Bag ladies… but not me

Yesterday, I spent another lovely day felt-making under the guidance of Lorraine of Greenweeds. We learned how to incorporate a variety of objects into our felt – sequins, shells, beads and other three-dimensional objects – as well as how to make a pocket  inside a bag. We spent the morning exploring techniques:

And then in the afternoon, most participants made a bag using one or more of the techniques. I didn’t… I just wanted to continue playing, so I worked on a flat piece. I really enjoyed the act of creating something without a particular end in mind – it was rather liberating and meant that when I’d had enough I was just able to stop and know that I have achieved all I wanted to.

When I got home I decided that I didn’t want to do much more work on my creation, so I put it in the washing machine and it felted to a nice thick piece, which I am going to cut into a square and use as a table mat. Here are some details:

The next piece of felting I embark on will be a long-planned bag that I now feel ready to tackle thanks to techniques learned yesterday.

Cocoon

I took the afternoon off yesterday to go an visit an exhibition entitled Cocoon. My friend Lorraine Pocklington has her felting and natural dying work on display at Rhosygilwen near Cardigan. It’s well worth a visit if you are in Pembrokeshire over the weekend (until Sunday 19 October).

Tŷ Solar in the rain

Ty Solar in the rain

The work is being exhibited in Tŷ Solar, an amazing eco-house on the Rhosygilwen estate that shows off just how energy efficient a well-designed house can be. Even on a rainy, grey day the house was bright and warm inside and provided a lovely setting for all of Lorraine’s creations. Her work adorned the kitchen, living room, hall, bathroom and two bedrooms. She had included practical items – place mats, oven mitts, a bath math – as well as clothes, shoes and decorative objects. It really goes to show what a versatile material wool is. I think that the work speaks for itself:

What a talented friend I have!

One last very special square

Today I received the final square for my Masterpiece blanket – delivered by hand by the lovely Lorraine of Greenweeds. She is the person who taught me how to felt and who is a fount of knowledge about all things wool. She makes amazing things from felt, with a particular emphasis on British wool. I was quite surprised, therefore, that the square she brought me is knitted:

A very special square

A very special square

But there is a reason. In the letter that accompanied it, she wrote:

It was knitted from my first (decent) spinning from the very first shearing of my darling sheep Dipsy. Knitted, then, in 2004 so somewhat older than some of the squares I imagine.

Without Dipsy and her brother Dribble I wouldn’t have “discovered” wool. Without discovering wool I wouldn’t have “discovered” felt. Without discovering felt I would have been a different person, with a different life, and there’s every chance we would not have met.

And so, you see, although very plain this square is nonetheless very special to me and I am happy that it has found a special home in your blanket.

So now you know just how what an amazing gift this is. I’m quite overwhelmed to have received this and delighted to include it as the final piece in my Masterpiece. Thank you Lorraine.

Never felt better

I decided this weekend to take some time off from paid work and do some activities that I would enjoy just for myself. I did get slightly distracted yesterday and spent rather a long time on the phone arranging a trip away (which will be great when it happens, but required quite a bit of organisation) and writing a piece of text for the Permaculture Association, but today has more or less been just about me… a lie in with an audiobook, a walk on the beach with the dogs and my sweetie in the sunshine (yes, sunshine in west Wales in November), tea and cake when we got home and then an afternoon of felting.

My first ever attempt at wet felting

Making felt is an activity that I had been interested in doing for ages, but it wasn’t until two years ago that an opportunity finally presented itself to go and learn how. I know that I could have bought a book and just got on with it, but wet felting is such a tactile activity that I really wanted to learn from a real person. And the autumn before last the wonderful Lorraine Pocklington of Greenweeds ran a beginners felt-making workshop at Denmark Farm. And from that moment on I was hooked. I started off, at the workshop, making a case for a passport… a simple thing, but it introduced me to the idea of being able to create three-dimensional objects without the need for seams. I knew that this was possible in knitting, through the use of double-pointed needles, but the fact that felt can be thick enough to hold its own shape and can be sculpted opens up a whole range of possibilities.

Slippers from the recent course – mine are the front middle, awaiting decoration

Last year I went on another course to learn to make felt hats and last month, another for felt slippers, both again at Denmark Farm, which is less than 15 miles away from home. The slippers are not yet finished as I want to decorate them with some needle felting and I haven’t got round to it … I just need more hours in the day, or fewer projects on the go! Next spring it looks like there will be a course on nuno felting (that’s where you felt onto fine fabric)… I can’t wait.

The camera case under construction

However, this afternoon’s project was to make a case for my new digital camera. Because felt can be thick, it can be used to make covers for electronic equipment to provide protection. A couple of months ago I made a case for Mr Snail-of-happiness’ new tablet computer. This did not come out quite as I had intended because I was using a new fibre that shrank more than I expected, but it is still serviceable. Today, however, I used I wool that I have worked with before and the properties of which I know reasonably well. I wanted to experiment with a sort of flame effect with the colours, and I’m quite please with the result. It’s drying now and I will finish it off with a couple of buttons to close it and possibly a wrist strap.

After cutting – felting needed around the edges

Felting is a particularly enjoyable activity for me… it’s very tactile, involving repetitive physical activity that isn’t too strenuous. Your mind can wander whist you are being creative and for me it beats meditating. In fact, this afternoon, I listened to part of an audio book whilst I felted… my mind has been busy enough recently as it is! My next project will be a peg bag…

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