I hope everyone had a nice holiday and are ready for the New Year.
It’s almost the end of 2016 and looking back on the things I’ve done, there seems to be a few themes.
I did a lot of natural dyeing. Avocado skins, pits and the combo.
Cutch, Rhubarb and Indigo
Under the sea theme
2nd Quarter challenge working with scraps – the former credit card case turned into an ear bud case.
Then the cityscape with scraps.
A scarflette with locks
Crochet piece felted and embellished with stitching
Felting wit my grandsons
Silk scraps into a free motion stitched vase
3rd Quarter challenge adding dimension from Kristy Kun’s class
Ruth’s Paper Lamination class
Teri’s hat class
Mini weaving wall hanging
More work with scraps for a sewing machine case
4th Quarter Challenge with embellishments for a coupon case.
And blue booties for a shower
Of course, there were also plenty of samples during the year including using the needle felting machine to felt some unfeltable fabrics.
A big thank you to Cathy Wycliff for her post on weaving and felting; my sister Carol Olson for sharing her new sheep with us; Nada for sharing her workshop experience in Slovenia; Zara for her posts on Felting on a Trampoline and her Yak, Mongolian, Churro and Zwartables samples; Leonor for her soap tutorial and Terri Simon on sharing her projects from Kristy Kun’s class.
It was a great year for me in terms of learning new things and doing some recycling. How was your 2016 year of fibers?
This year we’ve talked a lot about embellishments whether they were new fibers or scraps and saw a lot of samples. A little embellishment goes a long way. So, I decided to go thru my embellishment stash and choose ten different types that someone may like to try.
There is approximately 10 grams of each.
Starting with the left hand row from the bottom up: Ramie, Hemp, Milk Protein and Texas Mohair.
The second row: Black Tussah, Yak and a multicolored silk Tussah.
The last row is Tencel, Mulberry silk and degummed cocoons.
Please note the Texas Mohair and the cocoons contain some VM.
I’ll mark each bag with the name and weight.
A couple of years ago I made a “sampler” book cover with a bunch of embellishments as a reference.
This first piece is one I made at the well being centre a few weeks ago. We were having an ‘explore/play day’. Cath had just come back from Ireland and brought some bog cotton to try, and I’d been given some tulle from one of the women from the craft group. I put some of the budget filling between the layers and also some ‘balls’ (maybe clouds is a better word!) of recycled plastic. Just enough so it wasn’t flat:
This is a piece from my favourite loopy layered scarf:
I had hoped the tulle would be a bit more pillowy, I used quite a lot, squashed with some wisps over. It just kind of folded and flattened, but it is quite plasticy looking, this is the least flat part:
This is the bog cotton:
And this is a bit of plastic I added to the top:
When I get a few spare minutes, I’m making some simple single colour felt pieces to use cut up and pieced together with other felt strips and offcuts. This is an orange piece I made, mostly Merino with a few embellishments:
I really like this green one, I got some ‘Chartreuse’ from World of Wool, I think this will replace the ‘Grass’ I usually buy. I did add a few wisps of grass over the top, and there are quite a few embellishments too:
This is a BFL lock, a bit of green silk at the top right, and some trilobal nylon at the bottom:
This is some crimped synthetic fibre, it’s soft and feels like arylic, but it didn’t have a label. I know it isn’t nylon, because I tried dyeing some:
I’d inteded this post to be mostly pictures of some ‘scruffy’ felt pieces I’d made recently, but as I was editing the photos, I was thinking about how they came about, because they’re not my ‘usual’ kinds of pieces, but I really enjoy making them and teaching people to make them.
Last year at the Well Being centre we had a lady join us who only spoke French and Arabic, and even one of our regulars who spoke French well had trouble finding felting terms in French to help her understand, so we just muddled through. I thought the best way to go was to have her copy what I was doing, which was making a soft, cobwebby layered felt with lots of fancy yarns and embellishments. She made an absolutely beautiful piece, but was disappointed because when we first started, we only had some firm felt to show her what we were making, and because hers was nothing like that she felt like she’d failed.
Disappointment and feeling like a failure is not something you want people to feel when you’re doing a class at a Well Being centre, so when the classes changed and we did something more structured, I planned the classes so that they were more about ‘experimenting’ and trying things out and seeing how what we do in our layout and felting processes affect the end result. There’s no right or wrong, just process and outcome really.
