Friday, November 28, 2008

felt stocking ornament tutorial

this is a quick holiday project, perfect for someone who has tried a little bit of felt making, and is ready to try felting around a resist. it's a very small project, but once you know how to make this stocking, you can make the same project at a larger scale, or explore other projects that involve felting around a resist. these instructions are part of a 'how to make holiday felt kit' available in my etsy shop. feel free to use and share these instructions, but please link back here and give credit to felt cafe, thank you!

you will need a small amount of wool roving (less than 1/2 an ounce), dish soap, hot water, a waterproof working surface (tupperware, even a dinner plate works for a small project like this one), a small piece of bubble wrap to make the pattern. if you have never tried making felt before, i suggest you check out my felt 101 tutorial here; you can even download the how-to-make-felt pdf instructions for free.

make a pattern out of bubble wrap. the pattern will also be the resist, which you will be felting around.

lay out one layer of wool roving horizontally, as shown. try to have the ends extend past the bubble wrap resist, but not have any extra roving above or below. the key is that the roving should extend past the resist when it is perpendicular to the edge. when the roving is parallel to the edge, try not to have the roving extend past the edge.

lay out a second layer of fiber vertically, perpendicular to the first layer.

drizzle a little bit of dish soap and hot water over the wool. try to keep the it in the center, where the pattern is, and keep the ends of the wool dry if possible. press down on the wool, working the soap and water through the wool.

turn it over to the other side, the patter will be on top, over 2 layers of wool.
wrap the ends around the pattern.

the same way that you did at the beginning, lay out 2 layers of wool on the 2nd side, the 1st horizontal and the 2nd vertical, the same as you did on the 1st side. drizzle a little dish soap.
and hot water. press down on the wool as before.
turn it over, and wrap the ends around.

without turning the felt over, lay out another layer of wool horizontally. (this is the 3rd layer on the 1st side.) press down on the wool, and turn it over.
wrap the ends around.
lay out another horizontal layer or wool. (this is the 3rd layer of wool on the 2nd side).

turn the felt over, and wrap the ends around. press down on the wool, rub it in small circles with your fingertips. repeat on both sides several times. hold it flat between the palms of your hands, and rub them back and forth gently. all of these things are creating friction, and causing the wool to felt, which means that the tiny scales on the wool fibers are becoming locked together.
the felt will become soapier while you work it. continue to rub and agitate the felt until you feel that the wool fibers are joined together, and you can't easily pull them off individually.

trim off the top of the stocking with scissors. your felt will probably have grown a little bigger than the pattern you started with, so you will likely be able to cut straight across and not cut into the pattern (in case you want to save and reuse the same pattern piece). as you cut the felt, you may see that you are cutting through some but not all layers. you need to cut through all the layers, so trim it again if you need to.
when you cut through all the layers, you can see the bubble wrap inside.
take the bubble wrap pattern out, and continue to rub the felt as before, this time with 1 or 2 fingers inside the stocking, and your other hand outside. this is important if you want to keep the pocket part of the stocking, otherwise it will felt together. gradually rinse out the soap, continuing to rub the felt.
if you rinse out all the soap and you feel like the stocking is too fuzzy and not felted, you can add soap and hot water again and repeat the process of agitating the wool with your hands.

to make the loop to hang your stocking ornament, make a partial cut about 1/4 inch from the top of the stocking, and stop about 1/4 inch away from the heel side. lift up the part the you cut, it will become the loop. add a little soap and hot water to the cut edges, and rub them a little bit so they felt.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

happy thanksgiving

my contribution to thanksgiving this year. on the front left burner is my new (2nd annual) thanksgiving recipe–pumpkin pie crepes. i love them because it's a good way to use the extra pumpkin pie filling that i always have left over after making the pumpkin pies, and it's the perfect easy breakfast for a house full of thanksgiving guests, or a quick snack to keep everyone going during food preparation time.

pumpkin pie crepes

start with:
3-4 cups extra pumpkin pie filling (i used the simple joy of cooking recipe: pumpkin, eggs, cream, and spices). you can keep this refrigerated until ready to use, but it's best if you use it by the next day after you mixed it.

