The year starts with a Wedding!

An exciting start to 2014 in my household is eldest daughter’s wedding!  Needless to say the planning and making involved in this has replaced quite a lot of my own textile making time over the Christmas hols, but for a good cause.  We have all been busy making garlands and bunting with paper hearts cut out of old books, searching for fabrics for wedding outfit, going out suit shopping with the men, thinking about champagne.  Great fun!

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It’s a winter wedding, so we’ll all have to wrap up warm in cosy cardis and gloves – champagne and canapes on a Routemaster bus picking us up from Brixton registry office – Virginia spent her teens coming home from nights out on the 159 night bus, which was a Routemaster at the time, so it’ll be very familiar.

routemaster bus

Over Christmas I did manage to make one needlefelted Woodpecker, who matches the colours in this picture.  Maybe he should be attached to the bus in some way!!  New workshop dates to be added very soon for Spring 2014.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR  to all my loyal workshop participants, and welcome to new ones.

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Feltmaking, stitching, weaving, needlefelting – workshops galore

What a busy workshop season it’s been this Autumn!  I’ve just finished a two-week residency at Sprout Community Arts in the thriving community of Furzedown in Streatham, London SW16 with my fellow textilers Women of the Cloth

Our workshops proved very popular this year and we had the pleasure of teaching new craft skills to many newcomers, all of whom went home with gorgeous colourful items to adorn their homes or to give as gifts to friends and family.  Slipper workshops are always a sellout.  I just love all the different designs and colourschemes people come up with

My textiles Autumn 2013 033           New this year was our Needlefelted dogs workshop, run by Janet Thompson.  She had envisaged that everyone would make a little Jack Russell as a first piece, but participants had other ideas and whole array of little dogs trotted out at the end of the workshop!

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My favourite newcomer was 12 year-old Tatum who wanted to learn Indian Shisha mirror embroidery so that she could add a Bindi to the forehead of a beautiful portrait she is stitching for a competition.  Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of the piece she is working on, but here are her mirrors at the first stage of stitching.  She picked it up in no time and came back to show me the completed Bindi and learn some additional stitches.  Great stuff.  If you see this post Tatum, let me know when the whole embroidery is finished – I’d love to see it.

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I had 6 round the table for an abstract feltmaking day – a bit of a squeeze at Sprout’s table, but some beautiful designs were created by beginners and some who’d been to previous workshops of mine.

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The next day we had Joan showing people her very popular figure weaving techniques – the colourful, happy figures make great tree decorations.

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No sooner had I finished at Sprout, than it was Crafty Pint Christmas workshop time, at The Railway pub!  We had 40 keen crafters doing a mix of Felt Baubles, Willow Woven stars, wreaths & Christmas trees plus lino cutting and printing a set of cotton napkins.  What a feast of activities to delve into.  It was great fun – mulled wine a welcome addition thanks to The Railway.

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One more workshop to go before Christmas – Felt baubles, stars & hearts for the tree at Serendipity Tea Rooms on Monday night, 16th December – 6.15-9.00 pm £25.00 including tea and CAKE!! 

Do come and join in.

Workshops dates for 2014 being added slowly but surely … see the sidebar to the right of the page.

Autumn/Winter Textile Workshops

Winter workshops will take place at Sprout Community Arts in Streatham, as part of my two-week residency with Women of the Cloth from 27th November.  Workshop dates are contained in the following WOTC newsletter

 

Christmas Sale and Workshops

Sprout Community Arts

74 Moyser Road, London SW16 6SQ

27 November to 10 December 2013
9.00am to 6.00pm daily
Late openings until 9.00 pm
PRIVATE VIEW Wednesday 27 November 6.30-9.00 pm

We are all busy making gorgeous tactile textile items for our second pre-Christmas sale at Sprout.  Come & join us and our guests for a cuppa/glass of wine and boost your Christmas shopping with some unique, locally handmade gifts including Loren’s handknit scarves & sparkly snowflakes

Carol and Joan will be running workshops as always, but this time we’ll be joined by guest needlefelting tutor Janet Thompson!
Workshops most days £20 to £40 for half or full day  incl  materials – see below for dates

