Wednesday, 31 August 2011

fiber talk: Is it really the end of August???

fiber talk: Is it really the end of August???: Where on earth did the summer go?? It seems we're slipping into Autumn already and summer, such as it was here, will soon be a distant memor...

Is it really the end of August???

Where on earth did the summer go?? It seems we're slipping into Autumn already and summer, such as it was here, will soon be a distant memory!
And because I have had my daughter staying with me for a couple of months, while her house purchase went thro', I just have not been able to find, never mind do, any of my felting stuff. But her house is now completed and she has moved out and today was the first day that I could move around and find my things!!!
So, I'm Baaack!!
I'll be keeping you up-to-date with things and continueing to give you hints and tips on felting projects
but for now, I worn-out and it's getting late, see you soon.

Monday, 2 May 2011

fiber talk: weather link for my area

fiber talk: weather link for my area: "Just thought you all might like to get a link for the weather for my area, from the B.B.C. <iframe src='"

weather link for my area

Just thought you all might like to get a link for the weather for my area, from the B.B.C.
<iframe src="" allowTransparency="true" width="306" height="435" frameborder="0">You must have a browser that supports iframes to view the BBC weather forecast</iframe>

Have fun

Saturday, 30 April 2011

that time of year

It's always the same at this time of year, so many jobs to do, loads of ideas that have collected over the cold winter months, then it seems that time just flies out the window and I end up chasing my tail.... I must get more organised... I do make 'to-do' lists but then other 'more important' jobs , pop-up and then I'm back to square one!!! Help!!
That is one of the reasons I have not posted lately but I've decided that I have to prioritise and my blog is one of the priorities!!
For anyone who has not seen my pictorial needle-felting, I urge you to go to my Etsy shop, so you will have a better idea of what I'm referring to in this post. The link is;-    

The reason for that is, I want to talk about 'setting-out' and 'filling-in' pictorial felted work. There's no magic formula and you'll probably find your own way of doing it anyway but this is just to point you in the right direction and then you can make your own mind- up!
The most difficult part is deciding what you are going to felt!! The 'canvas' always appears very imposing and I liken it to painting, when you have dived -in and made the first marks, it never as bad as it first felt.
For the purpose of this excercise, I would like you to felt a flower onto a fabric backing. Make it a very simple flower with , say five petals and a nice big round middle, let's call it a daisy!!
I want you to draw it with a ball-point pen onto a piece of material.. yes, draw it with pen, because you will be covering all the 'setting out' marks with wool, they will be lost from view... it is most certainly allowed.. trust me, I'm a felter!!
Place the material over (onto) a felting pad or if you don't have one of those yet, just use a piece of foam rubber( from an old cushion or something) that's what I use all the time. Then tighten it up abit and stick a couple of dressmakers pins in the corners, to hold it in place.
I'm making a lot of assumtions here but I'm supposing that because you are reading this blog you already have the basic's...a felting needle, some wool(either roving and/or knitting wool) and the desire to learn!!
Having drawn your flower onto the fabric, you are now going to 'out-line' the flower using knitting-wool, at this stage the colour is totally irellavent. Start at the base of any petal and needle the end of the wool until it 'grabs' the fabric, once you can feel a bit of ressistance, you can now put a small amount of tension into the wool, which will help as you guide it around you petal, needleing as you go. Take your time to get this method right and it will pay huge dividends later.
As you poke the needle into the wool, you are effectively, tearing off fibers and pushing them into the fabric. Now, I would urge you not to poke too far into the foam pad, as all that achieves is, damage to the pad and a messy looking, reverse of the fabric. You only need go in a short distance for the purpose of securing the fiber into the fabric.
Continue to go round the complete petal and carry on with the rest of them until they are all outlined. Then do the same with the middle, using a different colour wool. (a note here about the thickness of the knitting wool- the thicker the wool, the less accurate you can be with the setting -out but the quicker it is achieved, you will be able to make judgements on that at a later stage)
 Now all that's left to do, is in-fill the inside area with the colour of your choice. This can be done with knitting wool, working in an ever decreasing spiral from the edge- in, or you can use roving or un-spun wool.
For those of you that are beyond this level of proficiency, please be patient, we will be looking at more advanced procedures, next time.
Until then, practice, practice, even 'old hands' need to keep up with things, especially if you haven't picked up a needle in a while!! LOOK OUT for your fingers!!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Just pointing you to...

