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Natural Dyeing

May 2, 2009

Scotland is yellow again, gorse is in bloom. So as last year I was dyeing with gorse . This time though I was braver and put all the dye stuff and alum mordanted merino in one pot  (in layers: gorse-merino-gorse) and left it on the hob on the lowest for several hours.  After the dyebath reached about 90 degrees I left it simmer for an hour and left merino in the pot overnight. Although gorse has thorns, it wasn’t difficult to separate from wool and the end result is rather clean merino (=photo – I didn’t clean it/pick any vegetable particles from gorse).


the palest shade is the original colour, in reality more lemon like, the deeper shades are results of using a bit of washing soda for different lenghts of time at the end of the dyeing process.

I also felted with gorse dyed and brazilwood dyed merino, both fdyed last year. There were some surprises awaiting me…

The original colour of merino which I used for this collar was deep pink, almost as my t-shirt. I embellished the middle part with hot pink merino dyed with acid dyes. After felting the colour turned into very deep purple. I noticed this change before when using this particular merino and knew it would turn back into deep pink after acid bath at the end of felting. But this time, instead of using vinegar I used citric acid dissolved in water – and the colour changed to what you see here….
I think the citric acid is more acidic than vinegar, but will have to make some experiment to see if that was the reason of such colour shift. Or could there be other explenation(s)?


What I am holding in my hand in the next photo is the same merino I used for collar – mostly gorse dyed with a bit of madder dyed merino and gorse dyed silk (all dyed and carded last spring).  After using citric acid the colour is paler,
when I was using vinegar it stayed the same. It seems that citric acid is more agressive.?



holidays PS:

April 16, 2009

I thought I made almost nothing during the holidays…


but I managed to felt over 60 beads while watching Narnia by my most favorite writer C. S. Lewis



crochet few more rings when there was no energy to do anything else, they are so comfortable to wear


and making few more brooches on a borrowed Babylock Embellisher, model 7 . I tried Pfaff one with 5 needles, Creative Embellisher and also Joy Embellisher but this model 7 seems to me to be the best. The least noisy and runs smoothly and faster than any of the others.

We have had holidays…

April 13, 2009

… and a pretty busy one. I forgot that spring means some extra work around the house, tidying up the garden, planting…, painting fence and such – or I just didn’t hope much for a weather good enough to do all this outdoor jobs. However, the sun was out and sometimes even warm, so as usual we did not know what to do first: garden? fence? try a new bike? beach? woods? … Eventually, we managed almost all of it, plus a lot of playing, making, baking, being with friends and even some pool paddling! But we feel  somehow tired and could do with an extra week or so :). Nothing like that though, back to school tomorrow…


I always put away part of the toys and games as the girl’s room is not big + they don’t play with all what they have at the same time. So when I bring the box back to the house from a shed it is like if I bought new toys, the girls are rediscovering forgotten and it keeps them busy and happy for a good few days. Then I pack other toys, books and games into the same box and to the shed it goes again. You can see them playing in the first photo… + Margaretka has found her small loom and is abut to finish her first woven piece!

Little birds, hearts and a ring we made from a shrink plastic. It is sold as sheets of plastic on which you can stamp and draw and then it goes in the oven and shrinks considerably. Joni Pippin had shown me this once and I bought the plastic of e-bay. It is a nice and easy craft to do with children of any age – as long as they can hold a pencil or stamp. And bigger one can make jewellery – rings, pendants…

In the top middle picture you can see Caroline from Secretsuperheroes who made (handmade) a wooden spoon for me from a piece of wood found locally!!!! Amazing, isn’t it?


And here you see how warm it was one sunny Friday and the girls planting Nasturtium seeds which they collected from plants last autumn, the painted fence (which I started to paint last spring and never finished) and Margaretka sewing.


As you guess I haven’t done much felting, only, when little fingers were baking those funny little cupcakes at the neighbours, I quickly laid fibres for these two scarves…


 … and in the evenings I was editing and listing some of the brooches in my shop….


…and  finished the felt bead necklace.


jewelry made

March 29, 2009

To keep mummy young and pretty, my older daughter made this set for Mother’s day. A butterly brooch…


necklace with origami birds…


and this fantastic ring! I like it very much, such a simple and effective idea, a button threaded on a pipe cleaner – and in a matching colours :)!


She also gave me a bracelet, bright green and red pipe cleaner twisted together, but I have already recycled it – with her permission of course. When I saw it I remembered reading somewhere about felting around pipe cleaners… so I made this bangle, which you can see on the next picture. The wool attaches well thanks to the “brush” around the wire, but the bangle is more pliable than when I felted around ordinary wire bangle. I made this set of red and grey  jewelry yesterday, at the feltmaker’s meeting.



Here is also a necklace, made following excellent tutorial by ArtMind!


During the week I was a busy bee, I had an embellisher for a few more days and was playing with colours and making more brooches. It is a good colour exercise and was interesting to see how they sometimes “change” when next to each other. I will show you more when I process the pictures.


