Friday, 30 December 2011

Nice Surprise

I got a nice surprise in the post today from Ruth :)
Not so long ago we were talking about threads and yarns. Ruth had hand dyed her own threads and I thought I'd like to try it, but didn't know if the laceweight was the right size. Ruth offered to send me some so I could see for myself. I didn't expect it to come so soon over the holidays and I certainly didn't expect all the gorgeous extras Ruth sent me!
Apart from the whole skein of lacewight yarn all tied ready for me to dye, there is a gorgeous hand made card Ruth made from painted fabric and some Stitch and Tear stabilizer for me to try for myself. She also sent me the most gorgeous hand dyed threads from her recent Level II Hand and Machine stitch course.
Thanks, Ruth! I love them all :)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year

I just wanted to say Thanks to everyone who's looked at my blog over this past year. I know I'm not a great blogger, and I really do appreciate all the lovely comments I get. I hope you all have a great end to the year and an even better 2012 :)

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Gorgeous Fibres

I had a surprise package from Karen yesterday. She had sent me the latest Felt magazine and some gorgeous fibres. There was some lovely Tissue Silk; which has an unusual texture similar to silk chiffon, some very shiny Mulberry Silk in gorgeous colours; some purple and red organza yarn, which I'd never heard of; some beautiful sari silk ribbon; hemp; and the softest Merino ever, Optim Merino, which is 18.5 micron merino stretched to make it 15 micron. Thanks, Kaz!

I'm really looking forward to trying it all, especially the hemp and merino. I recently made a scarf from 18.5 micron merino and that was unbelievably soft, and I'm really curious about whether the hemp is similar to flax, that looks a lot like dried grass, but is soft, shiny and a kind of platignum colour after felting.

Friday, 16 December 2011

The Felting and Fiber Studio Forum

We recently started a forum for felt and fibre enthusiasts to come together and share their love of all things fibrey. We already have quite a lot of members and there's a really nice community spirit. We'd love to have more members though. We don't have many members who's main passion is spinning, knitting, weaving, or crocheting and it'd be great to hear about a wider variety of skills and crafts. We'd also love to hear from fibre enthusiasts, whether it's wool, alpaca, cotton or even nylon (but not in the weird way, don't even look for it on flickr, it's not nice!). So, if you're interested in any aspect of fibre arts or crafts, from raising alpacas to dyeing cotton threads, we'd really love you to be part of our community to share your photos, give advice, ask for help and share the fun :)
The site is set to Private to keep out spammers and freeloaders, so you'll have to register, but we check often to approve accounts :)

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Dyeing Felt

After the Direct Dyeing post on The Felting and Fiber Studio site the other day, Shana asked if the same method could be used to dye already made felt. I'd heard about people dyeing finished felt, but hadn't tried it myself, so I had a go at dyeing a couple of recently made samples. They were both white merino, one with milk protein fibre, and the other with Egyptian cotton top. They turned out well for a first attempt. This is the sample with cotton top after dyeing:

If you'd like to see the full post showing the sample pieces before and after, click here. If you've tried dyeing felt/nuno felt etc, by any method it'd be great to see your results :)

Friday, 9 December 2011

Silk Throwster's Waste

Silk Throwster's waste is one of my favourite fibres. It's soft and fluffy and fibrey and like nearly all silk products, really shiny. It can be very expensive too, and you don't get much for your money. 'Raw' silk throwster's waste, however, is very inexpensive. Many people are put off buying it because it has to be de-gummed and dyed, two things which can seem daunting, especially if you don't have much room.
It really isn't very difficult at all, and you don't need any fancy equipment or hard to find products.
If you'd like to know how to go from this:

To this:

Please visit the Felting and Fiber Studio site, for the degumming tutorial and the tutorial for direct dyeing.
Both tutorials have lots of photos and easy to use tables for degumming or dyeing small amounts of fibre.
The direct dyeing method can be used for both silk and wool/other animal fibres and is particularly useful for those of us who dye small amounts, or use small amounts of many colours.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Plastic Fibre

This is my finished twisted plastic piece for the Felting and Fiber Studio quarterly Studio Challenge. The twists are made from a blend of merino and plastic fibre made from recycled plastic bottles. The plastic fibre feels really fluffy and 'bouncy', it blends with the merino quite well. I've used it a few times before and it's great for creating 'spongy' effects. The base is 3 layers of merino, and the twists were layed on top so that the tips went over the edge of the base . The finished piece is nice and thick, but doesn't feel heavy, and it's really soft.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Studio Challenge

Every quarter we'll be announcing a Studio Challenge on the Felting and Fiber Studio. The challenge this quarter is based on the theme of 'Twists, Twirls and Spirals'. It's only a short one until the end of the year, but if you'd like to join in, have a look at the new post that describes how you can join in.
I'm still working on one of mine...I plan to try more than one, but here's the plastic fibre and merino blends I made and the twists I made out of them:

I hope you'll come over to the Studio and join in :)

Monday, 21 November 2011

Exciting News!!

