Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ever felt this way before?

Should you ever get the chance to drive along the stretch of the M6 running North to Tebay services- do it! Unless it was the middle of the night, thick fog or teeming with rain I defy anyone not to be blown away by the majestic sweeping hills before you. Better yet, try and make it so you are the passenger, then you can fully admire the views all around- you'll wish you could rotate your head 360 degrees like an owl. This morning, as a very Spring-like sun climbed above the tops, it bathed a landscape of soft green, ochre and rust, highlighted with splashes of white- sheep and lambs at the lower levels and the last of the snow in the gullies and high tops.
So what was I doing on the road, on my own at 8am on a Saturday morning? Making my way to Tullie House in Carlisle for a belated birthday present from my sister, a day's workshop in making felt bags with Debbie Lucas.
I've dabbled in felt making before, usually of the knit then machine wash variety (yes, sometimes this has actually been deliberate rather than disaster!). I tried a kit to make a sample square a few years ago but was a bit underwhelmed by the results and didn't really fall in love with the method- too messy and arm-achey. What a difference a workshop makes! I now feel I have a much better understanding of the process, from the strategic placing of bubble wrap and layering wisps of felt...

To the importance of rolling (with and without bamboo blinds) and rubbing with yet more bubble wrap. It was fascinating how all 11 of us newby feltmakers, given the same basic instructions, materials and 5 hours of workshop time, were able to produce such a great variety of bags:

This was my sister's. I loved the way she used wisps of curly natural fleece to make the pattern, as it reminds you of what the bag was created from. You can't see the vivid leaf green lining in this shot, but it complemented the muted tones of the outside beautifully.

I went for a more contemporary look. I love dots, but they can be hard to create in, say, knitting. The advantage of felt is that you get wonderful intense colours and clean lines, so I decided to take advantage of these characteristics to create a colourful, if decidedly mummy-on-the-go unsuitable little handbag.

All in all a pretty fab birthday gift. I'm inspired to look further into this, including digging out a book I have which includes 3D forms. I'm thinking soft and colourful toy storage made from all-natural this space!


  1. That is my most favourite favourite stretch of motorway in the whole world ever :D We tell the kids every variation of fable about the heart shaped woods and always stop at Tebay so they can feed the ducks. But yeah, it is so beautiful :)

    The felt looks fab! The home ed group had a felt making workshop recently and I missed it, now I really wish we'd made it

  2. I was just thinking yesterday it would be a great craft to do with children, maybe from about 7 upwards (it's a bit fiddly for younger and takes quite a long time). Doing the workshop was really good, as I'm not sure I'd really have understood when different stages were completed without the tutor's guidance.