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OVWSG Fibre Poker Felting Challenge

OVWSG Fibre Poker Felting Challenge

You’ve seen the piece I was working on for this.

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.

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.

Recycling and Upcycling silk kimono

Recycling and Upcycling silk kimono

A few blogs ago Welshfelters posted about upcycling/recycling a chinese lantern. That got me thinking about the project I’ve been plonking away on for ages now – recycling silk. I really love silk in almost all its forms, not too crazy about silk noil, but everything else is just lovely, the texture, the colours, the gloss, the sound. I have ASMR, so even thinking about silk gives me a case of the shivers.

When one of our guild members was down sizing and offered some used kimono for sale at an excellent price, I was first in line and happily took home a box of bright red, blue, brown, and orange silky bits. The construction of these kimono was amazing, all hand sewn, all exquisitely designed and all in deplorable condition. The fabric has deteriorated along the fold lines and has some tears, so re-purposing is one of the best options for most of the fabric. Hand washing and disassembly followed, along with a bit of ironing, just to make life a little easier when cutting time came.

A few years ago another friend had gifted me fabric cutters; Bliss and Frazer. They are both vintage models and well loved. When they first came into my care, I really had no immediate purpose for them but knew that ‘someday’ they would be put to good use. Along with recycling fabric, good tools also need to be kept in useful condition, so they went for a spa treatment to a talented gentleman who fixed a damaged bearing, sharpened the blades, retooled the wheel plate and generally got them both up and running optimally.

Silk is brutal on fabric cutters.

The wheel is starting to show signs of wear after cutting silk

The blade is showing signs of becoming dull, so I will probably switch to a rotary blade and ruler, which seems to work just fine. The rotary cutter has the added benefit of replacement blades that can be recycled and replaced as needed. I’ll save the fabric cutters for wool and cotton. Using the ruler and rotary cutter to cut width doesn’t yield consistent results, or as consistent as the fabric cutter, but with silk I don’t think that’s a significant issue. There are a couple of ways I can make the strips of cut silk into a single piece of ‘yarn’.

I can spin it together and then hold it together a little more with a ply of silk thrums thread.

I can do a splice and spin it as a single which allows for the little tails to become a design element in the yarn.

This is the tails and tops method of joining

or I can just weave it in as a rag technique and alternate with the silk thrums. In the end, I’m going to call it art yarn and who will challenge the inconsistency of the yarn!

All fabric that is used in our daily lives will wear out, but when it comes to a fiber that is so costly to make, so valuable and lovely I want to put the extra effort into keeping it out of the rag bag for as long as possible. Most, if not all fabrics can be given a second life before they can be purposed as rags. The ingenuity of our predecessors was impressive and there is no reason not to emulate them. Sheets, curtains, judo gis, towels, suits can all be remade into carpets, place-mats, cushion covers, dish rags, clothing material, blankets, quilts, scarves, the list goes on a long as your imagination permits. And yes rags, that’s a valid repurpose.

My plan for these red and orange silk kimonos and the red silk thrums is to weave material for a medium weight jacket for the winter. Something very simple in design, similar to a kimono but without any fitting or lining. My cousin in Japan is hunting an obi or two for me to use as trim. Hopefully this will be functional and attractive once I can solve the problem of the silk bleeding like crazy. But that is a challenge for another day.

Silk thrums easily dye wool and are difficult to control. Silk kimono also run their colour.

 

Not all the kimono could be cut, at least not by me.  This is going to be a project for another day.

 

Spinning Poker Challenge

Spinning Poker Challenge

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.

Mine are

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

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.

Silk Thrums – what DO you do with them??

Silk Thrums – what DO you do with them??

Silk thrums are gorgeous, jewel-like bits of temptation, rich in colour, shiny and sparkly, promising all sorts of lovely uses that will amaze everyone. Or not. Silk thrums are one part of the left overs from the sari silk industry. This is what can’t be woven on the loom and has to be cut off. I would like to see how saris are woven to understand the way the wastage is generated, it still puzzles me, but silk thrums are available in vast quantities to crafters all over the world. The problem with sari silk, and its a huge problem, is how the silk is dyed. There do not appear to be industry standards for colour fastness. Silk is a tricky fiber on a good day, so if dyers can’t determine dye acidity, water temperature, water hardness, or can’t properly degum the silk, the dye will run. I decided to try to use this characteristic of sari thrums to an advantage to see if there could be any benefit to be had.

I took a brilliant red thrum, trimmed the ribbon end and trimmed some silk fibers. The ribbon was soaked in hot water to leech out the dye. The colour saturation was evident as soon as the ribbon was in the jar. The water was totally red, but there is no way to do any metrics on this because the original silk was dyed with an unknown quantity of dye. All this is just a “see if this works” experiment. I snipped a tiny quantity of silk fiber, set it aside to mix with the wool roving I had chosen for dying.

