How Time Flies

20161104_114532_hdr-2I can’t believe how quickly fall went for me. And the holidays passed me right up. I didn’t get to finish as many projects as I would have liked to, but people know my schedule and tend to be pretty understanding. I think they also know how much time goes into each project, and the fact that December is the busy month for us dog groomers. Many give me plenty of time for their holiday gifts. Luckily, I don’t have anything too Christmas specific, so they can enjoy their gifts all year long.  I also had to take some time out to celebrate my baseball team finally winning the world series.  My husband may be a south sider, but that won’t stop me from celebrating!

14435342_10102735310762708_3590693832855680938_oSo after my last post, I had a few things happen.  I made a cat for my friend.  The cat has glow in the dark eyes and a pipe cleaner in the tail to allow it to be shaped.  I’m actually pretty proud of how it turned out.  I wanted to try a more cartoon figure rather than a more realistic animal.  Just to get some understanding on shapes.  I really struggle with getting the eyes the same size and shape.  I either had one that was more almond looking or one that was larger than the other.  I really need to practice making the same shape.  I’m hoping to purchase some tools to help me out with this in the future.  But for now, I have to rely on making my tracing patterns a bit more consistent.

15016256_10102849730823988_1661818890046258543_oAfter Halloween, I had to take some time to prep my poodles and westie for competition.  Took home some more medals, and I got to take home some mohair.  They had kind of a petting zoo there, and I was talking to lady about the Huacaya Alpaca she had.  When I did the alpaca days near my father’s farm, they only had Suri Alpaca, but I wanted to touch, what I call the poodle alpaca type.  She mentioned she had two over grown goats that I could shave so,  I had the luxury of shaving two angora goats and they allowed me to keep the fiber.  They were barely a year in age, so the fiber is extremely fine.  

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I have never worked with mohair before, so I asked around as to how I can work it and I got a lot of mixed reviews.  Some say they use it with felting, and others say it won’t felt.  It smelled, clearly, like a farm, so I kind of kept it outside.  It’s pretty chilly her in Chicago for November, so it didn’t seem like it would harm anything.  They were double wrapped in bags and in my screened porch, so it ended up working for me.  It also gave me time to research how to clean the fiber, and what I would need to finish the process.

img_20161115_172311I was lucky enough to have found a really good deal on a drum carder a couple weeks later, and I snatched that up, as soon as I was able.  So on an unscheduled day off, I decided to try and clean the fiber.  I skirted outside, it smelled really bad, and pulled out all the gross parts that were stained from the fiber being so matted around the potty areas.  Once those areas were gone, I grabbed one of our 5 gallon buckets from all the construction in my house and boiled up some water on the kettle.  I have, literally, zero kitchen, so that is the only way I can really get really hot water.  The tub facet water is warm, but I can stand under it on it’s hottest setting and with the fiber being so gross, I thought I might need a little extra heat.  So I did 1/4 hot tap water and a 1/4 kettle boiled water leaving the bucket only half full.  This left enough room for me to add the entirety of the pelt to be put in for cleaning.  One goat had a finer feel than the other, so I didn’t want them getting mixed together.

img_20161116_101920After I was done cleaning, I needed some space to allow this fiber to dry.  I don’t really have a set up (yet), so I kind of used some of our shelving that was pulled during construction to make some drying racks.  It actually worked quite well.  At this point, I remember thinking, ‘this isn’t very much fiber, what will I do with it?’  Until I got to the drum carder and started carding the fiber, did I realize that I actually had a lot of wool.  I’m still not done carding all this wool, and that is with the help of an extra pair of hands to kind of pick the wool while I took pieces to put on the drum.

drum-carderThe carding process was definitely a process to kind of figure out.  My mother and I, who were both curious about the whole process, kind of just threw it onto the feeder and let the drum do it’s thing, but it was tough to turn and I was loosing a lot of fiber on the first wheel, and I also learn it’s a pain to get it off.  So I researched and found that with a finer fiber, it’s easier to self feed onto the main drum, and then take it off when the drum fills.  Then run it through again through the whole process.  That helped a lot.  And with that, I got my first batt of mohair.

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I still haven’t used it for anything.  I’m deciding if I should wait to learn how to spin and use it for that, or if it will wet felt and I can use it for the inside lining of some cozy slippers.  I’m also wondering what the adventure of dying fiber is, but I kind of need to wait for a kitchen before I can do that.  Because you know, you kind of need a way to keep the water heated.  So I just keep it stored, and when I have down time, I card away.  I have a feeling, I’m going to be carding for a while.  I’m also going to see if my handy brother-in-law can make an electric carder, as I have a bad shoulder, and while it doesn’t seem like it would cause much problem, it does add up.  Did I mention he is also very handy?  He redid all our electrical for our up and coming kitchen, so I’m sure he has some brilliant ideas to turn it into an electric drum carder.