WORKSHOPS
Thursday 28th November  –  Felt Slippers 09.30-3.30
Friday 29th November – Indian Applique  6.00-9.00 pm
Saturday 30th November  –  Shisha Mirrorwork Embroidery 2.00-4.30
Sunday 1st December  –  Loom Weaving Workshop 10.30-4.00
Monday 2nd December  –  Needlefelted Dogs with Janet 11.00 – 4.00
Wednesday 4th December –  Felt Christmas decorations 6.00-9.00pm
Thursday 5th December  – Crochet Workshop 10.30-4.00
Saturday 7th December  –  Figure weaving with Joan am or pm
Sunday 8th December – Feltmaking day with Carol 10.30-4.00
Mon 9th Dec – Felt/stitch/weave Xmas decorations 6.00-9.00pm

Louise Jackson

We’re delighted to be joined by guest Louise, whose textile work includes techniques such as batik and screen printing whilst hand and machine embroidery are a particular passion for her. She paints and draws in inks and gouache, adding touches of metallic. She has recently been exploring the early photographic technique of cyanotypes both on fabric and paper to great effect and loves all things connected to nature. She is currently working her way through Cassells Book of Birds as inspiration for the latest pieces.

Joan & Carol

Artist Georgia O’Keefe said “I found I could say things with colours and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I found I had no words for”.  Joan and Carol would wholeheartedly agree!  Making things with our hands is essential to our wellbeing and we aim to pass on that feelgood factor to all who join our workshops through working with colour and texture – feltmaking, weaving, stitching, crocheting. These techniques allow everyone to enjoy the creative process, even those who feel they have little practical or artistic ability.

Janet Thompson

Janet creates these lovely dogs using simply sheeps’ fleece and a needlefelting needle.  For Christmas she will also have angels to hang on  your tree and other quirky woollen creatures for sale.  We are very pleased to announce that Janet will be running a daytime needlefelting workshop at Sprout on Monday, 2nd December.  If you’d like to make your own needlefelted creature, book early to avoid disappointment!

Kim Winter

Kim has extended her range of scarves to include upcycled wool, linen, silk and cashmere. She says, “I love finding something that is no longer wanted and turning it into a unique, desirable object. It’s more interesting for me to work with a range of materials and colours, and it keeps my prices reasonable. These are perfect Christmas gifts that are stylish and sustainable!”  Kim’s scarves sell like hot cakes, so don’t delay … She will also have a few felted and knitted surprises.

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It’s been a busy few weeks for workshops, and great fun as always.  At the end of September I was in Brighton with some of the wonderful women I met in Jan 2011 at Anokhi in Jaipur, Rajasthan.  We have kept in touch, as textile enthusiasts tend to, and they all wanted to learn to make felt slippers.   It was a glorious day of colour and laughter, and delicious food too …

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After choosing colours (not easy) we all layered up our fibres around slipper-shaped templates and began wetting them through and adding soap before beginning the agitating and rolling processes.  A delicious pot luck lunch half way through gave everyone the energy for a last burst of effort before removing the templates and beginning to rub the slippers into shape on their own feet, so that they fit perfectly.  When dry we will stitch on leather soles and hey presto – feet-hugging slippers in a range of beautiful colours!

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Next slipper-making workshops:

Saturday 26th October in my studio,  and Thursday 5th December at Sprout Community Arts

Then, during the first weekend of October I opened my house to the visiting public for Lambeth Open weekend where I was joined by fellow Women of the Cloth Joan, Kim, Janet and Virginia for two energising days of showing our work, talking textiles, sitting making things and YES more workshops!  Wetfelting on Saturday morning, needlefelting Saturday afternoon and embroidery on Sunday.

workshops October 2013 028Shisha mirrorwork embroidery is proving very popular, with some finding that once they start they can’t stop!!  The possiblities for doodling with thread around your mirrors is endless, so it’s very easy to just carry on, and on, and on …

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If you enjoy stitching with colour my next two workshops at Serendipity Tea Rooms in Streatham will suit you perfectly.

