needle felting

Hardy Herdwick sheep!

Felting sheep with Herdwick wool

You may have read in a previous post that I try to buy only British wool now. This is due to the high standards of animal welfare in British sheep farming and shearing. Included in a recent batch of British wools that I ordered from World of Wool, was 100g of grey Herdwick wool.

I decided to look more into the breed of  Herdwick sheep and discovered their sweet little faces, their attractive colouring and the fascinating facts behind how they live!

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Herdwick sheep are born with black wool and then as adults have a grey or brown body with white face and legs.

Herdwick facts

They are very hardy sheep that live on the fells of the Lake District, England.

The lambs learn about the area where they should be grazing from sticking close to their mothers. They have been bred for hundreds of years to be territorial,  they do not stray from their area and fences are not required. They are “heafed” to the fell.

Herdwick sheep help to maintain the beautiful rugged landscape of the Lake District by grazing in otherwise inaccessible areas.

“Herdwyck” means sheep pasture. They have been recorded as far back as the 12th century.

Beatrix Potter , the children’s author, was an expert Herdwick breeder.

Felting a Herdwick

I have made some Herdwick sheep in the past but discovered a renewed desire to felt some after a lovely weekend away in Ambleside in the Lake District. On the journey up we saw many sheep in fields and I was looking forward to seeing my first Herdys! For me it was like going on safari and being excited to see my first giraffe!

On a walk into fields in Ambleside, I saw some sheep with the characteristic grey colouring. So exciting!! (Well for me, husband didn’t seem as impressed)

 

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Actual real life Herdwick sheep!

 

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Some wool! Although tempted, I left it where it was.

Back home I got my wool out and got stuck in. I decided to make three at once so I made three heads using white Shetland batt and three bodies in grey Shetland batt. I then covered the bodies in grey Herdwick wool and the heads in white Bluefaced Leicester wool.

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The Herdwick wool has long fibres and is rough in texture and wispy so might not suit felters who like everything smooth and neat, but I love the fact that it feels and looks so natural.

I added features to the face and felted the head onto the body.

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I made four little legs, again from white Shetland batt, and again adding a layer of Bluefaced Leicester wool. This is more time consuming but the batt is so much easier to felt larger shapes with due to its fuzzy nature, it also works out a bit cheaper.

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I felted the legs on and felted on extra grey Herdwick wool to cover any white bits around the joins of the legs and heads. ( I might be better putting the Herdwick wool on last next time)

Here’s the finished result

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This one is for sale in my Etsy shop.

 

 

 

 

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craft fairs

How to survive a Craft Fair

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My first craft fair table set up. I used a tablecloth from home. This table had a Christmas theme so I enhanced it with battery operated candles, fairly lights and table gems.

 

Hello, I wouldn’t call myself an expert on craft fairs yet as I’ve only done four so far but hopefully if you’re a true beginner, or just wondering whether to have a go, you may find these tips useful.

  • It may sound obvious but do a bit of a reccy first to find out where you will be able to park and how far you will have to carry all your stuff.
  • Do a mock up of your display beforehand. Find out how big your table’s going to be, measure out that same space at home and set out your wares.
  • Pack everything up the night before, it might be an early start and you don’t want to be rushing round and possibly forgetting essential items.
  • Take a table covering. It can just be a sheet or table cloth or you might want to invest in buying some material that sets off your products well. If selling small delicate items such as jewellery keep it plain or your products will get lost in the pattern!
  • Take sellotape, pens, spare tags, scissors….
  • Find out when you’re allowed to start setting up and give yourself plenty of time so that you are not feeling rushed. If you have a bit of time left over before the customers start to arrive, you could use it to have a nose around the other stalls, chat to fellow stallholders, visit the loo, get a hot drink and you’re good to go!
  • Arrange your display at different heights. I bought a crate from Hobbycraft for £8 and put that on its side with some items inside and some on top. I have also turned a roasting dish upside down and covered it with material, and stood felted items on top of sparkly gift boxes. A bit of variety in height adds to the interest of your table.
  • Look up and smile at people who approach, even if you sense that they don’t particularly want to engage in conversation with you, at least you look approachable if they want to ask a question.
  • Take something to do. I always have a felting project with me. If I’m not making many sales, at least I’m being productive. Also it’s nice for people to watch how the items are made.
  • Its up to you whether you display your prices or leave it for people to ask you so that you have an opportunity to engage in conversation with them. I display my prices, I like to help potential customers out!
  • Take a lunch, a drink and some snacks to keep you going.
  • If you can , arrange for a friend to pop along to see you at lunchtime. If you’re feeling a bit nervous about the whole thing or worrying whether you’re ever going to sell anything, it can be reassuring to chat to someone you know. They can also mind your stall while you pop to the loo/grab a hot drink. (friendly fellow stallholders will also keep an eye on things for you if you need to step away)
  • Have a tub of change ready.
  • Invest in a card reader in case customers like your goods but are short on cash. I use a Zettle one. Advertise that you have one.
  • Wear layers if its likely to be chilly. Even if you’re indoors , if they have the doors open it can be draughty.
  • Consider wearing an apron with pockets so you have change, card reader, phone, pen etc to hand.
  • Think about what your customers are going to take your products home in. Most stall holders, including me, buy brown paper bags for this purpose. I have started personalising mine by buying alphabet stamps and stamping my shop name on them.
  • Have a stock of business cards/leaflets on your table.
  • Table prices vary and are often a reflection of how popular and therefore how much money you are likely to make from the fair. The really popular fairs in Liverpool where I live require applications months in advance.
  • Take paper and pen to make note of what you have sold/how much for. I write down a list of everything I am taking so that I can just cross it out. Some of my items are also listed in my Etsy shop. I write an E next to these to remind me so that I can delete it from my shop ASAP.
  • Have a range of different priced products out. a lot of people visiting craft fairs are not looking to spend a lot of money so have lower priced items ready so at least you can hopefully make a sale or two.

