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Thursday, June 26, 2014


It's official!  I'm actually traveling in October to Hudson, WI to take an exciting felting class with Beth Marx !  It is sponsored by Robbin Firth of Heartfelt Silks at the St. Croix Gallery.  The focus is on vest-making in nuno felt, combining merino wool roving, silk fabric, and other inclusions and techniques.  I "met" Beth in the Fiona Duthie online workshop just completed last month.  She was enormously helpful and supportive, emailing daily, exchanging photos, ideas, and even lots of personal data.  With her reassurance (and that of my doctor who determined that I do not have rotator cuff issues), I decided to take the plunge!  You can read call about Robbin's Fabulous Fibre Month on her blog.

I've never been to a workshop of this nature.  I have taken several one-on one (Jean Gauger and Cynthia Mollenkopf) classes as well as small group workshops in felting, but this will be very special.  It represents a commitment to the medium and an evolution in my creative endeavors.  It also represents a travel/logistical nightmare!

The materials list is enormous!  And I'm flying to MN!  My felting materials currently reside in three distinct (and decidedly NOT convenient!) spaces of my home.  I don't own some of the required materials, and in looking at the list, I can't figure out HOW to get all of it there.  I've already bought a suitcase - probably not big enough, but it has to be something I can manage by myself.

I feel fortunate to be able to book my flights and car with miles, a hotel at a reasonable workshop rate, and also spend two days with my nephew, whose wife and children I have never met!  I'm excited by all this, but I'm trying real hard to stay focused and sane in the interim.  I hope to produce something similar to the vest Beth is wearing in the photo above.

I've been creating wraps and scarves, incorporating some of the techniques learned in Fiona's workshop.  Beth and I both seem to have fixated on similar favored techniques.  My final project for Fiona's class sold within three days; the ones below are available:

Thursday, June 12, 2014


I have been so busy recently that my musings on this blog have been non-existent.  Since the end of the Fiona Duthie online felting workshop, life has had a life of its own that didn't seem to include writing.  It was all about felting!  Then there was some travel, first to Charleston and Spoleto Festival and then to Asheville for the NC State Tennis Championships.  Now it's catch-up time.

Fiona Duthie's Six-Week Online Felting Workshop

This was well worth every minute and every penny.  I learned so many new techniques for felting - mostly from Fiona herself, but also from others in the class, most notably Beth Marx.   I made about 40 samples throughout the class; several have ended up on the flaps of my knitted and felted Sassy Sacs and Clutches.  (I love to repurpose things, and what a shame it would be to not utilize these samples in some way!)

And then…..I've decided to commit myself to making more nuno felting: larger, reversible pieces (scarves, caplets, wraps) that include a number of my favorite techniques (craters, bumps, color carvings, inclusions, lace).  One scarf I'm keeping; one wrap (which was my final course project) has already sold, and another will be available at Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts on Saturday.  I'm ecstatic but also hurting!  A visit to the orthopedic surgeon next week will tell me if my should will allow me to push this further.   And if all goes well, I will travel to WI in October to take an in-person workshop with Beth Marx.  So exciting!


Charleston and Spoleto

I LOVE Charleston!  I think it's my favorite Southern city!  For a few years I've been wanting to go there for their well-known Spoleto Festival of the Arts.  And we wanted to meet our friends there on their way back to RI from FL.  So we decided to rent place to stay, away from the madding crowds.  My friend (also Louise!) handled tickets to two venues, and I found the rental and made restaurant reservations.  This is a HUGE event held every year that lasts for 17 days and brings HUGE crowds from all over.  We saw A Simple Space, a small group of acrobats who accomplish breath-taking feats in an unbelievably small space.  Fabulous!  And then we went to a Charenee Wade open-air jazz concert.  In between we quite literally walked Charleston when we weren't enjoying the peace and quiet in our PERFECT rental at 4 Beaufain St, right off King St in the middle of the shopping district.

We had reservations at Magnolia and Blossom, both of which we'd been to before.  Magnolia was a huge disappointment this time, so we cancelled Blossom and instead went to a small Italian restaurant, Il Cortile del Re right on King Street not far from our "flat."  It was great!

Asheville and the NC State Tennis Championships
My tennis team made it to the Championships (by default), but who cares.  Nine of us traveled to Asheville for the time of our lives.  We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Resort in rooms that were clustered, had beautiful weather, and matches that were spread out over three days, so there was plenty of time for shopping, gallery-hopping, yarn and roving sourcing, eating, and more fun!  The matches, well….we weren't stellar, but we came in 4th and that was very acceptable to us.  Oh, and Mary Ann and I won our last match, as did the team!

