the latest felting adventures

A series of before and after pics from a felting session last week…

The first two pieces, focusing on working with colour, are flat felt in merino with a little silk floss on the surface. The first is more about the colours outside my window; the second, the colours inside my head.

outside colours
before
outside colours felt
after
inside colours
before
inside colours felt
after

The next sample is nuno felt using sari ribbon with a cobwebby layer of fleece, in this one the top layer is the ‘back’.

sari ribbon nuno felt
before
sari ribbon nuno felt
after

I really like the scribbly texture where the frayed edges of the ribbon are felted in, it looks almost like machine embroidery.

sari ribbon nuno felt
detail

The next experiment was to follow up a thought I’d had when making this scarf, ‘what if I felt a cord tied with sari ribbon?’

felt cord before
before
felt cord
after

Finally, I made a nuno felt ‘sandwich’ of two layers of thinly laid fleece trapping a layer of fabric scraps between. Sorry about the blurry ‘before’ image!

trapped fabric before
before
trapped  fabric nuno felt
after

The next colour pieces I do are going to be bigger! I want to make some seat covers for a set of dining chairs we have that are in rags. I’m going to try the felted cord again, with a variety of ribbons and yarns; and the nuno pieces are quite soft and stretchy and would need to be stronger for actual use – more experiments definitely needed there!

I’ve applied to end the deferment of my OCA Textiles 1 course at the beginning of March – exciting and a bit daunting as I’ve got so out of the habit. I’ve already ascertained that I can focus on nuno felt and shibori for the fabric manipulation module I’ll be going back to, so I can continue to build on what I’ve been doing recently.

I had some other bits of news but I think I’ll save them for another post as this one seems to have grown very long already. 🙂

the story of a scarf

I set out to make a scarf. An easy one – big needles, a ball of fancy fluffy yarn and a simple triangular scarf pattern from the web, where you just increase one stitch at the beginning of each row.

As it grew, I realised I hadn’t paid enough attention to the shape – with only a single ball of wool I should have been increasing at a much faster rate to end up with a shallow isosceles triangle that would be wide enough to go round my neck, instead of one like this…

knitted triangle

I looked at the ball band and the yarn was 30% wool – I can felt into this, I thought.

So, I cut it up …

cut up knitting

… chose some fleece …

fleece

… laid it out …

layers

… wetted and soaped and rubbed it for a while. It looked promising …

prefelt

… but what I actually ended up with was a ribbon of prefelt and a bit of felted knitting, loosely attached to each other in about three places. I think I was too lavish with the soap.

With nothing to lose I decided to sling the whole lot in the washing machine. I tied strips of calico round it at intervals to hold the felt and the knitting together, and put it in on a 60 degree quick wash with a pair of jeans.

The result was a nice uneven felted rope, joined firmly to the knitting wherever there was a calico strip. I snipped off the calico, added some wrapping highlights along the length with just a little lovely shiny embroidery thread, and here it is… a scarf, tousled rather than fluffy, and surprisingly warm.

scarf

The calico was quite well entangled and would happily have stayed where it was – another time I’d use a nice space dyed piece instead of white, or maybe sari ribbon or a yarn wrapping, and make it an integral part.

On another note, I’ve just joined an exciting new challenge – Today’s Title Is… – set up by Helen Suzanne of Heb-Art Journal. The challenge is to start from a given title and capture the first image it sparks off in the mind’s eye, in any visual medium. This week’s title is Blue Chair. Do visit to see all the wonderfully varied interpretations and maybe you’ll be tempted to join in too 🙂

blue chair

seaweed bundles

First of all I hope it’s not too late to say Happy New Year, I can’t believe that was a week ago already.

The kinds of seaweed lying around on the beach here at Crossapol when the tides goes out seem to vary from day to day. I’ve been thinking about gathering some for making cold-dyed fabric bundles as shown in India Flint’s book Eco-Colour, but most of it is in large and heavy bunches and would require the kind of forethought that seems to be beyond me at the moment, such as taking a carrier bag along. However, yesterday there were some kinds of thin string-like weed, easy to carry and great, I thought, for wrapping bundles. I collected a small assortment and brought it home.

kinds of seaweed

I laid out most of the branched pieces with bladders on a piece of damp habotai silk …

ready to bundle 

… then rolled it up and wrapped it with the long flat pieces. There were a couple of little bits of the flat stuff left and one that is like string with just the odd bladder along its length – not branched, so I concertina-folded another small piece of silk, laid the flat weed inside the folds and wrapped this with the stringy piece.

seaweed wrappings

I sprayed the bundles with a mister, put them into a glass jar, covered it with a bit of plastic, and have put the jar outside for a while. India says at least a week and a month isn’t too long. I will check them daily in case they start to go mouldy but hope I can resist opening them up for a fortnight or more. My hands were a bit orange after I’d done this but as this is new to me I don’t know if that indicates anything about the final outcome.

ready to cure

Nothing to do with seaweed, but I couldn’t resist sharing these lovely fibres, merino and bamboo, in the colours of the winter machair with some sunset thrown in, which I got in my Christmas stocking, complete with bog myrtle soap bought at the Farmhouse Café here on Tiree. I’m told it’s good for eczema so I’m hoping it will be kind on the hands if I use it for felting.

fibres and soap

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

hairy felt and fluffy felt

I made three felted fleece samples yesterday – from Hebridean, alpaca and merino roving.

hebridean fleece felt sample
hebridean fleece felt sample

alpaca fleece felt sample
alpaca fleece felt sample

merino fleece felt sample
merino fleece felt sample

The Hebridean fleece is quite hairy, just a little rough and yet soft as well, while the alpaca looks hairy but feels fluffy and silky. However, I think I did something wrong felting the alpaca, maybe rubbed it too hard too soon, it’s not very well felted after a lot of work, and doesn’t look anything like other alpaca felt I’ve seen on the web. More experiments obviously needed.

I think it would be interesting to dye the Hebridean fleece, could it give a rich deep colour with a hint of brightness wherever the white fibres take up the dye?

And the merino – I didn’t really need to make a sample of that, just an excuse to play with the colours!