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I’ll be taking part in this exhibition and Sale at the very beautiful Marchant’s Hardy Plants.  In addition to all the arts and crafts there will be high quality plants for sale and delicious organic lunches.  Why not have a day out in Sussex and enjoy a feast for the senses?  Hope to see you 🌺🌼🌸☀️🥗

Christmas Sale and Workshops with Women of the Cloth & Guests

This is the fourth year in a row that I’ve taken part in the Women of the Cloth pre-Christmas event at Sprout Community Arts in the Furzedown area of Streatham.  This year, as usual, we have invited a new and different set of guest artists & makers to join us and provide variety, new interest and different workshops for our regular visitors.  Take a look at the Women of the Cloth website News & Events page for all the details, but below is a taster and brief guide to workshops on offer:-

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Summer Workshops with Women of the Cloth

I will be teaching feltmaking with my sister Woman of the Cloth Kim Winter at some of our local community organisations as part of their summer festivals, which should be fun!

First up we’ll be at Vauxhall City Farm on Saturday 4th June

Vauxhall City Farm

Vauxhall City Farm is the most centrally located farm in London.  They specialise in educational, recreational and therapeutic services and activities ranging from school trips, workshops, gardening projects and birthday parties to riding for the disabled.  As part of their Spring spectacular we have been invited to run a day of feltmaking workshops in their new Education Centre, and you can also enjoy spending time with the animals and having refreshments in the Old Dairy Cafe.

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We’ll be making felt flowers in the morning session, then felt phone cases in the afternoon using a resist technique.  Sign up for one or both at a cost of £12 per session.  Book your places directly with the farm.

Next up we will be at Brixton Windmill on Sunday 26th June

Windmill with sails

Brixton Windmill turns 200 years old this year and there will be a number of different events in celebration.  Although there were probably mills in the area in the Middle Ages, the earliest evidence of a WIndmill in Lambeth dates back to the 16th Century.  At least 12 sites have existed,  though the maximum number of mills at any one time was at the beginning of the 19th century when there were five working in Lambeth, including Brixton Windmill, which has been lovingly restored and recently had beautiful sailcloths added, designed by local team Eley Kishimoto during the Beer & Bread festival.  Read more about the event on the Brixton Blogpost about the the day.

We Women of the Cloth will be running the Felt Flowers and phone cases workshops during their Summer Parade and Festival on Sunday 26th June.  Email us womenofthecloth2012@gmail.com to book places.

On to embroidery – I am finding my newer embroidery workshops are proving popular, especially embroidery on Vintage Fabric and Japanese Sashiko.  Keep an eye on the sidebar of my home page to see new dates being added.  Next Sashiko workshop is on 2nd June.

Indigo dyeing with Carol

Kim and I spent a lovely day as Women of the Cloth, shibori stitching and Indigo dyeing at her house recently, and here is her blog post showing pictures of work in progress and the finished results. Great fun.

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Last week my sister Woman of the Cloth Carol came round for a day of indigo dyeing.

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I’ve not run indigo shibori workshops at my house because the thought of having several people traipsing between my kitchen (where the water supply is) and the garden (where the indigo vat is) with dripping blue bundles is a bit alarming, even though my house is not exactly up to show home standard – as you will see from the photos!

Also, indigo dyeing is slow – you need to dip several times to build up colour and make it fast, and the fabric has to oxidise well between dips. And although there are some shibori techniques that are relatively quick, stitching and binding resists are time consuming. So it’s not for people who want to produce something in a couple of hours.

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However, Carol is a very competent stitcher (she runs embroidery workshops), and, despite her being…

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Carol’s Summer Workshops

My summer workshop schedule

Women of the Cloth

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If you enjoy getting together with a group of women to make something with your hands, go away with new skills and just generally have a nice time, Carol’s workshops are a great place to spend a day, an evening or a half day learning some different stitching or felting techniques.

See Carol’s Website for full details of the workshops listed below, all taking place in Carol’s Studio in Streatham, south London:-

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Saturday 11th July in the afternoon – Shisha mirrorwork embroidery

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Monday 13th July, all day – Nunofelt (felting onto fabric)

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Wednesday 15th July, evening – Felt balls and cords for necklaces and bracelets

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Saturday 18th July, all day – Chanin-style reverse applique with stencils

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Monday 20th July, evening – Pincushion bling using handmade felt & Indian trimmings

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Saturday 25th July, all day – Feltmaking, learn flat & 3D feltmaking

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Saturday 1st August, all day – Japanese Sashiko Embroidery

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Chelsea Fringe, the alternative garden festival

Each year amidst the hubbub created by the Chelsea Flower Show in London, a whole host of alternative garden-related events are taking place, some in little known places, others in more well known spots.  The event is known as Chelsea Fringe and this year I will be taking part with Kim Winter of @flextiles in our other guise as Women of the Cloth.

