Tuesday, 24 November 2009

New things

I recently tried using a bladder from the inside of a ball as a resist for making vessels. I took photos of all the stages to add to my flickr set of Making a Wet Felted Vessel with a 3D Resist. Here are a couple of vessels I made using the bladder.

Silk Carrier Rods
Not so long ago, I bought some silk carrier rods from World of Wool, I'd looked at them when I went to their shop, but they were such ugly, stiff, papery things that I couldn't see how I'd use them. Ruth from the Felting Forum convinced me to give them a go, and since they're only £2.50 for 100g (large bag) , I thought it was worth a try.
If I wasn't impressed by the way they looked, I was less impressed with their smell :)
Luckily after soaking in lukewarm water the smell went, and they were easy to split into layers:

There were some scruffly, straggly bits that came off, but I saved these bits up and when they were dry, I pulled them apart and carded them.
A couple of weeks ago, I dyed the silk rods that I'd separated:

I used a few pieces on projects, but wanted to see how they looked individually, to get a better idea of how usefull they'll be. So I ironed a few pieces to flatten them, then layed them on some black merino.

I was pleasantly surprised by the results, I never expected them to turn out quite so shiny, they really look metallic, like crinkled coloured foil, and were very hard to photograph because of that. I have a few more before felting and close up photos on flickr

Sorry about random gaps between text and photos, or no gaps between text and photos, the stupid site has a mind of its own.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Everybody's doing it!

I think I can safely say that the Textured Felt technique is a big hit! I really liked how my second piece turned out, using mainly blue and green fibres:

This is a close up of the texture:

Unfortunately, the link I posted to fibrefrolic's blog which details the technique isn't working, but I made a photo set on flickr describing how I made the blue piece.

Lots of people have given it a go with loads of great results, Judelicious created a nice bright piece with merino and silk, and this piece made by feltfinland has great colours and textures.

To see more fantastic textured felt pieces, have a look at the post about it on the felting forum, my favourite so far is the turquoise piece that Tess made.

If anyone else has tried it, it'd be great to see your results :)

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Textured Felt

I stumbled across an entry recently on fibrefrolics' blog, about a really easy technique for making textured felt, using only sewing and the washing machine. I love textured felt and experimenting, and any technique that eliminates rubbing and rolling sounds good to me, so I had to give it a go :)

I only had a white wash planned, so I layed out a piece with all white fibres. I used layers of natural merino tops, English 56's and combed lambswool. Extra fibres on the top were Bamboo top and washed Bluefaced Leicester, all from World of Wool. The top layer was Polwarth and there was also some Angora locks added to the top, both from Karen's Felt Works. I also added some Alpaca and Kid Mohair.
This is what it looked like after sewing, before I put it in the washing machine:

And, this is what it looked like when it was almost dry:

There are a few more photos on my flickr photostream including photos of it just after washing and a close up.

If anyone's ever wondered whether commercial pre-felt is worth buying, I also have some photos on flickr of a few practice samples of that-a couple of different thicknesses and how it works for nuno felting.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Greek Wildfire Fundraiser

Most of us have seen reports on the news in the past few weeks about the terrible Greek wildfires. A website has been set up recently to help raise money for the reforestation of areas devastated by the fires. The project is called ART FOR TREES and the organisers are asking for donations of artwork to be exhibited and sold to help raise funds for the project. If you can help in any way, no matter how small, have a look at the website http://attikasos.blogspot.com/ for updates.
The address for sending donations is:
ART FOR TREES, c/o Manya Maratou, box 66, Marathon, 19007, Attiki, Greece
They ask that donations are sent by November.

