Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Blog

Due to the deteriorating health of my parents and husband, I have, regretfully, decided to close the sales website and the original blog as from the 31st December.  I will continue writing on this new blog, so I hope you will be able to join me for more creative fun in the New Year.

This image was taken in 2004 as we rarely get snow in South Devon, which is just as well as we live half way up a very steep hill. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and will have a safe New Year.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Fabric and Felt Cakes

Here are some cakes to get you in the Christmas mood, cakes made from fabric and felt.  It is huge fun making these cakes and you can really get carried away.  The best part is actually buying the cakes - for research, of course - study the cakes in great detail and then eat them!!!  Give it a go, it is very rewarding.  Try making French patisserie cakes, yummy.
 Fabric cup cakes
Fabric Devon scone with jam and cream, felt battenberg (my son's favourite cake), felt chocolate gateau and felt Devon scone with jam and cream.
The real thing bought for research!!!  Tarte aux fruits 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

West Country Embroiderers Torbay Branch Exhibition

Today I went to the West Country Embroiderers Torbay Branch AGM and Christmas lunch.  This is my branch and we meet once a month and at our Christmas meeting we have a small exhibition.  Firstly we had the AGM, a very relaxed and jolly affair followed by lots of yummy homemade food.  There is plenty of time to discuss embroidery and life in general and admire the items on display.  The images are those which caught my eye.
 Book covers.  Several layers of organza which are burnt back to reveal the colours of the underneath layers.  Embroidery is then added.
 Picture - Layers of organza with lots of machine stitching.
 A picture made by using the Embellisher with machine and hand embroidery added.  It is possible to create the same effect by needlefelting, it is just slower.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Hand Made Christmas Card

I always make hand made Christmas cards for my family and friends, it shows that you care.  They don't have to be complicated but I usually get carried away!
 Use a firm cotton fabric as a base
 Lay strips of fabric or Christmas ribbons on top of the fabric.  Anchor the fabric or ribbons with straight stitching or fancy stitches using a variety of threads.  Add additional stitching where required.

Cut the stitched fabric into a rectangle to represent a candle.  Attach the rectangle to the card with a narrow strip of double sided sticky tape to anchor it and then stitch through the rectangle and the card using a medium width and medium length zigzag.  Add a star for the flame.
This technique could also be used on a larger scale to make a spectacle or mobile phone case or even a small bag.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Machine Knitted Felt - Landscape/Seascape Workshop (Part 2)

Sometimes when I give a workshop there will be someone who takes the theme and techniques of the workshop but constructs differently or adds something totally different.  I am quite happy about this because usually the person is confident enough to 'do their own thing' and the end result is usually stunning.  The two ladies who produced these two pictures had to leave early for family reasons but they also 'did their own thing' and as I know them well I know the end results will be great.  The pictures are both still work in progress and will have embroidery added.
The seascape has been needle felted using mostly unusual knitting wools.  The pebbles in the foreground are made from a very textured knitting wool which has been specifically designed for making a scarf but in the picture they really do look like pebbles.  Care has been taken when selecting the yarn to only use portions of the yarn that indicate light and shade.  A thick shiny yarn was used for the horizon but it was far too bright, no problem, paint it with a darker colour fabric paint, problem solved!

This landscape is very large and will be very exciting when finished.  Part of the hill (top left) is made from plastic netting, the sort vegetables come in and the foreground (bottom left and centre) is soft hand dyed netting.  Hand dyed felt (bottom centre and right) has been used for the foreground and the light and shade of the hand dyeing has been used to great effect.
When you attend a workshop you never seem to have the right fabric or right colour thread and during this workshop there was a great deal of 'have some of mine'.  Great pictures, well done ladies!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Machine Knitted Felt - Landscape/Seascape Workshop (Part 1)

On Tuesday I gave the Machine Knitted Felt Landscape/Seascape workshop to West Country Embroiderers, Torbay branch, which is the group that I attend.  They are a great bunch of ladies and there was a great deal of laughter.
The images shown are all work in progress and still have a lot of embroidery and embellishment to be added.  Two of the ladies had previously been on a wet felting workshop and had brought in some of the felt which they had made.  They very bravely cut it, then added Machine Knitted Felt to make their seascapes (Images 1 and 2) and finally started to add embroidery and embellishments. 

 Another lady brought in some hand knitting to incorporate into her seascape (Image 2).
It is amazing how the landscapes and seascapes can vary so much when the ladies have received the same information but have used different textiles in so many different ways.  It is always a joy to see how pictures are transformed over the day from a huge pile of fabrics on the desk to a fantastic piece of art.  At our Christmas party I will see the end results, I cannot wait!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Machine Knitted Felt - Bag Workshop

On Saturday I gave a workshop at Ivybridge, Devon on how to make bags with Machine Knitted Felt applique.  It was a very jolly day with numerous cups of tea and Lemon Drizzle Cake in the morning and Dorset Apple Cake in the afternoon!  The ladies worked very hard and were pleased with their creations but at the moment they are still work in progress and will have hand embroidery and embellishments added.

