Lucy Chapman, owner of Rosy Toes Designs, has always been a knitter. It is possible that when I called her up to chat about her expanding business, as she is a long-time friend of Darn Good Yarn, that I interrupted a knitting project. I don't think she minded, though. I was happy to hear all about her love of working with felted wool, her experiments with new fibers, and the way she carefully sources all of her materials.
Lucy has a wide variety of gorgeous and functional fiber art on her website, rosytoesdesigns.com, and a large amount of those pieces are made of felted wool. In case you don't know, "felted" wool, sometimes called "boiled" wool, is when you knit or crochet a piece much larger that you want the end result to be, and basically shrink it on purpose using boiling or hot water, in a pot or in the washing machine. Have you ever accidentally shrunk your favorite wool sweater? You actually felted it. This process only works with a fiber that is at least 80-85% wool. Felting wool (llama and alpaca wool works too!) creates a dense and very strong fabric, and you can't even see the knitted or crocheted stitches used to make the piece! When Lucy first started, the only fiber she worked with was wool. She had an Etsy shop called "Seasons of Wool" filled with felted items. When she started "Rosy Toes Designs" she started really branching out into different fibers, but she still loves the felting process. "I like how the fiber changes when you felt it, the tactile nature of the piece, that no matter how much you plan it's different every time," she tells me. Lately, she's been working on combining Silk Cloud with the wool in felted pieces. Silk doesn't shrink the way wool does, but it gives an interesting look and texture to the finished product you can't get with wool alone.
Lucy is very particular about the materials she uses in her work. She brings both her compassionate and artistic sides to the process. She first found Darn Good Yarn just doing a simple internet search for recycled sari silk yarn, she really liked the product and the service, and it only grew from there. We even started carrying some of her gorgeous work - and we still have a few of her knitted lace infinity shawls made of Cloud Silk on the site! You can get one here.
"I like the message, I like what Nicole does," she reflects. "Purchasing yarn through Darn Good Yarn makes me feel good!" Darn Good Yarn isn't the only company that has a feel-good message along with great products that Lucy frequents. She gets her Alpaca wool locally through a farm near her home. She get a lot of her wool from a company called O-Wool, which concentrates on providing cruelty-free organic wool, along with spinning and making the yarn into skeins right here in the US. The fabric she uses to line her bags and purses comes from many different sources. She raids Goodwill for fun fabrics, uses upholstery remnants, vintage fabrics, and is always on the lookout for small-run, limited edition fabrics and patterns. She really shows how a "reduce, re-use, recycle" mentality can work to make beautiful and quality fiber art!
Lucy's most recent new craft is needle-felting - the use of special needles with tiny barbs to create designs with wool roving onto wool fabric. "I really liked how it was almost like painting with the fiber," she remarked. "I'm a self-taught artist from beginning to end, and I always like learning new things!" Needle felting is especially useful because if you don't like a design, you can just pull your work out and start over! Lucy told me that she "...tried both sewing and embroidery worked onto the wool, but I couldn't achieve the detail that I wanted." Needle-felting has added a whole new artistic dimension to her work.
Right now, we can all reap the benefit of Lucy's constant creativity - her current "In Stock" items on her website are on sale so she can make room for new work! Make sure to visit her page here and get 35% off her delightful merchandise.
Thanks so much to Lucy for chatting with me, and best of luck on all your new work!