Monday, 22 September 2008

River Felting


Before the summer I was investigating traditional felting techniques and thought I'd see what happens if I felted in a river.

As it so happened we went camping next to a river.

I did a bit of pre-felting so the fleece didn't just float off down the river and tried it with some bright yarn to a handy branch.

I then just left it for a few hours. I had to go back every once in a while to check it was still there.


The river flow created a really interesting shape to the end pieces.

This one is my favourite, you can see the little seed pods it picked up in the water


video

Wheelie Bin Wars

I am an enthusiastic recycler so was distraught when our wheelie bin went missing!

One that looked a lot like ours found it's way into a neighbours front garden....... but anyway we ordered a new one and it took ages to arrive and when it did, the first time it was emptied it went missing again!

This time I found it in the drive way of some flats 5 houses down.


So, now I've stencilled it and every Wednesday I go looking for it!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Exercise some needle power

For every mum, the day her child is born should be the happiest of her life. Yet, in the world's poorest countries, many mums don't survive to look after their babies.

In the next minute, lack of access to health care will claim the life of another mum. In a year, half a million mums die because of poorly equipped hospitals, or because they can't afford to pay health care fees.

World leaders have promised to end this travesty by providing enough aid to deliver the medical services needed, but as things stand they're falling well short.

Patches to fight poverty

We cannot allow this to continue. Broken promises add up to lives lost.

Oxfam are calling on all knitters everywhere to help spell out in no uncertain terms that enough is enough, that we won't sit silently while this injustice continues.

You can take part, and turn your knitting needles into poverty fighting needles by creating a patch for a giant baby blanket – a 'visual petition' we'll hand in to world leaders in September 2008.

Oxfam are aiming for 250,000 patches - one for every mum who should have survived pregnancy in the last six months.

Play your part in a giant, knitted petition

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Washing Wool

Wow, I've just spent the last 2 hours washing fleece, dying muslin and fleece and cooking dinner.
Luckily I didn't get any of it mixed up!!

I washed the fleece both by hand and in the washing machine. There are some great hand washing instructions are here.

the top left and right were washed in the machine and the
yellowy cream fleece at the bottom was washed by hand

There are lot's of instructions for top loading washing machines and not much for front loaders, I did read something yesterday saying that it is possible in a front loader with a wool cycle, so I thought I'd give it a go. (sorry can't find the site where I read it)

My wool cycle is for 'machine washable wool' at 40, so I decided to try the silk cycle and it came out really clean. I did put it in a mesh bag but the bag came open and the wool came out and a couple of little bits feel a bit felted but I don't want to fiddle to much until it's dry.


I was dying some muslin olive green, when it was done I thought I'd try and dye a piece of the washed fleece, this is it just after it came out and was cooling. I'm hoping it will stay the same colour once it's been rinsed.

Now I'm hoping the new carders I brought at the weekend on ebay come soon, then I can prepare this lot ready for a bit of felting!

Monday, 30 June 2008

Felted Bowls

Hi all, sorry I haven't posted for ages and ages but I've been felting!


These are my first attempts to felt round a ball. They are two halves and I have felted the left handside one a bit more. The one on the right is my favorite as you can see all the fibres around the rim, it's just as it was when I cut the felted ball in half.


I have taken step by step photos for a tutorial but I'll explain quickly how I did it.

You have to make lot's of what are called in the trade - Pre-felts, which a small pieces lightly felted, you dry them, then.....................


your pin and stitch them all around the ball until you have lot's of layers built up, then you felt it. I will explain the whole process properly soon.



Then I made these bowls with good old fashioned kitchen appliances. I started felting them by hand and got bored and put them in the dishwasher. The dishwasher didn't felt them much but it made an interesting shape to the edges.


This pink and brown one is my favourite, you can't see from this photo but in the middle is a brown dot. When I had felted the two colours together a bit I cut a circle out of the middle and turned it over.





For the last few years my Mum and Dad have gone to Amsterdam to see the tulips and each year they buy an Amaryllis bulb for my nan, sister, me and one for them. We all get given them in paper bags with the colour of them written on it and every year the colours are completely different!! There follows lot's of up-date phone calls between my Mum and all the recipients letting us know what colour they really are, can't remember what colour mine was meant to be but it wasn't dusty pink.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Weaving


I went into my 6 year old sons class today to do some weaving with them.


