Alison Crowther-Smith

Posts Tagged ‘felting’

2019 Workshops are now LIVE!

Monday, September 24th, 2018

2019 is now live on the site.  You can find them all here!

There are icord designs, Happy Endings, new felting, gifts and the return of Christmas at Court Cottage.

Each day explores new techniques and applies them to projects specially designed for you.

I would love to see you here!



Designer Notes: The Smoke and Mirrors Felted Bag

Friday, September 9th, 2016

I have now taught this design a fair bit and I have also released the pattern which is here, for anyone who has not attended the course.  So I think now is a good time to also set out some Designer Notes.

This is a felted bag, washed in your washing machine.  I have done a great deal of hand-knitted felt including Shibori Felt but this my first big venture into non-Shibori texture.

The concept is for a large, sturdy project bag which is knitted in three pieces excluding the pockets.  The stitches I use create a significant depth of texture after felting and so the bag does not need lining.  But you can of course, if you wish.

Here are the basics:

  • Knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed in 2 shades; you will need 3 of A and 6 of B.
  • It has been designed to fit well with handles from here.  But if you find other handles you prefer, use these approximate dimensions.
  • There are beads, placed traditionally, i.e. not with a crochet hook, but in clusters of 3 rather than singly.
  • You will need 4 mm needles.  For the sides which are quite hefty, I used a fixed cable circular needle about 80 cm long.
  • Felted at 60 degrees for between 80 and 90 minutes in a standard wash programme.
  • There are two interesting but not difficult stitches in use, all fully explained and I will set some notes out here too.
  • Suitable for an average knitter – it is easy to moderate.

The bag begins, inevitably, with some stocking stitch.  There are few centimeters of this because we are knitting a wide flap which, once the bag is felted and dry, will be fed through the slots in the handles and then sewn down.  There is a fold line half way.  Once you complete this bit of knitting, I suggest in the pattern that you mark the beginning and end of the last row.  This is because that marked row is the row where the sewing up of the sides to the gusset will also begin and end.  There is also a visual clue in that you also, at this point, start the folded beaded pattern.

The beads are placed in clusters of three – just as easy as placing them singly.  This section has deep folds which are formed by literally picking up the back of the stitch from the wrong side, so it is easy to see, some rows down, and purling this ‘stitch’ along with the next real stitch on the left hand needle.  You do this four times, then purl four stitches normally, all along these fold rows.  The row you are picking from is seven  rows down – you count the bumps.  My top tips for this are:

  • Slightly stretch/pull your work down to expose the ‘ladder’ of bumps.
  • You know you are in the right area if, when you look at the right side, the clusters of beads are about in the middle of the fold.
  • Once you have the first of your four pick-ups right, you just pick the stitch next door for the following three pick-ups.

The stitch is a multiple of eight.  But, both the beads and the folds are off-set, so for the first part where the bag is also being shaped with increases, the numbers have been adjusted to make sure they remain off-set.

The second part of the side uses two shades together, but never on the same row.  The shade not in use is carried up the side.  This part is based on garter stitch and slipping stitches in between.  The garter stitch element essentially forms the ‘framer’ of colour around the contrast shade.  I held this double, but the other yarn is held single.

My top tips for this are:

  • Do not pull the yarn tight as you carry it up the sides.
  • There are slipped stitches so there is yarn ‘carried’ across the back.  You don’t have to do anything, it just happens, but again, make sure you do not pull this tight.
  • Do not worry that this part looks rather distorted and puckered.  All will be well after felting, but I have added extra rows to take account of the loss of height that will happen when you wash it.

The two sides are made the same, then you knit the gusset which you will pin and then sew all round the sides, along the bottom and back up the other side.  Use a firm back-stitch to sew these seams.

You can knit the pockets first to practice the stitches, then also felt them first to test your machine.  The wash is about 80 – 90 minutes at 60 degrees.

Once the bag is sewn up, but the flaps are NOT sewn down until you sew in the handle later, you wash it and then dry and de-fluff it.  This yarn used to be very fluffy after felting and some knitters have said their bags were fluffy, but none of my samples or the two full bags I have knitted have been bad at all.  But anyway, this just needs you to use a damp hand and stroke the bag firmly inside and out to get the fluff off.  I do this outside!  Once de-fluffed, that’s it, it never happens again.

