Archive for category Arts and Crafts
I’m still enjoying learning the art of 2D needle felting and have had a stab – no pun intended – at doing a portrait of my boy Stan.
This probably wasn’t the best photo to choose to copy as he was much younger then and the light is making his black coat look as if it has purple and blue in it – and that bow tie!!
As I am completely in love with this new activity I thought I’d talk you through what 2D needle felting involves in case you’re interested and you’ve never come across it before.
Firstly, I did a few free online tutorials with felting artist Sophie Wheatley – remember the hamster I did? Sophie felts a picture from beginning to end and you can follow along live or watch later. (a link to her website at the end in case you feel it’s something that would appeal to you).
I immeditely knew I was going to love the craft and, as I love dogs just a bit too, I thought I would join her paid course for the dog portraits which is probably the best money I’ve ever spent on a crafting course of any description.
With Sophie’s method, you don’t have to be able to draw – which is good because I can’t. Instead, you choose a really good, in focus photo where there’s not too much shine or shadow and the features are clear.
Then you transfer the photo on to your background fabric. 100% wool felt sheets are good because they help the felting process begin but you can use whatever fabric you can get a felting needle through. I used linen for Stan’s first portrait.
I don’t use the method Sophie uses to transfer the photo although most of the students seem to. I use a lightbox and trace the outline and as many markings as I can in pencil.
I turn the traced image over and, again using the lightbox to highlight the lines, I go over the drawing with a transferable pen.
Then, I turn the paper over again so that the transferable pen lines are against the backing fabric and iron it, making sure all the lines are transferred.
Then you really look closely at the original photograph on your screen, zooming in on the detail and see what colours you have in there.
Sophie recommends using carded wool batts rather than roving (wool tops) as the batts are already slightly matted and will felt down much quicker.
I have quite a few neutral colours as both my dogs are black with varying degrees of white but I also needed tans and creams and browns. Luckily, you only need small pieces of wool as you don’t actually use much at all.
Felting needles come in different gauges but, basically, they have barbs on the end which you repeatedly poke down into the wool and this is what causes the fibres to come together and become ‘felted’.
Generally, it’s good to start with the eyes because they immediately give the portrait some life and encourage you to move on.
I have a tendency to make the eyes too big and this right eye was removed at a later stage and re-done. This is possible if you don’t felt the wool down too firmly at first. you can always go over it all at the end to firm it up.
I sent a photo of the first finished ‘draft’ to my daughter on WhatsApp and she sent me back a link to ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch.
Everyone’s a critic 🙄
So both eyes came out at that point and got re-done.
Anyway, I’m pleased enough with my finished portrait of Stan to put him in a hoop (for now) but I still have a lot to learn and will do some more practice before I try one of Flo and another one of Stan with the grey hairs he has now.
If you fancy having a go, Sophie has some free tutorials on her site ‘All Things Felt and Beautiful’ which was where I learnt to do the hamster and, just last weekend, this lemur – which I’m quite proud of actually.
I’m glad I started learning this before the current lockdown situation otherwise I might have found it hard to get the materials. It’s been the perfect distraction – the time flies while you’re doing it. I did think the other day that I’d like to try Tunisian crochet but although I could get instructions and patterns on PDF files, I haven’t got any of the special hooks so that will have to wait.
I hope you’ve found this quick run down on 2D needle felting of interest but, I thought, if i’m going to talk about it in future posts, you might want to know what it involves even if you’re not going to try it yourself.
Have you started anything new during the current situation to take your mind off things or have you taken the opportunity to finish current projects or can’t you concentrate on anything at all for long at the moment?
Well, sort of but I’ll get that out of the way first.
I had lots of Stylecraft Special left after some other projects and decided to make another Attic 24 blanket. I made the Hydrangea Blanket a couple of years ago and it’s lovely with all the subtle shades a hydrangea flower can go through but this time I was using whatever colours I had left hanging around the place so it’s quite a lot brighter and not quite as big as the original which was big enough for a single bed.
