Book Review: Felt So Good

Felt So Good, written by Swedish designer Tone Rorseth and published by Sellers Publishing, is a new book with over 70 wool and felt projects. I received a copy gratis from the publisher to review here, and they are offering a second book to one of our readers, so look for a contest next week.

“Where’s the embroidery?” you might be asking. Fair question, given that this is an embroidery blog. There’s some in the book, but with this book in the hands of an embroiderer, there could be heaps more. Felt projects lend themselves to embroidery. You know how I love to marry different crafts: This one’s a perfect match.

The book includes the usual felting techniques:

  • needle felting
  • wet felting
  • washing-machine felting (fulling) of wool garments

You may be familiar already with these techniques; many independent needlework shops carry felting tools and supplies. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re delightfully easy to learn: Basic instructions are on page 7. Yep, one page. Half a page, really. If, like me, you learn by doing, these instructions will get you going. If you prefer more in-depth instructions, you’ll have to look at other books or search here on the Web.

Alphabet and flower patterns

Felt So Good contains traceable patterns throughout the book and collected in the back.

The book is more project oriented (there are over 70 of them!) than instruction oriented. Projects begin on page 8 and continue to page 120 where the book ends with 19 pattern pages, acknowledgements, and the index.

Many projects are super simple, able to be completed in one sitting or over a weekend, and appropriate for kids and crafting beginners.

Barrettes decorated with felt animal heads

Hair clips with fun felt critters. How about making aliens or monsters?

  • woven-felt containers
  • felt circle mobiles
  • puzzle piece coasters
  • star coasters
  • star garlands
  • braided headbands

Even the more complex projects can be tackled by adult beginners and more experienced young crafters.

  • laptop cover
  • cell phone case
  • chair and barstool covers
  • pillows
  • lampshade
  • purse
  • glove cuffs
Pillow embellished with felt flowers

The felt flowers on this pillow are embellished with blanket stitch, running stitch, and other decorative embroidery.

Projects like the flower pillow, hats, and slippers use blanket-stitched edges and simple decorative embroidery, but further embroidery can be added to every single project. Felt is a great ground fabric for embroidery.

With so many projects illustrated, it’s not surprising that the book generates a bunch of other ideas: I know many crafters look at a project and get several ideas for altering or taking it further. Sometimes one project will trigger an idea for something else entirely. I love that, don’t you?

Here are some of my favorite projects from the book:

Acorn Heart Wreath project from Felt So Good

I love the addition of brightly colored wool to acorn caps in this wreath.

Acorn Wreath Heart: Stuffing acorn caps with brightly colored balls of wool roving makes a charming and cheerful decoration. Can you think of other ways to use stuffed acorn caps? We don’t have oak trees in Alaska. Can you think of something else I might stuff instead? I can!

Felt gift wrap and trim

Felt gift wrap with pom-pom ribbon.

Felted Gift Wrapping: I love everything about this project just the way it is—and it’s gray! With bright colors and added embroidery, well, it’s something I can see doing over and over. The yarn-and-wool-ball ribbons are fun, and I can imagine them as garlands, maybe wrapped around a tree like popcorn strings. Oooo, how about wool balls on a wonky pearl thread?

A felt cube, like an ottoman

A cube large enough to sit on or use as a table.

Square Floor Pillow: I love Tone’s suggestion for how to stuff this floor pillow—a tightly packed stack of newspapers. However, in my world, newspapers are hard to come by while wood scraps are abundant, so I think my floor pillow innards will be wood. Best of all, I envision the five visible sides of the cube as backgrounds for embroidery pieces. What about a smaller cube on a lazy susan as an embroidery display? Or a smaller cube toy? Oh, the possibilities!

And then there are the hat decorations, the necklace, the cuffs, the barrettes, and the napkin ring. I want to make and embroider them all.

I find this book inspiring, which is a big part of why I have craft books. There are projects I’d like to do in the book, but, perhaps more importantly, the book spawns new ideas, and you know how I love ideas. It’s a well-made book, and the pictures are gorgeous. That makes sense: Tone is a also a photo stylist for interior design magazines. (Ah-HA!) If you want to take better photos of your embroidery, notice how the projects are displayed in the photos in this book.

Do you craft with felt or embroider on felt? Do any of the projects here inspire you?

Would you like to add this book to your library? Remember, we’re giving one away next week! You’ll have to leave a comment to enter the contest next week, so why not practice and leave one now?

Buy Felt So Good from an independent book seller.

Get Felt So Good from Powell’s Books.

Order Felt So Good from Amazon.

Yep, those are affiliate links. If you choose to use them, thanks!

Illusion and Puzzle Cross Stitch Bookmark

Make It MondayI’m participating in the Make It Monday blog hop with some of my favorite crafters. If you’re coming here from Melissa’s Digital Scrapbooking HQ, welcome!

