Thursday, 20 November 2014

Felt Rainbow and Yak Sample

In my last post, I had a photo of a  rainbow piece I'd laid out for felting, I reworked the green and yellow part a little bit then felted it.

I'd used a top layer of drum carded batts I'd made from texturey wool, so the surface has an interesting texture:

Supermacro showing one of the wool locks:

I got a World of Wool order last week. One of the things I ordered was de-haired Yak fibre. A while ago, Marilyn sent me some Yak fibre to try and I loved it before I even felted it, it was so soft! After felting it, I knew I had to get enough to make a scarf, so ordered some. That was before I spent three hours on my knees making a scarf and vowing never again! :)  I realised a few days ago though, I have an old door I can put over my table, which should do for scarf making until I find something better. So, I thought I should make a sample to work out shrinkage and see if my Yak feels as good as Marilyns. I laid out two fine layers, which is not as easy as laying out Merino. I added some of Marilyn's fibre as surface decoration:

Sorry the pictures aren't great again, but this is it after felting. I haven't worked out the shrinkage rate yet (I had accounts to do this week and have had enough of maths!) but there wasn't much, it started out 20cm x 66cm and ended up 18.5 x 61.5cm. This is after felting:

And this is a slightly better photo of it close up.

My girlfriend (who has never felted in her life, but has no idea how much useless felting info she has absorbed) said the way it felted in soft ripples reminded her of Karakul. (just the felt, not the slaughtered/skinned lambskin hats/coats) In case you've missed it, The Felting and Fiber Studio site is having 3rd birthday celebration posts all week, with all 4 of us hosting giveaways.

Ruth's post was 1st, you have until the 24th if you'd like to win a copy of her book 'The Complete Photo Guide to Felting' . Just leave a comment on her post via this link:

Ann is giving away one of her Workshops in a bag - full instructions and everything you need to make a nuno felt bracelet. You have until the 25th to enter by leaving a comment on the post:

I'll be doing my giveaway tomorrow, and Marilyn will be doing hers two days later :)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Batts, a Rainbow and a Scarf

Firstly, I'd just like to say thanks for the comments and suggestions on my last post, they were really appreciated.  After a lot of thought about Social Media, especially after a comment and advice from Leonor on The Felting and Fiber Studio, I caved in and made a Facebook page  There's nothing there yet, I'm still trying to work out how to follow people etc, so if you have any tips, helpful hints etc, they are very welcome. Also, what's the 'etiquette' on groups, can you just 'join' ones you like, or follow or whatever it is, or should you be invited?

I wanted something soothing and relaxing which didn't require much looking after doing lots of sewing, so I thought I'd make some batts. I made them all a bit different, some with just different shades of Merino and some matching fibres, some had a lot of texturey wools blended in and I made a couple with lots of different fibres , shades and textures.

I also made some single colour textured batts to use on rainbow pieces, these didn't photograph very well because there wasn't much colour difference and it's been really dark here the last couple of days. I did use them on this piece though, I'm going to add a little more green to where the yellow blends into the green, I don't think the band is quite so defined in real life, but it does look like it needs more green on this photo.

I finally got around to making a scarf yesterday. It took all week to 'prepare' for it as I had to do it on the hall floor, so cleaning the hall floor, working out shrinkage, drawing out the template, etc. When I did get around to it, I was regretting it an hour in. 2 hours in I was regretting ordering 4 more packs of 18mic Merino last week thinking I'd get into scarves for a bit. 3 hours in I just wanted to curl up on the pillow I was using for my knees and have a nap. Today, every time I look over at my scarf and think 'Ooh, it was worth it though' every muscle in my body disagrees :)  I do like it though. I couldn't get a very good photo, I'm afraid. Like I said, it's really dark here, and the blue and purple are quite dark, and my camera seemed dazzled by the shininess of the silk. So, this will have to do for now:

I started with a template 25 cm wide and 200cm long (roughly 10 x 79 inches). I did alternate sections of purple and blue for the first layer, then the opposite colours on top for the second layer. I then added some matching colours of silk to the top, then contrasting colours:

It finished up being  19 x 176cm or 7.5 x 69 inches. It weighs 55g

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Advice Wanted and Some New Items

I did my 2nd proper craft fair on Sunday, and I don't know if my expectations have been too high, but this one didn't go very well either. I was lucky enough to cover the cost of the stall by selling quite a few greetings cards and felted soap, but apart from some nice comments and a lot of people stroking my felt pieces, there wasn't much real interest.

After the last fair I talked it over with my girlfriend and with others on the forum, and came to the conclusion that my stuff isn't instantly recognisable as handmade felt or even made from wool to the average person, and also that people need encouragement to see the versatility of items. In preparation, I made some felt using lots of natural wools with locks and texture to make into Diary covers, and lots of display cards with info about all the items and ideas for uses.

I'm kind of stuck now knowing what to do. I've spent the last few years trying to find a way to possibly eke out a living  and establish a business from felting/fibre art. I do have limited opportunities because of health problems; I don't have the time or energy to promote/market myself on Facebook or other social media and do all the 'networking' needed either online or in real life, and can't get out and about. Even all the work involved in listing for etsy and having to go out to post any potential sales (not that experience has shown there would be many) seems like a lot of wasted time and effort for little return. Also, because of not being financially secure, I can't just take risks and keep wasting time, energy and money on trying new things which ultimately fail. It's really quite demoralising too.

One thing I have learnt is that when people are looking to treat themselves, they don't want 'practical', they want silly, frivolous or a bit of luxury. So, novelty items, gimicks, things that are trendy at the moment (moustaches, owls, 50's whimsy) seem to win over well made and affordable.

So, now I'm stuck with a load of diaries which will soon be out of date - I could always put notebooks in, but notebooks are even more practical; lots of camera cases, which are useless because everyone has a smartphone with a camera on, and lots of pieces of felt which everyone agrees 'would look great on the wall' but can't think of anyone whose wall they could buy it for :)

So, does anyone have any suggestions where to go from here? Is anyone the owner of a gift shop selling artisan gifts who wants to pay me a living wage for well made items? Or maybe I should cut up my phone cases and make lots of greetings cards or just start felting cosies and covers for everything I own and stop inflicting my tat on the world? :)

All suggestions gratefully welcome, especially humorous ones!