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Bubble Texture

Bubble Texture

My best-laid plans have gone awry, so I am going to show you a short piece I did back in 2012. Texture seems to be a popular topic so this should fit right in. Although this is an older post if you want to comment or ask about it you can.

People seem to be interested in how to make bubbles in felt. I know there is more than one way but this is how I did it. This is the storey of my bubble hat. I had made a renaissance hat form Chad Alice Hagen’s hat book. I t was to show a group of ladies that were taking a hat class with me. It is a big hat made on a resist that is shaped like a big droopy mushroom. When you finish it you make wrinkles in it and clothespin them till it dries. The problem is it looks great if you push it all forward and take a picture but from the back, it doesn’t look very good. I am sorry I don’t have a picture of it at that point.

What I did was use a shibori dying technique. I used felt balls but marbles or crumple tinfoil will work the same. I started in the middle. You pull the felt around the ball and tie it off as tight as you can. Move out from there repeating the wrap and tie. When it was all done I dropped it in a simmering dye bath. I let it boil for about an hour. When using this as a dye technique it is usually done on a non-felting fabric so you open it up later and flatten it out you have a die pattern. When you do it to felt at a boil it felts more and the bubble shapes stay in. Making bubbles takes a lot of felt. The hat would fit my dog now. If you put your hands in like a puppet it makes s great Muppet monster.

Shibori Shrug Jacket

Shibori Shrug Jacket

Heres another throw back post. I thought if I do not remember doing this maybe you won’t either. I hope you like it.

After seeing Ruth’s jacket it reminded me I had made a small one for one of my daughter’s dolls years ago. I thought I should give it another try but life size this time. I thought about doing it seamless but decided that it would make something that is a simple design into something complicated. Although I am not a great sewer I was sure sewing 2 straight seems on my machine should not be beyond me.

There are quite a few pictures so I have put them in a gallery for ease of viewing. If I could figure out how to post pictures side by side or in groups I would but that is beyond my skill level.

First I made a large piece of nuno felt. I used silk gauze and merino wool. After it was finished I put it in a red dye bath. It came out quite nice. It’s hard to tell from the picture because my camera did not like the red at all. The one you see was the best of a bad lot.

The next thing to do was the shibori. I finger pleated the middle of the piece starting at one short end. I very carefully held it flat and tight while I tied it. The first tie is the hardest one. After that you just pleat it up tying every couple of inches. You don’t want to be too neat about it. If the pleats are to perfect you get straight lines. You want your pleats to be tight so some of the material will resist the dye in the second bath. This type of shibori is supposed to make a bark like pattern. I put the tied up piece in a purple dye bath hopping for a nice red purple to appear on my cloth. It came out black. After it was dry the gauze side had more of a purple look but still very dark.

I sewed up my jacket. I made the material far too wide so the jacket ends up long. The short sides overlapped a lot when folded up. I had to have long “lapels” to make it work. It is not a mistake it’s a design feature, just ask me :O) It is still to long for me. I think it may look good one someone who is tall and thin. Two things I am not.

All in all not a bad try. I’ve made another piece of nuno felt to try again, I made it narrower this time. Now I have to find the time to sew it up.

Felted Cat Cave, A Quick How To

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.

Making Socks from Start to Finish

Making Socks from Start to Finish

Our guest artist is Leonor  from Felt Buddies who is sharing a special sock story and process.

Today I’m sharing with you some sock making, from the dye pot to the finished product.

A few months ago, I got a new tattoo from my husband’s co-worker Jim (if you’re guessing my other half tattoos for a living, you’re guessing right). In exchange for his work, Jim asked me to knit him a pair of socks – he’d seen me knit whilst in the studio and was fascinated by the concept of having a garment made especially for someone. I happily obliged!

Because I own my own fibre business, I have a lot of sock yarn available to dye at my pleasure. After talking to Jim about his colour preferences, I got to work. I loved that he asked me for three of my favourite things in socks:

  • Mismatched colours with contrasting heels and toes;
  • Bright colours (you can’t get brighter than magenta and purple!)
  • Socks that glow under UV light.

