Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Already!

 Hello my friends, lovely to meet up with you again. I can't believe how quickly this year is galloping along! We're almost at the end of February and I haven't shared a single piece of 2015 felt with you yet, how very remiss of me! Well I suppose I can either be felting or blogging and I'm afraid if I don't do one, I have nothing much to write about for the other. 
Yup...It's true, life in general is quiet here at the moment. The weather is just as you would expect for February in England, cold, windy and wet. Much time is spent indoors keeping cosy, making felt pictures and trying to get them to dry. As you can see I've commandeered the coffee table in the front room for this very purpose. I usually pop them in the airing cupboard but it's not really big enough to lay them flat and if felt dries with a fold in it, it tends to stay. In truth I'm trying to catch up and get ahead all at the same time. I'm trying to catch up with the requests for felt pictures I received last year before I start making work ready for this years craft/art shows. 
Last year was a steep learning curve trying to keep all my plates spinning so this year I've started off with good intentions to get in front... well, we'll see. All I know is that I don't want it to be as frantic as it was last year.
Anyway here he is finished, flat and fold free. This handsome hare has been shipped over to New Zealand where I'm sure he'll find it much warmer than here! 
I was a little worried that he wouldn't make it. New Zealand has very strict customs regulations, especially when it comes to textiles and wool. I had visions of some burly customs officer opening the box and on discovering illicit wool, throwing it into a fiery furnace!...
And back in the real world...
it arrived safe and sound, no problem at all. Aaaah.
Moving swiftly on, here is another piece of work I've completed this year. This one is called 'Woodland Hare' as it's a bit darker than my usual colour palette and made me think of undergrowth and the cool shadows in woodland.
There are lots of lovely squiggly bits and tactile textures on this one. You can't tell from the photo but there are a few subtle sparkly bits too, just to lift it all.
Right! That's two down and another... oh dear... I've lost count already. Well lets just say I have some more to share with you next time. Told you, it's quiet here, just lots of felting :)

Till next time
love Fi x

Sunday, 8 February 2015

A Stitch in Time.

 Hello my lovelies! Today's post is documenting something I've not really done before. No, I don't mean mending, I've done plenty of that. I'm talking about mending with soluble fabric. The pretty little skirt pictured above belongs to child #2 and this is a very special skirt because this is the first skirt child #2 has worn in about 15 years! Yay, mark it on the calender! She's very much a skinny jeans girl normally. 
 So she was a little upset on first wearing of the skirt to find said skirt caught up on someone else handbag and little tug of war going on. The end result being a large hole in the beautiful lace. 
"Would you like me to see if I can mend that for you?" I said, having absolutely no idea how I was going to do it. 
"OO! Yes please." came her reply.
 Kerching! A little idea popped into my head! Quite a rarity these days so I grabbed it quick. Soluble fabric! The idea was to place the soluble fabric under the lace and try to fill in the broken strands that made up the spiderweb pattern. 
 It was a bit fiddly to hold it all in place without stretching the lace out of shape. And there was quite a lot of backwardsing and forwardsing over the same area but...

 I managed to fill in the area that was missing.
 A quick rinse under the tap to dissolve the soluble fabric, breath held in case it all unravelled.

 And there it is. The bit I mended is just above my fingers! 
Mum wins the day again!

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Sliding into a new year.

 Hello my lovelies! 
Here I am trying to seamlessly slide into a new year. I shall completely ignore the recent festive season and forge ahead, tying up loose ends, as I go. The first loose end I need to tie up is finally showing you my 'Cat and the Comet' wet felted wall hanging beautifully displayed in it's new home. 
I have to tell you...my heart swells and I feel ridiculously proud when I see this piece. It's as if I didn't make it. I almost have to pinch myself. It's like the advert on the telly...'Me but on a good day!' 

I think maybe it's the shock of seeing the impact of the whole picture in one go, as when my felt pictures are being worked on at home, I'm physically very close to the work. Even when they are completed, I don't really get to see them finished and from a distance as they are usually whisked away to the picture framers almost immediately. Once back from the framers they're not even unpacked from their protective bubble wrap as they need to be sent off to a gallery or packed for a craft fair. 
So to see the WHOLE picture hanging up, not half draped over my sewing table kinda takes my breath away a bit. I think this year I need to take time to 'smell the roses' if you know what I mean. I need to get ahead so that I can enjoy my accomplishments for a couple of days before they take the next step of their journey.