We had dinners together (Tupelo Honey Cafe and Zambra's) and lunch at The Grove Park Inn where we also visited their amazing gallery, Grovewood Gallery.  My friend/roommate and I (same friend who went to France with me a few years ago!) shopped (she for clothes; I for fiber/yarn). Most notable: Bellagio Everyday and Bellagio Art to Wear,  and my new favorite yarn/fiber shop, Friends and Fiberworks.  I found hand-dyed merino in beautiful shades and even met the dyer!  It is those fibers that are currently enticing me strongly!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The End!

I have been enthralled with the online felting workshop so graciously and generously offered by Fiona Duthie.  And I have learned SOOOOO much!  Part of me is saddened that it's just about over, but the other part of me is happy for the reprieve.  This has taken a toll on my body and brain!  I may need a break, to work on scrumbling, loops. shawls, and other knit, crochet. or upcycled goodies!  But I fear stashing it all because to drag it all out again is a major effort.  My goal will be to find a storage idea that can quickly come out and then be stashed!  Any ideas?

The problem is my house!  I have a studio in our FROG (Finished Room Over Garage), but it serves mostly as a storage place for most of my crafty supplies (but not felting supplies!): yarn, needles, beads, threads, sewing machine, ironing board, and when needed, it serves as a guest room in which I can sleep SIX!  Making it usable as guest bedroom requires an extreme effort to stash and stow all the stuff that is inevitably hanging around most of the time.  I COULD felt up there if I had a work surface and if I imported the water needed.  So….the kitchen is my work space for felting; the laundry room houses the felting supplies.

For the past SIX weeks, the kitchen counter has been overwhelmed with a growing mess of silk, wool roving, wool batts, fabric scraps, beads, ribbons, various other items for inclusions, bubble wrap, rug mats, sushi mats, resists, soap, containers, and so much more.  Here are two photos of the kitchen as it currently exists in this final week - and this has been organized a bit since yesterday!  And three photos of the space my DH has in his garage studio!

And if I want to continue with this or other types of felting, I need to trot it all out again once I manage to find areas in which to keep it all!  Not a pretty picture.  Now my DH does have a studio for his pottery (that he is rarely doing these days!)  It was built by borrowing one bay of our two-car garage, heated and air-conditioned, with a set tub and hot/cold water.  It houses all his clay, glazes, wheel, and all that dirty stuff needed for making pottery.  AND HE'S NOT USING IT!!!!  Plus his car has to stay out all the time.  But….he refuses to give it up (can't say I blame him), and it would require massive cleaning efforts to make it usable as a wet lab that is CLEAN!  I can't imagine any of that happening any time soon.

So he (and I) will have to put up with the mess - which BTW is currently all over the house - from time to time.  I've set my goal to arranging storage that works for me and one day a week of felting time.  We'll see what happens!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

ABSENT!! But not gone!

It has been far too long since I've written a blog post. It's not that I've been idle. FAR FROM IT! April 6 started a six-week online felting workshop with Fiona Duthie.  Intense and intensive do not even begin to describe this….but it has been a fascinating, informative, educational, and PHYSICALLY demanding exploration with very little break.  And not only that….I've become obsessed with it.  Now some of you who know me personally might not be surprised by that revelation!  This process has confirmed for me my very real interest in pursuing felting more and more.  Not sure my body will agree, but I'm most certainly going to give it a try for as long as I can.

I wish I had begun to pursue my creative fiber arts interest MANY years ago when I had youth on my side.  But I have to be realistic and realize that I had many years of raising a family, working as a teacher, and then as a career counselor, and in retirement throwing myself into tennis and the co-op gallery to which I belong and become an very active member.  My interest in all these fiber arts (knitting, crocheting, and felting….and I could add some others) has been a natural evolution since before retiring. Just wish I started earlier!

Never too late, however!  And so I'm following a dream of mine.  If I can't get to the felting classes I want, then they will have to come to me.  The internet offers options that I would not have thought viable, and yet, wait till I show you my collection of samples representing thus far the newly acquired skills thanks to Fiona Duthie.  I have taken on-site private and group felting classes in the past (but rarely) with Jean Gauger and Cynthia Mollenkopf.  Online leaves out the hands-on instruction and immediate critiquing, but Fiona has done a miraculous job of presenting material in written form with many photos and also in videos.  She manages a discussion page for each week's new material for posting questions, comments, photos, etc.  And she responds once a day to each person's photos and questions.  What more could we ask?  And I have met a new felting friend through this class, Beth Marx, who is a very accomplished felter in her own right!  HERS will probably be the next class I take!   She has been so helpful in answering my questions, and like me, she seems to almost always be available on her computer, phone, iPad!

So now there are two weeks left to this course, including new material next week, and then a final project in which we incorporate techniques of our own choosing into a piece of artwork.  Of course, I'm thinking scarf, but I want to do a double-sided piece that is lightweight and drapey, with a number of the newly learned techniques that Fiona has taught us.  And then the next project will be thinking of ways to USE some of the samples to embellish some of my other loves: knitting and crocheting.