about 1 cup of flour, with 1 teaspoon of baking power mixed into the flour
about 1 cup of milk

add more vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar for a stronger flavor.

whisk together. you can let this batter sit in the fridge for a few hours if you want.
you can add more milk or flour to get the right consistency or increase the amount of batter.

cook on a well greased griddle. serve plain, with syrup or powdered sugar, or with cream cheese as a snack.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

thanksgiving eve and reya

i love thanksgiving. it's far and away my favorite holiday. this year, for the first time since about 2001, i am not organizing/hosting the meal. i'll just be making pie. and rolls. last year i was in japan, roasting tiny rock hens (quite tasty, by the way), explaining thanksgiving to my japanese conversation students, and giving them their first taste of stuffing and cranberries. i tried to explain the history of this holiday, and the difference between the myth of cooperation vs. the true history of genocide of native americans. but what i love about thanksgiving is the way we celebrate it–gathering with family or friends who feel like family, to share a special meal and enjoy each other's company.

i also want to share the work of a wonderful artist, reya. she created the felt acorns at the top of this post, as well as these lovely natural felt sculptures. her shop is here, and is full of beautiful works in a variety of media.

Monday, November 24, 2008

felt candy cane tutorial

this is an easy and fast way to make felt candy canes, felting around pipe cleaners to create the shape. no previous felting experience is necessary; this would be a lot of fun for older kids. for younger children, you could wrap the wool around the pipe cleaners and/or get them started, and have the kids do the last steps (roll them in soapy water).

this tutorial, and another tutorial for mini felted stocking ornaments are both included in the holiday felt making kit in my etsy shop, where you can also order felt candy canes.

UPDATE: thanks so much to everyone who has commented, and big thanks to everyone who has linked here. feel free to share this tutorial, i would like to please just ask that you credit me and the felt cafe blog, thank you!~

you will need some pipe cleaners (cut in half) and some wool roving. the amount pictured is about 1/8 of an ounce, which is enough to make at least 2 candy canes. you also need dish soap, hot water, a shallow waterproof dish, and a towel on hand.

take a strip of white wool. starting at one end, wrap the wool tightly around the pipe cleaner.

overlapping the wool, wrap the wool diagonally along the pipe cleaner, working your way to the other end.
make sure to completely cover the end.
wrap back in the other direction, making 2 layers. when you reach the first end, turn around and wrap a final 3rd layer of wool
completed 3 layers of white wool wrapped around half a piper cleaner. if you've wrapped it tightly, it will be easier to felt in the following steps. some unevenness in the layers of wool at this point will not be a problem.
take one strip of red wool roving, about 1 and a half times longer than the white wool wrapped pipe cleaner.
wrap the red wool once or twice around one end.

and then wrap the red strip diagonally along the length of the pipe cleaner, leaving white spaces that are the same width as the red spaces.
wrap the red wool one or two times around the end.
wool wrapping completed.

put a little hot soapy water in a dish, and roll the wool in it. using your fingertips or palms, roll the wool back and forth, as if you were making a clay snake.
the fibers will begin to join together. continue to roll the wool.
you can continue to work the wool: hold the stick in one hand as shown, and close your other hand around it. keeping your hands flat, rub it between your palms. you can keep working the wool as you gradually rinse out the soap.

your felt candy cane will probably have stretched a little past the wire and become longer. if you want flat ends, you can trip them off with a scissors, being careful to cut beyond the end of the wire.
bend to make a candy cane shape.

you can use the same process to make larger or smaller candy canes, or peppermint sticks (just don't bend them), or twist them into a circle for napkin rings or tiny decorative wreaths.

thanks to everyone who has left comments, i love reading them, and i love that you are trying this tutorial and having fun with making felt candy canes.

chronicle books sale

it's the annual friends and family sale over at chronicle books: just use promo code FRIENDS for 35% off on orders through dec 5th. via craft

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

heather and kaoru

today i want to introduce 2 talented local jewelry designers that i met at the farmers market.

bird on a wire necklace by heather davidson. heather draws each image by hand, so every piece is truly one of a kind.
ripe raspberry necklace by kaoru werk of happy squirrel creations. kaoru's shop is full of cute beaded, wire wrapped, and original plastic jewelry.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008