And talking of getting ahead...see it's not just thrown together this blog...I've spent the last 3 weeks having a long awaited, mammoth clear out! 
YEAH IT FEELS GOOD! 
It started during the strange 'no-mans-land' few days in between Christmas and New Year. You know the ones, you're adamant that you're still on holiday but you desperately need something to keep you occupied that's not proper work. 
Well... I started to empty my side of the loft! I'll just explain... Wonderful Man and I have one side of the loft each and in between these separately accessed lofts is the attic room which at the time was being used as my sewing/work/studio/storage room and Wonderful Mans office/cardboard storage/car seat storage room. Are you keeping up? Attic room in the middle, loft space at either side, left for me, right for WM. 
Good. 
So as you can imagine, there is quite a lot of junk stuff up there. My side of the loft was not only full of the usual boxes that we'd shoved in there 7 years ago when we moved in, boxes of kids games, bags with spare curtains, old duvet covers, suitcases, my wedding dress, school art folder (I'll show you one day) baby walker (made by Grandpa, saving for future grandchildren) and two coffee tables. I also found an old TV (certainly not flat screen!) and a bag of VHS videos! VIDEOS! I ASK YOU! 
This was all stored right at the far end of the long, tunnel shaped loft, not high enough for you stand up in you understand. Crawl or crouch is the only method of getting to it all.
 Now then... in front of all this 'normal' loft junk, I had over the last 7 years carefully chucked stacked numerous large boxes of fabric, many baskets containing yarn, an assortment of boxes containing interesting things that might come in handy for a future textile project (a beaded door curtain, old leather belts and coats from charity shops, you get the idea). There was also enough feather cushion inners and bags of quilt wadding and toy stuffing to insulate the whole roof space.
PHEW!
Well girls, I sorted it ALL out! 
I repacked what was staying and successfully either re-homed, textile banked, charity shopped or binned the stuff that wasn't.
It was around this time that WM suddenly decided that it was the correct time for him to up sticks and move his office/cardboard storage/car seat storage area in its entirety down a floor into our smallest bedroom currently occupied by our absent but soon to return daughter (she's away at uni). This in turn meant dismantling all of the furniture in her room (plus teenage junk and a forests worth of posters), bringing it up a flight of stairs to the attic where all the furniture in there had to then be dismantled and taken down the same flight of stairs. Nearly forgot...there were also 2 six foot tall bookcases (full) to be moved from the bottom of said staircase before every thing else would go past.
I hope you're keeping up as there maybe questions at the end?
No problem, you may think.
Apart from the fact that all the furniture in the attic was full of my sewing/work/studio/stuff! 
As you can see in this picture, daughters bed has already arrived while I'm trying to empty and sort my wardrobe full of fabric. All the time I was trying to sort and empty; items of furniture and teenage crap belongings were being deposited all around me!
See! The white wardrobe is now a brown one. There was much to-ing and fro-ing of screwdrivers and alan keys, much huffing and puffing but we got there in the end. 
Wonderful Man is happily situated on his own in the smallest bedroom. Uni daughter came home to be re-bedroomed in the attic room and I managed to get ALL my sewing/work/studio/storage stuff repacked and into my loft space!
A round of applause pleeease!
Thaaank you. (curtsy, curtsy)

And the picture of the patchwork blanket?
Well... the very first box I took out of the loft was full of old woollen jumpers that I'd fulled (felted) in the washing machine and saved over the last few years. I couldn't bare to throw them away so I quickly cut them into squares and machine stitched them into a lovely warm woollen blankie, originally made with the dog in mind but latterly claimed by grown up son!

So to sum up...it's been a busy start to the year.
Maybe next time I'll have some new art work to show you.

Pip-pip for now.
love Fi x

Oh...and if your wondering why WM stores car seats... We take all three rear seats out of our car to make room for my pictures when we're doing craft fairs. The attic is the only place we have to store them. Don't worry, uni daughter hasn't got them at the bottom of her bed. No...WM managed to squeeze them into his side of the loft! Now there's another story...

