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Batts, Bamboo and more…

Batts, Bamboo and more…

Our Guest Artist/Author today is Cathy Wycliff aka Luvswool

Recently, I received some nifty embellishment fibers from Zed (thanks again!) around the same time my Opulent order of batts was delivered, so I decided to combine two experiments.
One experiment idea was offered by Fiona Duthie on her blog and involved combining batts for color overlap or shadowing. I chose moss, chlorophyll, teal and sand. All were Opulent coopsworth batts except for the teal, which was handmade and provided by Marilyn (Pandagirl). As I recall, the teal was a combo of hand dyed Cheviot, Domestic 56s, merino and mulberry silk. I lifted the edges of each batt and overlapped the next color of batt, then wet-felted to the pre-felt stage.

 

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Next, I added the first set of embellishment fibers, shown up-close in the photo below: bamboo staple, banana, milk fiber and crimped viscose.

 

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I wanted to see which fiber proved to be the shiniest. As I worked the fiber in, I was not paying much attention to the coopsworth batts, which did not provide as much shadowing as I had expected. Could be the unevenness of the batts or unequal distribution of the overlapped batts, or perhaps not enough fulling. All of the embellishments added shine, but I think maybe the crimped viscose turned out best, closely followed by the banana and milk. Although the bamboo staple did not provide much shine, it sparked an idea for a future experiment as an inclusion in nuno-felting.

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I grabbed my next set of Zed’s embellishment fibers, this time using (top to bottom) black bamboo, pale blue acrylic (looks white in photo), black nylon tops and green nylon.

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I placed all of the fibers on Domestic 56’s roving, which I lightly pre-felted. I was pleased with the sample results, especially the grey/black bamboo (top) and the crazy/wild green nylon (bottom).

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I’ll definitely want to use these fibers as embellishments in my upcoming projects!

Thanks Cathy! You had some great discoveries with new fibers!

Suffolk, Banana, Masham and Bamboo

Suffolk, Banana, Masham and Bamboo

I’ve used banana fibre tops with Suffolk wool tops before, so I know they look really interesting together. I fluffed up some of the banana fibre, and added it to the top of the Suffolk. Though I used lessl of the banana fibre than I have previously, I wasn’t disappointed by the results.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis angled picture shows the texture more:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a close up of the centre part

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd this is a supermacro of the wool and fibre texture

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the middle along the right edge is an area where the fibres are a little thicker. In the top photos it looks quite dense, but a supermacro close up shows the tangle of wool and banana fibres.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd from this angle you can see the pattern even better

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother combination of wool and fibres I found really interesting is Grey Masham and Bamboo top. I’m not sure if Masham is classed as a coarse breed, I think its Micron count is between 29 and 34. It’s certainly more ‘wiry’ than fine wools, but is still quite soft to the touch. The contrast of the wool and sheen of the bamboo was quite striking, yet at the same time, the wool seemed to ‘absorb’ the fibre. This is the whole piece from an angle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is slightly closer and from above, there’s an area in the centre with barely any fibre on it:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a close up of the dense patch just to the right, it’s interesting to see how the fibres are still affected by the characteristics of the wool even when they are thicker.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a close up of the area just left of centre at the top of the piece, showing dense and sparse patches.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI hope you’re not getting bored of these because I have about 30 other breeds of wool and about 15 natural fibres, I’m not going to do the maths, but that’s quite a variety of combinations I can come up with!

2012 Review

2012 Review

It’s hard to believe it’s almost a year since we posted about our plans for 2012! Looking back over what I’d hoped to achieve I didn’t expect to have done many of them, as the year panned out a lot differently than I expected. One thing I really wanted to do was learn some stitches by taking part in Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST). I did try my hardest, but I found the instructions really hard to follow and gave up after about 13 weeks. I never got the chance to explore direct dyeing felt any further, which is probably a good thing, since I’d hoped to combine the results with stitches I learned from TAST ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I did dye some fabrics for using in felting, though. And I did actually get around to trying out a Suri Alpaca sample, but I’d hoped to try a few more ‘controlled’ samples so never had enough to make a post about it.

suri alpacaOne thing I was really looking forward to spending time on in 2012 was working more with other felting fibres and fabrics, and writing some tutorials for the studio site. Early in the year I did make quite a few pieces exploring natural fibres with natural wools, which I really enjoyed. Some of the results were quite interesting, like this Suffolk wool and banana fibre piece, a photo of which ended up being used by a Lecturer at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) for a book.

suffolkI did write a few tutorials for the blog this year, but they weren’t about fibres. It seems like I spent a big portion of my time in 2012 on the phone to various government departments and agencies trying to get onto a scheme to become self-employed. I thought I had all the information I needed until it came to writing my business plan and realised I (along with everyone else, it seems) have no idea whether the scheme lasts 6 months or 12, which is quite a problem if you’re trying to forecast things! But hopefully that will all be sorted out in the new year.

