Basic and Beyond FI Vessel Making Workshop 05/03/2023

Yesterday, our Guild Treasurer, Artist Annika Berglund, led the wonderful “Basic and Beyond” workshop. We made a versatile double-walled vessel.

An early start at 10am had us all rushing for coffee and tea, and the committee and some participants provided an array of lovely buns and cakes. Some participants had travelled from faraway places such as Galway, Kilbeggan and Slane.

Annika showed us samples of the finished piece, and asked us to choose 2 x10gr bags of tencel, a fibre which she had dyed in a variety of colours. Each participant was also given a kit bag of merino wool, with the resist already cut out in the shape needed for our vessels. 

Annika then gave us  a series of demonstrations to help create our vessels step by step.

1st: She showed us how we would lay out the tencel for our colour pop.

2nd: After another short demo and we then laid the white band and the black bands of our wool. (Layer one). This “inside-out” lay out was explained, and several committee members, Marian, Clare, Deirdre Crofts and Fiona helped the 18 participants.

Then, we had a lunch break on the premises with tea and coffee provided. This allowed a very warm-hearted social interaction between long standing Guild members and some new arrivals.

3rd: After lunch Annika again demonstrated the second layer of wool and how she wished us to rub and  roll our pieces. Hard rollers were provided by the committee.

4th: The next demonstration was how to make  slits or cuts with sharp scissors, after which we each designed how we wanted our final pieces to appear. 

5th: This demo was how to “cure” our slit edges, and we continued to roll until the whole piece was well felted. This was a reminder to all of us  how physically energetic actual felt-making is!

6th:  This demonstration was how to style our pieces, showing us ways to strengthen the base and to give a stylish finish to the ‘frames’ of our window slits. Annika showed us further samples of the variety of ways to use this skill.

All of us were very satisfied indeed with our beautiful vessels when we finally saw the double wall with the inner pop of  colour through the “Windows”. Each person’s piece was different to the next. Group photos were taken before we left for the journey home. 

As a final bonus, Annika presented each of us with notes so we can make it again if we like!

A huge thank you to Annika and the committee for a wonderful day.

Clare Brophy 


Feltmakers Ireland



Clodagh McDonagh writes the blog about our February Sunday session. Thank you Clodagh!

There was a great turnout on the first Sunday Session of 2023 , on 12th February, for a very busy `hands on` double session with Annika Berglund, and South African sheep and Alpaca breeder, Grant Bartholomew.

Many of you will have heard about FI’s project exploring the  possibilities of sheep`s  wool available to us here in Ireland. Annika is to be really commended for the hard slog that she and her wool project team has put in over the last two years studying ,learning and trialling many of the various indigenous and local sheep fleeces available here, with their particular properties, and possibilities. A book is in the works, full of useful information and practical tips, based on the wool group’s research, which will be released very shortly.

Annika had done lots of preparation for the session, she began by showing everyone some samples, pointing out the varieties of colours, tones, and textures of the different wools. All of the wool had been carefully washed, combed (carded) and weighed, and tied into 10gm bundles, with identifying labels.

Personally, I offered early on to help produce a few samples, however, easier said than done! The method of laying out the different breeds is completely different to using the very tame and biddable imported Merino wool `tops`which leaves it`s native Australia to be processed in China or Germany, Italy or UK.

Annika had many tips for handling the fibre, including laying it down very finely on bubblewrap using a 20cm x 20cm paper template to help guide the process. Other tips included, using a wooden dowel as a roller, using minimal water and even using liquid soap (or melted olive oil `bar`soap) on it`s own, to help tame the rough fibres. To help speed up the process there was a microwave on hand  to heat the wool to encourage felting and even a sander too.

Annika encouraged everyone to have a go and we were allowed to take the finished square home, or alternatively to cut them up and swop part of it with another participant. There was lots of comparing of notes between participants on their varying experiences, with plenty of ideas for future sessions.

Grant began the second part of the session by setting up his fleece sorting table, a metal framed table with an open metal gridwork top, and placed the raw sheep fleece on it to start the process of judging it to find the best parts before it was to be washed and processed.

Grant gave us a basic lesson in how to sort out the bad from the good, which bits to avoid, and even which fleeces to discard entirely if they had been badly shorn, (double cut) holding a staple length to show us ,  stretching it to see whether it would break, which would form lumps in the fibre if left in during the process. Some of the fleece might be discarded  simply if it was too dirty, or if it retained the colour of the farmers identifying marks, purple for example, by using iodine liquid to stain the fleece. At times up to 20% might be lost on removing vegetation from the fleece, and washing can remove approximately 40% of the weight. It takes Grant approximately 20 minutes to sort each fleece, we were amazed at his speed and many of us were shocked to see him discarding at least 30 or 40% of the whole amount.

According to Grant, the business of processing sheep and alpaca fleeces for a living can be very trying as there is a huge amount of legislation surrounding the industry, and  to obtain a licence for washing fleeces commercially is practically impossible at the moment.   