Enough is enough. I think I could now add blankets to the list of ‘beyond life expectancy’ items I have which, to date, consists of fabric; yarn; quilts; clothes; shoes; cats – especially cats.
However, I still wanted something fairly simple to do whilst perched, like a little ball of confusion and stress, in front of Netflix of an evening. Then I spotted a PDF pattern online for something tempting. I had to order the ‘yarn’ though which took forever to come from a far flung corner of Eastern Europe.
It came in a 200m length on a massive spool.
Once I had completed the circle I knew I was going to enjoy this project. I was tempted to buy more cord – there are some amazing colours – but restrained myself to see whether I would like the finished item enough to want to make more.
Sometimes I can be sensible.
A lovely big 7mm crochet hook is what’s required and, although I feel it helps aesthetically, it doesn’t actually have to be pink.
The only thing left to do was an i-cord
Did you know that it’s called an i-cord because the woman who (sort of ) invented it said it was easy enough for an idiot to make?
I wonder if iphones were named on the same principle. 🤣
Anyway, this idiot had great fun making that long, slightly stretchy cord.
Not a blanket.
I’ll probably stop at one as they are so ridiculously quick and easy to make that I didn’t get very far at all through a Netflix series before I’d finished and, as the lockdown in France has been extended for another two weeks, I need something that will be with me for the long haul.
Encouraged, as I often am, by Kate over at Tall Tales From Chiconia, I am going to switch from crochet as my evening pursuit and get those hexies out and at least start joining them into flower shapes.
Just in case you feel enthused, I bought the PDF pattern for the crochet bag from this shop and it is downloadable immediately. I also bought the cord from her – it comes in wonderful colours – but, even before the current situation, it took quite a long time to come.
I haven’t really felt much like blogging lately but Kate’s post today has reminded me that, with social interaction being so limited or even non-existent at the moment, blogging seems more relevant than usual. So, I’ll keep on doing it.
Back in early 2015 I made this quilt featuring a handbag design.
Organised again by Kate over at Tall Tales From Chiconia, the latest Footsquare Freestyle (F2F) patchwork block exchange kicked off in February with ten participants from different countries and Tracy was the first drawn out of the hat to receive three blocks in her chosen colours from each of the other nine participants.
Tracy picked red, green and brown as her colours using photos of cranberries and a Christmas pudding to help us and, having checked with her that she is hoping to make a Christmas themed quilt, I foraged for those rare pieces of festive fabric that I have in deep stash.
I made this Churn Dash because I wanted to feature the lovely stag and deer image in the centre.
I love this foundation paper pieced banded star design and made quite a few for the participants in last year’s swap. Tracy didn’t join us last year so I decided to make her one as there should always be stars at Christmas.
Despite having a lot on this year, I decided to go ahead and join in the swap again as I think I should be able to manage three blocks a month and I like to keep my ‘patchwork hand’ in. I did say to Kate that I’d have to keep it simple this year but I couldn’t resist this pattern for little fir trees but, as it only makes a 6 inch square, I ended up having to make four of them to make a finished block of 12 inches which is, of course, why it’s called footsquare freestyle. So, in effect, I made six blocks for Tracy rather than three. 🙄
Also, I made lots of stupid mistakes while putting this one together, including the final join.
Still, I’ve moved on to Sue’s blocks now as she is the recipient in March and she has asked for shades of true blue and brown. I’ve made two and will start on the third today so I can get them off to the States sharpish.
I am next to receive blocks after Sue, I am ‘Miss April’ this year and I’ve gone for a dramatic colour palette reminiscent of peacock feathers.
Rather more dramatic than my neutral(ish) palette of last year which resulted in my lovely superking size quilt.
I’ve made one block for myself but will probably use April to get ahead with the blocks for the other participants in case I don’t have time later on in the year – I can always make my own ones up at the end.
My use of an ombré effect green fabric has made the shape of the Churn Dash a little more difficult to focus on but, if you squint your eyes a bit and/or look at it from a distance, you can still make it out and it shows the sort of colour scheme I have in mind.