One of their topics is Plants and Animals so I took in some fleece, a drop spindle, knitting, felt and a woven piece of cloth and we talked about fabrics and what they are made from.


Their teacher and I had already prepared the paper plates with the warp thread and then the children choose different fabrics to weave with.


I was surprised at how conservative their choices were at first. I expected them to go straight for the cut up t-shirts and plastic bags but most of them went for the thinnest wool and it took a while for them to try weaving with the more unusual fabrics.


The result are fantastic, some aren't finished but the children are all keen to take them home and finish them off over the weekend.

A pdf of instructions of how to thread up the paper plate and finish the project off are here.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

and the winner is...................

Pants!

email me 'Pants' and I'll get a little package sent out to you.
cooperjo@talk21.com




Thank you everyone who entered and posted such nice encouraging messages. x

Saturday, 19 April 2008

How To Needle Felt a Flower Brooch


Here it is a little needle felting flower project for you.

Where am I going to get the materials from? you might be asking.

Well, I have listed a few links for companies I have used at the end of this post and you can also get supplies from various Etsy and Ebay shops.


I also thought that I would have a little competition. If you fancy having a go at the wonderful craft of needle felting, post 'I would love to have a go at this' with your comment below and I will pull a couple of names out of a hat and send you a little kit to get you started.
You can't say farer than that, can you?

**Competition closes Saturday 25th April 2008 at 1200BST**

Ok, so what you will need to needle felt a flower brooch are the following supplies;


  • A felting needle
  • merino fleece
  • a dense foam sponge
  • a cookie cutter of the shape you want
  • sewing supplies
  • a safety pin or brooch back
  • and a button, oh and a cup of tea (very important)


This is what a felting needle looks like, you might just be able to see from the photo that there are little nicks in the needle end. These are called 'barbs' and they are what makes the fleece felt together. They come in different gauges for different types of work. The larger the gauge the quicker it felts, but it leaves visible holes and you then need to work with a finer needle but it then depends on the fleece you are using.......... I could go into more detail but I'll leave that for another post.

For this project I used a finer needle.

Start by pulling your fleece (plucking) into small tufts and piling it into a cookie cutter, filling it up right to the top.



Poke (stab) your needle into the fleece, you want to gently push the needle through the fleece and into the sponge but not to far or hard.


Once the fleece has flattened a bit, take the cutter off.....


...........and carefully pull the shape off the sponge. Little tufts of fleece will have been poked into the sponge.

Now, your shape will look a bit of a mess, but don't worry, you still have some work to do.


Put the cookie cutter back onto the sponge, turn your shape over and put it back in the cutter.
Repeat the stabbing and turning over few more times, you will see the fleece 'felt' together, firm up and form a more solid shape.

(sorry about the rubbish photo!)

In-between taking the flower off of the sponge and turning it over you can poke the fleece round the edges.
WARNING: this is when I stab myself, so be careful!!

This will make your flower shrink a bit more and firm up the petals.


The great thing about needle felting is that you can sculpt it. If it is a bit wonky and lopsided you can felt it a bit more on that side. You can shape the petals by poking the needle in-between them.


When your flower is smooth and you feel it is firm enough to sew the pin onto firmly, it's done.


Choose a button for the centre and sew on and sew a pin onto back.



Supplies
All the materials are fairly cheap with needles around 80p-£1.00 each and the fleece is about £1.50 for 10g and the sponges range from 80p to £2.00. But you can used any dense foam, car washing or bath sponges.
You can also by kits with a variety of coloured merino fleece, needles and a sponge for around £9.50-£15.

I have brought supplies on the internet from Christy Bears and getknitted and from Art Van Go and Crafty Notions at show events.

Recently, I have been looking at ebay suppliers and there are a couple of interesting ones in the uk- KRAFT MANIA and Needdleworks Pleasures. They both have a really nice selection of colours.

FeltFinland blog has a list of suppliers, one of which is fantastic looking Wingham Wool Works, serious fleece!

These Christmas decorations were made the same way.


