Friday, October 31, 2008

happy halloween

here's the pumpkin i carved last week. i love the crafty and creative aspects of this holiday. last year i was in japan, and i organized a pumpkin carving party for my adult english conversation students, most of whom had never carved a pumpkin. for some reason (ok, because they don't really celebrate halloween, at least not the pumpkin carving part) orange pumpkins are scarce and expensive in japan. you can buy them from foreign import food stores for 25-30 dollars! so we experimented. i carved a japanese pumpkin, or kabucha. those are HARD to cut. but they make a yummy pumpkin pie. which brings me back to the photo of jack up there, waiting in the fridge. i baked him at 350 degrees for an hour, and then made him into pie. and it was tasty.

now i must walk away from the internets, and work on my halloween costume.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

new brown undyed merino wool

i've been using a new merino wool, from a sheep named babe, who lives on a farm in california. i love it. the photo above shows cup sleeves, felt balls, and a scarflet; below, baby booties.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

autumn open studio at piano nobile

are you in or near seattle? please join me at piano nobile for their biggest open studio yet, on saturday, nov. 8th, from 2-6 pm. the individual and collaborative work of 8 artists will be on display.
Chadhaus custom furniture
dao jewelry exclusive fall/winter collection
Piano Nobile Home furniture, lighting, and textiles

Felt Cafe & Piano Nobile Home merino wool felt garments and housewares
Lit Shades & Piano Nobile Home couture silk lampshades

Cambodia 1: Paintings and Photographs by Bennett Grizzard
Rough in the Round: Hand-Turned Wood Bowls by Laura Yeats

come meet the artists and sip some hot apple cider in our ballard studio:

Piano Nobile
908 NW 50th Street
Seattle, WA 98107

other than open studio events, piano nobile is open by appointment only.
if you miss the party on november 8, please contact them to schedule a visit.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

i'm on bloesem kids!

irene from bloesem has been so kind as to feature felt cafe on her kids design blog:
bloesem kids. you can see the full sized post here.

irene also curates the lovely blog bloesem, which is always chalk full of wonderful things.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

scarflets in the shop

i listed these two scarflets in the shop. not sure if the correct spelling is scarflette or scarflet, it seems that people use both. the point is, it's a cozy warm wee scarf made of the most squishy and softest naturally processed merino wool, and naturally dyed. i'm not sure which color i love more, the indigo blue or the pumkin-colored madder.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

piano nobile collaboration

i am so excited to share a collaboration that i have been working on with isabelle from piano nobile. piano nobile is a group of artists, designers and builders who create lovely work.
for this project, isabelle has been screen printing original designs based on antique letterpress type on my hand felted and naturally dyed scarves.
they are for sale over at the piano nobile etsy shop.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

felt french press cozy tutorial

i'm loving my new design for a felt french press cozy. as winter is coming, it brings together 2 of my passions–felt and coffee! so i wanted to share my tutorial. if you don't want to make your own, i sell french press cozies in my etsy shop.

it's actually really easy if you already know the basics of making a flat piece of felt. it's basically a flat piece of felt that wraps around the french press and closes with 3 sets of snaps. and if you don't want to make your own felt, you could use a thick fabric and hem the edges, or knit a long rectangle. you could also substitute buttons instead of snaps.

if you do want to use your own handmade felt, you should first have a go at making a small piece of felt, the size of a coaster. i have a beginning felt making tutorial, felt 101, that you can see on my website and download for free. it's the basic technique of making felt from soft fluffy roving (wool before it's been spun into yarn), by adding dish soap, hot water, and creating friction to join all the little fibers together.

i'd also like to point you to a few other great felt resources:

the forums on, the fiber arts forum has both a 'felting:completed projects' and 'felting:discussions and questions' board, and the moderators and felt folks over there are super. tons of inspirational projects and tutorials.

the felting forum is also a wealth of information.

so now that you have made a small piece of felt and understand the basic process, here's what you will need for this project:
2-3 ounces of wool roving. i would recommend a more sturdy and coarse variety of wool, like romney or icelandic or even corriedale, over a something extremely soft like merino top, since this project will be working to keep your coffee warm, not your neck.
dish soap. i like seventh generation of the natural biodegradable options. dawn or ivory work great too.
hot water. your tap water might be hot enough, otherwise heat some up in a tea kettle.
a waterproof tray. you could use a cookie sheet, or a tupperware/rubermaid lid. i use a tray from ikea. it just has to have low edges to keep water from getting everywhere.
some old towels, because some water will escape.
some nylon netting, or bubble wrap, or a bamboo blind/sushi mat. these are optional, but might help you save time.
3 sets of large snaps, and thread.

ok, lets get started!
measure your french press. mine is 12" around and 7.5" tall. i measured from the table to the top edge of the glass. this design has the felt wrap around the french press and close over the handle, so the final 'long' dimension will be 12" plus 2 to 3 inches on each end, depending on your preference. that gives us a final dimension of around 17" by 7.5".

since felt shrinks during the feltmaking process, and we will be trimming the top and bottom edges, i think adding about an extra 2" to each side is about right to make it easy work get good results.

lay out 3 layers of wool (perpendicular to each other) in an rectangular area 24" by 12" inside your tray, or waterproof workspace. if it's easier for you to have a pattern to work with, you can make yourself a 24" by 12" rectangle out of inexpensive fabric (that can get wet) or netting, or bubble wrap. you can also line the entire tray with bubble wrap (bubbles up) before you start. bubble wrap increases the friction and will help the wool felt more quickly.