I enjoyed taking part in the Studio Challenges this year, I haven’t done a piece for Karen’s weather challenge yet, but I do have some wool and fibres blended and around 40 photos of storm clouds to work from in the next few days ๐Ÿ™‚ Another thing I enjoyed this year was finally learning how to make silk paper. I did intend to try a few more methods, but that was another thing I didn’t get around to, though I did buy a book about it!

silk paperA couple of my favourite things from this past year are the bird pods I made and using the electric sewing machine my mum gave me to make collage notebook and diary covers. I still haven’t mastered the speed pedal on the machine, but I can wind a new bobbin really well ๐Ÿ™‚ The bird pods were great to do, I haven’t had much success previously making 3d felt from flat resists, but they all turned out really well. This is my favourite.

bird pod whiteI’m looking forward to 2013, all the challenges and exciting new things yet to come. I hope you’ve had nice holidays and if you’ve done your own 2012 review, post a link in comments, we’d love to read them ๐Ÿ™‚

Even more Natural Wools and Fibres

Even more Natural Wools and Fibres

Earlier this year, I made a piece of felt intending to make a notebook cover out of it. The base is natural grey Merino and on the top there is: crimped viscose; black viscose top; banana fibre; hemp; soybean fibre and top; milk protein fibre; black and white bamboo top; ramie; ingeo; flax; silk top; egyptian cotton and cotton gauze.

I’d really like to use a yarn or thread spun from natural grey wool to sew it up, preferably not too expensive. If anyone knows anywhere selling natural yarns, I’d be really grateful to know ๐Ÿ™‚

Every now and again, I like to try felting with things found in the garden. A while ago I tried bamboo leaves between layers of felt which turned out really well. I also tried some pampas grass flowers (Cortaderia) at the same time, and was surprised how well that felted with very little anchorage. The pampas is felted to the surface and on this piece is just artistic/decorative, it wouldn’t stand up to handling etc.

I don’t know what plant I used in the third piece, it is some little branches from a tumbleweed my girlfriend saw while out walking her dog and brought home for me. I love the way it looks held up to the light, it almost looks stitched.

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*** Sorry for the lay out and the use of the carousel yet again. I did originally format the post so that the photos appeared between the text in the relevant places, but, like Ann last week (and me every time I try to include photos) what was published was nothing like how it was originally layed out. After 3 attempts to get it to stay how I write it, I’m giving up. To see larger photos, click ‘permalink’ under the photos in the carousel.

Lots of ‘other’ fibres

Lots of ‘other’ fibres

Although a lot of the speciality fibre tops seem to look very similar at first, especially the white ones, they all have their own unique qualities. It’s interesting to try the different fibres on different types of wool to find out how they work together. Sometimes, they really compliment each other. Other times, like Banana fibre on grey Suffolk, they give interesting textural results. One thing I like to try is lots of different fibres on one type of wool. This shows the differences in how the fibres work with the same wool and also which would work well together with the same wool. I recently got some nice brown Finnish wool tops and tried 7 different speciality fibres with it. I alternated between the white/silvery fibres and the creamy/golden fibres. In order from Top to Bottom, I used: Banana fibre tops; Soybean tops; Ingeo tops; Flax; Milk Protein fibre tops; Hemp and Ramie tops.

Earlier this year I made a Merino and Hemp pouch which was ‘lined’ with cotton gauze. The texture was gorgeous. I’ve used the gauze a few times along with other fibres, and it always looks great, so I thought I’d try it on its own with some dark brown Corriedale. I’d planned to use it just as a test piece, but I really liked how it turned out, so I tried it in a frame I’d recently bought and loved the way it looked.

What have you been working on lately? Do you have a favourite combination of other/speciality fibres that work well together? Or a fibre or fabric like the gauze which makes a great feature by itself?

*** If you want to see decent sized pictures, click on ‘Permalink’ under the photo. For some reason that carousel thing makes them ridiculously small

Grey Wools and Banana Fibre

Grey Wools and Banana Fibre

Sometimes, the wool and fibres I’m using don’t felt the way I expect them to. This was the case recently when I tried banana fibre with grey Suffolk wool tops. We often say there’s no bad wool, just the right wool for the job. I’d say that was true for wool and fibre combinations too. The banana fibre I used came as combed tops, but I fluffed it up and placed hair-ball like bits of fibre dotted around on top of a couple of layers of the Suffolk. I really didn’t expect the result I got, it was the most unusual effect I’ve seen with fibres and wool so far. Although the banana did felt onto the Suffolk somewhat, it wasn’t firmly attached and gave interesting cobweb like results. The banana fibre in the top right corner reminded me of the compact cocoon-like spiderwebs you find in crevices. Or all over trees and fields after flooding (eek!) ๐Ÿ™‚

I finally got around to trying out Ann’s bird pods this week ๐Ÿ™‚ The first couple of layers are grey Merino, then I added lots of raw Gotland locks around the edges and added a couple of layers of Gotland roving that Kaz sent me a while back. To finish, I used some carded Gotland fleece and a few wisps of banana fibre. It is about 11.5 inches tall and about 7.5 across the middle. I mainly get small birds here, so the hole is only about an inch in diameter.

There are a couple of new uploads in the Tutorials section of the site. The first is How to make roving from silk hankies on the Fiber Preparation page, and on the ‘Other‘ page, is a short guide to taking photos of felt and fibres. They are both in PDF format and can be downloaded.

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