Thursday, October 10, 2013

Area Rugs art the FFF

Here is a  photo of some felted area and throw rugs from the Fall Fiber Festival (2013) in Montpelier Station, VA, held this past weekend.   I think I just might try to make one (though all that work just for dirty feet!).  I think I will need some coarser wool than usual and a thicker batting.  I will also likely need to make it in the bathtub, due to the larger size.....hum, got to get planning!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Fall Felt II

I started a second fall felt project this time using leaves with more distinct shapes.  In the first version (see previous article), I detailed the leaves using needle felting.  This time I am using another technique, embroidering with DMC cotton floss (of which I lots from my long-ago days doing cross stitch).  I intend to work other elements into the felting, including beading and embeds (for example, small felt spheres of differing color that are then revealed by carving the top layer of wool, lace or natural items like feathers or plant parts), but not all in the same piece necessarily.
Here is a closeup of some of the embroidered leaf veins:
I certainly need more practice to recall my old embroidery skills, and good lighting and magnification, but it is a start!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fall Felting

I had some thick, brown, needle-felted batts that I wanted to make into shoulder bags and a messenger bag, and make them themed for the four seasons. So, I started with autumn.  I have a series of photos to show some of the stages in this process.

First, I laid out and cut the appropriate size of batting.  The I lightly covered it with some loose, white, Icelandic wool that I am trying to felt before I purchase it (and it felts well). This is to lessen the very deep, charcoal brown of the base batt.  Atop that, I randomly added strands of purple and a unusual coral-orange colored, both 100% wool boucle yarn.   To this I layered leaf-like shapes cut out of colored prefelt.    And this is what I had at this stage:

 I next used a felting needle tool to needle, or "lock in," the main elements I wanted to stay in place (stuff shifts around as you wet felt.  See previous posts for more info on using a felting needle). In this photo, you can see that the main shapes are now lightly needle-felted:

Then, I transferred the composition to a large piece of bubble wrap (this presents the uneven surface necessary to encourage the wool to felt, or bind together).  I covered the entire project with millinery netting (the kind used in hats) to prevent the wool from felting into itself when I roll it. You can also used a slick, rayon fabric.  

See the cut, pink pool noodle in the photo below?   That is used in the rolling part of the process.
Below: bubble wrap, wool project, netting:

The next step is to wet down the entire project, saturate it, with a solution of a squirt of dish washing liquid in a 1 gallon bucket of hot water (I actually used a homemade solution of olive oil soap, shaved and mixed with water, and left to soak, but dish soap works fine- I like the natural ones).  I wrung out a sponge full of this soapy solution all over the project.  You can also use a spray bottle or bulb sprayer, but an inexpensive sponge works fine:

Next, I began carefully rolling the entire thin- bubble wrap, wool project and netting, being as careful as I could to prevent folds occurring in the wool (this was a bit difficult, as this particular wool batting was was quite thick, unlike most commercial batting or prefelt you can purchase):

Here is the roll, tied up with old stockings, on a towel to absorb water (best to have a few old towels around to use to sop up excess water):

Using my wrists, on a tall enough surface to ease my back (my kitchen counter) I rolled it back and forth 100 times, unrolled and checked to see how well the wool was locking together, then I rolled it back up for 100 more rolls.  Below I am performing a pinch test, to see how well the wool is locking. Very little is coming up in my fingers, so it is getting pretty well felted.

When done, I rinsed it in warm water with 1/4 c of white vinegar added, then I rinsed it again in cool, clear water:

I am in the process of embellishing the project and locking down a few stray areas using needle felting.  And here is the result (so far):

I will continue to work on this piece and intend to make it into a messenger bag.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Nuno Felting Class

Nuno Felting
I recently took a Nuno felting class with Magi Shapiro at the Cultural Arts Center of Glen Allen   Though I am familiar with almost all the steps of this felting process, I wanted to gain some hands-on experience with the guidance of a teacher. Magi also teaches wet felting and owns a herd of Icelandic sheep!

We first learned how to make all-wool felt, but most of us were itching to start Nuno felting.  This type of felting uses a light-weight fabric, most often silk, but you can use rayon, as a base on which to lightly apply and felt wool. First, I laid out my design on the silk scarf, then lightly needled into place anything I did not want to move during the wet felting process.

Next,  the scarf is gently laid on a long piece of bubble wrap, then covered with a piece of nylon curtain fabric (I have used netting instead with good results).  The entire scarf is then wetted with warm water into which a squirt of dish soap has been added (about 1 gallon of warm water to that squirt of soap:  I often use a gelled mixture of olive oil bar soap instead).  Maggie has cool bulb sprayers, but you can use a spray bottle or saturated sponge. Then, the entire thing, scarf, nylon and bubble wrap is rolled around a tube of some sort; we used cut up pool noodles (flotation devices), but for smaller pieces I have used a rolling pin that I wrapped in plastic).  The whole roll is tied together with old stockings (hosiery) then rolled 100 times, back and forth, across a towel.

The roll is then unrolled and the wool checked for felting- you take a light pinch of the wool and see if it has adhered to the silk.  I then rolled it back up and rolled it 200 more times, checking at the halfway point (my guess is you will need to do this at least 300 times, but, using the wrists to roll, it is not difficult and does not take a long time).

After unrolling the scarf, we then scrunched it up, as shown here:

 Overlap your thumbs and scrunch the entire length 25 to 50 times.  Now, it is time to wad up the whole thing and throw it, slapping it down on a flat surface for 25 to 50 times, until you get good ruching.  What is ruching ("roo sching")?  Well this is not yet ruched:

 ..and this is ruched: see the puckers in the silk fabric?  That is what you want.  You can throw some more and get more ruching, but I was finis!

