Playing Around

I’ve had a note on my kitchen white board for months which just says “unravelled knitting and plastic fibre.” I was stirring a pan of instant noodles one day and thought how much they looked like unravelled knitting and how much the frothy, boiling water reminded me of plastic fibre. I intended to make it in felt, but only got around to it yesterday. I picked Charolais wool, I thought this would make a spongy felt and help create the right effect. I think I would have been better off with something like Cheviot. This is the full piece:

Close up of the plastic fibre as frothy, boiling water:

Close up of unravelled knitting (which I think was mostly wool) as instant noodles:

While I had my White Wools tub out, I thought I’m make another couple of pieces to try combining different wools with fibres. This one was made with English 56s. It was a bit different to previous packs I’ve had, the fibres were much longer, almost like there was a high Devon content. I used some hand dyed Nylon Fibres. I love the colours you get with Nylon, especially the blues, which is why there are so many shades on this:

I don’t know if it’s obvious to you, but it definitely has a different look this Eng 56s, more ‘wavy’:

Here’s a close up of some green (the blue was impossible to capture)

For my last piece I used my new favourite wool, Rambouillet. And some fibres I have a ton of, crimped polyester lap-type things, (or as the shops call it ‘Hallowe’en cobwebs’!). I’ve tried this before with various results. It really attached well into the Rambouillet:

It looked to me like wet paper, the way it will form to whatever it dries on top of.

It kept a lot of its crimpy character while still forming a mat of fibres:

It was quite hard to get close ups, the green and orange are both fluorescent. Green:

Orange:

I don’t have any plans for them, I just needed a ‘play day’ ­čÖé

Posted in Other Fibers, Wet Felting | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Making Some More Little Bags

I haven’t had much time to felt and today I finally got some time to start some new little bags.

The last time I made little bags I forgot to add the spikes that end up as the closures so I made a bunch of spikes to be ready this time. Now to remember to make the rings for the bottom.

I make these bas self lining by putting fabric next to the resist. This creates a nuno felt lining and I don’t have to do it later. I licked this silk scarf a friend gave me for it’s nice bright colours and interesting dye pattern.

The other thing adding the nuno lining dies is add strength allowing me to make a thinner, less bulky bag. I set up 4 resists because if you are going to rub and roll some felt you might as well do make it worth while.

Here are the 4 bags ready to be put together. I try not to match the linings to the bag colour to much so it doesn’t disappear when I am done.┬á I may have to switch the 2 middle ones.

At this point I had to stop and switch the laundry and got distracted with other things so I haven’t made it past this point today. You will notice that I have forgotten the rings at this point but I have a chance to fix this when I get back to them. It is not to late …..yet. Next time I will hopefully have some progress to show you.

Ann

 

Posted in Design, Felt bags, Nuno Felting, resists, Uncategorized, Wet Felting | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Up the North Fork

Here is the fifth in my series of nuno felted landscapes. It is called Up the North Fork after a portion of the Flathead River here in Montana.

Here is the layout and after wet down and felted slightly.

And here it is after felting. You’ll notice that the foreground has wool on top in browns and orange. I decided to remove that because I wanted it to look more like a river and I think the silk does that better than the wool.

I added fabric trees and fused those in place before machine stitching. This is before I decided to remove the foreground wool. The plan was to shave it off. I tried that but finally decided just to pull it off. Then I shaved the edges a bit at the edge of the “river”.

And here is the finished piece after much stitching of trees and a huge variety of green threads changed in and out of the sewing machine. The photo on the left shows the organic edges and the one on the right is cropped as if matted and framed.

I did talk to a framer about these 6 pieces and he thought I should keep the organic edges. His suggestion is to attach each piece to a matching background fabric, stitch the piece in place and then wrap the background fabric around foam core board. Then I could use a simple black frame and the background fabric will look like the matting. And you can still appreciate the organic edges. So I think I will try that and see how I like it. Only one more piece to finish and I’ll start choosing the background fabrics and get the pieces ready for framing.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

The magic of blocking your hand knits

Hello, Leonor here guest-writing for this week’s post.

After reading the title, if you’re not a knitter, you’re probably wondering what I’m talking about. What on earth is blocking and why am I writing about it?

Simply put, blocking refers to the act of stretching a knitted item with the aid of specialised wires and pins, with the intention of making it look a certain way. Think of all those airy, lacy shawls you’ve seen people wear – those have been carefully and mercilessly blocked into submission.

leonor1leonor2

Above is my latest project, the Banana Leaf Shawl. It looks nice-ish, but it lacks that finesse that one usually finds in store-bought shawls. The stitches look limp and you can see the differences in my gauge. Let’s make it right.

Firstly, soak the item in room-temperature water (add a nice wool wash if you want; I used Eucalan, a no-rinse Grapefruit-scented one). Let it sit for about 15 minutes and then carefully extract the excess water. Your knit needs to be damp but not dripping.

leonor3

Now comes the fiddly part. Using blocking wires, you’ll need to catch the edges of your project so it’ll keep the shape you want (in my case, everything’s a straight line, but it can be crescent-shaped, for example).
I decided to do this just before going to bed, thinking it wouldn’t take me long – how wrong I was. After one hour, I was losing the will to live. I’d need another hour to finish getting the wire through all the edges.

Next, you’ll need to pin the wires to a surface. There are special fancy mats you can buy for that, but I got some for home gyms that are a fraction of the price and do the job nicely.

leonor4

Because I have cats, I couldn’t risk them getting hurt on the blocking pins, so I had to move my blocks vertically for the night. I then used my desk chair to keep everything upright.

