For the First Quarter Challenge, I was intrigued by one of Lyn and Annie’s samples. It was chopped up bits of felt from an old piece added to a new one. Their piece was very colorful bits of felt on white wool but I was thinking in terms of florals in a landscape. I could try a small sample before I did a larger landscape that might not work as planned.
Here is the sample that I planned on repurposing. I made this several years ago and I can’t remember why I thought I should try this but it is wool with layers/ruffles of dyed cheesecloth. It worked but I didn’t really have any kind of plan on how I would use this method and it’s just been in a bin since then. But it had good California poppy colors so I thought I could chop it up into small bits to represent poppies in a landscape.
I only used a very small amount of the sample to chop into bits with my trusty rotary cutter. I have loads left if I decide to create a larger landscape with this technique.
Next I laid down a piece of green prefelt, covered it with a variety of small green bits of wool in a variety of locks, breeds etc. Whatever I had laying around, another way to recycle little bits of wool. Then I sprinkled the orange bits over the bottom portion for the poppies. Sorry for the poor photo quality, I took the photos in the kitchen where the light is poor. The sample size is about 6″ x 8″ or so. I was going for a small sample but one that I could perhaps use as a mini landscape if it turned out well. (You can always use these small samples for greeting cards or small framed pieces.)
Then I wet down the sample and felted as usual. I did lose quite a few of the small orange bits but I didn’t worry about that. I had lots on there and I thought it would still work with the majority of “flowers” that did adhere. This process reminded me of working with wool nepps which have given me some problems sticking to the felt in the past. I could have added a bit more fiber over the top of the orange bits but I wanted to see how they attached without it. Most of what fell off was cheesecloth.
Here is the final sample after felting and fulling. I am deciding whether I want to add any stitching or just frame this small piece as is. I like the “Van Gogh” look of the trees in the background and the orange stayed very bright and true to color without any wool on the surface. I feel confident that I could make a larger landscape with this technique and I can repurpose more samples this way. Thanks for the challenge Annie and Lyn!
This last week I joined a free to everyone stitch camp not knowing what we would be doing. The idea being that you get a short instructional video every day for 5 days and it will be a surprise and inspirational and push you to think outside the box. I knew there was cloth and pain and stitching so it seemed interesting.
I gathered some cloth and paint and things to make paint marks.
The idea was to make one painted piece leaving lots of open or negative space and one with only a little negative space. separate colours with a little of the other colour in each. I picked a white background and yellow and blue as my other colours as I could get that paint and had other pieces of cloth in those colours too. I was going to do turquoise but the store was out of it.
I like the one with more negative space the best.
Next was to cut them up and piece them back together. I cut them into 3×5 inch pieces. I was going t make one long piece and then do stitching on the whole thing. as I tried to piece them together I was not happy with them so I made two shorter strips. I didn’t really like them and wasn’t sure I would bother doing the stitching. Ruth suggested making a book with the pieces instead of a long strip and I think I like that better. I forgot to take a picture of them before I unpinned them.
I reassembled them as pairs to sew together. I will do some stitching on them and then attach them to a backing and make a book. Not sure if it will be a regular book or maybe an accordion book that could stand up on its own. I will see how it goes.
and these are some individual pieces I liked but couldn’t find matches for
I enjoyed the process and the camp Facebook group was inspirational. If I was going to do it again I wouldn’t use a white background. I would make fewer blocks of paint and more shapes. I would also mix the colours more and aim for something between a little and a lot of negative space. I know some of you joined the stitch camp. Did you enjoy it? how far along have you gotten?
Lyn and Annie have set us a lovely Q1 challenge of sampling ways of recycling fabric. They showed a great variety of fabulous techniques in their blog
In this post I will show you some wet felted samples I’ve made in response to the challenge, and my thoughts so far on what I might do next.
