Monday, 31 March 2014

End of March

Here we are again, another month passed by in the blink of an eye....

As a recap, these are the goals I set myself at the beginning of January:
  1. dedicate more time to creative activities
  2. create at least 50 good quality pieces for sale
  3. find alternative sources for selling my works, including at least 2 craft fairs and improve marketing of my work
  4. complete my City and Guilds felt making course before August
  5. post at least once per week

Overall it has been a busy, and I think successful moth:
  1. The first couple of weeks were almost entirely consumed with my day job going crazy, my awful tenant (soon to be ex-tenant) and a family bereavement, not much room for creativity with all that going on but the last couple of weeks have been much better and I did manage to take one day off work and had a very productive day.
  2. I've done very well on this goal, making 3 new scarves for my C&G course and 2 more on commission, not to mention various bowls, a pair of slippers and my woven vase.
  3. I conducted a reconnaissance mission on a craft fair in Guildford that happens 3 times a year last weekend only to find it had been cancelled. On a more positive note I've been much better about posting items on Etsy with 6 new pieces finding their way into listings and half dozen more with photos taken just waiting for me to write something interesting and then of course there is my woven vase that has been accepted to a juried national exhibition, how cool is that?!!
  4. Little bit behind here, but that is mostly due to my doing 3 times more work than I needed to for my last assignment but it was totally worth the extra effort. I expect to get back on track this month, I should be able to complete this month's assignment in a couple of weekends.
  5. This was easy, in fact I think blogging has become a bit of a habit for me already, it's a rare day that I don't at least pop in to see if any of the blogs I follow have posted something new.
On the whole a very productive month despite the flaky start.

How was March for you?

Thursday, 27 March 2014


For my last City and Guilds assignment I needed to work with a client to develop a scarf to their specifications, in true Teri tradition I didn't stop at the one scarf needed to complete that assignment, I ended up creating 3 scarves for different people, all with very different results but interestingly very similar colour schemes. This has been a brilliant journey, and a lot of fun working with some good friends to develop their ideas and realise them into felt and fabric.

The first one was for a good friend, unfortunately she's a bit photo-phobic so I don't have any photos of her in her new scarf but I was so pleased with how her scarf turned out that I sought out some more "clients" to work with, and found 2 more willing guinea-pigs.

This is the first scarf, it is a reversible snood with a button to help mould the hood to the head when up. She wanted something warm that would offer some protection from wind and rain in purple / fuchsia pink.

This is the silk side:

This is the felt side showing some of the silk hanky decoration:

A better photo of the silk hanky decorations, these catch the light beautifully:

Having enjoyed the process of working with someone else so much, I went in search of my next victimclient, Juliet, a friend from work volunteered her services.

She wanted a  floaty, decorative scarf. After looking at some samples and finished scarves she selected nuno-felted silk. After lots of discussion (and I think some influence from Tam) we settled on an infinity scarf design.

This is Juliet wearing her new creation:

My third guinea-pig was Tam, another friend from work. She was quite clear from the outset that she wanted an infinity scarf, after looking at a selection of dyed fabrics she settled on the purple stripy cotton scrim (visible as the lowest fold in the photo) with wool in purples and reds with some orangey-red silk hankies for decoration.

I'm really pleased with how they all turned out, all very different and hopefully a reflection of their new owners' personalities! Thank you all for helping me to complete this assignment, it has been a lot of fun.

Linking up to nina-marie, off the wall Friday

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Kumihimo Braiding Tutorial

I recently discovered Kumihimo (pronounced koo-me-he-mo) braiding and thought I would share some of the techniques with you.

It's a fascinating technique with a mind-boggling array of different pattern possibilities, a small selection of which I have shown at the bottom of this post.

You will need a Kumihimo disc and some yarn or thick threads, embroidery thread works well, the discs are not expensive but you can also make your own. All you need is a disc off dense (stiff) foam (the sort garden kneeling mats are made from is good) or some thick cardboard, a craft knife, pencil and tape measure or ruler.

