The online courses that are inspiring my felt art

Have you ever thought about taking an online course but not dared press the yes button ?
This was me.  Now I am a convert to the amazing things you can learn via on line courses :  in your own home.

Online sewing skills courses

My first foray into online courses was a craftsy course into modern sewing skills.  As my sewing skills are rooted in my mothers lessons 50 years ago , I had a lot to learn.

  • The importance of the accuracy of cutting out
  • How to use sewing weights
  • Never using tacking again. !
  • The relevance of hand positions when using a sewing machine.

I have still away to go before I can  apply to the Sewing Bee but I really feel more confident with my machine.

I followed this course with a stitch and rip course by Carol Waugh.   What fun. Her textile work is so vibrant.


Online Drawing for textile course

I began to be more adventurous after this and look for courses more related to my felt art.

Dionne Swift makes machine stitched textile work inspired by Yorkshire .

I do like the way Dionne machine stitches. Racing away.  Using miles of thread.  I considered long and hard before taking the plunge to follow her drawing for textiles course.
Why did I wait so long ?.   Dionne’s delivery and refreshing outlook was really inspirational. The drawing exercises were fun : real fun . It was great to have a private Fb group and share the progress week by week.
Not a long course but a real hands on fun course that’s make you forget your drawing inhibitions and that left me with a little book of golden drawing nuggets.

Online Blogging course

Sticky blogging !! I did not really think much about taking this course. It was a whim. I loved the title and I did a free taster session on the importance of blog headlines.

I had wondered for a long time how to get someone other than my mother and hairdresser to read my blog.

Well now I know

I learnt a ton of useful stuff blogging stuff .

  • Like good grammar ( not I am not joking ) and how to get it checked.
  • SEO
  • The importance of the title and the first sentence.
  • Stock photos
  • Less blogs of higher quality

Kelly is so lively and interesting. Always unexpectedly appearing on the private Fb group to answer questions . The other participants were also so helpful. The outcome of this course has been a small change in style of my blog and maybe a slow increase in my number of true fans.

Online creative strength training course

I have a number of friends who have taken a course run by Jane Dunnewold called Creative Strength training.

This is a serious course about reconnecting with your inner self as a means of focusing on your art.

It’s about clearing away the barricades that prevent us all getting time for art .

To just start making !

One of the techniques it uses is to write things down . I found it interesting to do this without wondering what the outcome will be.  It has made me consider some of the techniques I use and I now have a process rationalization plan as well as a plan for a new series of work in 2017.
I would have no hesitation in recommending this course to anyone who wants to think their way forward  with their art work.

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So that’s it :  My short collection of fantastic online courses.  I’d love to hear from you with some more ideas.

How I forage for beautiful natural dye materials

The collection of natural dye materials moves with the seasons.  You must harvest fruit when it is are ripe and flowers as they bloom.

Harvesting opportunities arise quickly and are short-lived.  It is not always possible for me and maybe for you to dye straight away.  So I store the dye material away ready for a dyeing day.

I have been collecting for quite a while !  In fact I can’t really stop myself when the opportunity presents itself.


I make it a rule  only to harvest any natural dye plant material if there is an abundance of the plants , flowers or berries. If I can only find one if two plants , I just walk away.

Harvesting lichens for natural dyeing

Last week in the UK the weather was windy and wet.   This week was cold and dry.  As I walked in the woods on Tuesday and there was more lichen on the ground than I have ever seen before.   Blown down from the trees in the previous weeks gales and rains.   I was overwhelmed by the quantity and variety of lichens I could collect.    It was simply a case of being in the right place at the right time.
I managed to collect some evernia prunastri or oak moss.  This will give a beautiful lilac dye if soaked in an ammonia solution.


Old mans beard or usnea.  This has antibiotic and anti fungal uses and as a dye gives beige and rusty oranges.










At the bottom is some Lobaria Pulmonaria – Lungwort.  This was once used to treat chest infections.  It can be used to dye wool orange.

All these lichens can be dried and used as natural dye material later.

Alder cones as a natural dye material

Alder cones are another very easy natural dye material to collect while out walking. I regularly come back from a walk with a pocket full of cones. I love them , they are so small and perfect. Like tinny pine cones.


Three years ago I would just have walked past them not realizing the lovely tawny brown colours, they give as a dye.

Finding sloes to use as natural dyes.

Early spring this year I went walking around the local fields checking out the blackthorn bushes in the hedges.
I was thinking ahead to when in September the fruit , sloes, would be ripe . The bushes are obvious in the early spring  as they bloom before there leaves come out.

blackthorn blossom

Come the Autumn the sloes are very well hidden. As a result of my research I know which hedges to search in and I now have quite of few bags of juicy sloes my freezer . It is now just a question which wins the gin or the natural dye pot.

There are many more plants and leaves you can easily harvest during the year as natural dyes. Many of them you can dry if you are not able to use them immediately.

All free. 

The winter is quite a lean time for collecting so it time to get out my dye pots and start dyeing.  I will post my dye results here shortly.


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If you want to find more out about natural dye materials I suggest reading Wild Colours by Jenny Dean , or reading her website.