Here’s a photo of the scarf and a close up. If you look on the mid to lower right hand side of the right hand photo you can see the weave. (click on photos to enlarge)
The fabric has a fun pattern and I decided to use blue green for the wool color. I wanted to use a minimal amount of wool so the scarf stayed light weight and I wanted to avoid shrinkage of the length of the fabric as it was already fairly short. I had some blue green short fiber merino in batt form that I decided to use.
I decided to use blue tape to outline the fabric so I would have a pattern for laying out the wool. I could have turned the fabric over and laid out the wool on to the fabric but didn’t feel like turning it over after layout. (Being lazy again)
So I laid out a very thin layer of wool laying the fibers at a right angle to the length of the scarf. Then I put the fabric back on top of the fiber, wet it down and began rubbing on the fabric side. I usually always recommend doing a sample first to make sure the fiber will migrate through the fabric but since this was such an open weave, I didn’t think it would be an issue. And, luckily, I was correct in that assumption. The fiber migrated very quickly and I ended up just rubbing the scarf with soapy hands, rubbing the scarf with fabric side down on a rubber ridged surface and it held together very quickly. Then I did some fulling holding the scarf in my hands and accordion (sort of) style folding and stretching lengthwise to full.
Here’s the scarf after felting and fulling. As you can see, it shrank more than 50% of it’s width but minimally lengthwise. The scarf is very lightweight and still long enough to wear as a scarf instead of a cowl.
So now I have a new scarf just in time for 6 inches of snow and 1 degree F cold that dropped on us this past weekend.
As I stared at a blank piece of felt thinking about what I wanted to try next, I looked around my increasingly cluttered office and considered my options. I considered: the sudden increase in freshly washed wool; spinning, weaving and felting magazines; plants brought inside to rescue from the winters’ impending cold; reference books; hat blocks; baskets and, somewhere under the pile of wool is a Poang Ikea chair (I may have to find it a new home –its very comfy to sit in but so hard to get out of). From among this clutter, I spotted a ball of green fine wool I bought at a Value Village.
I have had this thought flitting around in the back of my brain for a couple years now. It has kind of worked its way to the surface among all the washing of sheep-shedding. It involves another approach to considering felt pictures. I have enjoyed and had reasonable results from treating fibre like a Watercolour painting when felting; thin layers of colour to build up to the final colour. (Fox) I have also used fibre like acrylics; mixing the exact colour I want and applying it in a much more graphic manner (Frog). I have treated fibre like a 3-D Grassi painting which is sort of combining both acrylics and watercolours. I want to explore this further. (Polar bear and Octopus) However, in the back of my mind, I have been curious about using fibre like stained glass.
Stained glass and tracery windows have this amazing graphic outline in either the stone or the lead chasing. There is a similar graphic expression in colouring book pages. The lines are usually black outlining areas of colour. The colour areas can be solid or it can be more subtly shaded. There was a science fiction illustrator I liked, who used red under paintings and let them come through in his final pieces. You can see a similar outline under painting in some of the Group of Seven landscapes too. So this would be a bit more like thinking of an oil under painting. I did not get to try oils at school but did watch other students use theirs.
Now that the techniques were decided upon, what should the subject be? Sheep, Flowers, a rose windows?
I pulled out the foam kneeling pad from Dollarama (they should be back on sale by February) and another piece of the felted wool Duvet to use as a base. It was not the right size so after a bit of opposite diagonal tugging it became a much better size. I did not want to draw with a sharpie marker this time so I outlined the area with pins to give me a 5×7 image. (This means you have to replace the pins and check your measurements when you lift you’re felt from your foam base. If you cut a template to the size you will be matting or framing to this will make resetting quicker.)
I pulled out the ball of green wool yarn that had caught my attention and lay the loose end over the wool playing with different shapes. Looking at the spewed yarn made me think of a quatrefoil. This means I will need something to make a circle with. Hum. Ah! The handy bottle of Robax Platinum; not only good for my back but also to use to make a circle of yarn around its base! I attached the tail end of the yarn and started to needle felt the yarn into the background. I figured out quickly that if you tip your needle towards the attached end of the yarn it was easier to control the line and not have it distort as it became affixed to the felt base.
Using pins as turning points for the yarn enabled me to layout a quatrefoil
If you do not pin the yarn directly into the felt it will hold it in place but still allow the yarn it to move. As you start to affix the yarn to the base felt there will be take up or shortening of the yarn but the yarn can slide past the pins but still keep your basic shape.
