Softer than Frodo

I’ve been felting like crazy, feeding Wanda, my trusty l’il Wonder Washer machine, used wool sweaters as fast as I can find them at thrift stores!

Lessons learned: first, a felting fail. I couldn’t resist a soft sweater of gorgeous muted colors that violated the First Felting Rule: thou shalt not waste time and water trying to felt fabric that dost not have at least 50% wool fiber.

felting sweaters

My fingers were crossed that the 20% wool plus 9% mohair would add up to enough, but nope. Hey, anyone want a beautiful very clean (as in, I ran Wanda about four times before I gave up) sweater?

Another lesson, that I guess is self-evident and I bet has some fancy scientific and/or metaphysical explanation: sweaters that are super-soft when unfelted, remain super-soft when felted. And itchy scratchy ‘I could never ever wear that’ sweaters? Oh yeah, after felting this 100% Shetland wool sweater, I’m not even sure what I can make out of it. Nothing that comes anywhere near anyone’s skin. Fantastic color though, and sturdy as, well, a Shetland sheep!

But on to my ode to soft. If you don’t know me in person I haven’t bored you with my phone pix of our crazy sweet kitty Frodo, and you have zero idea what the title of this blog article means. Frodey is incredibly soft on the scale of Persian down to scratchy short-hair alley cat …

And I’ve just felted some sweaters that I can’t stop petting as much as I do Frodo. The first photo up top in this article shows four sweaters I scored in one epic trip to my local Thrift Town. The purple argyle and two red sweaters are all 100% cashmere. Because there can be ethical problems with cashmere, I wouldn’t buy a garment or the yarn firsthand.

Most crazy soft, this unassuming short sleeved pullover. You can see how much felting shrunk it. Length always shrinks most, this one went from 21.25 to 14 inches! And width at shoulders: 12.75 to 10 inches.

Second softest, the other red, a touch more designerly with a long ribbed waist, which flared out after felting. Length: 21.75 to 12.75 inches; width at shoulders: 12.5 to 8.25 inches.

And a close third, the purple argyle. Interestingly the different colored fibers felted to slightly different degrees. Sometimes white or very light wool (also black) won’t felt at all, apparently due to a process used to achieve the color. This sweetie went from 22 to 12 inches in length, and 15 to 9.75 inches in width at shoulders.

You didn’t really think I’d let you go without a Frodo pic, did you?

Want to read more about felting fun? Click here to read my article Old Sweater, New Purse!

Old sweater, new purse!

George thought spinning wool could be my knitting journey’s next step; maybe someday, but for now I’ve swerved into the wonderful world of felting! Ever toss a wool sweater into the hot wash by mistake, only to … sob … pull out a tightly compacted knit that’d fit a Barbie doll? That sweater, dear reader, was felted.

There’s lots of ways to felt wool on purpose, I’ve ventured into two of them – wet felting and needle felting – I used both techniques to create a purse. There are also different ways to get the woolen piece that you’re going to felt. You can knit & knit & knit … & knit, and then shrink your handiwork down by felting, but how much faster to upcycle a moth-eaten thrift store sweater?

Here’s a quick trip showing what I did to the beige sweater at the bottom of the photo above, a 100% merino wool cable-knit. First, I whipped out my scissors and cut off one of the sleeves. I gathered my wet felting supplies: a tub of hot water, a bar of olive oil & lavender soap, and two nubbly rubbery oven mitts. Many people wet felt in their washing machines, but I’m nervous about stressing our problematic plumbing. Wet felting works on 3 elements to get the wool fibers to grab onto each other and interlock: hot water, soap, and agitation. The hand method uses good old-fashioned elbow grease. The silicon mitts protect my hands and speed the felting. After maybe a half hour total of stirring and rubbing, I rinsed the sleeve in cold water and decided I was done! The fabric had shrunk a bit, it was thicker and denser, and the cabled stitch definition was quite muted.

Time to turn it into a purse! I cleaned up the rough top edge, which I’ll fold over to close the purse, by needle-felting wool roving around the edge.

Next, I folded the cuff up inside from the bottom to create a pocket, sewed the back of the cuff to the inside of the bag, and then sewed the bottom closed.

