I did a felted collar workshop with Karen Lane last week with ladies from Region 8 of the Felt Association.

I have plenty of fleece in lots of different colours, but all merino, and we needed super-fine merino tops for the best result.

Lamorna very kindly gave me some super-fine merino tops in my favourite green, some cream, and some silk / viscose for decoration.

It was an early start and a long drive.

After some initital instruction from Karen, we were all keen to get started.

The fleece was laid out after drawing a pattern on the bubble wrap. As usual when felting, I become so engrossed in what I’m doing that I forget to take photos. It’s ready to start adding water and soap here.

Starting off slowly and gently, the felting process begins.

This is the wrong / inside of the collar at the pre-felt stage.

We had further instructions from Karen for the felting (fulling) and shaping.

And after much rolling and pulling, this is the finished collar at the end of the day, when it is still damp.

Karen showed us a variety of brooch techniques for us to choose from, before we all started one to fasten our collars. Mine isn’t quite finished, I’m going to add some beads and stitching.

It sits well at the back too. The silk shows up better now it’s dry. I’m really pleased with the colours and the lovely soft texture. I’ve already worn it a couple of times this week and, as it is very light weight, it will be a while before the weather is too warm to wear it. Thank you, Karen, Lamorna (and Graham for driving) and Region 8 ladies. The results were well worth the early start and the long day.


With the slightly longer, warmer sunny days, it was beginning to feel as if Spring was on its way. There are even a few daffodils out in the garden (and the camellia). But this morning we woke up to snow, which continued for a couple of hours. It’s been thawing rapidly in the sunshine and even drying in places, but there’s enough still around to freeze when the sun goes down.

Also I have been working with bright sunshiny yellows: all will be revealed in due course. I have used some of the scraps from that project at a play day at Karen Lane’s felting group, and woke up thinking that I could use them as daffodil petals.

I used a very fine layer of cream both horizontally and vertically, then started “painting” with the blue, yellow, green and warm beige / fawn.

I used some wisps of green vertically and diagonally to represent the leaves, added some hot water and soap, and did some gentle rubbing to get to the pre-felt stage….

….. before putting triangles of the yellow fabric in groups of six for the daffodil petals and adding some perlé threads as stems, with a few wisps of fleece to help anchor everything down.

More felting, then I added more fabric and some wisps of a darker yellow for the centres of the flowers. Karen also suggested adding some wisps of wet fleece (something new to me) for the leaves.

Once it was felted more, rinsed and dried, I ended up with a postcard-size little picture of sunny daffodils.

I also wanted to try putting some flat pebbles between two layers of different coloured pre-felt, a technique Karen had shown us at her workshop at Seata last summer, but that I hadn’t had time to try on the day. I’ve had this jar of grey flat pebbles for ages. It turns out it didn’t need two layers as I intended leaving the pebbles in the felt.

It took me a while trying different colours of fleece, but I ended up using the fawn / beige that echoed some of the lines in the pebbles. As so often happens when I’m felting, I either get so absorbed in what I’m doing, or have wet / soapy hands, that I forget to take photos. The pebbles are already tied in to the pre-felt. I’d laid out the pebbles on the felt, but only about half fitted by the time they were tied in: a longer piece next time.

The back made me think of a ruffle.

It was then fully felted, which made some of the stones poke through, I cut the bigger ones, opened them back and felted a little more. Karen suggested it would make a necklace, it just needs some cord or something attaching at the top.

I had envisioned it framed, but hadn’t expected it to shrink down so much. Now it’s just the right size to wear, and surprisingly light even when it was still wet. I’ll just have to make another piece to frame.

I’m really pleased with the way the colour of the felt picks up the lines in the pebbles.

With leaving a little time before going back to my geode sampler, I’d moved on from my frustration of having three beads short on my ring of beads Geode sampler.

I found more suitable beads in my stash and started stringing them randomly, echoing the colours on the silk background.

I couched down some of the strings between the fly stitch and the shiny beads, and some going through the gaps and meandering across the space; there’s more to do yet.

I then used two thicker threads that are interesting textures and lovely colours, but are too thick and knobbly to go through the fine silk. So I put them up close together and couched them down with two stitches and a gap all the way round, in a slightly darker silk thread. It shows off the couched threads better.