On Thursday I went to our local sewing group and was determind to learn some crochet, especially crocheted beads which I would like to combine with felted ones.  A friend of mine showed me how to start and I finished off this yellow one later at home. It is more of an egg shape actually, but a good start. I hope it is not the end too, because…


when I was trying to make another one, look what happend! It was going to be a doilly instead :), so I quickly stopped and made – a ring! I would like to know what you think about it, but I must tell you, I REALLY love it. It is soft, I hardly feel it on my finger and I like the simple design very much. I was thinking of adding a bead in the middle…, hm, maybe next ring  will be with a bead – that is, if there is a next one… because, who knows what will come out of my next crocheting attemt? :)

Have a good week all, we are having two weeks of Easter holidays, but the weather outside feels like if it was January!


wet hands

March 21, 2009

After a while of dry felting I had my hands wet again. I still don’t feel fit enough to make bigger pieces, so I was working small again.



I am trying to make as many felted balls/beads as possible and in as many colours and colour combinations – and then see what to do with them next. I am surprised how long it takes to make a larger amount of them! I would like to make a loong necklace and also make beads from other materials/using other techniques and combine them somehow. That is a plan, it often happens though that before I realize it other ideas cries to be materialized. Since New Year I have been sewing, screenprinting, learning to crochet, shibori dyeing…in my mind only, in reality I was working on the jacket, brooches, which I didn’t plan to and now – felting another batch of soaps in new colours, an order from a local shop.


Prefelts made, shapes cut, soaps wrapped. Time consuming and labour intensive work…


working small

March 17, 2009

I was going to write  how peaceful and uninterrupted week I have had, when all of the sudden we were hit here in the house by another wave of stomach bugs. First it was him, soon after me and now I can only guess which daughter is going to be the next one. It seems that we can not enter spring without this…

Last week I was working on small projects and finishing some old ones. I like to start and finish  and at the moment I am in such a stage in my life when I like to make things which can be used, worn, eaten or played with – but worn mainly, as you have probably noticed. 

Long time ago I dyed these cowls, now it was time to finish them. They are soft and very easy and comfortable to wear.  I still have some udyed so if anybody is interested I can dye them in a chosen colour.


I also embellished our daughter’s jeans – I like to buy plain clothes and personalize them with my own designs. Must admit though, then sometimes they are worn out before I get round to do so :)!



For quite some time I was planning to write a tutorial on how to make a candleholder/lantern which I have in my Etsy shop. It seems to be liked,  both there and on Flickr, I have received many compliments on it so far,  questions how is it made and if it is safe to use. From my experience I may say so. The process is VERY simple and no previous felting experience is needed. In fact, it is easier to make then to wrap ! That was the main reason why I wrote the tutorial – so that I wouldn’t have to make a box to post it in :).

Talking about tutorials, you might like to check ArtMind’s shop. She has got four tutorials now on sale, three of them are listed as SPECIAL with the product for which you would only pay the postage! I was too impatient and bought one tutorial before she listed the special ones – I suspect it was that red colour which made me to rush…:)

The rest of the time I spent with Kandinsky inspired brooches, attaching pins, taking and processing pictures and making few more.



I could make them for hours, I suppose it is the fact that I can play with fibre + colours and their combinations which attracts me so much. Let me know which one is your favorite! Can you imagine that you would actually wear them?

There is always someting…

March 7, 2009

…else then writing a blogpost…:), so here is that “else” I have been doing.


Last Saturday I was at the Highland Feltmakers Group and a local fibre artist, Ruth Black, gave us good workshop on using the embellisher,  machine similar to the sewing one, but instead of one neadle and thread there are needlfelting needles, from 5 up to 12 (has the latest version!). So the machine does all the hard work  (+), but you can work 3D only to a certain extent (-).

For quite a long time I had this idea of making felt brooches a`la Kandinsky (inspired by this painting of Wassily Kandinsky), but wasn’t sure if I am ready to spend hours punching with barbed needles, embroider them or…? The Embellisher was just the right answer. I borrowed the group’ s machine and spent three days playing on it.


The brooches I made the first day are all in muted tones. One is already sitting on my barret, which is rather unusual since I hardly wear what I make. It is partially because “a shoemaker has often bare feet” and also because I materialize my ideas in my creations, but not all of them are my style. It is rather contradictory, isn’t it?


The second day I was sort of painting with fibres and seeing what’s possible on this front.


And the third I went big and bold. I will show you the rest of them when I get round taking pictures. The machine is now with Caroline and to me less exciting part is left – attaching pins. I hoped to have it done by today, but…


I was making some cow costumes as our younger daughter’ s class is preparing for the Inverness Music Festival with a song Cows in the kitchen, moo, moo, moo, farmer in the haystock, ducks in the dresser,… and so on :), quite amusing words, really. So I made simple costumes from old pillowcases and then me and her painted them together and it took us ages!

And I also made few preparations for felting demonstration for the celebration of the International Woman’ s Day, event organized by a local International Woman’ s Group. Women – crafters, makers and other groups like Fairtrade and  Oxfam were showcasing their skills and activities. A lot of yummy food, music, dancing and, well, making – as you can see from some of the pictures. I met there a lovely lady Gill, from Artisan Threads, who spins yarn only from the British wool and dyes with natural dyes (the middle picture). Beautiful colours!!! It reminded me – the gorse is starting to bloom….



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