Monday, January 30, 2012

The magic of Needle Felting

One day my friends and I were shopping about and exploring new and interesting places.  One such place is a the Hill Country Weavers were my friend was in the search for some high quality yarn.  I explored this location seeking ideas and/or inspiration.  Just as I turned around my other friend pop up with a book and pointed out needle felting and expressed how cool it is. I glanced at it and made a mental note to research it at a later date.

Learning a new medium and technique called Needle Felting.  It's an interesting journey exploring something new and unknown so I went to the library and of course the internet. Awesome places.  I searched and learned more about it.  Finally I was ready to try it.  I went over to our local hobby store and got a sample needle felting kit and some felt. After awhile of trying to needle felt a dog, I realized that using the single needle was not working so I went ahead and got the needle felt pen.  The needle felt pen is a set of three needles held in a such a way that it helps to speed up the needle felting process.

Here is my first attempt to needle felt a dog:

Felt Dog - Two tone Golden -002

It's like magic forming the felt into the shape of a dog and gradually adding the colors, eyes and nose. Happy with the result of the dog I decided to try a more complex felting project thus I chose an Owl.  Well, a barn owl since it had a nice ring around it's face.  The owl I did in stages (body, legs, head and lastly the wings).  Here's Owly:

Felt Barn Owl -002

Wow, this is fun. I can sure get into felting. What's next?  I know let me try needle felting a doll and I know the ideal model for my doll. It's gonna be Kate Bush.  After several searches I found it, I'll use her Album cover Under the Ivy.   She's so beautiful and quite inspiring.  I consider her to be one of the best and most original artist out there.

I needed more material but I was hesitate to order online without seeing what I was getting. Luckily, there's a local vendor called Living Felt near the edge of town but well worth the drive.  Lynette welcomed me and help me through this journey.  I learned about the different types of fibers, needles, and so much more. I got my material and I couldn't wait to get home and start on my next project felting the doll.   

Making the felt doll was quite challenging for a first timer.  I started with the body, arm and legs. I worked my way to the head, hair, and ivy costume.  Each section took some time and careful needle felting since at first I kept poking my fingers and after awhile, I learned to slow down and be more focused on the task at hand. Those needles are very sharp and if you're not careful you could seriously stab your finger.  So be very careful when needle felting.  Making the ivies became more difficult as I went from the largest to the smallest.  But eventually all the parts started to come together.  I slowed down and patiently focused on the detail of Kate's face and hair.  Layer and layers of felt form the eyes, the lips and the hair.  At last my felt doll started to look a lot like Kate Bush.  I needed to wrap thing up by forming her hand and feet and then she was done.  Take a look:

Kate Bush Felt Doll -007

What I found interesting in using this medium is how quickly you can form shapes and how clean it is when you're done at the end of the day.  Very different from working with such mediums as clay or paper mache.

If you're not afraid of poking your finger, I would recommend you try it.  It's quite fun, peaceful and really helps feed the imagination. More so when seeing something formed out of a mesh of fiber into your creations.

Colorful Crochet Star Pillow

In an earlier post I shared my experience making a colorful Baby's Star Blanket; well, after making the blanket I had quite a bit of left over yarn so I decided to make a small pillow.  I dedicated this project to my mother. I have crocheted so many things and as of yet, I had not given her a crochet item made by me. And here was my opportunity to experiment and in turn a lovely gift for my mother.  

I worked on making two star panels that would come together to form the pillow.  After a few days working on the panel I had finished them.  I made five rows of alternating colors.  Next up to make the liner.  I bought a sheer shimmering white fabric.  At this point, I called my mother since she used to be a seamstress and was the person who made our clothing when I was young.  I asked her how to make a paper pattern for a pillow I was working on (I didn't tell her the shape of the pillow, I wanted to surprise her.)  She was so happy to be helping me over the phone.  

Funny how a flood gates of memories came rushing in for her.  She shared with me the days when she worked making hospital garments and how fast she was at making them.  Gosh, I felt her pride, her confidence, and she so vibrant over the phone--Wow, I had not seen this side of my mother.  She's awesome.   

Star Pillow

With the paper pattern cut out and the sheer shimmering white fabric in hand I started to attached the paper pattern onto the fabric.  Firstly, I took the sheer fabric and folded it so that I can get two panels once I had cut the fabric. I secured the paper pattern onto the folded fabric and proceeded to make the cuts.  Without removing the paper pattern, I would lift the edge of the paper and begin to hand stitch the two panels together.  I gradually work around the star shape until I was close to the starting point of my stitch.  I left an opening so that I can turn the liner inside out and stuff it and finish sewing the remainder of the opening until it was securely closed.