Then I used another tricky shiny thread, a single strand and one strand of stranded silk to do Bullion knots. I’m about a third of the way round the ring so far.

Close up

I need to string some more beads to fill in the gaps.

Work in progress, but not far to go. The “loose” tooth will squish back into place.

This is a piece I have had in my head for a long time. I loved the cover of this book, but it’s so long ago that I can’t remember what I thought it. I have been collecting and gathering fabric, threads and beads for a while, and the silks above are possible colours for a background.

I have no intention of trying to reproduce the image, but just to be influenced by elements of it.

It’s not the first time I’ve used dragonflies as inspiration, I did a post called The Dragonfly Woman back in 2012 and have done several other things before and since.

This card and thread piece was part of my “A” level art course-work project.

I looked at several colours of organza……

…….. and several possible colour ways of threads and beads……

…….. then settled on these greens, golds and turquoise.

I cut out paper wings for a pattern.

I hooped up two layers of green organza, rolled and stitched up the excess so I don’t stitch through it unintentionally, and I’m ready to start. There’s a little trial wing hidden away in there that I thought I’d already photographed, but hadn’t. I’m using couched down cake wire for the outline.

The two top wings fit in the same hoop, and I’m working on them both stage by stage to keep them more or less symmetrical.

The outlines are done, and I’ve put in a line of doubled-over gold.

More gold was added; the second one from the right shows a single strand.

We have been stitching slow stitch samplers based on geodes at Alex’s “In the stitch zone” on Monday afternoons in Scunthorpe Library.

I’m working in an eight-inch hoop to use as much as possible of a beautiful peachy corally-coloured piece of ice-dyed silk that was too pretty to cover too much, with softer colours than I’ve used for a while. I’m also using some threads that I have been a bit precious about as well: silks, variegated threads and a lovely slubby rusty brown that I’ve couched down for the outer ring.

I want the fabric to be seen, so have left a gap between the couching and the peachy stem stitch. Unfortunately, it was too big a gap, so I went back and did vertical little stab stitches in between, then started a ring of buttonhole stiches …..

……. and another ring going in the opposite direction.

I found some glass and agate beads from my stash ….

……but decided to do another row of stitching first, a heavy chain stitch in a variegated cotton.

Then I did a fly stitch in a fine silk. The agate beads looked altogether too heavy, so I’ve got some that remind me of melon pips or baby teeth, slightly shiny and uneven with only one hole. Alex suggested I do two stitches to anchor them. I laid them all round and it seemed I had lots to spare. I stitched them with a gap between, to go back round just in case.

Then I went back to fill the gaps, only to find I was three short! I don’t want to take them out and respace them, but I have no more in this colour, only a pale blue and a pale aqua that were in the same packet. Neither look right at all. Fortunately it was the end of the session, as I very much wanted to stamp my feet and spit my dummy out.

Looking at it a couple of days later with Sally and Sandra, Sally suggested using these on the outside of the ring and then flow in through the gaps, pointing out that geodes are natural and not symmetrical, which is why the stitching is not in even, regular rings in the first place. I’m still sitting with this one, but coming round to the idea.

Alex’s blog Geode Progress has her version which is very different, as are the others in the class; as always we have all responded in our own way.

I have finally taken my spinning wheel to Lorna’s group for a little help. It’s so long since I did any spinning that I couldn’t remember where to start, but hoped it would be like riding a bike, and once you got going again it would all come “spinning” back.

The wheel has stood on a little landing at the bottom of the stairs for more than thirty years since we moved here, and has barely been used since. It needed a good dust before I went, then the first thing Lorna did was to oil all the moving parts. I hadn’t even thought about oil. And I had totally forgotten about the hook needed for threading the yarn through the spindle(?). Lorna only lives up the road from their Village Hall, where the group has been held since we started up after lockdown. Fortunately her husband Sandy was still there, he and Jean’s husband Peter come and get the heavy tables out, then come back and put them away again at the end of the session. So Sandy very kindly not only went and fetched the oil and brought Lorna’s hook, but made a hook for me! He said the wire might be too thin (it was), but when he came back at the end he’d made a stronger one for me! Thank you, Sandy.

