A yarn and preparation experiments

I must really be dedicated to TFFS, ‘why?’ I can hear you ask from here.

Firstly, I need to explain that, in these difficult times with many additional challenges to ensure my elderly mother remains safe, well and fed, my creative mojo ‘up and went’, I don’t know where, I didn’t see it go – leaving me in a ‘creative paralysis’. It has been quite reassuring, reading in the previous posts and comments, that so many of you are sharing the same mind space. So, with this post due, I had to come up with ‘something’.

Secondly, my Windows 10 has been updated since my last post. Fine, no problem. Until I came to process my original photos to the size required for this post – the long-winded method I used before now doesn’t work. Aaaargh! Nearly 3 hours later I have been through the wringer, but come out the other side with the photos done, a new app loaded, the satisfaction that I have learnt something new and an easier way to do it….woohoo!

So on to my ‘something’….

Back in February on a trip up to Scotland I had a brainwave. To explain – a long time before, I had seen a dress by a Russian felter who had used a specialist yarn as decorative embellishment.  I was hooked and researched where I could buy this yarn. Finally, I found it on an auction site except both the quantity and cost were too much (500g £30). The image however never left the recesses of my mind.

00

Then Taadaa!

Exploring the charity shops (I know I’m not alone here) I found a silver/grey cardigan then in another, a caramel/gold jumper which each had a double (actually one had a triple) thread that if I was careful could be unpicked to provide the very yarn.

01

I hope you will be amazed, and give me lots of kudos for my next actions. I spent weeks very carefully unpicking the commercially sewn hems (yes, you’ve read that right. Cutting the hems would simply have given me hundreds of short lengths of yarn!), then unravelling the fluffy, fiddly, snaggy, matted, non-cooperative yarns. The final result of which was balls of both the silver and gold sequin yarn, complete with crimp.

02

By then we went into total lockdown.

What to do with the fluffy yarn – surely it must have a use other than feeding the bin?

About this time, I saw another felt sample that had used a piece of loose knitting to create some texture. Lyn then posted the second quarter challenge. You can see where I’m going here….combine felt and leftovers….I could make a cushion to use outside.

However I totally dislike knitting, but can crochet anything (including years ago, crocheting a very masculine, outdoor man’s jacket with no pattern). Being in lockdown I didn’t have the extremely large size of needle that would have been ideal but went ahead with a very simple circle. It took much patience as in the unravelling process I had had to cut the fluffy, snagging yarn very regularly in order to keep the sequin yarn continuous. So, my lengths for crocheting were about 60 cm (2ft).

03

I made 2 large circles and a sampler. Attempting to ‘open’ the crochet up I wet each piece and stretched it with pins on the carpet. In hindsight not 100% successful.

At this point I decided to use the sampler and undertake a few experiments in one go –

  1. Felting crochet and wool,
  2. Use quilt batting complete with its backing,
  3. Try some hair from Raffles (lockdown has meant we’ve had to clip him),
  4. Layering of the wool shingles herringbone style as one layer,
  5. Trying some manufacture’s waste (I don’t know what it is),
  6. No rolling to felt the piece (yet more online info watching Russian felters).

In a previous post I talked about felting onto pure wool quilt batting that I had stripped, painstakingly (literally and definitely not to be repeated), of its backing.

06a

Using the microwave turntable I cut out a 34cm circle of the wadding and layered home-carded Shetland wool in a circular herringbone pattern onto it. Onto this I layered some manufacturing waste of shiny synthetic material, some other wool fibres, the crochet piece, more wool, Raffles fur, a silk mix yarn, viscose fibres and finally wisps of Merino wool.

I followed the felting technique seen online – gentle rubbing followed by scrunching the piece together and apart in all directions, then flapping it on the table and palming followed eventually by scrunching in the hands. Part way through EPH suggest I quit as I was quite exasperated that it wasn’t working, particularly when it didn’t seem that the wool had adhered to the quilt batting – but I’m stubborn!

In attempting to peel the entire quilt batting off I realised it had only missed by 7 cm. So using a suede wire brush I fluffed-up the batting and the underside of all the top layers….success. I then remembered my previous lesson/note to myself from using the batting before – FLUFF IT UP FIRST!

It was obvious at the felting stage that some elements hadn’t adhered.

After felting I did full it by rolling, although it had already shrunk significantly.

As an experiment it has been very informative.

  • I hadn’t caught the yarn down fully
  • The fluffy synthetic yarn hadn’t merged with the wool fibres in some places
  • I’d forgotten to put some intermediary wool fibres between the viscose and crochet.
  • The ‘fluffed-up’ manufacture’s waste provided no useful gain. However, the waste used ‘as is’ retained its sheen very well, I just need to use more wool fibres to lock into it.
  • Raffles fur also mostly ‘disappeared’…if only that happened on him!
  • From the point of view of the batting it was, finally, very successful.
  • In all, I liked the new method as it was more relaxing and as I could sit down – much less pressure on my delicate back.
23

The beautiful sheen from the viscose and waste

Armed with this knowledge, and the shrinkage rate of 20%, I can now continue with planning my cushion….watch this space.

 

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21 Responses to A yarn and preparation experiments

  1. Nice save! I use Picasa as a picture editor. It is free and has all the basic things I need for fixing photos for blogging. I then resize everything with Microsoft picture editor which should be on your computer. I used to use a very nice camera for all of my photos, but now only use the iPhone as it is easier and I have gotten lazy. We all go through slumps with our creativity. At least you made something so it is a start. I admire your tenacity with unraveling the jumpers. 🙂

    • Antje says:

      I always used to use Picasa (great for photo editing), then Google retired it about 2 years ago, so my Windows 10 does not have it. However your comment has made me do some Online research – I can download the app from a 3rd party….I’ll now think about that.

