I thought I’d make a big piece of nuno felt, with plans to make it into a book cover. I recently got a big bag of Botany Lap waste from World of Wool with some nice blues and purples slightly different to the ones I already had, so I thought a patchwork of colours with a collage of silk pieces would work great. I noticed quite early on it didn’t seem to be felting the ‘usual’ way, but put it down to wetting down on the back, which I don’t usually do, but had wanted to make sure there were no thin edges, so I’d flipped it over. And I wondered if I’d overwet it a bit too. Then some bits of silk came right off, which did seem very odd, as I’ve been using bits of these same silk scarves for years. I thought that one of the ‘waste’ wool tops I’d used mustn’t have been Merino, it did feel a bit ‘rougher’, but sometimes they can do if they’re a bit old or some colours seem a bit drier too. It wasn’t vastly different so I guessed it might be Corriedale. When it came to fulling, it all got really weird. I know different wool breeds and wool amounts, and using fabrics etc affects shrinkage, so when I make patchy and/or nuno pieces, I don’t expect it to be as neat and ‘square’ as simpler pieces, but this was all over the place. This is the finished piece now it’s dry:
When I’d flipped it over during the fulling, when the distortion became more pronounced, I suddenly went ‘Aaah!’ as I realised. This is the back:
It seemed obvious then that not only was one of the ‘waste’ wool tops possibly not Merino (the mid blue), but the turquoisey one was probably not 100% Merino, either. It felt soft, but then some colours do seem softer, and it wasn’t obvious looking at it that it was blended with anything. I did a burn test and it burnt the same as some Merino, but some of the close up photos I took made it look quite synthetic. It reminded me of the fake Angora fibre I have.
When I looked at the places where the silk hadn’t attached fully and where it had come off altogther, it was where I’d used the soft lap waste tops both on top and underneath. This is one piece which really tried to hang on :
Where I’d used the two different types together, I did get an interesting texture on the Silk. This is the vertical purple/lilac strip on the right hand side:
And you can see in the photo of the whole piece how that silk strip changes about a quarter of the way down, with different wools. I think I’ll keep all these together so I know to expect unusual results, maybe use them for experiments. The only real problem they caused was where the softer tops, possibly blends, were in two layers, and the silk had come off, the felt was cobwebby in those places. (not a great photo, but you get the idea!)
One piece which did turn out how I expected was a new coaster I made using some woven pencil roving waste which had been gathering dust for months (I flipped it over, just in case). I did almost use some Botany Lap Waste tops, but changed my mind at the last minute:
I think the colours and rippling give the illusion it’s bumpier than it is. You can feel texture on the surface, but it’s subtler than it looks:
Have you had any unexpected results or surprises using unknown wools or fibres?
16 thoughts on “Unexpected Results”
Thank you for sharing your imperfect results and for modeling experimentation. It’s so easy to be upset when things don’t turn out, but you demonstrated curiosity instead.
Thanks, Nancy 🙂
I think that’s the geek in me, always wanting to know how and why something works the way it did! One of my first thoughts seeing the turquoise on the back was how I liked the effect and I need to know what the fibres are so I can recreate it!
Although it didn’t behave as you wanted or expected it to it’s still a beautiful piece. The colours and textures are wonderful. If it was mine I would maybe do some hand stitching on it and hang it on the wall.
Thanks, Karen 🙂
if it was yours, the stitching would be lovely, though! I did consider ruching the wide parts and making an unusual hanging, and probably would have done if it wasn’t nuno.
Very cool piece. Can you steam and stretch it square again? I wonder if some supperwash got in there? If there was enough other wool it would have gotten grabbed but the silk may not have attached. I got some in a mixed bag once it felt soft when dry. It felt horrible wet. It’s the reason I don’t get the botany lap waste.
Thanks, Ann 🙂
I thought about steaming to shrink/neaten the wider parts, but they’d be too thick, and I think the few other parts where it’s fine would just tear open if I pulled. The fine stuff doesn’t feel 100% non feltable, but at the same time, I’ve used piles of embellishment fibres which have been grabbed and felted in better, so I think there are more shades than the turquoise which are not 100% wool/animal, which would explain the cobweb patches. I didn’t think they sold superwash in the botany lap waste.
Your coaster is fab (what a great way to get an intricate design in felt) and the large piece is very pretty. Your frustration is understandable and perhaps that piece will need a bit of stitching?
Thanks, Lyn 🙂
I think the part which is loose is beyond stitching really, and it’s where the wool is cobwebby, but it turned out better than I expected when the shape was becoming apparent.
For all the trouble of your first piece, it looks good. Bright colors, nice texture. Will you be able to use it for something? The coaster is great. I bought a mini loom to play with. I’m not big on patterns, but will give it a try. I recently used some unknown wool I’ll be talking about later this week.
Thanks, Marilyn 🙂
Yeah, I’m sure I can use it for loads of things, the thin cobwebby parts are only in a couple of places, and the loose silk is just that one pink strip at the top. I could get a smaller book cover and maybe a purse and case or pouch out of it too. I’ve been enjoying my cardboard looms and making really ‘rough’ yarn to weave. That’s funny we’ve done similar posts 🙂
Well it turned into an interesting experiment anyways. Love the coaster, very nice design.
Thanks, Ruth 🙂
I think I’ll take the unknown tops to the well being centre, maybe I can introduce an occasional ‘Botany Lap Waste exploration day’.
Did you end up finding out what fibre it was, Zed? I’m wondering if it was superwash?
No, I haven’t yet, well not all anyway. It’s obvious that one of the ‘waste’ tops has a lot of silk in- one I had trouble spinning funnily enough, so I’m going to do some samples to see how they all turn out.