Lorna started spinning, just to loosen everything up. I was soon keen to have a go, she needed to remind me where to hold the yarn, between left thumb and finger, and let go to control the twist. It soon came back, but it takes a bit of coordination to get the speed right and get an even yarn with the right amount of twist. I definitely needed to concentrate and couldn’t talk at the same time.

Several in the group were soon wanting to have a look and asking questions. What had I dyed it with? Acid dyes, I think. What am I going to do with it? Knitted sleeves for a jacket Felting

The basket of rolags below were all I thought I had….

……until searching for something else recently I came across a bag of “locks” which need carding.

When it was time to pack up, I’d done a fair amount on the bobbin.

I now need to find the carders and niddy noddy and wool wind that Lorna said I’ll need to progress. Thank you, Lorna, for getting me started up and going again. And truthfully I’d forgotten how much I really enjoyed spinning, and now how much I’m going to enjoy it once more.

More than forty years ago, way back in the 1980s, Lorna and I both went part-time to the Technical College in Leamington Spa (120 miles away), to the same spinning teacher Margaret ….. and embroidery teacher Pat Philpott. We don’t think we overlapped classes, but it’s a strange coincidence all the same. Lorna has done much more spinning than me in the intervening years, and has far more knowledge about embroidery and textiles.

I didn’t manage to get to the end of January without starting any new textile projects, but did make some progress on several on-going pieces of work.

The first new one was at least connected to another project: some fingerless felt hand-warmers in the same autumn coloured fleece as the cowl I made at Karen Lane’s group More felting at the end of November.

I had intended to cut the above piece into two to make hand-warmers but, when I picked it up to assess how best to do it, I put it across the top of my shoulders and realised it was just the right size to make into a collar on a fabric jacket.

I had the remaining fleece still in a bag, so thought I’d make some hand-warmers in one piece. I drew round my hand and made a resist pattern by guesswork (the photo shows them after use).

I worked side by side on them, to prevent losing count of layers as I was turning them over, and to make sure that the layers were as even as possible. I did split each colour of fleece in four, two for each mitt, front and back, working horizontally on one layer and vertically on the next on each side on the under-layers.

Once I’d done the under-layers I made the front and back different with the brighter coloured fleece, then started gently felting to the pre-felt stage. Here they are ready to cut at the wrists, fingers and thumb to take out the resist and fully felt them.

They are not fully felted here, the one on the right is considerably smaller than the left, which still needs quite a bit of work to shrink and shape it more.

They are more or less finished here, they just need to dry. The guesswork was lucky, fitting me very well, slightly shaped at the wrist and the thumb hole in the right place. Much more luck than judgment. I can bend my fingers and tuck them inside a little, but have free and full range of use of my thumbs and fingers, while keeping my hands warm enough to draw or stitch. They are not totally symmetrical, but are obviously a pair. Just hope I’ve not worn them out by the time I get around to making a jacket!

The new term at Mags’ “Pleasurable Painting” has encouraged us to explore our own ideas and try different mediums. There have been ideas and suggestions if we have wanted or needed them. But so far (three sessions) I have had things I wanted to try, a couple of the suggestions and things Mags has brought along have been very much in my comfort zone: flowers, natural objects (shells and hazelnuts), so it’s been tempting just to do those.

The first weeek I started with some spirals and a limited palette, some mark-making thinking of stitching and texture, some wet in wet, wet on dry, splashes and flicking, adding water, scratching in wet paint; basically just having fun and getting back into painting.

I then had a try with some metallic water-colour paints over some very watery green, that I’d scratched in to try to capture the idea of dragonfly wings. It’s very subtle and the photo doesn’t really show it, but it does catch the light.

The following session I used them again with a little more success. The plants and flowers were around to use, but I just used the folds of a few leaves as a starting point.

Then I started thinking of wafting seaweed, still scratching in so the paint goes into the scratches giving a darker line. The pencil lines need to be rubbed out and some metallic paint added. It’s another work (play) in progress.

It was really tempting to do shells the next week, but I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. It’s a bit of a cheat, because they are real shells, but certainly not something I’d drawn before, with my own stitching from Scrappy Nine Patch and Continuing with the Scrappy Nine Patch

I started drawing the twisted rayon stitches …….