The quarterly challenges are supposed to push our boundaries. At first glimpse, I do this all the time. I rarely write a blog without using charity-shop bought fabric and bashing on about how much I love using recycled materials, so maybe it’s a bit of a cheat for me? Well, maybe. But while I scour the local charity shops for silk scarves or old lace for nuno felting, I also pick up some second-hand fabrics asking myself – ‘what would happen if I tried to felt that?’ Although my intentions are good, I often don’t get round to trying out the more unusual fabrics. So, I decided I’d use the Q1 challenge to dig out a few second-hand fabrics I’ve bought in the past but not used and make some samples.
I like the colours and am interested to see what happens to the texture. As you can see, the background is quite sheer.
First I cut a square, based on the width of the scarf. I laid out 2 fairly thick, even layers of midnight blue merino at right angles on the back.
Here’s the final sample. Shrinkage was about 50%
It’s interesting how much the velvet has been integrated into the felt. I’d expected more texture. I like the result but immediately wonder how it would look with a lighter colour wool behind it. Maybe I would be able to see more of the original velvet’s pattern? Ideas for a future sample.
Next up is a black and silver sequin dress. I bought this because I like the way the sequins are distributed on the backing fabric: not packed very tightly and not widely spaced. Also, I like the way the black and silver sort of drip into each other.
I cut a 20 x 20 cm square: I like this size as it’s big enough to see what happens and small enough to felt reasonably quickly. It also leaves enough of the original fabric if you decide you want to make something from it. I laid 2 fairly thick but even layers of black merino on the back and wet felted.
I achieved about 45% shrinkage. I liked the result and started to think about how I could use this fabric – more of which later.
Here’s a second velvet scarf I wanted to have a go with
Unlike my first velvet sample, the background didn’t integrate so readily into the wool, so sat more on the surface. Maybe that was predictable as the background was less sheer but for me it highlights the value of making samples – you can’t really be sure what you’re going to get until you try it. Especially as my charity shop fabrics rarely have labels telling me what they’re made of. I like the texture: maybe this would work well to represent an animal. Shrinkage was about 45%
Sample 4 was a light pink fade-dyed silk scarf with lurex stripes. I used 2 thin, even layers of natural white merino on the back.
One of the most striking things was how much more it shrank in one direction than the other (about 45% in one direction, 30% in the other). The ripple of the lurex also gave great texture.
I could have fulled this harder but decided to stop. I wondered whether the uneven shrinkage was just because of the lurex stripes, but looking again at the original fabric I saw that the silk was much more densely woven in the direction of the stripes rather than at right angles to them. When wet felting, the more dense things are, the less they tend to shrink. I think this would make some fabulous fairy wings maybe. Alas I have no call for fairy wings at the moment. Put that on the back burner for a future venture.
Sample 5 is a section of a loosely woven silk fabric with a distinctive pattern. I wondered what would happen to the motifs.
Shrinkage was 40%. Given it is loosely woven, I was surprised by the amount of ruching. The fibres retained a nice sheen. I regretted my choice of natural white wool for this one. I wished I’d used a turquoise blue or maybe tried 2 different colours to test how to show up the silk’s colours. I’ll put this in the samples box and maybe I’ll come back to this another time.
Sample 6 – I found this scarf particularly intriguing. Clearly a woven fabric but no information about the materials. The weave made the fabric very stretchy but the threads themselves had almost no stretch in them. I thought maybe cotton or linen. Using the same method I went for 2 fairly thin layers of undyed white merino on the back.
It was a bit tricky to decide how much to stretch out the fabric when laying it out so I ended up with a slightly larger sample than the others. Also, I don’t have an iron in the studio so I wet the particularly creased sections to help flatten them.
Shrinkage was 45%. I really like the texture here. Maybe I will use this when creating waves / sea water in a future wet felted coastal picture. I could lay it out in wavy lines with dark blue or pewter-coloured wool.