      To create this post I downloaded ‘image resize for Windows’ (Free) and it has worked a treat.

      Keeping apace of technology is getting harder, it was much easier in the days of working from an office or when we had kids at home! Why do they keep fixing things when ‘it ain’t broke’?

    • I didn’t know Google retired Picasa as I still have it. My hubs backed up everything I had when I got a new laptop with windows 10. It was also good for uploading Photos that you could share with family and friends by giving them a link. It can be a challenge to keep up with new technology!

    • Antje says:

      I miss Picasa. If you’ve still got it that’s great, treasure it because it may disappear which is what happened to me.

      You’ve just reminded me….I need to back up my pc as I have 10s of 1000s of photos. My ‘to do’ list just got longer!
      Stay safe

  2. Karen Lane says:

    I’m with you regarding the charity shops Antje and I can see that yarn coming in very useful! I’m also doing far more scrunching and much less rolling since looking at how some of the brilliant Russian feltmakers work. Looking forward to seeing your cushion.

    • Antje says:

      Karen, the Russian felters are way ahead of us and are great garment makers….the corresponding sizes of the resists make my eyes water. I’m glad I’m not alone researching their methods….I just wish I spoke Russian, even their alphabet is mind boggling. I’ve happened across a felter recently & have splashed out on her books, sadly only in Russian, but I’ve been reassured the photos will tell me everything.

      I’ve certainly found the scrunching method much ‘healthier’.

      Once I use the sequin yarn I’ll post the results- but don’t hold your breath.

      I was so sad that the lockdown prevented your workshop in Snape (N Yorks), I had been looking forward to meeting you, at last, in person.

  3. annielynrosie says:

    Oh we would have leapt with joy at finding that jumper and cardigan in a charity shop – then we would have spent hours cursing at the unpicking of course.

    You’ve learnt such a lot from this painstaking sampling and that will enable you to make the item you want. (Your readers will also gain from your photos and explanations.)

    We’re very much looking forward to seeing your finished piece. Garden cushions are essential in the good weather because garden chairs are not as comfy as sofas.

    • Antje says:

      Thanks Lyn, you can imagine the process wondering ‘Why on earth am I unpicking this!’.

      I will endeavour to find mojo, Raffles might know where to look, so that I can get the cushion done, particularly as I have whet your appetite. You are certainly keeping us on our toes with your challenges.

  4. I love reading about studies in other hobbies! Gotta lvoe practice pieces before you jump into a big thing!

    • Antje says:

      It is amazing how experiences in one discipline can transfer to others….learning never stops.
      Practice pieces are good to iron out problems, that said, I do occasionally dive straight in, particularly if I’ve spent ages ‘thinking’ it through. Perhaps I should be more disciplined.

  5. janedolan says:

    Much Kudos.

  6. ruthlane says:

    Great job on sampling Antje! And I admire the unpicking too. I have a friend who does that and gave me some of her pieces. I don’t have the patience for that.

    I never roll felt anymore. I never liked rolling and just worked out a method of rubbing and fulling that works for me. Perhaps because it bothered my back too.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the cushion 🙂

  7. Antje says:

    Thanks Ruth. Sometimes patience has its rewards.
    The rolling is great for eliminating ‘bat wings’ but not for any other parts of my body.

    I did use the odd leftovers of the quilt batting to create items for future jewellery. I rolled these, fulling to a ‘hard’ felt – it might be my imagination, but it seemed easier.

    The cushion will eventually materialise, I’m toying with a few ideas For it and need to resolve them First before I set to.

  8. Flextiles says:

    That’s quite an experiment – so many variables! Look forward to seeing the finished cushion after all that – hope Raffles likes it, as he has contributed. 🙂

    • Antje says:

      Thanks Kim. As I mentioned I’m trying to resolve some ideas, for recycling the remaining yarn/felting, before I tackle the cushion. I often need ideas to percolate first! Reading your recent post you are the same.

      Fortunately Raffles is a very gentle pooch, so any close inspections are usually done with great care. wherever I am he has to be right there, whether it is pins in the carpet, or my garden hand fork – such that I actually can’t see what I’m doing!

      He will be contributing more to the cushion as lockdown continues.

  9. Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

    Lots of great learning there, Antje. I wonder where all our Mojo went to. Is there a mojo lake or mountain somewhere waiting to be discovered? I’m hoping, like migrating birds, it will all come back to us of its own accord!

    • Antje says:

      I love that idea Lindsay….you’ve made me chuckle. If I see any mojo migration I’ll let you know!

  10. Antje, you most certainly are determined. Using the sweater and dress sparkles was genius. And I can sympathize about computer issues. I tried making Easter and birthday cards on the computer and it was most frustrating. I used to know this stuff, but with all the upgrades it was like I knew nothing and had to learn all over. Glad you were able to persist.

  11. Antje says:

    Thank you Marilyn.
    I’m so glad you re-learned Various aspects of the computer. I just wish they’d stop changing things – in reality we only use about 10-25% of it’s capabilities, so why add more?
    I’ve got the yarn ready to use and want to refresh my memory by looking at the original image….ha….I can’t find it at the mo!

  12. Pingback: Creativity old and new | feltingandfiberstudio

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