I learned too that if the ‘expectation vs reality’ is close in outcome, it gives a lot of encouragement. So if we get some absolute beginners joining, I like to get them to try the soft, cobwebby pieces first (which I think of as ‘scruffy’ or ‘tatty’ felt) because there are no neat edges; it’s decorative not functional – so it doesn’t have to be firm, and the embellishments don’t have to be securely attached; and because it has many fine layers of wool and yarn, it still results in a well made piece even if the layers aren’t all even or have a few gaps.
This is a piece I made with mostly yarns and cotton scrim or gauze as the embellishments:
I like to ‘deconstruct’ (pull apart!) some of the commercial art yarns, especially the loopy ones, this one looks like synthetic wool locks:
Lots of yarns converging
Purple isn’t the easiest colour to photograph, I’ve discovered, but it’s a great colour for using with blues and greens:
I love the textures from the many different embellishments, it doesn’t get lost because the pieces are softly felted/fulled:
This is another ‘deconstructed’ loopy yarn, a smaller shiny one:
This is a copper piece I made recently, I know many people don’t like browns, but I find them rich and warm, so matching them with shiny brown yarns and fibres gives a metallic look:
Greys and pinks appear silver and coppery, this is silver soy staple, and coppery silk throwsters waste:
Thanksgiving was supposed to be in Florida with the Grandsons, but the whole family was sick so we postponed our trip for a week. I had promised Luke I would bring more wool next time I visited, so I did along with some foam balls to make some ornaments.
I prepared by making some batts in different colors and brought embellishments and different colored roving for the boys to choose from. I thought the batts would be easier for them to work with on a round surface and I was right.
Josh had never played with wool, but seemed to be more fascinated with the soapy water.
I let them choose their colors and embellishments. After putting all the wool on the balls, we dipped them in the soapy water and I rubbed to get it started. Then I had the boys roll the balls in bubble wrap. ( mostly to keep them engaged in the process.) Of course, the Florida boy had to get into the swing of working with water. I put the balls in nylons to make it easier to work with for them.
When the wool started to shrink I put the balls thru the washer and dryer.
Luke also started to pull wool off to make a snake. Later, he abandoned the idea, evidently Grandma wasn’t working fast enough.
The finished ornaments. Three for Luke.
Two for Josh.
I made another for pink one Baby Lisa in California. Josh asked me about the pink one. When I told him, he picked up his green one and said he wanted Uncle Brad to have that one. Awww. Such a sweet boy.
I was really happy to share my love of felting with the boys and they both seemed to enjoy it. And now they have a souvenir for years to come. Best Christmas present.
The first two years I was felting I used the shoe storage method to store my fiber. But as a fiber enthusiast and one to try new things my inventory and tool collection kept growing. So, it became quite unruly. The picture doesn’t show the overflow and piles in bins I couldn’t fit in.
I had piles of things everywhere.
For the past year I’ve been trying to find a system to keep my fiber and tools organized. I tried a wire cube system next. This was a real test of my patience.
I liked the openness of this system, but didn’t like it was so deep and I’d have to juggle the fibers to see all the colors I had. I did put my batts in bins on the floor.
So, I continued to look for another system. I wanted an open bookcase, but because of the dimensions I was limited to, I couldn’t find something that worked.
Then we had a big discussion on the forum about fiber and bugs, so I decided to try plastic drawers.
Now I have drawers organized by color. Here’s just a few. I also have one for alpaca, one for merino and silk mixes.
But I wasn’t finished. I organized my embellishments in two separate units.
This one is under my table.
I also used the furnace room door for coarser fibers and to hang my scarves and hand dyed yarns.
Here is my table with my tool drawer and a bin full of WOW fibers, some foam for needle felting and other useful tools all close at hand.
More fiber and bubble wrap marked.
Behind my table is my felting machine with more tools close at hand.
And my drum carder set off to the side next to another table.
The cube system is temporarily holding some folders until I figure out what to do with it.
Then there is the daybed covered with samples, bins of yarn, ribbon, scraps, etc. This still needs a bit of work. And my “paper” room which is now my dyeing room. That will also have to wait.
This system works for me right now. Its by no means perfect. I’m fortunate to have two water sources close at hand and extra space. I don’t think we intended it to be a studio but that’s what it is for me right now.
Mary Stori is a new forum member, but has extensive experience in quiltmaking and fiber art. She introduced herself to us in January as “‘ a wanna be felter living outside of Asheville, NC. For the past 25+ years I’ve traveled the national and international quilting circuit as an author, lecturer, workshop leader, cruise host…..bla, bla, bla. The focus of my work began with wearable art, fine hand quilting, whimsical and highly embellished quilts.”
