The Raven costume from the book Glamourie by Alice Starmore
Shape-Shifting Felting

I mentioned in my introduction to Glamourie that feathers I made for the Raven costume hood, with one small change and felting, became the tentacles of the Sea Anemone. You will find the directions for three sizes of these feathers in the Raven poncho and cardigan collars. The change I made for the felted tentacles was simply that I used the firmer Long Tail Cast-on, and I worked all the rows in Stocking Stitch. I also knitted the feather/tentacles in two shades of red so that they would be brighter at the tips. I felted them by rolling them like a sausage until they stood up by themselves. Now look at the “starfish” she has caught in her net. It is composed of several feather/tentacles roll-felted and then immediately opened out to reveal the inside and make them more starfish shaped. They are held together at the centre with a large embroidered shell and you will find the instructions for that in the embroidery section.

The Sea Anemone costume from the book Glamourie by Alice Starmore
Starfish from the book Glamourie by Alice Starmore

The blueprint instructions for the Lapwing’s pleated tail can be found in the cuff and neck surfles of the Sea Anemone design. The only difference is that I used Hebridean 3 Ply for the tail and I started out with 65 stitches. I did not felt the surfles but they are wet-finished and folded in the same manner as the felted tail.

Now all you need is an oddment of 2 or 3 Ply. Make a couple of repeats of either the neck or the longer cuff surfle. Once you do this you will get the whole idea of the construction. Then you can make them any length you please. Alter the “flare” by working more or less short rows. Alter the full width by working more rows over the total stitches. Alter the curve by increasing/decreasing more or less.

Now look again at the Sea Anemone costume and note the skirt part of the dress. You will see that it is essentially the same thing except on a much larger scale and unpleated. Here I used short rows within the piece so that it followed the body contours exactly, being wider around the hips and thighs and narrowing gradually to the knees and lower legs before flaring out and curving around the base.

 

The Lapwing costume by Alice Starmore from the book Glamourie
Sea Anemone Design from the book Glamourie by Alice Starmore
The Sea Anemone costume from the book Glamourie by Alice Starmore

The otter’s spats were also done this way, and in order to get it right I actually wore the shoe whilst knitting to make sure that I got the correct flare and shaping around it, and also that I got the little strap that goes under the instep in exactly the right place. The stitches for the patterned tops were knitted up along the top edge afterwards.

The main body of the Eagle wraps are based on the same idea but I changed the shape at the lower edges to make them angular and look like feather tips.

Eagle short wrap design from Glamourie by Alice Starmore
The Otter costume by Jade Starmore from the book Glamourie
The Otter costume by Jade Starmore from the book Glamourie
The Caileach's needlecase, a hand knitted and felted creation by Alice Starmore

The blueprint instructions for the Cailleach’s needlecase are to be found in the feathers for the Raven poncho and cardigan. I used the same Hebridean 2 Ply and simply added more stitches and worked more rows. You have the instructions for three sizes of feathers. Make the large one and you will very quickly get the idea of the construction. To make the case exactly as I did, use the Long Tail Cast-on with 133 stitches (you will have 65 stitches at each end on the first row which you will work entirely in knit stitches) and work 16 rows of Stocking Stitch, i.e. until you have 49 stitches left at each side. I cast on and worked the first 2 rows in Clover then changed to Sea Anemone. Once knitted, I felted it flat by placing the hot soapy piece on a bamboo mat and rolling it vigorously, and alternating between rolling it widthways and lengthways until I was happy with the result. I sewed it up the outer edges and accentuated the “curl” at the base whilst it was still quite wet and then helped the rounded shape along with my fingers before leaving it to dry before adding the decorations.

You can make the case with a small amount of left-over yarn so don’t be afraid to give it a try. The whole thing with petals, leaves, stems and the little cord (see the small Eagle wrap for directions for the cord) weighs only 11 grams.

You can make a bigger one by adding more stitches and rows: double the 2 Ply or use 3 Ply. Use any colours and decorate any way you please with felted flowers, feathers, beads and/or embroidery. The sky is the limit. I am busy making some more now; it is very addictive.

The Mountain Hare's orb bounces! And it almost disappeared down the mountain during the photoshoot. Inside is a tennis ball.

I knitted a big button shape in the round and once I reached the halfway stage I placed the ball inside and then decreased the knitting to enclose the ball entirely. The knitted cover was just a tad larger than the ball to give it space to shrink to fit. Then I felted it just as I did with the buttons and beads but I made sure to stop at a point where I could get the embroidery needle to go through it relatively easily. I left it for three days to dry out completely before embroidering it.

Now you should have fun looking around for other objects for which you can make felted covers. Well-shaped bottles and jars are great candidates and I will be showing some of my takes eventually. Just remember that you will be plunging the item into very hot water and working it with your hands so bear that in mind and be careful that you do not use anything that will break easily and cut you.

The Mountain Hare costume by Alice Starmore from the book Glamourie