I spun the rest of the silk threads into a single ply yarn. I’m taking a liberty in calling this a single ply, it is in fact a multiple thread yarn. The sari silk is made up of extremely fine thread. I respun those into a single thread with added twist. I can’t show them to you because my camera just can’t pickup the delicacy of those threads.

It was difficult to spin at first, because the fibers are nearly 36 inches long and tended to get tangled. I’ll try a different method next time, but it is possible to spin this into a reasonably nice yarn. The single yarn is plied against some of the merino top that is the basis of the dye bath test. I’ll use this later as part of the dye test.

When I plied the single merino wool with the single red silk they worked well together This is the most durable, hard to break fiber I have ever handled. Silk really is amazing.

I presoaked the remaining merino, drained, opened it along a mid-seam, sprinkled the snipped silk threads all along the centre. I then rolled the merino into a tube and wrapped it with the ribbon from the soak jar. This was set in an acid bath and topped up with the dye water from the soak jar. I use an oven to dye my wool. I cooked this for about two hours at 100C/220F. I expected a more vibrant red, not the pale orange, but this is an experiment, so expectations have to go on the back burner.

 

Colour to dye for

Colour to dye for

When getting my materials together I was often frustrated that I could not get the colours I wanted. This was especially true of silk materials and you had to buy a large quantity to get only a small amount which could be expensive. It was not until my past time of trawling through Youtube videos that a came across the “colour your life, Rae Wollnough” episode. What a revelation. With a very simple process, I could dye not only silks but fibres too.

So I set about getting the materials I needed. Firstly the dyes themselves. I use EasiFix all-in-one protein dye. These dyes work on natural materials like silk and wool etc (I get these from Etsy). These dyes are fixed by heat so no need for a fixing agent. I use a mixture of silk but here I have used a ponge which has a lovely lustre.

Ponge 5 silk

The process is so simple. Cover your table in cling film and wet it with a spray bottle. Place your silk on top, here I have flattened the material out but you can get some nice effects if it’s scrunched too. Your silk must be wet as the colour spreads better and it will burn when heated if it is dry.

Next the fun bit. I use pipettes, brushes or simply pour the dye onto the silk.

Silk wrapped

Once I am happy with the dyeing I wrap the cling around the piece gently patting out as much air as possible. Once wrapped I pop it in the microwave. Only a couple of minutes does a small piece like this. Be mindful to follow the safety instructions of the dyes and only use equipment that is specific for dyeing and nothing you will use domestically.

Once heated I leave the piece to cool completely and it’s this that sets the dyes as well as the heat. This is the worst part of the whole process as I cannot wait to see the outcome. It is not an exact process but the results can be magical.

The piece is rinsed until the water runs clear and it’s done. You can re-dye if you are not happy or think it needs more.

The colour you can achieve are wonderful, the weaker the dye the paler the colour and you can achieve your own colours by mixing also.

Here is a mix of materials I have dyed, silk, silk hankies, throwsters waste. It works equally well on nepps also.
A couple of scarves.

The possibilities are endless and results are well worth the effort as little as it is.

Finished the Hat

Finished the Hat

I got my ha finished…Yay…  So naturally, it is raining. Oh well, I know the cold will come.

Rub, rub, roll, roll. You know the drill. once it shrank enough I popped it onto a hat form to see how it was doing size-wise. It is very hard to photograph because it is so dark and the silk by and large disappears once it is wet.

Top view, it looks a bit raggy around the brim but it isn’t. It has silk wrapped around it and it has shrunk up making wrinkles.  Except for one spot at about 11:00. I will have to sew or needle it down.

Side-ish view, You can just see the silk colour.

It is on my high dome block. It is much too tall but I like the slope of the crown on this one better. the height I want is the block in the back but it is much flatter on top. It is loose on the block too. So more rolling. It didn’t take much rolling to get the right size around but quite a bit to get it short enough.

and then it was time to roll the flower

I pinned it in place so it will dry rolled up nicely.

…..two days later and it’s dry. I am taking pictures quickly because I need my table to wrap presents. I have tried to brighten them on the computer so you can see them better.

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It looks good but trying it on it’s a bit tight. Then I realize why, my high dome is a 22 and my other one is a 23. I need the 23 to allow for my braid. So I turned on the steamer and got it hot and stretched it out to 23 using the right size block. Now it fits properly.

here’s the inside or underside however you look at it. again the dark colour is hard to see but I think you can see the texture of the silk with the Nuno felt.

the felting is finished but I think I will shave it to see if I can bring up the colour of the silk more.  I still need to make a couple of leaves out of this felt and sew the flower so it stays rolled up.

I hope that for the next post I will have something else to show you but also the hat with the leaves and maybe even on my head.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday. It has been great to be able to stay connected to you all through the internet. It has really helped keep me sane through this stressful year of the pandemic.   I will see you in the New Year.