Strap time: I knitted a 5-stitch I-cord from Lopi Plötulopi unspun yarn, and wet felted it. Love Lopi yarn colors, but boy is it scratchy! After making a few more purses I realized that braiding yarn is much quicker than knitting an I-cord, felting it erases any stitch definition so unless you really like knitting a really really long boring cord, try braiding! Read more about I-cords here.

For the closure, I sewed a button to the front, and sewed a loop of elastic cord to the inside of the folded over top edge. And voila!

I like how the pattern of the back worked out, with the cables at an angle down to the center.

One sleeve down, I’m plotting what to make with the rest of the sweater even now!

If you’re new to felting, you can find all the information you need from many great books and online tutorials, or look for a class at your local yarn store (LYS). If I had a resource that stood out I’d let you know, but I don’t — I’ve gathered bits of wisdom from more than 20 books & ebooks. I’m far from an expert, but let me know if you have questions, and please let me know about your own adventures with felting!

 

Garden Delights Gala – new arts & crafts!

My yearly gala – Garden Delights Holiday Gift Sale & Art Show, is the first 2 weekends of December this year! The Show is at my art studio on December 7-8 and 14-15, 2019, from 11 am to 5 pm – or by appointment at your convenience.

Studio

I’m proud to show my photos and mixed-media artwork & crafts, and also upcycled creations, where I bring fresh life to paper and fabric. Also hand-knits and fabulous felted creations! Fashionable fingerless mitts keep your hands cozy during mild winter weather … …

… NEW! Upcycled bags from sweaters and such …

Fancy knitted washcloths …

… pair with George’s soaps for a great gift …

Please stop by to relax during the holiday rush, enjoy snacks, and chat. Never any pressure to buy, but if you’ve got a list I’ve got a wide range of handmade and original-designed gifts, for yourself and for friends and family – including pets!

More new this year – George’s exquisite handmade 100% natural beeswax candles, including two sizes of tapers, from our honeybees’ wax. Read all about them at my article.

beeswax candles handmade by George McRae

Jewelry, wearable art, purses, cards & prints, boxes, home decor, beeswax candles, and more! Our honeybees bless us with delicious honey, which many people swear helps their pollen allergies.

Local honey

Want a postcard reminder sent to your mailbox, or would you like to drop by at a time that’s more convenient for you? Email me. Can’t make the show or want to see my artwork online? Click these links:

Make Upcycled Bracelets at Pinole Artisan Meeting

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets

Learn to make fabulous bracelets from old neckties at my hands-on (pun intended) free workshop at the Pinole Artisan’s August 4, 2017 general meeting!

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets

I’ll provide materials and tools – but if you have a tie that you KNOW (check with the tie-wearer first!) won’t ever be worn again, bring it along. Also – any fun buttons you’d like to sew onto your bracelet ….

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets

Pinole Artisans meet the first Friday of every month at the Pinole United Methodist Church, 2000 San Pablo Avenue. Wheelchair accessible. Meetings begin at 7 p.m., are free, with very friendly artists and snacks. All are welcome!

For more information or if you have a question – email me! HeidiRand@gmail.com

Holiday Gift Sale and Art Show 2016

2016 Holiday Show

A chill in the air, rain promised — the holidays are coming! My yearly gala, the Garden Delights Arts & Crafts Holiday Gift Sale & Art Show, is the first two weekends of December again this year.

The Show’s at my art studio, 5810 Barrett Ave, El Cerrito (just past Edwards), December 3-4 and 10-11, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (or by appointment on another day – email me).

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I’m so proud to show my photos, designs, and mixed-media artwork and crafts, and way excited about my upcycled creations, where I bring fresh life to paper and fabric headed for landfill.

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets

Come see my handmade bracelets, necklaces, purses, phone and e-reader holders, from fabric books and silk neckties; and envelopes and other crafts I make from outdated calendars and books.

Upcycled garland

I also have DIY kits and supplies, ideal as gifts for you or your artsy-craftsy mixed-media, collage, book, and mail art friends! I’ve added several new ornaments, perfect stocking stuffers or to adorn your own tree.

ornaments upcycled

Stop in to relax during the holiday rush, enjoy snacks, and chat. Never any pressure to buy, but if you’ve got a list you’ll find a wide range of handmade and original-designed gifts (for all – including pets), at great prices.

upcycled catnip quilt

Also, our local honey (as long as it lasts), some swear by it to help pollen allergies.

