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Nuno felt art quilts swirling into action

1 May

I promised to update you on the nuno felting results. This quilter just adores the water color, layered effect that nuno felt gives to my tops.

Equipped with roving in greys, natural off whites and blues, I actually completed one quilt with nuno felting yardage in April.  Attempting to represent moving water while still honoring the wooly origins of my materials, I placed needle felted “rocks” underneath a portion of the quilt top and then needle felted it to a suiting weight wool border.

Feline fiberista approved.

Nuno felt art quilts by Alanna Nelson With several nuno felt pieces in hand, I headed over to Laurena’s Longarm Quilting and experimented with different battings and threads. Hand quilting is imperative for certain portions of the quilt… it “moved” in just the right way.

Here’s a detail of Rapids….
Alanna Nelson art quilter Rapids 2016

And now back to the next episode of watery themed quilts. Time to dye some wool.

A Winter Felting Wonderland

5 Apr


I love to wet or nuno felt outdoors on a hot summer day. It’s a great alternative to sailing if there’s no wind.  April 1, 2016, would have been a good day to felt even if it wasn’t hot. Spring flowers dotted my garden and the temps indoors and out were identical. Wet felting in my swimsuit was unlikely, but the weather was great. My felting appointment was on April 3.  That same hillside looked like this…
At least my faithful feline fiberista was ready to participate, as long as the felting session was indoors.

Studio Assistant

What a delight to open the merino roving that just arrived from New England Felting supply.

Faithful feline assistant approved. She jumped onto the base layer, watching the colors surround her. Covering a chunk of kitchen counter, the layers of wool put up with a lot of tapping, kneading and tossing. At this point, feline fiberista headed to the couch. Soap suds covered the kitchen cupboards.
Feline Felter

I’ll let you see what it becomes later this month…


Blind Faith Farm: My Fantasy Fleece

1 Sep Buckaroo Shetland from Blind Faith Farm
Alanna Nelson New England Textile Artist

Judging fleece at New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival

At my first New Hampshire Sheep and Wool festival with Guido,  I was shocked when he confessed a certain attraction to the idea of raising sheep.  Why on earth would you do that?  Raising livestock reduces your stitching time!

Not one year later, Barb Parry‘s husband told the story of the day his wife  came home with animals to graze in the back yard. Hanging around fiber animals produces a contagious desire to care for them, I gathered. Flockitis?

While I am far from interested in becoming a shepherd, attending Lucy Lee’s FiberCamp 2012 talk made me realize that I did want a fleece.  Now why on earth did I choose to go to that talk?  That’s the fun of FiberCamp… you’ll never know what you’ll learn. No hurry for this fleece, just… when presented with the right situation, I wanted a fleece. Not flockitis, just a fantasy fleece!

The situation presented itself last fall in Wisconsin. I knew that one of my sister’s dear friends, Laura Stremick-Thompson was raising Shetlands on  Blind Faith Farm.  She and her husband acquired their first registered Shetland sheep in 2009. I thought they just planned on hobby farming.  However, Laura and Jim expanded the flock, adding other breeds and crosses.  Clearly, flockitis was in the air, as they witnessed the first lambs born on their farm in 2010.  Their closed spinner’s flock now has 15 sheep, including primitive double coated and single coated Shetland, Shetland cross, Bluefaced Leicester/Icelandic and Clun Mule. As you can imagine by this list of breeds, Laura is careful and dedicated to her flock, hoping not only for quality fiber but high quality of life for her herd.

Blind Faith Farm award winning Shetland Ruper

What a fluff ball, Rupert!

Stella  won won first place in the Double Coat Division and third place overall in the Shetland category at the 2011 WI Sheep and Wool Festival, and placed again in 2012. Also in 2012, Rupert captured first place in the Shetland colored, double coat class. Two others received third place in their categories. Here’s Laura sharing the ribbons with her flock.Laura Stremick-Thompson award winning fleeces at Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival

Last October, Laura had 2 Shetland fleeces left. The color ways of Spectacles and Buckaroo sounded good over the phone. Sight unseen, I purchased them and shipped them to Boston. Buying a fantasy fleece was too easy.

Buckaroo Shetland from Blind Faith Farm

Buckaroo as a lamb

Blind Faith Farm Spectacles

Spectacles a few months after shearing.

According to Laura, Spectacles gets his name not only from his dark eye marks, but for the spectacle he makes of himself! The fleeces were much better than my pessimistic, novice fleece processing expectations. So clean, so beautifully skirted and with nary a second cut, the bags of lanolin smelling woolliness waited through the winter. On a hot summer weekend, I put on my swimsuit and washed the fleeces in the bath tub. What a jolly time that was! There was great pleasure watching Specs’ fleece go from beige to fluffy white and the delicate grey patch on his back.  Buckaroo wasn’t nearly as dirty, but carefully swishing the laundry bags filled with fleece was really pleasurable.

Blind Faith Farm Fleece processed by Alanna Nelson

Buckaroo’s fleece, tawny and luscious, before washing

Blind Faith Farm Fleece processed by Alanna Nelson

That’s not a shadow, that’s Spectacle’s grey markings

I took some of Buckaroo’s fleece to wet felt immediately for a quilt I’m making now. Wow, Shetland felts much more slowly than Merino or Silk. His fleece has a lovely depth that will be great for this series on childhood camping experiences.

I haven’t finished carding, but it will happen someday.  Once combed, I have no idea what I will do with the rest of this fleece, but it makes me happy just looking at it around my studio for the time being!


After processing all of Buckaroo’s fleece, I felted a portion to use in art quilts.

BlindFaithFarm has a shop at In 2014, they plan to sell roving. If you’re interested in fleeces, catch Laura at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival next weekend, September 6 – 8, 2013, where her flock’s winning traditions will hopefully continue.  Laura can also be reached at  laurast25 at  You, too, could have a fantasy fleece!



Soap, slap and roll!

11 Jul Alanna Nelson art quilts and felting

My wool collection includes yarns, threads, fleece and roving. On hot summer days, the latter two are some of my favorite toys.  There’s something quite gratifying about putting on your swim suit and playing with soap, wool and water.

Alanna Nelson art quilts and feltingNeedle felting is nice, but wet felting just brings out my beach instincts.  In any case, I’m happy to include both in my art quilts.
Several of my recent art quilts use a felted background.  It gives a lovely sense of multi textural goodness that contrasts with embroidery, quilting, applique and beading. For all of the fabric that I’ve dyed and painted, felting gives me a new dimension.

Here’s a background…felt art quilts by Alanna Nelson
That became this quilt…
Arabic Entry Blessing Quilt by Alanna Nelson
Earlier this week, my daughter’s college exploration took me to the Pioneer Valley.  She considered my suggestion to fiber shop audacious. “Oh, no…don’t you have enough projects going now?”

She’s probably right, or we would have definitely stopped by New England Felting Supply in Eastborough to pick up some dyed quick felting merino roving. Felting has been a fun change of pace from my Master Knitter Focus this year.

I recently felted some undyed Shetland fleece and am here to report that merino felts much more quickly (however the end result was fabulous, pictures in a future post)!  The slapping, stomping and throwing were undoubtedly excellent upper body work outs. If nothing else, I love playing with soapy water on summer day.  It beats sitting in air conditioning, doesn’t it?