We will do further sessions using Irish wool when the book is published, so if you missed this session there will be more chances to get hands on using Irish wool.

Again, Thank you Clodagh for this write-up!

Irish Wool is the theme for our next Sunday session February 12th at the CIE Sports and social club at Inchicore at 10.30 – 12.30.

As many of you know, we have been working on a project around using wool from local sheep. We are nearly finished and are currently putting the finishing touches on the book where we will share all our results as well as information about how to source, wash and dye your own wool. As part of this theme, our upcoming Sunday session will let you have a look at raw fleece and how to skirt and pick it to prepare for washing.

We will also be exploring different Irish fleeces that Annika and her Wool Project team have been trialling. We will work on a 2D or 3D sample using a range of breeds and discuss and swap our results. It should be a hugely informative session especially for those ( like me) who tend to stick to what we know!

We would need to bring our usual felt making equipment, soap, sprayer, roller, bubble wrap, plastic bag and perhaps 2 towels, big and small (some fleeces can require a lot of water)
We will have some extras in case there are any beginners or you forget something. So don’t worry.

Hope some of you can make it.

March 5th is the date for our Basic and Beyond workshop at the same venue. It is a full day. This is just an initial heads up with basic information to whet your appetite. More details will follow soon.

Annika will be the leader for this course but there will also be plenty of assistants on hand.
We will be making a double walled vessel with lace effect and Tencel fibre decoration. It is suitable for beginners and improvers. The skills are…. Basic wet felting…. Felting around a resist….. Shading using black and white layers…. Lace technique…. Double walled vessel with decoration on inside…. and shaping while wet.
There will be lots of help so feeling a little intimated shouldn’t stop you from having a go if you are a beginner.
Materials will be provided.

That’s it for now. Hope to see some of you soon. I will have membership forms on the 12th for those who’d like to sign up.

All the best,
Fiona and the committee.

Feltmakers Ireland Sunday Session 11/12/2022 with Carmen Draghici at CIE Social Club Inchicore

A big thanks, especially to Clare Brophy, who had a special treat in store for us for at this December’s Sunday Session, with Romanian felt artist Carmen Draghici, and her lovely daughter Corinna. You can find samples of her work online at FELT JOY. She has an Etsy shop. She was only able to bring 2 beautiful pieces with her, due to Ryanair’s weight restrictions.

Carmen’s Facebook Page:

Clare had discovered Carmen’s fabulous felt work online, purchased a piece,  and was bowled over by the quality and design of the jacket that she had bought. She invited Carmen to come to Ireland from Constanza, southern Romania, to lead a Sunday Session with us.

Carmen, luckily, was very happy to come to Ireland to meet all of us. Although Hungary has a very rich Feltmaking tradition, its neighbour Romania does not, as yet anyway,  and she was delighted to be in the company of other feltmakers.  She envied us our regular opportunities to felt together, and is going to investigate if she can bring us to Romania next year!

Carmen had planned a project with us, wet-felting a small Christmas Cushion, using some special lace brought with her from Romania. However, as 4 of the group were new feltmakers, it proved too  ambitious for the 2 hours. She suggested  finishing it at home or turning it into a table runner instead. There was much to learn from Carmen, an engineer by profession, from laying viscose fibre down cleanly to achieve  sharp shapes, to using different unfamiliar fibre layouts, like herringbone, and diagonal, depending on what you were making, and using, for the most part just one layer of fine merino tops. It was also new to some people to to have an upside-down layout, and use a resist.

Personally speaking, I would love to have her back again to learn more of her tips and knowledge as she seemed to be a mine of information as well as having a great personality and we did not have enough time with her. She herself was frustrated by the  short time involved and the differing levels of experience within this group, and wanted especially to give the new people good standards of finish.

I arrived at the Sunday Session with my friend Nara Fritch, from Seattle, US, but now long time resident in Ireland, living near me in Skerries. Nara keeps Alpacas and was totally entranced by an invited guest of Committee member, Annike Berglund, leader of the Feltmakers Ireland Wool Project Her Guest, Grant Bartholomew had requested to be an observer at the Sunday Session.  Grant is an Alpaca farmer, from South Africa and living in Ireland for 3 years. He arrived with his family. After our session with Carmen, he briefly explained the different types of Alpaca fibre he had brought with him.  

by Clodagh McDonagh

The committee has decided to  devote another Sunday session later to the picking and washing of a raw fleece and  give everybody a chance to felt a small sample using one of a variety of Irish local wools.

Sunday Session with Carmen Draghici at CIE Social Club Inchicore 04/12/22 starting at 9:30 (please note time!)

Carmen Draghici,  coming specially from Constanza in southern Romania for the weekend. Her work can be viewed online at FELT JOY and on Facebook & You Tube. She has an ETSY shop and she will bring some of her work to show us.

