Sunday, 25 January 2015

Rude Mans Best Friend..

I recently sold my Rude Man Bag to a male knitter in the US :)  In case you can't remember that bag it's the 2nd one down on this post.  Well, I'm pleased to say that he was delighted with the bag and commissioned me to make a pouch to fit inside, that he can keep stitch markers and small scissors etc in.  And luckily for me he had great ideas for that pouch!  It was to have Rude Mans Best Friend on the front flap.. and a Nantucket Lightship Basket closure with bone shaped peg :)  Both, I think, brilliant ideas and I was really rather excited to make this pouch :)

I made the pouch from natural oatmeal coloured BFL and drew the design in dark grey, filling the dog in with mid grey Shetland.

The dog was to be based on Keith Haring's Barking Dog..

Rubbing through soapy net 
Drying..
I cut a hole for the closure loop to pass through..
I ended up getting it wet again now 'cos I wanted to 'heal' the edges of the hole :)
I hand stitched a trim from the same fuled Harris Tweed wool fabric as
I used in the Rude Man bag.
Whittled wood for the first time!

Showing all the trims :)
Finished :)
Measures 15cm x 21cm
This really was a fun little project.. I LOVE commissions like this, and the opportunity to work with such lovely people!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Jacobs Project Update

Just a quicky.. wanted to show you where I have gotten to with the Jacobs project..


I've knitted the 2 front panels :) Really pleased with myself.. I know they're dead simple, but I don't knit (I get bored and give up usually), so I'm chuffed to of finished these so quickly.. mind you it is nice thick wool , and I did use big needles :)

They're really curly round the edges at the moment, but I think washing and blocking them will sort that out.

Just the back to go now..

Monday, 19 January 2015

A field trip to see The Darker Side of Felt

A touring exhibition which is just a few miles from here at the moment, at the Bilston Craft Gallery (it's free admission and there till the end of Jan if you are local and interested in visiting).  

A few days ago I went along with my friend and fellow feltmaker Gill Ambler (hello Gill :) ..  I thought you might like to see a few pics..  I should warn you the second picture shows the first piece we saw.. which is rather explicit!

I really liked the big felt banner :)
Rachel Olin - Lust
Rachel Olin - Wrath
Rachel Olin - Envy
I love the hair on Wrath and Envy!  Rachel has created the Seven Deadly Sins, all of which are on display.
Maria Friese
Marjolean Dallinga Hanging Sculpture
& Horst Couture Dresses
Barbara Keal
There are quite a few of Barbara's fabulous Headdresses there..
There were also exquisitely made Holy Bowls by Gladys Paulus which I'm afraid I don't have photos of.. I must confess now to a real phobia of holes that I've had since childhood, so I didn't spend the time over these bowls that they deserve.

We really enjoyed our morning there, and had a lovely lunch at a local cafe to finish the outing off in style :)

Saturday, 17 January 2015

First projects of the year..

Starting thinking about felt again this week after a long Christmas break.. during which I FINALLY managed to sort through my stash!  Going through my 'recycling bag', full off offcuts and scrap felt, I found that I had lots of circles and ovals left over from making slippers and cutting handles in totes.. and  over the next few days became strangely fixated on 'using them up' :)

SO, my first days back I should of been making new felt.. but actually spent a lot of time playing with old bits n pieces!

Amazing how many of these I had!  I decided to throw a lot of the prettily coloured
Icelandic pieces in the washing machine.
And got lots of colourful pebbles :)
My first thought had been to make the smaller ones into brooches.. with freemotion machine embroidery and beading on.  But they were way to thick and chunky to use my sewing machine on.  I decided to make ONE into a brooch..
First I needlefelted the features on - usually I'd anchor the edges with FMM embroidery,
but as I couldn't I just stabbed a LOT till it was well fixed)
Then beaded it (I did sneak some fixing stitches in here too just to be sure)
Nice purple back :)
I decided to sew all the other pebbles together to make a trivet / table protector.  It's about 23 1/2 inches long and took longer than expected to stitch carefully together!  

I love the pretty colours and soft pebbly shapes

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Under the Beech Tree

I've decided to carry on marking the passing months for 2015.. this time with a photo and a few words.  Some of you already know that our home is right next to a woodland.. and we have a big, beautiful beech tree just over the back fence, our garden is half under the spreading branches of this lovely tree.

Under the Beech Tree
January 2015
So at the beginning of each month this year I'm going to take a photo of this tree and watch it change as the months go by.  I thought it might be nice to include a little trivia about the month from here in the UK too :)

SO.. 
Under the Beech Tree - January


Gemstone - Garnet
Flower - Carnation


Botanical illustration of carnation flowers from Italy
image from VintagePrintables
Anglo Saxons called this Wolf monath.  One source states this was because wolves came into villages looking for food now, and another source says it was when Nobles went wolf hunting.

