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Combining Weaving and Felting by Fiber Artist Cathy Wycliff

Combining Weaving and Felting by Fiber Artist Cathy Wycliff

For many years I have been a lover of textiles, but I never wanted to knit or weave. Too fiddly….knit, purl, knit, purl. Or weave to a pattern but first figure out the sett, the epi. No, not me.

And then last year, I saw Meta vd Knijff’s small homespun weavings on felt on Flickr. Meta also uses natural dyes and paints and takes cool photographs as well. Meta is an artist in the Netherlands who I discovered on Flickr. So, back to the weavings on felt. I thought, hmmmm, if I could do that with weavings, then maybe I would like to weave. Then I discovered Saori weaving quite by accident, somewhere on the world wide web and subsequently took instruction.

I discovered that weaving doesn’t have to have patterns, that weaving can be creative and free, and what’s more–I could combine it with felt.

Over the period of a week or two, I made a bunch of small sample weaves, no plan in mind whatsoever. Then I grabbed some pre-felt I had in my stash, some homemade and some commercial. I fooled around placing the small weavings on pre-felt.

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Most of the weaving samples are cotton and/or wool, and all are woven on black thin cotton warp. There may be the odd novelty yarn thrown in there, since when I was weaving samples, I was not thinking about combining them with felt. I chose 3 samples to felt with: the largest is multi-colored, all cotton warp with all cotton weft. I chose a large bright turquoise commercial pre-felt batts called “Maori” from Opulent Fibers, which I recall being Corriedale. I used small pieces of the same prefect batt to cover parts of the all-cotton weaving.

The second largest piece was a weaving I made with mostly wool and some cotton weft. I used as pre-felt a piece I had cobbled together with my naturally dyed wool, half madder and half logwood. I did not use any wool wisps to cover parts of this weaving.

The last and smallest piece was a small sample weaving I made using partial wool, cotton and nylon weft on cotton warp. I placed the weave onto cider merino ( handmade by me) pre-felt–again no wool wisps to cover.

I felted all of them in the usual way but not rolling as long as normal because I had used pre-felt as the base. Besides, I was impatient to see how they turned out! All of them successfully felted, although I did use a bit of needle-felting to secure some areas, mostly with the largest all-cotton weaving. I think that will make a nice wall-hanging for someone who likes a lot of brightness in their decor. Unsure about the medium-sized one, perhaps a small wall-hanging or pillow-cover? And the third piece I have fashioned into a cuff with vintage buttons. The inside is soft as merino should be!

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Any weavers out there? You really don’t need a floor loom if you would like to get started weaving. You can even use a table loom, a pin-loom, or just hammer some nails into an old wooden photo frame, and you’ll be ready to weave and felt!

 

Thanks Cathy for yet another fiber technique to try!

Fibre Giveaway

Fibre Giveaway

Today it’s my turn for a giveaway, I’m doing fibres too, and very predictably it’s naturals! There are 4 different breeds of natural wool tops totalling aproximately 300g. There’s roughly 100g of Texel and 50g of Devon:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd roughly 100g of Grey Norwegian and 50g of Zwartble tops:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m also including some embellishment fibres, aproximately 150g altogether. There’ll be fibres like Ramie, Bamboo fibre, Kapok, Cotton top and Soy staple:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd Ramie, Plastic Fibre, Nylon Fibre and Cotton fibre:

4fibresI’ll try to include as many different fibres as possible. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. Make sure you use a valid email address because I’ll use that to contact you for postage details. I’ll announce the winner on the 3rd of February, so check back then. Good Luck!

To Sample or Not to Sample

To Sample or Not to Sample

This isn’t as exotic as sampling Swedish wools, but it was a lesson in the benefits of sampling.

A while ago I had showed you a pile of scarves, blouses and remnants I had purchased to try nuno felting.

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While they all passed the “blow”  test or looked or felt like they would felt well, there were a couple of big surprises.

When I make samples, I usually use prefelt and small samples of each of the fabrics on the same piece.  This way they are all felted the same way in the same amount of time in the same way.

Here is a picture of a couple of them before felting.  The upper left was an open cotton weave, the upper right was a scarf of unknown origin.  The lower left was a remnant that was sparkly with some embroidery and the lower right was part of a silk blouse.

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This isn’t a very clear picture below,  but the second from the left was the one scarf I purchased I thought was perfect for nuno and was looking forward to using it on something special.  To the left of that on top was a scarf that felt like it had some lycra in it below was a piece of lace and sequin on some type of mesh. The third from the left was an organza with sparkle.

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Boy was I mistaken.  After all the others were felted I continued to work on the flower and sparkly pieces, but they wouldn’t felt.  I was really glad I didn’t invest in a big project to use the flower scarf.  I even tried it on another piece of felt. You probably recognize the purple on the left that I used for my jewelry roll.  The scarf on the right also felted nicely.  I even used some wisps of wool on top of the flowers, but they clumped together and there were only a couple of threads on the flower piece that caught.