On Monday evening, 14th October from 6.15 to 8.45 pm we’ll be making embellished pincushions using some of my handmade felt pieces and blingy trimmings brought back from India.  Simple stitching is used to make the pincushions, but if you want to get fancy why not add some of your own embroidery too?!

Then on Monday 28th October at the same time at Serendipity, we’ll be stitching some gorgeous colourful flowers using Indian Applique techniques.  Make yours into a needlecase, a small picture, or sew it onto a skirt, shirt or dress pocket.

Beautiful colours

Beautiful colours

Pincushions made with felt & Indian trimmings

Pincushions made with felt & Indian trimmings

Cloth & Memory

Cloth and fibre hold all sorts of memories for me, having a Scottish mother who knitted and stitched all my clothes during childhood, including a matching summer dress for my precious doll, Mary, every time she made one for me.  Favourite quilts from various stages of life will never be ousted when clutter-clearing as they act as visual triggers of past events, and I have kept particularly treasured articles of my childrens’ clothing which will always remind me of significant moments in their childhoods.  I was, of course, drawn to the title of this exhibition immediately and made sure I got to visit soon after it opened at Saltsmill in Yorkshire.

It is set in the disused Spinning Room up in the roof of the immense building, which is unrestored and still has the original flaking wall finishes and rusting steel fittings.  The room is longer than a football pitch and originally contained 16,380 cap spindles for spinning yarn.  Raw alpaca fleece, imported by Titus Salt from Peru, arrived at the top of the building and was processed down through each floor to emerge as finished cloth at the bottom.  The space is incredibly atmospheric and holds the feeling that the the workers have just left, but are still there in spirit.

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23 textile artists from the UK, Germany, Norway and Japan have installed works in the eerie space, capturing the memories of the former toil which took place there for so many years.  Jeanette Appleton, one of my former tutors at West Dean, uses the ‘silencing’ context of felt as a metaphor for the absorption of sound and memory.  She has made feltworks based on the mill’s ledgers and sample books and placed them in the wall recesesses which originally held bobbins.

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Caren Garfen’s installation uses vintage wooden reels , each with its own ‘memory plaque’ to commemorate women who worked in the mill and lived in the neighbouring workers’ cottages built by Titus Salt to house his workforce.  Caren has attached hand-embroidered names and addresses on tape drawn from the 1891 census, along with familiar cloth-related sayings such as ‘Tied to her Apron Strings’.  Seeing this installation makes a walk around the surrounding streets all the more poignant.

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Yoriko Yoneyama has suspended from the ceiling a web of fine cotton threads onto which are pressed thousands of individual grains of rice  representing the elements which are essential to our survival and cultural heritage :  food & clothing – rice & fibre.  Kari Steihaug’s unravelling knitted jumper represents a dialogue between the body and the room, stretching from floor to ceiling.  Reminded me of all the jumpers I have knitted for loved-ones over the years, as well as the ones which are waiting to be finished in my work room!

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Koji Takaki has made a diptych which brings together memory of past textile works in Japan and Manchester with the beauty of the passage of time (wabi sabi) and a materialisation of cloth and memory.  This work particularly highlighted the beauty of the setting, with the play of light on its different elements throwing haunting shadows across the space.

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I loved Masae Bamba’s large-scale ‘sea’ of cloth dyed with indigo and printed with the first attempts at writing made by her daughter as a means of capturing the moment before it becomes memory for both mother and daughter.  This work was influenced by the recent tsunami in which so many mothers, daughters and others became just memories.  Incredibly moving piece of work.

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I can’t do justice to all 23 artists’ work here, although I could just go on and on with my memories of Cloth and Memory

Such a moving and inspiring exhbition – You’ll just have to go and visit yourselves – it’s on until early November and a MUST see for textile lovers everywhere.

Needlefelting is flavour of the workshop month!

