Ginkgo Anyone?

Ginkgo Anyone?

A while back I dyed some silk and wool experimenting with making browns with acid dyes.


I wasn’t sure what I’d use it for, but I fell in love with the coppery silk habatoi.  I made batts with the wool.


I had purchased some alpaca yarn this summer and wasn’t sure what I would do with it.  For some reason it called to me even though it’s not my typical color way. But putting it next to the cooper silk, I had to come up with something to do with it.


I made felt base and placed the silk over it to nuno felt.  I still wasn’t sure how I would attach the yarn.  But then Ruth posted a blog about couching. Bingo!



I decided to make gingko leaves using the couching method of attaching the yarn.

It was a long process. I first had to outline the shape with stitching ( I tried white pencil and other pens, but this worked best.)


Then I pinned the yarn to the shape and began the couching process.  Because the yarn was variegated it created some interesting color contrasts along with the variegated nuno background.

20160109_161041Then used straight stitching for the veins.

20160113_122100The yarn was two ply and I thought that the veins for the secondary leaves should be less obvious so I separated them to make the veins  ( long process). Here is the progress –

20160123_152845 20160123_152917 20160123_152812

Why gingko?  I like the shape and also have a metal vase in my bedroom water closet that has the gingko leaves embossed on it.  I thought this would  tie the picture together with the vase.

20160124_125700The wall color is a purple haze which I thought would be a nice contrast.  while the leaves aren’t perfect, I’m pleased with the result.

What new fun projects are you working on?




30 thoughts on “Ginkgo Anyone?

  1. I love the colours Marilyn. The hand stitching is time-consuming, but very relaxing isn’t it? The finished piece would look great against a purple-haze wall.

    1. Thanks Lyn! The stitching is time consuming, but I don’t necessarily find it relaxing. Perhaps if I were better at it, and didn’t have arthritis I would find it relaxing. It does look really nice against the hazy purple.

  2. I love your ginkgo leaf work. Just don’t let the leaves fall out at the same time- ha ha.
    Seriously, I have a question: when I nuno , I put the silk down first and then work the wool roving or batts on top. You seem to do the reverse. Am I wrong?
    Also as habitoi silk is so hard to nuno, maybe your way would be more effective and easier to felt together?
    Wish I could “couch”, maybe someday…
    Thanks and “brava”,

    1. Thanks Sylvia! As far as the Nuno, I don’t think there is a wrong way or right way. I usually don’t have trouble with the habatoi. I do find it easier to work with it once the batts are wetted down and have been felted just a little. Also, I like working soapy. I use bubble wrap on both sides, work in all directions, then flip and do it again. So, I do work both sides with silk down and up. When it has started to attach, I roll it on itself in the same manner. This helps control the shrinkage, too. You can also throw it or rub against the bubblewrap to help shrink it and get the texture. I hope that helps.

      The couching is easier than it sounds. Basically it’s just wrapping the other threads. I hope you give it a try,

      Let us know how your next Nuno piece turns out if you decide to try my suggestions. Happy felting!

    1. Thanks Sherry! Not typical colors or shapes, but I’m happy with it.

  3. The colors you achieved are unusual and very attractive! I find couching on felt to be quite enjoyable and very relaxing as well. Nice work, Marilyn!

    1. Thanks Cathy! There was just something about these colors…
      I doubt I could recreate them if I tried.

  4. This turned out beautifully Marilyn. I like Ginkgo leaves too. And I’m glad I inspired you to try some couching. The more you do the hand stitching, the easier it gets although I’m sure the arthritis doesn’t help much with making stitching “relaxing”.

    It’s fun to try new colors that you don’t usually use so looks like you got in a little bit of last year’s color challenge too 🙂

    1. Thanks Ruth! I did like the couching, it was just more time consuming than I had anticipated. Plus I couldn’t do long stretches. But it all worked out and I’m sure I’ll use it again. I like the effect. Next time I may try two different types of threads and/or yarns. 🙂 And I do enjoy the dyeing process and surprise results. It was a good fit with the alpaca yarn.

  5. The finished hanging is gorgeous Marilyn. For those with arthritis (or just impatient like me 🙂 ), have you thought about using a zigzag stitch on a sewing machine for couching? It’s not as relaxing but it might be easier on the hands.

  6. Thanks Teri! I’m impatient as well. I really wanted to use the yarn. So, the sewing machine wasn’t an option. I had enough trouble with the yarn breaking. But if I were to use thread for couching the machine is a good idea. 🙂

    1. What Teri means is that you lay the thick yarn down and couch it down by using the sewing machine and regular thread in the sewing machine. Just use a zigzag stitch to hold the yarn in place. Works a charm and is much faster than by hand.

    2. Yes, I understood Ruth, but I wanted to use the yarn because of the variegation which made a nice contrast in colors. I definitely would use thread with yarn on a different project.

    1. Sylvia, the silk habotai (China silk) is 5 mm. I order it from

  7. The colours are gorgeous, Marilyn! You got really nice texture on the felting too and the leaves are really nicely done 🙂

  8. What a lovely project, Marilyn! I wonder if a Muggle would know how long it takes to get something like this made to such detail.
    Just yesterday I mentioned how browns can be beautiful (my other half was saying how they are boring) and you’ve just proved me right. I’ll have to show him this post and make him swallow his words 🙂

    1. Thanks Leonor! It’s too bad the lighting wasn’t better. It has a really nice coppery tone, it’s not just brown. Don’t make him swallow too hard. I’m sure as an artist he’ll notice the nuances. 🙂

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