Saturday, July 31, 2010

child's play

Sometimes, if I have room on the surface area where I've laid out a scarf to roll, I'll use the extra room for a rectangle of wool layers that I can stitch up into a clutch purse or a Little Bag or a Bigger Little Bag after it's felted.

These little purses give me a chance to try out techniques I've seen or heard about without a huge investment in effort and materials.  Recently, I started playing with m childrens' marbles.
I placed them between layers of wool and snipped them out after the wool was fully felted. The effect was brilliant (the bag sold before I even had a strap on it) and makes me want to use different shaped toys on my next effort.

My interest in childhood activities also led me to create a gorgeous strap based on the friendship bracelets my daughter now makes for her girlfriends.  (I'm lucky enough to be sporting one on my own ankle as well.)

Right now, I'm working large; too large to create another little bag.  But when this big piece is done, I can't wait to see what other advantage I can pull from having children.  Or is it that I'm still just a child myself?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Oooh, pretty!

So many different things can inspire me to start a new project.  Sometimes it is a photograph, or flowers climbing up a lamppost.  Today it is a particularly soft, fuzzy yarn that moves from cool periwinkle to ivory white to chocolate brown.  I rummaged through my stash (this felter's stash consists of many balls of dyed roving, lots of interesting yarn, various fabrics but mostly silk) until I found the perfect roving to accompany this yarn.

Now all I need is a dark brown silk scarf as a base.  I begin by laying pieces of fuzzy yarn down and add some other pieces of plain yarn in similar colors.  None of these will felt directly onto the silk so I'll end up with a wonderful draping effect after I'm finished.

Then I begin laying thin layers of roving down, sandwiching the yarn between silk and wool.  I lay the wool in a long swooping design that will hang beautifully around the shoulders.  (Over time, I've realised I care enormously about how it hangs.  If the work is hard to wear, it will sit in a closet or in my inventory.  What is the point of that?)

I've sandwiched lengths of yarn at the ends of the scarf so their will be a bit of fringe later. I am also taking a chance and laying bits of the fun, fuzzy yarn on top of the merino.  Sometimes this yarn will adhere to wool; sometimes not.  If not, I'll end up removing it partway throught the felting process.  I know that whatever happens, this wrap will be lovely.  
Time to felt.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I understand that this scarf thing is supposed to be work. I feel it in my body as I get tight in the shoulders and neck from all the felting I'm doing. But it is the other part of the work that I really struggle with. Even as my current photos are a huge improvement on my first photos (and believe me they are leaps and bounds better), they aren't good enough. I need to either get a better camera (no money), find a photographer willing to barter (any leads?), and/or hire models (money again). Regardless of what I do to change this, photography takes more time than I give to it right now.

But it must be done. This is a business and I need to promote myself in every way possible. I took the time to get new business cards, a business email address, all the legal trappings of a business (LLC, EIN #, etc) , credit card processing, a bank account and business credit card. If the photos are crap after all that, and no one buys my work, I may as well kiss all of my investment thus far goodbye. Time, materials, legal paperwork, artistic effort --- it must needs be supported with the visual work. Time to stop wishing and start doing. It can't hurt anymore than my tight shoulders, right?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

New stuff

I am in serious production mode, creating inventory for two shows that are going to run on back-to-back weekends this August. It is a hot humid day and I really need to get some of this photographed so my son obliged and sweated in the sun while I put silk and wool around my shoulders again and again. These are just a sample of the results.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Felting with attitude

Who knew there were upsides to a daughter who can wring more vowels out of an "I'm not" than Eliza Doolittle managed at the beginning of Pygmalion?

I was all set to suspend work on a new scarf and take my youngest shoe shopping. (Her feet do not stop growing just because it's summer.) She still had a dishwasher to empty and was looking in the top rack for something when I heard a creak and looked up. There she was, leaning over the top rack and putting a little too much weight on it. I simply asked her to not lean on it. (My temper is not exactly even, but this time I really did request it nicely.) "I'm not!" This had many more syllables than two somehow. We give no warnings for consequences due to snotty responses anymore. Shoe shopping postponed for bad behavior. And I get to work more on my felting.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Here it is, in all its bead-inspired, colorful glory. The tulle worked pretty well, but some of the little "floating" circles of wool needed additional tacking down. Part of what I love about felting is NOT having to sew, but I loved the effect and decided not to rip them off when it appeared they weren't fully adhering. I am so pleased with the final result.

Friday, July 9, 2010

better than ibuprofin

This is the photo that my friend Eve took. It has caused me much headache. I looked at all those colored beads against the white neck of the mannequin head, and thought, "Damn, there's a scarf in there somewhere." Now I have to figure out how to make it. The obvious answer is to duplicate it by felting a ton of beads and doing a wool version of same. But that would be making another necklace (or necklaces). I want to make a scarf inspired by this image.

I don't have any white silk on-hand, but I do have tulle, that mesh that ballet tutus are made of. Never felted onto tulle before, but does that stop me? Not a chance. Since the big square shape doesn't suit my purposes, I cut the tulle and I lay it down in three sections. I take super soft white merino wool roving and feather it into place covering seams and edges. It looks too angular so I flesh out the white on the seams into curvier shapes.

