I made this little sample quickly yesterday and can’t wait to explore this further. I warped a tiny frame loom with some very rough hemp, and wove it with alternate picks of torn fabric and thick and thin Colinette yarn. Then I threw it in the washing machine with a load of washing.
When it came out I thought it looked quite interesting, with some parts firmly felted and some holes, especially where the yarn was thin. I hadn’t planned to remove the warp as well but once the idea occurred to me it became an irresistible ‘what if’, so I snipped the knots and pulled out the hemp. I wondered if the wool would hold the weft together and the answer is yes. I like the way it’s solid in places and fragile in others, just like memory. I also like the texture and structure of it, and the way the effect of the warp persists.
I’m going to have a play with handspun and unspun wool, and different kinds of fabric, and different warps, felting by hand, to see what emerges. I imagine a series of pieces, ragged yet strong, To do with prayer and memory and being made new. I am thinking about habits and quotidien rhythms and the structure of praying the hours, and how our outworn clothes embody our history and memory, about what we keep and what we waste, and about connections and inclusion and mixing things up. All sorts of things.
This week I spent two days with the Tiree branch of the SWRI (Scottish Women’s Rural Institutes), learning. They were learning how to make felt, and I was learning to teach. I enjoyed it, mostly, and I gather they did too. The most difficult bits were the first few moments when all eyes were on me, waiting… and the frustrating limitations of my felting experience when it came to solving some of the challenges they encountered. I hasten to add that I had explained when they asked me to do this that I’m not very many steps ahead of a total beginner on the felting journey myself, and that I hadn’t run a workshop before, so they knew we were all learning together (and I wasn’t charging them for my mistakes!).
The first day we made flat felt pieces, and felt balls, and the next day they wanted to try 3D felting round a resist – quite a challenge for your second-ever piece of felt, I thought, but they were all up for it, including one brave soul who hadn’t even been there the first day.
My longsuffering husband came along a few times to take photos. (He also heroically cleared our entire laundry backlog while I was out – it’s been excellent drying weather here). In the bustle of clearing up at the end I forgot to take pictures of the 3D pieces, and I also forgot to ask permission to post personal images online, so I will just show you the wonderful variety of felt pieces they made on day one.
We all worked very hard and had a lot of fun. Now we’re planning to have a regular feltmaking get-together on the island, maybe once a month.
I always enjoy the way a current preoccupation takes on a life of its own and starts appearing all over the place, a bit like when you learn a new word and then it crops up in everything you read. Was it there all along and you just start noticing because you’re now paying attention? Or maybe it’s a kind of grace that delights in seeking out connections and charging them with significance.
In the last few days I’ve been finding some lovely insights and inspirations around combining strips of cloth with wool, especially from Jill at Centering with Fiber, and this wonderful woven fleece by Elizabeth Armstrong (Studiofelter).
This weekend I made some felt samples for our workshop tomorrow: including a piece to show add-ins of various kinds, some 3D felt using a template resist, and some samples using different types of pre-felts.
And this little bit is just for me, an experiment with torn strips of silk chiffon, caught between thin strips of drafted fibre and felted. Very fiddly!
But what if I wove something like this before felting, instead of laying the fibres out? I would need to put a little twist in the drafted wool, to stop it drifting apart; I wonder what difference that would make to how it looks and feels and behaves.
I’ll leave you with some netted inspiration from a walk along the beach,
and some plastic made beautiful by the sea.
I needed a blogging break after finishing my course but it grew rather longer than I intended. If anyone is still here reading, this is what I’ve been doing since then.
In July, I was given a couple of Tiree fleeces, a Jacob and a Suffolk, by a very kind crofter friend, and spent some time learning how to turn this
and then to this.
August brought visitors and walks by the sea.
In September, we sadly said goodbye to Tansy, our darling companion of almost 17 years – this photo was taken in the spring. She loved to run on the beach and the machair right up to the week she died. I miss her so much.
In October I collected blues, yellows and greens together and made some little pieces of felt for the International Day of Felt. But I didn’t get myself organised in time to get other people involved as well – I will next year, I hope, when the colours will be Red-Purple-Blue.
While all my flat surfaces were filled up with blues and yellows and greens…
I spun some of it too.
In fact, I’ve been spinning a lot in the last few months. I’ve woven scarves with some of these yarns now, but the basket keeps filling up again.
I think my birthday visit to the mainland deserves a post of its own, for another day. I don’t quite know how this blog will evolve without the focus of the OCA course. Mostly textiles still, of course, but maybe a bit more of life as well. I’ve tried keeping a separate blog for ‘other stuff’ but since it’s a challenge to keep one blog alive, let alone two, a more eclectic mix may be the way to go from now on.
From the painted silk…
To the fleece laid out on the reverse…
through several hours of rolling, rubbing and throwing, to the front of a cushion-to-be.
Now I’ve just got to find all the work I’ve done for this assignment, and get it sent off to my tutor. Weaving next!