Friday, 31 October 2014

Fibre of the Month October - Black Welsh Mountain Project

I decided to make a bag again this month.. and the pattern was rather influenced by my new thermal socks :) which have nice diamond patterns on. There seem to be a lot of diamond patterned things in the shops this autumn..

This was definitely an experimental bag!  I tried out a new handle technique.. new way of inserting a zip.. new shape.. and of course - new fibre...   And I remembered to take photos at each stage.. good going for me :)  

Firstly I made the handle.. basically a cord with a metal ring at each end
The resist has extensions at the top to make loops for attaching the rings..
and a flap taped on at the bottom to make a wide bottom
I must confess I didn't have enough Black Welsh to make this.. so I cheated a little
by using white Falkland inside.. which will also make it easier to see what's inside
I cut diamonds from prefelt.. the green is commercial, the red and orange my own
carefully arranged :)
I did both sides the same
Then added a row of gemstone beads (Judit style)
Part way through..
The light looks funny 'cos it was dark now so I had the light on
Inside pocket.. thought a little prefelt detail would be nice :)
I wanted to add a zip to the top of the bag, but wanted to try another way I'd thought of doing the internal flaps to fix it to (rather than the resist method used last time).

I made strong prefelt, stronger than prefelt really.. more an unfinished felt -
and cut a couple of strips.  
Which I pinned in place then hand stitched with woollen yarn..
I worked this HARD.. I mean really long and hard.. with boiling water etc. till it was fully felted.

Drying out.
Notice the wide flat area in the middle of the handle for sitting on the shoulder.

All sewn in :)
hand stitched with upholstery thread
the finished inner pocket
Stitching the extrusions..
I threaded the ring on then stitched it down to form a loop
Finished :)
I'm really pleased with how this worked out..
This way of doing the zip flaps worked just as well as the other..
 I don't think it was less work or faster, but it may be easier

and open..
I just LOVE these Picasso Jasper beads.. they are so pretty and colourful
Perfect for wearing across the body..
(think I need to steam and block it again to get those creases out)
Very comfy on the shoulder

For comparison to sampling data:

Resist size: 50cm x 55.5cm
Finished size: 35cm x 37.5cm
Shrinkage: 30% x 32%

Weight: 470g (this includes gemstones, metal rings and the zip)


I used 2 layers of white Falkland inside and 4 layers of Black Welsh outside. Even though it was slower to felt with than most of the other fibres I use I really do love the finished felt and would use it again.  I found (carefully) using boiling water in the final stage really tightened things up and finished it off very nicely.

The cords were also a little slower but they did felt well!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Fibre of the Month - OCTOBER - Black Welsh Mountain Sheep

Just in the nik of time again..!  Another natural coloured British wool breed this month.. Black Welsh Mountain
Black Welsh Mountain Ewe in her element
photo from
Very handsome ram..
Photo from
The Black Welsh Mountain Sheep Breeders Association describe them as a small breed, with natural resistance to disease that does well on rough grazing but is also happy on the lowlands and smallholdings.   They make good mothers and have an easy nature.  They are prolific and undemanding, self reliant and hardy. Producing good quality well flavoured meat.. and of course FIBRE.

The British Coloured Sheep Breeders Association says; 'it is an ancient breed and was described in Welsh writings in the middle ages.  The fleece is black with the tips bleaching to a reddish brown' and describes the wool as 'dense, fine and fairly soft'.  

Staple length is 8cm - 10cm
Bradford count 48-56  /  Micron measurement 28-35

I have spun Black Welsh before but up till now had never felted it..  Incidentally the first raw fleece that I ever saw or handled was a Black Welsh, when I was learning to spin with Mulberry Dyer.. I fell in love with all things woolly that day!

Laid the same as previous samples:
20x20cm square using 3 layers and felted hard to achieve maximum shrinkage
I brought my BWM tops (roving) from World of Wool.. they are excellent quality with minimal veggie matter.

I found this to be a slower felter..  It seems to take a while to get going and you really do have to keep on working quite a while after it feels firm to achieve maximum shrinkage.  When fully felted it has a beautiful character, a nice tight fuzzy surface to a really hard felt. It doesn't have 'give'.  

Finished sample size: 13 x 15cm
Weight: 12.7g
Shrinkage: 35% x 25%

This fibre is perfect for items that need to be hard wearing, and is worth the little bit extra effort it takes..  I am completely smitten with the project piece which I finished today :)  

Next time: Black Welsh Mountain Project  

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Hands and Horses..

Still following the hand print / cave art theme I decided to felt a shawl.. the inspiration was one of my favourite cave painting images:
Spotted Horses - Pech Merle Cave, France

I didn't take photos of the early layout stage.. I was just so excited to be finally making it - it's been in my head for ages.  It pretty much filled my 8ft x 4ft table at the widest points..  laid out in the shape I wanted the finished piece to be.  

I started off by laying down mawata silk hankies and throwsters waste silk fibre, followed by a white merino/tussah silk blend, then a colour layer.  THEN I started 'drawing' the horses :) and adding handprints..  this all took hours.

This was a couple of hours into day 2..
just finishing the design layer
I'd added white Wensleydale locks between layers to create an irregular fringe..
now I placed them on top of the design too (lightly veiling each lock to help it attach).
I covered the main image with thin builders plastic after wetting
to prevent it from moving around while I rubbed.  I actually left it in place
when I started rolling too, the thought of anything moving around was just to scary to be risked
Part way through rolling..
I was so pleased that everything stayed just where I put it :)
After LOTS of rubbing, rolling and throwing I got this:

The finished size is 63" x 24" (160cm x 61cm)
I wanted it to have a sort of 'skin-like' character to be in keeping with cave painting..

Close up.
Much as I LOVE the outside..
I also really love the simple inside too..
As well as the silk textures there's a ghost image of the outer design
My cheeky Little Miss modelling for me in the woods :)
Now I have another one in mind using the colours differently.. there'll be more about that when it finds it's way out of my head.  

I have actually put this one in my Etsy shop.. but I love it so much I don't really want to part with it. I think I shall have to make another as soon as possible - it won't be the same but at least I can have one to keep and one to sell :)  

Monday, 13 October 2014

Hand in Hand

I've been rather taken with handprints lately.. I really enjoyed using them on the Tambourine bag a little while back and have quite a few ideas for other items featuring them :)

So far I have made myself a coin purse.. this is to go with the tambourine bag. I was asked in comments on the tambourine bag post how I thought the bag would hold it's shape if used as a purse.. well there's only one way to find out.  SO when it's not being used for a tambourine :) this bag will double up as my 'posh' bag.. so of course I needed a coin purse to go with it!

Lots of handprint templates..
I used the shrink/enlarge facility on a copier to get different sized prints
Covering with layers of white merino
And the design layer.. with a 25% of actual size handprint
Part way through felting
Finished felting.. left to dry 
Hand sewn into a metal purse frame
and open :)  plenty of wiggle room for my fingers in there
I took these out for the first time last Friday night celebrating my babies 16th birthday :)
 As well as a handprint purse for myself, I felted a big tote for my shop.. quite a complex one.  This bag had 6 resists in total!  
Lovely Wensleydale locks :)
Side view
Instead of sewing reinforcing into the handle area I made
the felt extra thick. And the flap for sewing the zip in was a
perfect place for more tiny handprints :)

I love these strong metal YKK zips!  (sewn in by hand of course).
And I've still got lots more ideas for handprint pieces too..   so I'm sure there will be more to follow :)