Anyone who took part in or heard about the Australian Bushfire fundraiser will remember how succesful that was with all the great donations, and the hard work of Karen who organised the sale. For anyone who missed it, there are photos of the donations on felting forum's blog which raised AU$1558.50

Monday, 17 August 2009

New flickr Group

I started a new group on flickr recently for Handmade Book Covers. We've already got 8 members and lots of great photos of a variety of book covers. If you're on flickr and have made your own cover for any type of book, come and join us and share the photos of your creations, or just drop by to have a look.
And feel free to recommend the group to any of your friends or contacts :)

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Recycling felt pieces

I like to try lots of different fibres and experiment a bit, so I often end up with quite a few sample pieces or pieces of felt where I like the technique, but don't think the colours worked.
A while ago I made a collage from some of the sample pieces and I really liked it. So when I realised I had quite a lot of sample pieces again, I thought I'd make another collage and this time combine it with my latest obsession-notebook covers.

This is the finished collage piece:

And this is the Notebook cover I made from it:

I measured, and cut out a piece of craft felt to the size I needed before sewing on the felt pieces with 'invisible' thread (like thin nylon beading thread). I also added some handmade yarn scraps. I had intended finishing it off with blanket stitch around the edges, but all the sewing shrank it a little.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Notebooks and 'Fancy' knitting yarns.

My old computer died a few weeks ago, and we had a heatwave which made it far too hot to felt much, so I spent some time making some small notebook covers.

I wanted to try something a little different for a large notebook cover, so I had a look through my felting samples and found a piece of felt I tried not so long ago using fancy knitting yarns, like the fancy/funky fibres used for embellishing. I measured my notebook, added on some width for flaps, then extra for shrinkage then layed out my piece. It looked great when It was finished:

But for some reason, it had shrunk quite a lot widthways. So, I added a couple of inches to each side of the template and tried again:

It still wasn't big enough. I don't know if it's something to do with the yarns, or maybe the two thin top layers that the fibres are trapped between, are thicker than one usual one, but for some reason, these were shrinking completely differently to all the others I made recently. So, I taped some extra paper to my already huge piece I use for templates, and added even more to the width. This time it worked!

Now I can get on with sewing it into a book cover, and I've finally found a use for the 50 or so balls of yarn and all the packs of funky fibres I bought a couple of years ago!!

There are photos of some of the yarns I used, and the pieces before felting on flickr

** This is the notebook I made from the blue piece:

Monday, 15 June 2009

Where do your ideas come from?

Do you always know where your ideas came from? Or sometimes do you look at your work and wonder what gave you the idea?
I've just finished a flat needle felted piece I made for the Felting Forum's Monthly Challenge, using only natural fibres. I followed the first design I thought of, I just wanted something that was simple, but would look great with all the tones and textures of different animal fibres, so I just drew a few circles and wavy lines:

I actually stuck to my idea for once too:

But when the pattern started to build up and fill in, it started to remind me of paintings I'd seen by Pintupi artists from Australia. So, I called the piece 'Pintupi' to acknowledge the influence and lasting impression those paintings must have made on me.

That's what got me thinking about where ideas come from, and I remembered a short clip from a Derren Brown TV programme where he turned the tables on advertisers to influence their ideas.

'Pintupi' was made using 37 different animal fibres (for a full list see the photo on flickr), some I'd bought myself, some were from fibre swaps, and some lovely handwashed and handcarded batts in gorgeous shades and tones from my friend Karen.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Felted Foliage

I had an idea a few weeks ago for making a foliage picture with felt. I was having a look through my tub of handmade yarn scraps, and noticed how good they looked where some cut plied ones were separating. I made some patchy green prefelt to cut up for the background, made some twists with merino/silk and merino/bamboo, and coiled some thin merino strands around paintbrushes.
It took SO long to lay out, I was glad when I'd finished:

Felting it wasn't easy as it was so big, I had to lay a shower curtain down on the kitchen floor, and piece together bubblewrap and netting. It was looking good after rubbing and rolling though.

