Inspiration – what, where, how & why? by Soosie Jobson

Inspiration is an elusive muse.  When is strikes it is powerful and driving.  When it falters it is depressing and nagging.  So what is “Inspiration”?  It is the driving force behind creativity.  It is the unstated, undefined thing that springs into our heads.  Suddenly you know what it is that you want – no- need to create.

So where do I get my inspiration from?  I am a very visual person so it is no surprise that what I see inspires me.  My last three major projects have been inspired images – my Honours degree in History was driven by a watercolour painting by Thomas Rowlandson “Vauxhall Gardens” 1784, my Zooxanthallae coral reef installation by Glen Cowans photography and my Felted Cactus Garden by Nancy Ballesteros’s holiday images from the USA.  This is not to say that visual things inspire everyone. Sound is a great inspiration for many – that favourite song, guitar riff, bird song or like my car crazed husband the roar of a V8 engine!   Perhaps for you it is smell – baking bread, star jasmine or wet grass.  But it is one of our senses that triggers it because our senses also trigger our memory and emotions.

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How does it work?  Creativity and emotions  are strongly linked – it was once a given that artists had to “suffer for their art”, I don’t think this is true for all but it does show that those who did suffer used that as their inspiration or driving emotion for their art.  I know when I am having a creativity drought it is directly linked to my state of mind – I also know that when my creativity is about to erupt I am usually restless – ready to produce.

Why do we need inspiration?  Life needs inspiration otherwise we will only produce or indeed live the mundane.  What inspires you?


How to find inspiration from the Micro and Macro world by Mary Ann Dawson

Inspiration can come from almost anywhere, but as this subject covers a visual world that we do not usually see, some research was required.

It’s rare, if ever, we are able to see our world from an altitude high enough to remove any of the visual clues we rely upon on a daily basis, making this aspect merely a collection of colours, shapes and textures. For me, this is the ‘macro’ view, but macro will mean different things to different people.

Most of my focus has been on the micro though, merely because my access to visual inspiration has been predominantly in this area. Of course, the same applies to micro that applied to macro. When things become so tiny we can no longer relate them to our world, they become just a visual feast of form, hue and texture. This is what I love, to take something out of its usual reference and use it as an art form.

The next thought process I have is……….

Do I create something based on colour?

Using reference from these very interesting Brainstroming photos of neurons.



Or should I keep it monochromatic using this as inspiration, a microscopic look at a wood cell of a Silver Fir Tree.



Maybe more textural….



Or maybe follow Soosies lead and get into the sculptural side of things, like this fungi.



The choices are somewhat overwhelming! If you don’t know where to actually start, my advice would be to just pick one of the ideas you like, any one of them, and just begin! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, be brave!


September Toss n Tell By Sara Quail

Demo: Bloomin’ Flowers with Soosie Jobson

Hot on the heels of her recently published e-book ‘Structural and Sculptural: Complex 3D shapes in felt’,  Soosie showed us an array of her ‘Bloomin Flowers’ incorporating some of the same principles and techniques detailed in her book.
Using the shape of the lateral view of a flower head and stem, daisies were created using an all-in-one resist technique. The flower head consisted of multiple layers of wool, separated by thin plastic and robustly prefelted before the next layer was added. These layers were simultaneously felted onto the stem in a small area where the head meets the stem. The flower head section was cut open along the top when the resist starts to buckle, opened up, petals cut and fulling continued. A foam gap filler rod was used as the stem resist, which can be easily removed after fulling and replaced with a wooden dowel for strength.

Roses comprised several parts using robust prefelt made from 4 layers of wool in the desired colours.  A foam rod was again used as the stem resist. 4 templates in varying sizes were used to create the petals and sepals. 3 rows of petals and then the sepals were stitched to the stem with un-waxed strong natural thread. Each petal requires individual fulling with very soapy hands. Treatment of petal edges produces different results. Cut edges before fulling creates a firm sealed look to the petal, whereas cutting after fulling reveals the colour of the internal layers. Tumble dry to complete the fulling process.