Then I look through all my pre-felt. (Pre-felt can be purchased or can be wool that is partially felted and gets removed from other work. My seamless purses are a big source of pre-felt.) I spent yesterday afternoon and evening cutting pre-felt into circles. Lots of circles.

The colors were limited so when I decided I had enough to get started, I also pulled out my bin of roving bits and pieces. As I laid out a design onto the white wool, I played with lines and curves. I am curious how this will finish since some circles are the flat pre-felt and some are swirls of roving. I hope it retains a bit of difference in dimension. I also like how sheer the tulle is and placed a few roving circles directly onto the tulle. My hope is that it will be wearable with anything and the sheer tulle will allow the wearer's dress to show through even as bright spots of color appear to be aloft invisibly.

I hope Eve takes more photos. I like this kind of headache.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Back on subject

I have been trying some different variations on technique: using cooler or warmer water, trying netting to help keep wool in place while starting the process, throwing instead of rolling. Some ideas work wonderfully, some seem like a lateral move from what I've been doing. But I did try and felt onto unknown fabric. I found a silky scarf in pale gold at the Salvation Army. It had no tag, but I am pretty sure it wasn't silk. It was, however, porous enough to felt ... I hoped. I used some other found silk in a gold and silver pattern of squares and some golden and grey wools and yarns. I laid out a pattern of lines of wool that criss-crossed along the length of the gold scarf. I laid in pieces of the patterned silk on the gold, and added overall length by attaching some pieces at the end with openings between the gold and the patterned silk. I took yarns and embellished. Than I had to begin the felting process and hope for the best. I worked with cooler water and rolled for longer amounts of time. A couple pieces moved and didn't adhere so well so I just pulled them off before my last part of felting, but otherwise I am pretty pleased with end result: Smoky Topaz by Woolynns.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ladies who lunch ... learn

Lunchtime conversation with much laughter and many tangents. Tangents that lead to self-discovery. Or if not actual discovery, a putting together of pieces in a way I hadn't done before.

Did I know I really wanted four completely unrelated career paths? It's not that I haven't achieved some level of success or personal satisfaction already from each. But how to take any one of them further? If not at the same time, how do I know which one(s) to begin with? Two pieces have received priority attention from me in the past decade: Woolynns and yoga. But I only sing once a year these days, if that. And my yearly foray into directing makes me itchy for more. Big changes are on the horizon. As the tectonic plates shift, maybe I can find a new balance, or a new plate to stand on. Or I could try spinning more plates at once (but now I've mixed too many metaphors.) Supposedly I should do one thing and do it well, but I want to do four things really well. (stamp foot here)

Woolynns is the name of my business and this blog, and it is here I feel my most creative. I see seamless clothing in my head and a gallery is adding my scarves and purses next week. I have two scarves laid out ready to roll (literally). I have a custom piece to begin. Another fiber artist's work has pushed me out of my comfort zone to begin experimenting with size. My next house will just have to have a bigger studio space for all this expansion into larger felting. The prospect is so exciting to me, I feel somewhat uncontained, and somewhat aghast at what I think I'll be undertaking.

YogaMom is the title I gave myself when my first child was born and I was teaching yoga. I had left performing and felt a need for a job title. It fit. That yoga part of myself is where I feel my most accomplished. I have been teaching for 14 years now. I have trained other teachers. I work with alignment and energy, injury, prenatal and post-partum yoga. I feel like I have so much to share and can never fit everything into one class, one weekend workshop, one private session. I love learning from those who profess to be my students. I want a yoga yurt with heat for the winter where I can practice, teach classes, work with private therapeutic clients.

Performing. I quit doing that professionally in 1998. It wasn't the hardest choice. I had a baby. I was pretty cranky even when I had theatre jobs. As scary as it was to not be a performer, it was actually calmer. I had had a good run that included many high points over a decade of work. People who knew me as a child still wonder if I miss dancing. But I was shedding that side of me even back in my performing days. My body was never made to dance at the level I had asked it to perform. (I'm dealing with the fallout from that every day now.) But if I could get my voice back in shape, if I could work with a great pianist and start singing, a happier part of my performing self might return. Just chanting at the end of a yoga class reminds me of that side of me, making me long for more notes, more syllables, more instruments.

And then the surprising opportunity of directing came along. I had so many good directors over the years. Some were high school teachers, some were fellow college students, some were directors for whom I worked, some taught classes for professionals. I also had some terrible ones; directors who were getting paid to do this. I didn't think I was a director when I got asked to help with Shakespeare for 8th graders. But when I saw how something I offered could make even a bad performance look better, something I offered could bring out more from the child who coasted on talent, when I realized I could get a good performance out of children who wished they didn't have to do this play, well, it made me less tolerant of poor play productions where the children all wanted to be there and wanted to be pushed to do better work. If I could get so much from students who were required to be in the show, why wasn't I doing this more? This one would require certification or even a degree. I would need to learn pedagogy (rehearsing a play is not teaching acting classes). It might require doing it to the exclusion of all else.


Maybe I shouldn't meet good friends for lunch anymore. It makes me think big thoughts.