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Have you noticed how coloured and patterned wellies have become the norm nowadays, in fact they could be classed as a fashion accessory?

I must admit that until a week ago, the only wellies I possessed were of the ‘green’ and, quite frankly, boring variety and had only been used when cleaning the car.  I think someone gave them to me and, being a size 7, they are much too big, requiring vast socks to fill them up enough for me to walk without losing them!  There is no way I would have worn them out in public.

The recent awful weather has changed all this.  On a visit to The Range I spied a selection of very attractive boots of the welly variety and took a long time choosing between sensible-ish black ones with a red sole and white flowers down one side, all over liquorice allsorts, stripy, spotty and flowery and settled on the only ones that fitted my colour scheme – purple and pink.  They have little scotty dogs all over in pink and grey on a dark purple background and are just gorgeous (well I think they are!).  To go with them a pair of bright pink socks called ‘Heat Holders’ which are fleecy inside right down to the toes – I couldn’t wait for it to rain again!!

Today they were christened in a torrential downpour in Worthing.  No soggy wet feet for me – just dry and cosy toes.  Bring on more horrid weather and I might be seen wearing them into the office!!

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Robin Request

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These little chaps have been literally flying off the craft table this year.  I’ve made and sold 52 in the last couple of months!  Thanks to my dear work mates they are now in various locations far and wide and I am told that one will be on it’s way to Denmark too (I didn’t know Robins migrated!).

This morning one of my colleagues brought a Christmas craft book in to the office to show me a lovely little hanging reindeer that I could work on for the next festive season – the antlers looked a bit fiddly but I will have a go.  If they have the potential to be as successful as my robins, I will need to start making them during the summer!

I’m not sure where this year has gone.  People used to say that the weeks, months, years going by so quickly was a sign of getting old but seeing as my 19 year old complains of the same thing, it can’t be an age related.  And now it’s almost Christmas…I have to admit it’s not my favourite time of year but at least it’s a few days off work.

2013 has not been great.  I have lost my Mum who was my anchor in life and I’m now bobbing about in a direction-less state wondering how long it will be until I feel like myself again. Everyone has been very kind and supportive in these difficult times.

We had a leaking radiator at home which caused loads of damage in the lounge and has resulted in me not having a sofa anymore.  That sounds odd I know but before the builders came in, we got rid of the old one and have had all manner of problems finding a new one that is small enough to get through the hall – I can’t quite figure out how we got the old one out, it was huge!

Crafting has gone okay but there have been some disappointing craft fairs and generally a lack of time to practice my new techniques.

My fitness has gone downhill – I’ve not run as much and don’t really feel motivated to do so.  I did do some sessions in the gym which were okay but the novelty wore off after a while.  As a result there is certainly more of me than there used to be!  This is not altogether a bad thing – my Mum always said I was too skinny and she at least was pleased to see me with ‘a bit more flesh on my bones’.  It is something to keep an eye on though, I can’t continue to expand and Christmas is full of tempting treats, both at home and at work where boxes of chocolates and biscuits seem to appear daily and it would be wrong and impolite to refuse, wouldn’t it…?

On a positive note to finish; I have been to some great gigs (notably Billy Joel at the NEC), had a lovely holiday with Mark and friends walking Hadrian’s Wall, been to two excellent felting workshops which have given me lots of ideas on how to take my felting forward and I spent a lot of precious time with my Mum.

Whatever 2014 throws at me, I know that Mum would want it to be a great year for me.  I intend to make sure it is…

Train and Textiles

Why is that when you’ve got a little plan in your head for a nice day out, things have a habit of going pear-shaped?

Lewes was my destination today to visit a weaving, spinning an dyeing exhibition at the Town Hall which takes place every two years and is a must for all people interested in textiles.  I’d not been before because 2 years ago when it was last on, frankly, me and textiles had not got together!  Now things are different and my spare moments are spent wrapped up in felt!

Listening to the travel news quite early I found there had been an accident on the A27 which would mean a detour to get to Lewes.  Never mind, I allowed myself an hour instead of 30 minutes.  Setting off at 10.30, I quickly got snarled up in traffic on my alternative route – seems everyone else had the same idea and, being ‘flexible’, I turned the car round and headed back to the station to retrieve the situation.

Once on the train, a change in Brighton and I made it to Lewes by 12.15 so not too bad really and certainly earlier than if I’d stayed in the car.

