Phew!

Thought I’d never get this finished and dried to show you but here is my table runner – at last!

Remember, it’s all British wool.

I didn’t use the Masham in the end but I did use BFL, Shetland, Cheviot, Jacob, Manx and Black Welsh Mountain

I’ve decided to call it Cherry Topped.

Now to do a matching item – watch this space but please don’t hold your breath as it may take a while.

Working up to it

There’s an idea for a table runner that I’ve had in my head for quite a while now. Over the last few days I’ve managed to make a few pieces of pre-felt for it and I think today might be the day for cracking on with it.

It’s a simple design which I think will look quite stylish in varying shades of natural coloured wools with a twist which I’ll reveal later. The process began by identifying which breeds I’d like to use. So far my list contains, Blue Faced Leicester, Masham, Shetland, Manx, Black Welsh Mountain, Jacob and Cheviot.

When I need pre-felts for projects like this I always make them in 2 layers. After wetting the fibres out,If there are no patterns or embellishments, I don’t rub, I just roll, gradually increasing the pressure as I go along. One of the considerations of working with pre-felts is to have them all at the same stage before you begin to put them together. This means that I’ve created a BFL pre-felt after only 400 rolls but the Black Welsh Mountain took 1,200 rolls to achieve the same state.

Don’t they look lovely? I hope to show you the next stage and dare I say it?, a completed runner, very soon.

Remember this?

In May I showed you this little blue pot

I’d been playing around with the shape and couldn’t decide what to do. Some of you were kind enough to respond with suggestions and Kate suggested putting beach glass in the holes. It’s taken me a while to find the time but here it is.

I decided to put the beach glass on the outside rather than in the holes and I like the finished piece. The brown beach glass looks good and I’m so pleased to have found a use for some of it as I seem incapable of not collecting it.

I was chuffed to find a thread that matched and it does look good on the gravel. Thanks Kate.

Blush

There’s not been a lot about felting in the last week or so and there is a good reason for that, it’s called life. I’m sure some of you will be familiar with it. You get up, your day is planned and it starts to fall apart almost immediately and never recovers that day, or the next. But at last I can show you a piece of felt which I made two weeks ago and have finally found opportunity to photograph.

This is all part of my move towards working more with British wool fibres. The inner two layers of the vessel are hand dyed Blue Faced Leicester and the outer two layers are Wensleydale. Wensleydale is a gorgeous rich cream colour, long staple and a great lustre. As a coarser wool it’s slower to felt than some but I actually like the texture of some of these wools and combining them with easier to felt fibres like Blue Faced Leicester really helps to speed it up.

The eagle eyed amongst you may also have spotted that I’ve added an extra fibre to the outside, it’s milk protein fibre which adds more lustre. Wish I’d put a little more on really but it looks better in the flesh than on the photo.

I’m not overly fond of the pink fibres I dyed but they do work very well to give a bright splash of colour to the interior and it contrasts well with the subtle blush colour seen from the outside. As the fibres have felted the bright pink has shown through the Wensleydale to give subtle colouration. I designed it with flowers for the exterior and I wanted those to be subtle too and not have bright pink showing.

I made a Blue Faced Leicester sandwich pre-felt i.e. Wensleydale fibres, then Blue Faced Leicester, then more Wensleydale and some milk protein. It’s given me the same colour in the flowers and I’m very pleased with them. I hand stitched the flowers on after felting and there are baby pink seed beads in the centres.

Little Devon Pot

I love having new fibres to play with, I’m trying quite hard to work with every British breed, if I can get my hands on it. These Devon fibres came my way three weeks ago and I was instantly struck by the lovely rich cream colour. It has a long staple and a wool count of 48-53. It has a tendency to move around a little during wet and set stage so just be a little more gentle and patient at this time. The result is beautiful.

I formed this one around a mould and it was destined to be a stand alone felt pot – the felt is sufficiently sturdy. However, when I stood back and looked again I really liked it with the vase left in.

Not sure that it looks so good on camera so you’ll just have to trust me when I say they seem right together and will stay that way. The surface is decorated with milk protein fibre which I’ll be using a lot more of as I think it has a lovely rich colour and lustre.  Obviously this can be used for fresh flowers but I also wanted to show it to you with a candle in so you can see how different it looks when lit up.

British Wool Workshop

We had a great day on Thursday, I say we, me and the four lovely people who came to play felt but actually I should say I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think / hope they did too. No zingy colours to work with as there is when we work in Merino, but I did have a little home dyed Blue Faced Leicester and Swaledale which they eschewed  in favour of the naturals.

Quite a few of the British breeds are, how shall we say?, less soft, than the merino which is most commonly worked with. We’re so used to feeling very soft wool that not everyone takes to some of these wools straight away whilst some love them. I’ve yet to find a British wool I don’t like although I will admit there are quite a few which I most certainly would not want next to my skin. There are so many other uses we can put them to though.

So, first up we have a vessel in Black Jacob by Carol (black in these wools is usually a very dark brown), a vessel in Black Welsh Mountain by Belinda ( a lovely springy wool, if you press this vessel flat it pops back up like one of those instant pop up tents!) and a garlic pot in Massam by Belinda. I may pinch this idea Belinda.

