International Feltmakers Association Conference 2015

The week before last saw 5 days of joyful feltmaking, surrounded by beautiful, generous, like-minded people and being taught by internationally acclaimed tutors. For me, it was heaven and I really did not want it to end.

The line up of tutors was pretty impressive but for me, the biggest draw was the chance to make hats with Judit Pocs. She is an incredibly talented and imaginative felt artist, I am particularly fond of her “phantasy” hats and creatures but she also makes incredible jewellery and bags.

We only had 2 days but Judit packed a lot in, within the first hour she had shown us 5 completely different hat templates and examples of finished hats that each template could make by employing different fabrics, prefelt vs tops, different surface designs and decorative elements.The options were seemingly endless. Almost everyone in the class had picked a different style which can’t have made Judit’s job easy!

Judit went on to explain how to resize each template to our own head sizes an off we went, me with my head spinning and feeling slightly overwhelmed by all the options to choose from.

I finally settled on using a flower for my inspiration and this is the result. I am really pleased with it, not least because I look silly in most hats, and while this hat is a bit OTT it actually suits my face, so much so that I think I will keep it, now I just need to find some exuberant venues to wear it at! 🙂

This hat took the best part of 2 days to make but in the last couple of hours I managed to make a small pouch too:

The third day was spent making collars with Joke van Zinderen (Joke is pronounced Yo-Ka). She is so funny and cheerful I can’t imagine Joke ever having a bad day, she really is the eternal optimist and her enthusiasm and joy is utterly infectious. Spending the day in her class, learning new ways of using Kap merino and attaching felt ropes was an absolute pleasure.

It’s not quite finished, some of the felt around the neckline still needs fulling and shaping but this is what my collar currently looks like:

My last workshop was with Evelyn Refsahl, making more hats but this time with Norwegian wool. I confess Norwegian would not be my first choice for hats, I find it a little bit scratchy and it has a tendency to shrug off the water when trying to wet out the wool but laying out with batts was relatively quick and easy.

On the last evening, there was a gala dinner followed by a fashion show where all the students paraded up and down in our wonderful new creations, it was fantastic to see what everyone else had been making and have them all proudly show them off. Lots of photos were taken of the parade but I’m afraid I don’t have any to share.

To my utter shock, I won a prize at the parade. I can’t decide if I was most shocked because I wasn’t even aware there was a competition or because the prize was for “best dressed”. For those of you that know me in the real world, this will probably be a surprise for you too. I’m not very girly, I don’t wear make-up and I feel most at home in a pair of jeans and trainers, so being awarded this accolade nearly knocked me off my, slightly inebriated, perch. Here is my prize, a lovely bundle of hand-dyed woolyness just waiting to be felted.

I’m thinking another hat might be in order….

To all the lovely ladies who attended and organised the IFA conference, thank you, each and everyone of you made it a truly wonderful experience and I can’t wait to see you all again at other felting events in the near future. Your kind hearts and generous spirits make the felting a world a beautiful place to be 🙂

Hat for Brains

I did a demonstration at a felt exhibition before Christmas, using some red wool from one of those “lucky dip” bags. I have no idea what the wool is but it created a really unexpected result.

Several people commented on how much it looked like a brain…. well I had to do it didn’t I? My sense of humour wouldn’t let me walk away….. I had to make a hat to look like a brain out of what was left of the red wool. 🙂

Laying out the mysterious red wool:

I used some of my rainbow-dyed merino for the inner layer:

Laying out the merino:

It’s nearly finished but I need your advice please, do you prefer option 1, 2, 3 or 4?

Option 1: brim folded up

Option 2: brim folded up and then the uneven edge folded back in on itself
Option 3: to cut the uneven edge to straighten it up

Option 4: to fold the brim under so you only get “brain” and no brim

What do you think?

New Year New Goals

I can’t believe we are already 3 days into 2015…. so I am already late setting my new goals; not the most auspicious start! 🙂

My first 2 goals are essentially carried over from last year but they really worked for me so I will carry on with those with just some small edits.

  1. Post to my blog at least once per week and to Facebook twice per week
  2. Maintain at least 90 listings on Etsy
  3. Attend at least 2 workshops with other feltmakers to further develop my felting repertoire
  4. Start teaching felt making
Number 2 is an interesting one for me, as we approached Thanksgiving last year I set myself a target of having 90 items listed in my Etsy shop and I noticed a significant increase in sales soon after (not difficult to achieve, you might think, given that I had only sold 8 pieces in the 13 months prior). Initially I put the sales spurt down to a Christmas rush but I have had 5 more sales since Christmas (I’m still bouncing round the house with joy that other people like my work! 🙂 ) so it can’t just be people buying Crimbo presents.

