Friday, April 29

so, apparently ...

there's a royal wedding happening today ... ?

so far, i've managed to avoid most of the fuss and the hype. don't get me wrong, i wish them only the best in life but it's just not something i can get that excited about.

however, i loved today's post from chrissie at niminyfingers who is passing this on from a facebook friend:

here's how to find out your royal wedding name for the big occasion ...

start with lady (or lord)
pick the name of a grandparent for your first name
use the name of your first pet for your surname
and 'of' should be a street where you lived

i nearly choked on my coffee when i worked out that i would be

lady rose bubbles of hawthorn!!!

but settled for lady rose bubbles of woodside (although i could also have had 'of macclesfield' or 'berkshire' which would have sounded a bit more posh - but not half as funny!)

so, what would your royal wedding name be?


day ... you know, i've lost count!

but finally, long after m wanted to throw the box out because "nothing's happening" ...


unless we get a huge crop of mushrooms very soon, this must be the most expensive mushroom in the history of mushroom growing kits! all that hard work for one precious mushroom - here's hoping it's full of flavour!

Thursday, April 28

we did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.

lynn hall

Wednesday, April 27

Tuesday, April 26


for my tardiness in replying to all of the lovely comments over the past week or so but i've just got back from hols.

lots of washing, catching up in the veg garden, sorting of photos and leaflets, cleaning of beach finds and a return to the day-job mean i'm not going to be around much for a wee while but i'll catch up with you all soon ... promise :)

i can felt a rainbow

felt a rainbow
felt a rainbow too

i can felt a rainbow
felt a rainbow
felt along with me!

Monday, April 25

meet a maker

well, i'm sorry to say that there's no 'meet a maker' feature this week.

i'm always on the look out for new folk to interview, so if you would like to be featured, please leave me a comment and i'll get in touch with some questions for you.

Saturday, April 23

a lovely commission

i blogged a little while ago about the commission i had to make two seat pads for a lovely lady.

i was so chuffed that she really liked them, in fact she liked them so much that she ordered another four as a gift for her sister in norway!

so, this quartet of seat pads are now off on their travels.

Friday, April 22

bloomin' lovely

yaaaay, the garden has woken up after a long, dark, cold winter!

it's a wonder to see that so many of our plants survived under the snow and ice - especially the oregano and the sage which weren't even under cover for the winter.

then there are the lovely daffs that greet us with cheery yellowness each morning

and the gage and plumgage, full of the blossom-promise of fruit to come

now i just need to find the time to catch up on the weeding!

Thursday, April 21

i don't believe you have to be better than everybody else. i believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.

ken venturi

Wednesday, April 20

Tuesday, April 19

mushrooms (or not)

day 21
hhhmmmmmm, not looking good is it?!

the pack said that the peat did contain a type of mould which was perfectly normal. unfortunately, that's all the peat seems to contain as we have no signs of mushroom-life at all!

Monday, April 18

meet a maker

ok, so it's probably not the 'done' thing and it is very self-indulgent, but this week's featured maker is me!

Please introduce yourself …
Hi, I’m Tracy and am now scarily-close to being 40! Originally from London, I’ve lived in Glasgow and the Isle of Lewis and have now settled in Perth (Scotland, not Oz!). I have a part-time day job in an office and in my spare time I design, make and sell felt items as fatcat felt. When I’m not working or felting I love to be outdoors, whether it’s camping, walking, canoeing, birdwatching, cycling, or working in our fruit and veg garden.
How would you describe your work / style?
That’s quite difficult to answer because I’m not so sure … Everything I make is handmade and I put a lot of myself into everything I create. I work mostly with felt but also dabble in weaving and other textile work. I think I’m still trying out so many techniques and am learning more about design; absorbing lessons from artists I admire and I think ‘my’ style is still evolving as I’ve yet to settle on any one definable style.

