Saturday, December 31

farewell to 2011 and welcome to 2012

well, 2011 was another quick year!

i'm not really in the right frame of mind to do a review of my year just now - mum was taken in to hospital in stockholm yesterday, my brother is with her but it's not the same as being able to see her for myself. for now, i'm not moving far from the phone so my brother can keep me updated.

let's just say that i did some of the things on my list, didn't do others, and even managed to do some things that weren't on it. 

this year, i think i'm going to take a more measured, relaxed approach and just see what happens!

i wish for you and yours a year full of peace, love, hope, good health, happiness and joy, with a lot of creativity thrown in for good measure.

last year we put up lanterns to welcome in the new year and we weren't the only ones - apparently it caused quite a stir on the local ufo-spotting website.

Thursday, December 22

merry christmas one and all

i wish you every happiness over the festive season and for the coming year. may it be peaceful, joyous, full of hope, health, happiness and love.

Wednesday, December 21

a winter solstice

happy solstice day!

from here on in, the days will start getting longer.  spring is on the way :)

Tuesday, December 20

more deccies

i came across this project on a few different sites while browsing online recently (something i do when trying to avoid housework!) and thought i could use up some man-made 'wool' we had left over from an outdoor weaving project.
so, despite a slight balloon phobia, i gave it a go.

a few tips for you before starting:

= don't make the pva too watery and thin as it will quite literally go everywhere (unless that's just me being very messy?).

= place a LARGE towel underneath the bowl with the pva in it if you want to avoid having to peel dried splashes of pva off the living room floor.

= if you hang the wool-wrapped balloons up to dry, check your reflection in the mirror before leaving the house. again, this might just be me, but the pva had dripped all over my hair and i hadn't noticed before leaving the house - think of that moment in "there's something about mary" and you will just about get the picture!

just in case you haven't already seen this a thousand times before, here's a quick tutorial:

1. mix a little water with some pva in a bowl.

2. partly blow up as many balloons as you would like to use.

3. loosely wrap the dry wool around the balloon to try and gauge how much you will need. add a few centimetres (or inches) extra and cut a length of wool for each balloon.

4. keeping hold of one end (this is quite important if you don't want to be digging around in cold, slimy pva for the missing end) carefully place the wool in the bowl of pva and water.

5. hold the balloon in one hand and start wrapping the wool around the balloon with the other. realise at this stage that any attempt to create an intricate pattern is harder than you realised and fall-back on the favoured "it's organic and the design just evolved" approach.

6. try to cover the balloon as evenly as possible without crossing over the same point too many times as the wool may just gather in a thick bunch.

7. hang the balloon up to dry and move on to the next balloon.

8. absent-mindedly wonder what that tapping noise is while you are repeating steps 1 to 6 but become so absorbed in wrapping slimy wool around a slippery balloon that you really don't give it too much consideration.

9. stand up to hang the second wool-wrapped balloon up to dry and discover that 'tapping' noise was actually the first balloon dripping watery pva all over the living room rug.

10. thank your lucky stars that you have a partner who works night shift, giving you ample time to clear up and try to dry out the rug!
(feel free to miss out steps 8 to 10).

11. once you have covered all of your balloons, give each one a final roll in a thin layer of pva and water just to make sure that every piece of wool is covered.

12. leave to dry.

13. once the wool is dry and you are happy it has stuck to itself, pop the balloon! if a few strands appear loose, just paint on some more pva and leave to dry again.

14. you are now left with a delicate wool lattice.

15. display in a bowl, attach to fairy lights, or add some ribbon and hang from the tree to bemuse the postie like i have done.

if you do make some, please share the piccies J

Sunday, December 18

deck the halls with ...

... dried oranges!

well, it's third time lucky for me with these decorations. you wouldn't think that drying oranges would be that difficult would you?
last year i decided i would dry some orange slices to hang prettily on the tree and around the house. i don't quite know what went wrong but they ended up all brown and squidgy! then i ran out of time and inspiration so just left it as a failed experiment.
this year, a little more browsing on the internet seems to have done the trick and it worked!
well, it worked on the third attempt - here's a wee hint for you ... when you're waiting for the oranges to finish drying, don't think "oh, i'll just wrap myself up in this snuggly blanket and watch a little tv for the last hour they're drying" because, if you're anything like me, you'll wake up six hours later and just manage to stop the little blackened orange slices from setting your oven on fire!

so, i think the trick was slicing the oranges and placing between two tea towels for a day to remove a lot of the surface moisture.

then i popped them in the oven (on a rack, to allow the air to circulate) at 135C/275F/Gas Mark 1 for the first hour, and turned the oven down to 110C/225F/Gas Mark 1/4 for the next two to three hours.

i did keep an eye on them this time and turned them every hour. i think they took a little longer than three hours but perhaps i had sliced them a little thickly. what you're looking for is the flesh of the orange to be dried out without starting to brown.

and here are the finished deccies ...