I just thought I'd point you in the direction of this couple... Sam Tsui and Christina Grimmie, .. these guys are absolutly amazing.. if you go to you tube they have loads more vids .. look for Kurt Hugo Schneider... anyway heres the link...
Have fun til next time.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

continuation of 3d

O.K. continuing with making the mushroom/toadstool, as you can see from the previous post' picture, the fungus is sitting on a base, it's a good idea to always 'root' or stabilise your subject, otherwise it tends too 'float' and that takes away from the feeling of solidity.
In this case we have a little mound of woodland on which our fungus is perched, so lets start by making a disc of wadding or wool, make it 1/2 an inch or so thick, when it begins to feel firm, keep adding the medium(wadding or wool) to the top surface only, starting at the outside edge and work in towards the middle and continue adding until you have a firm, cone shape.
Now, continue to needle it until it's firm enough not to 'give' too easily under finger pressure. This is really subjective, 'cos some folk like the really soft feel items and some like them rock hard, use your own judgement on this.
When you are happy with it, make a second one, which can be slightly wider than the first, as this will be the cap of the mushroom.
Then make a 'rod' for the stem, now this is where you get imaginative, because if you 'google' pictures of mushrooms, you will see, that usually, the stem is wider at the base than the top but it's up to you, go for the cartoony type image!!
So now its time to join all the parts together. I find the easiest way is not to use extra fibre but place the parts together, at the points that look right, and just needle all the way through into the other one, WARNING!!! Your fingers are holding it together at this point, so make sure you know where they are and avoid them!! Once you feel that the pieces are held in place then you can move your fingers out of harms way a bit but try not to be too rough.
  When everything is firmly 'knitted' together, it's time to surface decorate using whatever colour combinations you desire, remember, you are the artist and there are no rules, which, when you start to accept this concept, is so enabling.
Just go ahead and have a whale of a time!!
Let me know how you get on and don't forget, if you have any questions on any part of the excercise or anything else related to the blog or felting in general, just ask in comments.
Have fun and if you can take a picture and post it with your comments, I may even have a gallery of work if theres enough participation.

Monday, 4 April 2011

New Racking

Hi all, sorry I havn't been around for a few days or carried on with the last post but I'm expecting some NEW RACKING for the studio and as I.m not able to do any of the lifting and lugging, I have had the help of some friends and family to make room, so that stuff to go on the racking, had to be moved before the racking could be put in, if that makes any sense at all !!!
All very time consuming  and as I'm not the most organised person in the world, I got help there too!
It's supposed to be here tomorrow, so hopefully, by Wednesday, I should be able to continue my post.
In the mean-time, wish me luck for a smooth operation!:-)

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

fiber talk: Dryer Balls Lead To 3D

fiber talk: Dryer Balls Lead To 3D: "Quite literally!! I f you think about it , a ball is a 3D object, so once you've tackled and mastered the Ball, you should in theory, be abl..."Top left corner  Forest Fibres  for all your felting needs.......don't forget!

Dryer Balls Lead To 3D

Quite literally!!
I f you think about it , a ball is a 3D object, so once you've tackled and mastered the Ball, you should in theory, be able to make a head, animal, bird or whatever!!
It's all a matter of planning and practice. 
As I have said in previous posts and this goes for pretty much any artistic endeavour or worldly skill, practice is the key. Many people over the years have taught me, that whatever their skill level, they found that without regular, (not continuous, otherwise there is the risk of boredom), practice, they were able to quickly resume the level of participation(think sportspeople) that they were capable of.
So, from the simple ball, all sorts of shapes are possible. A small ball added on top of a larger one, immediately says snowman!! An even smaller ball on the front of the 'head' part is the nose! A series of 'sausages' become arms, legs, hands and feet, I think I'll stop there before I get myself into hot water:-) But you see the direction I'm taking??
Before I get into detailed construction procedures of all manner of objects and beings, I should encourage those who fear 'they can't draw to save their lives' , I'm not looking to make anyone of you the next Leonardo, and it really doesn't matter a jot, what others think of your handiwork at this early stage. I want you, the reader of this blog, to feel that no-one is judging your artistic abilities but rather, just encouraging you to take up arms or in this case, felting needle and have a go!!!
I really hope that within a very short time, that you will have something on your sideboard(I don't know what the American equivalent is) that you are happy to show family and friends and feel proud of.

