Bags of bags

It was a lovely group of people last week and some fabulous bags as I’m sure you’ll agree.

One of the people who attended was Christine who was kind enough to say “Thanks. I meant to say how much I enjoyed the workshop on Thursday. I never knew felt could be so exciting.” That made my day 🙂

Superfine Merino

It’s that time of year again when the workshop season comes into full swing and we’re all thinking about items to either sell or give at Christmas. So, this seems the perfect opportunity to share with you that there is a source of superfine Merino which is ideal for clothing and nuno felting. Adelaide Walker is now selling undyed Merino 12os (17.5 mircons) at a good price of £2.75 per 100g. It’s unusual to find such high quality fibres so give it a try whilst you can. It’s so soft!

More about rugs

It’s traditional to toast the felt rug before the final unveiling. We had a go at the workshop at penning our own with each person contributing one line.

May it welcome many friends both two and four legged,
We hope the love in its making is somehow reflected,
And joy in the heart in the friendship and humour it gave us all in its making
May our muscles recover and our laughter continue
In celebration of new skills discovered in our pairs,
As it sits in our houses collecting memories all year through

Below is the front and back of the rug by Julie Blyth, brilliant when you consider what a novice Julie is.


We also discovered that we had a poet amongst us as Alison Brindley came up with her own uniue toast.

Ode To The Felt
 Our patterns we laid on the front and the back
We used all the wool – in fact a whole sack!
We rubbed it and bashed it and threw it around
We rolled it and thrashed it down there on the ground
We took it outside and got lots of strange glances
As we pranced up and down doing weird rhythmic dances
We’ve learnt to distinguish the fleece from the tops
We’ve dried up with towels and wrung out the mops
We’ve waded through water and formed a small lake
But had lots of laughs and some rather nice cake
We’ve all done so well and are feeling quite smug
As we each head back home to show off our new rug
So let’s raise our glasses and let’s make a toast
To Angela Barrow our wonderful host!

I know I enjoyed the workshop and most have been kind enough to let me know they did too so it looks like I’ll have to repeat it next year. Jeni said “I had a really enjoyable two days so thanks for your company and support.”

Remarkable Rugs

This weekend is the first time I’ve taught a rug making workshop where there have been four rugs on the go at a time. I like to mix up approaches from different countries. It’s a good way for people to experience a range of rug making techniques but it also allows the body to have a breather as we change from one method to the other. At the end of the workshop you have a good idea of techniques available to you but also which ones you like, which can be done alone and which are communal activities.

We’ve used: rubbing, rolling with hands, forearms, legs and ropes, walking on it, bashing with stones, a mallet and a home made tamping tool. This last, thanks to my husband Simon.

Wooden tamping tool
Wooden tamping tool

It’s made from an old gardening tool handle and a piece of tanalised timber and was well received by most. Ali used it whilst walking on her rug and only hit her foot twice. Result!

We’ve had a really good weekend and there’s been some stunning work produced, which is all the more remarkable when you consider how little experience some people had. I hope to show some more photos soon but here’s a few to be going on with.

rug by Gill Manthorp
rug by Gill Manthorp

rug by Liz Stanley
rug by Liz Stanley

rug by Alison Brindley
rug by Alison Brindley

rug by Yvonne Le Mare
rug by Yvonne Le Mare

Alison was also kind enough to say “thank you for a super workshop.I had such a great time, as I think everyone did, and am so pleased with my rug!” Thanks Alison.

Just the weather for felting

Today is lovely and sunny and just the weather for felt making. I’ve been working on a design for  placemats and table runner which is now in it’s final stage of sampling. If it comes out of the washing machine intact and the same size then I’ll know I’ve got it right and can get on and finish it.

This weekend I’m running a rug making workshop and hoping that we’ll have some good weather so we can get outdoors with the felt.


I enjoyed my visit to Woolfest for several reasons. Firstly: bumping into (literally in some cases) lots of friends and colleagues, I think I spent more time chatting than looking. Secondly, I liked seeing the sheep and this year there were some Rough Fell on show, they are enormous sheep. Never mind shearing them I think you could saddle them!

Thirdly, it was interesting to take a look round the suppliers and see what was on offer, I didn’t even overspend all thanks to my trusty list. I got some beautiful Teeswater Curls that should keep me going for quite a while and some dye for the jacket I made.

This year there seemed to be more knitting and weaving than in previous years and it was very busy even on the Friday. If it gets any more popular you won’t be able to move around the show very easily so my advice is to go early and allow lots of time for what you want to see. There seemed to be more suppliers and less crafters to me which was a pity. It’s a shame that Fibrefest is so far away or I’d be tempted to go to that one too.

Woolfest tomorrow

I’m really looking forward to Woolfest tomorrow. I am trying to be very good and have written a list of the items I need and another of the items I’d like to take a look at. If you’re not careful it’s very easy to overspend. You do come away with lovely things but then they go in your stash sometimes never to reappear.

In addition to stocking up on supplies it’s a great opportunity to have a go at short workshops and watch the fashion show. The sheep shearing should be quite interesting too. The other lovely thing is bumping into so many other people that you know and getting to know one or two new ones.

Nuno masterclass

Well the weekend workshop with Charity Musoma van Der Meer went very well. We began by making a sample top using Charitys’ methods. It seemed a resonable size and I naively wondered if it would fit my daughter when completed. How wrong I was, it will fit a small teddy bear and I do mean small

Working large pieces on small tables was probably the greatest challenge we faced but there was some absolutely fantastic work produced. Below are images of the front and back of my top which I chose to make more like a waistcoat than a tunic. It is silk chiffon with merino 100s, on it I have put  two woollen yarns, one fine silk yarn, throwsters silk waste, ramie fibres, scoured wensleydale and some plastic rings covered with a wool yarn. Everything stayed on.


Some people chose to add frills rather than texture to their pieces and you can see an example of a skirt and a top below. Aren’t they both gorgeous.

nuno skirtMargaret Chalmers

I really enjoyed making this but I’m not sure that I’ve been converted to making clothes in felt. However, it has made me consider other ways in which I can incorporate some of these techniques into my other work. Maybe not yet, but hopefully by the autumn you’ll see a difference in what I produce.

Nuno Masterclass

Tomorrow I’m off to Thirsk for a weekend nuno masterclass with Charity Musoma van Der Meer. We can make either a skirt or a top, I’ve chosen to do a top and as I’m not over keen on frills I’m going to add texture to it.

The whole thing will be constructed in white and the last two weeks has seen me sampling a variety of fabrics and yarns. I’m very comfortable with nuno but much less so with dress making – wish me luck. I’ll put some photos up when I come back.

Felters hands

If you’re a gardener as well as a feltmaker then you will occasionally have problems with dry hands and fibres sticking to them just when you don’t want them to. I have tried using olive oil on my hands before working the felt which is okay but tends to make the felt stick more. Recently I’ve seen the following suggestion in a couple of places and thought I’d share it with you. Take about a teaspoon of sugar in your dry hand and add about a teaspoon of olive oil. Rub your hands together like you’re washing them. The sugar exfoliates and the olive oil really softens. I’m told it’s very effective.