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I also tried to make a more realistic dog.  I thought I would try a breed that I’m not as comfortable with, so I tested out my corridale fiber on a westie.  I’m still working on perfecting the breed, so I thought I would see what I’m struggling with to get an idea.  I also didn’t want to jump into a poodle right away because they are mostly just hair, and I’m struggling with duplicating pieces, so I thought I would see what it would be like to add ears with a head full of hair.  I’m still not satisfied with the ears, but over all, I think it turned out nice for my first one.

Not that I’m entering my slow month, I have a list of projects I would like to start and ones I need to finish.  I’m trying out some wet felting.  I’m really interested in making some slippers.  We have had a pretty mild winter, but January always blast us with some intense temperatures, so I think some slippers will be nice.  I also started making my mother a purse, or laptop bag, and I need to finish.  Just needed some more colors to be able to finish up the strap.

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For Christmas, everyone was wondering what they should get me.  I just told them keep in small, I really don’t like the idea of people having to spend money on me.  Especially those I know that could use it towards their kids or have tight budgets.  But being able to buy a bit of wool and still keeping the price down was perfect this Christmas.  I knew they weren’t spending a ridiculous amount on me, and they still felt happy to send a gift.  So my color collection has grown, and it will allow me to give back to them through creation.  I like the idea of making gifts for people anyways.  I really comes from the heart.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday and I am excited to ring in the new year with some time to sit down and felt!

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Fall is here

The leaves started to change colors around the Chicago land area.  The sun is also starting to set noticeably earlier, which is what I dread the most.  I’m glad I have my new hobby, as now I find resolve in the darker hours of my days.  So to keep me in the spirit, I thought I would try a bit of some fall things.  Everyone was out making pumpkins, so I thought I would try at one as well.

I took the ideas that you use string to help press in your groves, but I didn’t have string, so I thought I would try what I did have and that was embroidery thread.  I had gotten some to sew together the binding on my travel needle book.  It took a couple of tries to get it to stay in place.  It turns out that embroidery thread is very slick, so it moves around a lot.  But I borrowed a couple fingers from my husband and got it stay a bit where I wanted it.  Some areas were larger than others, but hey, pumpkins aren’t perfect right?

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So I only had a little bit of orange left, I had to do something to make it stretch.  So I used living felt lemon peel and then laid (what I’m guessing is) living felt Mango over the top with a hint of (again guessing) of hot orange in places to give it a bit of stretch marks.  Or at least, that’s what I was hoping for.  I’m guessing at the colors because some came in a goody bag, and I don’t have labels.  And the spring collection that my mother had given to me isn’t labeled either.  So I try to match as best as possible when I have the color in hand.  My goal, is to just give you an idea of the process I go through.

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So once I felted each slice in (and I felted in an extra slice so I have an odd number vs the even number you get with the string), I started with the stem and I used a cheap-y brown I had left over and in laid a bit of sage (I have a ton of sage wool) to try and give it a dried, stem look.  Then I tried a sample of the sheep locks I had gotten with one of my Living Felt orders, and I only had really bright colors.  So I figured the yellow would be cute.

The husband thinks I should add a leaf, but I tried making a leave last spring and it was awful, and I mean, who honestly keeps the leaves on when picking pumpkins.  I don’t know if anyone actually has grown pumpkins, but their leaves are huge and the stems usually have to be cute with a knife or hedge trimmers to actually get them off.  Plus, I’m bad at making leaves.  So I’m going to leave my leaf making to another project.  Maybe watch some youtube videos on it before I try it again.

There are a few things I would like to try differently, but given my lack of color choices, not bad.  I definitely need to just suck it up and make an order.  But I want to make sure I have some projects in mind rather than just randomly ordering a bunch of colors and racking up a bill.  I also need to figure out where I’m going to store all my wool.  I’m a little OCD when it comes to organization.  Right now I have everything in two plastic tubs in my kitchen and each wool is in it’s color ziplock bag.  But I think I’ll need to figure out a better way.  I may need a larger travel bag as well.  So any idea’s on storage or organization for a little felting spot in the house would be greatly appreciated. 😀

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It’s that time of year again to start thinking of Christmas gifts as well.  I have a lot of ideas in mind, but I don’t know whom I’m going to get for the grab bag that our family does.  So I guess I’ll just idea something up for everyone, and whomever I don’t get, I’ll just give it to them for their birthday.

Inventory: A lot of Pink

slowpokeSo after calculating inventory, I have found out my next Pokemon should be something pink.  I’m not a big pink person, and so I know I will never really use all this wool up.  I won this wool in a contest as part of a goody bag from Living Felt.  You could see my winning design on my first post, as it was my first felting project (still pretty proud of my first one).  So I’m using, I believe (ripped that paper off too fast), Merino felting batt in Tulip.

So I had a couple of choices.  Jigglypuff or Slowpoke.  I already did a circle shape Pokemon, and well lets face it, I’m pretty good at circles.  So I thought I would venture out into a more complicated shape.  Again, I’m using up my cheap “crappy” big store brand wool as a build out and saving my Living Felt core wool for my… more serious projects?  Well, I’m just trying to use up this stuff so it doesn’t take up more space in my wool bin (what I really mean is so I have more room when I order more wool).

