Sunday, 23 November 2014

Felting

Wow, how time passes!

Yesterday I attended a felting class in Penicuik, run by Doreen of Scottish Fibres, a company that boasts a wonderful cacaphony of everything wool related, and the extremely talented Jennie Louden. It was my first proper foray into felting, and I will be adding it to my repertoire of wonderful wool work!

We made three items, though had a choice of what to make. Firstly, we started with flat wet felting. This was the most simple make, and the choice was a mat or a scarf, due to it looking more complex, I chose to make a scarf, as did every one else in the class.

We had a large selection of dyed mohairs to choose from, provided as part of the course by Doreen, who was actually making slippers! (Really advanced angels, according to Jennie!).

 We dived into the treasure trove and each chose the colours for our scarves and were shown how to lay them out, with the first layer facing down the scarf and the second lying across the scarf. We then added embellishment, and this is what mine looked like before the felting started:
I allowed the green to overlap the edges of the red underneath as I wanted the green to show on both sides, and I added swirls and twists of other, brighter colours. It was interesting at this stage to see how differently everyone chose, some were very colourful, some experimental, some classic. Each one had a bit of our own characters in it, which was really lovely. And, as a bonus, because there were only five of us in the class we were able to spread out and really get messy! 

I have no photos of the inbetween stages, but it involves soapy water, and lots of rolling. You roll the wool, in plastic, around your rolling pin, and then roll the bundle in a towel and roll for 100 rolls. You then fold the wool in thirds, making sure that no sections are touching (the plastic keeps it all separate) and roll it out widthways. This is because it shrinks in the direction that you're rolling, so if you only rolled it one way you'd end up with a very short scarf, or a very thin scarf, but I don't think it would really bond properly. Better to make it 1/3rd bigger than you want it to be and allow it to shrink all over. 

And this is what the finished article looks like! 

Sorry - it was too big to put in one photo! 
The green edges are twisted and pulled out to create a freeform style (my words) and I love the effect of the bright pops of colour! This is how it will be worn:
On the model (also wearing my dress!)

For very chilly days to keep the wind out of my neck, brr!

And a more classic look, folded down.
I think it will normally be worn with it turned down, though I love the drama of it up. It may not be the most chic article ever, but I love it, and it's very comfy. In fact, I'm sitting wearing it right now! Yee haa!


Then we moved onto working in 3D. As it's close to Christmas the course did have a slight Christmas theme, and so we had a choice between making mini stockings or angels. Three of us, me included chose angels, and the other two chose stockings.
The flat angel, with separate wings. She has very long arms! 
It used the same wet felt technique, except inbetween the layers of the body, we put a 'resist' - a bit of plastic that the felt does not bond with - in the middle. This means that once you've layered up the felt you can separate the layers and end up with a gap in the middle. This can then be worked to create an object that can stand on its own.  Da dah:
The head was also wet felted, but it could have been needle felted if desired. The wings are made from a single layer of wool to give an almost translucent effect. Due to her arms being extremely long, Jennie suggested that I roll them up, fix them until they dry, and then let them out. They would then keep the shape. They look much better, and I kinda like the comic rolled hands! 

Once the head was completely dry I added hair and styled it, and she's complete, just awaiting a tree now! 
The wool at the bottom is unwashed, so does not felt. It gives a lovely skirt effect that I think looks great (it's not shown to absolute best effect when she's sitting on the ground!). At some point I'll add eyes to her, but that can wait just now, I think... 


The last item to complete yesterday was a needle felted robin. These were very funny, and mine, although being king of his tree, is very very  plump. All the better to survive the winter on, I think! 

It was a great day yesterday, brilliant to learn a new way of working with wool, and I can't wait to get some supplies in so that I can start making things!! I especially loved the wet felting, I think. It was amazing how things come together, and I love my scarf. I highly recommend doing some felting, and if you're in southern Scotland do check out the Scottish Fibres course list, as I think they have some exciting things going on. 

In other news: I
have loads of makes to upload, and my photographer brother is visiting just now so hopefully I'll get them photographed and up here soon!

Has anyone else enjoyed felting? I'd love to hear your experiences. 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Green Dots Dress

Last year I attended a dress-making class, or rather, half a dress-making class, as work always called me away for field work just when I needed to be there. It meant that the dress I had started, the lovely V8723, was never finished. It sat in a pile, waiting for attention, and finally, for my parents' wedding anniversary in June this year, I managed to get it finished. 
The dress was pretty simple to make, though slightly more complex than a first make should be. It taught me a lot, however, and gave me many new techniques which I will remember now! It's a great little pattern, very handy, looks good with a cardigan, and very comfortable due to it being fully lined. It's made out of a green fabric with tiny cream polka dots and is lined in baby blue habotai, which is absolutely gorgeous (even though I think it's a polyester rather than the silk version!).
It doesn't fit absolutely perfectly, but I think it would be a miracle if it did, as I cut the wrong size of bodice. It's one of the 'Custom Fit' range, and that means that you cut the bodice depending on your cup size. I should have cut size a, but borrowed my friend's pattern for that evening, and cut b by accident. This meant that once the dress was all sewn up, I then had to unpick the sides of the bodice and the lining and take out about an inch either side. But....annoying though it was, it worked, and I ended up with a dress that I love and am immensely proud of!
Not bad for a first make, I think!

Well, the dress itself has a fitted bodice with small straps at the top. It's got pockets, which I love, a gathered skirt and it fully lined with a lapped zip. All of these, apart from pockets, were new techniques to me, but I found the instructions well laid out and easy to follow, the only difficulty came from my own error, and that would have helped if I had been able to attend the class as I had intended.

Has anyone else made this dress, or is anyone else intending to?

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 3 November 2014

New Blog!

Hello, and welcome!

Crochet while camping? Yes, sirree!
I normally blog over at www.heatherybean.blogspot.com, but have been desiring a place to showcase my makes for a while. This is because I have two sides to me. I am an ecologist with dreams of being a conservationist, and that's what I write about over there, but I am also very creative and, to stop the other blog becoming too muddled, want a place to showcase and share my makes. I knit, spin wool, sew and am a beginner crochet-er. Knitting and sewing are definitely my loves though!

I am an avid reader of the current sewing blog network, and take much inspiration from those other pages. I want to be able to enter the conversation and stop being such a lurker in the background! Hopefully this will encourage me to make more, try more new things and keep pushing myself. Although, I do have a slightly ambitious turn. I attended a dressmaking class last year, and have been having lots of fun since then experimenting and making clothes and accessories to wear and share.

See you soon, with some clothes!!