Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Its Party Time in Sydney

Sydney must be the ultimate party capital. Everywhere you go there are parties going on, works parties, family parties, friends parties, corporate parties. It's a mad time of year. Just standing at Circular Key at all times of the day waiting for the bus I can see girls dressed up to the nines with 7 inch high heels tottering on and off the ferries, travelling to all parts of the Sydney harbour. I am staying in an apartment by the harbour in Pyrmont which is close to Darling Harbour, the entertainment centre of Sydney and there is a lovely park running all along the harbour edge. This is full evenings and weekends with groups getting together after work and in their leisure time to have barbecues or picnics or just exercising. A really outdoor city.

Here are some images from one of the parties seen. I couldn't walk past without snapping a few pics. Crazy people!!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Look at these windows in the Louis Vuiton shop in Sydney. I think they are wild and so clever.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Deskbound guys and gals play with wool

Last week I ran an 'Away Day' aka fun day out for a media communications office team. They wanted a team bonding event and I devised the perfect scenario for them....a chance to design their fantasy office layout. This allowed them to have all their favourite items around them, the bar, the swimming pool, the pool table and of course the sun loungers.
They worked in five teams of three and after brainstorming and scribbling ideas on paper they cut out the layout and design in pre-felt and then wet felted all the plans.
Working in a Picasso sort of way, in both plan and elevations, they created some ingenious schemes. The groups then had to explain to each other group the concepts, the methods and the finished effect, all washed down with copious amounts of tea and coffee and the most delicious cupcakes from Cakeophony. Check out that colour!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Look what I came home with from the Designer Makers Fair on the weekend. I can never exhibit as these fairs without buying the other stallholders work. I fell for Uncle Albert (as he is being called now). He was looking very festive with streamers and a mince pie in his saucer but the mince pie had to go. I think he is just fab and James Cochrane who made him is so clever and talented.

Monday, 7 November 2011

I will be at this Designer Makers Fair on the 12th and 13th November. It will be at the Hampstead Town Hall, Haverstock Hill, London NW3 4QP.
It promises to be an excellent event with 22 different Designer Makers there showcasing their wares. As you can see I will be showing my little friends.
Admission is free and the times are 11am to 6pm on saturday 12th, 10am to 5pm on sunday 13th.
Hope to see you all there.

Well, I've been in my shed for the last few weeks hatching out new friends to add to my collection. I'm showing a few of them here. I've now added rabbits to my obsession and a couple of sheep thrown in for good measure. I have such a good time making their little clothes. When I was little I used to make clothes for my teddy Buttercup Billy ( a teddy with gender confusion). I was given lovely fabrics from my aunt who was a dressmaker and used to construct beautiful evening dresses, so Buttercup Billy was the best dressed teddy in town with his/her green satin evening dress.
Hope you all like my new friends. PS. I still have Buttercup, hairless but still loved.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

happy days at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally

What a lovely lot of people I had for my workshop at Ally Pally. The show was as wonderful as it always is. Lots of interesting things to see and to look at, not that I had any time to look except for a very quick visit to my favourite woolly people Piiku to buy some of their gorgeous wool. New colours this year, great excitement. I had so many nice people come to visit my stand, the first time I had taken a place of my own. Wonderful Nicky Bibby came to help out on the Friday and Saturday and of course I had my good friend Jill Denton who was sharing the stand with me this year.
My workshop was for felt inlay pictures using the delicious Felbi pre-felts, of which I am the UK supplier. The pieces my class made were truly gorgeous. Here is a sample of what they did.

I also had some of my needle felted friends with me and a few of them didn't come home with me. Here I am with Maurice Mouse, named by his new mummy who apparently couldn't live without him and contacted me afterwards for a sale.

Monday, 19 September 2011

New arrivals

These are a couple of new needle felted animals that have found their way out of my wool bag. The rabbit has a lovely white fluffy tail and a very large carrot. The other is a Private Eye mouse keeping an eye on the felt toy box, making sure that all the creatures are behaving themselves.
I really must stop this obsession with mice!

Country Crafts at Hever Castle

I spent Saturday in the lovely surroundings of Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. What a beautiful place. I expected to see the Red Queen from Alice bursting out from the amazing topiary. There were Tudor dancers and singers and a recorder group playing. Very Elizabethan! The castle was used for location for the making of 'The other Boleyn girl'. I was there to demonstrate feltmaking and I had decided to do some needle felting. Difficult to talk to visitors and needle felt at the same time, could do some horrible damage to myself. Luckily I only stuck the needle in my finger once.

When I got home after a smashing supper at Annie Hawkins' house I found that the film was on the TV so of course I had to watch it.

