Margillan silk and wool ... the dream team smiley We felted these cowls in white fabric and wool and then hand painted them with acid dyes in the colourways of our choice, mixing the colours on the fabric itself to get soft transitions. During the felting process, the finely woven silk is distressed as the wool shrinks, and the woven strands separate giving the wonderfully lacy, trademark textures. 





In May 2019, we were delighted to welcome back felt maker and tutor extraordinaire, Dagmar Binder. On this workshop, we investigated the potential of recreating forms in nature, seed pods being particularly inspirational to many of the participants. 


​We were fortunate enough to be able to offer a second Gladys Paulus workshop within the space of 6 months! 



Curly Cushions


Using curls from pedigree raw Gotland fleece and Piiku wool, we made soft and luxurious curly cushions.  Several participants in the group were complete beginners, and they all did amazingly well, producing cushion covers with openings (laced or button).


Hats! Hats! Hats!


So many styles ... so little time! We had fedoras, pleated witches hats, cloches, Derbys, and they were all fantastic!






What a wonderful 5 day workshop with Gladys Paulus last week. Incredibly intense and full on, but Gladys has the ability to encourage her students and bring out their inspiration and energy, and the time flew past - and everyone had arrived at the finishing stage of their mask by the time we headed off, back into the world.

To work with someone who really knows their craft and who also has the flair and eye of an artist is truly exciting. We all felt we were in a safe pair of hands: whenever one of us was feeling overwhelmed at the size of the project they'd undertaken, Gladys was there to support and help bring back a positive focus to the task.

We all took our heads home to be tweaked and coaxed into their finished glory. I've waited to do this workshop for what seems like forever ... and I now feel as if my felt making life is (very nearly) complete! laugh






We had an excellent weekend making slippers!


Using Piiku (because of its toughness and the speed at which it felts), students first designed the type of slippers they wanted to make, with an emphasis on the need for practicality.

The first choice was which style to use - boots or shoes. Then there was making the difficult decision about colour ... Piiku wools are available in so many gorgeous tones and colours! 


Having 2 whole days gave us all time to really work on the finish of their slippers, make a felt insole and/or arch support and learn how to sew on soles. 


Lucy's slippers were in the bootee style, made using a double-ended resist. Love the curls and the carefully considered colourways.  smiley


Kay and Lesley both made shoe-shaped slippers using the 'bunny ear resist" shape that provides more room for the arch of the foot.


Kay incorporated layers of prefelt to build up support in her inner sole which worked really well. 



Lesley spent lots of time embellishing hers with a range of fibres, including some gorgeous curls: she also sewed on two beautiful buttons that had belonged to her mother.  



Kay's slippers seem very happy and relaxed in the their new home!




Summer definitely showed its face during this workshop weekend! While we were slaving away over fluff and fibres, the sun was pouring down, and through the windows of the studio, we watched the dappled light through the beech trees illuminating the bluebells ... smiley



Jenny, as always, was the perfect tutor: her explanations and demonstrations were clear and concise, and she shared her time equally among all the students, moving around the studio advising and teaching through hands-on manipulation of our masterpieces. 


We learned how to create interesting surface textures - spikes, domes and ripples - and then applied these to the creation of our sculptural vessels. Colour was an important aspect of this, with some wild and wonderful combinations that were as gorgeous and celebratory as the beautiful weather!


Many hands make spikes work ...




Along with tea, coffee, herbal teas etc etc which were dispensed at regular intervals throughout the day, we all - as Heather demonstrates here - really enjoyed Nina's home baking!



Treating ourselves to some gorgeous DHG and Piiku wool is one of the treats inherent to a visit to FiTF ... we challenge you to go home empty handed blush







In the latest of our series of fleece rug workshops, sisters Gaynor and Glenda came to the studio, and chose to use two of the Gotland fleeces to make their rugs.  


The fleece that Gaynor chose was from a shearling called Freya: it was dark grey and silver with tight curls, and as it was already well felted, it didn't require too much preparation. The other fleece was from Evangaline, and was much more of an undertaking, but Glenda did an amazing job of stitching it, ready for the felting process.





The resulting rugs were quite gorgeous, and completely different from each other. Here's a photo of Gaynor's, complete with her dog, Rosie, who was well impressed! 