Another variation involved a resist to create a ball shape for the centre of a flower. Once robustly prefelted, it could be cut open, stuffed and stitched onto a stem, with rows of stitched petals added as before. Stitching disappears once fulling is completed.

Soosie’s wrap and stitch method involved 2 elements – a foam rod stem and rectangular strips of prefelt. Covered in plastic except for a small portion on one long side, the prefelt is stitched spiral fashion around the stem. After fulling, plastic is removed and petals can be cut. Different effects can be achieved by varying the size of the rectangle and placement of stitching. Soosie emphasised throughout that prefelts need to be robust and hanging the flowers upside down was the best way to dry them.

And as if that didn’t blow our minds she showed us some experimental flowers under development – Daffodil, Cymbidium and Phalaenopsis orchids. Watch this space…..

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1.      Workshops:

·         Sue Harrington advised that Soosie’s Complex 3D forms October workshop has sold out. Soosie’s latest e-book on the same subject is now available for purchase with a free copy of ‘How to Felt’ to the first 50 purchasers.

·      Bookings are now open and filling fast for Hanky Panky with Nancy Ballesteros 6-7 November.

·         Members are encouraged to submit ideas and suggestions for workshops and demos to Sue Harrington or Sue Eslick for consideration by the committee for the annual Planning Day 15 November. The aim of this day is to create a diverse and instructive year for the benefit of all members.

·         The upcoming Felting Frenzy 30 Nov – 1 Dec is the equivalent of a local retreat especially for those who didn’t attend the annual retreat in May. It is a great opportunity to spend all or part of the time to focus on special or large projects.

·         Wafta – To celebrate their 21 years of existence, Wafta is calling for applications for their twentyONE+ 2016 Juried Exhibition. Refer Wafta’s website for details. The Ilka White workshop has sold out.

·         Fibres West; 4 – 10 October at Muresk. A few places remain, refer to their website.

·         A visit to the Feltmakers of the Great Southern at Torbay Hill Function Centre, 1 Shelley Beach Road, Western Australia during the Art & Craft Trail, 26 Sept – 11 Oct, 2015, is highly recommended if you are in the area.

·         Chez Armstrong of FIGS has advised there are a few spaces left in a Fiona Duthie workshop in Cranbrook 21/22 November. Contact:

·         Pauline Franklyn workshops are now available – enquiries to
2.      Borrowing FeltWest items – a reminder that a maximum of 2 Feltwest items may be borrowed at any time, for a month only. Thereafter the items must be returned or renewal discussed. All items to be returned by November Toss n Tell.

3.      Craft House – the APCH committee has made an application to Lotterywest for block-out blinds for the hall and the studio, which should reduce summer heat and enable daytime slideshows and video presentation.

4.      Missing equipment is ongoing. Return of the FeltWest mannequin is still sought. The general storeroom is now locked. Items for general use can be used on the premises only. Items belonging to user groups and available to borrow must be borrowed officially via Susan Sheath, booking officer for APCH.

5.      Soosie gave us more ideas and inspiration about the theme for the MACRO/Micro exhibition expanding on how enormous things can be made small and vice versa. Keep updated via the website and Facebook posts for info and inspiration on a variety of topics. Members are invited to contribute ideas and inspiration. The Exhibition venue – Central TAFE is a great exhibition space. Now is the time to start mulling over ideas. Open to all members, there will be no entry fee.

6.      The 3 new ladies doing the beginners course were warmly welcomed.

Toss and Tell


·         Teresa O’Malley intrigued us with a small, wet felted ‘poodle wool sheep’ made for a friend who collects sheep ornaments. The body of the sheep was made from the hair of the friend’s poodle and the head incorporated the hair of a Hungarian water dog.

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·         Judith Shaw showed us some of her very tiny micro pouches no bigger than 7 x 4 cm. Very discreet, detailed and dainty. One of them had a flap, with one side suitable for day wear, the other for the evening. Her brown hat was one of 5 made some time ago. They were looking a little sad and floppy so she went about refreshing them by giving them a good wash in the bathroom sink with a little shampoo. Squeezed and dried off with a bathroom towel, she then re-blocked them, edged and titivated where necessary and voila – good as new!

