I am a feltmaker, painter, embroiderer, mender of all things useable. I paint peoples' houses beautiful colours with my team of female decorators, and I teach people feltmaking and embroidery in my home studio and in various south London locations. I love using colour and fibre to express creativity, warmth and joy.
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Women of the Cloth have teamed up with some local community groups to teach feltmaking workshops during their summer festivals.
First up is Vauxhall City Farm on Saturday 4th June .
Vauxhall City Farm is the most centrally located farm in London. They specialise in educational, recreational and therapeutic services and activities ranging from school trips, workshops, gardening projects and birthday parties to Riding for the Disabled.
As part of their Spring Spectacular we have been invited to run a day of feltmaking workshops in the new Education Centre, and you can also enjoy spending time with the farm animals and having refreshments in the Old Dairy Cafe.
We’ll be making felt flowers at the morning session, then phone cases using a resist technique in the afternoon. Sign up for one or both at £12 per session. Book your places direct with the Farm here.
Next we’ll be at Brixton Windmill on Sunday 26th June.
Brixton Windmill turns 200 years old in 2016 and there will a number of celebrations throughout the year. Although there were probably mills in the area in the Middle Ages, the earliest evidence of a windmill in Lambeth dates from the 16th century. At least 12 sites have existed, though the maximum number of mills at any one time was at the beginning of the 19th century, when there were five working in Lambeth, including Brixton Windmill, which has been lovingly restored.
For the bicentenary celebrations it recently displayed beautiful new sailcloths, designed by local team Eley Kishimoto.
We Women of the Cloth will be running drop in sessions making felt flowers during the Brixton Windmill Festival on 26th June, 2-4pm.
When I was at West Dean in February there was an exhibition of work by some of the college tutors, including some exquisite woven pods by Mary Crabb. So when a textile friend announced that she had contacted Mary about running a workshop, I jumped at the chance!
This friend Barbara, along with dachshund Bertie, hosted the workshop in her beautiful house and garden in Hove. I wasn’t surprised to learn that she regularly opens her garden to the public as part of the National Gardens Scheme – it’s a multi-layered, multi-textured sensory delight, perfect for such a creative workshop.
Mary arrived with boxes of wonderful goodies, particularly paper threads in luscious colours, and books to inspire us all. Along with the mix of fabrics, wool and thread we had brought ourselves, we were certainly spoilt for choice!
If you enjoy getting together with a group of women to make something with your hands, go away with new skills and just generally have a nice time, Carol’s workshops are a great place to spend a day, an evening or a half day learning some different stitching or felting techniques.
See Carol’s Website for full details of the workshops listed below, all taking place in Carol’s Studio in Streatham, south London:-
Before getting on to the pressing business of setting dates for my own Spring workshops (see below) I thought some of you might be interested in the feltmaking and embroidery workshops I have attended myself in the past few months. I’ve had a great time extending existing skills, learning new ones and, of course, getting together with lots of textile enthusiasts from around the world.
Last Autumn I travelled up to Big Cat Textiles in Newburgh, Scotland to take two feltmaking courses with Inge Bauer who set up Wollknoll, a centre for feltmaking in Germany. During a 5-day period we did LOADS of feltmaking, starting with ultra fine nuno-felt (felting onto fabric) to make neckwear with beautiful draping qualities. We used hand-dyed silk ponge fabric along with 19-micron merino wool tops, some of which were also hand-dyed by Inge using her own scientifically developed slow heatup/cooldown dyeing techniques. Using…
Join us for our third annual Christmas show at Sprout, a lovely community arts space in Streatham, south London. Several guest artists will be joining us to create a wonderful display of colourful textile artworks, wearables and all manner of unique handmade gifts.
If you’d like to learn some new craft skills, enrol for one of our workshops in weaving, textile jewellery, feltmaking or embroidery – see the timetable below.
Women of the Cloth
Carol will be showing her latest work in nuno felt, including wearables such as tactile cosy scarves, snoods and arm wear, felt and stitch collages plus the ever popular winter warmers in handmade felt such as hottie covers and tea cosies . As a feltmaker, Carol continues to indulge her love of mixing colours and textures using fibre and cloth. Join her for a feltmaking or embroidery workshop.
Over the summer Joan has been developing a new line in wrapped and beaded textile jewellery. She has enjoyed both making and wearing some of the pieces and, having received some very positive feedback and healthy sales at our Lambeth Open event, she is continuing to expand the styles and colours. She will also be showing her latest woven vessels and wall hangings. Join Joan for a jewellery-making workshop on Sunday 7 December (see below).
Kim will be there with her latest batch of upcycled hand-dyed indigo shibori pieces, plus a few scarves dyed with rust and other natural dyes. She continues to develop her sculptural felting techniques, attending workshops with Andrea Graham and Maria Friese, and has a new line of cutwork felted scarves and felted ruffle collars for the festive season. You can keep up with her work on her Flextiles blog.
Sister-duo AfroRetro will be showing their funky handmade jewellery, accessories and clothing inspired by their Ugandan and British heritage. Gorgeous Ugandan fabrics, bark cloth and palm leaves are among the materials which give their work such unique texture and pattern.
Linda Firth is a fine art textile artist working in south London. The work she will be showing uses handmade felt embellished with collage and stitch.
Weaver Jackie Bennett’s work is driven by the urge to experiment and sample yarns. She favours plant fibres: cotton, hemp, linen, jute, bamboo, silk and wool. Another lover of colour and texture, Jackie responds to inspirations both rural and urban, ranging from trees to buildings. She is also concerned with vision and the loss of sight.