We haven't had wild wolves here in the UK since 1680
St. Hilary's Day on the 13th January is reputed to be the coldest day of the year.. since especially cold events have started on, or near, this day.  In the year 1205, around the 13th January one of the most severe winters in history began, with the Thames River in London freezing over, and beer and wine freezing solid in their kegs and having to be sold by weight! The freeze lasted until 22nd March.

The coldest winters in the UK were between 1683 - 1716, it was a 'mini ice-age'. During this time the Thames froze over on 23 occasions - 5 times it was thick enough to hold a Frost Fair; an impromptu festival on the Thames - recently described by BBC News as being a cross between a Christmas Market, a circus, and an illegal rave.  They had printing presses making souvenirs, drinking, food stalls, side shows, tents, ice bowling and dancing.  On the very last Frost Fair in 1814 they marched an elephant across the ice alongside Blackfriars Bridge! Poor pachyderm! 
Image from BBC News Magazine
follow the link and you can zoom in and explore


Monday, 5 January 2015

Crafted Christmas..

Well it's been and gone.. two lovely, peaceful weeks spent with my family :) They are all back at work or school as of today.

Now that all gifts have been given I thought I'd show you some of the bits n pieces I made.. then realised that I forgot to take photos of 2 fairly big 'made' gifts!  

Floppy Crochet Top Hat and baby elephant for my cousins little girl (who is nearly 3)
She is adorable anyway, but I think the hat will look really cute on her :)

I think that everyone should have at least one female relative who always gifts you handmade and slightly odd, things.. and I've decided that I'm going to be that rellie for my cousins little girl, Belle :) 

I crocheted the elephant using THIS free crochet pattern by Dedri Uys.  It is pretty small, and to be honest I found it a bit fiddly making the legs, especially the first few rounds of each one...  BUT it was well worth it, the ears and legs get crocheted in as you go so there's no sewing bits on afterwards. The eyes are black shank buttons sewn on really well.  It's just the right size to fit comfortably in tiny hands.

The hat was freeform.. a smaller version of the hat I made for my mother-in-law - which I totally forgot to photograph!  And I crocheted matching wrist warmers for her.. now while I don't have a photo of them either, I'm planning to make myself some and will post pics of those if/when I do :)  I should of taken photos of the moon scarf I felted for a friend too but hey-ho.

And being as I spent the Autumn term taking a pottery class for one evening a week there just HAD to be some ceramic going around..  though I didn't actually get that much finished and glazed successfully in time.  

Moon men and hearts.. found there way to a few special people :)

I'd set myself a mission to make Gary a new mug for Christmas.. not just any mug, I wanted to copy the size and shape of his old favorite (and very battered) mug..  

I love how the glaze turned out.. this was a bit of an experiment really.
We had a very old bucket of glaze that we weren't entirely certain what colour it would produce.. I was so happy when this came out of the kiln :)
It is rather a stumpy mug.. I just couldn't get the height I wanted, it felt like my hands were too small to pull the sides up high enough.  But I like it :) And luckily so does Gary.. even if it does look like a little teacup in his big hands - I laughed till the tears ran down my cheeks when he opened it.  But he HAS used it for filtered coffee.

I glazed these buttons and bead in the same stuff
Over the Christmas weeks I have a break from felting.. usually working on a crochet project.  This year I decided to have a go at knitting.  My Nan taught me to knit when I was tiny, and though I can kit in a very simple way :)  I tend not too.. I'm really slow at it and get impatient.  But I fell in love with THIS hat pattern.. the Brielle Slouchy by Heidi May and decided to give it a go

It's certainly not slouchy on my head :)
but I really do like my new beany..  it's warm and comfy.
I sewed a beech branch button on too
I actually enjoyed knitting that much that I carried on..  I have some lovely chunky homespun, from three quarters of a Jacobs fleece which I cleaned and carded (on paddles.. this was before I got a drum carder) and spun.  I finally decided I wanted to make a waistcoat out of it.. but after knitting a sample I realised I just don't have enough.. and the rest of the fleece has become too compacted for spinning.  But I have come up with a cunning plan :)  combining knitted panels with felt.. more will follow as it progresses (hope it works out!)

This is where I've gotten too :)  long way to go yet

Leaving you today with a snapshot of the Allen family Christmas 2014..




Matt in the Christmas hat he has worn every Christmas since he was 18 months old (yes it was very big to begin with - and he looked so cute in it :)

Rachael always starts off in her PJs.. adding clothing gifts as she opens them - hence the poncho and bowler hat over a onesie :)

The boys became superheroes with their Christmas cracker hats..

And we enjoyed lots of early morning walks over crunchy, frosty fields.. Which I loved even more cos I got lovely new wellies for Christmas from my girl :)!

Hope you all had an enjoyable time too
... on with 2015
 xx

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas wishes..

As the sun is setting this Christmas Eve, I have prepared tomorrows feast and wrapped most of the presents.  It's nearly time for a glass of wine and a 5 minute relax.. before preparing tonight's dinner :) and finishing wrapping.  But first I wanted to take a moment to wish you all...



For Christmas and throughout 2015!

