Cushion One

Ages ago, more than a year, I did a little bit of dyeing. I had a wool blanket which I boil washed 4 times but it wouldn’t felt so I cut it in half and tried again. With more room in the washer I thought perhaps that might help it to felt but all to no avail. However I decided to dye it as I’m sure I’d have a use for it. This gorgeous dyed blanket then sat in the cupboard for so long I thought I’d never get inspiration.

Thank goodness for exhibitions, they make you cast around for materials that can be used with your ideas and work within the theme.The theme is the dying of the sun, lots of use for reds, oranges and yellows. “They’d look perfect on turquoise and purple” I told myself. Judge for yourself.

Needle felted and then wet felted to make it more secure – it is a cushion after all. It’s envelope style which doesn’t always require any other fastening but on this occasion I felt it did. The other benefit of envelope style being it requires only 2 seams and no zips.

You can see I sealed the cut edge of the cushion by enclosing it in wool and wet felting it. The button is hand made from fimo and the yarn is some of the rug yarn which I rescued from a skip and dyed at the same time as the blanket so it’s a perfect match. It’s very simple but I’m pleased with this.

I surprised myself by how easy I found the drawing in needle felting, drawing is something I usually avoid but perhaps I shouldn’t. The title for this one is ‘Risen’. Tomorrow, the purple cushion.

 

First workshop of the Autumn

Life just seems to be whizzing by. Holidays are over, my daughter is back at school and I held my first workshop yesterday. It must have been  good  because my husband complained about all the noise and laughter!

What a motley crew they are but so adorable with it. It’s hard to believe that we all began with 5 basic sausage shapes, yet ended up with very different animals/ creatures/dolls.

I do wish we’d managed to name them as this debonair offering from Jane deserves a name I feel. The bow tie was an inspired addition.

I’m not sure at what point the idea of an elephant presented itself to Jeanette but there was no stopping her once it had. You may have noticed that it’s smaller than some and this is because Jeanette worked until the felt was very firm and hence smaller. There are even muscle details on the haunches.

This appealing winged creature is by Tricia. One of the original ideas was to give it over sized ears but Tricia wasn’t happy with them until she realised they’d make great wings instead – a happy chance.

This figure by Barbara went though the great change in it’s creation. Early on, it was definitely a male creature and as you see now is definitely a female doll. Barbara’s love of all things pretty meant she wasn’t happy until it underwent a complete change.

This is by Shiona and is very cute.  I especially like tthe friendly face, heart on his leg and the love banner.

We worked with a number of fibres during the day trying out; Merino, English 56s, Black Welsh Mountain, Jacob and Norwegian with most people  choosing to work in either Norwegian or Jacob. It’s a workshop that creates lots of laughter as we marvel at the transformation of wool into characters some of it not intended but always interesting. Roll on the next one.

 

Another project started

I seem to have got fire birds / Phoenix on the brain. If you read my earlier post you know that I’m creating a 3D model of a phoenix but this time I’ve decided to have a go at a felt line drawing. Both projects require needle felting techniques which wouldn’t be a problem if it didn’t set off my repetitive strain injury. It just means that I have to work on them in stages rather than one go. Not that much of a hardship is it?

The background is a hand dyed wool blanket and this is my basic outline. There’s still quite a bit of work to do thickening and firming up lines plus adding details but you can see where I’m going with it. The original intention was to do a front on double winged bird but I discovered part way in that I’d placed it too near the edge of the fabric and had to turn it into a profile drawing instead.

 

Flames

Flames are very much on my mind at the moment. This year, the theme for Felt United is flames and Tracy Markey and I are arranging an exhibition around flames and the sun to coincide with the day. So it’s no surprise that when I came across this remnant from a previous project in my cupboard, I immediately thought phoenix.

The basic bird shape is good but obviously the colouration is completely wrong for a phoneix. So my first move was to transform it with flame.