·         Gudren Griffin produced 2 beautiful monochromatic necklaces created from Nancy’s meditation beads workshop, in pink and red. Determining their length was governed by the number of beads her new cat had appropriated for her own use. The Jacaranda shawl she had made using a silk lap had shrunk more than she expected, but she achieved beautiful detailing each end of the shawl by using silk hankies in subtle shades.

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·         Marion Finneran has been exploring the possibilities of recycling silk fabrics into nuno scarves. While pleased with the result, she noted that on one, where she had used an old silk scarf, the fabric had visibly deteriorated. In future she would be more careful when selecting this sort of fabric for a project.

·         Jill Jodrell and Pat Kendall had both made wearable items to suit the theme nights for the upcoming NZ Felt-makers Convergence in Auckland.  Jill created a stylish 3-cord necklace to wear herself and an asymmetrical evening bag for a friend which had been felted over muslin and incorporated some stitching.  Pat had used fine decorative prefelts on her nuno scarf for the Sky and Sea theme night, resulting in a delightfully delicate piece.

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·         Sue Eslick made another dotty bag in the style of Atsuko Sasaki whose workshop she attended a while back. Apart from the raised bumps, the challenge was to reduce the 15hrs of rubbing required in the original workshop to get the same extremely firm and flat felt. Her experiment succeeded by using the rubbing technique in conjunction with rolling, tossing and various tools – and took only 8hrs to achieve a very similar result.

·         Antoinette Boyd had meditation beads in progress and noted having small components to work on, made it one of those things you can do when away or with restricted time and space.

·         Katalin Dobos – This bag was originally a cat cocoon /cave that morphed into a bag once it was established the cat had declined to occupy it.

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·         Soosie showed us more items made using 3D resists illustrating that the technique can be used for more than cacti and unusual abstract shapes. Her Mandarin fish and Spotted Wrasse or ‘fish on a stick’ was an inspiration in using resist techniques in another direction.  She has also donated her ‘Cape to Cape’ scarflette created for the Scarf festival to the Xmas raffle. The elegant shaping of the cape was achieved by using a resist. The distribution of the beads was based on an 80:20 ratio representing the 80% of people living on the coast of Australia and 20% inland. The beads were counted exactly.

·         Lyn Blasgund’s small green and brown bag was testament to the importance of fulling… again… and again.

·         Sue Harrington made a cat cocoon for a friend. With wattle flowers still to be added, the result was not as stiff or as large as expected, despite a lot of hard work. She used 12 layers of 30 micron Corriedale each side of the resist, and felted every 2 layers. Her original shrinkage rate was based on a sample made with 8 layers each side. Using 12 layers altered the planned outcome. We don’t think the cat will mind, but there was a suggestion the structure had ‘foot warmer’ potential if the cat turns up its nose.

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·         Sara Quail showed her fulling boards made from a brickies smoothing tool and glass gems attached with Tarzan grip glue. Adhesion was made easier by the already roughened surface. She also showed the 10 metres of silk she had dyed for Fiona Duthie’s Joomchi felting and garment construction workshop she is doing at FibresWest . She had also been experimenting with dyeing wool roving using a variety of techniques, partly because 700g is needed for this workshop which seems a lot of wool for a wearable piece, even allowing a healthy %age for making samples.

·         The meeting closed with Sue wishing all the best to those participating in both FibresWest and the NZ Felt-makers Convergence.  We look forward to seeing the products of their labours in due course.

MACRO|micro Big to small or small to big? by Soosie Jobson

Since our announcement of MACRO|micro Explorations in Felt excitement has been building through out Feltwest.  At first the idea of macro and micro seemed a little puzzling or even challenging but it didn’t take long for the light globe moments to begin.  So what does macro and micro mean?  The ancient Greeks used this juxtaposition as a basis for their understanding of the universe.  They had a scale at one end was the MACRO – the stars, the night sky, the planet.  At the other end was micro – things they knew existed but they couldn’t see: atoms and molecules although expressed as wind, fire and other elements.  And of course in the middle were humans.

