Thursday, April 29, 2010


During a  recent visit, two of my grandchildren and I spent many pleasant and productive hours in my studio felting and dyeing.  Here are the results:

Inspired by Chad Alice Hagan's great hat book, my (almost) fifteen year old grandson designed and made this awesome hat.

And his nine year old sister made this fabulously colorful felt bead bracelet.

What a joy to be able to pass on my skills and passion for creating things to such wonderful, enthusiastic young people!!!

Hard at work

Fulling ....... fulling
and more fulling!
Finally! blocked and drying

Making the felt beads
Carefully hand painting each bead with dye in unique patterns and colors.

Proudly modeling the fabulous results of all that hard work

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Or..... Why did I wait so long to do this???

Our winter weather has turned to icy cold again here in Vermont. The past couple of weeks have seen an unusually long "warm" spell. Of course, "warm" is a relative term. By this point in the winter, any day when the thermometer rises above the freezing mark feels positively balmy. That gentle cold has now been blown away on blustery north/northwest winds bringing sub-zero temperatures and even lower wind chill numbers.

Which brings me to the subject of this post: COLD hands.

Feeding the sheep and doing barn chores when the thermometer dips below zero has always been painful activity for my hands and the older I get, the more easily/quickly my hands turn into throbbing appendages that no longer work as well as they should, prolonging barn time thus prolonging pain time and so on ... and so on.

A number of years ago, I arrived at a partial solution .... layers. First on: a pair of gloves that are warm(ish) but not so bulky that they interfere with tasks that require a bit of finger dexterity like grasping the pull string on a grain bag. Topped by: a pair of mittens that could be pulled off easily as needed and stashed up under my jacket to retain some of their warmth until my gloved hands could be returned. For years I have had a pair of double layered heavy weight "polar fleece" mittens that had served the purpose fairly well keeping my hands reasonably warm as long as the intervals they spent out of the mittens were brief. Once my hands were chilled and throbbing, though, the mittens were pretty ineffective in restoring them to a pain level that could be ignored ... never mind warmth!

Still, those mittens had provided more warmth and function than any of the high-tech gloves I've tried. So, in early January, when they became so worn and full of holes that I finally had to accept that it was time to retire the mittens, the search for a replacement pair began. I had expected that to be a simple task - but not so! Oh well, they would be pretty simple to make, I thought, but I'd need to order the "polar fleece". Then our "warm" spell arrived and I procrastinated.

A mid-week check of the long-term weather forecast provided a stiff dose of winter reality and I realised I would NEED some mittens in a couple of days. No heavy weight "polar fleece" to be had ..... but wait .....
I raise sheep!!! I have wool, wool and more wool!!! I am a proficient feltmaker!!! Why not felt myself a pair of mittens??? Ummmm...duh!

Now, I normally make rugs and rarely make anything practical just for myself. Guess I'm a bit like the proverbial cobbler's children who have no shoes! But I NEEDED a pair of mittens in a hurry.

Now this needed to be a down and dirty pair of mittens - all function - forget form. They would be used in the barn after all. And so, they are plain, thick and felted hard but still flexible.

I'll skip the felting details for now but I may put up a tutorial down the road.

I finished my felt mittens before the arctic cold set in again and this morning they were really put to the test. It was well below zero (I don't want to know just how much!!!) and the wind was howling. After close to an hour out in the cold, my hands were "warm as toast"!!!! Truth be told, I slipped the mittens off for a brief time at one point because my hands were actually getting HOT! I sloshed water all over my left hand filling up the boys' water bucket and never felt the slightest chill. I had to take the mittens off for an extended time while I served up the morning's dose of aspirin to some of my aging/arthritic old girls and my fingers started to throb. The most amazing thing happened less than a minute after I slipped my mittens back on .... my hands were warm and comfortable again. Wow!!!!
"Wonder Mittens"