Glove workshop with Cathy Unwin

I had a fab day yesterday at the glove workshop that Cathy Unwin gave for Region 4. I cannot believe that the enormous templates that we used would ever shrink down to fit my hand snugly but it did. I was using my own special dyed wool which felts like a dream. I now have to think about what additions I should make to the gloves. Should I sew on beads, do some embroidery or what? Such decisions.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Workshop at Urban Yarns, Vancouver

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year in Vancouver. This was the day planned for the Creatures Workshop at Urban Yarns.
We had three air conditioners going and it was still hot!
There were twelve participants, most of whom had never made felt before except by knitting and then throwing it into a washing machine. They all did brilliantly and we even managed to squeeze in a lovely high tea at a very posh teashop a couple of doors down from the yarn store. Urban Yarns has the most delicious yarns, most of which I had never seen before. A mouth watering selection of the softest wools, mohairs, cashmeres and fine cottons. I wanted to try out everything but there aren't enough hours in the day to do the things that I am trying to finish at the moment.
Here are some pictures from the day. Everyone had a good time and the birds all flew home.

Beautiful Vancouver

Beautiful Vancouver. At her best in the summer sunshine. Here are some images taken from an exceptionally nice restaurant on Granville Island. This is an exciting area of Vancouver with many artist and crafts galleries, a wonderful food market and eclectic clothes shops surrounded by a marina of fancy boats. Here also is another image from the city.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Wooly Canadians

By a serendipitous chance of fate I happened to stumble over a store in the Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver that got my senses buzzing. Just walking into Cara Birkland's store Birkland Bros. Wool Ltd had me sniffing the air recognising all those lovely sheepy smells that Handweavers Studio in Walthamstow used to smell of.
Cara is the 3rd generation owner of this historic store from 1939. She welcomed me with open arms and proudly took me to see her fantastically large carding machine that was brought out from the UK.
I had come to buy some felting needles for the workshop that I am giving on Sunday 21st at Urban Yarns in Vancouver. Why wasn't I doing a workshop for Cara's store she wanted to know. When I told her I hadn't known of it she made me promise to come back another time to run some workshops for her. So Vancouver, you had better watch out, I will felt the city.
Here are some pictures of the store with Cara and Eri and one of Cara with the carding machine.
Her website is and has all wooly needs including spinning wheels and looms and everything in between.

Friday, 19 August 2011

The amazing Mary Ellen Frank

Strolling through Juneau on an a mid August afternoon I happened upon a sign for a doll museum. This was on the first floor of a building tucked away in a side street.

I climbed the stairs and followed the sign and found myself in the workshop of Mary Ellen Frank who is a doll-maker extraordinaire. Mary Ellen makes dolls, but not just ordinary dolls, these are perfect representations of Northern Native Americans. She makes to commission, portrait dolls which are now in numerous private collections and museums worldwide. Everything she makes is perfect in detail and scale and her people are correct to the smallest detail including any physical differences there may be.
Here are some of her dolls and clothes made for the dolls.
Please visit her website and

Ice, ice and more ice

Alaska is big! And i have only seen a tiny fraction of it. But what fabulous sights. Glaciers 400 ft high, icebergs so blue that you cannot believe they are real and settlements only reachable by air or sea.
We visited Sitka, Juneau, Skagway and Katchekan. Sitka was a busy place with some very cute little houses. Juneau is the State capital. Amazing really considering that there are no roads in or out and can only be reached by boat or air. Skagway was a busy place thriving in summer with all the visitors but deserted in winter except for the local doctor and supermaket.
Here are a selection of images from these trips.

The wonders of the Frozen North

Wow! I have always wanted to be Anchored out in Anchorage (as Michelle Shocked sung) however it was only a fleeting visit to Anchorage and it was pretty grey, cold and rainy. I was actually anchored in Seward a 4 hour train ride away. Seward is delightful with cute house, boats and planes everywhere. Surrounded by mountains, this is where the cruise ships go from and it was where our cruise started on it's journey through the Inner Passage down to Vancouver.
A wonderful trip with amazing sites along the way. Here are just a few of the magical images along the way.
This is the view from the train on the journey to Seward.

Monday, 1 August 2011

What are you all doing on Bank Holdiay Monday? Well, if you have nothing going on why don't you come along to Lauderdale House in Highgate Hill, North London to the 30th anniversary of the Lauderdale House Craft Fair. Lots of nice things for sale, nice cafe and some musical entertainers. Open all day. Lets hope the weather is nice. Here are some of my friends who will be there with me.

Well, holiday time is here at last and I am off to the frozen north. I am off to Canada and although Vancouver is not going to be in the minuses when I am there I will be going North to Alaska. Flying up to Anchorage, a place I have always wanted to visit, and then on a cruise down through the Hubbard Glacier and on to the Inside Passage finishing at Vancouver where I am giving a workshop for Urban Yarns We are going to be making my crazy birds. Check out this picture of some of my Felted Friends.
I have joined the 21st century. I have a Felt Better Facebook page, name felt-better, and now I am officially a Twit. My Twitter name is feltyfriend so I hope that some of you out there will be 'tweeting' me from time to time. I have fought shy of being so available but that is really just silly. I need to be 'out there' to ensure that feltmaking can become even more available. Please check out my Facebook page and maybe even become my friend so that you can see all the things that are happening in my felty world.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Well the last lesson was today, the last of the 10 week course I have been running in the slightly grungy craft workshops off the Holloway Road. Maybe a bit grubby but a great space nonetheless.
My lovely group of students brought in their felt work and their portfolios to show. We oohed and aahed over the lovely hats and smart berets and all the extra bits that they had done at home. I hope I have inspired them to carry on producing such great work. Here is a picture of some of the work and also a picture of my group. In case any of you reading this are interested a new 10 week course will be starting on September 12th every monday until November 14th. Just visit my website and drop me a line.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Went to the New Designers Show at the Islington Design Centre on thursday. Walking back to the station I saw this sight. The cat's name is Bob and he belongs to a really nice Big Issue seller who 'pitch' is just outside Angel Station. Bob is just like a dog, walks on a lead, sits when told and wags his tail when he's happy. A lovely cat. If you are in the area stop and say hello and buy a copy of the Big Issue. It'll help Bob and his man.