Loren Zeisler is also inspired by beautiful yarns and natural fibres, combining them in different ways so that each of her knitted items is a one-off. She loves making things that have a function as well as being decorative, and each project – textiles, jewellery, ornaments – starts with thoughts on colour and evolves from there.
Janet Thompson’s ever popular needlefelted dogs will be with us once more and Janet will run a weekday workshop for those who would like to learn to make their own woolly pooch. Janet’s dogs are full of character and fun, each with its own unique personality. Perfect gifts for animal lovers at Christmas.
Making handmade products has enabled Susan of Wolle + Hide to show her passion for wonderful materials using simple shapes that show off the beauty and texture of the cloth and leather with fresh colour combinations. Her fashion accessories mix rural and urban aesthetics for design conscious women and men.
Helena, Sue and Christabel are all stitchers also contributing smaller handmade Christmas decorations and gift items, including bags for children, pincushions and purses in colourful fabrics to add even more variety to our offerings at Sprout this year.
So come and visit us or email us on email@example.com to book a workshop place from the list below.
Needlefelted dogs with Janet Tuesday 2 December, 11am-3pm, £35
Learn how to needlefelt a little dog using simply sheep fleece and a special needle. Once you have learnt the basic techniques, you’ll add characterful details to your new best friend!
Shisha mirrorwork embroidery with Carol Tuesday 2 December, 6.30-9pm, £20
Learn how to sew on these small round mirrors, Indian-style, and add them to your handmade Christmas decorations. Play with colourful threads.
Hanging decorative bird with Helena
Saturday 6 December, 10.30am-12.30pm,£22.50
This workshop will give you the chance to practise your sewing skills and learn new ones while you make an individually crafted textile decoration using sequins, ribbons, bright colours and decorative fabrics.
Felting with Carol
Saturday 6 December, 1.30-5.30pm, £20
Make your own felt teacosy or hot water bottle cover using colourful sheep fleece, soap and water. Fast results with lovely, tactile materials – great makes for Christmas gifts.
Textile jewellery with Joan
Sunday 7 December, 11am-4pm, £35
Learn contemporary textile jewellery making techniques using colourful fibres, yarns, threads and beads. Select colours and textures to match your wardrobe or experiment with something new.
Stitching and beading with Helena
Sunday 7 December, 2.30-6pm, £35
An extension of Helena’s Saturday class to develop stitch and bead work and explore your own ideas. The aim is to make one complete bird decoration to hang on your tree or give as a handmade gift.
Upcycling with Afroretro
Monday 8 December, 18.30-21.00, £15
In this workshop sisters Ann and Lilly will teach you handprinting techniques to upcycle an unloved tee into a statement piece ready for the festive season, embellished with colour, sequins, & lots of fun.
This is not a blog post about mending books, but a post about some of my favourite books about mending.
A small selection of my mending library
I frequently get questions about where I’ve learnt my mending skills, and what books I would recommend. Most of my skills come from old books, combined with a lot of practice. I favour old books as they tend to go more in-depth, and usually have many repair approaches depending on the fabric and what needs repairing. I’ll discuss a selection of my favourite books, in order of acquisition:
Don’t just think about it, MEND IT!
A call to arms for all my mending comrades, I think Mend It! A Complete Guide to Clothes Repair is a great introduction into mending and repairing clothes. As it states on the cover, it is pretty much complete, and deals with many repair jobs. It has clear instructions with…
Apologies for the long silence – I had a sudden rush of website work before I headed off to Acheres, just outside Paris, for a five-day felting workshop with Maria Friese and Ariane Mariane. Both these felters are German, living in France, and the students were mostly French, but also included one Swiss, one Belgian, one American (who had lived in Acheres for 20 years) and two Brits – Abigail Thomas of Felt meets Cloth and me.
The five days was split up into two sessions of two days and three days, and students could mix and match, working with one tutor for all the days or spending two days with one and three days with the other. I elected to stay with Maria for all five days, as her work has a really organic feel that appealed to me. As we got talking we discovered other mutual interests…
It hasn’t been a very creative time for me over the past couple of weeks. Too busy with my day job, earning money towards my next felting workshop – five whole days with Maria Friese and Ariane Mariane just outside Paris in a couple of weeks’ time. ESP is going to wander the streets of Paris (and no doubt stuff himself in fine restaurants at lunchtime) while I enjoy some fibre fun with a group of like-minded enthusiasts. I’m really looking forward to it!
So it was a relief to escape for half a day with my sister Women of the Cloth, Carol and Joan, to go back to Hall Place in Bexley for an exhibition by the New Embroidery Group (their website is currently being redesigned).
Contradicting its name, the group was actually established more than 40 years ago. Its president for many years was Constance Howard, famous-…
One of the objects at Knole currently undergoing conservation treatment is the so-called ‘spangled bed’. This bed may have been created in the early eighteenth century using an Elizabethan or Jacobean royal canopy of state which was sewn with silver sequins.
I’ve had a wonderful time lately making felt with various community groups around south London. Feltmaking is such an ideal communal activity because it enables just about anyone to take part in a productive, creative session and go home with something colourful and beautiful made with their own hands. No particular artistic ability is required for success, and it’s great fun watching everyone around you produce such different creations, starting off with the same tactile materials at their disposal. Conversation and laughter flow freely as people experiment with skills they didn’t know they had! In some cases SONG too …
I made my way to Plumstead in south London last week to make felt balls and cords for necklaces and bracelets with a group of women from Nepal and Brazil as part of the Cultivating Communities project run by Groundwork London. This project forms part of Groundwork’s Women in…