etsy mini

Friday, 29 January 2016

New size in affordable mini felts available

I recently came across some canvases in a really cute 6 x 6 inch size and couldn't resist them. I am now busy making small felt paintings to fit them. They are all original and made with the same care as my larger pieces but the small size makes them more affordable. They cost less than a dinner out but will last a lot longer and have zero calories!
Here are the first two but I am in the process of making more.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Natural dying for slow stitch blanket

Hello everyone. Those of you who read my last post will know that I am making a blanket from nuno felt using muslin and fleece from my own sheep. I am using fleece from different coloured sheep and also dying some of the white with natural colours.
I have tried dying with plant material before but without much success. This is probably down to the fact that I am too impatient to let things soak and simmer for as long as I should. This time I was determined to do it properly. I consulted a book I have and would recommend called 'wild colour' to see what plants I can use in winter when not much is growing. One of the things that caught my eye was pomegranate because I had one in the fruitbowl. Surprisingly it is the skin, not the seeds which yield the colour and it gives a yellow.
I ate the seeds and then bashed the skin a bit with a rolling pin. I then bought it to a boil and left it to simmer for an hour. It then had to be left to soak overnight. Leaving something overnight is like torture because I want to do it NOW but I did leave it. In the meantime I used Alum as a mordant on the felt.
Next morning the water in the pan was , sure enough, yellow. Very yellow! I removed the skin and replaced it with the felt. Again more simmering, boiling and soaking. By evening the felt was a strong mustard colour. I added a little vinegar and reheated it which brightened the yellow slightly until I had this.
Next I decided to do some tea dying as I know from experience it is easy and fairly quick. I still had some felt with the alum mordant in it and used that but I think tea dye would remain colour fast even without it. I made a jug of tea with three teabags and immersed the felt in it. I expected to leave it overnight but after a couple of hours I went to stir it and discovered it had turned a lovely brownish rose colour so I took it out and rinsed it then. If left longer it would have been darker. Here is the tea dyed cloth.
In reality this cloth is a little darker than the photo  and has a rosy glow to it but I just couldn't get the photo the right colour. Trust me it's really nice.

I did try one other piece but it was a failure. I used cherry bark which should have given me a pink colour. It did but only just. It is so pale that unless held against white you wouldn;t notice the colour at all. I think I didn't use enough bark because I didn't want to damage the tree. I should have weighed the cloth and used twice the weight in bark but I didn't weigh either. I will overdye that poiece later.

When I have done some more I will keep you updated. Before long the nettles will be coming up and for once I will be pleased to see them because they are good for dying. I do have some berries in the freezer left from last autumn so I might give those a go. For now I will enjoy stitching the pieces I have already made.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Slow stitch

Hello, I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays. Now is the tricky bit when you have to get back in to your normal routine.
I was lucky enough to be given the book called 'Slow Stitch' by Claire Wellesley-Smith for Christmas.
This book advocates the process of stitching purely for enjoyment and the medative health benefits which stitching can give. It also suggests that using cloth which is either found, made in your locality or from recycled clothing makes the process more personal. Another idea is the making of a stitch diary. Rather like an art journal in cloth.
I admit I am not usually a patient person when it comes to getting things done. I like to get them done quickly. I do enjoy the process but always have so many ideas I can't wait to get started on the next project. This sounded like a good activity to be more relaxed. Something I could do gently in the evenings. 
I racked my brains for local cloth as old clothes are always recycled into rag rugs in our house. Then had a light bulb moment when I came across a bag of fleece shorn from our own sheep a couple of years ago. Feeling and looking at the fleeces I was surprised to discover I knew which sheep each fleece had come from. A couple of them have died from old age since these fleeces were put away. One of them was a grey Welsh mule called Cadbury who was a real character and my favourite sheep. I decided that cloth made from my own sheep was as local as I could get! I also decided I wanted my cloth to have lots of texture and a sort of homespun look so decided to Nuno felt it with muslin and let the muslin show through in places.
Next job was to prepare the fleeces. Here is a photo of fleece which I have decreased but not yet properly washed. It is from a sheep called Sally whom we still have.
Since then I have cleaned, carded and felted the fleece. I didn't make a huge piece of felt because big pieces are just too much hard work. In keeping with the slow ethos I decided to make more pieces of felt as and when needed.
Then another idea popped in my head. Why not make a sort of memory blanket from my rectangles of felt? I will remember the characters and feel of the sheep whose fleeces I use. I may even stitch their names on to the blanket at some time. A lot of the fleece is white so I have also decided to dye some of them with natural dyes.
Here is a picture of my first completed rectangle. The blue marks you see are from water soluble pen and will wash out.
Next time I will let you know how I get on with the natural dying.