Friday, December 16

yummy mincemeat

for 6lb mincemeat:

120g (350g) seedless raisins
8oz (225g) sultanas
8oz (225g) currants
4oz (110g) cut mixed peel
4oz (110g) dried prunes, chopped
12oz (350g) soft brown sugar
1lb (450g) cooking apples - peeled, cored and grated
8oz (225g) shredded suet (i use the veggie version)
grated rind and juice of 2 oranges
grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
2oz (50g) almonds, chopped
2oz (50g) pecan nuts, chopped
1 tbsp (15g) mixed spice
1 tsp (5g) freshly grated nutmeg
5 fl oz (150ml) brandy

1. mix all the ingredients together, except half the brandy, in a large ovenproof bowl and cover. leave to stand overnight.

2. the next day, preheat the oven to 110C/225F/Gas Mark 1/4. cover the bowl, with foil or lid and place in the oven for about three hours.

3. allow to cool, then mix in the rest of the brandy and put into sterilised jars.

if possible, the mincemeat needs to mature for at least two weeks before using. once sealed, it can keep for at least a year.

a wee p.s.

i have tweaked this recipe slightly over the years and usually use half of all of the ingredients, apart from the two oranges and two lemons and the spices which i use the full amounts of.

i also usually use double the amount of brandy - adding half when mixing all of the ingredients together and then the remainder the next day, before it goes in the oven. and i check on it once an hour to give it a stir around and enjoy the lovely christmassy smell.

oh, and i never seem to be organised enough to make the mincemeat in time to let it mature for two weeks, it tastes fab when used straight away though :)

Wednesday, December 14

thank you

to everyone who braved the chilly day on saturday to come down to the perth christmas craft market.
we were so lucky with the weather - the winds and rain had gone, we didn't have any snow and the sun even shone for a brief while!

i will be updating my online shop over the weekend but if there is something you would like to order in the meantime, please feel to drop me an email to fatcatfelt 'at' hotmail 'dot' co 'dot' uk or get in touch through this blog.

Tuesday, December 13

every day is a learning day!

i was doing a little shopping online recently and, as well as buying the usual pre-dyed merino i use for the majority of my feltmaking, i thought i would buy some undyed fibre to practice dyeing with.

while i was looking, some 'superwash' fibre caught my eye.

oh, thought i, superwash must mean that it has been 'super' washed and will be really clean ... those of you who know what superwash is will be groaning by now!

superwash, in fact, refers to wool that has been treated to remove the scales from the fibre (using an acid bath) or by coating the fibre with a polymer to prevent the scales from attaching to each other.

which pretty much rules it out for felting!

apparently it was developed in the 70's to enable woollen garments to be made which were machine washable. great for spinning and knitting apparently.

but not feltmaking.

when i started to work with it, i thought it felt wonderfully soft. and i also didn't take the time to lay out a test piece first, surely i didn't need to as it was just regular merino which had been washed really, really well?

goodness me what a mess! i had laid out a number of pieces as i usually do, wet it all out and then went to felt it. it turned into a soggy mess of fibres and not surprisingly didn't felt to the regular merino too well.

i now have a new rule - before buying anything that i haven't heard of or haven't used before, i will do a little research first.

Thursday, December 8

a lovely swap

well, this must have been the longest-running swap in the history of swapping!

i think angela and i first chatted about making a swap for each other at the start of the year, but between one thing and another ... well, you know how it goes!

we did both agree that it was more than worth the wait though as we were able to swap in person when i popped down to ilkley recently for one of angela's workshops.

angela couldn't have made anything more perfect for me. i must admit to being a bit of a notebook fanatic and angela has made this wonderfully soft and beautifully purpled journal cover. and, knowing, that i like bugs (and shiny things) has added this rose chafer bug which is just stunning - the photo doesn't do it justice.

as my hands aren't very happy at the moment, i haven't been able to get any felting done. i can't knit or crochet (yet!) but wanted to keep to a woolly theme, so i made angela this knotted woollen scarf in her favourite colours to keep the chilly yorkshire winds at bay.

thanks angela, i really love my journal!

(thanks also to angela for letting me use her pics - my laptop has died on me and i've lost the pics i took!)