I’ve been very distracted so far this year. I’ve been seriously studying 2D needle felting as I’ve joined a paid online course and want to do well because I’ve got plans to do portraits of both my dogs. I’ve put the 3D needle felted sculptures to one side at the moment although I’ve every intention of getting back to those once I’ve mastered the 2D stuff.
Before the course started I had a go at this snow hare. Room for improvement but doing this sort of got me hooked which is why I signed up for the dog portrait course.
I started practising noses and eyes.
I sent a photo of this one to Mr. TIalys when he was in the U.K. and he thought one of the dogs had done something on the carpet!!💩
I progressed slightly although they look weird as stand alone features don’t they?
Both my dogs are mostly black and, unfortunately, the wrong colour fibre was sent to me so I couldn’t really make a start. I did have lots of brown though so decided to follow the workshop for a Jack Russell even though I don’t have one, never have had one and don’t know anybody who has. All good practice though.
I’m counting this as a partial success as the ‘too big eye’ impacted on the rest of my markings and I made a complete mess of his chest hair but, as it was my first attempt, I’m trying to be kind to myself. I am quite proud of the nose though. Also, it does actually resemble a Jack Russell so it can’t be all bad.
So, I’m going to try to replicate this photo of Stan which was taken before he had any grey hairs but is a favourite of mine
I’ve made a start by transferring the image on to some linen and, now that my 50 shades of grey (and black) have arrived, I will try to immortalise dear Stan in felt. Of course, I didn’t think about ordering any red fibre for the bow tie did I! 🙄
My other main distraction – and reason for lack of blog posts – is the possible, well probable really, relocation back to the U.K. Nothing to do with Brexit I hasten to add. A difficult thing to achieve when our needs are many and varied including displacing multiple animals, a husband who needs commuting facilities, the need to be within a short drive of one of our daughters, the need (well, desire) for workshop space and a largish garden (very difficult to find in the South of the U.K. at a price that is achievable by people other than film stars and Lottery winners) . To say nothing of the time it takes to sell property here in comparison to the U.K. I am so sick of looking at houses on the internet and am dreading the whole thing.
On the brighter side, I’ve been doing some patchwork as the new round of F2F (foot square freestyle)has started which means, I will be making three blocks each month for the next ten months for me and the other nine participants in our chosen colours. The first up is Tracey of It’s a T-Sweets Day and she has chosen Christmas colours – red, green and Christmas pudding brown. I can’t show you the blocks I’ve made for Tracey as they are on their way to her now and I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
Hopefully, see you next time I take a break from the felting, foundation paper piecing and freaking out about moving.
This month I’ve used some scraps and managed to increase the stock, just slightly, in the most sadly neglected of my three Etsy shops.
I made a few needle cases a while back, gave some as gifts and took some to sell at a couple of the fundraisers for the dog refuge I support. I had three left which I stuck in a drawer and forgot about until I came across them again a couple of months ago. I thought I might as well put them in my shop so I did and sold a couple quite quickly. Thinking to follow up on that success, I thought I’d make some more as they are the perfect size to use up scraps – albeit not the teeny tiny scraps. The biggest piece of fabric you need is about 11 x 8 inches.
The first one I made with a precious scrap of Echino fabric by Kokka. The quilting is done with the outer, wadding and lining, then the pocket and felt ‘pages’ added afterwards. Then the whole thing is edged with binding in the same way as you would a quilt.
Unfortunately, I messed up the first one by not mitring the corners neatly enough so – what a shame – I’m going to keep that for myself as the little needle book I bought ages ago is looking a little tatty and is only big enough to hold needles. I want something to also put scissors, etc. in for when I take small hand sewing projects downstairs occasionally (my workroom is upstairs).
The second one is also Japanese Echino fabric – another scrap from the same original yardage.
All the bindings, interior fabric, felt and trimmings are also leftovers from other projects.