I’m definitely enjoying the time I’ve been taking recently to explore more artistic/creative (rather than purely commercial) pieces so maybe this will help me to define my own voice. But perhaps I’ll be one of those people who never settle to one particular style …

Who, or what, inspires you?
Oh gosh, everything and anything! Which I can’t really complain about, but I just wish I had more time to make everything I wanted to. I’m really inspired by nature – so the colours and textures of the sea, the landscape we spend a lot of time in and the plants and flowers in our garden. And then there are the artists I love like Kandinsky, Hundertwassser, Rothko, Klein … I love their use of colour. I’ve been looking at a lot of folk art, Celtic patterns and rock art recently and I’m hoping this will inform some new pieces.
Do you sell your work? If so, what helped you decide to start selling your work?
I have to sell my felt work otherwise I would run out of space in the house!

I came home from my first feltmaking workshop with a lovely new felt bag, Morgan was so impressed with it he said it was good enough to sell. Earning money by selling work that I’ve created with my own hands had been a dream of mine for such a long time and when I heard that, it kind of clicked and I thought ‘why not … ?’.
Where can I buy your work?

• the Gift Gallery in York (19 Shambles, York, Y01 7LZ), facebook page:
• an cnoc in Crieff (31 East High Street, Crieff, PH7 3AF), website:
• fatcat felt’s folksy shop:
• I also sell at various markets throughout the year, details nearer the time will be on my blog.
Do you have a website or blog address?
I have two!

There’s which is where I chatter away about my life in general and then I also have which is all about my felt work.

How did you learn your craft? How long have you been creating?
When we first moved to Perth, Morgan went out exploring on his bike and came back to tell me he had found a shop he thought I would love. Twist Fibrecraft in Newburgh ( is an amazing treasure trove for all things textiles, I came home with some fibre and a ‘how to make felt’ book and my obsession has just grown from there! Since that first workshop, I’ve enjoyed many courses, classes and workshops, and I’m still ‘learning by doing’ too.

I think I’ve been making things pretty much as far as I can remember, but I’ve been a feltmaker for about five or six years now.
Is there any other craft skill you would like to learn?
Loads! If only I had the time. I’ve dabbled with ceramics, paper making, photography, film processing, tapestry, embroidery, fimo … and would love to learn book-binding, glass work, mosaic, crochet, knitting, spinning, wire work ... I’m about to start practicing with lino printing too!

Anything exciting planned for 2011 you’d like to share?

I’m going to Ireland in June for a workshop with Horst ( that Nicola ( has arranged.

I have an outdoor installation piece planned for the summer (more details to follow …!).

I’ve just started planting out seeds and plants so I’ll be experimenting with a range of natural dyes this autumn.

I’ll be taking part in the International Day of Felt in October:

And I’ve got a workshop in November to look forward to with Angela (

We’ve got a family holiday coming up soon which I’m really excited about but I can’t talk about it too much here because we have lots of surprises planned!!!
Have you had any work featured in magazines/books/galleries?
Not yet, but I’m hopeful that once I’ve progressed to a stage in my development as a feltmaker that I’m happy with, I will find the confidence to start submitting my work.

Has your work won any prizes/competitions?
I’ve never been brave enough to enter anything! Maybe next year …

If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be …

I can’t imagine not doing this to be honest.
I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for …
My obsession with all things woolly!

And a very understanding partner who doesn’t complain (too often) about wet fleece drip-drying over the bath, felt drying on every radiator, very regular deliveries of new wool/yarn/buttons/beads because I just had to have them.

Describe your perfect day.
One with 48 hours to get everything done!

Honestly though, it would be a day spent with my family at the coast, possibly taking a boat trip, lots of sunshine, loads of good food, a little reading and then falling exhausted and happy into bed.
What do you do to relax?
Funnily enough, I find feltmaking relaxing! But I also love reading, watching films and working in the garden.

Marmite … love it or hate it?
LOVE IT! Especially on rice cakes with cheese. Or on seeded bread with crunchy peanut butter and cucumber.

What’s your weakness?
Chocolate, crisps, cheese in huge quantities, and shiny things like buttons and beads!
How do you keep motivated?
I’m obsessed!

Seriously though, I really love that there are always new techniques to experiment with and I’m full of ideas of new things I’d like to make (long may that last!).