Tuesday, December 6

winterlight festival

thanks to everyone who stopped by over the weekend, it was lovely to meet lots of new people.

thanks also to mandy of an cnoc for doing a sterling job of getting the market organised - thank goodness we were indoors as it snowed on sunday!

and thanks to everyone at comrie croft - the festival was a wonderful weekend in a really unique setting, with so much going on over the two days from music to workshops to lantern processions, there really was something for everyone.

oh and one final thanks to my fellow stall-holders, who had me in stitches! the whole weekend had such a relaxed and happy atmosphere that it felt like a day out with friends rather than a hectic market.

Monday, December 5

perth christmas craft market

~~~ saturday 10th november, 9am to 5pm ~~~
perth christmas craft market
king edward street, perth

fingers crossed that it's dry, not too windy and the snow stays away for a few more days yet!

perth is holding its annual christmas craft market on saturday 10th december, between 9am and 5pm. this will be a great chance to find some lovely christmas gifts or even a few treats for yourself.

just in case the weather is not looking too kind you can call gail cain on 07920 784085, or gillian coyne on 07920 784090 to check that the market will be taking place.

if you're passing, please stop by to say hello, it would be lovely to see you there.

for more details: perth markets

Sunday, December 4

drum roll please ...

i'd like to show off my brand-spanking-new-hot-off-the-press business card

(is it odd to get so excited over a piece of card? no matter how pretty?!)

i must admit that i do have a weakness for stationery in all its guises so is a business card really necessary ... ? well, i think so.

for me, it's the details that matter and this is one of those details that matter (to me).

i like to have them on my stall at markets so that folk can take away a wee reminder of my work, along with all of my contact details, in case they would like to buy something later on. it's also a nice wee thing to pop in with a purchase made online.

plus, it makes me feel that wee bit more grown up and professional about it all :)

Friday, December 2

very exciting news!

tactile 2011 is now on display in edinburgh.

the tactile 2011 exhibition which ran during september and october has now moved through to edinburgh. kal ali visited the exhibition in alloa and thought it would be perfect for the new venue she was opening in edinburgh.

thanks to the hard work of angela, nic and lynn the arrangements were made and the pieces are now installed.

you can visit the exhibition, which is on until 8th january, at:

sewing bee cafe
360 leith walk

(if you're going down leith walk it's on your left just after pilrig street)

unfortunately i couldn't make the opening event as i was away that weekend and since i've been back i've been at markets, or getting ready for them, every weekend since. i see a small gap in my diary in about two weeks time so hopefully i can fit in a visit to the christmassy princes street gardens while I’m in town.

as an added bonus, after you have enjoyed the exhibition, you can rent out sewing machines by the hour, while enjoying a lovely cuppa :)

Monday, November 28

winter light festival this weekend

i hope to see you there ...

Saturday, November 19

perth christmas craft market next saturday * cancelled *

*** sorry to say that today's market has been cancelled due to the high winds ***

hope to see you there ...

~~~ saturday 26th november, 9am to 5pm ~~~
perth christmas craft market
king edward street and st john's place, perth

more info: perth markets
this is an outdoor market, so make sure you wrap up warm (i certainly will!), a great opportunity to browse a wonderful range of talented makers.

Sunday, November 13

winter light festival at comrie croft

well i have to say that i am really excited to be taking part in this wonderful festival. the workshops sound fab - i can't wait to see the lanterns that visitors will be making, and the junk drum and samba workshop sounds intriguing. then, to round it all off, an evening of quirky folk music!

i really hope you'll be in the area and can pop in, i'll have a stall full of fatcat felt loveliness in the festive market so it would be great to see you there.

the festival is being hosted by remake scotland and comrie croft in aid of CHAS and action on depression. there will be a festive market, music and craft workshops, a lantern and drum procession, folk music …

workshops are just £5 each and you can book by calling comrie croft on 01764 670140. plus, if you would like to help out on the day or give a hand with the lantern making, please contact fiona gilbert on 0750 557 6361 or

Saturday, November 12

international day of felt gallery now online!

so, there has been a distinct lack of photos on my little blog recently and to try to redress this - here's the link to the international day of felt gallery ... lots of lovely photos of blue, red and purple feltyness!

congrats to everyone who has their work featured, such an amazing range of work from talented feltmakers.

felt united 2011

a busy ol' week ...

now i'm starting to realise why the year seems to be passing so quickly! we're always so busy :) not that i'm complaining though!

so far this week we've ...

... launched a book we published ourselves at the international festival at resonate arts house, we also got prints made from the book to display on the walls of the gallery - it was a great night, thanks, as always, to angela's passion and determination. more details to follow, we're trying to figure out the best way to make it available for purchase online.