 

Don’t be despondent if you don’t sell much/anything at your craft fair. Some people are very successful at selling online but fairs just don’t work for them. It might be that that particular fair just isn’t right for what you’re selling, try another one. Maybe that same venue will be successful for you in nicer weather/in a different selling season. In other words, try two or three before you think about giving up!

Even if you don’t sell much, fairs are usually lovely places to chat with your fellow stallholders who will be like-minded people. You will get useful feedback (even if its non verbal, what items are customers mostly drawn to?) and positive comments and compliments from people looking at your stall. It may be that a customer takes away a business card or leaflet and then looks you up online and buys from you at a later date.

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Apologies for the quality of the photograph but I wanted to include this to show my changes for a Spring craft fair. This time I have bought material in a spring/nature inspired green and enhanced it with paper daisies. I also bought a little fenced crate to put some of my dogs in. Enhancements from Hobbycraft.

I hope that you enjoy your fairs and remember, you will gain from the experience, even if it’s just a list of things to remember to do/not do next time! You may even make some money! Let me know how you get on.

 

 

 

 

wool

Using British Wool

Cruelty free wool?

Copy of 1180px x 360px – sheep banner 2I love animals and am a vegetarian. When I saw a post about someone using vegan materials to crochet with because they thought using wool was being unkind to animals, it made me stop and think.

I love using wool and the fact that it is a natural material, I love the feel and smell of it. I wanted to know if I could be more ethical and animal friendly whilst still using wool.

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My learning journey..

When I first started felting I bought “wool” from Hobbycraft. As time went on, and I started buying from more specialist wool shops, I started noticing differences in the textures of the wools and that wool came from different breeds!

Looking into sheep friendly wool, I came across the organisation British Wool.

What’s so good about British Wool?

  • They promote high standards of animal welfare
  • They provide shearing skills training to their wool producers
  • They educate on best industry standards

and also worth bearing in mind…

  • UK sheep farms are small, the farming is not intensive
  • The sheep are raised naturally outdoors on pasture

They have detailed Welfare regulations on their website and excellent information on the 60 breeds of sheep that we have in the U.K.! Phew! Looks like I have a lot more learning to do!

Where can I buy it?

Looking to buy British Wool? I can thoroughly recommend the excellent online shop “World of Wool”. It sells a wide range of natural and dyed wool. The British Wool symbol is displayed on all the relevant wools making it easy to search for. Another useful source of information about British wools and their qualities.

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Herdwick sheep made using Herdwick wool!

 

What about merino wool?

Merino wool – people often wonder about whether this is cruelty free, as mulesing is a cruel practice that happens at some merino sheep farms. Please be aware of this and buy your merino wool from sources that buy from non mulesed sheep farms, as I do.

 

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Yellow merino wool on the inside adds a pop of colour

 

 

So, next steps for me?

  • To continue to search for, buy and use British wool wherever I can.
  • To look into buying from individual British farms and farmers, where I can be assured of the animal’s welfare
  • To consider some vegan options and alternatives
  • To continue to specify the type of wool I use in my felted products

 

 

Felted bowls

Felting bowls makes me happy

I love felting bowls.

Bowls, vessels, pods…. whatever you call them, I just love making them.

 

I wet felt them using a resist method, a process that is now second nature to me. I just set up in the kitchen (best place because it can get pretty wet and soapy), put some tunes on and go! You can do the rubbing and rolling parts quite aggressively too if you have some pent-up tension inside you!

The fulling stage comes next and is one that I really enjoy. This is where I gather my tools (anything with a rounded or curved edge, spoons, ice cream scoops etc) and rub at the wool to firm up the shape of it. (A good felted bowl is always soft but shouldn’t be floppy!) It’s exciting to see the shape of the bowl start to appear, from the felted wool that was round and flat.

Ok, you can’t put your soup in them (but I now have a hankering to try out making ceramic bowls….), but they are great for putting a tea light in. PLEASE make sure it is a battery operated one though! The light just loves to glow through the wool.