And then there’s the fact that I am an obsessive list-maker. At the end of each year, I write down my aspirations for the coming year and then start to break-them down into manageable chunks, so I then have a list for each month of smaller steps I can take to move my goals along. I know it might sound obsessive but it helps for the times when I’m a bit low on motivation – I only have to look at my list and then before I know it, I’m doing something constructive.

What do you wish you’d known when you first started out?
When to trust my instincts.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
It’s a hard slog sometimes! You really need to be committed and prepared for some hard work, it helps to have the support of friends and family as well because it can take over your life from time to time.

Try a stall at a local market – it can be a scary prospect as you’re putting your work out there but you're meeting customers face-to-face and it’s a great way to get immediate feedback on your work; to meet other designer-makers and swap hints and tips. It’s also a great way to meet and chat with potential customers, even if they don’t buy from you on the day, they may visit your online shop later on. I was asked to give my first workshop by someone who visited one of my stalls, so you never know what opportunities might come your way.

Working from home or your studio can sometimes be quite an isolated existence so it’s a good idea to find out if there is a local group in your area or a forum online which you can join, it’s great to be able to chat to other folk doing a similar activity as you can share hints and tips, help each other out when it’s getting tough and share in each other’s successes.

Get as much advice as you can from people who know what they are talking about and whose opinion you value.

Do the things you can do really well and ask for help with the other stuff you might not be so experienced with.

Don’t be put off by small setbacks, treat them as a potential learning experience and change tack slightly if necessary.

Trust your own instincts and push yourself harder than you ever thought possible because it is an amazing feeling to be able to earn money from doing something that you love.

Have fun with what you are doing and don’t forget to play from time to time.

Saturday, April 16

look ...

blue sky! yes, genuine blue sky - with added sunshine!!!

please, let this be the start of a long, hot summer (with just enough rain, at night, to keep the garden watered).

Friday, April 15

the wonderful world of blogging

yes, i know, it can be a huge time vampire if you're not careful, but then there are so many wonderful things about blogging such as meeting lovely, inspiring, creative folk from around the world that you otherwise wouldn't have had the chance to get to know. folk such as the wonderful heather who writes the wool love - functional fiberart blog.

a little while ago, heather and i agreed to make a swap for each other. we had been lamenting the fact that, while we both enjoyed making gifts for other people we never seemed to have the time to make anything for ourselves. so a swap was duly suggested and agreed to be the best solution as we both love making for other people and this way we would both have a lovely gift to exchange/receive.

this was the first time i had taken part in a swap like this and i really enjoyed finding out a little more about each other to make sure we made the perfect gift. it was such good fun to plan the goodies i would send. in fact, i got so much out of the planning and gifting part of the swap that it was a double bonus to receive this wonderfully gorgeous bag as my gift from heather.
the photos really don't do it justice, the handle and front flap are made from the most gorgeous mix of blues/greens with a silky sheen and there's an internal pocket in the same lovely mix of colours.

i just adore the texture created by these locks on the back of the purse.

heather blogged about the creation of my lovely bag here: silk wool and dyed blue locks bag part 1 and here: silk wool and dyed blue locks bag part 2

my package also contained a lovely hand lotion, scented with an orange and ginger energy-giving zingy scent and perfect for feltmaker's hands! i don't have it here to take a pic as i took it to my day job, to cheer myself up through the day.

thanks so much heather, every time i use my bag and enjoy my handcream i think of you and the care and love you put into creating the perfect gift.

Thursday, April 14

i only want to live in peace, and plant potatoes and dream

(courtesy of tove jansson)

who could really wish for more ... ?

Wednesday, April 13

Tuesday, April 12

i won something!

i actually did! now, i'm the kind of person who never wins anything. no, really, i don't. but, ever the optimist and always happy to support a good cause, i bought a couple of raffle tickets from sian at diary of a tiny holder.

and look what i won ...

the black and pink harrod's purse was just perfect for my cousin's daughter who just turned 21, as soon as i saw the benefit body butter i knew my sister-in-law would love it and the chocs, well, they were delish!

sian is raising money for the alzheimer's society in so many ways this year, one of which is climbing mount kilimanjaro in september. if you would like to buy a raffle ticket, make a purchase, or donate in any way just head on over to diary of a tiny holder.