Once I had a shape, I considered filling it in. I had been combing some locks and had a bit of comb-waste to play with. I did the sections between the quatrefoil in blue and then did the quatrefoil in purple.
I realized it was not a rose window I had created but a Viking shield so I needed to make at least another one. I have noticed using photo reference is easier in the design and perspective phase. Working right out of your head can be more stylized and a bit trickier. Both can create interesting results!
Again I used the useful Robax bottle as a template and created more round shields (as opposed to a kite shield which is more Norman, not Viking). I extended off the edge of the pictures so I could get the composition I was developing. The prow won’t show but the curve going up to the prow would. I should add a third shield to give the rhythm I would like. Next will be to start laying in planks on the ship.
Laying in the planks I had to cross the round shields I felted up to the shield then skipped over to between the shields then cut the unattached part crossing in front of the shield. This was trimmed back and felted into the edge of the shield.
I am not sure if I like the angle of the planks yet so I may pull them off and try again but I will sit and think about it for a bit. I will likely move the 5×7 outline in pins down a bit so more of the third shield will show. (working with a predetermined standard size will make matting and framing much easier later.)
While I think about the plank angles I had better go look at The Gokstad or the Oseberg Viking Ships. If you are lucky enough to live near The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway you can see them in person. I will have to use the internet.
I will continue to work on this technique and see how it turns out. But if you suddenly have an overwhelming need to try this too you might check out a ready-made source of images I should have considered more before I began this. With the explosion of stress-reduction adult colouring books, we have a lot of options to inspire us. I am suspecting that simpler line drawings will be most effective but I am curious to see what catches your eye. There are some free downloads of colouring pages in PDFs that might get you started at https://www.justcolor.net/ . Otherwise, try a google search under image for adult colouring pages, printable. Many of the images are a bit busy so you may have to simplify them.
I needed a liner for a basket for collecting eggs. This is a small basket but I will need a bigger basket before long as we got some new chickens.
I thought I would try sewing around and around a flat piece of felt as I had seen on Lyn’s blog. http://rosiepink.typepad.co.uk/rosiepink/handmade-felt-and-stitch-bowls.html she sells an ebook of how to do it. If I had downloaded it and if I had followed it I probably would have had better results. I am much to clever for that, not. I did it form a vague memory of Lyn mentioning something on the Forum.
So I found a piece of felt and cut it to what I hope will fit my basket. Nothing beats guessing when its right. 🙂
Next I started stitching, switching the machine from turtle speed to rabbit speed as neatness doesn’t really count here. I also used up all my part bobbins so now I have some empty ones.
As you can see after the first go round it is still flat felt. I decided there was not enough stitching so loaded up the machine with orange and off I went again around and around.
As you can see that didn’t help at all. There was a slight curving on one side but not what I would call a bowl. Still I needed a basket liner and after all this is not a beauty piece but a partial piece I cut it.
and sewed it
Here it is with some eggs in just to prove it really is an egg basket. I haven’t really used it yet in the barn. Theses are some that where collected this morning that are not in cartons yet.
I think the problem besides not buying the tutorial and following the instructions is that my felt was fairly thick and well fulled. I do know from my few attempt at free motion machine embroidery that the felt does strange things if not backed with something. The other thing that may have done it was I started at the outside. Perhaps if I had started in the middle the felt would have reacted differently. All in all I ended up with a basket liner and had fun sewing like the wind round and round.
Being someone who knows only about needle felting (and believes to have much, much more to learn), and who had never before tried some of the fibres mentioned, I was very curious as to how they would perform under the barbed needle. I asked Marilyn about it, and she was generous enough to send me some samples to try myself.
There were nine samples to try, and some of them were fibre blends. I decided to go about this by analysing each sample by touch and sight, then taking a small portion out and needle felting a little ball; a round form would allow me to see whether the fibres would take a 3D format well, and easily (or not).
I also used The Field Guide to Fleece book, by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius, to help me understand a little more about each fibre. This book referred to some fibres being curly (having ‘crimp’), but all my samples were straight, which has to do with the way they were commercially processed (this is the reason so many of our fibres shrink when wet felted).
This sample was a dream to touch and smell! It is so soft and the colour is absolutely lovely, too. The Yak needle felted very easily, and the resulting ball was springy and so very soft. This might be my new favourite fibre!
This sample arrived slightly felted in its bag, which tells me Gotland might be one of those fibres that need careful storage and not too much friction or weight on it. It is a soft, shiny fibre. My ball was a little fuzzy, with a slightly scratchy finish. It smelt wonderfully sheepy!