The felt used for the two heart needlecases was originally a jumper purchased from a charity shop and then put in the washing machine and felted.  The lady who made the camel coloured bag in the front/centre used antique lace, velvet and a button which originally belonged to her Grandmother.  The bag centre/left used floral fabric from which flowers were cut and appliqued and the remaining fabric will be used as a lining.
A great day was had by all and a big thank you to the ladies for their hospitality.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Machine Knitted Felt - Bag with Leaves

The next week is going to be hectic preparing for and giving two different workshops and attending a small show.  The first workshop is lots of different shape and size bags with Machine Knitted Felt applique.  The images show one of the sample bags made from 100% cotton.  The cotton is purchased from my local patchwork shop as they have a huge range of plain coloured fabric, just right for bags as the fabric is firm.  The leaves are made from Machine Knitted Felt, plain and hand dyed and also 30% wool, 70% viscose felt which is also hand dyed.  The leaves could easily be made with hand made wet felt or needlefelt.  The hand stitching is Stem Stitch and French Knots.  The wonderfully textured squiggly stitch in the middle is Detached Buttonhole Stitch which is sometimes called Drizzle Stitch.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Merino Wool Tops - Cords (Part 2)

I hope some of you have made the cords described in Part 1.  They are great fun to make and extremely versatile for both felters and embroiderers.
Couching down the cords in the image above.
Top left - couching the cord with straight stitches using Perle 5 Blackcurrant.  This is suitable for cords that are multi coloured or on a plain coloured cord with contrasting thread to make the cords more visible.
Bottom left - couching the cord with diagonal stitches.  This makes the cord a little more interesting.
Top right - couching the cord with cross stitch using Perle 5 Sunflower.  This could be used as a feature.
Bottom right (top two stitches) - couching the cord with three stitches close together.
Bottom right (bottom two stitches) - couching the cord with three stitches close together, as above, and then wrap the thread around the three stitches.  This adds texture and interest.
The centre of the flower uses a narrow cord which is not quite firm and this allows the cord to be wound into a spiralling circle.  It is attached using tiny stitches on the inner and outer edge of the cord.  I think this would look great on the front of a bag.  The centre of the flower and stalk have a spiral effect by using 4 colours (see Part 1).
Cords make great legs!  Cords can also be used for arms, flowers, leaves, stalks, the list is endless.  Try couching using a thinner thread and adding small beads.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn

Yesterday we attended the West Country Embroiderers' AGM at Totnes, Devon.  It was really lovely to meet so many friends and ladies that I had met at my workshops.  The AGM was celebrating 40 years since the foundation of West Country Embroiderers, so to celebrate such an achievement the guest speakers were Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn.  As you can imagine their talk, Rhythms and Counter Rhythms was superb and I am sure we were all greatly inspired.
Jan's pictures were landscapes, many of the same field but at different times of the year whilst Jean produced fascinating pictures inspired by her Victorian house whilst it was being restored plus pictures inspired by Charmouth and its fossils.  They described their work and explained how the pieces were created, such as, machine stitched, hand stitched, then use the Embellisher and then machine stitched and hand stitched again, thereby creating lots of layers.  Unfortunately I did not get any time to look at the pieces on display but the slides were sensational.
Sadly I had no opportunity to take photos but the images on this blog are from our bog garden.  Just imagine how you could give these amazing leaves the 'Jan and Jean' treatment regardless of your craft.

TRY - add another layer to your projects - maybe hand or machine stitching, one new technique or a colour you don't normally use - you could get a pleasant surprise!
A huge thank you to the ladies of Totnes branch for their excellent hospitality.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

South West Embroiderers' Guild AGM

Yesterday we attended the South West Embroiderers' Guild AGM.  It was extremely well organised and I met lots of people, some old friends and some new.  The AGM was held at a school and it was an extension to the school, where the traders were situated, that fascinated me.  I think the extension was mainly used as a music room because there were lots of instruments visible.
Part of my stand with embroidery threads, textured yarn and machine knitted felt.

The most wonderfully inventive fountain I have ever seen, consisting of an assortment of brass instruments which had probably been welded together with water spouting out, possibly, a trombone.  The roof to the left has grass on it and the roof with the solar panels also has shingles made from recycled tyres.  You can also see 'dead' pianos brightly painted and used as plant containers.
The inside of the 'music room'.  The instruments on the wall were real but beautifully squashed.  You may wonder what the plank is on the left hand side - it was a tree trunk.  If you look carefully at the right hand side of the image you will see that an upside down French horn has been used as a lampshade!  The walls of the building were about two feet thick and were insulated with either sheep's wool or straw bales.  Outside the building there was a vegetable garden, chickens and other assorted animals.  What an amazing environment for children to learn.