drizzle some dish soap over the wool.
and some hot water. we will now pretty much follow the same process from my felt 101 tutorial.
one exception: for larger pieces of felt, it's easier to keep the felt from moving around if you put down a layer of nylon mesh over the wool, and rub your hands on top of that. the water and soap will bubble through, which is fine. you don't need to do this, but it will help you get consistent results. you can use a mesh bag that you would use to wash delicate laundry in the washing machine as well. oh, you can also put your hand inside a plastic bag and rub the wool with that, the plastic bag will move more smoothly over the wool.
the nylon mesh doesn't want to felt to the wool, but you should peel it back every once in a while to make sure no wool fibers have caught in it.

for the short ends of the rectangle, fold in the loose fibers to make an even(ish) edge.
you can fold in the long edges as well, although we will be trimming them off. so the purpose of folding them over is less to make a perfect finished edge, and more to make a more sturdy edge to work with in the following steps.
after the felt is holding together, and you can turn it over, rub your hands in circles on both sides. roll it up and roll back and forth. you can use a bamboo blind or small sushi mat to roll it up with, just another way to increase the friction and help turn your wool into felt.

unroll and reroll in both directions on from both sides. remember that felt shrinks in the direction that you are rolling.
if your felt is getting cooler, you can add more hot water.
unroll and fold over onto itself and continue to work the felt.

when the felt has a uniform surface (not individual fibers that you can pick up), you are ready to cut the felt.
my final height (short dimension of the rectangle) is 7.5," so i cut it a little larger, 8" wide.
i like to have a cut edge on the long edges (that become the top and bottom of the french press cozy and wrap around) and leave the short edges (that fasten around the handle) uncut and more organic, which also leaves them a little bulkier due to the folded edge. if you prefer to have all cut edges, you can cut them all now. remember to leave the rectangle at least 5" longer than the measurement around your french press.
this is the cut edge. because of the nature of felt, the top surface and the bottom surface will be more felted, and when you cut through the felt, the edge is less felted.
so felt just the edge, the same way that you felted before, by applying friction. there may still be enough soap left in your felt to felt the edge, if not at more. rubbing the palms of your hands together perpendicular to the cut edge is my preferred method.
you can use your fingers too, that would just take a lot longer! once you see that the cut edge is becoming denser and more solid, you can rinse all the soap out. if you want, you can make the felt a little smaller by continuing to apply friction and rub the felt as before. this is called 'fulling.'roll up the piece of felt in a towel to absorb extra water. depending on the wool that you used, and how dense your felt has become, you may be able to stretch and shape your felt a little bit.
let it dry flat. the last step is to sew on the snaps.
i use 3 sets of snap: one below the handle, one above the handle, and one inside the handle. i hold up the felt to the french press so that both ends extend the same amount toward or past the handle. then i position the snaps for a snug fit. usually i start in the center, then attach the top and bottom snaps, checking the fit before sewing on each snap.that's what it looks like with the snaps fastened.

i hope you enjoyed this tutorial! if you have any questions or comments or suggestions, i would love to hear them, thanks.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the silvering path

tonight i saw an amazing performance, entitled the silvering path. it had dance, film, ninjas, a slug princess, and jaw-droppingly awesome fiber creations by mandy greer.

the film was by ian lucero and the star was dancer/choreographer/director and slug princess haruko nishimura, who is trained in butoh and co-founder of the degenerate art ensemble. it was dreamy and clever and fun.

and did i mention the wonderful fiber pieces, costumes and props? seriously good.

at free sheep foundation this weekend, fridays tickets are sold out, and they've added another show on sunday the 19th. get your tickets here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

new natural color for french press cozy

i've been using a new wool, a local romney which has a lovely natural warm grey-brown color. i love it for the french press cozy, and i plan to create more undyed items for the fall and winter.

Monday, October 13, 2008


slippers are up in the shop!

i found some inspiration in my japanese craft books, and played around with this pattern:
from this book about scandinavian inspired felting:

but then i liked the shape of these slippers (although i didn't combine the felt with knitting):
from this book: felt and fabric rendevous.
and used a modified version of that pattern, where each slipper is made individually around a flat resist. then i cut a vertical slit for the opening, and formed them by hand so that they have a back.

i can make them in custom sizes/colors. the slippers and the books are available in my shop.

UPDATE 10/14/08: the scandinavian felt book is currently sold out. i'm working to restock but i keep a small inventory, so if you want a copy, let me know and i can reserve one for you.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


you know when you find something new, that is just so perfect it makes you deeply happy? like your new favorite CD that you play constantly, or a new amazing artist?

this week, i discovered monocol. their tag line "art and pocketlucre via collaboration and skulduggery" should be the first clue that you are in for something great.

they make the excellent 'daruminals', a combination of the traditional japanese wishing doll (daruma) and other animals. i am already a big fan of the daruma's aesthetic, and i think the daruminals are just great (as if you couldn't tell)! the top photo is the paper mache version.

and then there are the prints. i don't know which one i love more, laika...

the polar bear...
or the deap sea diver? i can't choose, i love them all.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

welcome to the zoo!

i just added this book, 'felt zoo' to my etsy shop.
more photos on my flickr
ISBN 978-4-309-28133-9