Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Felt balls

I wrote yesterday about I wasn't really into the directions for felted balls on Quick and Clever Felting. But it's been years since I made my last felt ball, so I thought I'd give it a try.

The first step in the directions calls for pulling off a length of fleece roughly 10 cm long, then wetting "the strand" with hot water and rolling it up into a ball. If I were to follow those initial directions, here's what I would get.
feltNot at all a ball shape, nor does it look like the picture in the book. The picture in the book in fact shows a flat, and what looks like dense, piece of fibre being "wrapped" into a ball shape. The pre-directions said that you could wrap the fibre around a core, but that wasn't mentioned in the actual directions. So then I guessed that maybe the instructions meant I make some prefelt, then tear off lengths from that.

feltExcept I felted it a little too much, and it was very hard to tear.

So finally I just went with what I had remembered from various felt tutorials online, which is roll some fibre into a ball, get it wet and soapy, and then very gently start rolling it in your hands, applying more pressure as the ball starts to harden. I did not alternate between hot and cold water as some tutorials suggested.

felt balls

The ball on the right was done with directions from the book, the ball on the left was done with just rolling tufts of fibre. The difference in size is because I used more wool for the one on the right. There's not much difference between how the two look, if anything the one on the left looks slightly better I think.

Here's two tutorials on how to make felt balls. And I'm planning on following this one soon, which suggests using a washing machine and pantyhose.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Review: Quick & Clever Felting

Quick & Clever Felting by Ellen Kharade

As you've probably noticed my new hobby is wet felting. But Quick & Clever Felting isn't just about wet felting, it also has projects with commercial felt, needle felting applique, and projects you can make by felting knitted items (technically that's fulling, but I'm not the fiber police (yet)). Which makes it a fun book to have if you like to try out different crafts (like me), but not the best of books if you want to just concentrate on one type of felting (like me).

What I liked about this book:
  • Most of the patterns aren't too cheesy. I liked the needle felted eggs which weren't too over the top like others I've seen, and the bag made from a ahem fulled sweater is pretty cute.
  • Tons of color pictures!
  • There's a page on embroidery that could look good on felted projects.
  • Most of the projects are simple, and seem like they can be done in a short amount of time.

What I liked least about this book:
  • I was pretty disappointed with their instructions on how to make a (simple) felted ball. More on that in my next post.
  • The layout on many of the project pages is often surprising, with the numbered steps not always placed on the page where one would expect.
  • It would have been nice if there were more projects that incorporated several forms of felting and techniques.
In short I'd recommend this book for people who like to experiment with different crafts, but not for those who want an in-depth look into felt.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The camera is back!

J's back, and so it the camera. Technically I have my own camera, but it has a slight fisheye problem (is that the word?) and the wire to hook it into the computer is at one of my parent's house in California.

I made this little guy yesterday because there just isn't enough adorableness in the world.

cute knitted hedgehogAnd because I told J I would make a hedgehog for her, or so she said before she left for the conference.

We visited the National Museum of Scotland today

National Museum of Scotland

National Museum of Scotland
and watched people put their hands on historical relics.

They have a rooftop platform which is very windy.

I've been doing a bit more felting. Here are two rings.

felt rings

I've also been taking a few fibre classes with a nearby artists. Sadly she's moving to another studio, but during this last class we did a little nuno felting, which I really enjoyed.

This next pic is an experiment piece, some freehand embroidery, and what happens when you use a soldering iron on plasticy fabric, and a she showed us (on the left) how to do a shibori like effect by tying little glass pebbles in the fabric and then heating it.

She also has a drop in time where you can use the equipment in her studio, and here's what I made during that time:

spinning wheel yarn

My first spinning wheel spun yarn. Yay! I think it looks pretty good considering it's been two months since I was shown how to use a wheel.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Umm, ya

So, you know how I gave myself the deadline of Friday for finishing the gloves?

Well, turns out I had forgotten something important. I had forgotten that J was going to be at a conference for half this week and really, if I'm going to make a glove for her, I'd really like it to fit her perfectly, which means interrupting her every five minutes with whatever important thing she's doing so she can try it on and make sure it still fits. So, sadly, all I've really done is finish the palm and pinkie.
WIP knitted glovesBut, I do have good news.