Monday, April 11

meet a maker

being the inquisitive little feltmaker that i am, i thought it might be interesting to hear about other maker's stories. if you would like to be featured, please leave me a comment and i'll get in touch with some questions for you.

so, grab a cuppa, put your feet up and lets meet kate ...

Please introduce yourself …
...Stands up, scraping of chair can be heard...clears throat and ....

Hi, my name is Kate, aka hawthorn, I am an addicted procrastinator in order to do all things crafty and I love it!.....

How would you describe your work / style?
Umm, that's difficult. I dabble with many genre and think I fall under the artistic category of : Jack of all trades and master of none!
Who, or what, inspires you?
I love colour but the colours of nature, so my work tends not to be vibrant brights more the colours of the hills or the sea.

My children often give me the inspiration I need as they request the unexpected and after humming and haa-ing I make them their odd requests and am often pleasantly surprised how they turn out.

Do you sell your work? If so, what helped you decide to start selling your work?
I don't sell my work as I don't have time to make a lot, but I do take commissions and bespoke requests. When I lived in Africa I sold my wildlife paintings and painted cushions both from a small shop we ran and the local wild game park.

Do you have a website or blog address?
I have two blogs running at the moment - my personal daily waffling of stuff and nonsense and a slightly more grown up one where I am co-ordinating the making and distributing of crochet and knitted blankets for displaced families in Japan following their natural disasters.
How did you learn your craft? How long have you been creating?
I've always drawn or painted but not as much recently as I would like to.

I love crochet and will be forever grateful to my fav-sis-in-law for patiently teaching me how to get to grips with it (pun fully intended) She taught me two years ago on holiday whilst sitting on a beach in Northumberland.

I dabble with and enjoy felt making and put the blame fully on a previous 'Meet a Maker' - Angela - whom you featured March 21st.

Is there any other craft skill you would like to learn?
Jewellery making particularly using sea-glass and silver. I have the glass collected from years of beach combing, now I just need the time to do something with it :)

If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be …
Well. I'd love to be creating and crafting full time, but realistically speaking it doesn't pay the bills so a regular job has to try and fit in around my crafting time!

I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for …
An extremely long suffering, very understanding, encouraging and all round wonderful husband (yes he had to pay me to say that!)

Describe your perfect day.
Coffee in bed (thank you above-mentioned husband) breakfast in a sunny garden, walking out on the hills or gardening, curled up on the settee crafting in the evening after eating something pasta based. Being with my boys.
What do you do to relax?
Walking, crafting, gardening - doesn't sound that relaxing but I find I can completely unwind doing these.

Marmite … love it or hate it?
No question - love love love love but only as marmite not diluted in a mug of hot water as a drink - now why would you want to do that???

What animal would you be, and why?
A long coated tortishell and white cat with magnificent whiskers - lazing around in the sun in the garden or greenhouse, rolling on catmint or chewing strands of wool - (try not to think about the ensuing hairballs......)
What’s your weakness?
Err - plants and wool (that might be the cat in me.....)

How do you keep motivated?
The thought that I only have one life time, and each day is precious, once it has gone - it has gone forever.

What do you wish you’d known when you first started out?
Believe in yourself more and forget what teachers/adults say to you and about you when you create art from the heart.

What question did you hope to be asked but didn’t?
Would you like to have your own personal space to create and craft? (and not have to tidy up before dinner?)
What would your answer have been?
Show me where it is!

thanks for taking the time to chat kate, i share your 'weakness' of plants and wool - perhaps we were cats in a previous incarnation?! p.s. when you find that space to create and craft, please let me know if there's room for one more! :)

Saturday, April 9

mushroom update

day 3
re-read the instructions and discover that on the third day, you are supposed to add the peat on top of the bark fibre-ry stuff and it will now take a further fourteen (yes fourteen!) whole days before you see any signs of mushroomy-loveliness.