Number 3 is a bit of a cheat since I have already signed up for a hat making class with Judit Pocs (I am so excited I can barely sit still) and I already have an idea of what I would like to do for the second one (more on that once it has been confirmed). But I do think it is important to keep learning from each other and expanding our horizons.

Number 4 is still just a handful of seeds in my mind, a few people have suggested I write a tutorial and I have ideas for at least 3 but the new EU VAT rules that came into force on January 1st put a spanner in those plans for a while but after much reading and networking I think there may be a work-around if I email the tutorials (it still isn’t clear if ALL the EU countries will agree this is acceptable). I also like the idea of doing some face-to-face teaching although it scares the hell out of me! There is a studio near me that runs a variety of workshops but as far as I can see felting is not on their menu, so I have plans to go and have a chat with the owner…. watch this space 🙂

I hope you have been taking a few days from your day job and have found time to be creative over the last week or so?  I have been having a whale of a time, here are a few images of the things I have been working on:

A pair of fingerless gloves to match my felt jacket:


Another pair of fingerless gloves with silk hankies for decoration:
A couple of nuno felt scarves:



A black-widow spider inspired cape – in this photo it looks more like a dangerous creature from the deep 🙂
Rolling the tassels for the fringes took forever, I am so glad it is now finished and busy drying!


A new nuno felt top for me 🙂

layout of the silk over a resist

layout of wool over the silk

I plan to wear this next week – will try to get a photo of it on, seeing it laid flat on a table under artificial lights really doesn’t do it any justice…

What have you been up to over Christmas? Have you made any resolutions or set goals for 2015? I hope your start to 2015 had been great and reflects how the rest of 2015 will pan out.

Linking up to nina-marieoff the wall Friday

A Productive Week

Not sure what happened to me this week but it’s like someone put amphetamines in my coffee. Last week I could barely motivate myself to cook for myself and only managed to produce one piece of felt. This week I have turned into a felting whirling dervish… Here are a few of the things I have started / finished so far this week:

I dyed the lacy scarf I made on Sunday but after looking at it for a couple of days decided I wasn’t that happy with it so put it back in the dye bath.

Much better!
It now makes me think of autumnal leaves falling into a river.

Some felt cuffs using a similar technique to the scarf, there is an adult and 2 child sizes, I think you can just see where I have cut some slits in the adult one, I hope the cuts will open up to make a lacy effect with a little felting persuasion.

A little felt pod made using an adaptation of the lacy felt technique to create the loops you can see in the second picture.

A felt vase made from some shibori dyed prefelt, this is still very much a WIP but I hope the top will look like a 5-petal flower when it’s finished.

A Halloween-inspired bag, still quite a long way to go on this one but I think you can make out that it will be a pumpkin… one day!

I started this “coral” piece before I went on my hols but it takes so long to needle-felt each strip into place that I only just got as far as wet felting it this week. It is currently drying and waiting to be fixed to some stretcher bars.

These 2 pieces were started at Dagmar Binder’s class in September. The pale blue piece was an uninspiring, flat multi-layered disc that I have been looking at for weeks trying to decide what to do with it. I finally picked it up and started playing with it this week, folding it this way and that and this shape was born. An hour of stitching later and it is now drying in it’s new form. Given that I was ready to throw it on the reject / recycling pile a few days ago I’m rather pleased with how it turned out.

The dark blue piece below is a sewer’s bowl, the raised ring around the outside is a perfect pin cushion, while the bowl will prevent your reels of thread, beads etc. from rolling away. It was inspired by photos of a coral polyps:

A nuno felt scarf (would you believe, dyed the silk, felted and finished this week, including a rolled hem).

I also felted this cotton scrim and embroidered bowl, even after using CMC to stiffen it I wasn’t that happy that it would keep its shape so opted to felt it.

And finally another piece from Fiona Duthie’s surface design class. I think this might be come a book cover…

As if all this wasn’t enough I have also scoured and dyed a Shetland fleece, all the beautiful colours are busy drying over my bathtub. More on those in another post.

I think I have earned myself a glass of wine 🙂 Hope you are having lots of fun in your felting adventures too 🙂

Linking up to nina-marieoff the wall Friday

Lots and Lots of Cards

This week I have been using some of my handmade papers from a few weeks back and combining them with a variety of felts and fabrics, including my first foray into using Lutrador, to make a batch of cards.

These pieces are Lutrador and 3D fabric medium:

These cards were made from pieces of rainbow dyed felt with hand and machine stitching:

Evolon fabric and Markal paintsticks:

And finally some acrylic felt and organza, with machine embroidery that has been melted with a soldering iron:

They are all 5 inches x 5 inches (13 cm x 13 cm in new money).

And this is just the beginning, I have at least 20 more waiting to be stitched and attached to card blanks, I hope there’s something good on telly… ;o)

Linking up to nina-marieoff the wall Friday

1 2 3 4