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Here’s a closeup of the right one.

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The other samples turned out nicely. The blue green and red were silk and the gold a polyester organza.

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The one on the right below was a burnout fabric which surprised me it felted so well. On the left a silver gray polyester organza.

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The blue on the left was a piece of lycra which didn’t do well either, but I wasn’t surprised at that. Above that was a piece of acrylic yarn that felted nicely.

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The blouse felted very nicely and I’m sure I’ll use that for a special project in the future.

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I was also surprised at the sequin and mesh.  I thought that also had a lycra base.  I loved how the mystery blue scarf turned out.  It has a shine and felt like a polyester with something else.  It has a very nice texture.

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My favorite was the brightly colored scarf.  Now, I wish I had yards of it instead only part of a scarf.

20150509_131214I don’t always do samples, but if I want to use something for an important project I’ve learned its best to take the time to do it.

Now I know what to expect when I use these fabrics and which ones not to use for felting. Although a couple of them might work with coarser wools.  But that’s for another time.

Bengala Dyes by Guest Artist Cathy Wycliff

Bengala Dyes by Guest Artist Cathy Wycliff

Our guest artist today is Cathy Wycliff aka Luvswool.
Over the past couple of years, I have been experimenting with different kinds of dyes. I started with Wilton icing gels, playing it safe for my first experience. I moved on to acid dyes, with the encouragement of Forum members, and I was delighted with the bright, beautiful colors.

Then I tried dyeing with natural plants, like madder, logwood, and osage orange. I ended up with some beautiful dyed wool. Marilyn and I brewed an indigo vat last summer, dyeing everything from lace curtains to wool and T-shirts. This summer I experimented with eco-printing and had some success, but a few failures as well.

When I studied Saori weaving in Minneapolis recently, my instructor, Chiaki O’Brien, also introduced me to Bengala dyes.

They are natural dyes made from the soil in Japan. I was excited to try yet another type of dyeing. I had the trial set of three colors–pink, orange and gray. I liked the idea of natural dyes, already prepared in liquid form, and non-toxic with no boiling water and no mordants. Following is my pictorial on two sessions of Bengala dyes.

I dyed some cotton, linen, silk ribbon and a silk scarf to see if there were any difference on how each dyed.

Session 1

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Session 2

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If anyone is interested in using these dyes, they are available for purchase from Saori instructors throughout the world.

In the USA, you will find them here: saoristudiofun.com/bengala-dyes/

Otherwise, you can google “Bengala dyes” and find offerings from other parts of the world, including Japan, where they are made. I know for sure that Australia, Canada and the UK have the dyes available from Saori instructors. The dyes are particularly
useful when dyeing with young children.

Thanks Cathy for sharing your experience with us about these Bengala dyes!

That Doesn’t Look Like My Old Jeans

That Doesn’t Look Like My Old Jeans

A while back I made a note to myself to make paper from and old pair of jeans.  I wanted to play with some fiber in a different way from felting.

The first thing I did was to cut the fabric into small 3/4″ squares, discarding the seams.  Then I dragged out my old papermaking equipment which includes an ancient blender.

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Using warm water I filled the bender half way, then added a pinch of the squares and ran the blender for 30 seconds or so until the water turned blue.  This was a long process since I couldn’t overload the blender.

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The resulting pulp was strained.  When I had about a quart (1.14 liters) of pulp, I gave the blender a rest.

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The set up for making the paper included a big container of water, a mould, deckle, pellon and blanket sheets. The deckle in black, the screen covered mould on the left.

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Using a handful of pulp, I added it to the water and agitated it. With deckle on top of the mould, I submerged the pair into the water at a 45 degree angle and came out with a pulp filled sheet.  Without going into all the nitty gritty of all the papermaking steps and terms, I couched (pressed) the paper onto a wet pellon sheet and repeated the steps until I had used up all the pulp and had a pile of sheets.

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The next step was to press the paper in my homemade paper press.

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After letting it sit awhile, I gently placed the paper on a white board and used a haki brush to place it on the board to dry.

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Since the blender was old, the fiber didn’t get chopped very fine, but it made an interesting texture and look with the various long fibers running through the paper.

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Like an old pair of well worn jeans, the paper is soft. One side is smooth where the paper dried on the whiteboard, the other is textured.

I could run it through the process again, but I think I’ll try to felt with it before I do.  What would you do with denim paper?

Learning to Use a Drum Carder to Make Batts

Learning to Use a Drum Carder to Make Batts

Our guest artist today is Cathy Wycliff aka Luvswool.

After several months of taking a hiatus from felting–due to a work project and family health issues–I was starving to get back into it.

