Drawing with fibres

I haven’t worked much with prefelt but I recently got some different kinds to try (from Wingham Wool Work) and these are some exercises I’ve been doing with lines and marks using different prefelts and different fibres.

This is Blue-faced Leicester on black Merino prefelt, before and after felting. Some of the fibres were wetted before laying them down, or laid onto wetted prefelt, and these retain more definition, I think.

preparing handmade felt

handmade felt

Update: I realised when I looked again at the notes I made for this next one that I had mixed up the order of the first two – it’s Shetland on the left and BFL next (now corrected).

This is the same prefelt, but exploring different fibres. Each group of three lines shows: untwisted fibres, dry twisted fibres, wet twisted fibres. From left to right the fibre is: Blue-faced Leicester, Shetland Shetland, Blue-faced Leicester, Merino, Teeswater, Massam. I love using Merino for felting but to be more sustainable I would prefer to find a UK alternative, the more local the better, and only use Merino when nothing else will do. Of these fibres the Shetland BFL has a lovely quality of line and is much less ‘hairy’ than the Teeswater and the Massam, almost as smooth as the Merino. The BFL Shetland is somewhere in between.

handmade felt

This is Merino on white Merino prefelt, I do love these lines.

handmade felt

This is Shetland fibre on Norwegian prefelt. It’s a much coarser prefelt but I like it more than I expected.

handmade felt

Here I made the prefelt first myself from Merino fibres (because I wanted the colours), laying out the fibres in random directions and then using a version of the dry rolling method described by Treetops Colour Harmonies in Australia. I used Merino for the lines too, dampened and twisted by rolling a little between my fingers. It’s just a small experiment in drawing with felt. I really enjoy the way the line crinkles as the felt shrinks.

handmade felt

One of the advantages of Merino, apart from softness and sheen, is the huge range of ready dyed colours. Does anyone have a source for dyed Shetland (and BFL!) tops in more than a few colours? And/or any other breeds to try? Bowmont?  I do have some lovely Shetland cross fleece grown here on Tiree, in a couple of natural colours which I’m going to try dyeing myself as well.

Re-weaving: Sakiori inspirations

I had heard this word, Saki-ori, before, but I never quite took in what it is. The Japanese tradition of creating new cloth from old cloth, weaving with thin strips of worn fabric. Akin to rag rugs, but on a fine scale, soft enough for clothing.

When I made these …

weaving

for these

artwork

… I knew I would come back to this, one day. Find out more. Take it further.

A long time ago, I stitched connections between the fabrics I’ve worn and worn out.

textile

Three weeks ago I met a woman who will never buy any clothes again, ever.

Then, I read the year of enough by Joanna of Things[HandMade].

Yesterday, sorting out supplies for a feltmaking day I’m leading next week, I felt drowned in everything I’ve amassed, such quantities that I hardly know what I have.

There’s so much going on in my head right now I think I may fly apart. But I hope that the quiet discipline of cloth will hold the fragments together.

Sakiori is here, here, here, and here. And here, along with many other wonderful stripes and strips.

mmmmm, rust

Saturday morning on the beach yielded a rusty treasure – a pole, the size of an axle, perfect for shibori wrapping. My wonderful husband lugged it home for me – though it’s not far to go, it was quite heavy! I’ve collected a few other little rusty odds and ends on our walks as well.

rusty things

In the new year I’ll try some silk wrapping, but as it’s going to be outside in the salty air anyway and it’s bound to rain quite a bit I’m just leaving it covered in a strip of calico and will see what’s happened in two weeks’ time.

wrapped pole

I had a bug last week, still recovering from it in fact, and so I got behind with work and that left very little time for making. Just a couple of small felt samples, trying to capture some of the colours of the sea and sky, and the winter machair. The top one is nuno felt – merino and silk tops on silk georgette, and the bottom one is merino – it looks the same size but is really just a scrap, much smaller – how hard it is to get a sense of scale on-screen. I actually remembered to measure shrinkage on the nuno sample, which started with a piece of silk 35 x 26 cm and is now 23 x 13cm.

nuno sample

merino sample

judging a book by its cover

I know you shouldn’t but sometimes it’s hard not to – this new book Eco-Colour by India Flint looks so beautiful and the subtitle is so enticing – ‘Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles: Environmentally Sustainable Dyes’. I feel a moment of weakness coming on. India Flint’s web site is delicious as well – beautiful work and a sidebar that takes the phrase ‘navigation metaphor’ to new poetic heights.

It’s been a lean and hungry textile week for me, with a time-consuming project keeping me stuck at the computer, but I did sneak away long enough to make a little piece of nuno felt, on a cotton scrim base. I’m really trying to get that lovely barnacle-like effect on the cloth side – this is a bit more like the nuno felt I’ve seen than my last attempt, so progress in the right direction.

The pastel side:

pastel nuno felt

… and the bright side:

bright nuno felt

I imagine a garment with the delicately coloured textural side outward and the bright soft fleecy side within.

beautiful and useful

Just some things to share that have caught my eye over the last few days…

Ann Wood’s birds (and ships and spiders and horses) are always a delight but something about this arrangement of birds in progress just made me catch my breath this morning.

Which reminds me, if you like arrangements you’ll love this Flickr pool (found via Ana Ventura’s Papéis por todo o lado).

I’m still finding my way around our new camera so I was grateful for a series of tutorials for point and shoot cameras by Ellie Won (Kitchen Wench) (thanks to Magpie Ima for sharing this). I now understand a lot more about white balance and exposure compensation than I did, and I’m looking forward to learning more!

Finally there’s lots of thought-provoking stuff at Greensleeves: Sustainability in the Fiber & Textile Arts by The Worsted Witch. A lot of the things I use for art (Procion dyes, for example) or am tempted to try (like Lutradur) are, I think, derived from petrochemicals. I worry about this. But then, how many air miles does cotton clock up to get to the UK? I really appreciate sites like this that make it easier to get information about environmental and ethical issues for the choices we have to make.