gathered felt

I only had time for a short felting session this weekend; and, in the first of the samples for my ‘textile piece’ assignment, I started with this digital image:

digital image

This has elements of marbling, ripples distorting the original stripes, creating movement and asymmetry, forming new relationships between the lines.

Influenced by the way shibori captures the stitches into the surface of the fabric visually, even though the thread has been removed and even when the fabric is flat, I thought, what if the effect of stitching into fleece before felting could be captured in a final flat surface?

I laid out 3 gossamer layers of merino – white, then stripes of colour, then a soft pale pinky brown. I intended the top colour just to tone down the layer beneath it but it actually enhanced the surface in a way I didn’t anticipate.

I needled the layers of fleece lightly, just enough to keep them together while I put in the gathering stitches. I have a wonderful little multi-needle tool made by Dianne Stott called the Fabulous Felt-O-Matic which was invaluable for that job; otherwise I’d have wet prefelted the layers as minimally as possible before stitching. This piece started off about 60 x 50cm; shrank to 11 ~ 22cm x 40cm. On a larger scale, it would have to be needled more tightly or wet prefelted before stitching because of the difficulties of handling a very lightly needled fleece in large pieces.

Here’s the stitched and gathered fleece:

gathered fleece

To stitch, I used crewel wool in blending shades, and left it in; I could also try a synthetic yarn that would pull out after prefelting, or else a more dramatic yarn that draws attention to itself. I then went though the normal wetting out, felting and fulling process, and this was what happened.

gathered felt

Held up to the light, you can see the way the gathers form thicker and thinner areas of felt – it would be interesting to try with undyed fleece, to maximise this effect. The whole piece is thin but strong; even where there is more fleece it isn’t bulky, because the layers were so thin to start with. If you run your fingers over it you can just feel slight indentations where the gathers were, but against the light the ghosts of the folds appear.

gathered felt against light

I was very pleased with how the stripes distorted; and interested in the way the top layer moved with the gathers, forming a netted pattern over the surface. I have new ‘what ifs’ now. What if I use wider stripes? What if the top layer contrasts more strongly with the one below. What if I pull up the gathers more tightly, make them closer together, or further apart? What if I start with a grid? What if a larger piece was made up of several smaller pieces, and what if the gathers ran in different directions from one piece to the next? if I want to explore any of my other design ideas before settling on one for the textile piece, I’ll need to keep most of these questions till after the course is finished!

scarves galore

I ws only intending to make one wrap to wear to our nephew’s wedding last weekend, something to go with a particular dress that is cream with pink roses on it. But I’ve ended up with three!

I began as one should, making samples for size and colour, and thought I’d worked out how much fleece and silk to use, but something went awry between the sample stage and the finished item – which is big enough for a small winter neckscarf, but not by any means for a wrap!

samples and scarf

As time was getting short, I decided just to plunge in and try again, no more time for sampling, so I laid out a lot of fleece, silk and fabric, and this is the result.

summer wrap

The size is right and it drapes beautifully, I really like its bright summery feel and could wear it as a wrap – or I may turn it into a skirt or a waistcoat later on. But I thought that it still wasn’t quite what I was after – too much sunshiny yellow and really too much personality for the dress it was supposed to be wrapping. It would have done, but as there were still a couple of days left, I decided to have another go…

This time I did nuno felting in rosy, leafy colours on a base of silk chiffon, and it turned out just how I wanted it! The last pic is me on the day of the wedding with our lovely daughters.

rose nuno wrap

rose nuno wrap detail

wedding photo

I’ll be at the Woolfest all day on Friday and would love to say hi to any bloggers who are there too.

International Day of Felt

October 3rd 2009 will be the first International Day of Felt, organised by Felt United, a non-profit group of felt artists, as 2009 is the United Nation’s Year of  Natural Fibres.

The vision is that felters all over the world will join together to display their felt outside their homes, and the theme will be a slice of the colour wheel, from yellow through red. This sounds so exciting:

“People around the world will be surprised by finding yellow felt on doorsteps, orange felt birds in parks, children wearing red felt vests and husbands carrying bright felt bags to work. There will be felt in museums and felt in markets. There will be felt groups organizing open days and workshops. …felt in trees, on cars on bicycles and on mountaintops.”

Information about Felt United, the International Day of Felt and the call to artists is on the Felt United web site.

felt united screenshot

I bought a rainbow!

coloured fleece

Sorry about the shiny photo – I think it looks so pretty all packaged up I haven’t opened any of the bags yet!

Most of the fleece I’ve used up to now has been space dyed, which is wonderful for subtle colour changes but sometimes there’s only a scrap of a particular colour, and I’m always pulling little tufts out of the middle of the tops to get at the shade I want!

I’ve looked at various mixed packs of fleece recently, thinking they seem like a good way to acquire a bigger colour palette. In time I’m sure certain colours will be worth buying in bigger quantities but for now it’s more important to me to have a little of a lot of colours than large quantities of a few.

However,  I hadn’t seen any packs with a range of colours that really excited me till I discovered the lovely rosiepink crafts. Believe it or not, I ordered these at about 11.30pm last Monday night and they arrived in Tiree on Wednesday all the way from the south coast of England.

The vibrant coloured fabrics at the bottom are some hand-dyed scrim that Annie and Lyn (aka rosiepink) also very kindly sent along with the fleece for me to experiment with, having looked at my blog and some of the things I’ve been trying out recently! Annie and Lyn’s own blog is very interesting with a number of felt-related tutorials and tips as well as examples of their work – well worth a visit.

As if this didn’t feel enough like Christmas, I had an email yesterday from The Book Depository, to say that this book, which I pre-ordered a few weeks ago, has just come into stock – more exciting post to look forward to. I should confess that I found out about the book by squandering my time watching their utterly fascinating (but ultimately expensive) live mashup of who’s buying what books and where. So much more fun than “Customers who bought the items in your Shopping Basket also bought…”…

felted fabric and Mr Bear

When I was playing with nuno felting using sari ribbon (see the previous post), I thought about doing some similar things with different types of fabrics. This is a bigger piece of felt using some strips of tray-dyed muslin (blogged here).

nuno felt

nuno felt detail

When I started this piece my plan was to make a piece of fabric and use part of it to cover a dining chair seat but I’m not sure now, I quite like it as a whole. Though I would have paid a bit more attention to the edges if I hadn’t been intending to cut them off! Perhaps I’ll hang it up for a while and then cut it up. It’s 53 x 73 cm (shrunk from 75 x 95cm).

If you hang felt, how do you hang it? if you don’t want to frame it? I don’t think I’ve come across anything written down about that and would be interested to know what methods people use.

On another note, I was thrilled to learn a week or two back that I’d won a giveaway on Caroline Inckle’s blog The house of secret superheroes and could choose any print from her Etsy shop – a difficult decision as they are all so lovely, but in the end this is the one I chose…

meeting mr bear

It’s ‘Meeting Mr Bear’, which is one of a set I’ve loved since I first saw them on Caroline’s old blog. The image says something very special and magical to me about God, about love and prayer and discovery and trust. I know that’s a very idiosyncratic interpretation of the work, but this image touches my spirit and it’s such a joy to me to have the print. Thank you, Caroline.