Friday, April 8

t'internet's a wonderful thing

i've just discovered international internet radio.

you can search for a radio station by music genre or language. what an amazing site!

i'm learning swedish at the moment and being able to listen to swedish radio is such a great help. it just adds another dimension to the book and cd i'm learning from and lets me hear the language as it's really used, not just to ask for six red apples please! plus, i can have the radio on while i'm felting away and i'm hoping that by some magical osmosis type reaction, i'll just absorb a lot of the language.

Thursday, April 7

don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

robert louis stevenson

Wednesday, April 6

Tuesday, April 5

i am so unbelievably excited

horst, yes horst, the horst is coming to ireland in june!

the lovely nicola has organised a workshop with horst.
and guess what, i really can't quite believe it, no really i can't, m is talking about tranquilising me before my head actually explodes, because i don't know how i can wait so long, but I'M GOING TO IRELAND IN JUNE FOR A WORKSHOP WITH HORST!!!

you can find out more about horst here ... horst couture

apart from the opportunity to work alongside horst, i'm so excited for loads of reasons: i had put aside this year to develop my feltmaking skills and start having fun with feltmaking again - what perfect timing! it will be great to meet nicola as i've been following her blog for a long time now, and she's such an inspirational feltmaker; i'm going to stay at a really lovely campsite; i've never been to ireland before, my nan's dad came from cork so i'm hoping i'll have a few hours spare before i have to catch my ferry home to do a wee bit of family history searching.

although i have to admit, it does feel a little daunting to be travelling all that way on my own! but i know it will be so worth it, roll on june :)

Monday, April 4

meet a maker

being the inquisitive little feltmaker that i am, i thought it might be interesting to hear about other maker's stories. if you would like to be featured, please leave me a comment and i'll get in touch with some questions for you.

so, grab a cuppa, put your feet up and lets meet deborah of felters journey ...

Please introduce yourself …
I am Deborah Allen ... a 37 year old wetfelter living in Halesowen, West Midlands.

How would you describe your work / style?
Wide ranging, I get bored making the same sort of thing too often.
Who, or what, inspires you?
The natural world is a big inspiration. From land & seascapes, the heavens, weather & the changes that brings, to things that grow, and birds & animals . We are lucky to live right on the edge of the urban sprawl – through the front door are roads, town hustle & bustle. Out the back door lies miles of beautiful greenbelt countryside, woodlands & streams, fields & hills.

I'm also very much inspired by history. Ancient art, myths & beliefs ... in particular of our ancestors here in Britain.

All of these things speak to & soothe my soul ... guess thats how they find their way into the things that I make. And then sometimes its all about colour and form ... what is pleasing to my senses – I love the tactile nature of felt as much as its appearance.

Do you sell your work? If so, what helped you decide to start selling your work?
My dream is to make a modest living from selling my creations & passing on a love of felt to others through workshops. About 3 years ago someone suggested selling my felt on Etsy. I already had an Etsy account so I put my first ever Feelin’ Sheepish bag up for sale and it sold really quickly. This was encouraging, so I made more ... After about a year I decided on the name FeltersJourney, and opened an Etsy account and shop in this name. I also decided to start selling some felters embellishment supplies; sari silk fibres, dyed silk caps etc. I am currently stocking my Folksy FeltersJourney shop with these supplies.
Where can I buy your work?
From my Etsy shop - I do occasional craft fayres, usually in the West Midlands & put a notice on my blog for any upcoming events I will be attending.

Do you have a website or blog address?

How did you learn your craft? How long have you been creating?
I have been creating pretty much my whole life – as far back as I can remember. When I was a little girl, on Friday nights I would sleep over at my nans house. We always had a grand time, she taught me how to knit, sew (by hand and on the machine), darn socks, cook, dance & sing old songs. My mom made lots of soft toys; rag dolls and things, and often let me make things from her scraps. Creativity was all around me..

I got interested in the fibre arts about 7 or 8 years ago when Debbie at Mulberry Dyer taught me how to spin on a drop spindle. After a wonderful day playing with wool I was truly addicted ... that was the day when I first heard of felting. My first felting experience was from an extremely basic kit bought on ebay a couple of months after I learned to spindle.