Fortunately, Marilyn suggested a lesson in carding batts. I don’t own a carder and my experience with blending fibers has been minimal, that is, using my dog brushes to blend a few bits of wool roving. Last Friday, Marilyn came over with two carders: a Louet Junior with a very coarse cloth (40 tpi?), and a standard Brother with fine (120 tpi) cloth.

I felt more comfortable beginning with the Louet, and grabbed some neutrals to begin the carding process. I used these fibers with no particular plan for my first batt: Mystery fiber chunks and fibers, possibly some Finn hand-spun; hand-dyed vintage yarn (early 80s); small amount of Domestic 56s and Navajo churro–all in various neutral shades, mostly gray.

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Then it was time to move on to the Brother for some finer carding. This time I went for color: Indigo-dyed Domestic 56s, dark blue Merino, hand-dyed mulberry silk, white Tencel, green mystery fiber, possibly Corriedale. The machine was a bit more sensitive, and so the fibers needed to be fed more carefully onto the drum.

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I tried the Brother once again, using slightly different fibers and colors: Hand-dyed Indigo Domestic 56s, dark blue Merino, white Tencel, unknown white fiber (possibly cotton), and Milk protein. Marilyn suggested we make two passes through with the fibers.

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Some things that surprised me about the carding experience: it took a lot of time and was more difficult than I imagined; the fibers don’t necessarily cooperate, in that bits get caught on the smaller drum; and finally, it’s probably a good idea to have a plan of what you want to make with the batts before you begin. This was an experience I really enjoyed and I have made a couple more batts with the Louet coarse carder, which Marilyn generously has loaned me. The neutrals below were passed through three times.

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More mystery fibers in green and yellow.

 

Thanks Cathy for sharing your first experience with carding batts.  Do you still have carder envy?  Personally, I am happy to have the carders.  They have come in handy more than once.  I love making batts just for fun.  I don’t always have a use for them and often give them away.  Its always a creative learning experience!

 

 

 

 

Summer Blues

Summer Blues

When Cathy (Luvswool) and I went to the Midwest Fiber Fair a couple of weeks ago, in our conversations I mentioned I had an indigo dyeing kit I’d like to try.  With some discussion on the forum about the smell indigo produced, I wanted to try to do it while the weather was still nice outside.  Neither of us had used indigo before, so, I invited Cathy to join me in a day of dyeing.

I didn’t have a plan for what I wanted to dye or any specific projects in mind to use the dyed materials.  But Cathy came well prepared with plenty of roving and fabrics to dye.

To save some time, I had set up the buckets for wetting and indigo along with the plastic coverings before she came. It was an overcast day to begin with with a nice breeze across the yard.

set upWe followed the instructions, mixing the indigo, then the chemicals and stirred it in then let it sit for an hour.  But there was no bloom as described.  We reread the instructions and stirred again; then decided to skim the top and begin.

After the first batch, we returned the runny bloom back to the bucket and let our fabric oxide.  It all looked fine, so we continued the process with the rest. Once the first batch was fully oxidized we tag teamed and I washed and rinsed while she dipped the next batch. Strangely enough after the first batch the bloom began to grow.

With a brief break for lunch, we managed to get everything into the pot we both had to dye along with the breaks for letting the pot sit after stirring.  It was a busy day with the dyeing, rinsing and washing. And the day got hotter and sunnier as we worked.

Cathy had spent the evening before rubber banding a large piece of cotton gauze.

Cathy tied corks

Cathy cork cloth

She also brought along a big pile of Domestic 56s roving, some kid mohair yarn, nettle and lace table cloth, miscellaneous bits and pieces of fabric.

Cathy domestic Cathy yarns rovingcathys laceI dyed two blouses that were old, but stained, a very old handkerchief with my name on it, yarn, mulberry silk, pencil roving, thick and thin yarn, a linen doily, some merino and cheviot roving.

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silk and thick n thin stuffI had wadded up some cotton voile and rubber banded it all around.  The end result is the piece draped on the chair.  I like the random patterns it produced.

cotton gauzeCathy brought some corks with her, so I used the corks on a piece of silk gauze.

silk n corksShe also dyed some old thrift store “lace” bedspread pieces, an old linen pillow case, a piece of muslin and a cat mat.  

Since it was getting late in the afternoon and Cathy had a long drive home, we packed up her goodies and she finished rinsing and drying some of her items at home the next day.

We were pleased with the outcome of our “Summer Blues” and the opportunity to give some old items new life and others some pretty blue color.

Cochineal and Indigo Dyeing

Cochineal and Indigo Dyeing

Yesterday my friend Linda and I did some natural dying with cochineal and indigo.  She had purchased a kit with several kinds of natural dye stuffs and instructions. We decided on cochineal and indigo so we could get fuchsia, blue and purple. cochineal is easy enough to prepare you boil it strain it and then reboil what’s left  and strain 4 times to get you dye solution. It was a lovely deep pink. you have to mordant your things to use cochineal. For cotton you have to first soaking in  tannin and in then in alum. For wool you just use alum.