What a fabulous group of ladies to spend a day with, rubbing bits of wool together! Nine bright eyed and bushy tailed felt makers turned up at the studio, ready to blow up their balls and make gorgeous hats smiley.   


Enthusiasm certainly wasn't in short supply: I left the room for a couple of minutes, and by the time I got back, there they were, proudly displaying their inflated spheres ...            




After preparing our designs and laying these out on our balls  - some used silk fabric and fibres, whereas others chose to create motifs with needlefelt, while one student preferred to make a plain hat  in order to concentrate on the technique - we then started to apply the Piiku wool.


Wet wool obeys the laws of gravity, and there were a few concerns expressed about "droopy bottoms" and "soggy underneath bits", but all's well that ends well. And that same maxim applies to valves (the balls are inflatable/deflatable) that inadvertently disappeared under layers of wool. We found that Carey had a particularly sensitive, touch when it came to locating these, and her psychic gift was called upon on more than one occasion.



Once the felt had formed a skin, the ball was removed, and the designs were stablised. The fulling process then commenced, shrinking the hat down to size and hardening the felt.


A rinse, a spin, et voila - time for the photo opportunity!


As always, everyone appreciated Nina's wonderful skills as a host, offering not only this unique workspace, but also copious amounts of drinks and delicious nibbles (including, on this occasion, a home made banana cake). 







Jacke and Carey came to make rugs, taking advantage of the big tables and the rollers. Jackie chose to use undyed Shetland for her base, and merino prefelt for the geometric design. Carey had a huge stock of Jacobs wool so that formed the base of her rug, and she then laid out a wild and wonderful design using a wide variety of fibres and yarn - much of which she has spun herself.                                                                                                    

The Shetland felted beautifully, and Jackie had her rug in the rolling machine as soon as it had stabilised and the design had attached. As you can see, the finished result was gorgeous!                                                                                                                                       

Carey's Jacobs wasn't so amenable sad. After hours ot rubbing - and I mean hours - it was still loose and 'marshamallowy' so out came the sander. Even that didn't have a huge effect and it was only through sheer determination, litres of very, very hot soapy water and lots of help from her friend that the wool was finally beaten into submission and agreed to hold together enough for it to go into the machine. I'm sure you'll agree that the outcome was worth it, and the exuberant design just makes you smile!e


And they even had time to make a couple of smaller items: Jackie decided to make a one-piece back to try out Piiku to see what all the fuss was about - she couldn't believe how quickly it felted! Carey also used Piiku to make a large basket as a gift her mother.

It was an exhausting - and at times, a little fraught - 3 days, but the learning experience and the items that they took home with them made it all worthwhile! smiley                                                                             





Dagmar's taught at the studio quite a few times now, and it's always a pleasure to welcome her back! As always, the participants appreciated both her expertise and her straightforward explanations.

This time, the topic under scrutiny was "holes", and the many ways in which they can be created during the felt making process. Dagmar brought an eclectic selection of samples for us to examine and analyse: they all had something in common, and that was holes!                                                                                      

We spent the first day producing samples and familiarising ourselves with the different ways in which holes can be produced: some used resists, while others wove and cut to create spaces and voids in their work.  Dagmar worked alongside us, using her pieces to draw our attention to the effects of cutting away areas, while reminding us that pieces have two sides, and that sometimes, the side we thought would be the reverse ends up being far more interesting than the so-called front side.                                                      

Some of us chose to continue investigating their ideas through working on producing more samples, while others applied what they'd learned to making a larger piece.              

By the end of the weekend, there was a line of holes on the forecourt at FiTF ... laugh



A selection of eager students





In September 2017, we were delighted to host a three day workshop with the renowned felt maker, Maria Friese, who travelled from France on her first teaching assignment in the UK.  The title of the workshop was Poetic Surface Design, and Maria used her wide range of samples to talk to us about how to achieve interest and texture by creating raised surfaces which can then be cut into to reveal inner layers.

We then worked to produce our own samples: some of us chose to use carded merino wool from DHG - it turned out to be a bit like Marmite ... some of us loved it, and some hated it!



The second part of the workshop was devoted to incorporating the techniques we'd practised into a vessel. Some students opted to create a form using the 'book resist' method which produced a vessel with 10 faces, while the rest of us based our pots on a circle resist embellished with raised and cut away designs. Ruth concentrated on making a beautiful bag which she used to showcase one of the surfaces.