I am a self taught wetfelter; I read books and got stuck in. I’m a bit of an impatient person; the problem I have with doing courses is the baby steps ... once I have got a feel for what I’m doing, I want to dive in and make what I really want to make and learn as I go along. For me this works well.

I would still like to do the C&G feltmaking courses some day (when funds allow) ... I think I will have the patience to do it now – I won't feel like rushing on ahead because I’ve aready done so much felting.
Is there any other craft skill you would like to learn?
Not at the moment ... I’m pulling my fingers out of various crafty-pies lately so that I can focus on my felt (I was hand-sewer of cloth dolls / art dolls many of my own design for a few years) I still also spin, crochet.

My most recent temptation was Silversmithing. I seriously considered taking a course just over a year ago ... but decided not to for 2 reasons – I wanted to stay focused on my felt, and the aforementioned impatience with learning at someone elses pace I may very possibly still do this in the future ... I'm also quite interested in hot glass.

Anything exciting planned for 2011 you’d like to share?
I’m hoping to organise some beginner/improver feltmaking workshops locally this summer and I have just started up the Woolgatherers a few weeks ago! That's pretty exciting for 2011 – regular meetups with fibre fanatics. Other than that we shall see ...
Have you had any work featured in magazines/books/galleries?
I was featured artist on Wingham Wool Works website in Autumn 2010 – that was pretty cool!

International Day of Felt 2010 I did a workshop with the Primary School next door. The children each felted a sea creature, which I assembled into a HUGE mobile with driftwood & shells – this was exhibited in our local museum, featured in the local paper & in the FeltUnited online exhibition. So not my work being exhibited, but I was really excited to be part of this project & the kids were absolutely thrilled! A wonderful experience

I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for …
My lovely husband who has always encouraged me, and even manages to keep a good sense of humor over the fluff that fills the house (I often blame the dogs for the fluff bunnies on the floor.. but when those ‘bunnies’ are green its a dead giveaway!)
Describe your perfect day.
Any day spent out and about with my family & our 2 dogs ... my favourite days are spent walking along cliffside coastal paths and beaches in Cornwall. The sound and smell of the sea, wind blowing my hair ...

Describe your proudest moment.
All of my proudest moments are to do with my 2 beautiful children.

What do you do to relax?
Make felt :) while listening to; a good audio book (Harry Potter read by Stephen Fry are my favourites) in the winter, or birdsong through an open window in summer

Marmite … love it or hate it?
How do you keep motivated?
By only making what I want to make, when I want to make it.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
- Buy Uniquely Felt by Christine White, its the best all round feltmaking book I have seen, it`ll give you a taste of all the different techniques with insights and tips that come from experience. I wish this book had been out when I started felting.

- Be sure that you are using a fibre that felts easily when you are starting out ... save the more challenging stuff for when you are a hopeless felting addict & are willing to rub & roll the whole day away lol.

- Have fun with it!

- Dont be scared to push yourself.

thanks for taking the time to chat deborah, i had a wee giggle when i read about your fluff bunnies ... i have the same problem but unfortunately no pets to blame it on, congrats on being a featured maker on wingham!

Saturday, April 2

loadsa beads

well, this is starting to feel like an uphill slog!

anyone fancy giving me a hand to felt each of these beads into a nice, smooth bead shape ready to make necklaces and bracelets?

i must learn how to do 'a little' of something, instead i seem to like to give myself a challenge and make 'loads' of something, all at once!

Friday, April 1

my new toy

woo-hoo for power tools!

this lovely piece of kit used to lurk in the cupboard under the stairs with the other tools, amongst the cobwebs, for when m needed to do something manly with them.

that is until i discovered that i love drilling holes in things, any thing, many things! it is surprisingly satisfying to drill holes, who knew?!

so far i've drilled holes in bits of wood to make hanging decorations and looking around for other things to drill holes in (that wouldn't make m scream!) i decided to try felt, and guess what - now i can drill holes in felt!

i predict a lot more holes being drilled in many things :)