This sample was also a new-to-me fibre, and I was very curious to see how it would behave. It is much coarser than what I’m used to (merino being my main source), but I find coarse fibres to be much nicer for needle felting.
My first thought when looking at this fibre was that it would make great mock bird nests, it mimics the materials and branches really well! Navajo Churro needle felted really easily, as expected, and I got a fuzzy ball as a result of the coarse nature of the fibres.
This is a very shiny and, obviously, silky blend. I’d say it’s a 50/50 blend. I’ve yet to work with Polwarth wool alone but this blend made both a very nice combo to the touch. It felted easily, although it took a little for me to get that ball shape, which I suspect is the silk’s doing, being the slippery fibre that it is.
Although Merino is possibly one of the most used fibres in felting, and well known for its softness, this blend isn’t as soft as I’d expect, nor as soft as the Polwarth/silk blend I mentioned above. It is, however, very shiny due to the silk content.
Again, due to its long staple length, it’s harder to make a circular shape. The shine ended up a bit muted because the fibres are randomly pulled together when needle felting – I’d say one would keep the shine best with the wet felting technique. As you can see, the colours came out rather muted due to this type of blending.
A very soft and shiny blend, possibly a 50/50, it took a bit to felt and the shine was a bit lost with this technique.
If you like spinning, chances are, you love BFL. This is a very lofty fibre, although this particular sample wasn’t as soft as alpaca or merino. It needle felted very easily and retained its shine very well.
This blend has a long staple, is very soft and has a lovely sheepy smell. It needle felted very easily and I was able to make a ball very quickly, despite the staple length. Teeswater
Although it’s a curly fibre, this sample was straight. It’s got a lovely lustre, and is softer than Gotland (which is, incidentally, something my reference book disagrees on). This was, by far, the fibre with the longest staple length I’d ever tried! The Teeswater doesn’t felt very easily and it took me a while to get it into a ball. Also, because it’s a long staple, it was harder to get a smooth finish on the size I did it in.
Another curly fibre that was processed to be straight . It’s a longish staple, very soft (but less so than Yak) Although it felted, it resisted my needle a bit. Some strands wouldn’t blend in with the rest.
So there you have it, my little experiment. Feel free to ask any questions you might have, and tell me all about your own experiences with different fibres!
Thanks Leonor for this informative experiment with needle felting!
I have been hearing about felting in your dryer all over the place. I wouldn’t mind less time rolling my felt so I thought I better give it a try. I wanted to try some of the felt batts I made last week and wanted to try some designs for belt pouches. None of these have been ironed or blocked yet
I used batts for all of these. The orange(supposed to look like leather and does in person) one is merino I dyed and carded into a batt. The pink is from last weeks carding of left overs. It is mostly merino with a little corriedale in it. The brown striped pouch and flat piece of felt are from last weeks left over carding as well but has a lot of different fibers with different micron counts, some dyed and some natural.
This one came out the best. It felted the most in the dryer. It didn’t shrink much. It didn’t buckle it’s resist.
This one did the next best. The ropes attached well and it was felted but not as much as I would like.
These two were felted but not much.
For this experiment I decided to treat them all the same. I laid the wool out around the resists, covered them with netting and rubbed them all the same. I then wrapped them around a damp towel then wrapped that in another towel and tied the bundle. I let it bump around in my dryer with no heat for 20 min then unrolled it, made sure the net wasn’t stuck and rolled them up from the other end. I let it do another 20 min in the dryer. I took it back to my work table unwrapped them, cut out the resists and then rolled all of them 50 times in both directions in my reed mat with a pool noodle in the middle. This was to set the cut edge and felt them a little more.
I then fulled them as I normally would, rinsed out all the soap and blocked them a little. I would say that over all it worked. They are not felted enough for my liking and need more work. The felt was not far enough along when it came out of the dryer. I normally wouldn’t has started fulling them when I did for this experiment but the idea was to eliminate the manual rolling. I am not to happy with the pink pouch or the brown pieces. I am going to wet them again and roll them in my stick blind. Next week I will let you know how that went.
I think it definitely has potential. There are things that would make it better. I think if the dryer didn’t have the fins in it that would be better. It would roll it more and thump(drop) it less. I see that some of the modern dryers don’t have fins. I have plans for a roller that uses a big tube. Right now I am looking for a suitable tube. If I ever find one and get my hubby to make it I will definitely let you know.