The last – for the moment, but I have more plans – is the Llamas in Love. Llamas are ‘a thing’ at the moment – I think they are the new flamingos – and this was a scrap of organic cotton I had left over from a bag project.
It’s fun trying to find coordinating fabrics from the scrap bin to make it look as if that’s the way you planned it all along.
I really enjoy making these although I would prefer a quicker way to bind them as I’m hand-stitching the binding down on the inside as I do for quilts and it takes time which doesn’t really make them cost effective. Any suggestions?
Still, it’s using scraps and that can only be a good thing can’t it.
Scraphappy Day is organised by Kate & Gun for anybody who wants to make new things from scraps of any kind – doesn’t have to be fabric or yarn. Here’s a list of participants – both regular and occasional – if you want to have a look at the sort of things you can do with scraps.
Contact Kate (first name on the list) if you want to join in.
Kate Gun, Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn,(me) Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean,
Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline, Sue L
I’m continuing down the path of my new obsession – needle felting.
After my idiosyncratic hare which was my first attempt at a beastie……
……..I thought I’d have a go at 2D needle felting. In other words, making a picture using wool tops and a felting needle.
For my first attempt I copied the ouline of an illustration from a card I’d sent to Mr. Tialys at one time on to some linen. Then filled it in with needle felting.
I really like the texture you can achieve.
Then I went back to the 3D sculpture stuff and made a fox.
He has rather a high forehead – probably a very brainy fox – but, overall, I’m quite pleased with my second animal sculpture.
Here he is again resting in some monster-sized faux lavender. I need to learn how to tame unruly whiskers.
I stretched my 2D picture in a hoop just to display on the blog but I’ll be keeping my early (flat) attempts in some sort of portfolio file in order to track my progress.
Although I think this would work quite well, with a little felted heart between them, as a Valentine’s card.
I’m not sure yet, whether I prefer making the 3D needle felted sculptures or the 2D needle felted pictures but it’s early days yet and for the moment I will carry on with both until I make a decision or, more likely, continue with both sorts.
Next, I’m going to have a go at a dog sculpture – I think I could adapt the shape of the fox to represent one of my dogs.
Also, I’m going to try to needle felt a picture of my other dog for which I’m going to follow a live Facebook tutorial.
At this rate, I see felted gifts for friends and rellies in the future – which will make a change from blankets and quilts I suppose.
But, first, we’ll see if I can make anything worth giving.
I don’t often do CALs (crochet alongs) – or any ‘alongs’ but was very tempted by this blanket – different designs on the squares, lovely yarn, soft muted colours and a bit of a challenge.
Some of the squares were more difficult than others but I kept up with the eight squares a week right up until the sixth week.
Then came the joining – I fell behind.
Then came the border – and Christmas – I fell further behind.
However, I didn’t mind because the CAL had kept me on track with the squares and, once I’d done those, it was never going to become a UFO (unfinished object) and I’d also seen all the finished blankets in the Facebook group which inspired me to press on.
Everybody who has made this blanket seems to be thrilled with it – I am too – lots of them are going to make it again – I am not. That beautiful border almost did for me as it seemed to go on forever. Still, I’ve done it and it’s finished and I love it. Here are some photos.
The washing line photo – colours a bit bleached by the sun.
I love this one with the sun behind – it shows up all the different designs. It was a happy accident because I didn’t realise, until I took it, how much the sun was shining through. I’m not on Facebook much but did join a group for support and information during this crochet along. I put this particular photo up on the group page as one of the others would just have looked like everybody else’s who had used the same colours. Within minutes the likes and loves and comments came pouring in. For a brief moment I got an idea of how it must feel for somebody to ‘go viral’ on social media.
This lovely pattern was designed by Cherry Heart and is available free – see here.
Three different yarn packs are available to buy from Black Sheep Wools – I used the Wild Hedgerow colourway in Scheepjes Stonewashed. If you buy the pack from BSW, the bonus squares were free during the CAL (and still are) but these have now also been released for sale should you want to vary the amount of designs used in your blanket.