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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Workers in the Outback Fibers Studio


With Thanksgiving just a few days away, we were blessed with the early arrival of our oldest son and his family... as we rushed to try and complete orders for customers wanting their fibers in time to "play" while their spouses reclined in a turkey-induced football coma on the couch!
What better than to have two "trusty" helpers to make up mixed bags of colors!!
5-year old Ian and 3-year-old Anabelle (sporting a designer eye-patch for a juvenile opthamological condition), were delighted to be permitted to help their "Emee" in her studio. 

So if your Pastel Mixed Bag shows up with 4 purple and no green... yikes!  Let me know.  But at least we can be sure that each bag DID weigh 8-oz.  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Houston Quilt Show Experience

In early November, Outback Fibers decided to have a presence at the Houston International Quilt Festival.  This is one of the largest Quilt shows in the nation, and we wondered how much impact the needle-felting machines had made on the quilting world. 

We were pleased by the response to our booth, and I had an opportunity to demonstrate the basics of wet-felting for 2 hours at their "Open Studio" station.  I had a constant stream of people watching, and was able to convey several simple aspects of felting to a fairly interested audience.
Suzanne Morgan was with me at the show, selling her wonderful dyed silk yardages.  She also took time to demonstrate at the "Open Studio", and generated interest in the needle-felting techniques she uses to produce her beautiful journal covers featured at the back of the booth.

Perparation for the show was enormous, and the 5 days of vending were exhausting.  Both Suzanne and I agreed we would not undertake such a venture in the future.  We were mobbed with customers, such that we got to see little or nothing of the wonderful quilt works on display at the show.  Sales were fair, but you have to sell a lot of $5-$15 items to cover the exhorbitent booth fees and related expenses.
Chalk this one up to experience!  But we were encouraged to see how much headway felting has made in the surface design world.  At least our customers were coming to purchase... and not just to view the 3-headed novelty "feltmakers"!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Coat of Many Colors

Well... I was warned that starting a blog was a commitment to regular postings that I might not be able to maintain, but I will resolve to improve the regularity... though likely to be on a weekly basis or less.
Life at Outback Fibers has been busy with the birth of a new grandson, Grant,

and the imminent arrival of another grandson, yet to be named.  At the same time, husband, Mark, has transitioned out of his HR position to become the other half of Outback Fibers.  So if a masculine voice answers the phone now and then, rest assured I have not been taking testosterone pills and growing hair on my chest!

In the midst of this I planned to run a booth at the Houston Quilt Festival in early November and decided that a coat was a great way to educate the quilting public about felting.
Starting with a base of a single layer of black ProFusion, ...
ProFusion prefelt with slit cut for pocket
Vintage Port Merino roving

I thinned strips of hand-dyed merino in Vintage Port to create the surface design layer, allowing strands of the dyed merino to extend beyond the base to create the "fringe". Between the strips of dyed merino, I interspersed thinned strips of tussah silk in the same colorway.


The coat was to be made by felting a single back panel, two front panels and separate sleeves -- assembled by sewing to complete it.  Allow approx. 40% shrinkage overall.  Continuous gradation of the colorway is retained by thinning the fibers without allowing them to completely pull apart.  A single layer is sufficient when ProFusion is used for the base layer.
And because I just had so much spare time on my hands (hah) I decided to also make seamless pocket inserts in the front of the coat.  The beauty of the ProFusion is that it can be stitched on the sewing machine prior to felting.  Thus two pockets were cut 40% larger than the desired finished size and machine stitched around 3 sides.  The open edges of the pockets were placed inside a carefully cut slit in the base piece of ProFusion, with plastic bags both lining the inside of the pockets and surrounding the outside with the exception of the open edge which was basted into the slit with black thread.  The dyed merino strips were placed either side of the open slit creating an almost invisible pocket opening.

After wetting out the fibers and rubbing the surface to connect all the layers, I used my trusty sander to stabilize everything and put a good skin on the felt.  Then off to the front-loading washing machine (best investment yet for making large yardage), a short run on the express cycle produced a nice piece of finished felt.
The felt is a light garment-weight fabric suitable for Texas winters, and easy to machine stich without creating bulky seams.  For northern climates, I would suggest a double layer of the ProFusion for the base.
The solid black sleeves were made from a single layer of ProFusion, well-fulled in the front-loading washer, cut in standard sleeve pattern, inserted into the coat and sewn in place.
Needless to say, the Quilt Show arrived before the coat was completed so it was displayed as a project "under construction".  Current cooler weather may doubtless prompt me to make a decision about the lapels and the ultimate completion of the coat.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Don't Cry For Me...