Close up of ruching:

After the scarf is done, rinse it in a basin of tepid water to which a half cup of white vinegar has been added to remove and neutralize the soap and dry it flat.  If you need to ever wash it, wash it in cold water with gentle soap.

And here is the final scarf! It lost about 20% of its length as the wool felted to the base.  Not bad for a first time using silk...onward and upward!

Till next time!
PS "Ruching" is better defined as pleating, and maybe "puckering" is more accurate?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Green Felt Bag

A month or so ago I posted a photo of a piece of felt I made using a combination of wet and needle felting.  I turned that into the green bag above, with a wet-felted, wool rope handle.  The interior of the bag is lined with linen and it is stitched together with DMC cotton floss using a blanket stitch.  The little bag above it is a "wallet" or eyeglass case, made of contrasting colors and a few accent colors echoing the larger bag.  I will be embarking on another similar project soon, and will post step-by-step photos and instructions.  Oh, the bag still needs a button closure, and I will be working on that too.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Felt Painting with Update

     I have been working with a combination of wet and needle felting that, for want of a better term, I have been calling "felt painting."  Above is an example of a decorative wall hanging. I wet felted the base, using prefelt (a pre-made, first layer of wool) and arranging a variety of greens and a few yellows on it.  I used dyed curly locks that I purchased at a fiber festival.  After wet felting and allowing the base to dry, I individually needle felted the pink roses and small purple flowers, attaching them to the base with a felting needle.  I will begin working on the rose leaves, though I don't want to put on so many that it obscures the cool background.

     The piece above is the base for a tri-fold bag.  The first fold will be where you see the greater concentration of bluish wool.  Then I will fold over a smaller length on the left side to make a flap. stitching together each side.  I will needle felt the floral design before folding (it is easier to do this on a flat surface than on a "pocket"), make a felted rope handle and piping and embellish with beads and embroidery.  Keep posted!

Update:  The felt piece is now dry and I folded it the way it will be when I make it into a bag:

It looks a little crooked, but won't be when it is done!
Happy felting!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hat Ornament

I know, we usually do not wear woolens on the spring and summer, but with felting you can make cute ornaments or accents, like the felted flower for this straw garden hat!  When I make felted flowers, I usually try to make all the petals from one continuous hank of wool, twisted and needled into the flower shape.  Then I needle in the contrasting center and any other color accents.  This makes for a sturdier flower, one that will never loose its petals!
Happy needlin'!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What's In a Name?

Will I need to change the name of this blog?

I have been experimenting with wet felting, with a goal of making creations that are combinations of wet felting, needle felting, and, perhaps embroidery and beading.  The top photo is a wet-felted fabric background, upon which I am going to needle felt.  Wet-felted fabrics are firmer than needle-felted ones, and might be more suitable for botanical compositions (not sure).  Wet felting uses water, soap, agitation and pressure to make fabric...

...or objects, like these future beads for a necklace.

Will post as soon as the backing is dry and needle felted!
Till then..... have fun with all things fiber!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Next class!

I need students for my "fast and furious" needle felting weekend intensive class, May 18 and 19 (shorter afternoon session on Sunday).  Please pass this along to any crafty friends! We have a blast!  Register at:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Needle Felting at Ginter Garden

In February, I did needle-felting demonstrations at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  The photo to the left is me with a crowd of interested folks, and, to the right, with a special friend I made (see the blue flower she is holding?  We felted it together!).

My next demo will be at the Powhatan Festival of Fiber on April 27, from 9:30 to 1:30.  For more info, go to:

Registration for my next needle-felting class in May will open in early April, at:

Keep needlin'

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Needle-Felting with Botanical Subjects

I just finished teaching another session of "Needle Felting with Botanical Subjects" in the Art in the Garden program at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens  and what a fabulous class it was, with wonderful students!  Below are some samples of their amazing work!  I will be posting some more photos of their projects in process at the class and will ask them to send me pictures to post of their final works.
In the class, we discussed tools of the trade and how to use them, felting methods and techniques, suitable wools for needle felting and some ideas about subject, composition and dimensionality.  The next confirmed class is in November, but I am working on some other options. In addition, I will be demonstrating needle felting at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden this weekend, Feb 23 and 24, from 11AM to 3PM, so come on out!  The orchid show is in the conservatory, and there will be a "petal pounding" activity for children too!  My students and I will also be demonstrating needle felting on April 27, 10 to 3 at the Powhatan Festival of Fiber,

Keep active!  Keep needlin'!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Virginia Fiber

If you live in Virginia, and are free April 27, 2013, check out the Powhatan Festival of Fiber!  Information is  at:

And if you don't, look for regional fiber festivals near where you live!  They are springing up everywhere!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Knitted shawl with felted trim

The Shawl

Yours truly

I purchased this boucle yarn at the Fall Fiber Festival in Montepelier, VA a few years ago and knitted it into a shawl (at the festival, the yard looked more pink and less orange).  It is a pretty bright color!  I could not decide how to finish off the edges. The simple pattern called for tassels, but that doesn't work with loopy boucle and it did not want to add more orange or make it any longer.  So, I opted for needle felted "bobble" trims in a variety of shapes and colors.  I have made this shawl again in blue and will post that result when ready (and I am knitting it in purple too- boy is it cozy warm!)

Close-up of trim-this seems closer to the color of the boucle.

Coming soon: a report on the work of the fabulous students in my needle felting class at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden!  

Till then, I'll be needlin' around!