She will demonstrate some of her unique skills, making a small Christmas Cushion (as time is so limited )

It will be practical session. Some kits may be available to purchase (€4) for those who have materials (old towel, soap, bubble wrap etc) needed to felt with Carmen.

Materials needed:  (exactly as last session)

Old towel, bubble wrap, resist, soap, and water bottle, needed.

70 grams red roving, embellishments (including, if you have any, old lace or finest crochet) 

All members are welcome. 

Tea coffee and Xmas goodies for all!

(Non-members also welcome €10)

Some Information on what you need to bring and what you will learn:

Also: A call out to people who were at the last Sunday session: If you have not unpacked your bags from this event yet, please check if you have ended up with an extra piece by mistake: It is a long brownish piece with an abstract design.

Hope to see you there!

Mandy Nash Workshop in Inchicore

We had a really great day at The Works at Inchicore C.I.E. Social Club on Saturday last, where Feltmakers Ireland was hosting an in person felting workshop with renowned UK feltmaker, Mandy Nash.

Feltmakers old and new were delighted to get together to take part in the workshop organized in large part by Fiona Leech, who very unfortunately could not attend due to family circumstances.

Mandy makes a range of beautiful pieces, including hats, using Bergshaf wool (Austrian mountain sheep wool) and our workshop was on the theme of Bags.Mandy is the author of a book called Making Felt Bags available on the Book Depository.

Many of us feltmakers, me included, work , more or less exclusively with very fine Merino wool,
combed or carded into a fine wool rope, called tops. So, for some of us, there was a bit of a learning curve in tackling the mountain sheepswool!

Here are some examples of Mandy’s work:

Bergshaf is very different, as its fibre is shorter and more wiry, and is generally carded in
sheets , called Batts.

In Ireland, Cushendale Woolen Mills, Graiguenamanah, Co. Kilkenny still produces fibre which is a bit similar and can be used instead. The Irish Wool Group in Feltmakers Ireland is working very hard to try and source Irish wool for us to use, rather than always importing Australian Merino.

Many of us feltmakers, me included, work , more or less exclusively with very fine Merino wool,
combed or carded into a fine wool rope, called tops.
So for some of us, there was a bit of a learning curve in tackling the mountain sheepswool!

Mandy directed us individually to create our bags on templates (flat patterns) provided by her, where we learnt to lay down the fibre very finely, evenly, and meticulously, not overlapping the template too much, as the fibre has a tendency to float out over the edges of the template.

We were helped along with lashings of hot tea, coffees and fabulous home baking supplied by participants. As with all Feltmaker events there was an amazingly generous atmosphere, a big thank you to Lorna who sourced the venue and produced amazing shortbread too! And to our glamourous assistants, Rena and Deirdre who kept a constant supply of hot water for felting, and to everyone else for baking, sharing their supplies, and problem solving skills and general all round support. And last but not least, Mandy Nash herself who left us all totally inspired, many thanks Mandy. Mandy had great patience and skill and managed to keep smiling despite the pressure! Although many of us had not completed our bag projects, at the end of the day we left with the knowledge to work on them at home. We will be doing a show and tell at our next Sunday Session at Inchicore on
November 6th next.

And of course, we hope that she will return in the future…hats next time perhaps??!!

To participants of the course: Please send in photos of finished bags to and we will publish a second blog with the results from the workshop!

Clodagh Mac Donagh
Feltmakers Ireland

Feltmakers Ireland AGM 15/05/2022

Hi all,

Just a reminder that it’s AGM time of year again and this year we’ll be together after two years of zoom.
It’ll be instead of the Sunday Session on the 15th MAY.

We’ve a new venue too , thanks to Lorna Cady, which we hope may become our other new home.

It is the CIE Sports and Social Clubhouse in Inchicore.
1 Library Square, also known as West Terrace but more importantly the postcode is D08 PA07.
I’ll forward the link on google maps closer to the date.

Dublin Bus from town : 40 and 79

Below is the outline of the running order for the meeting to start promptly at 10.30am with the usual reports and addresses from the committee members. Two guest speakers will share a little about themselves and their practices followed by coffee and refreshments, chat and a “Lucky Dip”.
We will aim to move swiftly through official business to have more time for the social bit. Because let’s face it, we’re really good at that bit and we’ve really missed it.

We are asking everyone , who might like to, to bring a small secret parcel of felting materials ( fibre, fabrics, embellishments etc..) max €5- €10ish to be a surprise lucky dip! Anybody who brings a bag gets to receive a lucky dip bag, but there is no obligation to participate.

We’d also like to suggest that everyone bring cake, buns or whatever as is normally done for the AGM. There’ll be plenty of tea and coffee.

You must be a member to attend, but you can renew your membership at the door if you have not joined already.

Finally, if there is anything that you’d would like added to the agenda it must be sent to the Secretary by 5th May. That’s 10 days before the meeting as is written in the constitution.

See you there!