Lets have a go at making a Fairy Mushroom(actually for the purists, Toadstool) but whatever, it's a simple starter and is a fun, brightly coloured piece.
Here's a picture of what we're aiming to make.
As you can see, there are two basic shapes here, a cone and a cyilinder. There are two cones joined by a cylinder. Now to start with, the shapes are made with polyester fiber wadding or batting, this simplifies things to the point of silliness but it does illustrate how easily objects, that at first may appear relatively complex can be broken down into very easy stages.
Right, if you'll forgive me, for today, I will stop here and publish but I will be back tomorrow to finish up.Good night.

Monday, 28 March 2011

fiber talk: how on earth!!!!!

fiber talk: how on earth!!!!!: "How on Earth is a guy supposed to get any work done when the weather is as nice as this??? The trouble is, in the U.K. we have to take advan..."

how on earth!!!!!

How on Earth is a guy supposed to get any work done when the weather is as nice as this???
The trouble is, in the U.K. we have to take advantage of the good days, when they come and I'm certainly not complaining. How does the old Spanish saying go ' Manyana' probably not spelled right but you get my drift!
One thing I have been able to do whilst sitting out, is make felted dryer balls. Such an easy project for all you guys to get your felting fingers limbered up.
Start of with a handfull of polyester fibre filling, any quality will do, it's only to bulk out the ball and save some of that valuable wool.
Scruch it up into a roughly shaped ball and needle it, 'til it holds together by itself.
Next, if you have some handy, take a square of knitted wool, jersey fabric or even polyester fibre batting(wadding) and place your ball in the middle of it.
Pull the corners up the sides, quite firmly, and hold together with the fingers of one hand, whilst needling them into the ball,(the corners, not your fingers) with the other hand.
Once it's firmly held in place, take knitting wool and wind round and over , every which way or roving and layer over the surface of the emerging ball, needle until it's holding in place, then using the same method, continue to layer-up 'til you are happy with the shape and the colours.
Keep squeezing and squashing to shape the ball.
You really can go to town with the designs and colours on a project like this, let you imagination just roll with it!!
If you wish, you can now wet felt it, by putting soap on your hands and rub over the surface, try not to get the ball too wet, otherwise it takes forever to reshape and roll around in the palms of your hands forcing the fibers to meld together and form a much tighter felt.
As this is meant to be a dryer ball, of which you'd use four or more at a time, you can throw it in the dryer and let it bounce around in there for a while, check regularly.
In use , put a few drops of fabric conditioner or essencial oil on each ball, let it dry for ten minutes before use. It lasts for a fair few loads before you need to recharge it.
The same is true if you are going to use them as decorations, they make very handsome potpourie thingies!!
Personaly, I think these babies are far too good looking to spend their lives out of sight in the laundry, why not make a display of them in the lounge room! The possibilities are endless. Cat toys, childs ' toys, fly wappers!!! You get the drift!
Have fun and let me know how you get on. Also if you think of other ways to use them or even make them. Maybe you already make them in some other way, let me know and we'll share the good news!
Be good and don't waste too much time enjoying the sunshine, Eh??

I thought you might like to see some I made earlier!

These ones range in size from tennis ball to softball. Hope you like.
Now you can see, what words often fail to describe.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

fiber talk: Spring At Last

fiber talk: Spring At Last: "Well spring has finally showed up here in Wales. Lovely to be able to, sit out in the garden and just dream. My Primroses are all in bloom a..."

fiber talk: Spring At Last

fiber talk: Spring At Last: "Well spring has finally showed up here in Wales. Lovely to be able to, sit out in the garden and just dream. My Primroses are all in bloom a..."

Spring At Last

Well spring has finally showed up here in Wales.
Lovely to be able to, sit out in the garden and just dream.
My Primroses are all in bloom and what a delight they are, they seem as if they just want to celebrate  the fact, that  for the moment at least, winter is behind us.
Everywhere I look, there are more  and more lambs being born. Their pitiful bleating is such a contrast to the gruff tones of mum. They too seem to be full of the joys , as they 'gang-up' and charge up and down the fields, pausing only to check on mum, then off they go again, terrorising the rest of the flock, who are quite content to sit and chew the cud.
Spring sunshine is more than just a welcome sight, it really does appear to cure the melancholy of winter and all of a sudden you feel good and want to start on the garden, which of course innevitably means that odious task of mowing the grass, of which I have more than my fair share!!
This year things will be different though because my son has bought me a ride-on mower and as soon as the grass is long enough, I will be annoying the neighbours.

