Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Monochromatic Memories ..

Well, its been a couple of weeks since I got time to post (did someone speed the clocks up?!) but I've got a nice looong post here to make up for it :)  its not that long really, but lots of pictures make it like you're scrolling for ages lol.

A few months ago I felted this wall hanging..

not a good photo really..
Black Shetland with Black Wensleydale fringing, the 'drawing' is a nice alpaca/wool boucle yarn.

Rachael & me
With freemotion machine embroidered detail
This was my impression of so many wonderful family days spent jumping waves when the kids were younger..  the colours changed with the weather, but some elements didn't change; US, the sea, wind and racing skies - always wind, blowing skirts and hair around :)

For a while I thought I may let this go as I couldn't find a spot to hang it, so I put it up in my Etsy shop.  Just as I was planning to take it back down 'cos I really didn't want to sell it, a lovely lady from Texas contacted me asking whether I could felt a larger hanging showing her family as my picture really reminded her of a family holiday when her children were younger.  I was very happy and quite honoured to felt a second monochromatic memory.

This was to be a family of 9 so I had to get my thinking cap on and picture what the children, at their given ages, may be doing..

I started out by sketching..

Spent a very therapeutic couple of hours drawing this :)
My lady liked what I had planned.. so next felting day I set too with fibres and had some fun!

I wanted a nice thick, sturdy felt.. this was going to be about 3 times the size of my original.. I still used black Shetland, but added some dyed black merino blended in for the central layers (5 layers total)

Black Wensleydale sandwiched in between the layers to make the fringe
After wetting out I drew the picture using my alpaca/wool blend
 boucle yarn in 2 light natural shades

Thinking what the sea might be doing in relation to the people..
where the sea foam should be

Part way through felting..  I worked this pretty hard, I wanted it to be a substantial felt
and I find that Shetland likes to stay light (another reason for adding a little merino)

Finishing touches.. giving it a darned good rolling with my
piece of ridged dowel
Brought this dowel from B&Q  years ago.. now I just have this length left over and it's great for hardening felt.  Nicola Brown at Clasheen has a veeery nice looking set of rollers for sale.. I may well indulge myself one of these days, I think the handles would be easier on the hands.

Anyway..  once the felting was finished I freemotion machine embroidered the details.  Several hundred meters of thread and quite a few hours later, I stitched a cotton tube to run the hanging rod through and hand stitched it on the back of the hanging.  

Felted and embroidered.. sitting on my work bench

Oh yes.. I freemotion embroidered the title onto the cotton tube :)

Mom and the girls hair flying like a banner in the wind..

Sunday, 13 May 2012


This past few weeks have been a real treat for us!  We are hearing barn and tawny owls shrieking and hooting in the woods about 40ft from the house..  We hear them quite often all year round, but just lately they are really close pretty much every night :)  

Just over a week ago we have an even bigger surprise.. we had a little-owl perched on a fence post right next to the house.  He was getting a lot of grief from a couple of thrushes; they were chattering and swooping at him.    After a few minutes sitting on the fence, the thrushes had landed in the field (about 15ft from the window I was watching from) and the little-owl swooped down and jumped on one of them!  The thrush threw him off and they had a bit of a 'stand-off' for a few minutes before all flying back into the woods.  The first ever wild owl that I have seen and in BROAD DAYLIGHT too - amazing!

Anyway, all these owlish experiences (as you may expect :) made me want to create OWLS!  In the form of teapot cosies..

Owl number 1 (my first born lol)
 From an owl-shaped resist.. 3 layers of white English wool fibre and 3 layers of coloured merino.. with pretty silk chiffon sari for his tummy.

Vintage button eyes
This first one is currently flying to Amsterdam.. hope his wings don't get tired :)

Owl number 2
 You can see the chiffon sari easier on this ones tummy.. I used it in his eyes too (different sari - a golden orange)
Got my eye on you!
More vintage buttons
Sari tail feathers too :)
I must admit these really make me smile :)  This is the first time I have used white English fibre.. it is certainly slower than my usual fibres (merino, BFL, Norwegian, Icelandic & Gotland) BUT I actually really do like it for the teacosies.. when it finally felts, it felts well.. but it still feels a bit spongy, and seems to hold heat really well so hopefully the teapots will benefit from this.