Thank you for reading my little blog.. 
and for anyone who has commented through 2014 a 
special thank you!

With love and very best wishes to you all

Deborah xxx

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Fibre of the Month 2015 Round-up

Well, as you can guess, I'm not going to be featuring a Fibre of the Month for December.. But I would like to round the year up by summarising the 10 months in fibre that I did do, here in one place.. In the UK at this time of year you see all sorts of 'countdowns'.. for example; the top how-ever-many all time favourite Christmas songs, or best TV moments of the year, and most momentous news events.. etc. etc.. this post reminds me of them for some reason :)  

I thought it would be nice to look back on all the different projects, and it might be useful to link to the posts so it can be a sort of directory.. or index page, to make it easy to find the info in the future.  

Anyway.. hope you enjoy looking back as much as I did

The samples make a nice patchwork :)
I still have to embroider on that latest one though!

At a glance:
January         Shetland
February       Karakul
March           Icelandic
April             Alpaca
May              Haunui
June             Piiku
July              Swaledale
September    Short Fibre Merino
October        Black Welsh Mountain
November     Estonian Batts


January 

Shetland Tote Bag
January Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info.. And this post is the project bag..

February
Karakul Messenger Bag
February Fibre of the Month Project
Karakul Tote Bag
The additional :) Fibre of the Month Bag
This post has the sample info..  And this post is the project bags..

March
Icelandic Boots
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info..  And this post has the boots project..

April
Alpaca
Fibre of the Month Table Runner #1
Alpaca Table Runner #2
This post has the sample info..  and this post is the table runners..

I actually went back to alpaca a couple of months later making these rugs..


Which can be found here: white rug  and brown rug (information about shrinkage is on the post for the brown rug).

May
Haunui Top Hat
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info.. and this post is the nuno top hat ..

June
Piiku /FinnWool Top Hat
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info..  and this post is the hat project..

July
Swaledale Pot
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info.. and this post has the pot..

August got missed out..

September
Short Fibre Merino Purse
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info.. and this post has the purse project..

October
Black Welsh Mountain Bag
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info.. and this post has the bag project..

November
Estonian Batt Boots (Gotland/merino blend)
Fibre of the Month Project
This post has the sample info..  and this post has the boots..

So there you are.. a years worth of fibre experimentation - and didn't that year go fast?!

I shan't be doing Fibre of the Months from now on as I'm finding it hard at times to keep to the deadline :)  But I SHALL still be featuring new (to me) fibre, I'll just call these Fibre Features and they will appear as and when.

I hope that you are all enjoying the season!  Today is the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice.. I have always loved these darkest days of the year. 

Solstice light and love to you all!  
xx

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Beginners Spinning and Felting Workshops

Hi, just to let you all know I have 2 workshops coming up at the start of February 2015.. 

Tudor Rose Brooch
Each session is 4 hours long and materials will be provided.  The cost is £20 per session, and you are welcome to do just one or the other, but if you book both sessions the overall cost will be £30 - saving you £10!  

**if there aren't enough bookings by 12th January they will be cancelled**


Friday 6th Feb 2015 - 10am - 2pm
An Introduction to Spinning..
Will be hands on!  We shall look at cleaning and preparing a local fleece for felting and spinning..  with a look at some of the tools you may find useful.
Then we shall start having a go at spinning on a traditional drop spindle..  I'll talk you through the process with everybody having a go.  Learning to spin is all about practice.. once you know the basics technique it is a matter of putting in the hours practising it until you get better.  You are not likely to walk away from this workshop able to spin yarn..  unless you really are a natural or have prior experience.. but you will go armed with an understanding of the basic technique and notes to refer back to.

* If you are pregnant, or there is any chance that you may be please have a quiet word to let me know.  Pregnant women are advised not to handle raw unwashed fleece.. you will be fine to take part in the session but will need to avoid handling the dirty fleece.

Each participant will take home comprehensive workshop notes and some of the local white wool fibre.

There will be an opportunity to purchase your own handmade drop spindle and extra fibre if you wish.



Friday 13th Feb 2015 - 10am-2pm
Wet Felting Workshop
Everyone will felt a Tudor Rose Brooch (as shown in the picture) and have the opportunity to take part in a communal felting project where we shall create a picture panel that will be exhibited in Oak House later in the year.

Each participant will take home their own Tudor Rose Brooch and workshop notes.

There will be an opportunity to purchase further wet felting kits and fibres if you wish.


During both of these workshops I shall also have my peg loom set up nearby, so if anyone doesn't fancy the rigours of spindling or felting they can have a go at weaving a small piece on this simplest of looms.


This is the venue
Oak House Museum
A beautiful 16th century timber framed building
Oak House Museum
Oak Road
West Bromwich
B70 8HJ

0121 553 0759

Bookings need to be made with the Oak House, but if you try and can't get hold of them please contact me an I will sort it out for you.

So if you are nearby and fancy joining me please get in touch :)  I'd love to see you there  xx