Monday, 14 October 2013

A Woolly Weekend

This weekend we attended the 'Woolly Weekend' at Kelly House, Kelly near Launceston, Cornwall.  As you would imagine the House was full of all things woolly ranging from fleece to exquisite products and gifts.  I took my Merino Wool Tops, Textured Yarns and Machine Knitted Felt bags and pictures to add to the woolly collection.  The fibres at the event ranged from many breeds of sheep fleece to alpaca fleece.  It was good to speak to my fellow traders on the finer points of fleece and find new fibres for the website.  I bought some amazing natural Gotland lamb locks. 
 Mary Toon, Felt Amazing, feltmaker and artist

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Rolled and Embellished Felt Bead Jewellery

Yesterday I gave a workshop for West Country Embroiderers at St. Stephen in Brannel, near St. Austell, Cornwall.  The workshop shows how to create felt beads which are embellished with either glass beads, hand embroidery or machine embroidery.  The ladies decided they would like to use glass beads and soon started adding their own ideas to make unique beads that would eventually become stunning jewellery.
The beads at the end of the day - the start of something special.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Merino Wool Tops - Cords (Part 1)

Here are the instructions for making cords from Merino Wool Tops.  They are great fun to make and are extremely versatile.
1.  Protect the work surface with plastic and/or towel.  Put bubble wrap (rough side up) on top of the towel.
2.  Take about 6" (15cm) Merino Wool Tops and divide in half and in half again 1" x 6" (2.5 x 15cm).  If you want a thicker cord use one-third or half the wool top.
3.  Pull off small pieces of wool tops and lay them on the bubble wrap.
4.  Sprinkle a little warm water on to the bubble wrap.  Rub the wet bubble wrap with Olive Soap.
5.  Gently roll the wool tops in one direction away from you.  If this is difficult add a little more water and soap.  If the bubble wrap moves, anchor it to the work surface.  If the cord becomes too flat it is because it is too wet, so dab away the moisture.  If the ends are too thin cut them off.  If the bubble wrap becomes dry add more water and soap.  As the cord becomes firmer roll using more pressure.  Continue to roll until the cord is very firm.  If you use Blended Merino Wool Tops or several different colours you will get a spiral effect because you have rolled in one direction.
6.  Gently rinse in warm water to remove the soap and dry on a towel.
Left - gold pulled from a quarter Merino Wool Top
Middle - granite pulled from half Blended Merino Wool Top
Right - scarlet/orange/mauve/magenta pulled from 4 Merino Wool Tops
Rolling the cord on bubble wrap
Finished cords 'before and after'

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Brixham Quilters' Exhibition

Yesterday we attended the Brixham Quilters' Exhibition at Lupton House, Brixham.  The large display of quilts were, as usual, stunning and involved a huge amount of work.  The colours and styles of quilts were just amazing.  At each exhibition they have a challenge and this year it was 'An English Country Garden'.
The money they raise from the exhibition is given to charity.
Jackie Payne
Barbara Dawes
Valerie Brown

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Tavistock Embroiderers' Fair

Last week we attended the Tavistock Embroiderers' Fair.  Tavistock is an ancient stannary and market town in West Devon situated on the River Tavy.  The Embroiderers' Fair was up to it's usual high standard and it's members are very talented. 
Sweetbag, pin cushion and scissor case by Maureen King.  She used Back Stitch Wheels, Star Stitch and Laidwork.  Exquisite.
 One of a pair of walnut purses by Denise King.  Very fine work over a walnut shell.  Amazing.
Woodmice by Christine Christensen.  Stunning.
A big 'thank you' to the lovely ladies of Tavistock Embroiderers' Guild who looked after us so well.
We stayed at The Mary Tavy Inn, Mary Tavy which is 4 miles from Tavistock.  Excellent accommodation, excellent service and excellent food.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Boats in the Bay and the Red Arrows

Today was my son's birthday and he wanted some binoculars, so he was very excited when he saw the schooner from our bathroom window.  My husband then spotted the funnel of a liner.  We rushed 500 yards up the hill to the park and saw the liner from a better angle but the sky was hazy.  In the afternoon the haze cleared which produced a better picture of the Ariana.
Last week was Torquay's carnival week and we are always lucky enough to have the Red Arrows.   There were hundreds of people up the park and this year's display was the best to date.  The Red Arrows always perform a cross over where two planes fly towards each other at an alarming speed and cross over, missing each other by a tiny distance.  This year four planes crossed over, two from one direction and two from the opposite direction.  There was a huge intake of breath from everyone in the park - phew scary!  Congratulations to the Red Arrows.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Machine Knitted Felt - Hydrangea Bag

