Something For Nothing

We are very lucky to live in an age where we have easy access to information.  I remember a time when we didn’t and the only way to learn anything was to buy a book, take a class, watch a programme, or ask someone you know, or you could try and figure it out yourself.  I was lucky to be well looked after by my grandmothers who taught me how to knit, crochet, sew, and I learned to cook by watching them.  In the 80’s I took a knitting class as the only thing I could knit was squares or a long rectangle.  I now know how to read and make a pattern.  I learned how to make soft furnishings from books.  This was before the internet.

You can learn anything you want.  Google and YouTube are your two best friends these days.  If I want to know anything, I Google it.  If I want to see how something is done, I look on YouTube.  There are many people out there that want to tell you how to do something or how they do something.  It won’t always be great or right but you can get lucky.  I am very grateful to people out in the world willing to share.  I always say you can learn how to do anything except dance Argentine Tango.  Seriously, you cannot learn how to do it just by watching.  Moving on.

The thing about all this free information is that there is a lot to sift through.  One needs to learn how to sift through so much that it can be difficult to know what is good or not.  When one is starting out on a journey, one will have limited information.  This is why it is important to start with basics.  People always want to run before they can walk.  I will be the first to hold my hand up to this.  I do jump in sometimes and work on the suck it and see premise.  It is called experimenting.  We learn from mistakes.  However, some people do not want to learn from mistakes.   They want people to tell them everything.  This is why I love books and online classes, but you need to pay for those.

I have a lot of books.  I also have a lot of felting books.  In most every felting book, there is information about wool and how to make a flat felt.  There might even be some projects.  I have a page on my blog of my books.  Some are better than others and I have made notations on those.   There is a lot of free information on how to make flat felt.  Watch and read them all and then work out what you like or don’t like about them.  Feltmaking has evolved since the books I own were published, but the basics are pretty much the same.  This is why blogs are great to read as there is a lot of current information out there.  How do you learn what is good felt or not?  Well, I think that takes a bit of practice, but you also need to look at the final product of your own work or those of others.  Honest feedback of your own work is useful also.  People will post their work on a Facebook group and so many people will say how wonderful it is when the work may not be wonderful or felted enough.  That is not helpful.  Then the poor person who suggests otherwise comes off as being mean.  Not every make is a masterpiece as one of my artist friends told me.  

Now that we are living in very strange times and living more isolated lives, the internet is a lifeline for many.  With many people unemployed (me) and having a lot of time on our hands (me), we can either go into a blind panic or try and make the best of things.  I have been like a mad person keeping myself busy with feltmaking.  Although I have slowed down a bit, my focus was to either take a class to learn something new or just perfect and use what I already know.  Reading books and looking on the internet is great for inspiration.  Looking at something and making it your own is not copying.  I looked at countless images of felted snowmen to come up with a design for this little guy.  I never saw one felted like this.   They were all 3D or 2D.  I call this 2.5D.  I used an adaptation from something I learned in a book and is why I have no process photos.  I am not going to forget how I made it.

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I am of an age where there weren’t many distractions in our every day lives.  People just got on with things.  If you said you were bored, your parents would tell you to play outside, read a book, or use your imagination.  (I have said that to my kids many times.)  You asked for help only when you couldn’t figure it out yourself.  I think this made people very creative.  I only ask questions if I don’t know the topic or if I can’t find the information or can’t figure it out myself.  I ask as a last resort.  It isn’t about not being able to accept help, it is more of wanting to figure out how to do things myself.  It might seem a bit of a cheat using the internet, but I am using what is available, so that is smart in my opinion.  If I can’t find it in cyberspace then I will ask.  What I have experienced is people pointing me in directions because they thought I might be interested and I am grateful for that.  I will do the same as I do really like to be helpful.

I am a member of a few groups on Facebook, not just felting ones.  There always seems to be the same questions that are asked over and over.  If those people did a search in the group, they would most likely have the answer to their question and wouldn’t need to post.  Really, how many places can one buy wool in the UK for example?  I know that sometimes I am intolerant, but to me that just seems lazy if you don’t do your research first.  It isn’t just novices.  There are people out there that want you to explain a whole process to them, for nothing.  Even when you tell them where you took a class, they want you to add a link.  Seriously?  You can’t google that?  That type of thing irks me.  I might add a link when writing on my blog, but not always on Facebook as I assume that there are a bunch of intelligent people there who can work things out or if I am posting from my phone.  Some groups also don’t like you to post or share links.  If I bring this up it is because I am a bit fed up with some responses I have read on a post when a question about how something was made was not answered.  Does that really need to be explained?  People do not share information for many reasons.  People don’t have to share information.  They may share their work, but they don’t have to tell you how they made it – and if they don’t tell you, I find it really rude when others criticise them for that.   I belong to two botanical printing groups.  In one group they state that no one is required to share information or techniques and they have a day when questions are allowed.  In the other group, it is required information when posting, but you don’t need to get technical.  If you don’t want to share info, you won’t belong to the second group.  Some people make a living from what they know.