Local honeyAnd handcrafted wonders by George from our honey and wax — heavenly beeswax candles and luscious batches of Honey Kissed skin lotion and lip balm.

pp-model-hdr-george-lotion053016

Want a postcard reminder? Send your address to heidirand [at] gmail.com

Or can’t make the show or want to see my work online? Click these links:

Website

Artfire Gallery

My blog

Zazzle shop

New Necktie Upcycling Class!

Hot off the press — a new online class, Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets, first in my series of downloadable tutorials on upcycling at CraftArtEdu.

craftartedu-dt-upcycle-necktie-bracelet-class-small

Create gorgeous bracelets from neckties! All you need to upcycle the swoon-worthy silky fabric of an unused tie into a unique bracelet is needle and thread, scissors, and a button, velcro or snap.

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets

My 30-plus page tutorial takes you step-by-step through the entire process, with 60 full-color closeup photos showing you exactly what to do.

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets

Learn how to size and sew the bracelet (no advanced skills or tools needed), plan ahead to maximize use of the rest of the tie, choose which of 4 closure options works best for your bracelet … and much more.

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets

With many extra tips — about the care and treatment of ties, using a sewing machine if you have one — and more. I even give you leads on where to find ties to upcycle — no stealing your husband’s faves!Upcycle Neckties Into Bracelets

Warning – you’ll quickly become addicted to making these bracelets!

Upcycling Neckties Into Bracelets
But after you run out of space on both arms to wear your favorites, start making more for friends and family, they’ll love your handmade gifts!

Click here for my CraftArtEdu main page.

Here are links to my other CraftArtEdu classes, each with its own free preview:

Taking Great Photos of Your Artwork & Crafts

Taking Great Photos With Your Smartphone

Decorating Wood With Image Transfers

Fabulous Fabric Postcards

Handmade Pet Collars

Inkjet Printing on Fabric

Inkjet Printing on Lutradur

And my free basic classes:

Inkjet Inks: What You Need to Know for Your Artwork and Crafts

Introduction to Lutradur

 

 

 

Holiday Gift Sale and Art Show

Gift Sale and Art Show

UPDATE! I’ve extended the Show for last-minute gifts and stocking stuffers. If you’d like to come by until December 24th, email me at heidirand@gmail.com

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A chill in the air and rain promised, to me that means the holidays are coming! My yearly gala, the Garden Delights Holiday Gift Sale & Art Show, is the first two weekends of December this year, so consider this my ‘save the date’ post. Want a peacock postcard reminder? Send your address to heidirand [at] gmail.com

The Show is at my art studio, 5810 Barrett Ave, El Cerrito (above Edwards Ave) on December 5-6 and 12-13, from 11 am to 5 pm (or by appointment – email me).

Studio

I’m so proud to show off my new photos, designs, and mixed-media artwork and crafts, and just as excited about my upcycled creations, where I bring fresh life to paper and fabric destined for landfill.

Upcycled necktie bracelet

Come see my handmade bracelet cuffs, purses, phone and e-reader holders, all from fabric books and silk neckties; and envelopes and other paper crafts I make from outdated calendars and books. I’ve also been busy assembling kits and supplies for paper and fabric artists and crafters, ideal as a gift for yourself or for anyone who loves to create mixed-media, collage, book, and mail art.

Upcycled garland

Stop in to relax during the holiday rush, enjoy snacks, and chat. Never any pressure to buy, but if you’ve got a list you’ll find a wide range of handmade and original-designed gifts (for yourself and for friends and family – including pets), at all different prices.

Jewelry, wearable art, purses, cards and prints, boxes, home decor, books, beeswax candles, and more! Our honeybees blessed us with a great harvest of delicious honey, which many people swear help their pollen allergies.

Local honeyAnd new this year! Our Honey Kissed skin lotion and lip balm, handcrafted by George from our honey and wax.Honey kissed

Can’t make the show or want to see my artwork online? Click these links:

Website

Artfire Gallery

My blog

Zazzle shop

Facebook