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This week the needlefelting needles have been prodding away at a furious pace.  People seem to love it – it can get quite addictive when you begin to see the possibilities for adding detail to your creations.   Between 10 am and 4 pm on Saturday, 24th August with Makerhood at the Southbankcentre’s Village Fair by the River Thames in central London some 40 people (could have been more as I lost count) sat down at my table to make needlefelted ladybirds.  They all had great fun and couldn’t believe that a little barbed needle could turn a pile of dyed sheeps’ fleece into a solid object.  It just takes a bit of patience and concentration – anyone can do it, even those who feel they have no creative ability.  You do have to watch your fingers though, as the needles are very sharp!  8 year-old Lewis found this to his cost, but he carried on bravely and happily completed his beautiful Ladybird.  It was a moment to savour as he was so proud of his creation.

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Another workshop this week involved local craft group Crafternoon at Serendipity Tea Room in Streatham, who make a flock of needlefelted robins, all with their own individual quirky characters!

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Finally, not technically a workshop, but at a large Bank Holiday family gathering at the home of keen kitchen gardener Penny, I found myself teaching the family’s youngsters needlefelting and not only was a Ladybird and a fieldmouse produced, but also some needlefelted carrots!!

Next needelfelting workshop will take place on 6th October at my Lambeth Open House weekend with Women of the Cloth.  Details of all Open House weekend workshops to come.

Lambeth Garden Museum Summer Tumblr 21/7/13

Come and see Carol, along with Kim Winter of flextiles.wordpress.com, both members of Women of the Cloth and Makerhood, taking part in the

Lambeth Garden Museum Summer Tumblr on Sunday, 21st July 2013.

It will be a lovely event, making the most of the gorgeous weather by having activities in the gardens as well as inside this interesting building.  Carol will be demonstrating  needlefelting, making some familiar garden birds, with a chance to have a go yourself.   Kim will be showing us how she marks out and ties the designs for her beautiful Shibori dyed textiles.

I’d better not forget to mention the award-winning cafe where you can enjoy coffee/tea and cake, or lunch!  Well worth the trip to Lambeth Bridge by the river.

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Needlefelted Garden Birds

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Shibori dyeing techniqes

Shetland, a knitters’ paradise!

Last week I was lucky enough to visit the Shetland islands with some of my regular knitting group.  We loved every minute and were very lucky with the weather – only one day of blustery rain and wind while we hung over the edge of a cliff watching mating Puffins!  We really enjoyed the Shetland Textile Museum in its lovely old building  (Bod of Gremista) full of Fair-isle and knitted lace, watched a very fast and efficient demonstration of fair-isle knitting with colours worked from both hands at once and discovered the stockings presented to Queen Victoria which ignited a renewed interest in Shetland knitwear.  We visited the fastest knitter in the world Hazel Tindall with whom we talked for ages about developing the right rhythm to make this possible!  Hazel’s workshops fill up the minute they are posted, so we’ll have to be super quick if we want some tuition.  Maybe Wool Week 2014 if we’re fast enough!

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Shetland lace shawls at Unst Heritage Centre

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A corner of lovely fleece at Textile Museum

On the most northerly isle,Unst, we saw more  beautiful lace-knitted shawls and a bus stop full of wool-related artefacts, had lunch at the last pit-stop before the vast expanse of sea begins, & saw a large male otter swimming through the shallows & diving for fish.  We had a beautiful day for our walk around St Ninian’s Isle and collected bags full of fleece shed by the roaming herds of sheep which we will later attempt to spin into a useable yarn.   There are so many fabulous white, sandy beaches around the islands, but we found our feet almost froze after 2 minutes of paddling, so definitely no swimming took place!  One of our favourite places was the Croft House Museum, housed in a Croft which was inhabited in it’s present state until the late 1960s.

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Needlefelting sheeps fleece from St Ninian’s
keeping warm in new Fair-isle gloves!

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Mini-knitting table inset @ Shetland museum

Following a fabulous lunch of seafood chowder and locally baked bread at the Shetland Museum & Archive in Lerwick, where we enjoyed more vintage fair-isle knitwear and lovely textile-related table insets in the restaurant,  we took in an evening of fiddle music & dancing at the Mareel arts centre before heading back off home to the Big Smoke.  We will definitely visit the Shetlands again, most definitely during Wool Week which is a must for knitters & wool lovers everywhere.

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Croft House Museum

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Rolling mist on St Ninian’s Isle