I find it much easier to concentrate on shape when I’m not distracted by colour or pattern. Now the bird is a uniform  colour I can see the changes I’d like to make to the shape with the most change being in the tail area. This is as far as I’ve got so I’m afraid you’ll have to wait to see morre but I will show you as soon as I do it.

Present update

I decided the best way to do the sheep would be to use a print out  and needle felt an outline onto the background.

I cut the paper down and pinned on ready to start. The intention was to needle felt straight through the paper.

Unfortunately this didn’t work as the paper was tougher than expected and wouldn’t break easily enough. The wool was being needle felted onto it. I’d thought repeated needling would tear the paper and mean I woudn’t have to cut the image out.

With the excess paper completely removed I tried again by needling round the edge, this worked much better.

Working round the paper feet proved a little tricky so I decided to leave them until later.

By cutting the image into parts I was able to finish the outline. It needs some work but it’s coming along.

It’s looking quite good now but I won’t fill in the facial details until I’ve completed the next stage which is to fill in the body of the sheep with white BFL fleece. I hope to finish this quickly now as it needs to be framed ready for next Tuesday.

Needle felting workshop

As no-one had used a felting needle previously, we began with a few basic needle skills and the useful exercise of making small brooches using scrap felt, threads, fabrics and yarns.

There were some lovely textures created. Lots of people use Norwegian wool fibres for needle felting as they’re very easy and come in a great range of colours. However, we shouldn’t overlook some of the other wools which also needle felt well. We used white Cheviot, grey Jacob and black Welsh. These don’t come ready dyed but, they make great base colours, are British and inexpensive. Although I had a wide range of dyed Norwegian available everyone, including me, used naturals for the bulk of the figures.

This is mine, very cutesy isn’t it? I thought perhaps it might make a Mothering Sunday present.

Created by Jane, this is just adorable and is leaning on a lichen covered log. We began with a few sausage shaped rolls and once we started on facial features it was amazing what creatures emerged from the wool. That isn’t curly hair by the way, it’s a hat.  No two are alike as you will see.

Isn’t he funky? Nicky’s creation is very appealing with his pink mohican hair and pot belly.

Mich worried what this character said about her imagination / personality. Despite holding the head of another creature I think this looks mischievous rather than evil. What say you?

This rotund little bird is by Jeni and is full of fun and character with added pre-felt and yarns. Hubby was in his office during the workshop and all he heard was silence punctuated by stabbing sounds (needles going into sponges) and sudden gales of laughter as we showed the latest addition to our little characters. I’ll definitely be running this again in the Autumn so keep an eye out for dates.

Mr.P.Smurf

Mr Poo Smurf, for so the family insist on calling him came to visit yesterday. We looked high and low before we caught a glimpse of him.

He was hiding behind a bush. Was he shy or did the fact he has only one eye mean he couldn’t see where he was going? We stood and waited quietly until M.Poo Smurf showed himself.

Why what big feet he has! A sudden appearance by one of the cats and Mr Poo Smurf went into hiding. Was he behind the bush? No. Was he hiding round the corner? No. Can you see Mr Poo Smurf?

There he is, hiding in the plantpot. This time we managed to introduce ourselves before he ran away and hid again.Mr Poo Smurf didn’t like being on the ground with cats around so he sat on the edge of the planter.

When we left he was looking very much at home sat sunning himself in a quiet corner. I wonder if he’ll visit again?

Mr Poo Smurf has been a fun figure to make, although I am slightly worried about my imagination! If you’d like to make your own visitor then why not come along to the 3D figures workshop on Saturday 6th November.

3D Figures

I don’t do a lot of needle felting as it tends to set off my repetitive strain injury which is never helped by the fact that I get obsessional about needle felting. I know it can be done over several days but I always end up needling away for hours because I can’t bear to stop before it’s finished. My latest project is probably my best and I thought I’d share a few examples with you.

The bird shapes are nice to create but I most enjoyed needling the pattern onto the black one – that was fun. I made Neptune ages ago and thought he needed a mate so here’s my new mermaid.