A small aside. Why do I keep talking about shrinkage? I’ve been felting for over 10 years now but it took me a long time to understand how to full felt properly. It’s very tempting to stop fulling when you get to about 25% or 30% shrinkage. And for some things, like pictures behind glass, that may be OK. But in my experience, the more you full things the better the quality, strength, appearance and durability of felt. And the best way of checking how well you’ve fulled or felted something is to aim for a high shrinkage rate.
Sample 7 – a silk scarf with a dense feather pattern. I was interested to see what would happen to the pattern when felted. I put silk on both sides, with wool sandwiched in between.
I wasn’t sure about the white wool but think the silk has potential to represent something like lichen in a felt picture or sculpture – maybe using sage green wool. Or maybe marble? I cut this sample into strips to make bookmarks.
OK. These are the seven samples I made specifically for the Q1 challenge. The next question for me is ‘so what?’
I’ve included some thoughts on what I could make next with these fabrics. I decided to investigate further the potential of the sequin fabric. I tried some 3D drop-shaped pieces, using a resist with the sequin fabric inside. The first has potential for earrings, though I need to think about the earring fixings. Or maybe part of a neck piece.
The second is a prototype for 2022 Christmas decorations. I think this has potential but I would include more colour and maybe texture in the outside. Also, I must remember to mark the front as I couldn’t tell which side to cut into. It’s difficult to see the scale in the photos – the earrings are 7cm top to bottom and the decoration 11cm.
Here are a couple of fabrics I’ve sampled in the past and how I’ve learned from the samples to make things – in this case plant holders.
This was a loosely knitted shawl. I made a sample and loved the mossy look of it. In the sample-making process I cut off the ribbed edge and included it in this plant pot holder, to give a textured band.
Here’s another charity shop scarf that I incorporate into plant holders
re-using, recycling or up-cycling are not just good, eco-friendly ideas but can be really fun and give unique results.
small samples are fairly quick to make but give you loads of information about how fabrics will felt or work with other processes
making samples is a great way of sparking ideas about future projects
make sure you full wet felting really well
keep your samples as you never know when the learning and ideas might come in useful
The Q1 challenge is not just about felt-making: it’s about different ways of recycling fabric. There isn’t a right or wrong answer with samples – just lots of things to learn. Do join in by posting your recycled fabric samples on the forum.
I searched for artists painting in the 1960’s and found this photo of Stanley Bate’s Year of the Dragon. This looked interesting and I thought it would work in felt.
I kept the photo handy during layout and the first layer was all about values. I wanted to use the black and white prefelt to achieve the correct values once covered with a variety of colors. I laid out the prefelt on each side of a rectangular resist. And this is where the rushing felt problem really began. The two types of prefelt were different thicknesses. I should have done a light layer of fiber underneath the prefelt first but didn’t think of that until later.
I wet down the prefelt and then covered with a variety of yellow to red colors with pops of blue. I made this layer pretty thin. Also, not thinking ahead and trying to get done in a hurry.
I started felting and noticed several areas that were already developing holes. Sigh… So I did add more wool on to the thin areas and moved forward. But the hole problem continued and finally, I just ignored the holes and moved forward with fulling.
The shrinkage was totally different than the Mark Rothko inspired piece due to the use of prefelt. I had thought that perhaps the prefelt would add an interesting textural aspect but it just seemed to develop weak spots between the various pieces. More sighing…
And here’s the result. I ended up not getting enough shrinkage around to fit over the jar I used last time. Instead, I used a large tea tin. If you enlarge the photo, you might be able to see some holes.
I turned it inside out and decided I might like that side better than the original outside. It even looks more sixties to me. You can definitely see the holes here. I guess I can make the holes a design feature and turn it into a light.
How many years have I been making felt? A long time. Do I still try to rush things sometimes? Of course. Will I ever learn? Doubtful. Perhaps it’s just human nature or the world we now live in, that causes me to be hurried when I really should take my time. How about you? Do you get in a hurry sometimes when creating? I’m not sure why I do it when I am rarely satisfied with felt that has been rushed. Taking a deep breath and slowing down.
