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Felted Fruit

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We spent Thanksgiving at my mom and stepdad’s house last Thursday like we do every year. They live on a farm in southern Wisconsin atop a hill that offers beautiful vistas of farmland and layers of rolling hills. My big extended family all gathers together to eat and laugh and talk (and eat some more) and I always consider that traditional Thanksgiving to be one of the happiest days of the year.

This year, instead of heading right home after Thanksgiving Day, my immediate family and I stayed an extra day so that I could go to a Felted Fruit and Flowers class taught by my girl, Kriss Marion, at a local yarn shop (LYS). Kriss and her family transplanted from Chicago to buy and run a farm in southern Wisconsin where they actually farm (they’re a CSA, to boot!), raise animals, and Kriss teaches classes on wooly passions like felting and spinning. (You can read more about this industrious family here.)

I love taking art classes because it’s a deliberate way to focus on art and push back the nagging buzz of everyday life. An art class offers uninterupted studio time, art-expanding skills, and the inspiring environment of working with like-minded artisans. It’s a perfect way to spend a (non-garage sale season) Saturday morning. And while deliciously indulgent, I never regret it.

This particular class focused on making needle-felted fruit and flowers. (Needle-felting is a process of condensing loose wool fibers, called roving, by felting the fibers together with a barbed needle. Up-down-up-down a microscopically barbed needle meshes and tangle the fibers together until they mat into a dense, felted textile.) Starting with wisps of dyed wool, we formed flower petals and leaves and fruit (what more could I want?!) by combining colors and manipulating shapes. It was divine.

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I made a few flat felted flowers, but my favorite project of the morning was a trio of pluots.* Starting with a felted core, I needle-felted peach and purple roving into a peachy shape, then added a highlight of golden orange. I sewed on a dainty velvet stem and added some dyed silk seam binding for a jaunty leaf, and there it was: a convincing pluot. Yes! That simple little felted pluot (and the other two that followed) pretty much made my November. I had a great Thanksgiving break.

* Now do not think, dear reader, that I woke up that sunny morn setting out to felt a family of pluots. (Who would awake up with such an idea?) No. Rather, I decided in my Felted Fruit and Flowers class that it was time to felt a realistic-looking fruit. And surveying the colored roving table I found a delightful peachypurple wool that reminded me of a pluot: that plum-apricot mongrel, which my nephew once said was, “tasty.”)