She attended a class with Chad Alice Hagen a few years ago and is now “hooked.” Her focus went from quilts to felt. But one thing hasn’t changed — her love of embellishments, particularly beading which she has authored several books on. So, with her permission I have put together some of her tips from her blog on beading.
I’m often asked how I organize my beads……this method works well for me.
First of all……you won’t use them if you can’t find them, so take the time to gather them from all your hiding places, organize them, and then put them in a convenient place…no matter how many or few you have.
A location away from sunlight, heat, and excess moisture is best.
Because there are no closets in my studio, my teaching materials are stored in a large walk in closet in a guest room nearby. The bulk of my workshops in recent years have focused on beading techniques or projects that incorporate beads. Therefore, I purchase a LOT of beads in bulk from a distributor for my classes. They generally come as strung kilos, which I repackage into kits and store in boxes and plastic bins.
Above is my own personal stash…… One entire side of the closet is fitted from floor to ceiling with shelves…and almost all are used to store my embellishments. I could consolidate them if the space was needed for other things, but as it is now, I’m easily able to walk in and quickly find what I’m looking for without having to dig through dozens of items stacked on top of each other.
I like to use plastic fishing tackle boxes, or embroidery floss containers. Beads are stored by style and color in see-thru plastic tubes or small bags. Here you see some seed beads.
Besides using beads, I utilize many other embellishments, trinkets, charms, buttons, found objects into my work. This unit has plastic pull out containers with large divided sections which are more suitable for these items. It too goes on my shelves in the closet.
If tubes or small bags aren’t handy for you….try storing beads in small containers such as film canisters, pill bottles, or metal breath mint cases. If you glue a bead to the lid….you’ll always be able to quickly know what’s inside!
Another big key to beading……is making your environment comfortable during the task. A table top or floor model Ott light will save on eye strain. As will a pair of ‘cheater glasses’. I always tell my students that one of the biggest secrets to successful beading is ‘spacing’….and the ability to see the bead and to judge the placement of the needle into the fabric is vital.
Many people are unaware that beads may not necessarily be colorfast. For instance, this beautiful blue bugle bead below may appear as if it’s blue glass. Not so……it’s clear glass that has been dyed or painted blue. Often the color remains secure on the bead, other times not. So…..if you think there’s a possibility that your project will be washed, become damp, or even require high steam for pressing…..take a few minutes and test your beads for colorfastness.
Most of the time, there isn’t a problem, but for that heirloom project….you’d be devastated if during a final steam pressing, the bead color ran into your fabric. The pricier beads may be just at risk as the less expensive ones…..you can’t tell by looking.
Here’s how to test:
– Fill a shallow dish with hot sudsy water….drop in a few beads….let it sit for 15 mins.
– Remove them…rinse and let dry on a paper towel.
Note….sometimes color will be visible in the water, other times….the color will slowly eek out as it dries. As you can see….this blue bead has run…..red is another color I check carefully.
Don’t let this scare you…….we are all aware that colorfastness can be an issue with fabrics……now you know that beads carry the same risk. Even if the bead color doesn’t run….sometimes the fancy coatings……that make a bead’s surface shimmer with various affects, (like rainbow) can dissipate……and the bead will lose its luster.
I’ve tested very, very few beads that I decided not to use……or that I’ve used with caution……beading is worth any effort….hopefully with this hint….all your projects will continue to shine brightly!
I’m a stickler for good quality construction…..for me it’s not all about fast, rather…it’s about great design that has been executed to the best of my ability. If precautions aren’t taken, beading can cause fabrics to distort. Therefore, I ALWAYS secure my work in a Q-snap frame. The only exception is when I’m beading the bindings/edges of my quilts.
Q-snap frames are simply PVC tubes which come in a variety of sizes. This one is 11″ x 11″, my choice for smaller projects. The work is attached using clips that snap over the frame. Though you could use a round embroidery hoop…..I don’t because it pulls the fabric diagonally which can stretch the bias. I’ve found it’s best to keep the fabric ON GRAIN by using a square or rectangular frame when beading.
As for felt, unless the felt is super thick and sturdy, I always secure fabric (of any kind) in a Q-snap frame for beading and embroidery. However, I generally avoid using the plastic clips…….instead I attach the material using muslin sleeves or pin the fabric around the frame to avoid damage to the fabric and beads. There’s nothing more unattractive than distorted, stretched out wool!!!
