It has been over 2 months since I've stitched a stone.
I find that totally unacceptable, especially since I consider the act of stitching these little meditations a form of therapy. It's little wonder I've been so off-kilter.
Life is very busy... busier than I'd like. Things get moved off the to-do list, shoved to the back of the line, to make room for the most pressing and noisiest of tasks. Regardless, stitching is going to have to be one of those things that is always on the list. It just has to.
In late 2013 I was poised and ready to make the leap into full-time art. My youngest would soon be in school and I had a plan in place to make a real financial impact by working in my chosen craft. Then life laughed and winked, and threw us some curves which necessitated my going to work outside the home. I ended up in a job as an arts administrator, one I'm proud of and often humbled by.
It's worthy work, but work that often drains me, physically and creatively.
So it becomes even more important that I keep up with the practice of self-care which for me includes time in the woods, stitching, family, and working towards that goal of being a full time artist, even if it's years away.
I'm starting by committing to 10 days of stone-stitching. No matter how busy or tired I am, I will stitch at least 1 stone every day for the next 10 days. At the end I'll have a shop update and a giveaway. I hope you'll be here to celebrate with me.
Day 1's stone seems to have taken its theme from my dandelion-covered yard.
Work life has been very busy lately. To make the most of my art time, I've been looking at ways to streamline my process a bit. I've been wanting to do a hanging piece with my stones, without having the weight of actual stones. I've made solid wool stones before by needle-felting them firmly and then wet-felting them, but it takes time that I just don't have right now. This method allows me to make a batch of stones at a time with much less effort.
Want to give it a try?
wool roving/batting that will felt
felted wool sweater
a knee-high stocking or a leg from pantyhose
felting needle (optional but helpful)
If you've followed my tutorial for felted stones, this will be pretty self-explanatory. We'll substitute felted sweater for the stone, following the same steps, but allowing the washing machine to do the felt work for us.
From the wool sweater, cut a basic stone shape. You'll want to cut one larger piece for the center, widest, part of the stone and two smaller pieces, one for the top and one for the bottom. No need to get exact here as the felting will alter the shape and make it nicely rounded.
Next you'll lay out a little mat of roving for your stone slightly wider and about 3 times longer than your stone. Lay a thin layer out with the fibers running horizontally, and a second layer with the fibers running vertically. This will encourage the fibers to tangle together more easily around your "stone". Roll the wool "stone" up in the fiber, tucking the sides in and making a neat little package.
Using your felting needle, tack the edges and ends in place. No need to needle the whole surface, just get it to stay put long enough to get to the next step.
Now repeat those steps until you have a pile of little wool stones-to-be, and grab your stocking.
If the stocking you're using has a seam in the toe, turn it inside out. I've found that the seam will make an indent in the stone, which is fixable, but easily avoidable.
Now slide your first stone down into the toe of the stocking and tie a knot right above it.
Keep adding stones and tying between each one until the stocking is filled. Resist the urge to whack people with your stocking of stones. The kids will see and follow suit. (I make the mistakes so you don't have to)
Now, if you want to make lots and lots of stones this way you can save up all your stone-filled stockings until you have a washer load full. If you want to make just a few, or if you are impatient, toss that stocking in with a load of jeans and let 'er go. I ran these for one cycle, but if you see they're not felting well enough, toss them in another load and let them go again.
They're pretty gnarly looking when they're done.
Get out your scissors and set them free. Cut above the knot and peel the stocking off of your stone.
Whoa. The surface is pretty unruly, but that's okay, we can fix the surface. We're more concerned about the center being pretty well felted. That's the step that takes time if you were to do them by hand. These are well-felted so we'll just address that surface fuzz.
Take your fuzzy stone to the sink and wet the surface with a little warm water and a drop of soap. Rub the stone using the plastic bag for about 30 seconds. Rinse off the stone and set it aside to dry.
See? So much better.
In a relatively short amount of time and with minimal felting effort you can have a whole pile of solid wool stones that you can use in your projects.
A few things to keep in mind:
Choose a wool center that won't bleed color, or choose a color that will work with your design if it does bleed. Grey is a safe choice, red might not be.
Some plastic bags are printed with ink that will transfer once wet. Turn your plastic bag inside out and avoid using the printed area.
After you rinse your stone, just set it down and let it dry. You can trim off any stray fuzzies with small scissors once it's dry.
Soon...well, soonish...I'll show you what I did with mine.
If you try this out I'd love to see what you're doing with them. Drop me a line or leave a comment and share!
If you find this, or one of my other tutorials, helpful and would like to make a monetary contribution to help me keep wool in my basket and ideas flowing, I'd be so grateful. By clicking the "Buy Now" button below you can choose your own price for the tutorial. It's completely optional, but oh so appreciated.
The kids accidentally watered a rabbit hole tonight and out scampered a couple of handfuls of baby bunnies. They were quickly scooped up and redeposited by their home, but not before us giving them some serious awwww'ing and them giving us some serious attitude.
Oof. It's been a very busy week. Weeks. It's been a very busy couple of weeks. My day job has been full, full, full, and my work time has been very slim.
I haven't scheduled any new classes or worked on my many in-progress pieces but I did take a little bit of time to make up these brooches. A while back I had scheduled a class for a spinner's retreat in the area and that is coming up this Friday. They wanted to make a sheep brooch of some kind and after much mulling, I decided to go with a landscape (which is well-known and comfortable for me) with wee sheeps in it. Because the class will be done in 2 hours I kept the design very simple and doable for beginners.
I hope they enjoy making them. I did.
How about you? Are you making time for creativity? What are you working on? I'd love to hear.
I made myself a little somethin' this weekend that I have wanted to make for years and years. A needle book. My needles tend to end up stuck in odd bits of fabric or shoved in the side of a felting mat and I often lose them which makes for dicey barefoot travels in the Jordan home.
I wet-felted a cover and stitched in some wool pages. In between each page is a used dryer sheet that in my theory, will help keep my needles conditioned. Or at least keep them smelling spring fresh.
I added some knots to the cover and a felted cord for a closure.
The whole thing bundles up nice and neat. Long overdue.
Now maybe I'll find time to work on that vest I've been wanting...
Monday morning, my day off. The kids are off to school and the house is quiet and still. Projects hang near the woodstove, drying. Cats and dogs are cuddling. I am click-clacking on the computer, my belly warmed by poached egg, salmon, and asparagus.
It has all the portents of a very fine day.
I'd better get through these taxes and to-do list so I can embrace it.
I took a few minutes to walk in the woods yesterday and check on the mushrooms I had planted in the tree. I hadn't checked on them since November so I expected a change but you know...not much has happened.
We've had so little snow this winter that it still looks like fall in the woods. Bitter cold we had plenty of, but very little snow.
The only major difference I saw in the mushrooms was that they were leaning more, and the color had drained from the caps, a fact I find interesting since the caps were undyed wool to begin with. The green is still quite vibrant but the undyed grey has faded to almost nothing.
The little rock is still in there too. No one has been digging into this mushroom like they had with the first.
The transition, with yesterday's view at the top, November in the middle, and the October beginning at the bottom.