Sunday, November 2, 2014


First fire of the season.

It's been in the low 30s (F) all day today, but more than that, it's been blowing up a gale since last night and I'm hoping very much that no trees come down in a difficult place. Seemed like a good day for a fire in the woodstove. Piper agreed. She is almost asleep standing up in this picture.

My big task for this weekend:
a total clearing-out of the screenporch.
Made big progress on Friday, but dropped the ball yesterday
when it was raining and raw all day.
And today, well.
This nice fire can't watch itself burning, now can it?

Erm, maybe I'll get out there in a little while.

But not yet, because I have another "first" to share!

Years ago, an online yarn order arrived with a "bonus" hank of what I think falls under the heading of "art yarn." It's got alternating sections of tightly-spun single ply and completely unspun fiber. Like this:

Aren't the colors lovely?
I saved it for a planned venture into needle felting.

At the Vermont fiber festival, one little gift I bought myself was a set of three felting needles. These are little L-shaped needles with a roughness that helps "felt" the fibers together. Do you know about felting? It's what happens when friction or temperature (or both) causes the scales on animal hairs to  grab onto each other and pull the fibers tightly together. Forever. Have you ever accidentally shrunk a woolen sweater? That's felting. (Some would argue that shrinking a woolen fabric is more accurately called "fulling," and I would not disagree, because life is short.)

The other day I decided to break out the new needles and try making a felt button.
I cut some of the unspun sections and gently pulled them apart a bit more:

And then I shaped them into a soft lump of wool, put the lump on a thick piece of packing material, and started stabbity-stabbing away. And soon it began to look like a button:

I've made four buttons now, trying different things each time:
different size, shape, thickness, blend of colors.
Here's the most recent, with the needle:

I've already managed to break one of the needles!
Good thing there were three in the set.

After years of thinking about it, the incentive to try needle felting right now is that one of my WIPCrackAway projects, a neckwarmer, requires two buttons. None in my button tin seemed right. And I have not found any for sale that were 1) right for the project, 2) of reasonable price, and 3) made in Not China.

I thought of trying to make buttons with wood (of course), but there has been so much rain lately, the branches in the brush pile are soaked through. So I'm playing around with making felt buttons instead.

All the time I thought about needle felting, I never planned to make a utilitarian object. I imagined little figures of animals or plants, or landscapes "painted" with fiber. And maybe that will come. But for now, I'm having a lot of fun making simple fuzzy buttons.
And if I make one that seems "just right" for the neckwarmer, then I will try to make another for a set.

No hurry, though...

It's really good fun.


  1. Quinn - We've shared a moment of synchronicity - both of us have mentioned felting in our most recent blig posting. You've gone one better though - you've actually made something :) Hopefully I'll get there too... Love your buttons :)

    No - a fire can't watch itself. After all that is what a fire is all about. Nothing warms one more than watching the flames leaping about. Clever Piper!!

  2. I'm ready for a fire right now ... my cheeks are burning from the harsh wind and cold today. I spent a good time cleaning up the yard, but brrrrrr!! Love the shot of Piper, and I'll bet she was happy for a bit of hearth time today too. Your buttons look great, and sound like a good solution for your neck warmer. I've never tried felting, but with all the other things WIP I have, I dare not even buy the supplies until I actually am ready to try. Landscapes is what I had in mind. Enjoy your creating! Wendy x

    1. I did manage to put in another session of porch-clearing in the afternoon, but it was literally too windy to work outside today. It's still blowing like a train. Piper had to rest up by the fire so she be alert tonight, and can wake me up several times to let me know that the wind "sounds funny."

  3. I guess that's why they sell the needles in threes? I love the buttons and your whole approach to doing this.

    1. It would be nice to think that, but actually the set is three slghtly different needles, for (I guess) different levels of detail. I started with the coarsest needle, since buttons don't seem like they need a lot of finesse. And clearly, finesse was lacking - but on my part, not the needle. No shortage of stabbity zeal, though! ;)

  4. Seeing Piper's facial expression is a great way to begin the week!
    Already I realize its 5 AM, not 6 AM, and I've been up since 3 AM.
    The buttons are lovely. They look like they take a lot of patience.

    Shrinking sweaters...I can still see my son's favorite half the size it was before it was washed and dried hot (someone else did the laundry). I didn't know wool can shrink that much. Now I understand what felting does. Thank you.

    1. I think most of us learned about felting the hard way :(
      It's much more fun to do it on purpose, and see a new fabric taking shape!

  5. Piper's cousin is laying in front of the stove, panting. Eventually she will move into the kitchen where it is cooler, but only when she cannot bear the heat any longer!

  6. I love the felt buttons! That's a very fun "first".

    We had our first fire on the same day as you. Usually, we start in Sept or Oct but it's been such a warm autumn here. Not any more...

  7. The felted buttons are brilliant! What a great project for in front of the fire. :)


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