... spent a day outdoors in a 'secret' location choosing a spot for an installation that i'm working on just now - it'll be part of an amazing festival next year (how excited - and terrified - am i?).

... had an evening of stargazing at our friend's house - they live in the middle of the countryside so it was really dark and the moon was so bright!

... built our first wall(!) at m's new studio - and i'm pleased to report that it's still standing :)

... got ready for a lovely weekend away, i'm taking part in a mixed media and texture workshop with fellow feltmaker angela barrow. plus, as an added bonus, m actually has a weekend off so we're turning it into a long weekend away to explore a new area.

and now i'm getting some bits and bobs finished for my next stall in perth on the 26th november.

plus i worked three days at my day job and started planning the gifts i want to make for christmas ... didn't really leave much time for housework!

well, i hope you're all having a wonderful weekend wherever you are :)

Monday, November 7

thanks ...

... to everyone who came along yesterday.

it was lovely to see some familiar faces and great to meet lots of new folk too.

dawn did such a fabulous job organising this event, it was so well advertised in the run up to the day and we had a steady stream of visitors all day long, plus it was a treat to be indoors on such a chilly, frosty day!

next event is the perth christmas craft fair on saturday 26th november - more details to follow soon.

in the meantime, if there is anything you saw on my stall yesterday that you would like to purchase, please feel free to get in touch (i'm hoping to get my online shop up and running this week but sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day).

Wednesday, November 2

the handmade show in perth this sunday

just a wee reminder that the handmade show is being held in perth concert hall this sunday.

it would be lovely to see you there, and you never know, you might just find those perfect christmas gifts (all under one roof!).

~~~ sunday 6th november, 11am to 5pm ~~~
handmade show

perth concert hall, mill street, perth, ph1 5hz

more info: handmade show
have a wee look at the gallery - so many talented makers with lots of tempting goodies.

Saturday, October 29

tactile 2011

thought i would share this fab catalogue from the recent exhibition i was in. this is the first time some of my work has been exhibited and i'm still finding it really rather exciting! plus, a lovely lady who had visited the exhibition has asked to move the whole thing through to edinburgh for a month! i'll share more details once i have them.

in the meantime, i hope you enjoy browsing ...

and just in case that's not working for you, you can find the catalogue online here: tactile 2011

Sunday, October 23

lovely berries

in between the rain showers this year, it was just about sunny enough for our berries to ripen!

i just love these, such rich colours and ripe enough to burst, just amazing.

red and blackcurrants
as well as enjoying copious amounts fresh with a little ice cream, and leaving some on the bush for the birds to enjoy, we decided to turn our hand to jam making with a little vodka experimentation thrown in for good measure!

despite the fact that we don't really drink these days, i'm sure a little warming drop or two of this will be welcome on a winter's eve.

strawberry vodka

blackcurrant vodka
our strawberries are wee, wild ones and have such an intense flavour, the seeds are so tiny and soft that we didn't need to filter them out.

strawberry jam
i was hoping to have some jam to enjoy now and some to give away, with a couple of jars left over to bring some summer colour and flavour to those long winter evenings, but the currant jam is just so deliciously tempting that we have almost finished it now.

currant jam

as much as i enjoy picking and eating fruit and veg fresh from the garden there is something about preserving it for the months to come, quite a comforting way to spend a rainy, summer evening really.

a few events for fatcat felt

i will be exhibiting at the following fairs in the next couple of months:

~~~ sunday 6th november, 11am to 5pm ~~~
handmade show
perth concert hall, mill street, perth, ph1 5hz

more info: handmade show
have a wee look at the gallery - so many talented makers here with lots of tempting goodies.

~~~ saturday 26th november, 9am to 5pm ~~~
perth christmas craft market
king edward street and st john's place, perth

more info: perth markets
this is an outdoor market, so make sure you wrap up warm (i certainly will!), a great opportunity to browse a wonderful range of makers.

~~~ saturday 3rd and sunday 4th december, time tbc ~~~
comrie croft winter light festival
comrie croft, braincroft, crieff, perthshire, ph7 4jz

more info: comrie croft events
a beautiful setting with lots of interesting things planned for this weekend, more details to follow.

if you're in the area, please pop by, it would be lovely to see you there.

international day of felt 2011

this year's colour scheme was red, blue and purple. and here's my offering ...

it didn't quite turn out as it looked in my imagination but it was the first time i had tried making a pod shape so i'm not too discouraged. just makes me want to try again!

if you'd like to take part next year, you can find more info., here felt united

i'll let you know when the gallery is published, i'm really looking forward to seeing all this year's entries.

sniffle ...

i have a cold :(

and i have so much i want to do, but i have no energy, i ache from head to toe and i feel a little sorry for myself to be honest!

m has banned me from doing 'anything', he thinks i've been overdoing it recently (which i probably have, but when you're having fun, it doesn't feel like working and then sleep just gets in the way!).

i'm so out of the way of sitting doing nothing, that we've reached a compromise - at least i can catch up on my blog reading and posting!