The size isn’t right is it? perhaps I should have looked at Neptune before I began the mermaid but never mind she has a certain charm. Overall I think I’m most pleased with my latest project.

She’s been named the old crone by the family and we think she’s lovely. I couldn’t get the hands as I wanted them so I gave her an apple and a stick to take attention elsewhere. Methinks she needs some company – any ideas? It’s much easier to do features on larger dolls. Can you guess what this doll is based around? – a leftover yarn cone. Good use of materials eh? For anyone fancying a go at a needle felted figure I have a workshop on Saturday 6th November and there are still spaces left.

Meet Charlie and Dave

As it’s school holiday time here I was able to take my daughter to see Grandma for the day. It’s usual that we take along anything Grandma hasn’t seen for a show and tell session. Amongst the hoard this week was a needlefelted clown fish. Not needlefelted by me but by my daughter who’d taken it from a new book acquisition (the book is mine and she has to let me look at it sometime) and had a go. Now she has needlefelted a little before and two, or was it three?, Christmas’s ago she depicted me and her Dad as mermaids.

Why mermaids, I hear you ask. Well legs are rather difficult when you’re just starting out and can’t accept help from Mum because the present is for her. Aren’t I lucky? I think you have to agree, for someone of tender years they’re pretty darn good. So it was no surprise when after an hours work I was presented with a fish to admire. And I do admire it, I think it’s really lovely.

To return to the story, it was such a good fish it had to be taken to Grandma’s for show and tell and it was thought a good idea if we took some fibres and equipment along with us to show how it was done. Obviously, the next thought was that Grandma, also being a crafty person, could have a go too and that’s when the day started to line up for being very, very funny.

Grandma was lured into a false sense of security by admiring the fish and asking all the right questions,” Where did you get the idea?, How was it done?”, little expecting a day long tutorial in response. My Mum is such a good sport she was easily talked into doing a project together. They looked through the book and chose an animal to make, at which point I thought it only fair that Grandma should make a 2D piece of needlefelt first followed by a ball just to give her the idea of how to use the needle and to use it for shaping. That’s when the laughter started and I heard the first of my daughter’s exclamations that went like this: “No Grandma, not like that, like this, watch”

After only a 2 minutes practice Mum thought it was great fun but obviously wasn’t the most adept person with a needle to begin a 3D animal. Added to which, Mum has a rebellious streak, doesn’t take orders well and generally likes to mess about (now I know where I get it from).

It started well and then dissolved into anarchy very quickly. After doing as instructed Grandma started adding bits, demanding to know what my daughter was doing and why, but not really listening to the answer and generally behaving like a six year old. They were happily bickering and jousting (verbally) away and the needlefelt very quickly became secondary to the main aim of the day, having fun together. I was busy doing a few jobs around the house and kept popping in to view progress or to pretend to break it up when arguments got heated. If my daughter left the room to tell me what was happening, Grandma would pinch her animal and add or alter bits!

This is the animals when we broke for lunch. Can you tell what they are yet? The one on the left made me think of Clangers (70s Tv programme), it just needs a little knitted jumper. I had absolutely no hope of them being finished before we left or of them looking like anything recognisable. Nor can I remember when I enjoyed a day so much and laughed so much. We really did have tears of laughter running down our faces. It was a joy to see them enjoying each others company so much and reminded me of the close bond I had with my Grandma, another very crafty lady. I had to be quite strict about being careful with needles, Mum can be such a minx. Progress was quite rapid once they’d been fed and watered but I still don’t know how because the laughter and arguing abated not one jot. How did they manage it?

I was wrong, the animals were finished and so I think was Grandma. Day long activity, lots of laughter and arguing, I think she needed a lie down when we left. These animals are great but I’m not going to tell you what they are. The first person to correctly identify Charlie and Dave will receive one of my flower brooches as a prize and I’ll reveal their species later.