Last weekend Heather and I got in the car and drove to Wales for the wonderful Wonderwool festival. Two days of self indulgence where 200 mainly independant fibre and yarn producers exhibit their wares to 1000’s of happy yarnies like us who can’t resist 1 or 2 or 3 ….. (Bagfuls) to feed our creative dreams. I reckon a lot of purchases don’t ever become a completed project, and remain as stash although as everyone knows wool makes excellent insulation so should be encouraged not frowned upon.
And arred (angora bunnies)
And smiled (I think these are the mohair goats)
And yes we brought home a few goodies
And we took two mini classes, one with Jenny Barnet who showed us how to make a needle felted lamb and the other to make some dyed yarn using food colourings.
It was a great weekend and of all the fibre festivals we’ve visited over the past few years, this one was possibly the best. There are a few more around the country that we shall visit in time but for now we have work to do.
I’m taking a few days away from the boat so that Eric can work without distraction. No photos but Braidbar have double breasted one of their boats in build against Firecrest which means until they move it Eric can’t go cruising. And I’ve arranged to have a week of rain so he won’t be tempted to go walking. I’m staying with Mum in the Lakes so I’m not too far from water as there is a river running through the garden. Pity it’s not suitable for narrowboats to moor in.
Sadly the rain has come with me so I’ve spent the afternoon on the sofa knitting up the wool that I bought from Wiseheart studio. And I’m making a shawl known as the hitchhiker.
“…..you do know there’s one place left on Sunday’s workshop, don’t you……” Well it would have been rude not to take it wouldn’t it….so having established that I didn’t need to take any equipement other than myself, I ventured forth to learn how to “wet felt”.
Broadly speaking, felting is a textile process of matting and compressing fibres together to make a dense fabric. It’s a technique that’s been used for millennia and of course it is commercially and economically manufactured now. So hand made felt is considered an art form which can be both practical or decorative. And the nice thing about it, is that it’s not difficult so ideal for a beginners workshop.
(And yes there is a dry felting technique, it’s called needle felting and in my opinion is a lot harder)
Everything at Wiseheart studio starts with home made cake and today was no different, Annie kept us well fuelled throughout the day. Kate had everything prepared for us to make our first piece of felt and talked us through the process, within the hour we’d made two beautiful flowers.
Kate showed us how to layer the fibres, add highlights of colour and sparkle, and how much water and soap is needed.
Having encouraged the fibres to ‘stick’ together we then had to agitate them to compress and shrink them into a dense strong fabric by rolling the fibre mat up in a sushi roll mat, (I’m not sure sushi rolls were available when felt was first made but never mind)
I’ll embellish my ‘Derbyshire dale’ with some embroidery once it’s dry.
I had enough time to play with a few more colours and made a small piece of fabric that I can use later, probably to make a book cover.
It was a brilliant workshop and just to add the icing to the cake we were given a goodie bag full of fibre to encourage us to do more felting at home.
Another quiet week on the boat, mainly because I left Eric to get on without me distracting him. While I do some socialising back on dry land. I’ve also been able to get on finishing off some knitting projects.
Do you remember the lace shawl that I started the week before we moved onto the boat? I finished the knitting bit yonks ago but there a big problem with the boat, no where to block ( stretching it out to remove all the wrinkles) my projects. So I had to bring it back to the house to find a bit of space big enough to do that.
And as any serious lace knitter knows, shawls look like old dishcloths until they’ve been properly blocked, but then they magically transform into something very pretty. This shawl has now been gifted to someone special in need of a cosy hug.
I’ve also been knitting slippers this week, because the men in my family don’t appreciate lace shawls as much as warm feet. This pattern is for felted clogs which involves knitting in pure wool, comically large shapes that would suit a clown but then putting them into the the washing machine so they shrink down small enough to be moulded to the owners foot.
And each pair fits perfectly, these are for me.
my next knitting project is to make Eric a new wooly hat but for that I shall have to return to the boat because that’s where all my yarn is now.
I’ll be returning to Firecrest tomorrow to find out if Eric’s made as much progress as I have. I hear he’s taken to cruising without me, and I can’t have him making a habit of that. I hope I can find where he’s moored up.
They always say moving house is rated as one of life’s most stressful events, not a lot is said about moving onto a boat, but needless to say, the constant uncertainties about when our boat will be complete has been very stressful. Hence the need for a little light relief; I’m knitting a lacey shawl.
For those of you that know me, you’ll know how much time I spend working with fibre, knitting spinning and sewing. I’ve been promised I can have the space under the bed to store all the necessities of life. I’ll be sharing a few of my projects on my craft blog pages, although I can’t promise to be entirely truthful about how much wool I buy.
Good things come to those who wait. It won’t be long now.