Maria had unfortunately arrived in the UK with a cold and was a little under the weather, but we appreciated her quiet and generous teaching style. The finish she achieves on her work was an excellent reminder to us all about the importance of completing the fulling stage. 


Karoliina Arvilommi




In April 2016, the IFA co-ordinator for region 9, Cheryl Cracknell, organised a four day workshop by the Finnish felt maker Karoliina Arvilommi.


Using Karoliina's techniques, we made wall hangings and rugs and, after a lot of hard, physical work, we were delighted with the results.


Karoliina and her partner, Rod Welch, were wonderful tutors and offered immense support, urging us on when the going got tough! 

Wall Hangings By Students













Annemie Koenen returned to Felt in the Factory in September, to teach a workshop entitled, “Surface Design”. She is an accomplished felt maker and embroiderer, with several books to her name - including a new one she brought with her that’s hot off the press! 


Annemie shared her wet felting techniques for producing pleats, frills, ripples, balls, ruffles and leaves, and each participant interpreted these in their own way to produce pieces that were highly individual and intricate.  Some students chose to take inspiration from Annemie’s beautiful embroidery to embellish their work - handbags, neck pieces, hats, shawls, boot -  many of which were created using Annemie’s wonderful fibres. 


In addition, Annemie is an authority on Central Asian felt making, having spent time in Kyrgyzstan  studying the felting techniques there, and one student opted to make a fabulous rug using the shyrdak technique. 


As ever, Annemie’s attention to detail and calm, patient manner were greatly appreciated by her students. Following the workshop, she stayed at Felt in the Factory for a few days to use the studio to work on her own projects, and produced some stunning hats!


















Felt in the Factory was delighted to host Lisa Klakulak on her first teaching visit to the UK in September. Lisa taught two workshops - "Sculpting Hollow Form" and "Solid Form", both of which were innovative and inspirational.


The hollow form workshop introduced us to the concept of weighing fibre out in hundredths of a gram. To watch a two dimensional layout comprising pieces of partial felt and very fine layers of fibres start to take a three dimensional form under our fingers was so exciting! Creating a 3D form from a 2D layout, using only the principle of differential shrinkage based on the weight of fibre in any given area was revolutionary!


In the solid form workshop, we used miniscule amounts of merino fibres to create spheres, discs, barrels, cones, hoops and cords, and then learning how to join all these components together in various combinations. Lisa showed us  the method she uses for colour mixing, and we constructed beautifully subtle colour gradations which we were able to reproduce by weighing the fibres.















Iris's Slipper Workshop was a great success! It's always nice to have cosy toes this time of year smiley






On the most perfect of spring weekends, complete with wall-to-wall sunshine and dancing blossom, Felt in the Factory hosted an inspirational workshop with the felt artist, Andrea Hunter. Andrea is renowned for her depiction of the flora and fauna of the Yorkshire Dales: she has lived most of her life in the breathtaking beauty of Wensleydale.


The workshop was entitled, “Felt Pictures”, and Andrea demonstrated the methods she uses to create her gorgeously intricate images, building depth and texture by drawing with the fibres, laying down fine layers of wool in an almost painterly style.


The studio space was often almost silent, as the participants concentrated intently on laying down layer upon layer of extremely fine fibres to build up shimmering images that were almost reminiscent of watercolours. 


As ever, a plethora of tea and coffee was consumed, along with several packets of biscuits and two home made cakes baked by Nina.


And then, on Sunday morning, Nina announced the birth of twins … one of her Hebridean ewes – Dryfe - had given birth to twins in the early hours!


























Uzbek Shawl Workshop

Diana's cut out design: 

On a very wet Wednesday in May - it didn't stop raining all day! - we used lengths of the wonderfully fine and delicate handloomed Uzbek silk (AKA Margillan silk) to create shawls.

When making our prefelt, we tried to create the effect of watercolour, blending the colours together to achieve a softness, with smooth transitions.

As the edges of the silk were raw, they had to be felted, so we cut narrow strips of prefelt and laid them around the perimeter of the silk. Diana's design was a cut out pattern where shapes were removed from the felt to allow the silk to show through so she didn't have to construct a border using her prefelt. 

Once our design had been laid out on the silk, we began to roll ... and it didn't take long to reach the pinch test stage. Because these shawls needed to be drapey, we didn't take the process too far.