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So I’m working along, making a few adjustments to positions.  I had a lot of different images to work off of, but everyone voted for the standing position that slowpoke is doing in Pokemon Go!  So that is the one I went with.  I made the legs too long, and had to cut them off.  I’ve made 3 different mouths, but none really worked.  I seem to be having a really hard time with this.  So I’m going to set this one aside and maybe try another Pokemon, and then come back.  I have made the front legs more like what they are suppose to be.  But the face.  The face just makes me angry.  So for now, he remains unfinished.

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working that duck face XD

 

Fall is Approaching

It’s been a while since I’ve written, and I think I’ve officially deemed this my night time hobby.  You know, when you’re stuck inside because the sun sets earlier and you can’t go out and play.  So I’ve been dabbling here and there, I usually start after dinner.  Everyone is relaxed, there isn’t much sun left and I don’t really need to be in bed for a few more hours.  So I unpacked my wool, pulled out the needles, and tried some more needle felting.

voltorbMy latest adventure actually is game inspired.  My husband and I do a lot of Pokemon Go! hunts, and since I had the down time, I thought I would continue the Pokemon trend into my needle felting.  I don’t really have the wool to finish my armatures, and I’m not going to make an order until all my competition stuff is paid for.  My competition year is almost to an end, and it was a very successful year.  So once the last payment goes through, I’ll start deciding what my order is going to look like.  I’ve also been doing some reading on wool and types, and I think I finally know what I need to finish the dog armatures.  So I know that is going on my list.

13667929_10102636371108568_3639950726298000514_oSo my first Pokemon inspiration was actually a pokeball.  But my wool color choices were limited, so I had to kind of modify it into the colors I had.  So it ended up turning into a Voltorb. I am also trying to use up my “crappy” labeled wool.  Now that I’ve worked with a few different brands, one does leave a nicer finish than the other.  So you’ll see I’m just using all kind of different batts.

13909193_10102638112977848_4657318935501673729_oCircles, I have found, are pretty easy for me.  And I think I thoroughly enjoyed the detail in this guy.  He gave me a lot of confidence, as everything in this was pretty easy for me.  I think I finished him in 4 hours?  I have to remember to take the times when I’m working so I know if I’m improving or what it is I’m struggling with.  Maybe that’s the groomer in me, but I always like to know how much time something takes me.

Of course, now everyone wants a Pokemon, and I know they sorely underestimate the amount of work these things take and the price of wool.  At least I’m using cheap wool though, so he was pretty cost effective.  The part that took me the most time was smoothing everything out.  Seeing the fuzzies, that’s what bothers me the most.

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My next one will have be a more calculated one.  Since I only have certain colors of wool, I’m going to have to figure out what it is I can make.  I have a lot of pink, and some green and blues.   So I’ll start taking inventory and figure out what is next.

Felted Book

I have been doing a lot of traveling lately.  Being a competition groomer, means that I take long trips to these trade shows, and I spend a good portion of the weeks leading up to it, preparing dogs and making sure they are all cleaned and they are packed for the weekend adventure a head of us.  So that makes it a bit hard to finish projects.  It made me think though.  Since I had a good amount of down time between dogs, I had some time to felt, but didn’t take any of my things with me.  So I’m on a seek for a good bag to take things with, and I also came up with an idea for a travel needle cushion.  Oh and in case you were wondering, I took first place in poodles entry.

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To start, my brother in law brought back a couple of note pads from his trip to Mexico.  They had this wood covers, and I thought those would be perfect.  They were sturdy enough to keep the book shape and stop anything from bending.  So I took them off the spiral bound they were on and measured out some pre-felted sheets to make sure I knew what my canvas size was going to be.  I later found, I should have left room for the padding for the needles, but I made due.

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After I made my design, I sewed the back piece on so that it would pocket the wooden covers.  I was nervous about this, because I’ve never sewn before.  But I’m actually pretty proud of how it came out.  I left the inside of the front cover open, because I want to get some magnets to hold the two covers together.

Doing the back, I used the spiral holes to help secure the magnetic clasp that’s going to hold the two covers together.  So I worked the top closed and then made sure the wooden cover was exactly where I wanted it, and I sewed it all in.  I completed all four sides on the back, and decided to take out the padding on this side, because it wouldn’t close right.  I just need to work the clasp now.  I would like to felt in some of the color of the front cover so it matches in pretty well.  But I’ll save that for later.  For now I like where it is, until I have some magnets to get in there, I can’t actually finish it off.

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I really like it.  Especially since this is my first time work with a 2-d felting project and my first time sewing something together.  I gave it a test today, and my needles made it with me to our destination and back, without needing to constantly pack up.  I can also use the book as a needle cushion, I made sure to add enough padding so I could stick them in there when I took a break or needed to set my needle down.  Now that I’ve kind of adventured with my tools, I think I can start to do the dogs that I’ve been wanting to do.  I’ll need to experiment with wool tops and do a bit more reading for the different types of wool I could use for the coats.  I might play with batting, practice sculpting in shapes and what not.  I also need to order eyes and probably noses for the dogs.  But I need to figure out what’s a good size for those.

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A bit more research, and I think I’ll have my first dog done.

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