York artist and maker Jilly Lovett embraces the trend for making do and mending, or “upcycling” as it is called these days, with her folk art dolls and accessories made by felting unwanted woolly jumpers.
Jilly loves nothing better than to chuck discarded woollies into the washing machine on a high temperature and take them out several sizes smaller.
When the garments have been dried, pressed and cut up, she transforms the felted wool into hats, mittens and corsages, as well as art dolls shaped as pirates, gipsies and mermaids.
Her work will be on sale at the upcoming Flare contemporary art and craft markets on Sunday at The Tithe Barn, Church Lane, Nether Poppleton, and on November 28 at York Cemetery Chapel, Cemetery Road, York, both running from 11am to 4pm.
“When I started felting it was a bit hit and miss,” says Jill. “Sometimes the sweaters shrank too much, turning into thick little pixie jackets and sometimes they wouldn’t shrink at all and the wool became lank and stringy.
“Time, experience and a lot of washing cycles have improved my guesswork. Pure wool is stretchy yet strong and has a wonderful texture.
“The best wool for felting is merino as, after washing, it usually turns into a fine, easily worked fabric and comes in beautiful colours.
“Cashmere is a bit stretchy and floppy but makes lovely soft doll’s hair and wonderfully snug mittens.”
Jilly sells her work mainly through her online shop, jillylovett.etsy.com, but also at a “lovely quirky little shop”, Cakewalk in Ilkley.
For the third year she is among 30 artists and makers participating in Flare’s Sundays in York.
“This is the highlight of my year,” she says.
“I just love the Flare markets – they pick great venues with a lot of people keen to buy.
“There’s always a fantastic buzz and, as well has having lots of sales, it’s such fun to meet up with other local artists and makers.” Entry and parking are free; homemade refreshments will be served; everyone is welcome.