I had some yarn I was keeping for a special occasion and this was the perfect time to use it. It’s a very soft alpaca/merino/nylon blend.

For some reason, at the time I thought it was a good idea to break down the yarn into four pieces – two for the main body, two for the heels and toes. I’ve no idea why I did this, since I was only using two colours, but hey. I simply weighed the skein and took out 15 grams for each foot to make the smaller parts.

I then soaked the fibre in some water and synthrapol in preparation for dyeing. Synthrapol is a wetting agent and helps the wool absorb more dye. It’s also excellent to rinse out fibres.

After the yarn was thoroughly wet, I made my dye stock using professional-grade acid dyes and to the pots I went.

After adding the colour to the water, I placed one little skein and one big one in the pot and let the fibre sit for a few minutes without any heat. Because this yarn isn’t treated to be superwash (non-felting), the dye takes longer to penetrate the fibre, so I wanted to give it some time to get to every bit of wool.

I then turned the heat on and once the water started simmering, let it be for about 10 minutes, turned it off and let the wool cool completely in the pot. This allows for the remaining dye to be soaked up, and also makes for a brighter finished colour work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to turn my skein of yarn into a ball, I used an umbrella swift (pictured above, on the left) to hold the fibre whilst I pulled it onto a skein winder (above right) to make a neat ball. I have all the cool gadgets!

Once the yarn was dyed, washed, rinsed and dry, it was time for knitting. I had made an impression of Jim’s foot beforehand and used it as my template to make sure they’d fit. If you’re curious, this is a technique taught in a pattern called Fish Lips Kiss Heel that makes for fail-safe sock fitting (and heel-making). It’s available on Ravelry at a very low price and I highly recommend it.

And here’s the finished socks! I still had to weave in the ends in this picture, but I’m happy to report that’s been done since and I have presented this squishy pair to a very enthusiastic Jim.

Now, for a fun little extra: I asked for a photo of him wearing the socks for my social media. Be careful what you wish for! Jim took the picture, alright – he got down to his underwear and struck a hilarious sexy pose for me. If a bit of skin doesn’t offend you and you like a good laugh, hop on to my Instagram @feltbuddies and look for yourself. There’s a black and white photo with a disclaimer about the partial nudity, and after you swipe there’s Jim happily wearing my socks… J

 

Thanks Leonor!  If you’d like to follow more of her fiber adventures,  you can see her work here:  https://www.feltbuddies.co.uk/

 

Around the Web

Around the Web

I’ve been a bit busy and haven’t had time to create much. So I thought you might enjoy a few things from around the web. Some of these have been created by or pointed out by forum members, so thanks to those of you who pointed me in the right direction!

fibres around the web

Jane Mercer posted about her recent visit to Woolfest 2016.

Fiber arts video from Peru. (in Spanish)

Felting around the web banner

Russian video about laying wool in specific directions. In Russian but drawings are very helpful.

Karen Lane’s new version of Yellow Poppies.

Shibori felting video with Rae Woolnough.

Teri Berry’s new ram hat and illuminated lion fish.

Nada’s nuno felted blouse.

Lyn and Annie’s (RosiePink) recent pineapple challenge and Lyn’s bird.

Pam de Groot’s Text and Texture exhibition pieces.

Vote for Kim Winter’s proposal to turn the bathroom into a grotto covered in felt shells. (She needs 5 stars!)

dyeing around the web

Cathy’s eco-printing in a pomegranate dye pot.

Terriea Kwong’s recent natural printing.

stitching around the web

Catherine Frere-Smith’s embroidered fabric birds.

mixed media around the web

Mary Beth Shaw of StencilGirl Products has been doing live streaming videos of a variety of stencil techniques on Facebook. Just scroll down to check out the different videos.

 

 

Dyeing with Avocado Pits Part 1

Dyeing with Avocado Pits Part 1

I don’t know where I ran across the blog on dyeing with avocado, but I eat a good amount of it and always feel guilty throwing it out.  My Son Brad and his wife Mari compost, but we don’t maintain a big enough garden to justify a compost heap.   So, when I read the blog and did some further research, I started freezing the pits and skins.

