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.
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.
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.
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).
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 –
- Felting crochet and wool,
- Use quilt batting complete with its backing,
- Try some hair from Raffles (lockdown has meant we’ve had to clip him),
- Layering of the wool shingles herringbone style as one layer,
- Trying some manufacture’s waste (I don’t know what it is),
- 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.
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.
Armed with this knowledge, and the shrinkage rate of 20%, I can now continue with planning my cushion….watch this space.