I really enjoyed designing this bag and knitting it is not boring at all.  Yes it is a longish knit but the results are worthwhile.  A bag that is unique and will last you a life-time of knitting.

You can buy the pattern here. 



Smoke and Mirrors Felted Bag

Monday, May 16th, 2016

I wanted to show you this, knitted by Annabel, who comes to my workshops sometimes.  This is her Smoke and Mirrors Felted Bag –  my new felted design. The colours Annabel chose – so very her, if you know her! – are stunning and when I saw what she had chosen I thought why the hell didn’t I think of that?  And then she sent me this image, and the shades are brightened and really vivid and I think I may have to knit one exactly the same.

Smoke and Mirrors by Annabelle

Thank you Annabel for sending me this image.  It is a perfect example of how this design works – plump, sturdy felted landscapes packed with texture and delicious colour.

If you think you might like to knit this design, I am re-running the event this September and I will post the dates tomorrow I hope. If you are on my list for this event, I will be emailing you first – if you are not and want to come, please let me know.


Smoke and Mirrors #2

Friday, March 25th, 2016

New colour-way for this new felted craft or handbag – Smoke and Mirrors in teal and green with bright copper beads. I really love this and it will be my new personal knitting bag as soon as its duties as a teaching aid are done.

The rich teal and vivid green really sing out, with a brightening effect after felting – something Felted Tweed often does I have noticed.

On this bag, the beads are far more of a feature than on version #1.  Here, the copper really works brilliantly with both shades.  A bit more bling!

The handles are the same dimensions as the ones I used on the grey and pink bag, but have a more modern design:

I think it is pretty certain that I will re-run this event in the summer or autumn.  Let me know if you’d like to be altered to the date.

Smoke and Mirrors Felted Bag

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

This is my new felted bag design.  It’s called Smoke and Mirrors.

Knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed, it uses two shades to create different felted landscapes. Pleated and beaded wide stripes form the top section, and the bottom sections of the sides are created with little windows of colour, framed with the main shade.  Here are some of my initial swatches:

And here is the bag, after being sewn and felted but before I added the handles:

This bag is smaller than my Bump Bag.  It is still more than adequate as a knitting or craft bag, or a largish hand-bag.  It is also rather more ‘felty’ because of the textures I have used.  If you wish, you can add further features such as a stiffened base, foot-studs or magnetic clasps, but it is fully functional and just as attractive without these additions.  There is an optional extra pattern for a matching felted needle case.

I am teaching this new design in April and May. These courses are fully booked, but I do have a small waiting list so if you would like to attend, please let me know as I may well add a date.


Abbotskerswell Crafting Weekend, 9 – 10 August 2014

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Just a reminder that I am teaching two workshops as part of the Abbotskerswell Summer Workshops event.

I will be teaching a day on the Cave Pearl Mittens on Saturday, 9 August.  These mittens offer a good opportunity to learn to knit in the round on 4 double pointed needles, plus associated skills such as knitting with beads and the anaotomy of a mitten.  Yes.  It has one.

Then on Sunday, it’s Shibori felting, featuring the Bump Bag.  Whilst we will be exploring the pattern for this design, and you will of course take a copy of the design away with you, this day is really just as much about learning all about felting your hand knitting, and applying exciting and adventurous Shibori techniques to it.

I know that there are a few places left, but not many now, especially for the mitts where the numbers are limited so I can devote plenty of time to anyone who has not knitted on DPNs before.

Neither of the days presents difficult or stressful knitting challenges.  You need only be able to cast on, knit, purl, cast off and have a fairly confident grasp of basics such as increasing.

I think I can promise you a great day out – or make a weekend of it, and book both my courses!  Or, come to one of mine, and go along to one of the others.  I’m not selfish, I’ll share you with the singing, drumming, sewing, drawing, floristry, basket weaving, photography, or walking/navigating classes.  I would like to do the drumming, personally.  Our new neighbour has an even more impressive collection of power tools than the outgoing neighbours had…it would serve them right if Mark, Lily, Florence, Will and I formed our own Taiko drumming group…


Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Here’s a finished Bump Bag:

sue's bump

I love the strong, zingy colours.  This Bump was knitted by Sue.  I also have a pic of another colourway that a customer made which I will dig out and add next.

If you fancy making Bump, you can buy the design here;  and the handles (not the ones originally used) here.