What does the World's worst blogger need? Yep, another blog :)

A few of us have started a new venture together. My friends Karen, Ruth, Ann and myself have got together over the last couple of months and put together a website/blog focusing on felting and fibre art. We wanted somewhere where we could work together and offer support and encouragement and also share our combined love and knowledge of felting and fibre with people across the world.

We've spent the past few weeks adding content to the website, information and photos about wool, animal fibres, other fibres used in felting, information about mixed media, sewing and surface design, and also tutorials. We'll be updating the content as we go along, and adding more info and tutorials and we'll be blogging (regularly!) about what we're working on and interesting things in the felting and fibre arts world.

We'll also be having studio challenges based around a theme, something to make us think and try new things, and hopefully others will join in aswell and share their work.... we have a flickr group too. Those are just for fun, but we'll also be doing giveaways and prizes.

It'd be great if you'd stop by and take a look, and I hope you enjoy the site :)

The Felting and Fiber Studio

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Alpaca part 1

I Love Alpaca fibre :)
It is so soft, silky and shiny and great for wet felting. A few months ago I decided to do a little experimenting to see how well alpaca would felt with just one and two very thin layers-the plan being that I would use the info for making a scarf.
I already had some Huacaya fleece that I bought a couple of years ago, so after spreading a huge sheet on my floor, I sat down and separated a huge pile of locks.

After separating the locks, I picked out any large pieces of vegetable matter, then combed the locks. I did this by carefully holding onto one end of the lock, then dragging it slowly through the teeth of a hand carder a few times. Then, holding the combed end, I dragged the other end through. It does take a bit of time doing this and the hand carder had to be cleaned a few times to get rid of tangled fibre and vm, but the end result is a huge pile of soft, fluffy locks with all the fibres running in the same direction. This might not be important for some felting projects, but for cobweb felt for example, it really helps to achieve the wanted effect.


Some individual locks and a couple of locks after combing...I had to put the combed locks on a bright magenta background to get them to show up :)

These weren't particularly 'controlled' experiments, I didn't take notes on shrinkage etc, it was purely to see how the alpaca would hold together, how it looked and how it would feel. I'll do all the calculations when I decide which alpaca and how many layers to use.
The one layer alpaca worked better than I expected. It's fairly obvious from the photo where the rows overlapped, but it held together very well, and the effect of the crimp and curl of the felted locks was really nice.

Close up:

Held at the window:

The two layer sample felted much more evenly and the overlapping wasn't as obvious. It felt less delicate than the one layer sample, but had as much 'drape' and felt even softer. The characteristics of the crimp and curl wasn't lost either.

Close up:

Held at the window:

I'll be trying the same thing with Suri Alpaca, I don't think I'll get to it until after Summer, and it'll probably take even longer before I blog about it, but I will do eventually :)

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Notebook Cover

Sorry! I'm a terrible blogger, I know :(

I really meant to do an entry all about Alpaca in April after I'd spent a few days separating locks of Huacaya and Suri alpaca. But, I got sidetracked with other things and then it was Summer. I find the heat and humidity impossible to felt in, and my wool tops become staticy making it a nightmare to lay anything out. We had about a week of lovely cool weather recently though, so I took a chance and made myself a new felt notebook cover.
I wanted something colourful, so I used a rainbow mixture of bright blended merino:

I'm so used to using lots of  'extras' in my felt that it looked a bit 'flat', so I added some silk, ramie and bamboo tops, some silk scarf scraps, pieces of organza and cotton gauze, silk throwster's waste, a few locks of Bluefaced Leicester and some silk noil and a silk carrier rod:

I think I made my strips of merino a bit too narrow because the colours went a bit 'muddy' as they shrank together, but the other fibres lifted it.