If you didn’t arrive via the hop, you might recall that Melissa taught us how to improve photos of our embroidery with PhotoShop Elements (and PhotoShop). My photos are so much better thanks to Melissa’s tips. I suspect you’ve noticed! If you missed it, you can still grab the class.

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As we continue to Finish It In ’14, I find I’m running out of completed needlework to finish. Really!

Here’s a project that’s detailed in the PillowPalooza class, a design I played with a few years ago that no one’s seen. It’s one-half illusion and one-half rebus puzzle.

Illusion and rebus cross stitch pattern.

Part illusion, part rebus puzzle. Can you tell what it says?

The words are all stitched in the same color. No kidding. That’s the illusion half.

Can you make out what the rebus says?

Eye yam H + ear = The same thing the other side says.

It was intended as a bookmark design, but I can think of other uses for it, too.

It’s a small design that worked up into a 2 x 1.75-inch tiny pillow. I filled it with Poly-pellets so it’s squishy like a beanbag. A fidgety reader could squish it while she reads. For some people, having a physical outlet helps the brain focus.

Instead of a bookmark, it could be a sort of stress-relief ball, the sentiment appropriate for people who feel overlooked and invisible.

To go from pillow to bookmark, I added a tail.

Various embroidery threads.

The threads I used to make pearl thread trim and a wonky pearl tail.

I used some black six-strand DMC floss, hand-dyed chenille From the Cauldron trim by Dames of the Needle in NM Turquoise, and Kreinik’s #4 Vintage braid. With the floss and chenille, I made a thick pearl thread, which I couched around the perimeter of the pillow using the braid. Then I twisted the two ends of the pearl together to make a wonky pearl tail.


Cross stitch pillow bookmark.

A squishable tiny-pillow bookmark with hand-made pearl trim and a wonky pearl tail.


I’ll snap some charms and beads to the loop at the end of the tail to give it some weight, and it will be a thong bookmark.

Want to make your own pearl or wonky pearl trim as I did for this bookmark? When you sign up for The Needlework Nutshell (which is free), along with getting all the latest Funk & Weber news, we’ll teach you how to make pearl threads in a twenty-minute video. I make pearls all the time. It’s easy and fun!

I AM HERE cross stitch bookmark in a book.

I AM HERE. Or I soon will be!

This illusion/rebus puzzle design was experimental, and after stitching it, I put it away, unsure what, if anything, I would do with it. Desperate for pieces to finish during the Finish It In ’14 campaign, I dug it out and put it to use. I’m glad I did!

Do you have any tiny finished pieces that you can turn into pillows? Tiny pillows can be fobs, ornaments, bookmarks, stress-relief balls . . . or just tiny pillows.

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Next on the Make it Monday hop, Alice from Scrapbook Wonderland shares 5 Practical Tips for Using Multiple Patterned Papers on a Scrapbook Layout.

Not a scrapper? That’s okay, this can apply to needlework, too. What if you want to use multiple patterned fabrics in a needlework finish? Or maybe you want to do a mash-up of different embroidery patterns.

Learning other crafts is a great way to expand your embroidery repertoire. Pop on over and see Alice. Leave a comment that says I sent you, and tell us how you might apply her ideas to your needlework.

Others participating in this week’s Make It Monday blog hop:

GinaZee creates a tag using plastic packaging from her favorite scrapbooking supplies.

The Value of Embroidery

Three things inspire my contemplation of the value of embroidery: a vision of the holiday gift-giving season on the horizon, an article I read earlier this summer about diamond engagement rings, and the 2006 movie Blood Diamond, which tells the story of conflict diamonds.

The Gift-Giving Season Approacheth

Read ambigram cross stitch bookmark - Funk & Weber Designs

Last weekend, I gave this bookmark to my friend, Trudy. She’s a librarian. She thinks it’s way cool!

Have you looked at a calendar lately? There are just 83 days until Hanukkah, 92 days until Christmas, and 93 days until Kwanzaa. How’s that holiday stitching coming?

Most of us who stitch holiday gifts have at least a tiny, nagging concern about whether the recipient will like, appreciate, and value the gift that we’ve poured our time, talent, and heart into. It stinks that we worry about this. Stinks.

But that worry is not unfounded. Recently, a stitchy friend shared this little horror story: She gave a friend a needlework gift only to find it for sale on ebay soon after.

No, there’s no question it’s my friend’s work.

No, the recipient did not die, leaving the gift to be sold by relatives.

No, the seller did not think so highly of the work that s/he expects to make heaps of money to take a dream vacation prior to retiring early.

There’s no good way to spin this: The gift recipient did not value the embroidery—or friendship and a number of other things many of us value, but let’s focus on the embroidery so our title makes sense. Is there anything we can do to make people value embroidery as much as you and I do so that our gifts are appreciated?

Why, yes, yes there is.

Creating Value

A diamond ring

What’s the real value of a diamond ring?