Yesterday I finally made my light box!lightbox along
There's a lightbox along happening on twitter for the month of March. Which is a good thing too because I've been meaning to make mine for ages. Ironically J has the camera right now so the picture is taken with a crappy webcam. I have a few more projects to share with you, but it will have to wait until Saturday because these webcam pics are not very flattering, and I like flattering.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Awww, thanks Tamdoll!

I'm so glad I checked Tamdoll's blog today, because it turns out she passed on a sunshine award to me!

sunshine awardIt was very thoughtful of her, and I'm glad someone's crochet-along looks nice : P

Here are my nominations for the Sunshine Award:

And if Tamdoll hadn't already received one she would definitely be on this list too. Check out her etsy shop with her crochet creations, and I love this sewn dragon pattern.

Here are the rules for accepting the Sunshine award:
1. Place the logo within your blog or post.
2. Pass the award on to 12 bloggers.
3. Link the nominees within the post.
4. Let the nominees know they have received the award by commenting on their blogs.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received the award.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Someone got paid to knit that

Have you seen this video?

You're probably wondering how it was made:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lovely Spring Day

I had a lovely day today. I went to the spinning and weaving guild's open house in the morning. I didn't get to speak to people who helped me learn last time I was there, I have a weird thing against interrupting two people in a discussion. But, I did buy this:
Lamb's wool
100 grams of lamb's wool. And I bought A LOT of other fibers too, but I'm most excited about the lamb. Last week I checked out the Beginner's Guide to Feltmaking by Shirley Ascher & Jane Bateman from the library and one of the projects in the book is a simple little 2D(ish) sheep, and the lamb's wool looks perfect for the project, not to mention an amusing choice. I'm a fan of the sheep.

In the afternoon Jessamy and I took a walk along The Water of Leith, which is actually not that far from where I live, but I hadn't made it over in that direction until today.The water of leith

ummm, I thought I was in Scotland.
Water of Leith
It was a lovely day for a walk, so lovely in fact that I actually took my coat off at one point (gasp). I guess it really is spring. Horrah!

Of course this means that I really should finish Jessamy's gloves, because it's going to be summer before I know it and J would probably feel a bit silly if, after all my hard work, I make her wear the gloves out into the outside world during the hot(ish) summer months.
So ... I'm giving myself a deadline of Friday to finish them.
Gloves knitted WIP
I think I can do it. Probably. Maybe.

Anyone else have any self-imposed knitting deadlines coming up?

Friday, March 19, 2010

4 lessons I learned from Alice in Wonderland

I recently read Brians Knit's great blog post on "What Alice in Wonderland Can Teach you about knitting" and I thought I'd share my own lessons from Alice.

Mad and Responsible Are Not Mutually Exclusive
I've noticed lately that my twitter posts and real-life conversations and actions are getting a little more eccentric. Not to mention that praying mantis I just needle felted when I'm normally a very practical crafter. I don't know if it's just me getting older and shaking off the inhibitions that started to form when I was younger (if family videos are anything to go by I was a strange child), or maybe it's the fact that most of my socializing is now with people older than me, many of them retired. And I'm actually ok with this change, I just have to remind myself that this does not actually mean that I'm becoming less responsible, or mature.
I also need to make sure that I don't start talking in a Scottish accent.

Just a Transformation
One of the most moving scenes in the movie, for me, was when Absolom was spinning his cocoon. It wasn't death for him, but a transformation, and one that he was enveloping himself, literally spinning himself, into.

Work With What You Have
I loved it when hatter whipped out some scissors and made the very tiny Alice a nice little dress. He didn't continually rip it out because it wasn't just right, but did some creative, spontaneous, and practical problem solving, and didn't fret that it wasn't perfect.

The Person Who Made This Was Once a Beginner
Colleen Atwood, the costume designer for the movie, was once a beginning sewer.

So that's what I learned, but, I'm still no closer to finding out why a raven is like a writing desk.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

And spring means...


Felt flower blue
felt flower brown
red flower felted

And butterflies

felt fiber butterfly

And insects

praying mantis
praying mantis back

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's spring!

Yes, spring!
Purple flower

J and I took a walk on Saturday. It was one of those guide-book walks with tidbits of information that you have no recollection of after.

As per usual we enjoyed the architecture.