When I had about ten or eleven of them, I started my dyeing project.  There were several posts on how to dye with the pits.  One said to use the whole pit, another said to cut them.  I had started cutting them so I went with that.

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I prepared some merino (76 gm, thick and thin yarn 4-8 gm, silk habatoi -1/4 yard, silk gauze 1/4 yd and cotton voile 1/8 yd) by washing with synthropol and rinsing then soaking.

I put the pits in about 2 gallons of water and brought it to a boil, added the fabrics, then simmered for an hour. I let it cool down then added the wool and let it sit overnight.

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Here is what the liquid looked like.

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After rinsing and letting it dry, here were the results:

20160122_110441Close ups:

20160122_110547 20160122_110538 The silks were a pinkish coppery color and the wools a lighter version.  The cotton voile was a brighter pink.

Have you ever tried this?

Next up is the avocado skins.  Stay tuned until next week…

Pandagirl’s Year in Review 2015

Pandagirl’s Year in Review 2015

I really challenged myself the beginning of 2015. I was determined to try free motion embroidery and used Rosiepinks (Lyn’s) instructions for making a round bowl. It turned out nice, but it was a little tense going round and round.

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My fan has to be the hardest felt project I’ve done so far.  Getting and keeping all those fan blades in place was maddening.

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Then I began work on making batts and bootie favors for my daughter in law Mari’s baby shower. 60 of them!

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I attempted a felted box.

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A clutch/makeup bag for a new Grandma.

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I gave my drum carder a workout blending colors and making a color wheel for the 1st Quarter Color Challenge.

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Still in baby mode, I felted over a wire baby buggy.

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Cathy and I received our first order from WOW, so the sample making began using wools I hadn’t used before.

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A wine bottle cozy.

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Going back to my roots, I made denim paper, then felted it, and later made a glass case.2015-04-22 15.55.27

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Stepping  out of my comfort zone, I started using neutral colors and some wildly bold combos.

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Some wooly fun with my Grandson Luke.

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For a short period, Cathy and had a fish off.

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For the 3rd Quarter Challenge I used a color generator, dyed, carded some batts using those colors, then made in Ipad cover.

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My sister invited me to her quilt group for a Trunk Show.

rooster

To keep my earrings organized while I travel I made a jewelry roll.

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I tried getting my work space organized.

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Cathy and I attended the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival.

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Dyeing for special projects.  Some yet to be seen.

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A nuno wall hanging for my daughter in law Lia.PART951442274018055950914151919

A challenge in combining techniques to make an elephant pic for my Sister.

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The 4th Quarter Challenge – monochrome panda with dimension.

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Odds and ends.

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Making ornaments with my Grandsons.

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I had a lot of help this year and want to thank Cathy Wycliff for posting about making arm warmers, learning to make batts, her artist residency in Breckenridge CO, dyeing with natural plants, and Bengala dyes; Zara Tuulikki Rooke for showing us her process for making batts from raw fleece, shearing sheep, lambing in Sweden,  making a rug from raw fleece and sampling different Swedish wool breeds; Leonor Calaca for giving us a virtual tour of the Knitting and Stitching Show in London; Carol Gascoigne (Craftywoman) for submitting her 3rd Quarter Challenge; Lyn (Rosiepink) for her 3rd Quarter Challenge submission; Mary Stori for her advice on beading; and Jill Chadek for sharing her journey to becoming a felt artist.

Happy New Year!  On to new felting journeys for 2016!

 

 

 

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!

More Samples with Interesting Results

More Samples with Interesting Results

We’ve been talking on the forum about how important it is to make samples, especially when using new fibers or unknown fabrics.  It’s better to take a little time to make a sample, than to waste a lot of time and fiber.

