A few book reviews!

At the end of last year, I was asked if I would review a few books published by New Holland Publishers, and, being a complete bookaholic, of course I agreed!  So here is the first one…

This is called The Felted Bag Book by Susie Johns.

Felted bag book by Susie Johns

It is hardback, very colourful, and contains instructions for 21 different bags.   There are lots of photos and a detailed section on making felt at the beginning, as well as lots of photos of possible buttons, handles, zips, etc.  The book is split into four sections – making bags from scratch using merino wool tops, knitted felted bags, crocheted felted bags and using recycled felted sweaters etc, reconstructed into bags.   There are lots of different embellishments, including how to make felt beads and cords, and I do like the look of the circular crocheted bag!

I decided to test it out yesterday and have a go at Scarlett.

red felted bag from book

Well, the instructions said a total of 12oz of merino wool tops, so I had to use a mixture of colours … here they are all in a tangle:

tangle of merino wool tops

The ‘recipes’ are very well laid out and numbered step by step, just right for a novice… I got all my stuff together successfully.  There are templates in the back of the book and here I met my first little hitch, when I failed to notice that it said ‘template shown at 70% of actual size’.   I had to guess that, percentages aren’t my strong point! 

Here is the bag halfway through in the process of being felted (complete with fingerprints!).


All went well apart from getting the sides felted together … for some reason this didn’t happen so I’ll have to stitch them, but no matter… here it is busy drying:

felted bag

Not a very good photo I’m afraid.  Once it dries, I think I’ll trim it a bit but I’m pretty happy with the results, though maybe the instructions for the side felting could be a bit clearer.  It may be my materials, of course, since I was using what I had sitting around.  If you’re new to felting I would advise trying out the basic instructions at the start of the book first.

This is the circular crocheted bag I want to make:

crocheted felted bag from book

Despite the hiccups in my experiment, I think this book is pretty good if you like bags and especially if you are new to felting and want to have a go.    Maybe I’ll try an easier one next time!

The  books I’m reviewing are called Self Sufficiency: Hen Keeping/ by Mike Hatcher (£7.99), The Felted Bag Book by Susie Johns (£14.99) and The Artist’s Guide to Perspective by Janet Shearer (£8.99) and New Holland Publishers are offering 20% discount plus free P&P if you buy them through their website – put the code Spiral at checkout (this lasts till 31st March 2011, UK customers only).

A little pair of felted slippers

How do you get from this:

ginormous knitted sock

to this:

felted slippers

with the least effort possible?

I took it into my head the other day to use up some of the vast supplies of yarn I’ve accumulated so I decided to make a pair of felted slippers.    So I went to Knitty and found this pattern for Fuzzy Feet.   

This must have been the quickest things I have ever knitted.  I only took a day to knit each (aided and accompanied by lots of Cast On podcasts on Itunes) on 10mm circular needles with some yarn from Rio de la Plata that I bought last year.  I had heard that it felted well but hadn’t tested it…     They knitted up so quickly I would make these again any time.

Anyway, they were absolutely ginormous to start with…. this photo shows one of them on the ironing board:


And here they are nearly finished:

slippers nearly finished

Then I had to throw them in the washing machine with a towel to agitate and aid the felting.  The last thing I felted took two 60 degree washes (centigrade) so I thought it was going to take a long time but I followed the pattern for these and did them at 40 and stopped it halfway through the wash cycle.  (I had to check the manual for that… it’s a computerized machine and I’ve only ever done that before when it has refused to spin properly due to me loading it too full!).   And I was glad I did because they’d shrunk quite adequately by then.  So I finished them off with the rinse cycle and then, as the pattern suggested, put them on for a while and walked around to fit them to my feet.  And here is the result!

finished felted slippers

These took two skeins of Rio de la Plata but I am definitely going to use this yarn for felting because I love the way it looks and feels.

Hundertwasser socks and a bit more gocco printing

I haven’t had much knitting on the pages of this blog for a while.  It seems to be the winter when I do most of it, because of the long dark evenings when the light isn’t good enough for getting the colours right to create something with fabrics or paint.

This time I made another pair of socks out of some gorgeous Hundertwasser sock yarn by Opal which I bought in Abergavenny market a while ago.  Here they are in their colourful glory!

hundertwasser socks

I’m looking forward to wearing them through the cold weather….

I’ve also been doing some more Gocco printing this week, using a couple of screens I made to test some of the machines I’ve been selling.  This one is a crow which I drew using the Gocco pen and doodled inside to fill in the pattern of his feathers.  It is a small one which I’ve printed on lots of little cards and a few Moleskine notebooks.

little crow gocco prints

crow Gocco print on Moleskine notebook

I also printed one on this previously painted newspaper:


I’ve also stamped this at the bottom with a wall-shaped print block that I made from fun foam (great for making print blocks!). 

Today I printed an image of a cottage in the grounds of the slate mine we visited in North Wales in the summer but that will be the subject of my next post…

Cobweb ring shawl

I did it – I blocked it!   Problem is, when I had blocked it, I saw all the mistakes I had made…. and also there was a hole in it, whether made by moths or rough treatment I’m not sure.  I think I can mend it – I’m certainly not going to unpick it after all this time, that’s for sure!!

Having said all that, I was ASTOUNDED at the difference it made to the shawl.  I am definitely going to block all lace stuff in the future.

Here is a corner of it pinned out on the floor – it was difficult to see the whole thing because of the colour of the sheet underneath which doesn’t provide enough contrast.

cobweb ring shawl being blocked

Here it is now it is dry:

ring shawl

Please ignore the state of my studio in the background – perfectly normal, I assure you!

I loved it when the light shone through it:

ring shawl with sun shining through

I found the pattern and a small ball of the yarn so I will be able to mend it with the same stuff.  It was a kit purchased from the Women’s Realm magazine, price £4.47, 71p per hank!  Golly.  6 hanks of Cobweb Shetland Wool from Messrs Jamieson and Smith of Lerwick in Shetland in 1985.  History!

Stupidly I don’t have any ‘before’ photos for you to compare it with….