Friday, October 7

so, i feel like i'm slowly coming out of hibernation (wrong time of year, i know!) and finding the time to get back online. i can't wait to start catching up with everyone and reading about what you've all been up to over the summer.

in the meantime, i just wanted to share this ...

my very first piece in an exhibition!!!

we managed to make the opening night by delaying our trip to london and it was just amazing :)

if you're in the area, i would definitely recommend a visit - imagine an exhibition where you're actually encourage to touch the pieces, heavenly!

Sunday, July 31

apologies for the previous rather self-indulgent, whiney post!

'normal' service will be resumed shortly :)

Saturday, July 30


is a very descriptive scottish word used to describe a general feeling of boredom and fed-up-ness, when you really just can't be bothered ...

lately, there's never enough hours in the day, it doesn't seem to matter how early i get up, how late i get to bed and how hard i work, i never get to the bottom of that to-do list ... there's the stuff i need to do that never gets finished and then the stuff i want to do that's there's never enough time for.

i know that i have much to be thankful for and i really shouldn't moan but i'm feeling a little scunnert right now.

Tuesday, June 21

just back but about to go away again!

well ... this past weekend was just amazing! wonderful company, great food, fantastic horst couture garments, such creative feltmaking ... i feel like i have just had the most amazing dream!!!

so, i'm just back but my feet still haven't yet touched the ground - i promise to blog and share pics really soon, and also catch up with you all too, but i was straight back to work and then i'm away again this weekend. then on hols for a week ... and i wonder where the time goes?!

look forward to catching up with you all soon and in the meantime, happy mid 'summer'!

Wednesday, June 8

Friday, June 3

i've been away again, for a lovely family holiday this time :)

i'm just back.

got lots to catch up on.

not much time for sitting at a computer.

promise to catch up with you all soon but in the meantime, thanks for your lovely comments.

Thursday, June 2

lewis loom centre and hebridean woolshed

one of the reaons i was really looking forward to being back on lewis was being able to visit the lewis loom centre again!

this unassuming entrance leads to an absolutely amazing shop/museum, run by the very friendly and knowledgeable ronnie.

as well as selling harris tweed garments, and beautiful bags and cushions, there's also so much information about the history of harris tweed, with the most amazing sample books throughout the decades. the colours and patterns from the 20's and 30's are astounding!

but, my favourite part of the shop is the 'scraps' table. as you can see from the pics below, i blew my budget on lovely pieces of tweed that will soon be making their way into new felt pieces.

the two pics above might appear to be quite plain compared to the usual patterns and colours but the reason i really loved these pieces is that, if you look closer, so many other colours are revealed ...

i also made a quick stop at the hebridean woolshed, if you're on south uist you really can't drive past! i wasn't on the island long enough to take part in one of denise's spinning workshops, so i bought the next best thing to teach myself to spin ...
... i had visions of relaxing evenings round the campfire, spinning away ... but it wasn't to be.

i can't get it to work!

the instructions are really clear, i have watched videos online ... i know that, in theory, it's a simple process ... but i can't do it!!! think i'll need to get someone to show me because i am determined to learn :)

Wednesday, June 1

Sunday, May 29

new goodies to play with

i've been following deborah's blog, feltersjourney, for a wee while now, and you may remember that she was recently a featured maker here.

anyway, i thought i would pop over to her folksy shop when i was online a wee while ago to have a look-see and, even though i really don't need any new fibres or have the time to really be experimenting with anything new, i just couldn't resist the sari fibres (first pic) or banana silk fibres (second pic).

i haven't used these fibres before so i'm really looking forward to having some fun with them.

if you've used these fibres before and have any tips or photos to share, i'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, May 28

beach finds

i did try to be restrained while we were away but i visited so many beaches with such tempting shells and pebbles that i did bring home a few mementos. i tried to pick only a few from each beach because, after all, if everyone who visited took away a pocketful, there would be none left after a while (ok, it might take quite a while but you know what i'm getting at).

i mean, who could resist such colourful temptations ...

so, here's a selection of my favourites which i'll soon turn into a mobile as a lovely souvenir of my trip. wish i was back on the beaches now ...