Ann

 

 

 

 

The cowl is finished

The cowl is finished

I did finally get the cowl finished. It turned out just as I had hoped.  I took it up to a flax processing day to show everyone and Jan took some nice pictures of it for me I think they show it off very well.

If you remember this was the inspiration for this cowl. I liked the way the two points overlap.

This is the silk lap side out.

This is the filk fabric side out.

And finally, this is me wearing it. It’s not a great shot of me but it does show how the cowl fits. I plan to use it this winter. My neck is always cold but this will not be bulky under my coat.

I hope you like it and it was worth the wait to finaly see it done.

Decorating the cowl

Decorating the cowl

As you recall I was dying some silk lap for my cowl. They turned out well. Silk always looks so raggy after dying. I think it’s the squeezing out of the excess water. They look a little better dry after a little shake and stretch.

With the cowl being different colours of purple I think either the gold/orange or gold/ orange/purple.

 

I decided on the gold/orange/purple. the gold/ orange was to close the leaf fabric. I cut a small amount from one side of the lap.

 

I stretched the silk over the back of the cowl leaving enough on each end to cover the front.

I flipped it over and then cut up the leaves to decorate the ends. I put some on the underside( the silk side) and some on the top.

Then the other end

You saw above I had about 10 grams of silk. After stretching it out to get the amount of silk lap I wanted, I ended up cutting about 1/4 of it off the 2 ends.

I covered it up and gave it a good rubbing on both sides and rolled it up. Next up, the rolling. I am starting to feel like this is the never-ending cowl but I hope to show you it all finished in the next post. Before I can do that, I have to make some more masks, my mom wants a couple and some more pie making. And of course, today is Halloween. No trick or treating for the kids but the grandkids are having a haunted walk in the field. The grownups have as much fun setting it up as the kids will have running around in it.

 

 

Next Steps for My Cowl

Next Steps for My Cowl

With a few weeks until the Christmas markets, I finally got back to my cowl.

This is as far as I had gotten before I had to put it aside. It took me forever to get the silk wrapped around the template properly and as you can see I had to use painters tape to do it.

The first job today was to sew the center together. I used some nylon thread and large basting stitches so I can pull it out at the end.

I put some tape on the one end of the thread so it should be easy to find when it is finished.

Time to add the wool, 3 shades of purple.

The next thing should have been cutting up the yellow/orange/red prefelt into some leave and put them on the cowl. But that would too easy. I decided I wanted to put some silk on top of everything. I thought about some silk hankies but remembered I had a big bag of silk lap. Silk lap is similar to silk hankies but much bigger and many layers.

As you can see the silk is bright white. I will have to dye it. I am not sure what would be the best colour so I cut several strips of the lap to dye.  I was thinking different shades of green but maybe copper or gold would be better. Maybe a combination s of all 3. What do you think?

First I had to find the end, easier said than done.

Even with many layers, it is still see-through.

Silk takes more preparation to dye than wool and other fibres. Silk is hard to get wet. I added a little dish soap to help the silk get wet. It will have to sit at least overnight to be properly wet so I can dye it. I will show you next week when it’s my turn to post again.

And a reminder about the holiday card exchange. You have until tomorrow night (Oct 24th at midnight) to sign up on the forum. holiday-card-exchange-2020 link  If You have signed up chec the forum on the evening of the 25 to find out who your partner is.

A Spring Shawl

A Spring Shawl

This is a throwback post. We had a very busy first day at the farmers market. The busiest day we have ever had. We had what we thought was a 3-week supply of Pasties and sold all but 2 of them. So there will be no felting this week while I restock 4 flavours of pasties for next week and hopefully enough to last more than one week. So, I hope you enjoy this post from a few years ago.

The museum store wanted some shawls that are more “springy”.  This is the first one.

It is a pastel pink and blue silk with pale pink wool on 2/3 of it. I then added some silk hanky flowers and leaves at each end and in the middle. It was to plane so I added some more leaves down the length. At this point, I remembered to take some pictures.

pink-shawl-silk-flowerspink-shawl-left-end pink-shawl-middle pink-shawl-right-end

The pink wool is in a very thin layer so it will be very lightweight for spring. The finished piece is about 15 inches wide so it can be a small shawl or a wide scarf.

finished-spring-shawl finished-spring-shawl-wool-side-2

finished-spring-shawl-wool-side-1 finished-spring-shawl-silk-side

I like doing shawls with a silk section left to float as you walk.

The pictures are in my studio, taken hastily as my turn to blog snuck up on me. Everyone seems to be complaining about it being too dull outside to take pictures. I have the opposite problem. The sky is blue, the sun is shining and the ground is covered in white highly reflective snow. It is blinding out there.

Are you thinking about spring things with soft colours or are you still in hibernation with warms cozy colours?

 

 

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