I’m just squeaking in under the deadline for the third quarter challenge. I had a hard time deciding what to create. Finally, I fell back on experimenting with layered color mixing. I have always thought that Mark Rothko’s paintings would work well as an inspiration for this technique. So I searched for a painting of his that was created in the 1950’s. I found number 10 painted in 1950 at MoMA’s website.
I didn’t have any tall glass vases like Ann used but I did have an olive jar that was the same shape mostly. I could use that. I created a resist to include approximately 30% shrinkage and got out my stash of short fiber merino. I didn’t really have enough of the blue for the first layer but decided to go ahead and wing it.
The short fiber merino that I do have is in batts, so I wrapped the blue around in the vertical direction for the first layer.
Then I added more colors in layers wrapping the resist horizontally. These were all solid colors to start with and I wanted to see if the movement/migration of the fiber would create a more mottled look like you see in Rothko’s paintings.
I did add a bit of dark grey at the top for a deeper value. The photo on the left shows the piece after layout and wet down. The photo on the right shows the piece after felting before I removed the resist. You can definitely start to see the color migration. I cut out both ends of the resist and as you can see at the bottom of the right photo, the blue wasn’t covering the ends completely. But I decided to leave the ragged edges as the Rothko piece felt like the paint had ragged edges. Then I fulled the piece and pulled it over the glass jar to hold it’s shape while it dried.
Here’s the result. It looks very much like a landscape to me and the color mixing worked just as I wanted. You can see the top of the glass jar in the photo on the right. I would prefer a smooth vase and I will have to go and look for some at the local dollar stores. I did try a light inside but I made the felt too thick for that to have much effect at all. But I do like the possibilities of this technique, creating thinner layers next time. I hope to create some landscape lanterns with real glass vases. Thanks for the idea Ann and thanks for the challenge Lyn and Annie. It made me try something out of my usual box.
I still have not decided what I what to do. It was suggested that using some stabilizer on top might help keep the stitches on the surface and not have them sink in and look quilted. so I thought I would make a new background and give the stabilizer a try.
I picked some colours and carded up a little bat to use to felt a new background.
When it was finished I thought it looked like the water in Monet’s pond. I decided to add a waterlily. I looked up some google and traced the outline onto some was away stabilizer.
For thread, I decided to use some maybe real and maybe artificial silk. some of it says silk on it and some Artsyl rope. I got this thread in a barely started embroidery kit at a garage sale. I don’t know how old it is but the company that made it stopped manufacturing silk in 1911. It does seem to have continued to sell thread and ribbon but I don’t know if they also sold artificial silk. I haven’t burn tested it. I don’t mind if it’s artificial, it’s pretty.
The thread is “2 ply” in appearance but each ply is made up of 5 individual threads. I used one ply for the outline and 3 of the smaller threads for leaf definition.
Onto the petals
As you can see my stabilizer started to fall apart. I am sure it’s because the underlying piece is so soft and squishy, it tears. I had the reference picture so it all worked out. I pulled most of the tattered bits away. the last thing was the yellow center.
And after washing away the rest of the stabilizer. Not too bad if you don’t look too close. that should be just about the actual size of the piece.
I was happy with it even if it was a little plane. than after sowing it to some friends on Zoom, they suggested a dragonfly or some bead water drops. I didn’t feel like making a dragonfly so I decided on fish.
make a “koi fish”
lift some fibres to make a pocket
stuff the fish in
I added 3 koi fish around the lily. I think it worked well. I decided against the water drops because it’s an outline. Seeing it as a picture I can see I need to rub out the needle marks.
I enjoyed making this piece and the stabilizer did help keep the stitches on the surface so that was a good idea. I want to try the other kind of stabilizer. The stuff that looks more like plastic wrap. After chatting with a friend we think perhaps a layer of the plastic stuff and a layer of my stuff might work best. Now I just have to find some of the plastic stuff.
It has been a very busy week and I am afraid I do not have much to report.