The lovely brown is a Manx Loaghtan by Liz. This is a rare breed by the way and such a divine colour. In the centre is Lincoln Longwool also by Liz, lovely art deco shape to it and it has some seacell decoration. Sorry about the lighting on this but it was raining and the light was poor.

Both of these vessels are by Carol. the first in white Shetland with recycled sari silk fibre decoration and the second lovely form in Massam fibres. You can’t see all the colours in the white one but it did look stunning with the coloured marbling.

This fabulous trio is by Judith. From left to right – Blue Faced Leicester, Devon, Massam. I know Judith wasn’t keen on the Devon whilst working it but was a little more won over by the time it was felted and this threesome just look so right together.  The final  quirky (and I do mean that as a compliment) vessel is by Liz worked in Black Jacob with a milk protein decoration. Judith also used milk protein on her Devon vessel but you can’t see it in the photo.

Some of the fibres smell a little more sheepy than the highly processed, coloured Merino but personally I like the smell and each fibre is so different to handle. It’s wonderful exploring British Wools and as a couple of you have been asking if I’ll be running another one, I’m now planning a British Wool weekend on 1st and 2nd October. Details to follow soon.

Little blue pot

At my last workshop I began a little pot as part of my demonstration on how to pull and lay out fibres. I’ve now finished it – I think! I seem to be going through a phase of not being totally happy with my items and yet not knowing what it is I want to change, perhaps if I live with it for a while first. Anyway, take a look and let me know what you think.

I quite liked it this way with the top rolled down but it wasn’t fully felted and was a little too organic for me although now I’m not so sure.

Very plain but I liked the fullness of the shape however, I decided to keep going.

Less plain with this shaping around the neck but I just couldn’t leave it alone!

So this is what I’ve got now. it has some shaping around the neck and is encircled by 8 smaller holes. Still not sure about it. It’s getting smaller all the time and is very nearly at the point of no return but I could just reshape the neck if I wanted. Opinions? Looking at these pictures now I wish I’d gone with the rolled over neck!

Landscapes

I’ve never really been inspired by landscapes preferring instead the detail and texture of nature BUT, just occasionally I have a go. Even more occasionally they work out okay. The problem I have is that even though I know I don’t have to be constrained by what I see, I usually am and can’t seem to break free from trying to create what is in front of me. I don’t know why, but today, I thought it might be my day to have another go.

The Cow and Calf rocks is a local landmark. Ages ago I made a landscape based on it and then threw it in the bin, so great was my disgust with the outcome. When in a better mood I had a go at drawing my interpretation and those who’ve read this blog before will know I don’t like straight lines, so I didn’t use any. This drawing has been lurking in a dark place waiting for the ‘right mood’ for me to create it in felt.

I like the effect of the lines and movement in the felt but the size and height of the rocks is wrong. No idea what I was looking at when I laid the fibres out – it wasn’t my drawing that’s for sure. Disappointed rather than disgusted I had another couple of goes.

Much better this time. The rocks are a better proportion and height but still the same movement in the piece. My husband didn’t like that the rocks were joined so I’ve split them off and now I’m not sure which I prefer. Do you think he was right? Overall, an improvement on some I’ve done before and I liked working this way. Note to self – try it again.

Added later – I had another go. I decided that I want the rocks to connect but not necessarily by a line of wool. Otherwise I think they look a little plonked. The purple of the rocks was too deep so here’s the new one.

I think it looks better with a connection between the rocks but the wool spirals are a little too swiss roll. If the lines of wool curled but were broken it might be better. So I tried it.

Now this one I’m very happy with. I decided to make it in natural coloured Shetland wool with just a few bits of wool yarns and a few Teeswater curls in the sky for texture. The broken lines are better than the continuous spirals. I begin to see how I can take this style forward but not right now as I think I’m ready for a change of subject.

Fab bags

Yesterday’s workshop was great fun with a really lovely bunch of people. As it was the first bag for everyone we kept it simple with basic shapes and integral handles.

I think the next step will be to run an advanced bag making day where we can explore internal and external pockets and different shapes. I’m sure I’d enjoy it too and thank you very much for helping to tidy away ladies.

Felt picture workshops

I’ve run a couple of picture workshops from my home studio in the last ten days and I have to say that people have produced some beautiful work.

The first piece from Margaret was inspired by Hockney and is clean, colourful and well executed. The second is a leaf and I think Judith was very brave to have a go at giving it a 3D element and also very successful.

The moor landscape by Rose was her first piece of felt, didn’t she do well. The impressionist feel suits felt making very well. This final one has absolutely grogeous colours and Mary worked extremely hard to get the lines and colours right. I think it’s stunning. There were more but as usual I was so busy admiring, discussing and saying goodbye that I forgot to take photos. You know who you are, it would be nice if you could send me a photo of your work as they all deserve to be seen here. It’s been a privilege to work with these two groups and I’m looking forward to the flower workshop today.

Thanks for sending this picture in Anne. This cushion panel was inspired by a picture and the recycled plastic fibres have made great sheep. Another success.