I don’t make a living from what I know, unless I am in paid employment.  I don’t always share information if I had to figure out something myself or if the info is already out there.  I guess that if I can figure it out, then others can too.  I do realise that is a big assumption, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt.  Even if I gave information about something I made, there will inevitably be someone who really hasn’t read my post and asks.  I just have to ignore them.  I don’t think that is unkind or mean, it just means that you need to read before you ask because I don’t feel I need to repeat myself if it is already in writing and I am not very impressed that you are not interested to do so.  Some people also expect information without even complimenting you on your work.  I ignore them too.  If you can’t say anything positive, why would you expect someone to give you information?  It just makes sense to me.

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I’ve just made six of these small wet felted Christmas stocking ornaments.  They are presents for family members.  This is the first time I have ever made these and I am really happy with how they turned out.  I used 23 and 19 mic merino.  The leaves are commercially prepared felt as I don’t have the right shades of green wool to make felt.  I used a sharpie to paint the wooden beads as I really didn’t fancy making really small felted balls.  How did I make it?  I looked at pictures online and worked it out even though there are videos on YouTube.  I even googled holly leaves and learned that not all the leaves have spikes.  I already know how to felt and make slippers.  I just made a template and wet felted how I would normally make a 3D item.  I had no specific size in mind for the template and had no finished size in mind.  These ended up being 5×7 inches and are really well felted, so they should last a long time.  You can even hide something small in them.  That’s it!

6 thoughts on “Something For Nothing

  1. I hear you 🤗 it is nice to share ideas and I for one say thanks for taking the time to do so ☺️ love your snowman and I’m sure he will last forever too 🥰 the stocking is super there is lots that can be done with it and you sparked my brain and felting fingers to make some as cards for family thank you again . Love the challenge felting gives me and the magic that happens in the process even the times when you have a what the heck is this ?? Lol all the best to you and be safe Off the grid felt . Canada B.C.

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    1. Thank you Linda. I like to share as much as I can as a thank you to others who share. What would we do without the internet, eh! 🙂

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  2. Firstly I love your wee Christmas stocking. I have a Christmas stocking on my YOP list this year, so will be making one myself. Regarding the rest of your post I have mixed thoughts. I’m not a member of any felting groups on Facebook but I am in a lot of weaving groups and I guess they’d be similar. Personally I am happy to share any information about how I do things which is why my blog has posts on how I make my fairies and how I make my lampshades. I sell them in a local gallery and not online so there’s no competitive reason not to share the information and help others who may like to have a go make their own. I know you’ve taken lots of classes but I have only done one class and the rest of my time is spent winging it/making it up as I go along. I have learned to spin and weave via YouTube and I’m grateful to people who are willing to share their information such as what weight cotton yarn they used on their tea towels or what sized Reed they used. I also love when people share their love of a particular supplier, when people give any tips or tricks they’ve learned along the way. I already worry that posting things on my blog or Facebook strikes a little of ‘look how clever I am’ and so to combat this feeling I try to help others know that things aren’t really that difficult and it can be done. I would never comment on someone’s post that something isn’t felted enough. It really depends on what the purpose of the item is to be and what texture I want to have on an object.

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    1. Thank you for the compliment. I had fun making these stockings. I may have to make some more. As for the rest, I am also grateful for all of the information out in the WWW. I wouldn’t be working with wool or painting if that info wasn’t out there. However, there does seem to be a sense of entitlement from people in the world today though that I really didn’t encounter in my younger days and perhaps that irks me a bit. I am happy to share what I can, even if it is a link to a class I’ve taken, but I don’t feel I need to share everything. I already share a lot. I don’t think that you or anyone else that posts something smacks of trying to look clever. We should share our achievements and be proud of what we make. It might inspire someone to have a go. If you are selling your items, then that is just a form of marketing. There are many people that teach who won’t share unless you pay, and that is ok too. We are brought up to be kind and share your toys, which is great. But there are some things we don’t want to share. I have had conversations with my children when they were small about sharing, but if there was something special, it had to be put away when friends came over. Sharing is a gift, not a right.

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