...'cos I've got lots and lots of hankies!  I just love silk hankies.  Such a simple choice for some lovely surface texture, and so easy to use on the ProFusion background wool.  And yes... I'm still cutting my daily quota of ProFusion in order to keep up with my customer response to this great product.  My blister has become a callous, so as long as I can still fit my finger into the scissors, I'll be able to cut pain-free!
We're due for some 100 degree weather, so I'm heading to Colorado for a few days of cooling off.  Orders that come in after Wed. will ship out after we get back on the 13th, so be patient... there's just me doing the work at this end.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


That $800 cutting machine is looking much more affordable as I chop my way through 15,000 meters of ProFusion!!
Such lovely colors, and no time to play with it myself - I feel like a chef with his jaw wired shut!
Those at the Midwest Felting Symposium will get to play with some of the ProFusion in a couple of their classes.  And Susan has some for sale afterwards too.
I'm planning to have a booth at the Houston Int'l. Quilt Show in November, so if anyone is down this way for that, be sure to come by and see Suzanne Morgan and myself.  Lots of lovely wools and silks to drool over... but please bring your own bib!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Educating the great unwashed.

Well... it's almost too much technology at once!
But since my hubby's tech job ended at the end of June, I have now had a full-time "technical assistant" on hand 24/7.  Of course, he's full of suggestions... and this blog is the first of those.  Next came the youtube suggestion, so here is my first attempt at educating the masses. 
For those on the felters' chatlist who expressed concern that felting might have reached its peak, I'd like to suggest that we have only just scratched the surface.  Probably 50% of my weekly customers at are totally new to the world of felting.  So for those of you in the world of teaching classes, I suggest that you don't forget the beginners out there.  I realize there are wonderful techniques and expert projects being offered... and that's great.  But there is a constant stream of "newbies" who are frequently asking for basic felting classes.  They often come from a totally non-fiber background, but have seen a piece of work that spoke to them in such a way that they want to know more.
I sometimes watch these fancy cooking shows and chef challenges, but I wonder if there aren't many out there who would just like a simple show that taught them how to make a nice sauce for a piece of fish, or even just a way to get chicken and a couple of vegetables to the table at the same time, in a way that will appeal to the family.
So let's spread the felting knowledge further abroad so that we don't have to explain what we do to those who would look at us as if we have three heads!

Beginner's Felting Instructions
Part 1

Part 2

Friday, July 16, 2010

Busy Week

Well... orders are packed and out the door... and my pinkie finger has a blister from cutting so many meters of ProFusion over the past few days. 
I've got a lovely piece of silk gauze beckoning, and a tentative project in mind. 

My goal is to learn how to load pictures to this blog without the assistance of my "technical assistant" (read husband here), so hopefully I can post some work in the future.

Looking forward to seeing our newly-married daughter and her husband this weekend... just back from their honeymoon in Greece.  I had made a little light-weight nuno wrap to go over my dress at the wedding, but even after going inside after the outdoor ceremony, it was still too warm to show it off!  Nothing like Texas heat to make you want to wear wool!

Time for a glass of wine, a steak on the barbie and a relaxing evening.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Joining the World of Technology

 Lest I be left behind in this wonderful world of technology, I am tentatively entering the world of blogging.  My adult kids may fall down in amazement and make rude comments about old dogs learning new tricks, but every once in a while I have to suprise them just to remind them I'm still the Queen of "No!" 
It used to be "No, you may not have a can of soda" or "No, you may not stay until past 11.30pm" and "No, I do not think $89 is a reasonable price to pay for tennis shoes.. even if they do have a fancy little check mark on the side!"

Now it has to be "No, you may not show me how easy it is to buy shoes on the internet", or "No, I am quite happy with my old phone.  No, I do not need something smaller that I can't see the numbers, just because it takes photographs, has 159 different ring options, and keeps track of what's going moldy in my refrigerator!"

Ain't it great to be 55 and still able to take care of myself!... with a little technical assistance from my delightful husband... okay.. a LOT of technical assistance.

As the owner of Outback Fibers, life has been great these past 15 years as I've worked to grow my business into a successful little venture that has allowed me the freedom to work from home, handling luscious fibers all day, and helping people discover the wonderful addiction that is felting.
ProFusion Has Arrived!

This week the first shipment of ProFusion arrived.  The quality is great.  This product is one of the most useful items available for creative felting.  I know many fiber artists who have been using pre-felts in their design process and in creating wonderful art and saleable products.

Check it out on the website at and feel free to call me if you have any questions.