Friday, 19 May 2017

Needlefelting Wool and Silk Mermaids

I have been gambling on a frost free May this year. My most advanced young plants are already braving the weather out in the dye garden and another load of seedlings are hardening off on the patio. This week we have had plenty of rain after a very dry spell, so next week should be perfect for gardening. Poised on the brink of summer.

"Fancy going down the beach for a swim, Elinor?"
My companion gathered her shawl around her shoulders.
"You want to die of hypothermia? My core temperature is dangerously low as it is. Five minutes of sunshine and you've turned off the central heating, packed away your long underwear and planted out the geraniums. Far too soon, Beaut."
Just to get her blood circulating, we walked the dog on the dunes, coming home with a few gnarly lumps of driftwood.
"Himself will have a fit if you try to hide those in the garage. He's just reorganised all his bike stuff, I think he even had the hoover out there."
"Have no fear, Elinor, these are going straight up to the craft room. This week, I shall be mostly making mermaids."

The idea of modifying basic wool fairy making into a mermaid shape had occurred to me before, though I hadn't worked out all the details. I started with the usual strip of white merino tops, tied with a thread at the centre. Rather than twisting a pipe cleaner round the felted ball of wool that forms the core of the head, I used a 20 gauge green florists wire, which is strong, but flexible enough to bend easily. Twirling a thin length of white roving to cover the pipecleaner arms, I had to go back and add an extra layer, since the mermaid wouldn't be wearing a dress and her bare arms looked weedy. The white merino was then folded in half over the head and tied at the neck with another thread.
Thinking the nude shoulders and torso might look scrawny, I added a shorter, second layer of white wool with a hole pushed through, to drop over the head in place of the usual dress. For the tail, a section of merino/silk blend in blues and purples was laid flat with a strong thread across it two thirds of the way up.

The top third of the coloured wool was folded over the thread and the mermaid placed face down with the thread at waist level. Tying the thread firmly at the small of her back brought the coloured tops round her circumference and allowed me to stretch and fluff the lower coloured fibres in towards the midline ready to start needlefelting her tail.
Despite intensive stabbing at her torso with the needle to compress the fibres tightly, this mermaid ended up with a fine pair of shoulders.
"Not much in the way of tits, though, Beaut. How's a girl supposed to lure sailors onto the rocks if you don't give her the right equipment?"

"Beauty comes in many forms. She'd be very successful modelling a Spring Collection in Paris."
"Not with no legs, she wouldn't."

Agreeing that the androgenous look might be better suited to the catwalk, my next mermaid was given no extra layer over her shoulders. Instead, a strip of white tops was knotted round the florist wire then flipped up and wound around the upper arms to add substance where it was needed.

Making the tail narrow down before flaring into fins also proved a challenge. Tying it with silk or ribbon spoiled the sleek shape. Twisting the entire bulk of fibre, then needlefelting into the spiral gave a better effect. The lowest section was easy to open out and divide into two fins which could be needlefelted flat.
This mermaid also got a padded bikini top, needlefelted separately before fitting it onto her chest. Sewing a bead into her cleavage cinched the centre down for a considerably more buxom result.
Once long ringlets of Black Wensleydale wool locks had been needlefelted onto her head, the first mermaid's torso was mostly concealed. Drilling two holes through a piece of driftwood, the florists wire was passed through and twisted firmly to fix her in a sitting position, followed by some glue to keep her hand and tail and a few decorations in place. 
"Doesn't look very chirpy, does she?"
"She is a pensive mermaid, Elinor. Fathoms deep in thought."
"Probably wondering where her boobs are."

The other mermaid cheerfully adopted a more confident pose.

Since it had started raining again, Elinor left me to walk the dog while she offered her personal assistance with a smidge of extra wool for one of the new arrivals.
"There we are then, feeling better now? Buck up, girl, accentuate the positive."

Then the mermaids began to sing and within moments, Elinor was fast asleep.


  1. Such a nice entertaining read , made my 2 dollar purchase of this blog app totally worth it!

  2. I don't want to rain on her parade - but you shouldn't throw stones when sitting in the glass house.....and with a gorgeous tail at the other end maybe there's no need for boobs?:) I think Elinor is just jealous of all that lovely curly hair....

  3. oooo ... you might be right, but I wouldn't dare suggest it. Elinor is blessed with immense self confidence, if she looks in the mirror, it is only to say 'Mmm, gorgeous me.' Even so, she is a little sensitive about the softness of her fleece. Good job she has always been grey.

  4. I've often thought mermaids shouldn't have breasts anyway - if they're half fish they're certainly not mammals...

    1. Imagine mermaid eggs - perhaps like frogspawn, then tadpole merfish metamorphosing. I just watched a deeply interesting documentary on BBC iplayer called Metamorphosis: The Science of Change. One point was that tadpoles make individual choices about how quickly to become frogs. Highly recommended viewing.

  5. I love these mermaids Fran. For me, a mermaid is all woman from the waist up, boobs 'n all, how else could she allure sailors to a watery grave.