Needle felting - a how to

I’ve always been fascinated with needle felting, but thought it was one of those crafts I would never understand – surely there’s no way you can turn loose wool into shapes simply by stabbing it with a needle... well it turns out it really is that easy. And once you’ve got your head around that, the needle felting world is your oyster!

This all began when a colleague went on a needle felting course and naturally when she came back with a gorgeous needle felted mouse we all demanded she show us how it was done.  So one night after work we all came armed with the supplies below, needle felting wool, a needle felting needle, pipe cleaners, foam block and a piece of pale pink felt.

To begin place a generous palm sized piece of felting wool on the foam and stab a few times with the needle to attach it to the foam, you’ll notice the needle has little ridges on it – it’s this that really helps felt the wool together.  Now, begin rolling the top towards the bottom creating a sausage shape.

Fold the edges in and keep stabbing until it’s a nice mouse body shape, wider at the bottom slightly thinner at the top. You can always place more wool onto the shape and stab in to add to the body.

Do the same for the head but this time, start with a smaller piece of wool and as you make the sausage shape twist the wool so that the nose appears much thinner than the back of the head.

Attach the head and body, simply place together and, again, stab with needle. This is slightly tricky and it is possible to break your needle doing this (and stab your finger- ouch!). It might help to wrap some new wool around the join and use this to attach them together.

For the arms and legs use a small amount of wool and as you make your sausage wrap the end of a pipe cleaner in the middle. Attach this as a leg or arm, make three more and one for a tail! When you’re happy cut off the excess pipe cleaners, except the tail of course.

Now you can play with the shape of your mouse, stabbing in extra bits of wool until you are happy. The finishing touches are the ears cut out of pink felt and sewn on, black beads for eyes and a tiny piece of pink wool felted into a nose.

I think the shaping comes with practise as does speed. But for a first attempt I love this little guy!


Life lately and a bit of a happy list

Life has been very busy lately so I’ve been making the most of the little things that make me happy and making sure to spend the spare time I do have doing something fun. This new glass jar is the result of a shopping trip with my Mum to Lewes in East Sussex – if you live near and have never been I really recommend it - beautiful buildings and tons of independent shops make this a perfect place to explore. Head to The Needlemakers for tea and homemade cake (their blueberry and lemon polenta was amazing) and then wander round a few of their vintage and handmade shops. Anyway, back to the glass jar, I’d been looking for something to keep cotton wool buds in on my dresser and after a summer of no luck at car boots I’d almost given up hope. But I found this in one of the amazing antiques shops in Lewes, which was over three floors! I love the shape of it.

Here’s another picture from our day in Lewes it's of a beautiful street and archway near Lewes Castle – I’d love to go back and look round that next summer.

These flowers have also been making me happy, after over a month without a dining table as soon as we got one the boyfriend kindly brought me some flowers to put on it, they definitely brighten up the place.

Finally, I was lucky enough to spend the day a Goodwood Revival, in the guise of work but we had a bit of time to explore and it was great even in the rather questionable weather! Some of the costumes were fascinating and I did manage to catch a bit of the racing as you can see below. I'd have loved to have had more time to browse the stalls though and half of them were before the pay barrier so you could look round for free!


Simple Smarties cookies - a recipe

So a couple of weeks in and I’m already hooked on the Great British Bake Off. I’m not sure who I want to win yet, but I’m definitely sure I don’t want to see anyone go!

Anyway, in the spirit of the bake off I figured the weekend was a good time to try my first bake in our new flat and seeing as we’re still missing quite a bit of kitchen stuff – rolling pin, icing bags etc... I decided to stick with something simple. These Smarties cookies are so simple and really good, it’s also pretty much impossible to just eat one at a time.

Here’s the recipe
100g butter
100g light brown muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
150g self raising flour
85g smarties

Preheat oven to 180 degrees, cover two baking trays in baking paper.
Cream together butter and sugar.
Mix in the syrup, flour and smarties.
Divide into 14 balls and place well apart on baking trays.
Bake for about 12 minutes until golden brown.



Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict – a book review

I read the majority of this book on a six hour train journey and it’s pretty much exactly as I expected, great fun and nothing deep, but with a good ending that’s not too predictable. I’d recommend it for next time you’re looking for a ‘nice’ travel read – as someone who once spent a good 30 minutes sobbing whilst reading on a plane I like something that’s not too sad or stressful when on public transport!

The plot is very similar to the TV series ‘Lost in Austen’ shown a few years ago. Courtney Stone, a newly single LA girl, dreams that she wakes up in Regency England in the body of Jane Mansfield (get it?), but as the days pass she realises this is no dream and she’s stuck until further notice. Add in a few Mr Darcy like characters, a mother desperate to see her married and a similarly broken hearted best friend and you’ve got the idea.

It’s written by Laurie Viera Rigler who it turns out has also written a book entitled ‘Rude awakenings of a Jane Austen addict’ I’d definitely give it a go after enjoying this one. It’s also made me desperate to either re-read or re-watch Pride and Prejudice and with autumn on its way a Sunday afternoon with tea, chocolate and P&P sounds pretty darn good.


Teacups, pigs and plants

Last Sunday was a fairly great one, filled with scones (x2!), a plant and art sale, my Mum’s Sunday dinner and knitting. But it’s the plant and art show I want to tell you about today. To be exact it was ‘An unusual plant and art fair’ held at Sussex Prairie Gardens, having never been to the gardens or a fair billed as ‘unusual’ we really didn’t know what to expect.

Firstly the fair, while I’m not an expert I’m assured there were lots of unusual plants - grapefruit mint anyone? There were also quite a few stalls with handmade home and garden accessories, the best of which were teacup and saucers on long metal poles which could be used as garden bird feeders! As soon as I have a garden I WILL be buying one!

The gardens were nice, I think we need to go back when it’s slightly less busy to enjoy them properly, but with lots of windy paths, hidden benches, pigs (both real and sculptural) and colourful flowers it’s exactly what you want from a garden.


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