Monday, 24 January 2011

fiber talk: Time to Take Time

fiber talk: Time to Take Time: "Well hello again! Thanks for coming back I hear you say.I really felt it was time to take the time to get back to my blog once again.I since..."

Time to Take Time

Well hello again! Thanks for coming back I hear you say.
I really felt it was time to take the time to get back to my blog once again.
I sincerely hope that you are keeping well and are  ready for more about needlefelting.
I have been working on a couple of new pieces which are taking a lot of my time up right now but it may be worth mentioning what I just referred to, a couple of pieces!
I find that it can be very benificial to have more than one project on the go, at any one time. A) it can get pretty intense working away on one piece and although you are doing the self-same thing on any of them, it just comes as a change to use a different colour,say, to have a completely different subject matter, unusual or exotic fibres, whatever, the old saying is very true in this instance, 'a change is as good as a rest'
It's a bit like the text in this blog really, changing the colour, changes the mood of the writing.
But too many changes can be disorienting and confusing, so it's just enough , so's you remember where you were up to but not too much, that your style is noticably different throughout the piece.
In the next few days I want to concentrate on NEEDLING STYLE with you.
Not how you are wearing your hair or the clothes that match the colour of your wool but the way you hold the needle, the way you sit, the position of the hand holding the needle and playing the bass notes with the other hand.!! It's quite difficult at first to use the opposite hand for anything other than  resting on but it is really important that you learn to use both in unison and feel comfortable doing so, not jabbing the needle into the fingertips or up the nailbed, which will definately happen when you first start and will occasionally happen ,even when you are proficient. You learn to have a higher pain threshold, that's all.

Follow The Wool

When you first take a needle in your hand, try to hold it as if you were holding a pen, with the shaft resting on your middle finger and the index finger and thumb providing the grip. Then rest the heel of the hand, the junction of wrist and hand, on the foam or working surface.
I don't want you to worry about any wool at this point, I just want you to get the feel of the felting motion. There are plenty of vids on Youtube to get the general idea but I want you to practice 'bouncing' the hand as if you were resting on a nerve!! This is by far and away, the least debilitating method that I know, some folk create the movement with their shoulder or their elbow, which can over several minutes, never mind hours, give you quite severe pain. Always try to find the most comfortable method possible.
When you have 'trained ' for a while, take a piece of scrap material, some wool, either tops, rovings or even knitting wool and place the fabric on some foam of if you prefer, a felting brush.
Now , we aren't going to felt a picture or anything meaningful at this point, just practice poking the wool into the material, until you feel confident that you're doing it O.K.
The wool should go into the foam just a small degree, around a quarter of an inch is fine, any deeper and you are going to ruin the foam pad before you've had it too long. And in reality, the wool only needs to go just through the material for it to grab hold and get felted with subsequent strokes of the needle.
How are you doing so far?? 
You may find that initially, the results are patchy, that's fine, learning to felt the right amount of wool for the design will come with practice.
For now, that's what I would like you to do, PRACTICE,when you feel ready, try making a meaningful shape, say a leaf or petal, blend a couple of colours together,see what the results are but most of all, ENJOY.
It's a fantastic craft to learn and when you have, with my help, you''ll think of so many different ways you can use it.
Bon Voyage, it should be a pleasant journey.!!:-)

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Needle Match

Selecting the right needle is not difficult but it is possible to get comfortable with one grade of needle, at the expense of all others!!
By that I mean if you are getting along fine with a 38 guage triangular needle, you may find that you can in fact work a lot more efficiently with a  38 guage STAR needle. Or , if you are dealing with strong , coarse fibres, say Welsh Mountain Wool, a 36  tri needle will be far more effective.Romney wool will be the same (it's coarse too).
The gauge of the needle refers to it's diameter. Needle gauges range from 32 up to 42. 
Then you get the CROWN needle, with similar guages but with only one notch on each face(mostly used for inserting hair or eyebrows on dolls), regular needles have two on each face (edge) That's six on a tri and eight on a star.
The higher the gauge --the finer the needle. When you start a project, it is common to choose a needle that is thicker in diameter as it felts your fibre faster.  Higher gauge needles are used for adding details to your piece and  smoothing the surface

3D or Flat Felt

There are reasons , which are gained only from experience, why certain needles are preferred when making either a 3d piece such as a doll or a flat felted item, such as a picture
When making 3d pieces, the aim is to start coarse, to build up up quickly, finish fine,get a really smooth appearance to the surface of the finished item, so a super fine needle is the order of the day. This can be as fine as a forty two guage or a forty gauge , which ever you prefer, my personal preference is both!! Start the finishing process with a forty and finally a forty two , to make sure there are as few needle marks  as possible.