Making a Kumihimo Disc
  1. Use a compass, saucer, small bowl or pint glass to trace a circle on your foam / cardboard and cut out the circle. 
  2. Mark the rim with 32 evenly spaced pencil lines, this does not need to be exact but I find it easiest to mark the 12, 3, 6 and 9 positions of the clock first. 
  3. Then measure the distance around the edge between 2 of your marks, this is easiest with a tape measure but can be done by rolling the disc along a ruler too.
  4. Divide this figure by 9. 
  5. Use the result to mark out 8 equally spaced lines between each of your clock quarters, you should now have 36 equally spaced pencil marks.
  6. Using a craft knife cut notches at each of the marks and a 2 cm wide hole in the middle of your disc.
This is what your finished disc should look like:

I have a commercial foam board that I like to use but the technique is exactly the same:

Setting Up Your Disc for Braiding
There are dozens of different braiding patterns available and these are largely determined by where the different coloured threads are placed on the disc at the start.

Once you have chosen your pattern (see below), cut 8 or 16 lengths of yarn (as dictated by your pattern). They need to be 3 times the length of your finished braid plus a few inches for knotting the ends. Tie them together with a single knot at one end and drop the knot through the hole in the middle of your disc.

Place the threads in the groves according to your pattern, making sure each pair is at least 2 notches from their neighbours (unlike the image below), they should be fairly taught with the knot just below the surface of the disc:

Holding the disc in your left hand (it doesn't matter where you start) *take the left hand thread at the 6 o'clock position and place it in the grove to the left of the 12 o'clock position.

Then take the right hand thread from the 12 o'clock position and place it to the right of the thread at the 6 o'clock position.

Rotate the disc anti-clockwise 1 position so the next pair of threads are at the 6 o'clock position and repeat from *. Keep going until your cord is the desired length then remove all the treads from their notches and tie them all together with an overhand knot to finish.

If you have to put it down and come back to it, simply look for the uppermost threads and start with the next pair to the lower left (at the 8 o'clock position).

A Neater Way to Finish
If your ends will be seen or you want to tuck them into jewellery findings this video describes a better method for finishing the ends.

Pattern Choice
There are countless patterns available on the internet and in books but there is also a lot to be said for exploring and finding your own patterns too, just start with lengths of wool approx 20 cm (5 inches) long and make a note of the starting position of each colour on the wheel.

Here are a few examples to get you started:

How do you use your braids? Please feel free to post a link to photos of your work below.

Happy Braiding!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Little Bird House

Over the winter our resident squirrels finally destroyed one of our wooden bird boxes, they had been chewing on it for years but this year they finally broke in an detached it from the tree.

I've been making a few felt pods recently and thought one might translate well into a bird house. My only concern is that the squirrels will probably destroy a wool pod in a fraction of the time it took them to ruin the wooden bird house. I will have to find a squirrel-proof location for it.

I started with a tear-drop shaped resist and used 4 layers of merino for my first attempt. Unfortunately I made the hole too low and over stretched it while fulling the inside the pod. I think that pod will become a suspended bowl / pod.

For my second attempt I used strips of red muslin, green merino and grey gotland. This is what it looked like just after removing the resist and before a quick spin in the washing machine.

And after it came out of the machine. As before the grey gotland has consumed everything else, including the muslin:

I selected a spot on the side of the cabin that hopefully the squirrels won't be able to get to, here is the pod in situ:

I added some fluff groomed from my cat as extra encouragement for the birds to move in but only time will tell if my pod is up to avian standards....

Monday, 17 March 2014

Lest We Forget

I am feeling very chuffed, one of the pieces I submitted to the Weavers, Spinners and Dyers National Exhibiton has been accepted. Fancy that, a feltmaker being accepted to a juried show of weaving and dyeing!

I have been itching to share this piece with you for several weeks but couldn't in case one of the jurors saw it.

This piece was inspired from a combination of some sketches I made of poppy seed pods from the garden and the realisation that 2014 is the centenary of the start of World War I.

They all cried out a very obvious vase shape to me:

Initially I planned to make this vase using a resist method but then I had a brainwave and thought of a way to interpret my willow weaving skills into felt and after a small test piece, created "Lest We Forget". The vase shape was woven from cords of white merino and then dyed with acid dyes.

This is the work in progress:

The red and black colours were chosen as the traditional colours of the poppy flower but they also represent the unnecessary blood shed and millions of deaths that occurred not only during WWI but in countless wars since.

If you would like to see this piece in person, it will be on display at "Yarns in the Cathedral" in the Hostry of Norwich Cathedral from 15 May to 1 June 2014.

Linking up to nina-marie