I finished the felting by rubbing on bubblewrap, bit by bit, in 'rows' across the felt, then I rotated it and did the same thing. I was a bit disappointed with the end result, I'd hoped it'd turn out more like the halfway stage, and all the prefelt, twists and yarns I'd added had made it really thick. It's growing on me now, though :)

I had some prefelt and yarns leftover, so I made a few more twists, and tried another version on a blue background, this is a cropped version of it:

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Felt Cases

The May challenge on the felting forum is 'Practical Felting- Create something with a useful purpose'. My new camera needs a case, so I thought I'd have a go at making one.
After another fruitless search of the internet for a tutorial, I decided to work it out for myself (apparently, maths can be used for other things besides working out how much fibre I need to order and how much it'll cost!)
So, after lots of measuring, re-measuring, dividing and multiplying, I ended up with.... 2 foam rectangles as resists for a camera case and ipod case.
I won't pretend I ended up with 2 perfect cases after my first try, but they turned out okay and I found they are easy to adapt.

I re-did the camera case a couple of days later with 4 thin layers, and got the size and thickness I wanted.

If you'd like to try making a case with a flat resist, I made a picture set on flickr, here
And if anyone has any tips for making cases- I'd love to hear about them.

I also made a very simple camera case by sewing 3 pieces of felt together yesterday, and made a photo set for this on flickr, too

I must say thankyou to Linda from craft gossip who did a really nice article about me and my felted vessel tutorial :)

And if anyone has any helpful how to's or tutorials they'd like to share, please leave a link in the comments, I'd love to see them :)

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Book Review

I'm fairly new to wet felting and don't really know much beyond laying wool tops in opposite directions and incorporating other fibres into the top layer, so I thought I'd treat myself to a book. I had a look on amazon and decided to get 'Complete Feltmaking by Gillian Harris'. It promised to carefully explain each feltmaking technique in detail with step by step instructions so that no matter how inexperienced you are, it is difficult to go wrong. It covers needlefelting, wet felting, knitting and fulling, and advanced felting techniques. Sounded perfect.

I don't know anything about knitting so don't feel qualified to judge that section's instructions, but I've looked through all the wet felting and needle felting projects, and there are some major problems with this book.
The first wet felting instructions are explained quite well, but after that, instructions are vague... 'make a circle, add a spot, make a polka dot, bunch up some fleece into a round pouch shape' etc, and it doesn't tell you 'how'.
Also, the photos are practically useless, instead of a few photos clearly illustrating the instructions, they give a whole page to a photo of the finished item, then use a cropped version again on almost a whole page, where they could have fit another 4-6 photos. The photos they do have accompanying the stages are 'arty' and blurred and contribute practically nothing.

A typical 4 page layout for a project:

Another thing I found strange, was there was no order to the projects, they went from 'intermediate' to 'beginner' to 'advanced' then back again, randomly. The needle felt section starts with an 'advanced' project.
The oddest thing was incomplete instructions for how to make a bag, which were then repeated 10 pages on, this time without the blurry photos but with one additional step-'make a handle using the instructions from a few pages earlier'. This one extra detail took 4 pages.

After reading this book, I'm non the wiser than I was before reading it, and many of the tips go against other things I've read, like leaving felt on resists/lasts to dry (didn't the felt shrink too much for that?)
It's a shame, because the project ideas look really good.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Nuno Felted Silk Scarf

I picked up some gorgeous dyed silk scarves a few years ago, and they've been packed in a box ever since. So, I thought I'd have a go at felting one. I picked one out then chose the shades of merino tops to go with it:

It was quite long-38 inches, so I hoped I'd be able to felt it solely by rolling, so that I'd be able to use the technique for larger felted pieces that I don't have enough room for felting the way I usually do. I'd say it felted about 80%, which is okay for felted artwork, but probably not for anything wearable or artwork with textures/added fibres. I finished it off by rubbing on bubblewrap.
Merino side:

silk side:

I started with a reed table runner, then put bubble wrap on top, then the scarf/merino and finally netting, I rolled it up tight, then gave it a lot of rolling-even using my feet. I then unrolled, turned the scarf round 180 degrees, then repeated.
So, if anyone has any tips for making sure it's fully felted by just rolling, I'd be really grateful :)
Pictures of full scarf Here

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Lots of new fibres!

