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Norwegian, Devon, Cotton and Bamboo

Norwegian, Devon, Cotton and Bamboo

I was going to do a post about Yak fibre and Bluefaced Leicester today, but I messed up the photos, so I’ll do that next time. This first piece is grey Norwegian wool tops with Egyptian Cotton. For the top two thirds, I used Egyptian cotton tops. The staple length is very short, so I started pulling off short wispy bits from the end as you would wool tops, and laid those on the right hand side. I also pulled off a longer length, then carefully teased it out and laid parts of it down the left. The bottom is Egyptian cotton fibre, it comes as thicker, shorter lengths. I teased some out, fluffed some up a little, then laid them on the wool.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a close up of some of the wispy parts:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is an area of denser wispy cotton:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a close up of the longer lengths of cotton:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAClose up of the cotton fibre:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve probably mentioned more than once or twice how much I love curly wools πŸ™‚Β  For this next piece I used Devon Wool tops and Black Bamboo tops. The top part has the bamboo laid on the surface, the bottom is a blend of Devon and Bamboo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe black bamboo is more of a matte charcoal grey than black, and seems to be ‘fluffier’ than white bamboo tops:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAClose up:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt looks a lot paler when blended with the wool tops:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt doesn’t completely disappear when blended in, though:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd just because I love curly wools, the back:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

New Notebook Cover

New Notebook Cover

I thought I’d make myself a felt cover for a ring binder notebook I’ve started using for notes about batts, fibre packs and etsy listings. I made a piece of felt a few weeks ago from merino and embellishment fibre blends. I used lots of different fibres: Milk Protein fibre, Hemp, Flax, Ramie, Banana, Bamboo top and fibre; Viscose top and fibre, Trilobal nylon, Acrylic laps, Plastic fibre and Egyptian cotton. This is the whole piece after felting:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI recently made another notebook and made the straps to go through the Delrin clips from felt, and it looked really nice, so I thought I’d do the same for this one. This is the front:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt took hours to sew (at least 9 episodes of Hawaii Five – 0!) because I machine stitched the straps into place on the back (with my hand operated Singer), and then hand sewed everything else and finished off the edges with blanket stitch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI left the natural felt edge for the front inside flap.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI cut the back flap to size and used the offcuts for the straps.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI don’t often spend so much time on something for myself, but I’m glad I did, I really like it πŸ™‚

Dyeing Cotton Fabrics

Dyeing Cotton Fabrics

A few weeks ago I decided to dye some of the cotton fabrics I was using in felting: Cotton Gauze, Cheesecloth, Muslin, a few lightweight cottons and some cotton/synthetic mixes. I started out using some Scarlet RIT dye and I was really pleased with how easy it was to use and how well the colours turned out. I used the ‘Hot Water in a bucket’ method. I weighed the amount of fabric I had and then ran some really hot water into a bucket and measured out how much I needed. I poured this into the dyeing bucket, saving a little in a jug to add to the dye I’d measured outΒ  into an old glass jar. I added salt to the dyeing bucket, then poured the dye solution in, and gave it a stir around. The instructions had said to wet the fabric before adding to the dye bath, so I’d put the fabrics in the other bucket while I prepared the dye bath. The instructions said to stir constantly for about 30 minutes until the desired colour is reached, but I just stirred occasionally. I also added fabric at different stages or tied/scrunched to get different shades/effects. Using the instructions on the RIT packet, I made some calculations for dyeing smaller amounts of fabrics and used this as a guide for dyeing the fabric a medium shade.

The second dye brand I tried was Dylon, I bought the 50g hand dyeing pack. I used to buy the Dylon Multi purpose dyes years ago, they were meant for using in a pan on the stove, but gave excellent results just using hot water in a bucket, so I expected these Hand Dyes to be really good. The instructions were pretty much the same as for RIT except no laundry detergent was used. I bought a dark brown so that I could add fabrics at different stages and get lots of gorgeous natural looking shades. What I actually got was a load of fabrics all very much the same pale shade of beige πŸ™Β  I think I would have got richer colours using tea or coffee. I made some calculations for dyeing smaller amounts of fabric for the Dylon too, though I’m not sure I’ll use it again.

The next time I dyed some cottons, I used a RIT dye again, Navy Blue. I was really pleased with the way those fabrics turned out too. I even dyed some egyptian cotton top, which turned out nice, the photos didn’t though πŸ™‚

Do you have a favourite dye for cottons or maybe a favourite method? Do you have any hints or tips to share with us? We’d love to hear your opinions. Click on the pictures for bigger images.

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 πŸ™‚

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.

Curly Cobweb Felt

Curly Cobweb Felt

I adore crimpy and curly locks. My favourite curly wools are Gotland, Wensleydale and Teeswater and I love the shiny fibres from Angora goats and soft fibres from Alpacas. Inspired by the Twists, Twirls and Spirals challenge (and my recent obsession with Egyptian cotton top), I pulled out some of my favourite fibres and made a couple of cobweb-type pieces of felt. The main fibre I used was Wensleydale, laying down rows of raw Wensleydale locks, adding some locks of raw mohair, and Suri and Huacaya Alpaca and adding a few wisps of cotton top between the two layers and on the top. There were a few tight crimpy curls of Bluefaced Leicester too.

Egyptian Cotton

Egyptian Cotton

One of my favourite fibres to use in felting recently is Egyptian Cotton. It smells, looks and feels gorgeous. Egyptian cotton top is soft and silky, but it has a short staple length. I realised when I was making some blends of wool and other fibres for a recent project, that for blending, cotton works well if it is fluffed up or carded first. The soft fluffy wisps of carded cotton reminded me of clouds and sea foam on waves, so I blended some of the cotton fibre with a few different blue shades of merino and made an abstract wet felted piece in sea and sky colours.

Egyptian cotton top and merino wool

Β I have a nice wooden picture frame and cream photo mount that I think this would look good with. Have you tried cotton fibre? We’d love to hear about your experiences with cotton fibre, whether it be dyeing, spinning, felting, weaving or anything else. Post a link in the comments, or if you’ve joined our flickr group, add your photos there. Photos added to the Flickr group show up on the main page of the blog. Clicking on a picture in the flickr widget takes you to the owner’s photostream.

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