On 30th May, for just £10, from 10.00 a.m. until 2.00 p.m. you can come along and make either a needlefelted bird with me, or a wet-felted bird pod with Kim.  Minimum age is 8 years and you will need to book directly with the venue South London Botanical Institute – places are limited, so don’t delay!  Founded in 1910 in Tulse Hill, the Institute has a beautiful botanical garden and runs a wide range of courses, workshops and events for all ages. It’s a bit of a hidden gem.  There will also be a Chelsea Fringe fair on 17th May at the Institute when a smaller taster session, needlefelting a ladybird, will be on offer in the afternoon.

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Workshops Galore!

Before getting on to the pressing business of setting dates for my own Spring workshops (see below) I thought some of you might be interested in the feltmaking and embroidery workshops I have attended myself in the past few months.  I’ve had a great time extending existing skills, learning new ones and, of course, getting together with lots of textile enthusiasts from around the world.

Last Autumn I travelled up to Big Cat Textiles in Newburgh, Scotland to take two feltmaking courses with Inge Bauer who set up Wollknoll, a centre for feltmaking in Germany.  During a 5-day period we did LOADS of feltmaking, starting with ultra fine nuno-felt (felting onto fabric) to make neckwear with beautiful draping qualities.  We used hand-dyed silk ponge fabric along with 19-micron merino wool tops, some of which were also hand-dyed by Inge using her own scientifically developed slow heatup/cooldown dyeing techniques.  Using such gorgeous materials is always a treat in itself.

These are some sample pieces made using different layouts to test shrinkage factors.  Everyone creates a different shrinkage factor according to how much fleece they use, how much they work into it, how hot their hands are, etc., so it’s important to find out what your own factor is before embarking on a larger piece of work which needs to be a certain size.  I went on to felt a number of lovely pieces of neck and wristwear using the measuring techniques learnt at the start of the week, and I have since gone on to develop the techniques further and complete a number of commissions from people who’ve seen me wear my own, and I am itching to find the time to make some new waistcoats to perfect my shrinkage knowhow.  We also made felt bags with multiple interior and exterior pockets which involved lots of layers and resists to stop each section felting to another.  Very complicated and time-consuming!

On to California – my eldest daughter moved to San Francisco last September and I went to visit her in Jan/Feb this year.  Not only did we have a great time exploring the city, driving down the the coast along Big Sur, meandering through central coast wine country and perusing the arty shops in Paso Robles, we also attended a couple of stitching workshops with my friend Meryl, a San Francisco resident whom I met on an Indian textile trip across Rajasthan and Gujarat in 2012.  Firstly, we joined a Hungarian Folk Embroidery workshop led by Sarah of Threadwritten Textiles.  Always fun to learn a new stitch – this technique is largely Open Chain stitch worked very closely together to form solid shapes.  Very similar to the use of the same stitch in Indian embroidery, where it is used in a more ‘open’ way to form ladder-like lines rather than shapes such as these.  It takes time and patience but the result can form beautiful shapes as you’ll see from some of the designs here.  My completed piece is used as an example on Sarah’s blog, so I must have done something right!

Next we took part in a workshop at A Verb for keeping Warm in Berkeley – a wonderful yarn & workshop emporium – based on Alabama Chanin’s reverse applique technique using stretch jersey fabric.  Although applique & reverse applique are not new to me, it was a chance to practise the technique on a different type of fabric which doesn’t fray, so edges don’t have to be turned under which is a huge timesaver!  First we cut out a stencil using a soldering iron on mylar film, then sponged fabric paint onto one layer of the fabric, stitched it onto the second layer, then cut away pieces of the pattern to expose the bottom layer of fabric.  Some really nice effects can be achieved, plus beads and extra stitching added for decorative effect.  Chanin makes whole garments using the technique, which are comfy and snug to wear. What a nice day spent with my daughter and friend in lovely surroundings using tactile materials.

Lastly, my fellow Woman of the Cloth Kim Winter and I took part in a Couture Nuno Felting course led by Liz Clay in the beautiful setting of West Dean College.    Liz experiments with creating new surfaces using British wools and largely natural materials.  She has produced felt fabrics for well-known fashion houses and has her own collections, as well as developing work for exhibitions.  Kim and I are used to making felt structures without seams, but Liz leans towards making sheets of pre-felted material, cutting out particular shapes to encourage interesting drape and shapes, then completing the felting process when the pieces are assembled.

We learnt a lot in a few days and everyone produced some interesting results.  You can see here Kim working on sizing for her neckpiece inspired by Bracket Fungus, with a toadstool clasp.  We can always count on Kim to come up with something to set our imaginations whirring!  Certainly my little brain has been humming with ideas for using all these new techniques for different projects, but also feeling ready to get back to my own workshop schedule and enjoy the thrill of gathering a bunch of women (mostly!) around the table to enjoy a few hours of making together.  See new dates being added to the sidebar list, but do feel free to contact me via the booking & contact page if there is something I have missed out that you’d like to learn.

A contented group chatting and working together