Part of a pair of illustrations in Tycho Brahe’s Astronomiæ instauratæ Mechanica depicting his understanding of the connection between macrocosm and microcosm.

It is interesting that many people have instinctively thought of small things to be made big, maybe the real challenge is to take the really big and make them small.  A regular speaker and friend of Feltwest, Richard Waldendorp, is a master at taking the enormous and presenting it small.  His images of the Australian landscape, taken from planes, translate into magnificent patterns – perhaps an inspiration for our felters.  Turning the MACRO into the micro may not be as ethereal as you might think, I think we do this quite naturally and many of our members have done so in the past:   Sue Eslick has made gorgeous elephant tea cosies, Judi Barkla used the moon as a motif during our Earth exhibition and I have used geological images for patterns and love to recreate things in miniature like my mermaid below.

Either way the is room (and I mean a lot of room) for both the large and the small in our upcoming exhibition.  If you have any queries or questions please do not hesitate to ask and remember there will be discussion at every Toss n Tell.

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MACRO|Micro: Some thoughts for inspiration by Vianne Sleypen

My first thought was what a perfect theme as you can interpret it in so many ways. But then it is so hard too choose what to do…

A thought is to make an ordinary daily object huge.:


An example of a supersized less ordinary object is, the DNA-tower in Kings park, a microscopic small molecule represented as a remarkable landmark:


Basically every felt piece is micro/macro: The wool-top fibres are the micro and everything after that is the macro.  The workshop with Marjolein Dallinga had Micro/macro elements in it by making smaller felt pieces and unite them in one bigger piece. If you make different sizes, whatever object or shape, you’re making something macro / micro. Not everything has to be big as in ‘huge’….



The photography of e.g. Richard Woldendorp is a good example going from macro to micro:

Forest River, Kimberley, Western Australia, Australia. A tidal river system, north-west of Wyndham. Taken 2003 with a Fuji 6x9 camera, a 65mm lens and Velvia 100 film. Appeared in the 2006 ‘Coastline’ exhibition at Boutwell Draper Gallery in Sydney, the 2006 Melbourne Art Fair and the 2007 ‘Richard Woldendorp’ exhibition at Goddard de Fiddes Gallery in Perth. Also in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra collection.
Forest River, Kimberley, Western Australia, Australia. A tidal river system, north-west of Wyndham. Taken 2003 with a Fuji 6×9 camera, a 65mm lens and Velvia 100 film. Appeared in the 2006 ‘Coastline’ exhibition at Boutwell Draper Gallery in Sydney, the 2006 Melbourne Art Fair and the 2007 ‘Richard Woldendorp’ exhibition at Goddard de Fiddes Gallery in Perth. Also in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra collection.


Colour is a big passion of mine.

You can also think of colours if you’re thinking about macro or micro. For everyone a ‘macro’ or ‘micro’ colour is different, because colours give a personal feeling or sensation.


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So good luck with the inspiration to find that GREAT idea; THINK BIG and it will happen:-)

August TnT & AGM by Lyn Blasgund

Following the AGM  for 2015, the members were eager to show the results of their wonderful felting.

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Soosie Jobson  brought in her amazing cactus garden (in felt of course) to show what can be achieved  with  complex resists. This was also a preview of what participants can produce when they attend her workshop of October 2nd and 3rd.

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The President thanked Liz Odd for her efforts in doing the ‘clean up ‘ of Alexander craft house.
There are still places available for the Bali Retreat.
The york Bazaar and fibre’s west info is included in the E newsletter.
Martine from Fibres West  attended the day and had felting materials for sale  and also displayed her amazing rugs.  Matine will be running a rug making workshop next year, so watch out  for the dates of this workshop as places and limited. Martien Van Zuilen also displayed her nuno felt wraps and scarves, and her learnings were identified as placement and finishing.