Many more of the samples can be seen on flickr and the Fiona Duthie felting Workshop album!  I'm sure there are many more not yet photographed.  Stay tuned!  BTW, if you have an interest in felting and Fiona's workshops, be sure to visit her website for additional info.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Freeform Ingredients!

Coffee and goodies.  Seven women.  One instructor.  LOTS of colored yarns, needles, hooks.  3 hours of fun playing with yarn and new techniques.  Pot luck lunch to talk about it all.

The PERFECT ingredients for a highly successful workshop with Lisa Doherty of Freeform Yarny Things!  And we all came away newly charged up and anxious to keep it going.

The backstory is an example of making lemonade from lemons.  Jane Thornley, one of my knitting icons, and I have been trying for years to actually meet in person.  An idea emerged to sandwich a visit and two-day workshop at my home between her cadres in Charleston, SC and Easton, MD.  All was arranged with 12 of my knitting buddies.  Unfortunately, Jane had to cancel for health reasons.  We WILL meet one of these days!

So….left with a two-day gap in the schedules of the 12 original participants, a FB posting reminded me of the talents of Lisa Carney Doherty.  I contacted her to see if she'd be interested in coming to Wilmington to teach.  Et voilà!  Some either had no crochet knowledge or weren't interested, so they opted out.  But what evolved was fabulous!  Above is a Lisa Doherty garment, fro a class she took with Prudence Mapstone, a well-known figure in the word of Freeform!

And to top it all off, we so loved it that we've decided to form a monthly group to gather, share, and continue to learn and experiment.

And my Scrumble is evolving.  Mine is in the photo above on the lower right.  And below are several more pieces yet to be incorporated.

As of this morning:

As you can see, when some pieces are not yet connected, I can play with the configuration.  Not sure what I'll do with this yet.  It could cover a bag, become a scarf or other garment.  I can tell you that it is one of the most time-consuming projects I've undertaken, and therefore has give me a far greater appreciate of the effort, time, and materials involved.  Each piece is made individually and then attached to the starting piece.

I have done my own version of freeform crochet for years that is quite different, but also very interesting.  I randomly crochet using, single, double, half-double, chains, etc., adding different yarns as I go along.  You can see a piece constructed like that in the photo above on the top left just under the top center piece.  My style of freeform adds 3-dimensional qualities to the pieces and final construction. I think I like the combination of flat and other surface designs.  

I welcome your thoughts!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Repurposing Continues……!

After deciding to cut up previously felted bags for reuse, I got into the swing of considering anything and everything for recycling.  This can be dangerous!  And sometimes I have to restrain myself from cutting, sewing, embellishing, borrowing, repurposing, upcyling too many things around my house and especially in my studio.  Yesterday I pulled a couple of things from Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts, things that haven't sold in too long, and perhaps could be used in other ways.  I'm thinking making brooches from a scarf, maybe button earrings, or more adornment for bags of all sorts.

So….in the last week, I've made several knitted and felted clutches, a Sassy Sac, and several Crazy Ring Neck Wraps, and several Felt-Tipped Scarves using such materials.  A brooch or another bag are in my head.  Here are some of the new results:

Crazy Ring Neck Wrap
(using recycled napkin rings)

Felt-Tipped Scarves

And many more viewable right now on flickr!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Repurposing is my Middle Name!

As a designer and creator of all things yarny, felty, and unique, I relish the opportunity to redesign and repurpose my own and others' objects and work.  I am a thrift store hound, but I often find things to repurpose right in my own closet or on display in the cooperative gallery to which I belong, Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts.

Lately, I've been frogging many of my original pieces that haven't sold or that I particularly dislike now.  Some have yielded yarn to reuse; some have been total disasters.  One ended up in the trash can because I simply could NOT unravel the yarns.  In frustration after many hours, I took my trusty scissors and CUT the thing up the middle!

My latest experiment looks to be one that will work and could at least salvage some very lovely wet felt I made a long time ago and fashioned into small clutch bags (that were beautiful to look at but defied functionality!) - too small and too flimsy.  Here are the three I'm repurposing right now.


I'm knitting and felting some wools from my stash (always tricky!), attempting to create Sassy Sacs.  Knitted felt is elusive and capricious; it will take the form it likes best, based on the type of wool, the direction of the knitting, and the felting time.  I love that I never know what I'll get from the original size and shape out of the washing machine or Wonder Washer.  So far, the two I'm working on have become - NOT Sassy Sacs - but clutch bags.

I'm undoing the stitching of the hand felted bags and cutting the felt to work as an appliqué to the flap and around onto the back of the knitted/felted clutch.  Using coordinating wool and a felting needle, the piece is attached to the bag, making a very interesting looking (and functional!) bag.  Here is the first finished one: black knitted and felted wool body.  I left the embellishment on the flap and needle-felted the appliqué in freeform style.
And competed this one yesterday….!

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