Friday, June 29, 2012

Ready for TAST, Moy Mackay wet felting tutorial, and a few photos

Well, I did it.  I cut out enough fabric to get me through quite a few weeks of TAST.  Now, just to get to the stitching!
 I like the little squares as I have purchased all of Sharon's stitching sheets and these little squares are just the right size to attach to a page in the appropriate space.    They are about 5 inches by 5 inches I think.

If I had thought of dodging the black flies and mosquitoes, I would have taken photos of some of my flower beds that are nicely weeded, which is what I was doing this past week instead of stitching.   But I didn't take any photos of the flower beds..   yet..  so you will have to take my word for it!  LOL

Today, I felt inspired and ready for a challenge and decided to try one of the wet wool felting tutorials in Moy Mackays book, Art in Felt & Stitch.  I hadn't really done too much wet felting so felt I was really learning from scratch.

I decided to try the project in her book with the field and the 3 white sheep.  I don't want to take a photo of the pages of her book, but if you look at her home page, you can see the sheep on the mugs further down the page.  The project in the book is not on the mugs, but you can see from my end result what the colours should be.

There are many steps listed in the book, clearly providing details as to what to do and how to do it, but I will shorten them to the ones that I took photos of.

Step 1 was to make a base with merino wool   My first mistake.  My husband was actually the one who became interested in felted wool a couple of years ago before it became the big rage.  There was very little information available on how to do it and what kind of wool to use.  As such, he bought various types of wool, and unfortunately, alot of it is wool that isn't suitable for wet felting.  Some of the wool he bought is barely suitable for needle felting as it is quite rough.   What is required for wet felting is merino wool.  If you see it and compare it to the "other stuff", you will know merino wool from then on.  It usually comes in long continual hankers, all the fibers usually running one way.  You can easily tear off a piece of wool by taking in your two hands and gently pulling it apart.

Well, for step 1, which was to make a base, I knew I had little merino wool but alot of this odd stuff, so decided to use the odd stuff.  The "odd" stuff is sort of a pinky lilac colour in the photo below.  I layed down the first layer and then started applying the good layer of merino wool   I got half the blue sky just about laid when I realized I hadn't taken a photo.
I looked at this photo and thought it showed the layers well but then looked at the same photo taken with the camera's flash.  You can see the layers much better.  This whole thing was a good inch or two thick.

At this point, as I am laying the sky and then the field, a vague memory starts creeping into my mind.   I was with my husband when he bought his first batches of wool and I remember the ladies at Belfast Mills on the island giving him a large bag of wool and saying that this bag of wool is not suitable for wet felting but will needle felt.  Oh well.   I don't have alot of choice as I don't have alot of Merino wool, so let's just see if the ladies are right!

When I was in London-Wul a few months ago, Heidi was kind enough to tell me that what I was purchasing was various kinds of wool and not just Merino and then explained the difference.  I knew there was a difference in texture in some of the wools I was buying but didn't know why.  She was very helpful and has a great selection so I will have to go back.  I notice she has a few courses coming up that interest me a great deal.  I digress...    lol

So, I continue with my top layer until I am done.  Now this is the completed project before wet felting without using the camera's flash.  It is very similar to the tutorial in the book, except obviously the one made by Moy is perfect! 

I am assuming you can click on the photo and enlarge it.  If you look at the various blues in the sky, you can clearly pick out what is merino wool as it is silky smooth.  On top of the sheep, Moy put these little pieces of a different wool that gave the sheep alot of dimension.  She called it "Silk Noil".  Well, I barely had enough Merino wool to do the project.  I knew I definitely did not have silk noil!  I did add some texture by pulling tiny bits of white wool and rolling them in my wet palms.  It certainly added some texture.

This is the same photo, but taken with flash.  Again, you will see there is more depth to the wool.
The sheep almost look real!

Well, and then the wet felting.  I actually brought my Nikon camera outside so it would be handy to take photos as I wet felted, but things became messy fast and there was no way I could take off my gloves or stop to take photos.  I had suds everywhere!

I did take a plastic mesh and put it over the whole front of the wool piece as instructed in the book.  I got a few pots of very very hot water, and then took the whole thing outside.  I poured soapy hot water all over the plastic mesh and into the felt piece.  When it was thoroughly saturated, I held the mesh down with one hand as I pressed down firmly with the other hand, making small circles all over the piece.  When my arm was tired, I switched hands and did this for about 15 or 20 minutes.