I still had one fiber from WOW I hadn’t tried.  It was actually a Jacob batt.  The batt was very uneven so I used two layers and still ended it up with a couple of sparse spots.  I only felted the samples to the prefelt stage so I could use them in another project.  The end result of the Jacob was it was very loose and spongy.  I’m tempted to full it to see what happens.  It is very similar to the Black Welsh I featured in a previous post.

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I recently did an experiment with one of Fiona Duthie’s 15 minute projects called Mountains.  It’s lost it’s bowl shape a little, but I really liked the curliness of the base, but couldn’t remember what fiber I used.

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I have been trying to use more of the coarse fibers I have.  But I have been terrible about remembering to write down what I’ve used.  I thought Icelandic was harder to felt.  It has a very long staple, dyes well, and whenever I use it in has to be shaved when finished. So, I decided to make a prefelt of this as well.

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What I discovered is it is soft at this stage, but felted easily.

So, have I been badmouthing the wrong fiber? I have a fair amount of Cheviot so I figured I would experiment with that as well.  The Cheviot had a shorter staple but the resulting prefelt was soft and a little lighter in color than the Icelandic which I thought was a lighter color. Hmmm.

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When I went with Cathy to the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival, I purchased some Navajo Churro which I have never used.  It had a short staple and was coarse to the touch and filled with little knots.  The resulting prefelt was very hairy and much flatter than the others.  It reminded me of Gotland I had made a sample of a while back, but while they look similar, the Gotland was very smooth to the touch. It also had been fulled, so that may make a difference.  The Churro was very hairy.  I have some white Churro I will try dyeing later on.

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Last but not least, I made a Romney prefelt and found my curly fiber.  (its more noticable at the sparser edges. It is rougher to the touch but I like the cobweb wavy type look.  It also has a long staple.

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I had done similar samples using habatoi silk, mulberry silk fiber and yarns on each of them a while back, fulled, dyed and then stitched them together. Here is the Four Day Dye Experiment http://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2014/06/15/four-unintentional-days-of-dyeing/

These samples were fully felted and it is hard to tell the difference except to rub my hands over them. The Icelandic and Domestic 56 are coarser to the touch than the Cheviot and the Romney.  Different than at the prefelt stage.  I think in the future I may take a smaller sample to full and compare obviously they are different.

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Now as a preview to some more future sampling on a pile of fabric samples to test.

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What is your experience with sampling?

 

Dyeing for Special Projects

Dyeing for Special Projects

On the Felting and Fiber Forum, I had mentioned doing some dyeing for projects and Zed encouraged me to write about it.

I’ve had a couple projects in mind that I needed specific colors in silk and wool and needed to mix colors to get the shades I needed.

The first one was for my daughter in law for a wall hanging.  More about this next week. This one I used a dye bath for silk gauze, silk roving and merino.  I also threw in some Corriedale to have on hand. I washed the silk gauze in synthropol an soaked it and the silk roving overnight in a vinegar bath.  I soaked the wools in a vinegar bath for about a half hour before dyeing.  I didn’t need too mix colors for this job. It was an Idye mix I had made a couple of years ago.  I wasn’t sure if it would still be ok, but it worked well.

I was pleased with the results and got the exact shade I needed.

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The second project I wanted to try mixing browns,  greys and a green with acid dyes for another project. Here are a couple of my color tests.  I’m not sure where the rest went I had quite a few formulas I tried.

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I used saran wrap, a squirt bottle and a sponge brush to apply the mixed dyes to the pre-soaked silk pieces.

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I used merino pre-soaked in vinegar in baggies and steam for this one.  I thought I had saturated the fibers enough and rubbed the acid dye into the fiber.  However, while it was in the steamer and left overnight the dye settled in spots.  I expected the mottling on the silk which was fine.

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However, all was not lost.  After running the grays through the drum carder the colors were perfect.

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Stay tuned for more on this project later.  I ended up only using the gray wools, then making prefelt for the project.  I will have to think of another project to use the silks and the browns.  I did use some of the green wool as well which was fine as it was.

I find it interesting to mix colors to get a specific colors, some times it works well, others not so much.  How has your experience been mixing dye colors?

 

 

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