……. and just kept adding to it in the same way the stiching developed ……

….. gradually adding more detail …..

….. and emphasing diferent areas. Another work in progress, some more detail to add but I want it to fade out towards the edges.

It’s also another piece of stitching to continue with.

When Alex first talked about the Spring Board Project I was really keen and fired up about it, a different word each week to prompt a small piece of work which would cumulate into a finished book of some sort. Each week in her newsletter Alex sent us some images and links for the following week’s word. We could all interpret it in any way we chose, something new or not, a stitch or technique, simple or challenging.

Somehow I got off on the wrong foot, having missed a couple of weeks at the beginning of the term, and then often felt over-whelmed by the amount of choice and possibilities for each word that I wanted to try.

I tended to try something experimental that didn’t necessarily work very well, then started working on the pieces of felt I’d done with Karen Lane last summer. It was a bit of a cheat really, using several words on each piece Colour and texture and “Moving on”

Then I found an vintage inspiration pack at Hemswell. The colours caught my attention (the photo at the top), and when I turned it over and saw the fern it just had to come home with me.

It has already been opened and has sparked ideas for the book, and made me want to start with the words all over again. It all needs ironing, of course, but just this piece will do the covers (stretched over mount board) and a couple of pages.

The whole lot talks to me. The more I look at the one on the bottom left, with the rusty coloured hazelnuts, the more it seems familiar. Something my Nanna had in the early 70s? The only one that doesn’t (at the moment) fit in with my vision for the project is the top left fabric. The hanky may become “Fold” and some of the other fabrics layered and stitched for “Cut”. That was another problem I had with it, some techniques cover more than one word, it could also be “Layer”. Decisions, decisions.

I also looked out some paper and old paintings that might be incorporated.

I made a start on some of the words again. “Scrunch”, a piece of hand-dyed scrim from my stash on a piece of brown felt.

It works up very differently from silk velvet which I have used previously with this technique. A few beads or not?

I also remembered that at a S.E.A.T.A. session last summer I tried a tiny piece of weaving in just the right colour. It’s about the size of a 2p piece, and the purple on the left might get taken out or changed in some way.

It has felt like starting a new project, exciting and stimulating, but it’s still a PHD (project half done), and I haven’t started anything new yet this year.

I stopped making New Year Resolutions long ago. Why set yourself up to fail? But I do start each January with the intention of finishing off some long-standing projects, and to finish a few things before starting anything new.

The first one that came to mind was a tiny pincushion in canvas work 2 1/2″ (7cm) that had been inspired by gardens. The stitching was finished long ago, even the edge had been glued ready to cut out. It’s mainly tent stitch with a few French knots and some cross stitches. But being thrifty, I had started another piece of work on the canvas while it was stretched on the frame.

This was a 2″ square to put in a little sketchbook, a project the Grasby Embroiderers were doing each month alongside finishing off main pieces ready for an exhibition. We had a theme each month to interpret however we wanted: apple (collaged, layered paper)….

….. leaves, black, flowers, bicycle, flower, spring, weather (machine stitched sun, rain and a rainbow, each is a separate layer)….

…… and I think the final one was grass!

This was started on the same piece of canvas as the pincushion, in Velvet stitch or Turkey knot stitch, worked over a pencil in a lovely shade of green. It took a lot longer than I’d anticipated, so it got abandoned when a new project took over. The thread had long gone missing, I couldn’t remember which pencil or stitch I’d used, so it had got no further, 2″ in one direction and just less than an inch in the other.

But I found the perfect use for it on my vegetable garden that was done in the summer term of Alex’s “In the stitch zone”. I just glued it round the edges, cut it out, and applied it …..

…… to my garden. This is another project to finish!

Back to the pincushion, I’d recently found the piece of mount board with felt glued to the back, ready for the back of the pincushion (different plastic wallet for some reason). The square was about half an inch too big, it was either cut to the size of the canvas not allowing for the sides or for another project entirely!

I’ve stitched down the sides ……

……..attached the base on two and a half sides, stuffed it and stitched the other side and a half.

First finish of the year!