Hope this has given you enough info to inspire you to have a go, any questions just ask:-)

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Zentangles

I have a new obsession, Zentangles!


It's just a posh name for doodles, but check out the amazing ones on flickr and of course there is a website where you can pay £25 for a kit!!!

But all you really need is to have a read of zentangle.com (what else?) a nice pen and a piece of paper.

Mine aren't true zentangles, to be 'zen' with your 'tangle' you need to use a black fine tip pen and 3.5 inch square white card and not the back of envelope while chatting on the phone.
But hey, I've never been one for following instructions!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

We did it!


We lasted one night in the snow, it was great fun but, blimey it was cold.
The kid's loved it and didn't want to come home but it all got to much for me.
When I went to the loo before going to bed and I had so many layers on it took ages before I could actually go!

this is how it went........
Jacket up
Fleece up
Jumper up
Jeans down
Another jumper up
Top up
Woolly tights down
Long sleeve vest up
Short Sleeve vest up................
you get the idea!


Unfortunately the batteries in my camera were flat but I did take a few with my phone. The photo above was taken on Monday morning and you can still see some snow, the views of the South Downs covered in snow were amazing and there were so many birds singing and flying around.

We will be camping again this year I'm sure, but next time it will be in the summer and if I start to plan a camping trip which isn't in July or August can you point me back to this post!

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Camping in the Snow

We are going camping tomorrow and snow is forecast!!


I am not the sort of person to cancel, I am being positive and thinking about Captain Scott; if he can get to the South Pole we can get through a few days in Brighton!

The camp site looks great though and we can have camp fires, which will be blazing!!!


Edinburgh 2006 (that's me in the background in pink)

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Easter

Hope everyone is having a nice long weekend.


.............and it wouldn't be Easter without Easter Nests, ours went a bit odd with the chocolate overheating but with a bit of vigorous stirring, a night in the fridge and mini egg decoration they are now perfect.
I made some mini cheesecakes from a recipe in Nigella's How to be a Domestic Goddess, they are a bit of a flaff but taste v. nice!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Feeling better

After being off with ill kids last week, I have been ill for the last three days. I am feeling a lot better today and even chanced a cup of coffee (my first since Sunday).


So I thought I'd take this chance to have a blog catch up before the Vernal Equinox celebrations (Easter) begins.

No, I'm not being clever or Pagan, I just had to look up in my 'Wheel of the Year-Living the Magical Life' book by Pauline Campanelli, and found out some interesting thing's I thought I'd share -

At the time of the Vernal Equinox, eggs are used for the creation of talismans and were also ritually eaten. There is little doubt that clutches of eggs laid by many different kinds of birds in the Spring were a welcome dietary supplement to early hunter/gatherers after the spareness of Winter. It is also possible that gathering a variety of eggs from nests of birds by our ancient ancestors gave rise to two customs still popular today-The Easter Egg Hunt and coloring eggs in imitation of various pastel colors of the eggs of wild birds.

Ahhh, that makes sense now. I often wonder why we do these strange little rituals and my Pagan handbook always gives me the answer. I am not religious, but living in a Christian Country we (our family) observe most of the festivals in some way and I like to have a overview of why we (society) do these things and what the pre-Christian festival would have been.
It also puts a non-consumerist perspective on it all which is also something I am keen to pass onto my kids.
It's not all about chocolate, kids, but let's eat some while thinking about nature.


My book also gives the natural dyes for your eggs-

Soft Orange - Single skin of a onion
Deep Rust - A handful of onion skins
Sunny Yellow - One and half teaspoons of turmeric
Pink- Beetroot juice and vinegar or pickled beetroot juice
Robins Egg Blue - Vinegar and several layers of red cabbage leaves boiled with the eggs and left to cool overnight.

Might have to give it a go, I'll report back if I do.


In the postal receiving department I got a lovely matchbox full of buttons, plus extra buttons and this most brilliant stamp from Lia at Sleepyside Farm, I have stamped everything that's not moved so far, I'm now going to start on the things that do move!



Now, do you want to see what the Easter Bunny really looks like?


Sorry Dad, hehehe!

Leaves

Maybe it's just the time of year but I have been noticing leaves all around the place.