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Cat and the Comet Ta-Daa!

Ta-daa!
A beautiful summer meadow on a warm heady evening. The stars are twinkling and the grasses are dancing in the breeze but can you spot the cat and the comet?

 My brief was for vibrant flowers, sparkly stars, a comet and a cat partially hidden. 


As you can see the only place I could find that was light enough and large enough to photograph this 6 foot long wall hanging, was outside on the garden gate. 
 A close up of the cat, looking up at the comet.
 And starting at the left hand side...
 to the middle...
and finishing on the right.
 And now just some gratuitous texture shots!
 The whole piece is made from wet felted Merino wool and then embellished with free motion machine embroidery and finished with a little hand embroidery. 
Hopefully next time I might be able to show you it hanging in its new home!

Till then
Love Fi x

Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Beast!

 Hi folks! I thought I'd update you on the progress of my current piece of felt which we shall call 'The Beast' as its a bit of a whopper at 76 inches long! This was as far as I had got last time we met. This is all dry Merino wool fibres laid out on bubble wrap to make my background. 
 As is quite normal for me and sums up how disorganised I can be, I decided that before I went any further I needed to dye lots of wool and twiddly bits for 'The Beast'. 

  Now dying wool is not one of my favourite pass times but I've searched the interweb thingy and zilch! Nada! Nothing! Well not what I'm looking for anyway, so out comes the jam jars and pots, face mask and measuring jug. (OO! lovely finger nails there Fi! yuk.)
This nosey hen from the wrong side of the fence dashed over to see what the lovely green stuff was on the back porch. Maybe, cabbage or lettuce or some delectable snack! Nope, she soon changed her mind when she got a whiff of wet wool! Serves her right for getting into the garden. What you can't see are the other 8 hens behind the fence jostling to see what she's up to! 

  
 After a day of dying wool it was back to layering up my picture. I decided I aught to try and be a proper grown up artist and have some sort of plan or sketch to work from (I usually just fly by the seat of my pants and go for it, well thats what creativity is all about) Erm... not a very detailed plan I grant you. A bit at each end and the middle will take care of itself kinda plan. 
 Tum-te-tum...We're 3 days further on now. Yep there's been a lot of putting on and taking off. It's filling up nicely now, as is the kitchen. We all have to circumnavigate the two end-to-end tables every time we visit the pantry, taking care not to trip over boxes of fibre and bags of yarn. 
Here you can see how thick all the wool fibres are under the netting. The netting is placed on top of all the dry loose fibres to hold them all in place while I dowse it all in hot soapy water. 
 And here is an action shot of me dowsing! Had to get child number 1 to take a photo for me and what a lovely job he did of it...well he should really, he's 21!
 And again, click, click, a picture of me rolling the wet felt back and forth inside a bubble wrap and bamboo blind sandwich. It certainly took some rolling I can tell you. I was soooo heavy! A couple of hours later and...
Next was the bit that's alway a bit tricky... rinsing. Just getting such a huge piece of dripping wet wool across to the sink without soaking the floor and myself was no mean feat. It's always a bit worrying seeing the fibres submerged in water, there's always the chance that it hasn't been felted enough and everything will float apart! Then there is the challenge of trying to support the weight of it as you swap it over into the fresh water in the second sink several times. The felt is still quite fragile at this stage and will distort and stretch if not supported.
Are you bored yet?
Want to see some more?
Well I've got more photos so I'm going to press on.
 After 3 days drying flat on the kitchen table I can finally start the free motion machine embroidery. It's a bit of fight to keep it all on the table and I struggled to get it rolled up and under the sewing machine but my trusty quilting gloves helped. 
 They've got lovely rubbery grippy bits at the end of the fingers that help you to grip the fabric more efficiently and ease the strain on your shoulders from trying to move such a heavy weight of fabric around. In case anyone doesn't know, in free motion machine embroidery, it's you who moves the fabric about in all directions under the needle, not as in dress making when the machine chomps the fabric along under the foot for you. I'm sure I just made that as clear as mud.
 This section has been embroidered and feels wonderful. The embroidery kind of firms up the felt and gives it a texture like heavily embossed paper but warm and woolly. I wish you could feel it. 
Well I'm going to leave it there, as this is already quite a long post. Next time will be the big reveal. Literally the huuuge Ta-da moment, lol. 

