Tuesday, 4 December 2012


I spotted this delightful knitted nativity in a bakery shop window on Sunday in Monschau, which is just near the German Belgian border. 
It had snowed, and the Christmas market was enchanting.

Monday, 19 November 2012

From little acorns . . .

I have some great oak trees near me, which produced lots of acorns this autumn. I've seen that several people make charming felted acorns using the real "caps" but replacing the acorn with an elongated felt bead.  I discovered a fool-proof way of making felt beads in issue 7 of the wonderful Australian Felt Magazine. You put the wool into a small container, add water and soap, close it up and shake vigorously. Then remove the loose ball of felt that has formed, and roll between your palms under running water gently at first and applying more pressure until it's a tightly felted ball. Rinse, squeeze out excess water, and roll in one direction to elongate a bit for acorns before drying. I used a glue gun to attach them into the (cleaned) acorn caps. 
I wanted to give these as small gift to my special friend Dawn who likes all things autumnal. But what to put them in? A little felt pot of course! I followed this great tutorial from Annie and Lyn. I used yellow felt on the inside and green on the outside, with little wisps of silk to decorate.  
Here's the gift feeling at home among some other seasonal objects on my friend's table.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Shibori is a Japanese technique, often used in dying textiles, which involves twisting, stitching and tying fabric so that the dye creates interesting patterns. In felt making it can be used to create interesting  textures too, using the capacity of wet felt to mould and form permanent shapes as it dries. 
If that makes me sound as if I know what I'm doing, don't be fooled - this is my first experiment.

I made a roughly circular piece of felt layering different colours and finishing with some black in the centre, then some silk strands to add some shine. While still wet, I pushed some wooden beads into the back of the felt and used elastic bands to secure them in place. When the felt was completely dry, I removed the bands, popped out the beads, and found that the felt retained its "bubbles" where the beads had been, leaving the excess felt around the border prettily ruched up. I snipped some of the bubbles open so that the coloured layers were revealed.  
I tried this on three smaller pieces, as I thought they might make flower brooches. They are quite thin - almost transparent, at the edges, and thicker in the middle. I might add some beads in between the "bubbles". 
A close up view of the bubbles
And the back view - you can see the spaces where the beads were.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Distressing "Before and After"

Husband's at the cricket, too hot to felt....so...
Made myself pretty hot doing this actually! I'd had this piece of furniture in a shed for years. I am reliably informed it's called a tallboy. Slightly art nouveau would you say? I'd already sanded one drawer when I remembered to take a photo. 
I ended up distressing it a bit more than I'd intended, but I quite like it. I used a more liquid clear wax that  can be applied with a brush for the first time, which  found much quicker and easier. 
A bit of gold behind the green adds a touch of faded opulence. Might upgrade it from the shed to a bedroom.  

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Nuno notepad cover

I made this A5 size notepad cover to use up a piece of experimental felt that I had made! 

It was made with merino wool on organza which has a slightly metallic sheen. I added more pieces of organza, and nepps, trapped behind a thin layer of merino wisps, to add texture. Silk strands were used to give colour and shine. I liked the way adding the extra pieces of organza just under the top layer gave the piece areas of deeper folded texture. I was worried that the nepps (little knobbly balls of wool!) had not felted into the fabric well, and might come loose with handling, so I added a bit of machine stitching on these areas. 

To make the cover, I first made a fabric cover to fit the notepad, then sewed the felt onto this, leaving an extra border of felt around the edges. I then blanket stitched the edges of the  felt. 

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Nuno shawl

I found pretty piece of painted very sheer silk in a shop in Turkey. I did not want to cover it in felt, so laid on circles of merino roving. It was very large, so I wrapped it all in a roll covered with a damp towel and felted it in the tumble drier. The colour in the silk bled leaving it paler than originally, but still pretty.

 I like the interesting textures in the silk as the fulled wool draws it up. And also the fact way the wool gives the shawl texture and structure when you wear it, yet remains light. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Organza experiment

I found some rolls of shiny - almost metallic - synthetic organza in a craft shop and wanted to see this fabric would work for nuno felting. 
I put thin layers of merino wool tops, and a few bits of silk and also trapped some wool nepps and strands of spun wool in between the merino. 

It took a bit of elbow grease - and I did use an electric sanding machine. But the wool did attach itself to the organza and start to felt. Enough for a decorative object, though perhaps not for something subject to much wear. It had an underwater look about it, so I added more organza shapes (some shiny fish and starfish) and some wool and ribbon weeds. I trapped all this under some soluble interfacing, and then machined lots of ripply lines to hold it all. Then rinsed away the interfacing. I was quite pleased with the result. But what I really like is the effect when you hold the piece up to the light. Love the way the nepps show up.  Here it is against a window:

I also experimented with a small piece, throwing it in the tumble drier to felt. Amazingly this felted quickly and much more firmly. The colours reminded me of Monet's waterlilies, so I doodled on a few with the machine.  

Oops funny how you can spot loose threads that need trimming in a photo!
Not sure what I can do with these samples, but I learned a lot and will incorporate organza onto future pieces. 

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Distressing, but fun!

Have just come back from our French hideaway, where I spent a few companionable hours with my daughter transforming some furniture for her bedroom there. I had picked up some funny old brown cabinets  in "Troc" in Belgium - a great source of second hand stuff. Total cost 30€. Some sanding, painting and waxing, and they have a new life! 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A Holiday Bag

I am off on holiday  - to Sri Lanka. I love holidays but hate packing, and will use all sorts of avoidance tactics, like suddenly deciding that I need a little evening bag. So I rapidly put this together, using a resist, out of merino wool decorated with wisps of silk.
I experimented with the tumble dryer method of felting, using no rolling at all. It's brilliantly explained here. It worked really well! Much exhaustion and mess avoided. I will definitely do that again.
I added  a chain strap from an old bag, and a flower I had made earlier.
A great thing about felt is that it doesn't add many grams to the baggage allowance.
Now,back to the packing.....

Monday, 23 January 2012

Quilted bag

A friend of mine is moving back to the UK. She has been a faithful supporter and event-organiser for Retrak for many years so we want to give her a "kit" to start her supporters group back in the UK. A kit needs a bag, so I made this from some vibrant batik fabric I bought in Mbale, Uganda.

After machine quilting the fabric, I made it into a tote bag using this tutorial. The quilting means it has 3 layers of fabric plus the batting, so it's solid but soft. 
I added a heart shaped pocket inside.