What the instructions said to do next, was to roll up the whole thing in a bamboo placemat or something similar and then roll it for about 100 rolls.  Well, I couldn't roll mine up.  You know if you try to roll something that has something on top of it, then things start going wonky as you roll them up.  And mine went all wonky.  It was at this point already that I could see that the under layer was not felting onto the top layer and though the design stayed somewhat in tact, I had a huge mess and holes everywhere.  I rinsed the whole thing as best as I could and have it out to dry now.  I will try hand felting it together, possibly with a bit of a firm baking to give it some stability. 

This is the finished piece wet felted as much as I could.

 I have no idea if I will be able to salvage this piece but I'm sure I will be able to do something with it.  It just needs a bit of TLC.

I think I am figuring out why people tend to stick to one or two craft/art techniques.  How does one afford to buy EVERYTHING you need to try a project correctly and where on earth do you store it all??!  LOL

Well, I will persist.  I will make a list of the MERINO wools that we have and then buy what colours we need, that we will probably use the most of.


Well, its been a bit of a hot humid day and I'm ready for a bit of relaxation so will end soon.   Not before posting a few photos.

Summer is definitely here and the beaches are ready!   One of the beaches at Cavendish of course!

There is no shortage of kayaks available for rental in North Rustico along the water front!

And potatoes, planted only a few weeks ago, are in various stages of growth.  We have some fields where there is just a touch of green here and there, and then others where the potatoes are well are their way and will bloom in a couple of weeks.  This field is just in between.

I'm off.  But I will remind you that the Sunshine Deli is back with their charming little poems.   You will find their link to the right!   I really like their last post from a few days ago!

Take care and be happy and be at peace.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Brown and Blue Felt Project

Well, I went to cut out squares of stitching fabric for TAST and I had to move my brown and turquoise felt project to make some room on the table.  Once that felt project was in hand, there was no letting go!  I just had to try that technique from "The Art of Felt" book.  (see previous entry for more info)  The one where you felt a separate piece of wool, do a gathering stitch around it and then pull the thread to gather it.  I did my stitching and gathering in small circles and not around the whole piece!

I gathered up a few strands of turquoise wool and laid some vertically and then horizontally and then needle felted them.  This is the result:
The best way to get those needle marks out of the felting is just to iron them out.  I used steam but I tested the iron first to make sure it wasn't too hot and then gently pressed.  This is what I got.  The piece was about 10 inches by about 5 inches.

I then took all 6 strands of DMC floss in a matching colour and started stitching circles.  You are looking for texture so the circles you stitch do not have to be even.  In fact the more varied the stitches, the more varied the texture and size and shape of the bubbles!

After each circle, I would pull the floss gently and then anchor my floss at the back with a knot and then make another circle.

I was surprised that I was using up almost the entire piece of felt that I had made.  When I stitched my first circle, I found it was too small so each circle became larger and then I varied the size of the circles.  I was so excited to see how my finished piece would look like on my brown and blue felt project that I didn't use up all the blue felt but cut a bit off.
I wasn't sure how I was going to felt this onto my brown background but just started needle felting around the edges and then I felted in between my bubbles or circles.  If you find that you have too big of a bubble, well, it is easy to fix.  Just needle felt at any point within that bubble!  You can see my felting needle in the middle of the bubbles.
In the big scheme of things, I have no idea right now how I am going to continue, but I confess I love the dimension and texture that this adds to my piece!

This is a close up of the textured blue felted onto the brown.

Now, back to getting that fabric for TAST!

TAST, Book Review

Good Saturday Morning!
Cloudy here and coolish but we need the rain and I would rather have the cool weather, around 15C so far, than than horrible heat in Ontario so all in all, a good day!

I think I am finally caught up on rest and sleep from my trip to Ontario. I think my eyes are finally focusing enough so I can return to stitching.  My first priority is getting caught up in the TAST project (have I said this before??).  I am not going to learn anything if I can't stitch!   I am really behind now so I will be working on getting my fabric squares cut out and ready to stitch.  Progress will be posted!

I will do a bit of a book review if you don't mind, on "The Art of Felting" by Francoise Tellier-Loumagne.   I think this is two books in one.  I think the artist was trying to relay to us various means of getting inspiration from the simplest of things, the sky, but I also think she wanted it to be an "ART" book.

Art Of Felt

The first disappointing thing is that the lovely blues shown on the cover of the book above, are actually various shades of gray or gray blue on the book I received.  The colours inside the book are brilliant where they are meant to be brilliant.  

If you love the sky, love photos of the sky, you will love this book. But, there are a few too many sky photos for my liking.

If you are a novice felter, I do not think you will like this book.  This book is NOT for the person who needs a series of pictures and step by step instructions on how to do a particular felt procedure as there are none.  Had I to do it all again, I would NOT have purchased this book at this stage in my learning how to felt.