I know to the beginner, that this may all sound extremely confusing, It's really not, just get yourself a selection to start you off, have a crack at it and 'feel your way round' !!
You will start to find, that one feels better at certain jobs than another.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Fibre or fiber, I don't know

However you want to spell it, it comes down to the same thing!!
It's the stuff that you poke with the felting needle, to give the result that you're hoping to acheive.
There's no magic formula,it's just a matter of trying whatever is to hand and see what it looks like, right!!??
It can be as simple as going to your local craft store or the internet, with a wad of money and I'm sure there'll be somebody who will tell you " Oh Yeah!! This is what you need, and some of this and some of that!!" ..........!    I'm not saying that buying all your needs is wrong, as I said early doors, there is no wrong or right way in this craft. But take the advice of an ol' man and don't just throw money away, try a bit of improvisation, see what you have lying around the house, old sweaters that you could pull down and recycle the wool. String and cord(chord) are another source of fibres and before you know where you are , you'll be finding them all over the place!!
 Maybe you know a local farmer who has some sheep wool left over from shearing, try to do some sort of a deal.   Wash it and clean it and dye it yourself and you'll have 2 or 3 kilo's of good useable wool out of it!
There are many plant fibres that you can use but be warned, it can be the devils own job, beating, refining, soaking, boiling, teasing and carding, drying and dying, it may not be worth the while.
There are some very good priced deals for all of your plant fibre needs online, so think carefully before going out to hunt it down in the wild!
The world of animal fibres is a bewildering maze and there are some really exotic ones out there that you'll pay a hefty price tag on. Unless you are doing an order for someone with a special request for some obscure animal fibre, stick to good old fashioned sheep wool.
It comes in many grades but suffice to say, it's very, very fine or it goes all the way up to virtually barbed wire! So a collection of wool, somewhere betwixed the two, works pretty well on most any project.
In the next post I'll talk abit more about fibres and how they act in our line of work, the size and type of felting needles and a few small exercises to give us a feel for the job!!
Happy hunting.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

fiber talk: Getting Started

fiber talk: Getting Started: "O.K. So you have an idea floating around in your head and you want to do a needle felted picture of it!!! 'Where to start??' Well, it's pret..."

Getting Started

O.K. So you have an idea floating around in your head and you want to do a needle felted picture of it!!!
'Where to start??'
Well, it's pretty simple, with the base material! "But I already knew that" I hear you say. But did you give the base material, any thought? Because , yes you can use just about any material for the backing but will it suit the subject? Will the felting needle go through it relatively easily because, don't forget, depending on the size of the project, you could be poking that needle through the material for many, many hours! And believe me, if you've chosen a 'tough-to-poke' fabric, it really takes the enjoyment out of the task, when you end up half-way through , thinking"I wish I'd used an easier fabric"
O.K. so, the denser the thread pattern, like water-proof nylon and heavy weight canvas, the more resistance to the needle, the less dense, like fleece fabric, the less resistance.
Another consideration is visual suitability. A 'Hard Rock' subject, would look a bit silly on pink fleece!! So a balance has to be made.
I'll list a few materials that would be useful to have in your supply cupboard.
Hession- it comes in roll form as well as sheets, I even use old grain sacks. I wash them and then dye them in a whole range of colours.
Upholstery fabric, even patterned ones can be useful.
Linen, cotton(duck and mercerized) poly cotton, polyester,Ramy, Pre-felt ( kinda like a felt sheet but a bit looser), Felt, I have even used felt underlay for carpeting, Felted woollen clothing(sweaters etc that have felted due to washing wrongly or just aged) Denim, Canvas(can be hard on needles!!),Twil, Sinamey,(I'll talk about Sinamey later on) Chiffon, Silk Chiffon, Velvet, Organga, Satin,Silk, Jersey, Worsted, Chambrey, Corduroy, Fleece Fabric, Voile, Calico.
The list goes on but suffice to say that if you have some kind of fabric that you don't want to see go to waste, then try a sample piece and if it doesn't cause any problems, break needles or is very hard to penetrate, then I suggest you give it a go. Be led by your needle so-to-speak!!
If you want advice on any materials, fabrics and their suitability, just email me or comment and I will try to help as best I am able.