A cemetery was part of the walk itinerary. Supposedly there were some mildly famous people's graves in this cemetery, but we didn't go searching for them. Instead we pondered the meaning of life, and thought about how at one point in time the local gravestone salesman must have been pushing obelisks:

Obelisks in graveyard

And I took more pictures of flowers.

There will be no miracles here
We also visited the Dean Gallery in Edinburgh.

When I got home this felted bracelet was dry.
felted Bracelet
It's made of dyed merino, the white streaks are bamboo fibers I added.

Right now I'm working on some felted flowers.
Felt Flowers
They aren't done yet. I'm still not sure what they'll look like when they're finished.

A felted vase with a rolled brim. I'm quite pleased with the brim (had to needle felt that).
Felt Vase

I'm also now caught up with the crochet along. I tried to follow Rocky's advice and stick with one color range. And I think it helped a bit. But it still looks like it's been hit with the ugly project stick.

And, to top off the nice weekend, I just made some shortbread (bakealong).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ugly, weird, and nice

I'm glad I'm doing the National Crochet Month Freeform Crochet-Along (CAL). I haven't done crochet in a while it feels like, and I'm learning some new stitches (I really like the crochet rings for March 9th).

Only thing is, the scrumble is turning out really ugly.
Scrumble freeform crochet along
Now I ask you, what am I supposed to do with that? There's still 20 more days of the freeform along left, but I'm kind of doubting my ability to make it pretty in those remaining days. Perhaps there'll be a rip-out along on April 1st?

I took another felting class on Tuesday, we did felt pods this time.
felt pod
We're doing 3-d objects next week, so maybe soon I'll have an insect or bird or something to accompany the pod.

The studio where I'm taking the felting classes also has a spinning wheel, so I've been going into the Wednesday drop in hours and teaching myself to spin.
Spun yarn
tah da. This is from my second try at a spinning wheel. Hopefully in two more weeks I'll have a bit of plied yarn to show off.

Two weeks ago I tried to make a cloth headband, but failed completely. I blame it on the fact that I don't wear headbands. I put interfacing on it. That was a mistake because it didn't want to lie flat on my head. I also had measuring problems, and had to sew on more lengths of fabric to make it longer. I also didn't have any elastic in the house and thought I could just use a snap. Nope, bad idea.

Then I made this.
Headband with felt flower
A bit of sheer ribbon, on the back is some black elastic (learned my lessson). The blue part of the flower is wet felted, with the middle needle felted on.

If you're interested in wet felting Felting Lessons has some excellent beginner videos. And check out how she organizes her the wool (in the background)!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Along (s)

This month is National Crochet Month. I was considering crocheting some amigurumi, and I will probably still do so, but then yesterday I saw on ravelry the National Crochet Month Freeform Crochet-Along (CAL).

I had a little bit of catching up to do this afternoon, but I'm now caught up with the pattern until the 6th, and I'm ready for the "along" part.
Freeform crochet

Another along, a cheesecake:

Made for the Bake Along on the Let's Cook ravelry group, though it remains to be seen if anyone else was really interested in this week's project.

I think I've made a cheesecake before, back when I was living in SF over 5 years ago, so I don't really remember the process. I did however feel a bit silly buying 5 packets of cream cheese at the store. The cheesecake turned out good, despite the fact that the recipe and reviews/hints stressed to not overmix, which resulted in a few (small) blobs of egg whites amid the cheesecake goodness.

On Saturday I went to IKEA for the first time in over ten years. They have everything there! Including an English breakfast, and I was very amused that the occasional loudspeaker announcements about store products were done by someone with a Swedish accent. Is it like that in American stores as well?

Just in case you were wondering what an IKEA looks like over here:
Blue and Yellow

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Felted Flowers

Yesterday I took a felted flowers class. The teacher has a studio near my flat where she works on her projects and teaches classes. Her website is called .

I made a trumpet flower:
Felted Blue flower top

And here is what it looks like in the back.
Felted Blue flower bottom

And this green one.
Green felted flower

I know I could have done some flowers on my own, but sometimes I just want to be shown what to do, ya know.

She also has a drop in time where people can some and use her tools for a set fee. And, she has a spinning wheel in the studio! I don't think she really knows how to spin, but I'm going to go tonight and see what fiber havoc I can start.