How many of you own a cherished diamond ring? Maybe it’s your engagement, wedding, or anniversary ring. How about a diamond bracelet or watch? Maybe it’s your mother’s or aunt’s or grandmother’s jewelry. Maybe it’s something you bought yourself when you reached a particular goal. Maybe it’s something you just dream of having.

Why is it so many people value diamond engagement rings and jewelry? Are you going to tell me that a boring clear diamond is more beautiful than a brilliant garnet or jade or sapphire? Remember, you’re talking to the screaming-color girl.

It’s not the diamond itself or even the item of jewelry that people value, it’s what the diamond represents: the engagement, the wedding, the anniversary, the event, the gift, the giver—i.e., love and success.

How is it that diamonds came to represent love and success? Why can’t embroidery be the ultimate representation of love and success? Forget the diamond, my dear, if you want to marry me, present me with a fine embroidery, the bigger the better.

This love and success symbolism of diamonds is not universal. It’s not something inherent in the stone. No one gets love or success from the stone. It’s something some people attribute to the stone, and it was deliberately manufactured by the ad agency, N. W. Ayer, so that their client, De Beers, could sell more diamonds and make more money.

That’s right, De Beers wanted to make money, so they convinced people that diamonds are beautiful, significant, and important, and that they represent love and success. There even seems to be a sense that one can’t have love or success, or at least can’t have a wedding, without that all-important diamond.

I could go on about diamonds being a lousy investment and contributing to violence and oppression, but this really is an article about embroidery, specifically, how to make people value the embroidery skills we spend years developing and embroidery pieces we spend hours and months creating.

The answer: A good ad campaign.

If De Beers can convince millions of young men and women that they need to spend thousands of dollars on a ring so they can spend the rest of their lives together, surely we can convince millions of people that embroidery is worth something.

So who’s up for developing and funding an embroidery ad campaign? How shall we position embroidery to convince people they need it? What attributes and emotions should we attach to it?

Change Begins At Home

Fireworks barrette

Barrettes are some of my favorite things to make and one of my favorite ways to wear embroidery.

While we’re working on this campaign to manipulate the minds of our fellow humans, we can get a head start by beginning with ourselves and learning to value embroidery in a bigger, more sincere way.

For a special gift to yourself, commemorating an important event, will you buy a piece of jewelry or embroidery supplies?

Have you ever desperately wanted something—say, a Coach bag or an expensive leather jacket? How would you feel about embroidering a bag or jacket instead?

How often do you wear your diamond ring, or your wedding ring, or any jewelry that you value? How often do you wear embroidery?

How much do you really value embroidery, and how much would you like to value embroidery? It’s entirely up to you. Pick your level and go. The value of embroidery is what we attribute to it. I choose to value my embroidery more than I did yesterday. It’s a symbol of my crafty status, and I wear it proudly—literally, on my wrist, in my hair, and on my clothes. It’s a reflection of the joy, adventure, and self-sufficiency in my life.

So, tell me: How much do you value embroidery, and what does it symbolize for you?

PillowPalooza Winners!

Winner image

And the Winners are . . .


Dawn and Terry

Congrats, ladies! You’re both registered for the PillowPalooza class that starts October 6th (assuming I have Internet access). I have your e-mail addies, and I’ll be in touch.

Thanks heaps for playing my game!

PillowPalooza: Make Embroidered Pillows

Coming soon to a Yahoo! Group near you:

PillowPalooza!

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The final class in our Finish It In ’14 series is PillowPalooza. “Pillows” may be a bigger category than you think.

  • Some ornaments are pillows.
  • Some fobs and tags are pillows.
  • A biscornu is a pillow, no?
  • Ever hear of a door pillow? Well, door hangers can be pillows.
  • Of course, pillows are pillows, and they come in sizes from tiny to huge.
  • Seat cushions can be pillows.

Whew!


Embroidered pillow.

Colorful Critter pillow. This is an envelope pillow.

The Class

October 6–November 7, 2014

We will cover the following topics:

  • Embroidery and fabric preparation
  • Ornament pillows
  • Tuckable pillows
  • Envelope pillows
  • Adding flanges, ruffles, piping, rick rack, and other trims

If you never taken one of our classes, you can read about how they run. It’s all online at your convenience.

embroidered pillows

Stack o’ stitchy pillows.

Win a Spot in the Class!

Want to win a free spot in the class? Great! I want you to, too!

For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post answering this question:

What embroidery finish would you like to learn to do?

Mind you, this can be anything, reasonable or unreasonable. Do you wish you knew how to make a pet elephant or a solar-powered car with your embroidery? Say so! It’s amazing what unreasonable things we can make reasonable with a little imagination and ingenuity, though perhaps we’re pushing it with pet elephants and cars. You get my drift.

This is going to be a quick contest. You have until midnight (AK time) Friday to leave your comment and be entered to win.

Can’t stand the Disqus comment system? That’s okay, class registration is open, so you can skip the fun riggamarole and go straight to class: Do not leave a comment; do not collect a free spot.

Mark. Set. Go!