Star Pillow

The real challenge begins when you line up the two star panels.  After you line them up, then you have two options:  

1) to sew them together and insert a zipper to allow the removal of the liner or 
2) crochet to the two panels until you are four inches close to the starting point and then insert the liner and finish the remainder.  

This project took me over a week to make. The pillow measures 20 inches across from tip to tip.  Here is the finished star pillow:

Star Pillow

Once completed I mailed this colorful star pillow to my mother.  She called me when she got the package.  I listened to her voice as it crackled when she expressed her gratitude.  It was the first time she received a crocheted item from me.  Such projects are truly a labor of love and more so when the receiver appreciates your work.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Colorful Crochet Blankets

Some people enjoy knitting while others enjoy crocheting.  I've learned to crochet on my own, therefore, my blankets are simple and yet colorful.  Recently I made two baby's blanket (one for a boy and the other for a girl).

Baby's Blanket
                                            Baby Boy's Blanket

The baby boy's blanket is a square with three color yarns (beige, light green, and green). Each color are in an alternating row almost like seeing water waves.

It's an interesting process crochet a row, change color, flip, crochet another row, change color, flip and continue each row until you reach 36 inch square.

It's a slow process since you don't want to skip a stitch.  I also add a nice and tight boarder which completes the blanket.

This baby boy's blanket took me a week to do in the evenings.  I mailed it to the happy family and some time later I received a heartfelt thank you.  

Baby's Star Blanket
                                            Baby Girl's Blanket

The baby girl's blanket is a star shape design made with white and rainbow color yarns. This was my first time crocheting a star shape blanket, therefore, it took me a little longer to do since at times, I had to undo a row or two because I lost count.

The process on this one is more challenging than the square blanket since you start at the center stitching a circle then move up to the next row.

I'm moving from right to left thus when I next double stitch (DS) I'm offsetting it and then I go to the next hole. In this hole I do the following corner set (3 DS, 3 Single Stitch, 3 DS) and then go to the next hole and do a DS.  At this point instead of going to the next hole skip it and then DS, next hole do the corner set and repeat until loops is closed.  

Every time you move up/out from the center of the star as you crochet from one corner point to the next corner point you'll see a pattern as each row increases... 

                        start of circle, 4 SS, slip stitch (sl st)
                        row 1 circle 20 DS, 
                        row 2 { 3SS, 3DS, 1DS, pinch gap, 1DS, 3DS, 3SS }, 
                        row 3 { 3SS, 3DS, 2DS, pinch gap, 2DS, 3DS, 3SS }, 
                        row 4 { 3SS, 3DS, 4DS, pinch gap, 4DS, 3DS, 3SS }, 
                        row 5 { 3SS, 3DS, 6DS, pinch gap, 6DS, 3DS, 3SS },
                        row 6 { 3SS, 3DS, 8DS, pinch gap, 8DS, 3DS, 3SS },
                        and so on,
until you've reached the desired size.

The pinch gap as I call it allows for the v-shape as you move along from one corner point to the next.

Once I understood the rhythm of this pattern I felt more comfortable making each row as the blanket grew in size.

I tried following the free pattern flyer I got from the craft store but I didn't have the patience to follow the written instructions so I basically looked at the image and since the blanket had alternating colors, I counted the rows and obtain the blanket size.  That did the trick for me.

Just like the baby boy's blanket, I finished the star blanket with a nice boarder. This baby girl's blanket took me two weeks to do in the evenings.  I mailed it to the happy family and some time later I received a heartfelt thank you.  

So nice to know that both children are enjoying their handmade blankets.

Perfect for this time of year.  Brrr.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Welcome 2012

Happy New Year!!

And with that a re-boot by leaving the past in the past and moving forward.

                                          Photo taken at Pedernales Fall State Park

I enjoy all the creative aspect of life. Funny though, how a simple leaf can spark something inside you.  Just by looking at a simple leaf, it can lead to ideas in textile design by getting patterns from the leaf's veins and obtaining the colors from the interplay of yellow, red, brown and green.  Look around and you'll see so much more. I enjoy seeing creativity everywhere.  My intention is to tap into that creativity again.

I've have spent most of my life helping others and in the process, I've neglected myself.  Now, it's time to help me. I want my dream to be a reality.  This will be a journey of self discovery.  A chance to pursue in life in a new direction.

Do you recall, how much fun you had tapping into your imagination and from here making it a reality?  I did, once upon a time long ago, and now I want to experience that again.  I remember being happiest when I was drawing and creating something out of nothing.  Seeing the happiness that my work brought to others was magical.

I look forward to creating, spreading the magic and sharing my journey with you.