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  • July Barkla advised that she will do a write up on her encased objects workshop.
  • The dates published  in the Feltwest retrospective magazine were printed incorrectly,  Soosie’s workshop in Oct 2nd and 3rd and Nancy’s Hanky Panky workshop is Nov 6 and 7.  Antoinette Boyd who does a fabulous job in publishing the Retrospective, will only be doing this for one more year and has asked for anyone who has skills in publishing to volunteer to replace her at the end of the year.
  • The Fremantle stall for Feltwest is on 4-6th December.  Those members who wish to have their items for sale should have them checked by the committee members for quality  and advice if further felting of these items are required.  we want to show the best products to the general public.
  • Soosie announced that FeltWest have secured the Central TAFE’s art gallery for an exhibition in 2016 the Exhibition will run for 3 weeks  and the theme will be along the lines of MARO|micro”. Each meeting of Toss n Tell, the members will discuss the progress of this exciting opportunit

Toss n Tell items.
Sue Eslick   modeled yet another glorious hat (you wear them so well)
Vianne Sleypen showed off her beanie entry  and announced her disappointment of not winning. We all think you are a winner Vianne.

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Pat Kendall showed her scarf which was combining silk and wool, lovely colour combinations!
Judi Barkla showed her cute little felted rocks and showed what happens with micro laying  over tiny rocks when some burst through and others don’t fully felt.  Very tactile and lovely to play with in your hands (Meditation rocks?) and to follow on we saw her felted encased  and beaded milk bottle.

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Liz odd modelled her silk lap wrap. the color was glorious but unfortunately Liz cant wear wool, this does not stop her from producing exquisite products. Liz lso showed the group another wrap of 2 silk laps sandwiched together , Liz hand dyed the garment. a wonderful result.
the result of the retreat work from Beth was a lovely pompom scarf, Beth admitted that she had received lots of compliments  for her scarf.
Marion Finnergan produced a beautiful open lattice scarf and her learnings were laying and even design effect.

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Kerry Bertucci was a workshop participant at Judi Barkla’s “encased Objects’ Workshop and  wrote the following “3 encased objects.
More techniques learnt-
Loose layers gentle wrapped and dry felted help solid objects to be felted without wrinkles….
thankyou Judi and all participants it was a pleasure to work with/from you all..
materials used:
Wool-white, Merino wool and mulberry silk, black beads
Time to make: 1 workshop
Please Note: as mentioned in the write up don’t stand still too long or we will encase your, it is very addictive!
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Sue, Beth, Joan, Linda, Soosie, Martine & Chris.


Toss n Tell July by Marie Marshall (photos by Liz Odd)

After Judith Shaw’s generous, hugely entertaining and informative talk on how she has made a few hundred pairs of slippers over many years and telling us she never makes a sample or rarely does the same thing twice, we sat back to enjoy a lovely display of felting from other Feltwest members as we do each month. People arrive from far and wide to show and admire beautiful pieces of true art.


Recently members have been invited to display their felt pieces on a table on arrival and to provide a note on their technique or other relevant interesting comments. It is also lovely to “meet” the people who created them when the President invites each person to show their recent work. So in order of appearance: Judy Barkla not only showed us her beautiful, highly textured, silk dress, but gave a very positive account of our time at the May Retreat at Muresk, Northam encouraging all to attend in future and enjoy the wonderfully inspiring camaraderie that the lucky few have enjoyed.

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Kerry Bertucci attended Sue Eslick’s bag making workshop and learnt many useful techniques including using cufflinks as fasteners! Jean McKenzie showed her bag from same workshop and slippers with bells on toes…so bright, zany and unique of course!  Marion Finneran’s chilli-red bag was a great learning experience but lots of improvisation added to the fabulous finished product’s design.  Karen Wood showed her finished pieces from the Retreat including a black scarf with fabulous texture a la Judy Barkla who in turn was inspired by Vilte originally. Karen also spoke of her experiences with resists for slippers and adding extra padding on heels – lots of tips from experienced feltmakers which continue to help us “newcomers”.