This is the finished piece inspired by Hundertwasser, hanging in my dining room at home. It is 60cm by 1m. I think I will tackle a smaller one next time.

Back from Latvia last week. I had a fantastic time at the workshop of Karoliina Arvilommi and Rod Welch. I love Karoliina's work and have never been to Riga so it was the perfect opportunity. Ilona Vasilevska arranged and organised everything. She lives in Riga, about 15 km away from the venue which was a detached villa with enough bedrooms to fit in all 12 participants. We were from the UK, Holland, Belarus, Riga and Russia. We worked very hard, it rained a lot but we all had a wonderful time. Rod first talked to us about Karoliina and his work and then told us to forget everything we ever knew about making felt. I don't think we quite knew what to expect but by the end of the 5 days we had all made our samples and finished our main piece and also managed to get in a bit of Riga sightseeing. We also went to an amazing house in Jurmala which is a seaside resort near to Riga. The house was called the House of the White Dragon and was like something out of the Brothers Grimm fairy stories, surrounded by carved wooden creatures and animals which I am sure came alive at night. Can't wait to go back there!
Karoliina and Rod were extremely patient and helped us all to complete all pieces in time. Some of us (me in particular) bit off more than they could chew and insisted on making pieces too big, but I needed it for a particular place in my house so that's the size it had to be. Despite panicking about it not being finished/dry enough to take home all was well and I didn't have to fly home wearing all my clothes at once as I had a soggy heavy mess in my suitcase (which I would have done if it had been necessary).
Now the piece is home and hanging proudly in my dining room. I think it looks really good. But then I am biased.

It's July already and I have neglected my Blog.
This is slightly understandable as I have a new addition to the family. Amelie Rose arrived on June 1st, a sister for Joshua. She is beautiful and my first granddaughter so now I am busy knitting pink things. Joshua, I think, would have rather had a combine harvester or a bulldozer with big grab hands but the choice wasn't his.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

My felting workshops are going well. I have good bookings and my students come from all over. I decided that I would like to take the teaching further and so I designed a 10 week felting course that covers all the fundamentals of feltmaking and gives a very good overview of all the techniques. This course starts on May 9th in my Highgate, North London workshop. If any of you reading this are interested please go to my website for details or email me on

My workshops are travelling too and on March 25th and 26th I am in Oxford at The Jam Factory running a Beginners and an Improvers workshop. If you are interested look at website.

I will also be at the Stitch & Craft Show at Olympia this month from 17th March to 20th March. Maybe I will see some of you there, please come and say hello. My stand is under the banner 'Felt like sisters'.

So now for the felting bit. It seems that a lot has been happening in my felting world as well as family life. I spent seven weeks in Australia over Christmas without being able to do any textile stuff at all and then came home raring to go, but the cold has kept me away from my 10ft by 6ft shed (sorry no metric yet) in the garden. However I have been tempted out there as the snowdrops began to emerge from the frozen ground.
One of the things I disliked was needle felting. I don't know why. Maybe it's the needle stick wounds that my hands are covered with, but I have decided that I have to suffer for my art. The trick is to keep my eyes focused on what I am doing and not be distracted by that sweet little robin singing to me from the tree outside my shed, or the helicopter circling for the third time up above me.
It all started with a mouse, a little mouse in my new kitchen. I thought I had managed to seal up all holes, cracks, crannies etc but I hadn't realised that the plumber had made a whacking great hole in my kitchen wall from my utility room and not filling it in.
The little mouse came in, liked what he saw and decided to stay. How long he had been there is anyone guess but much as I like mice (and I do, I do) I decided that my new kitchen was not the place to make his home. We tried to catch it with tempting peanut butter and cheese but he managed to lick it off and scarpered. The hole was filled in and the mice went or maybe it was the other way around.
This must have set up something in my brain because soon I was hatching out these little guys using the dreaded needle felting technique. And now I'm getting to like it more.

I should be ashamed of myself!
How can I have a blog and not write anything.
In my defence though I can say that a lot of my year has been taken up with new arrivals and refurbishing my home. All that is done and dusted although my newest grandchild is so gorgeous that I have to include a picture of him a couple of weeks old being bathed in the kitchen sink. My mother would never have approved!