It probably took me longer to decide which part to use as the front than it did to sew it :) but I finally made my mind up and made a simple notebook cover:

I have a set on flickr showing how to make a simple notebook cover and if, like me, you always forget how to start off with blanket stitch, or even if you've never tried it, I have a set for that too :)

*** I'm sorry, but Blogger's new way to really annoy me is by not allowing me to comment. I really hate not being able to acknowledge that people have left comments, but I do really appreciate everyone reading the posts and commenting, and I do read them all.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

White felt lampshade cover

I've been promising Heather for ages that I'd get round to making a white felt lampshade cover after she shared hers, and I did make the felt about a week ago, but I only got around to sewing it the other day. I handspun some thin white yarn to hem the top and sew the seam, but I left the natural edge along the bottom.
I'm wishing I placed some locks over the edge now.

The bottom is a thin layer of 18.5 mic natural white merino, then there's a thin layer of 23 mic natural white merino. The 3rd layer is lots of different natural coloured locks and curls-Mohair, Wensleydale, Angora, Teeswater, Bluefaced Leicester, and some wool nepps too. The top thin layer has natural Merino, Devon, Romney and Texel tops, topped with silk, ramie, bamboo, Teeswater, Mohair, soya bean fibre and silk noil. There's a few bits of vegetable matter in there too :)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011


....and a few brooches and embellishments :)

When I was searching for the perfect button for one of my texture-felt bags, I realised my stash of Fimo buttons and embellishments was practically non existent ... not counting the far too huge stockpile of 'rejects' I have (I will find a use for them one day!).

So, I decided to get all my fimo 'paraphernalia' out and make a huge mess in the kitchen making vast amounts of all things polymer. I wasn't even sure my fimo would be good, since I hadn't used it for 2 or 3 years, or that I'd remember how to do it, but it was fine, even previously conditioned clay I'd wrapped up was as good as the day I'd left it, and I had no problem remembering what to do. Though I can't for the life of me remember where my polyblade is :)

A few days on, and I have a growing collection of buttons, embellishments, brooches and pendants. Here are a few of them, there are more on my flickr page :)

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Coin Purse Tutorial

I've been busy making notebook covers and matching (or contrasting!) purses for gifts this week.

Half way through sewing one of the purses, I found myself wishing I'd worked out a long time ago, how to do a zippered pocket. So before I started sewing up the second purse, I got my camera out and took photos of all the stages to make a tutorial. I wasn't too sure how to describe the pieces, so I hope the photos speak for themselves.

Here is the tutorial for making a coin purse with an inside zippered pocket:

Monday, 14 February 2011

Texture felt bag...update

I've added a loop and button fastening to my small texture felt bag. I hand spun some thick yarn in the same colours as the bag, using merino and some 'fancy fibres', then I plyed it and felted it by wetting, soaping and rubbing.
When it was dry, I chose the part I wanted to use then positioned it on the bag and fixed it in place by sewing with regular thread. I then covered the sewing with a piece of felt and blanket stitched it into place. The button is one I hand made from fimo a while ago.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Felt Bags

About a year ago, I tried making a felted bag using the Textured Felt method and a bubblewrap resist. I really loved the results:

But I couldn't think of how to attach a strap to it without losing the fancy fibre tassles I'd felted into the sides, so it's been lying neglected in a box for a while. I finally gave in, and recently I snipped the tassles off and attached a strap:

I made a larger bag using the same method a few weeks ago. I haven't attached a strap yet, because I'm hoping to make a felted one, I might even try using the same method, though the thought of trying to sew 2 very long straight lines is a bit daunting :)

I took lots of photos while I was making it, and have added a picture tutorial with descriptions to flickr. The sewing does take a while, but it's a good excuse to sit down with a hot drink and a film :)

Sunday, 9 January 2011

More Lamp Shade Covers

I recently bought myself a set of 4 table lamps. After making the felted lampshade cover for my ceiling light, they looked a bit plain, so I decided to make covers for those too. The first one I made was another felted one. This turned out a little thicker than the green because of the silk top and silk noil I added, but I still like it.

I've only finished another two so far, a blue and a brown. I did these a little differently, and used fabric to cover them instead. I bought some remnants a while back, and used one to make a book coverSew-Fantastic on flickr told me that it was a Vera Bradley fabric. It turned out to be a misprinted 'seconds' of her Peacock fabric, but looking through flickr, I realised I'd bought at least 3 different Vera Bradley fabrics and my 2 favourite were perfect for lampshade covers.


Now I just have to find time to do the white felt piece for the last lamp shade :)