However, as the beading design develops, requiring repositioning of the fabric, I avoid using the clips in places where they could damage the beads. Instead, if the piece is large enough as it is in this sample, I wrap the excess snugly around the frame, and secure the layers together using straight pins or by thread basting. This keeps the fabric on grain, and well stabilized to assure good thread and fabric tension.
My ‘artist’ inspired piece is now in the beading phase…. The piece is attached to an 11″x17″ Q-snap frame…note I used 1 clip at the top, where it didn’t interfere with the beads.
I also want to mention that I’m beading through 2 layers only…..the quilt top which has been stabilized with batting. This approach will hide and protect the threads once the backing is added later.
You can find more information on Mary’s website and blog. She’s also the author of “Beading Basics,” “All-in-One Beading Buddy,” & DVD – “Mary Stori Teaches You Beading on Fabric” & “Embellishing With Felted Wool”
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.
Next, I added the first set of embellishment fibers, shown up-close in the photo below: bamboo staple, banana, milk fiber and crimped viscose.
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.
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.
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).
I’ll definitely want to use these fibers as embellishments in my upcoming projects!
Thanks Cathy! You had some great discoveries with new fibers!
A couple of months ago while shopping at The Fold in Marengo, IL, owner Toni Neil asked me if I’d be interested in teaching a wet felting class. Many of the people who shop there are knitters, crocheters and spinners and she said they were curious about the felting. I agreed and we settled on November 1, class size and I provided her with a class description and supply list along with a list of the items I would be supplying.
I always think when taking a beginners class it’s nice to come home with something you can either use or show people, so I chose to make a place mat. In preparation, I made a couple as examples and gathered some other samples to show how embellishments can be used. I also brought along, yarns, prefelt, and some silk for embellishments.
I provided a pool noodle, bubble wrap, a template, a piece of polyester curtain fabric for each student and gathered up my samples and other tools to discuss as we worked. In addition, I printed out flyers for the forum, a resource list and a general step by step guide to basic wet felting for future reference.
The class was held in Toni’s kitchen at The Fold which was comfortable for four people. Unfortunately, they had to turn away a fifth, but I don’t know where we would have put another body.
I was surprised to learn that a couple of the ladies had come from as far away as Beloit, WI and Highland Park, IL which is an hour and half away. The other two lived closer to me.
The kitchen was nice and bright. So sunny, pictures were a little hard to get.
The one thing I learned is that they would have preferred to not have choices as to design. However, I’m never one to squash the creativity of a group and as it turned out they helped each other and while they followed basic designs they added their own creative touches.
Toni M (not the owner) finished first and was pleased with her first project and decided she liked her organic edges.
Dana brought some beautiful Churro yarn she’d purchased from New Mexico and made her mat a bit more abstract with a lovely turquoise background.
Carolynne purchased her roving and yarn to match at The Fold with the intention making an additional five mats of the same design which featured the stripes and abstract yarn design.
Since Candace had just purchased all the merino sheep from The Fold, she chose to feature a sheep on her design that she cut out from prefelt and used yarn for a fence, silk for clouds and some roving for grass.
They were all pleased with their place mats. We worked hard, but had a good time. Now these knitters, crocheters, spinner and weaver have a new tool in their fiber kits! I hope they will continue to experiment and join us on the forum. For more information on The Fold check out their website http://www.thefoldatmc.net
I haven’t taught a class in a long time. I was tired, but a good tired and had fun meeting new people and sharing my passion with them.
I had selected fibers I had dyed from my 4 day dye experiment – Cheviot, merino, domestic 56 and brought some silk, throwsters waste, locks and hankies in a similar colorway. I also brought the tools I usually use for fulling for both of us to use and for Cathy to try to see which ones she favored. The soup ladle was the winner!
Cathy had some mystery fibers she wanted to try that she hadn’t used and used some of my embellishment stash.
Of course, we were anxious to get started and forgot to take a picture of the first side. Here is our first turn. Mine is the turquoise, Cathy’s is purple and gray.
Here is our final layer before wetting and embellishing. We both used throwsters waste and silk. I added some locks.
Rinsed and ready to dry.
At that point, I packed up for my trip home and Cathy set her pod out to dry on a bamboo mat.
We were both happy with our pods after drying. I could have used more curls, maybe next time.
We had a great time and look forward to our next felting adventure! What new felt technique have you tried?