I haven’t been to Lewes often and went in search of somewhere for a bite to eat.  Lewes main street is one long hill; my favourite coffee shop, Costa, was at the bottom of the hill and when I got there it was jam packed.  Oh dear, my poor legs were already aching from my run yesterday and it was hard work getting back to the top again.

A bowl of soup later, I found the exhibition and was delighted to see lots of trade stalls as well as displays of talented crafter’s work.  I gleaned some felting ideas to store away for the future and went round the stalls twice before I decided what to buy.  Some merino/silk wools in variegated colours caught my eye and you could have as much or as little as you liked, some hand dyed curly wools that will look lovely in some nuno felted items (if I ever get enough time to do some nuno felting that is) and a selection of unusual yarns, again for nuno projects.

A quick coffee, back on the train and my day out finished with a trip to Sainsbury’s – perfect!

A ‘Timely’ Reminder

What do you see when you look in the mirror?  If you are like me you still see the person you were when you were young.  We don’t tend to notice ourselves getting older as the process is so gradual.  I’m not someone who spends hours layering on the night cream in the hope that it will prevent the onset of wrinkles – I like to think that I am growing older (fairly) gracefully!

I’ve never been a wearer of make-up either.  This isn’t because I have perfect skin, if only, but because I have always been lazy and have found that people just accept me as I am.  This is me and I’m not ashamed to show myself to the world ‘au natural’.  To be honest, my friends and colleagues would think something was wrong if I turned up with my ‘face on’!

However, I was taken aback a couple of days ago when photographing some new items to put on my Facebook page.  I have just made some little rings which I will be selling for the first time at the We Made This – Market on 14 September at the Friends Meeting House in Brighton.  I thought I would take a snap of a ring in situ on my finger – what a shock when I noticed how old my hand looked in the photo, all wrinkled and definitely not the sort of hand to model a ring of any sort!!  Not even my best efforts with Picture Manager could significantly improve it.  This is certainly a hand that is in need of air-brushing!!

The photo didn’t make it onto Facebook but I will share it with you as I know that my blog readership is limited, we are all friends here and you will accept me as I am, hopefully!  The ring is quite nice though!!

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Last Friday I learnt a lovely new wet felting technique  – Nuno Felting.  It involves a similar process to the one used to make a flower brooch back in June but this time we felted onto a piece of fabric.  Muslin was recommended by our tutor, Mo Jackson, as this has a loose weave and enables all the little wool fibres to knit into it as the wool is felted.  The result for me was a wall hanging – well it’s not a wall hanging yet, but it soon will be!

We had ten people at the workshop and all of us mastered and created a unique piece of work.  One lady made a very pretty scarf by leaving some of the muslin uncovered, others left small gaps so that light could show through if the hanging was put in a window.  Some people used muted, soft colours; others went wild with vibrant pinks and greens – all the results were stunning in their very different ways.  We had the option to add yarns, pre-felted material and sparkly bits to our creations.  These would not felt unless we covered them with a fine layer of wool to hold them in place during the felting process.  Some ladies went to town with this but I decided against bling on this occasion.

I tried to make my piece not too fussy with angular blocks of colour rather than random wisps.  I had my new lounge colour scheme in mind as well.  You can see the result below.

Now all it needs is some little loops of ribbon or fabric, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa little cane to thread through them and serve as the top and someone with a hammer to put a nail in the wall!!

Until today all my felt has been shop bought – things may well be changing at Pip’s Place however as I have spent part of my day off on a course learning how to make my own felt.  There are two methods that can be used to do this but our tutor, Mo Jackson, showed us how to create our own unique fabric using the wet felting method.

We used Merino wool which is very fine and soft and our task was to create a flower brooch.  We used a template and covered it in fine fibres in an assortment of colours, covered it in bubble wrap, got messy with soap and water, did a lot of agitating and ended up with some lovely results.  I chose a mixture of purple and blue for my creation and finished it off with a purple ball in the centre.

Very pleased with the result for my first attempt.  Expect to see something similar rolling off the Pip’s Place production line before too long, provided I can find some time to master the technique.

Here are some photos of the stages:

Mass of fluff

Mass of fluff

Add soap and water, turn it over

Add soap and water, turn it over

Add more fluff!

Add more fluff!

Get a good lather!

Get a good lather!

After some snipping and more agitating, a flower begins to appear

After some snipping and more agitating, a flower begins to appear

Voila!  The finished creation!!

Voila! The finished creation!!