t use the rounded tool. But you know me, I couldn’t not use the rounded tool on this so I enlarged the hole.

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It was still a bit of a squeeze getting the tool in there but it was brilliant at shaping and firming the felt. I didn’t do any rolling on the vessel and it has shrunk as normal.

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The EDGE Washboard was developed by Robbin for doing edges, detailed work and ruffles. My previous work didn’t feel as though it had  given  it a chance to shine so I decided to make a fingerless mitten with a frill.

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It was easy to use on firming the frill but do use a net between the tool and your felt or you will roll in the edge and make it thicker than you might like as well as the chance of rolling the surface fibres.

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You can see why it’s called the EDGE can’t you? Unlike the other tools this does give you a longer edge to work with and allows you to get to both sides of the frill. I’ll admit this is the tool I was least sure of initially but I can see its uses, it has grown on me and if I was a frilly person I’d be using this a lot. I think it may be the least used of my tools given how I work and what I make but there’s definitely a place for it in my toolbox.

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So to summarise, for large flat areas you can’t beat the standard tool and indeed, I have two of them so use one, in each hand when working larger projects. It doesn’t replace rolling for me as that allows me to work the whole area at once and I find it physically relaxing switching between the two methods. It’s very good at fulling.

The Rounded Palm Washboard is a great tool when working 3D or smaller 2D pieces. I think it’ll be very popular at workshops. The EDGE tool can be used on 3D work and on the edges it was designed for. My gut feel is that people won’t be quite so keen on this at first but you know it’ll be just the thing in the right situation.

I still have spaces on the picture workshop next month so come along and try these tools for yourself. If you have a washboard  I’d be interested to hear your experiences and tips for using them. As I use these more my observations and likes may very well change so I will review them again.

 

Wharfe Wool Fair March 20th, 2014

I’ve been thinking about organising a local wool fair for at least two years and had chatted about it with friend Yvonne but it wasn’t until January of this year that I finally thought ‘just do it, what’s the worst that can happen’. So I chatted with Hubby Simon who is also my business partner  and he agreed and then Freyalyn offered to help with the ravelry side where she has loads more experience than I and now, preparations are well under way.

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Wharfe Wool Fair takes place at Otley Courthouse on Saturday 10th May where we’ll have around 17 exhibitors offering supplies for felting, spinning, knitting and crochet plus demonstrations and workshops.

I hope that some of you can make it along on the day but even if you can’t you could help us spread the word please. As well as the website you can like us on facebook or join the ravelry group. My biggest fear is that hardly anyone will turn up and the exhibitors will have put a lot of effort in for nothing.

We may have a local guide group involved with a bunting challenge and I’ll keep you posted on this.

Needle felt workshop March 18th, 2014

It was a fun day on Friday but isn’t it amazing how quiet four people can be when they’re really concentrating. It was well worth the effort though as I’m sure you’ll agree once you’ve seen the pictures.

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Made entirely in Jacob wool isn’t this little bear by Penny adorable? First ever needle felting, actually, first ever felt, well done Penny.

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This little devil by Sue certainly looks mischevious but is appealing at the same time. It’s a shame you can’t see his shaggy mane in this picture but the final photo shows it best.

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This polar bear by Heather, made in Norwegian wool, looks quite distinguished with his Merino wool scarf. I believe the intention is to make him a fishing pole and possibly a fish to complete him.

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This last one is by me and you can see that just by changing the angle of the arms he appears to be appealing to be picked up.

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They make a wonderful group. What figures / animals would you most like to make in a workshop?

Meet Jacob March 12th, 2014

I have a needle felting workshop the day after tomorrow and I thought people might like to see what they’ll be making.

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Jacob is made entirely of British Jacob wool.

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He’s quite a splendid little chap about 5″ high. If you fancy making a Jacob of your own there’s still one place on the workshop.

Poppy handbag workshop March 10th, 2014

It’s a shame that the bags don’t look their best whilst still wet because people worked very hard on Saturday and produced some lovely work. It’s also a shame that I made a mistake in the pocket instructions and everyone had to start over! Sorry everyone.

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This isn’t all the bags but you can see how stunning they look on mass.

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Sue chose to do a clutch bag with a 3D poppy and it worked out very well. There’s a bumble bee on the back of the bag and I’m kicking myself as I forgot to photograph it.

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This large poppy on the front of lesley’s bag is very striking and a real feature.

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Gill produced a bag with a double flap. The interior is plain so provides a great contrast to the front.

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The back is a picture on it’s own. Gill likes to have her creations on show and is considering filling it with lavender and hanging it in the bedroom, which I think is a great idea.

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Couldn’t resist this final picture of a front and a back, they’re stunning.  Sadly I’m unable to identify whose work it is but it’s very good. Roll on the picture workshop next month, there’s spaces if you fancy having a go.

Oh, and before I forget, thank you to whoever washed the pots for me, all help is always gratefully received.

Meet Wesley March 6th, 2014

Wesley is my new pincushion from beloved daughter Charlotte.

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She was inspired by a kit advert and thought, “I can do that “.

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Working entirely freehand, no drawing or pattern cutting, she spent a couple of happy nights in front of the TV making it.

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There was some discussion over name, we think he suits Wesley. He’s a very sleepy whale  with a heart of pins. Thanks Charlotte  I’m going to have lots of fun using him.