The artist tells you in the Introduction that she uses the sky as inspiration and as motivation to try different techniques.  It doesn't matter where one lives, in the city, in the country or somewhere in between, the sky is a constant and available to all.  As such, something as simple as a sky can be used to inspire you to create various colours, shapes and textures in your felting.  She encourages us to look around us and use everything and anything for inspiration.  For example, puffy clouds could inspire you to add tuffs of wool to your project, or lightning could inspire you to add lines of colourful yarn to your project. 

I initially found this book quite confusing and I have no idea if it has anything at all to do with my lack of  experience in felting?  The artist displays a photo of a sky and then the felt piece that that sky photo inspired though at times I found it difficult to see the resemblance or where and how the inspiration was used.  It can be a bit of a challenge trying to match up instructions to photos.  For example "Weatherworn" and "Holes in the sky" instructions are found on page 124, followed by photos of skies and various felts on pages 125 to 134.  On page 135, "Dark clouds gather", it states that these are the instruction for "(previous pages)", but which of the previous 10 pages?  You finally figure out that pages 126 and 127 are for "Weatherworn" because there is a small entry on those pages noting "Weatherworn", and on page 124 where it talks about "Holes in the sky", it mentions "(pages 128-129)".  So you are always having to go back and forth to see where you are supposed to be looking.   This may sound quite trivial but in fact, you are trying to match photos to descriptions through almost all 300 pages of this book.  It is not a book to be rushed through.  Did I mention having to spend time looking up various terms used in the book like "greaseproof paper" and "two-toned marl" for example.

There are many interesting techniques though, some using water soluble bases, yarn, netting, wire, wet felting after needle felting, etc. in creating the art or item.  One example was to use a gathering stitch around a small piece of felting, gathering it, and then felting the gathered felt onto another piece of felt to create texture.

There are alot of interesting techniques in this book that I would like to try, but the book is not easy to use and a person would be challenged to find what they were looking for if looking for a particular technique.  You would definitely have to keep your sticky note paper handy when going through this book if you wanted to come back to a particular technique later.

If you were thinking of buying it, you may want to check it out at your local library first before spending your money.

The Interweave Store is having a great sale but you better hurry as it ends at midnight on June 24th!   They are home to my favorite magazine, "Quilting Arts". 

Well, going to cut out my TAST squares.  Enjoy your day!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Stiletto tutorial, Moy Mackay


While I sort things out after my trip, here is a great site with detailed instructions on how to make a handy  stiletto.  I'm going to make tons of these as they look really simple to make!

Stiletto Tutorial

In my May 22nd post, I talked a bit about  Moy Mackay but didn't mentioned her book.   I came across Moy's web site a few months ago and just loved her felted art work!  I was excited to hear that she had a book coming out late spring regarding her felted artwork.  I pre-ordered the book as it looked too good to forget about and not buy.  Well, it was everything I thought it would be.  She gives great instructions on wet and dry felting and how she does her work.  Most of it is done wet felted and she refines the details with needle felting and she then adds embellishments.  The cover of her book is shown below.   I hope I have linked the book up correctly to her web page as well so you can click on her name above, or the book to see more.  Amazon gives you a bit of a sneak preview of some of the pages in the book.

Enjoy your day and happy stitching!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Home, Brown Blue Felt project, Mom

Wow!   I've been gone for over 2 weeks and am feeling a bit shell shocked!  I have been to Ontario and there's a bit of a difference between PEI and Ontario.   On a really busy day, not during tourist season, I might pass 40 cars going into town and coming home in PEI.  In Ontario, twice that number of  cars pass me as I am stopped at the driveway to the apartment my mom lives in waiting to get out!   Living with a few million people withing an hours drive is NOT a good thing!

I did manage a quick trip into Gitta's and was disappointed to see that there were not many choices for the thicker threads in the turquoise for my brown and turquoise felt project.  I did manage to find some interesting combinations though.  I can understand now why many people dye their own threads.
This is what I have to work with now.
I also managed a trip to a few second hand stores and picked up some silks.  One beautiful dress I found has lovely green leaves on it and an oxide red which matches the colours of our cliffs and soils so can't wait to see what comes of it!

I did NOT stitch a stitch while I was gone.  I guess I was having too good of a time to stitch.  My Mom and I managed to put over 1,600 KM on the car and even managed a 5 days cottage trip.  Did I mention that my mom will be 88 this year and certainly does NOT look anywhere near her age.  She is a beautiful woman who has worked hard her whole life and has given us so much and still managed to walk faster than me while using her rollator walker!.
This picture was taken a few days ago when we took a walk at Beamer Conservation Park above Grimsby.

Anyways, I'm back, I have no words of wisdom today and hopefully will be back in gear soon.  As I look around me though, I see there is a bit of housework to do.  Never leave your husband at home alone when you travel!

See you soon!