Christmas Fairs past and to come….

Setting up the stall

Chris setting up the stall

I was at the Morley College Christmas Fair on Sunday with the collective ‘London Loves Felt’ – the fair was really buzzing and seemed to go well.  I didn’t have a lot of work on the stall as I haven’t really done any felt making since April – life events have rather taken over.  But I made a bit of money with some of my old stock (the bits of it that hadn’t been banquetted on by the dreaded moth….) and some new cards with my sheep photos on them. 

I was channelling a sheep on the day as you can see….

Tess in sheep hat

I think I need to refine my hood pattern and do a bit of trimming at the back as the front kept slipping over my eyes (particularly when I tried to eat a hotdog at lunchtime!!)  My excuse is that I was working in Shetland wool and it didn’t shrink as much as the Merino I’m used to.  Yes I know you’re supposed to do a test of shrinkage first but it was a playfull hat anyway (see the post about the January 2012 hat)

London Loves Felt will be out at the Lower Marsh Market in Waterloo SE1 on Friday with some of my stock there as well…

The March Hat Finally made it….

It was finished last weekend and I’m not entirely happy….it remained very hairy.  Much hairier than the previous version.  I think this may have been caused by leaving it to dry between the second and third layers (because I was so busy)  The mohair never really integrated itself properly!!  And the felt generally isn’t as well made as I would like – look at that brim on the final hat!

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The shape is closer to the squashed top hat that I was aiming at although there is still room for improvement.  But I have discovered that the pipe lagging  I use as a roller has an additional use to roll a brim round… works particularly well as it can be pinned into….


An Anniversary….a year today

I wrote my first ever blog post…

There hasn’t been much posting going on recently owing to the temporary revival of my acting ‘career’.  This finally comes to fruition tomorrow at the Britannia Arms in Hackney –The Time Travellers Mother by Eddie Coleman (directed by The Scotsman)

Its been hard work flexing my acting muscles again and all for a single night – 35 minutes in a small room above a pub!  Its a lovely short play though,  very well crafted story.  And the process of Emma, John and I working with Eddie to hone the dialogue so that it sounds natural has been an interesting one.  Owing to the ‘time travelling’ nature of the play I get to be four different incarnations of the same person  – everyone’s favourite I think being the one we have nicknamed ‘Crazy Cat Lady’. 

I have just spent my lunchbreak trying to squeeze those last few elusive lines of dialogue and cues into my ageing brain (‘And I suppose he gave you your very own clipboard!.’ …..)

Hopefully it will then be back to some felting over Easter.  I have a hat which has been sitting in the studio waiting for its last layer since the weekend before last….It is probably almost dry by now.  I took the thin plastic layer off when I realised I wasn’t going to finish it so it didn’t start to smell / rot…

I am still here….honest

I will be acting in a one act play at the end of the month and most of my spare time seems to be taken up with rehearsing and learning lines.  Its called The Time Travellers Mother (I am the TTM) and is being put on by the Tower Theatre – details here

The March Hat has suffered as a result – I did make a hat earlier this month.  A lovely green one with a mixed Mohair and Merino top layer.  But I was aiming for a Mad Hatter squashed top hat shape and didn’t get it first time round – I think I know what I did wrong….It is a lovely March Hat but not the March Hat!

It is funny acting again after a break of maybe two years….apart from the scary ‘will my aging brain remember the lines’ feeling, I also realise that I have fallen out of love with acting (much as I still love the theatre).  It used to be my obsession but now it feels rather like a past lover – nice to remember but the passion has gone.

It  has of course been supplanted by my new love – felt in all its variety.  I have gone from being an interpreter to a creator and it feels good!

My February Hat – A Love Affair….

My February Hat is nearly finished – All the felt is made – just a little sewing and general finishing off to do….In case I don’t get a chance to to a post about the absolutely finally finished hat during February here it is in process from start to finish.

The hat is of course a Valentines Hat and incorporates some elements of cobweb felt  as well as incorporating some cashmere and silk mix – it makes a lovely hole filled felt….I think I took the holes to extremes on the hat decoration, but as it is applied afterwards and sewn on I don’t think that it matters too much if  it isn’t heavily felted….

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I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a little longer for the final hat – it may well include some beads….And just how many frills remains to be decided….

I like Lists

I frequently find myself writing them whether they be work to do lists, personal to do lists, lists of what I learnt (see my post about the courses I did recently), shopping lists, lists of packing – the list you could say is endless!!

Recently I discovered the blog site Lists of Note from which I have been garnering all sorts of useless information.  For example wartime golf rules at Richmond Golf club including:

  • A ball moved by enemy action may be replaced, or if lost or destroyed, a ball may be dropped not nearer the hole without penalty.
  • A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place. Penalty, one stroke.

And also so useful creative advice – from the 11 Commandments author Henry Miller wrote for himself.

  • ‘Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.’ (I should be thinking about designs for my February Hat but instead my brain keeps getting sidetracked into March, April etc etc.)

Finally talking of creative lists click here for Creative Inspiration otherwise known as an interesting article from the Guardian in January .  I particularly like Polly Morgan’s list of advice -I also like her art…photos below which I took at an exhibition at the Haunch of Venison last year…

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Her suggestions include:

  • Don’t wait for a good idea to come to you. Start by realising an average idea – no one has to see it. If I hadn’t made the works I’m ashamed of, the ones I’m proud of wouldn’t exist.
  • Don’t restrict yourself to your own medium. It is just as possible to be inspired by a film-maker, fashion designer, writer or friend than another artist. Cross-pollination makes for an interesting outcome.
  • Don’t try to second-guess what people will want to buy. Successful artists have been so because they have shown people something they hadn’t imagined. If buyers all knew what they wanted before it had been made, they could have made it themselves, or at least commissioned it.
  • Don’t be afraid to scrap all your hard work and planning and do it differently at the last minute. It’s easier to hold on to an idea because you’re afraid to admit you were wrong than to let it go.

2012 Hat Project – A January Hat

The Scotsman suggested that I made a project in 2012 with a hat per month.  The January hat was already underway when he suggested this – a sheep themed hat based on my photo  ‘The sheep that looks like Andrew Marr’. It also came from seeing so many people on the London Underground wearing (mostly knitted) hats with animal ears.  I found myself thinking “I could felt ears easily into a hat…

So it is a hood with very big ears, a sheep-nose like front, dreadlock like fringing and is made in natural coloured wool .  I think the wool I used was Shetland in two colours  (but it could have been Jacob as I very cleverly forgot to label the bags when I bought it!)  with a little pink merino for contrast and because of the inside ear colour.

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On basic completion of the hat it was much too big (see photo 6) even for the Scotsman.  Not sure whether this was because I made the template too big, because Shetland wool shrinks less than the merino I usually use or literally just because I hadn’t shrunk it enough.  A bit of all three probably… I ended up cutting it down a little and also turning back the nose piece that I had originally intended to sit over the forehead.  The upside of playing around and doing this was that the pink inside was exposed to frame the face which I really like!

And so on to the next hat – As it is a February hat I am thinking ‘Valentines Day’…also I’m doing a Cobweb Felt course at the end of January so hoping to incorporate something cobbwebby…. Watch this space…