Because they are made from wool, they are safer for children’s bedrooms too. Try breaking one, you can’t! Nice and soft for jewellery and watches too.

I use a variety of wool colours and types to make my bowls. It’s always good to learn new things and learning about the different wools and their textures has been really interesting.

If you like felt bowls too, or are just curious, have a look at my felt bowls in my Etsy shop, Felt Fabulous Gifts. There are also some pictures there that show some of the process of making them.

Thanks for reading!

http://www.feltfabulousgifts.etsy.com

custom dogs

Custom made felted dogs

Your dog in felt!

A perfect present for the dog lover in your life.

Bespoke, pure wool, needle felted dogs.

poochie portraits

Dog portraits on a 10 x 10 cm canvas

Price £20

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I do cats too!

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bandana buddies

Perfect for your desk at work or a student’s reminder of home! Complete with a spotty bandana or collar.

Approximately 10-12cm tall

Price £25

faithful friends

Made with the proportions, shape and other characteristics of your dog. Fur patterning recreated. Complete with felted bandana or collar.

dog size approximately 12-13cm long and 10-12cm tall

Price £40

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Betty the cockapoo

Interested?

Message me. I will need photographs of your dog, with as many viewpoints as you can, include back, legs, tail. 

Postage currently costs £3.95 within the U.K.

I also post internationally and can quote you a price for that when you message me.

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If you wish to have a variation on any of the above, please do get in touch! These are bespoke dogs made especially and uniquely for the customer and I want you to be happy with your new felted friend!

 

needle felting, shop

Bunny blog post!

Hello! Welcome to my post about my needle felted bunnies !

Last week I was feeling a bit under the weather, you know, where you don’t feel awful but you have not a lot of energy.

Making more bowls felt out of the question as that involved standing in the kitchen for lengthy periods of time and vigourously rubbing and rolling as I wet felted.

A couple of weeks earlier, whilst sitting on a bus, I had noticed a rabbit (a pretend one) attached to a student’s rucksack and had that lightbulb moment; ping! I’ll make bag bunnies!

Here is my attempt.

 

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Bag bunny attempt

Yeah, not great. Disheartened I left bunny making for a while…until last week when I thought I’d have another go.

What helped me this time was actually looking at REAL rabbits. I have two in my garden! What a wasted opportunity if I don’t observe them! I noticed that I’d got the nose shape all wrong and his front paws were too big.

Needle felted rabbits after real rabbit observation.

Actually, the rabbit with the carrot is a slightly improved version that I did once I’d got more in the swing of it. The first version wasn’t so smiley and his back feet not as substantial. He also didn’t start off with a green scarf.

I put the white rabbit on my Etsy shop and then rediscovered some accessories from my old card making/wedding invitation days.

This inspired me to make a bunny bride!

 

Using some of these accessories, I then improved my white bunny by adding a ribbon around her neck and giving her some flowers to hold. I made her feet more substantial too and improved her nose by adding a bit of brown under the pink. I relisted her as the new improved version.

 

Then followed smaller, “younger” bunnies… A cheeky brother and sister pair…

 

And finally some babies! I had wet felted some brown Bluefaced Leicester wool a while ago (to make cloaks for little Lego figures) and thought this would make a lovely blanket for them. I blanket stitched around this and added some daisy stitches. I also wet felted a bowl shape as a bed and embroidered a couple of daisies on there too. All my bunnies, even these baby ones, have “whiskers”, made from threading invisible thread through their faces using a needle, ouch!

So, there we are. I really enjoyed my week of needle felting bunnies. It was exciting to feel myself getting better at the process as time went on. I came across the rabbit that was my very first attempt at needle felting, probably from a couple of years ago now.

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First ever go at needle felting.

I was so proud of him and I actually like the shape of him. Hmmm, might have a go at other bunnies in this pose…. I’m sure I will be returning to bunny felting again soon. Watch this space!

Most bunnies (apart from early “experiments”) available to buy at my Etsy shop.

shop

Featured Content

Custom made felted dogs

Your dog in felt!

 

A perfect present for the dog lover in your life.

Bespoke, pure wool, needle felted dogs.

 

poochie portraits

Dog portraits on a 10 x 10 cm canvas

Price £20

 

 

bandana buddies

Perfect for your desk at work or a student’s reminder of home! Complete with a spotty bandana or collar.

Approximately 10-12cm tall

Price £25

 

 

 

faithful friends

Made with the proportions, shape and other characteristics of your dog. Fur patterning recreated. Complete with felted bandana or collar.

dog size approximately 12-13cm long and 10-12cm tall

Price £40

 

Interested?

Message me. I will need photographs of your dog, with as many viewpoints as you can, include back, legs, tail.

Postage currently costs £3.90 within the U.K.

I also post internationally and can quote you a price for that when you message me.

20170829_124133

 

If you wish to have a variation on any of the above, please do get in touch! These are bespoke dogs made especially and uniquely for the customer and I want you to be happy with your new felted friend!

 

This is a featured content post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post.