Sunday, 6 May 2012

Artist Inspired - Ruthie Redden

I just love the work of UK artist Ruthie Redden!  Ruthie's work is inspired by nature, folklore and celtic mythology - please go along and take a look.. seeing for yourself will explain better than my words can.  I follow Ruthies blog - 5PreciousThings, which is a visual treat.. so grab a cuppa and piece of cake and go exploring into the magical and ancient! 

One of her paintings that I adore is the Moongazing Golden Hare...  I recently, and rather nervously asked Ruthie if I could make a felted interpretation of it.. and she kindly agreed :)  Thanks Ruthie x

I decided to make it into one of my favourite shaped bags, and spent a lovely couple of days felting doing it :)  This is how it went:

I wanted interest inside the bag and decided on a simple, celtic inspired spiral doodle in gold, cobalt and petrol.

This was the first fibre to be laid down, straight onto the resist so when it is felted and the resist removed the design will show on the inside of the bag.

Then I added 4 layers of fibre to make the pocket (3 Falkland + 1 merino) .
Next the pocket resists are positioned

Now I carried on laying the fibre layers down for the body of the bag;
3 layers white Falkland + 3 layers coloured merino - each layer of merino on both sides had the blue and green bands.

Handle loops were added between the 3rd and 4th fibre layers
 Once the 6 layers of fibre were in place I started building up the design.

The back of the bag

I used turquoise and mid-blue tussah silk to highlight the sky, and  cut a  silk cap to cover the moon 
The silk cap I used for the moon was actually the most boring - blah - beige colour imaginable.  It's one I had experimented with natural dyes on and it didn't turn out as I had hoped.. was just what I needed for this though!  After taking the above photo I added some of the moon-silk to the grassy area, and added some black yarn  to it too.

I outlined the picture with black woollen yarn (still had the moon to outline at this point)
I used the same technique for applying the moon and hare as I did with my dragon on the dragon bag..  I cut a silk chiffon template first and added the fibres on top on the silk (shame I forgot to take photos as I did this - I was quite lost in what I was doing at that point).

It took a lot of rubbing, rolling and whalloping to full it completely - I like these bags HARD.. that said they still feel lovely and soft to the touch but they have a nice sturdiness to them.

Internal pockets - after felting

Long strap - perfect for wearing across the body

Finished - back view

Finished front.
A little definition has been lost on the end of the nose - but considering how  thoroughly felted it is (and how much it shrunk!) thats not bad
I think the silk on the grass makes him look like he is sitting bathed in  moonlight :)


Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Pond update :)

Well after weeks of cold, grey, rainy and windy days we have finally had a couple of NICE days!  I took a photo of the finished pond area day before yesterday..  

 cold, beautifully sunny and the wind was fierce (as you can see from the little fountain in the middle of the pond, and leaves blowing about the gravel!)
I LOVE our little pond area.. its given us a focus for all of our beach treasures, and I have sea pinks / thrift in the two pots on the right - they will be flowering all along the coastal cliffs about now.

We have another fishy refugee living in our pond too!  Gary surveyed an empty property on Friday last week, when he went into the garden he saw that they had a pond.. but the tenants parting action had been to fill it with stone and rubble, in what looked like a deliberate attempt to kill anything living in there.  He picked up an upside down, partly submerged plant pot at the edge.. the pot had been full of soil and plants but his friend just caught a flicker of white moving.. it turned out to be a lovely big white goldfish - must be 8" long!  Gary said the only thing that must of saved him was getting trapped under the plant pot so they couldn't see him and fortunately the big stones they threw in didn't land on the pot!  He did take the time to empty the rubble out and feel around, but there was nothing else living.  This lucky fishy came home in a hastily emptied out plastic tub.  One very lucky fishy indeed.. he has settled right into our pond and seems as happy as a pig in muck.  We have named him NORBERT.. well, 'he's gor' ave a name dun he?  ' (as Hagrid said of his baby dragon in Harry Potter :)   Our rescue fish always have to have a name (apart from the 7 brown goldfish from last time.. they are collectively known as the phantom fish 'cos you rarely see them.. the 8th fish is Fat Fish and of course theres BOB :)

I have had a lovely productive week so far - so much to blog about and so little time.. I must find time!
More soon xx