I added a few rocks to the picture and I built up the bottom edge to be more feeling of depth. it looks a little better in person but not sure if it was worth the effort, but maybe.
I still have to add a thread or fine yarn element. I thought a few dandelions around the rocks would work. I found a nice dark green variegated thread that Jan had picked up for me.
This is a needle felted picture it is squishy, not flat and “solid” like when I wet felt a picture and then add definition or extras with a needle. I think it may make things difficult. I made a few stitches, making sure to keep them loose because I don’t want the flowers quilted into the picture. As you can see in my mind these are large rocks, good for sitting on and watching the sea.
That did not work. It still looks quilted and I think the thread is too thin. they may have looked better with flower tops but still like they are in the rock rather than beside the rock. At least they were easy to take out.
Fine yarn is next up. Fine is a relative term, right? Yes, I am sure it is. This doesn’t have a label but I am sure it’s a Briggs and Little sport single.
I will try this next but I think it may be too thick. If this doesn’t work I will look for some green embroider floss. I am sure I have some. If that doesn’t work I may try to think of some stumpwork maybe, something else I could do separately with thread and then attach to the picture or maybe embrace the squishyness and quilt a simple flower or bird outline, large to cover the whole thing. Or maybe add some fabric like Ruth did and stitch on that.
And one more thing, to make Jan and Bernadette jealous. My mom bought me a basket.
My husband said, “we don’t have a cobra.” I have a feeling he wants it to stay that way. LOL
In case you didn’t see it the idea is you pick a card from felting four different category card decks. With felting wool is a given.
My picks are:
Fibre: use thread or fine yarn
Colour: use cool colours
Structure/Technique: needle felting
Other: No Larger Than An Index Card ( 3inches by 5inches, 7.5cm by 12.5 cm)
This one took me a while to figure out. I kept thinking of a cold picture even though I do know cool colours doesn’t mean a cold picture. I don’t usually do needle-felt pictures I usually wet felt and then do a little needling and stitching. I am glad it’s only a small piece.
To start I cut the right size piece of prefelt for the base. I got this to try out From Monica of The Olive Sparrow. I have to say so far it is very nice to use. It’s quite thick and nice to needle into, not too hard and not too soft. Just like baby bears bed.
Next, I picked my colours for a nice scene. Most of it is merino except the two-tone green. It is corriedale.
Laying it out. and tacking it all down. I wanted sky and water and a clifftop.
The sky and sea are blending together. I went online and had a look at some sea and sky pictures. There seems to be a definite dark line where they meet but when I added it to the picture, it looked odd. I decided to pop an island in.
That looks better but it looks lonely so I added another one and greyed them out a bit to make them look a little farther away.
That is where it stands now. You will notice there are no threads or fine yarns. That will be next. I will probably add some grasses and flowers to the foreground with stitching and maybe a tiny lighthouse on the rock. I am not sure yet what I want to do.
Every summer my weavers and spinners guild does a fibre poker challenge. You can choose weaving, spinning or felting. I am doing spinning and felting. This post is about the spinning challenge. I haven’t started my felting one yet.
In these challenges, they make up 4 decks of cards. The cards for spinning are Fiber, Colour, Type of Yarn and General Design. You pick one from each to get your poker hand. You are allowed to return one and draw another.
Fibre: surprise us.
Colour: dark rich colours
Type of Yarn: thick and thin
General Design: include locks
I decided I wanted to try spinning some of the silk hankies I have. these looked like dark rich colours. Well, not that dark but not pastel.
I looked up what was the recommended way of prepping them for spinning. It was to poke a hole in the middle and stretch them out. Most of the drafting is done in the stretching out. I did 2 of each colour. They stretch quite far. I am sure I could have stretched them at least twice as long but I didn’t want my yarn that thin.
I also have to do thick and thin. I decided the easiest way to do that was to use the required locks to create the thick parts. I think these are Bluefaced Leicester.