One more thing... the best part of working from home is that you get to wear your slippers all day long, aaaah bliss!
Till next time
Fi x

Friday, 14 November 2014

Yarndale 2014, at last!


Hello all, yes I'm a wee bit late with this post I'm afraid. I seemed to have lost all my umph after Yarndale! I think I was just exhausted after a very busy 8 months or so.  It has been a whirlwind of craft/art fairs and making stock for the gallery. I seem to have been constantly chasing my tail, trying to keep all my balls in the air and all those plates spinning. I think that's enough euphemisms for one post, lol. 
But don't worry, I'm I'm back on form again now! 
Goodness! Even in the photo above I look tired and worn out. If you hadn't already guessed this was our stand at Yarndale 2014.
I was really worried about not having enough stock to fill the stand as this was our last big fair of the year, but I just managed it! It's a little more sparse than I would of liked but it wasn't through idleness on my part. I couldn't have made more felt than I have this year. 
Here's wonderful man ready for another busy day. I may have found this year exhausting but I wouldn't change a thing, I loved every minute! It's been a real challenge and a steep learning curve. I must admit I haven't learned aaaall my lessons, I still think I can produce work faster than I really can, lol.  Maybe that's a woman thing...we all try and fit in more than we can realistically do in a day.

 It's been a challenge and for the most part I've met that challenge head on and come up with the goods. I've never made sooooo much felt as I have this year, I've lost count but I think by the end of the year I'll have made over 50 large pieces of art work as well as countless small Dales Scenes, brooches and embellished cards. If you'd had asked me this time last year if I could make so much stuff I'd have laughed at you. Actually I'd probably had a major panic and run a mile, lol. 
 But then, that's what this year was all about, challenging myself. Testing the water so to speak. This time last year I'd only attended small local craft fairs and Yarndale. This year I have attended 4 events the size of Yarndale, two smaller weekend craft fairs and supplied two galleries, as well as a handful of commissions thrown in. I don't think I've told you this... but I've also been offered an open invitation to go and teach workshops in Australia alongside tutors who are top of their chosen crafts. This is was a huge honour for me and something I might feel comfortable doing one day but not at the moment. But just to be asked was enough! Talk about chuffed!
 So, what now? Well... I thought by now I would have all the answers! I thought I would have next year all planned out and know exactly what I wanted to do. Yes, I know you're waiting for it and there is a 'but', lol and here it is... But I don't. There is no-one more surprised and thrilled than me at the positive response my work has received this year. So where do I go from here, I'm not sure. I expected to have had a couple of rubbish events and couple okayish ones, making decisions about where to go and what to attend next year easy but they've all been more successful than I could have wished for, lol. So... do I attend them all again next year? I don't think I can to be honest. It's been a blast but I can't produce as much again next year without having a creative... burn out! 

So, while I'm pondering my future plans I'll try and bring you up to date with what I've been making since I got my creative mojo back. 
 This little chap has finally visited my fabby framer, Andy and now looks like this...
My lovely friend and her husband dropped him off at Cherrydidi gallery in Keswick for me last week and he's just been sold today. I've also made another large hare picture but I don't think I'm able to show you him as he's suppose to be a surprise Christmas gift. 
What next?....
What about a little mouse for a change. This little chap is currently at the framers along with his friend...
Poppy Hare. They are both being framed ready for my last event in a weeks time at the Witham at Barnard Castle. Oh! I nearly forgot this one...
I was making this lovely hare for Barnard Castle too when a very nice gentleman emailed me to ask if I had any work available and to cut a long story short, this little hare was packing his bags before I'd even finished felting him. 
I'm afraid my stand may be a little sparse but you'll find a warm welcome and wealth of other wonderful crafts people there who's tables will be spilling over with hand crafted goodies. There is another reason my table won't be quite as full as I would like, and that's because I'm also working on this...
It will be the largest piece of felt I've ever made, measuring 76 inches long. It's a bit of a beast!
We've had to bring my sewing table down from the attic to give me a long enough work surface, lol. 
Well I promise not to leave it so long next time. I'll keep you updated on 'the beast' and maybe this is for my benefit rather than yours...
 Till next time,
love Fi x