Hello and welcome.  I hope that you will find this blog informative and inspirational.  Many of our customers are not sure how to use some of our products, so I hope to be able to give you more information than you will find on the website.  Inspiration is always important, so, hopefully, the pictures of products, scenery, flowers and beautiful things that catch my eye will inspire you to create stunning pieces of work.
I have always loved hydrangeas because of their amazing colours.  An elderly gentleman allowed me to pick a few blooms from his garden and I made this bag.  The flowers on the bag are made from Machine Knitted Felt, hand dyed felt and stranded cotton which are found in Lilac Flower 'B' Twin Felt pack.
The Machine Knitted Felt flowers have been attached with ordinary sewing cotton using a blanket stitch and the hand dyed felt flowers are free standing, just being caught here and there at the centre.  The centre of the Machine Knitted Felt flowers have woven circles using one strand of the 4 stranded cotton and the centre of the hand dyed felt flower has lots and lots of detached blanket stitch which creates a free standing squiggle.  The very tiny flowers are made from one strand of 4 stranded cotton using 8 French knots with tails for each flower.  Finally, large green French knots have been worked in 4 ply green wool to suggest leaves.  The bag I made with dark green cotton fabric which I bought at a patchwork shop as they always have a large selection of colours. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


All talks and workshops can be tailored to the needs of your group or club.

TALK - Machine Knitted Felt

This talk describes how machine knitted felt is made and the techniques used to make items and accessories plus a demonstration of techniques including simple embroidery and using the sewing machine.  There are plenty of step-by-step samples, finished items and beautiful bags.


Workshops can be given to clubs, groups or even friends who wish to learn something new and exciting.

Do you and your friends find it difficult to attend workshops?  Marilyn Lott will arrange a workshop at your home at a time to suit you and your friends.  There should be a minimum of 4 persons plus the host gets a reduction.

All workshop students are given individual attention and notes to complete their chosen item.  Students are always given gentle encouragement to try something new.

WORKSHOP – Rolled and Embellished Felt Bead Jewellery

This is a full day workshop.  Students will be shown the various techniques for making rolled felt beads, the construction of necklaces and bracelets and the various fastenings.  The beads can be embellished with hand embroidery, machine embroidery, beads or a combination.  There are plenty of samples to inspire you to make this creative and stunning jewellery.                             

 Level – beginners to intermediate.

WORKSHOP – Machine Knitted Felt – Landscape or Seascape Picture

This is a full day workshop.  Students will be shown the various techniques for making a realistic or abstract landscape or seascape picture using machine knitted felt and textured yarns.  The pictures can then be embellished using threads and wools.  Students will concentrate on colour and texture.

Level – beginners to intermediate.

WORKSHOP – Machine Knitted Felt – Shoulder Bag or Holdall

This is a full day workshop and could be used as a continuation from the pincushion and needlecase workshop.  Students are shown the various techniques for making a fabric bag which will include how to appliqué machine knitted felt using a sewing machine or hand stitching in order to create something different and stunning.  There is also a demonstration of all hand embroidery stitches used on the samples. Students can embellish their bags by using a sewing machine, hand embroidery or a combination of the two.  Students are given notes to complete their chosen item, individual attention and gentle encouragement to try something new.  Students may use their favourite bag shape if preferred.  Level – beginners to intermediate.

WORKSHOP – Jewellery with a Twist

This is a full day workshop.  Students will learn how to make modern jewellery using a combination of knitted tubular wire, coloured wire, felt beads and beads.  There will be a demonstration of techniques, after which students can copy the samples or mix the techniques to create their own original, ‘wow factor’ jewellery.  Level – beginners.

WORKSHOP – Machine Knitted Felt – Pincushion or Needlecase

This is a half day workshop and lasts for two or three hours and involves hand or machine sewing.  There is a demonstration of techniques used to make a pincushion or needlecase together with plenty of inspiring samples to help create something special and out of the ordinary.  Students are given notes to complete their chosen item, individual attention and gentle encouragement to try something new.  Level – beginners.

WORKSHOP – Angelina Fibre and Film

This is a full day workshop during which students will learn various techniques for creating non-woven fabric using Angelina fibre and beads using Angelina film.  This workshop is very creative, great fun and will definitely add a zing to future projects.  Level – beginners.


To book a workshop please contact Marilyn Lott of Torbay Textiles

Telephone        01803 522673
Email               sales@torbaytextiles.co.uk