I don’t have a spinning wheel. I like to spin small amounts, so I use a drop spindle I have quite a few.
After I finished the 4 silk hankies I made it into a center-pull ball. My original intention was to ply one end against the other.
But then I changed my mind. I spun some purple silk top to use as the other ply.
I made it into a center-pull ball as well. I put one small ball on my thumb and one on a finger. I used a little painter’s tape to keep the outside thread from unravelling as I will be pulling from the center, then I can control how fast it pulls out. I like painter’s tape as it’s just sticky enough to hold but comes off easily without grabbing and pulling the fibres and doesn’t leave any sticky behind. If I was going to store the ball I would tie the two ends together instead.
Somehow I guessed right and had just a little more of the second simple single than the first fancy single.
That’s my laptop lid so as you can see there wasn’t much extra.
I wound it off into a skein. It looks a little wobbly at first but it needs to have a bath to let the spin show what it’s really like. I used the small extra piece to tie the skein in 4 places. I wanted the 4 ties because I am very good at tangling skeins.
Here it is after its bath and hang to dry. I didn’t use any weight to try to set the yarn, I wanted it to be its natural self. I am quite happy I managed to get a nice balanced spin. I took to pictures flipping it over so you can see both sides.
I spread it out more and took a close-up. I am really please with how this came out. It was difficult to get the locks in because naturally, the twist wanted to go to the thinnest part.
I hope you like it too. It was a bit of a challenge but that’s the point, get you doing something you wouldn’t normally do. I could have wished for some action shots but it’s hard to spin and hold the fibre and hold the camera. It puts me back to wondering why on earth my prehistoric ancestors got rid of the prehensile tail, it would be so handy.
I have finally finished my pouch. Yay! I am not sure how big I want the individual spaces in the bag to be so I have just basted the divisions for now. If they are working fine I will sew them in permanently.
Here it is full of things. and some things that didn’t make it in. As you can see it’s not dedicated to one kind of thing. It’s a way to keep all the smallish stuff from filtering down to the bottom of the basket where they are hard to find.
and all rolled up.
Here is the basket. First I put the liner in. It’s a thick, fairly stiff fake silk scarf. I can’t imagine it was nice to wear which is probably why it was in the secondhand clothing store in the first place. It’s great for this job.
Adding everything into and onto the basket.
There was even room left to add my guild library books when I got back to the house.
I am sure you are all as tired f hearing about the basket organizer as I am so it is now time for something new and more colourful. I have been seeing felted rocks popping up on Facebook a lot. I figured they looked like a pretty obvious and easy thing to make, so I will give it ago. The first one I did use floor underlay resists. I started with a pebble. I covered it completely in wool.
I cut out a resist a bit bigger than the wool covered pebble and then added the top put the resist on the top of the rock and folded the wool around. then I cut a bigger resist and did it again and marked the top. It was a bit awkward. I should have worked the other way up but where’s the challenge in that. LOL.
It fulled down quite fast.
time to start cutting, I rubbed each cut to heal it before doing the next cuts. I don’t think you can see it but the bottom of each layer is fully attached to the one below it.
I sat it on a green lid to dry, looks really striking there.
That worked quite well. Now for a different way.
For this one, I used plastic wrap to keep the layers separate. I cut a small hole in the underside so the layer would be attached to each other.
I wrapped the last layer in plastic I just rubbed it and rolled it around in my hands as if I was making a felt ball. I did it longer to make sure the inside layers were felted as well. While wrapping I lost track of the top and bottom. Naturally, I picked the wrong side to mark. I cut the first hole and it was attached to the one below so I kept cutting down to the pebble. I planned to stretch each layer, but with it being quite small there wasn’t much stretch or even room to get anything in between the layers to try and stretch. so In the end I just fulled it tight around the rock.
Here is how they compared in size before felting
And how they compare with my hand to show the sizes
See Lyn, not felted rocks but felted rocks. Ha Ha Ha :O)