On Thursday I took a trip to Huddersfield to visit World of Wool.
It's a great place and the people are so nice and friendly.
You are personally shown round to look at, touch and smell all the great wools and fibres they have...my favourite was the milk protein fibre- looks, smells and feels gorgeous.
I was quite restrained and just bought a few shades of merino, some oatmeal Bluefaced Leicester and bamboo top
L-R Bamboo top, Black Bamboo top, oatmeal Bluefaced Leicester

We had a second Fibre Swap on the Felting Forum recently, my swap partner was Cytel . I couldn't wait to open my parcel when it arrived today, and had a great time looking at and feeling all the great fibres and fabric samples I received:

The top row is 4 natural Alpaca shades and Alpaca hand dyed with natural dyes in Peru.
The middle row is a greeny merino and silk blend, a hand dyed blue angora and polwarth 50/50 blend, and an earthy coloured hand dyed roving 100% targe top.
The bottom row is: Silk throwster's waste; raw fleece-merino cormo cross; very bright merino tops
I think I'll enjoy using all these :)

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Nuno Felting

A couple of months ago I experimented with nuno felting-using fabrics with wet felting, and enjoyed it a lot.
Here is a set on flickr...most of the early experiments ended up as part of the collage piece in the set

This week I layed out a few more nuno felt pieces, but I've only wet felted 2 so far.
For the first one, I cut up squares from silk scarves that I've tried before, these are very light and felt really well. I added these to a base of 3 layers of turquoise merino, and added a few wisps of merino on top in a couple of places
This is how it looked before felting:

And this is how it looked after:

The second piece was an experiment with scrap pieces, the rolled edges I'd torn from silk scarves, messy scrunched silk, scrap organza and silk sari yarn- all added to merino randomly and topped with wisps of merino.
Before felting:

After felting:

I don't think all the different colours work well on one piece, it looks too busy, but I liked the effects and will use them again but keep the colours simpler.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Wet Felted Vessel

I made my first wet felted vessel a few days ago, using a 3D resist I'd made from bubblewrap. Just in case anyone else wanted to get covered in wet wool tops and make as much mess as I did, I made a Photo set on flickr
Today I thought I'd try to make a bowl shaped vessel, I know I've got a rubber football bladder somewhere, but couldn't find it, so I filled a plastic bag up with lots of scrunched up plastic bags, then covered it in packing tape for a resist.
I went a bit too far up with the wool tops, so it was a bit of a struggle to get the partly felted vessel off the resist, and it made it a bit loose too
It soon firmed up as I started to finish the felting by rubbing it inside and out on the bubble wrap
And after rinsing in cold and hot water and fulling by rolling it between my hands it was ready to leave to dry. I'm happy with how it turned out, but I thought felting over a 3D resist would be easy and it isn't, it's messy and fiddly and takes forever. I might just have to see if I have better luck with a flat resist.

Friday, 17 April 2009


Well, I finally got around to starting a Blog.
Hopefully it will help anyone who, like me, is just starting out learning about felt and experimenting with it.
And I can check back anytime I forget how I did something :)

Before I started wet felting, I searched the internet for complete 'How to' instructions, but I couldn't find anything detailed with lots of pictures and easy to understand for a complete novice like me who had no idea at all where to start.
So, using these instructions from Devon Woollies, and adding a few bits of info I'd picked up from my searches ....using bubble wrap and a bamboo blind (okay, it was 4ft bamboo garden fencing, but it was all I had, and I was eager to start!) I tried my first wet felted piece (below).

A couple of members on the felting forum recently said they'd like to try wet felting, and that got me thinking again. So I made a photo set of How to wet felt...right from pulling off the wool top, to rinsing the finished piece.

Here's the set on flickr, and I hope it's useful for anyone who hasn't tried it yet and wants to.