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Here are a couple of the pieces after they came out of the cochineal

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The indigo is a little more involved to get ready and it stinks. first you make up a concentrate using the powder and chemicals. Indigo is used in an alkaline solution. You stir it together and then have to let the purple solution turn yellow/green.

indgo solution Then you have to carefully, under the alkaline water in your bucket, pour the solution in. You do not want to add any oxygen to the dye bath. Then you have to wait another 1/2 hour or so for it all to goes completely yellow again.

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When you add your wet articles to dye you have to carefully lower them into the bucket so as not to add any oxygen to the solution.

putin bundles in indigo The magic happens when you take things out of the indigo. Even after just a couple of min in the bucket things will start to go blue when pulled out.

start to change when you take them out after 30 to 40 min you get much better colour. Here is some cotton that was tied in knots so parts would resist the dye.

out of the indigo untieing the clothThe pieces that were in the cochineal where a disappointment. when we added them to the indigo all the red disappeared and only the blue took.  We discovered after doing some research that we were supposed to used the mordent for 24 hours. That would be  2 days of soaking for cotton and one for wool before you can start to dye.  a couple of the cotton gauze pieces did keep a little pink

cotton gauze here are the rest

dryingThese have all been in the indigo once

and these twice. The very dark ones are a natural dark gray Norwegian wool.

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The other thing I tried was my hair it has gotten long enough that it is becoming hard to handle so I am going to get it trimmed soon. So I thought why not have some fun with it first. I stuck it in the cochineal and then in the indigo.

and in cochiniel ann in the indigo

Unfortunately the cochineal washed right out in the indigo and the indigo did not take at all. In the end Linda had some stuff called panic manic that she used to give me the purple I was looking for.

hair dye anns hair

This was a fun day but I think I will go back to my acid and fiber reactive dyes, so much simpler to use and predictable results. If anyone knows why the indigo didn’t work on my hair I would like to know. I though with hair being a protein fiber it should work.

A Try at Eco Leaf Printing

A Try at Eco Leaf Printing

I have had one previous try at eco printing which didn’t turn out very well. But after Terriea’s recent post, I thought I would give it another go. You can see the process I followed on this post on my personal blog. I did some prints on paper as well, which you can see here. We used a variety of leaves. We did not have the correct kind of eucalyptus so the kind we used is the dried kind that must be artificially dyed. Where you see the bright blue green color on the fabric, it is from that kind of eucalyptus.

bundlesHere are the bundles that I rolled up with the leaves and cooked in the dye pot. I did one piece of silk, two felted scarves and one scarf that is a wool and silk blend. I also dyed several pieces of cotton too.

just opened fabricThese are the scarves after I opened them up and pulled off the leaves. So I did get some color but the leaf prints were still very vague. I was disappointed that you couldn’t see a leaf impression. The paper did much better than the fabric.

leaf impressionHere is a print that almost looks like a leaf. This is silk habotai.

The gallery above shows different portions of the silk. The silk seemed to work best with the leaf prints and took in the most color. I am planning on using this piece of silk for a nuno scarf.

These are photos of the cotton pieces. I didn’t do any leaf prints with these, just threw them into the different dye baths. I have to say that Zed made a comment a while back about some of the natural dye processes just leaving the fabric looking dirty and I agree that some of these fabrics look like dirty dish rags. But perhaps I will find that they will be the perfect background for a project.

And these last photos are of the wool items. The wool did get some color but again, I wasn’t really happy with the “prints”. My plan now is to add free motion machine stitching to the felted scarves in patterns of leaves with fall colored thread. Hopefully, that will make them a bit more attractive. 🙂

Cotton Gauze

Cotton Gauze

I’ve been quite busy lately working on my project of ‘other’ fibres and fabrics used in felting. I’ve been making a lot of felt pieces using lightweight cotton fabrics like muslin and cheesecloth. Another fabric I’ve used is Cotton Gauze, this is sometimes called ‘Scrim’, and I’ve used a couple of different types. Here is a selection of some dyed pieces I have.

It’s really good for creating texture and effects. I’ve been making large bold pieces to use for bookcovers.

I’ve also made some smaller pieces with resists, using the gauze for texture. This piece was for making into a pouch.

and this became a textured sculptural vessel

I’m starting to have a huge pile of colourful, texturey felt pieces all waiting to be made into something once the weather gets too hot for felting. This is a close up of a large piece I made for making a purse and matching mirror case out of.

The lightweight cottons also work really well for using in scarves and wraps instead of the usual silk. Do you use scrim or cotton fabrics in felting, or fibre art? How do you find it to work with? Have you ever dyed your own? I’d love to hear about your experiences with it and see photos if you have links 🙂

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