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Vera Sergeev is slowly bringing her felting passion into the workplace but this is quite a feat as she works alongside 2 and 3 yr olds! She is certainly a dedicated teacher of felting to harness such youthful enthusiasm. With her young helpers she created a most impressive colourful rug for a very lucky Teddy in the story she read to the children. They love sprinkling the water, working with bubble wrap and adding squares of prefelts. You can imagine the scene!  Sara Quail attended the bag workshop and created a great grey bag with pockets and commented also on the useful techniques and will do it again if Sue agrees to run another course!

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Lyn Blasgund made some fine baby clothes – a jacket using a resist and hat to match for one very lucky baby. Lynn also showed her grey bag with longer handles and commented on not only the fashion statement of all the bags created at Sue’s workshop but of the lovely cake and recipes shared on the day.

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Juliet Hargreaves advised us not to throw anything away as off-cuts were very useful as embellishments in her magnificent vessels which were joined at the bases and yet could be separated into their 2 colourways to roll and felt. Fascinating and perhaps she can be persuaded to give a workshop showing in more detail just how she achieved such stunning results!

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Sue Eslick’s blue spotty bag from Melbourne workshop with Atsuko Sasaki was the product of many hours work of rubbing and not rolling it seems. Such dedication! Louise Nidorf’s bag is a work in progress but thought we would find the surface stitching of interest which we did!

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Katrina Virgona spoke of Richard Woldendorp’s super special cash offer for his book “Out of the Blue” and told us about the current exhibition at Mundaring Arts Centre. Antoinette Boyd’s black cocktail dress was a stunner.

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Margi Piesse suggested we be more aware of how helpful name tags can be for newcomers in particular and it was suggested we could make our own as some have done. Embellish with beads and embroidery and outdo everyone else. There’s a challenge for you! Maybe we could give a prize for best creation by year’s end?  Judi Barkla’s felt covered rocks were an indication of things to she said, each rock has its own requirements and challenges (or not).

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The throw which Alison Gomes whipped up (only joking, Alison spends many hours meticulously laying wool then rolling so carefully, painstakingly and in fact seems to have become a well known standard of measurement in the felting world especially when we refer to fine layers of wool!), started off the size of three and a half trestle tables, finished at what looked like less than one table length and was truly beautiful with such appealing colours and drape. Fantastic!


And last but definitely not least, was the lovely Judith Shaw excelling in not only slipper production and demos but showing us her thick wool coat made 30 years ago for the snow, with a most appropriate theme of the sea, ice and seaweed.


Retreat 2015 by Vianne Sleypen

This year the retreat was as usual a big success, although we missed out on some “dye hards”. It was a small group but nevertheless the creativity was full on.  Mary Ann started a wall hanging, hopefully for the exhibition next  year, she used several techniques on small pieces which she will bring together in a wall hanging.

Nancy did some homework to prepare for her upcoming workshops by making a blue tunic top in one piece. Gudrun also made a tunic top in warmer shades.  The Barkla sisters went wild in making garments and dresses.  New member Kelly loves her Alpacas so much that she brought bags of their hair to felt into a carpet .

A favourite item ( introduced by Karen ) was the ” toilet seat cover “, otherwise known as a collar style scarf. The pattern was copied by several participants and I am looking forward to the results @ the next Toss & Tell .   We had our Queen of making Rugs Liz Odd, who made a beautiful new one and showed us her first felted rug. I must say; she improved herself over the years.

‘Pom Pom Betty’, otherwise known as Beth, was busy making very unique scarves. Recycling older felt pieces and making strips of felt with pompoms on the end, stitched and connected with a brooch like feature.  As promised, Judith got her spoons out and played together with a house number. She nailed it again.

Katrina was so kind to explain her Art work which will be exhibited @  the Mundaring Art Centre and gave her secret away how she creates them.  This year the masseuse was great, hope to see her back next year.  A big thanks for Christiane who put a lot of effort in the organisation for this year, it was another successful retreat.

Hopefully more people will sign up next year and not miss out on all the fun and camaraderie, the more the better.