Monday, February 27, 2012

my second toy society drop

I finished up another sleepy baby for my second Toy Society drop last night, just in time to meet my "one drop a month" goal.  This little guy is inspired by local favorite, Paul Bunyan.  The old book I have said that baby Paul was 15 feet long at one month old, but this guy is quite a bit smaller than that.

He's made from a wool buffalo plaid shirt and is stuffed with lavender and wool locks.

His best pal Babe the blue ox is tucked under his arm.

I'll take him tomorrow to a local park and hope that whoever finds him loves him.  It makes me happy to imagine some little one discovering the toy and being filled with excitement.  I know it's just as likely that some unruly teenagers could find it and use it as a football.  In either case, I hope it's enjoyed.

My daughter was a little bummed that she didn't get to keep the sleepy baby so I made her a teeny one this morning that she could keep.  She's curled up on the couch with him as I write this post.

I hope your week starts off with the thrill of discovery and happiness too.
Happy Monday.

Friday, February 24, 2012

promise of spring

The promise of spring landed in my mailbox yesterday.  Just the thing I needed to make me forget about the greyness of the day.

I can't wait to add these new additions to my landscape.

What's making you happy today?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

mushrooms and flower brooches from felted stones

Since I shared my tutorial for making felted wool stones the other day, I thought I'd also share some ideas for using those stones that don't turn out exactly as you like.  Maybe the color isn't what you like or it it didn't turn out quite as smooth as you'd hoped, there's still lots of opportunity in that wool.

For this first one I've liberated the stone by making a cross cut through the bottom of the wool.

I needled the flaps down until I have a little cap.

I had a piece of felted "rope" on hand already so I cut off a piece, tucked it into the cap, and grabbed some roving.

I used the handle of my felting needle to tuck in a good layer between the stem and the cap, then needled it in place, being careful not to poke all the way to the outside of the cap.  That would make the white wool show on the outside of the cap and it wouldn't look very nice.

I needled on a few white spots and just like that I have a cute toadstool.

Another idea is to use the wool in a flower brooch.  You can see I've cut open the bottoms of the smaller stones but cut the wool off the long rock into two somewhat equal pieces.

I flattened the green piece and sewn through it to act as a leaf.  I've left the open end alone for now but once it's sewn to the other pieces, the open end will be sewn shut on the underside of the flower.

I took the two blue pieces, cut a few slits for the petals of the flowers, and turned the pieces inside out which causes it to flare out a bit.  I rounded the petals a little then sewed over them with a blanket stitch.

I cut the smallest piece with a fringe.

After stacking all of the flower pieces onto the leaf, I tucked a wool bead in the middle and sewed them all together down through the center of the flower.  I took a few extra stitches through the open end of the leaf and attached it securely to the underside of the flower. 

Stitch on a pinback and you have yourself a brooch, or sew it to a headband, or you could tie it to a present...

The best part is that you still have those rocks to work with again.

I keep a set of stones on hand just for this purpose.  You can make cute little pouches this way, or finger puppets, or the projects I've just much possibility!  So the next time your rocks don't turn out as you wanted, don't think of them as mistakes.  Rock your mistakes instead!  (I know, I'm such a nerd)

Have fun, everyone!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

shop update tomorrow - new spring stones

My fingers have been busily stitching on this series of spring stones and I'll be having a little shop update tomorrow with the new additions.

There is a set that is all naturally dyed...

... and one with morning glories and lily of the valley...

...and many others.
  Dandelions, roses, asters, and hyacinth too.  I've really enjoyed building this rock garden.

They'll be available tomorrow, Feb 22nd at 9am CST
The stones are in the shop now and viewable, but won't be available for purchase until then.  I'd be so grateful if you'd stop by and have a look or share the link with a friend.

Thanks so much, everyone!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

how to make a felted stone

If you find this, or one of my other tutorials, helpful and would like to make a monetary contribution to help me keep wool in my basket and ideas flowing, I'd be so grateful.  By clicking the "Buy Now" button below you can choose your own price for the tutorial.  It's completely optional, but oh so appreciated.


I've been making felted stones for several years now and I've often been asked how I make them.  There are different ways of making stones, but this is my method, one I've tweaked over time to suit me.

Want to give it a try?
What you'll need:

wool roving
a felting needle
an old clean towel
a bowl
soap (I use dish soap)
a plastic bag
access to hot and cold water

To start, fluff out your roving and pull wisps of it off.  Lay these wisps down with the fibers laying in the same direction, slightly overlapping, until you have a mat of fibers forming on the table.

The mat should be slightly wider and roughly 3 times longer than the stone.

Be sure that the first layer of wool is of a consistent depth and there are no large gaps in the mat.  The bottom of this layer will be what you see on the outside of your finished stone so it should be as uniform as possible.

Add a second layer of wool with the fibers laying perpendicular to the first layer.

Press down on the mat you've made.  If you can feel gaps or if the mat feels unusually thin, add a third layer, again running perpendicular to the layer beneath it.

Lay your stone on the fiber mat.  If your stone has a definite top and bottom, position it with the bottom side up.  Fold the wool up and over the stone and roll the stone over one time, keeping the wool taut as you roll.

After this first fold, the top of your rock should be facing you. 

Fold the side pieces up and over the top of the rock.  These sides will pad the top of the stone, giving it a slightly thicker surface than the bottom.  This helps the stone sit nicely once felted.

Continue rolling the rest of the wool over the rock, keeping the wool taut but not so tight that you pull fibers out of the mat.

If you don't have a felting needle, you could take the stone right to wet-felting at this point.  If you do have a needle, even out the fiber at each end of the stone until you can no longer see where the fiber was rolled.

Fill your bowl with hot water and add a drop or two of soap.  Dribble water over the stone gently until all of the wool is wet.

Carefully move the wet stone from one hand to the next, sort of like you're playing catch.  You want to treat it gingerly until the wool fibers start to pull together.

Dip the stone back in the water from time to time to keep the wool warm.  You can also add a drop of soap to your hands as needed and keep rolling the stone gently.  Once the wool starts to hold together a bit, you can start to add a little more pressure.  You'll want to be careful not to rough up the surface of the stone, but rather to get those fibers to bind together around the stone.

Once the wool has felted around the stone pretty securely (if you can pinch the wool and separate fibers from the mat, it's not ready yet, keep working) grab your plastic bag.

If the bag has a logo printed on it, make sure to turn this to the inside so the ink doesn't transfer to your stone.  Wet the bag, fold the stone up inside it, and rub.  This is where you can add some real pressure to the stone.  The tiny folds in the plastic bag act as a gentle washboard but the smooth surface keeps the wool from getting scruffy.  Rub and roll the stone with the bag until the wool is firmly felted.

Immediately rinse the stone under very cold water (or dip it in a bowl of ice water) while rubbing it with the plastic bag.  This will help the fibers lay down nicely.

Lay the wet stone on the towel and leave it to dry.  Don't try to force water out of it with a towel, just leave it alone.  It's a good idea to use an old towel or a rag as some dyed rovings can leach some color while drying and you wouldn't want that on your pretty tea towels.

Once your stone is completely dry, you can trim off any stray fuzz with a pair of scissors.

And there you have it!  A stone cocooned in soft wool.  Oh the possibilities.

Do keep in mind that some wool felts better than others.  Roving marked "superwash" isn't going to wet-felt for you.  Sometimes undyed wool can be harder to felt as well.  Some wools like shetland have a scruffier surface.  My favorite wools to use for this are corriedale, falkland, polwarth, and merino but experiment and see what works for you.

If you have any questions, please ask them in the comment section and I'll answer them there too.

Have fun!


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