Once your finished object is dry, you can take the pins out and because fibre has memory (like the mohair and silk of this shawl), it’ll keep its shape… until you wash it again. Yes, blocking needs redoing every time a knit gets wet! Don’t you have a newfound respect for all the people who knit delicate lacy shawls?

leonor5

And here’s the finished product. I hope you can see how different my Banana Leaf now looks, comparing it to the first photo – from a slightly misshapen piece to one with sharp, well-defined edges. It’s grown quite a bit, too.

leonor6

leonor7

The stitches look so much better, too, neater. They’re suddenly really well defined. This shawl now looks like something one would see in a shop front, if I do say so myself.

leonor8

Even if you’re not a knitter, I hope you’ve marvelled, like I do every time, over the magic of blocking knitwear. If you fancy reading the technical bits about this particular project, head on over to my Ravelry page.

Have you ever done blocking? Can you think of any ways this technique could be used for other fibre endeavours? I’d love to read (and steal) your good ideas.

Posted in Fiber Preparation, Guest Artists, Guest Writer, Knitting, Silk, Wool | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

A Couple of Felting Videos

I’d planned to do a different blog post for today, but my workspace re-arranging has been really slow, so things didn’t pan out. But as I have nice clean windows and more space, while it was bright and sunny yesterday, I thought I’d take the opportunity to do a few practise videos. Videos are a bit out of my comfort zone! Of course, that didn’t turn out as expected either, the first one was too dark; on the second one I lost track of how many layers I’d done, and my neighbour called round and rang my really loud and annoying new doorbell!

Third time lucky? Not quite, the camera battery ran out before I’d finished ­čÖé I think I got enough info from it though to make notes on things to change, for example, maybe when laying out the left hand side, I could spin the layout around so that my arm isn’t in front of the camera. I’d planned to add captions when I edit the ‘proper’ video, but maybe it’s self explanatory? Also, I’d originally planned to edit out all background music and noise – I live near a main road and it is really noisy, but when I took off all audio, it was a bit weird. Have a look and tell me what you think.

I finished the layout while the camera was recharging. I added some fibres, all hand dyed, mostly viscose, soy and nylon staple, with some silk throwster’s waste. I didn’t charge it long enough though, because it ran out just before the end again! There was only the rinsing left to do though. I think a video of the wet felting process needs a few captions even though it is pretty self explanatory too. It’s probably about as interesting as watching paint dry, but if you want a look and offer any opinions, please do!

Here’s a photo of the finished felt:

I might have got carried away with the fibres, but there were so many nice colours!

You can’t have too many can you?

Last one:

What have you done outside your comfort zone, lately?

Posted in Wet Felting | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Felted Cat Cave, A Quick How To

Another old post from me. This is one of the most visited posts we have, so thought everyone might like to see it again.

I have been wanted to make a cat cave for sometime now. I decided it needed to be bright. I picked some Blue Faced Leicester  wool so it would be strong and dyed it chartreuse. Then I picked some purple and magenta for the spikes.

Spikes and Wool

I wanted an oval cat cave. I used my oval hat form to get the shape and gradually sized it up.

Drawing the Resist

I laid out 4 layers of wool for strength and even shrinkage. I put the first side aside and after laying out the second side I poked holes to put the spikes through.

Spikes in the Wool

After wetting it all down I wrapped each spike in plastic wrap so it would not get felted down flat.

Spikes all Wrapped Up

I covered it with a sheer curtain and rubbed both sides for a while and rolled it for a while and then wrapped it up and put it in the dryer twice, changing the position of the felt each time.  It was starting to shrink so I cut out the resist and switched to rolling it in a stick blind. I find the stick blinds to be very aggressive and shrinks felt quickly.  I did do some throwing too. Finally I rinsed the cave out in a bucket of alternately hot and cold water being quite aggressive with it. I then had to stretch the top so it would be domed up. I steamed it to heat it up and make it easier to stretch. Mostly I used a wooden spoon to push in a sliding motion to get the shape. Here it is on top of the resist so you can see how much it shrank.

Finished Cave on top of the Resist

Here it is in use, it didn’t take long for one of my cats, Wu, to take up residence.

 

Cat in Cave

As a foot note Wu ( queen of all things) is no longer with us. This is one of my favourite pictures of her. She really like the cave and we buried her in it, here on the farm.

Posted in Experiments, Other Fibers, Tutorials, Uncategorized, Wet Felting, Wool | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Sunset at the Lake

Here’s another one of the nuno felt pieces I made in April.

This one was originally supposed to go this way with the silk at the top being the sky.

But then I decided to turn it into a sunset and this orientation worked better for that. So the silk became the lake.

I added some tree shapes in hand dyed cheese cloth.

Then ironed those down with fusible. The fusible keeps them in place when free motion machine stitching and prevents the foot from catching on the loose pieces and moving them around.

I then added machine stitching to the trees, made shadows on to the lake and created the sunset. I also added a few lines to the water to make it look a bit more lake like. I used a variety of thread colors especially in the sunset.

Here is the result and better than I expected. About halfway through the sunset, I thought it was going to look terrible but I pushed on through and it worked. I wish the sun wasn’t so near the center of the piece but I do think it looks better when it is cropped and I can change the cropping if I really want to cut a little bit more off the right edge. I have two more of these to go and then I need to get them all framed. The set of 6 will be shown in an exhibition in September.

 

 

Posted in free motion embroidery, Nuno Felting | Tagged , , | 23 Comments