I am very busy getting ready for the first Farmers market of the season and forgot it was my turn to make a blog post. I thought You might like to see this one from 2012 again.
Last week I sorted out my wool and put all the decent size pieces on the new shelves. this left me with a lot of little bits. I usually keep bins of little bits to use as accents. Now I had way to much of that too. I sorted it all, picked out the stuff I really wanted to keep and put the rest into 4 piles for carding.
I have a large carder, a Patrick Green Cottage Industry Carder.
A friend came over and we carded it into a 4 fun textured batts.
The batts came out really nice and will be great for felting or for spinning textured yarn. I didn’t think I had that much until we fluffed it up to card. It is amazing how much you can compress wool when you’re stuffing it into a little storage box.
A couple of weeks ago I showed a photo of a fibre sampler I made at the well being centre, made with all staple fibres. Last week we made ones using lots of embellishment fibre tops, from Left to Right: Ingeo, Hemp, Viscose, Ramie, Soy, Flax, Bamboo, Banana
Here’s a closer look:
Using lots of fibres gave me the idea to do a Giveaway of my e-book, The Right Fibre.
It isn’t a project based book- I don’t tell you how I think you should use fibres, it’s an objective look at them. I profile 20 different embellishment fibres, and show lots of photos of how they look after felting in various ways, so it’s easy to compare them with each other and see similarities and differences.
There is also a section detailing various things which affect the way a fibre will felt and look after felting, so by the end you have the information you need to choose the right fibre and give you more control over the outcome.
For more information, have a look at the full blurb on my blog. To win a free copy of The Right Fibre, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. If you’d like to spread the word through your blog or facebook etc, it would be very much appreciated but it isn’t a requirement. I will randomly draw the winner 8 days from now on Saturday 3rd Dec 2016, so please check back to see if you’ve won. Good Luck!
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!
Our guest artist/author today is Nada Vukadinovič (Halay) who has some exciting news about felting in the book publishing world.
The other day I visited a local exhibition in Mozirje, Slovenia, where a local felter, Spela Oresnik, displayed about 20 felted canvases. All had been made for a particular purpose, i.e. to serve as illustrations for the book entitled Gori doli sem in tja (Up and Down and Everywhere) written by Marta Oresnik. I found this approach very interesting. Usually a painter is engaged to make illustrations for a book but in this case a felter was invited to use wool to depict the scenes from the stories. She used local wool from the Solčava breed, which is a rather coarse wool, mainly used for making slippers, hats, bags, etc.
The book is an interesting collection of old anecdotes and folk stories which were passed from generation to generation, written in a dialect spoken in this region, e.g. someone meeting a devil, or death, dwarfs, Solcava in fire, witches everywhere, blueberry and strawberry etc . She used wet felting technique to do the background using local wool and needle felted 3D figures which were attached to the base. Only the coloured fibres were bought.
The collection of old stories was made as part of a national project. Here I need to mention that Slovenia is very small country in Central Europe with population of only 2 million people and a lot of effort is being put into preserving the language and culture. The size of Slovenia compares to the size of New Jersey, however, there are seven main dialects spoken and 49 sub-dialects. The dialect which is spoken in Solcava is spoken only by 500 people. This means that on a walking distance of one and a half hour one comes across another dialect.
I recently read some new instructions for dyeing using citric acid and salt. Well not new, I took a class a couple of years ago where the instructor used similar instructions. Normally, I use vinegar for dyeing. But I like to experiment. I have also been wanting to try some new fibers and have never dyed something I’ve already felted. So, I decided to combine the experiments.
I made samples using Cheviot, Romney, Icelandic, Texas Mohair locks and Domestic 56’s. On each sample I put a piece of silk Habatoi, silk gauze, thick and thin yarn, mulberry silk and prefelt. I was going to make a placemat out of them, but they all shrank differently, so I have to rethink what to do with them.
According to the instructions, I had to weigh the fabric to dye (before soaking in synthrapol). I had a large pot so I put together some Merino, silk habatoi, wool yarn, and wool thick and thin yarn along with my samples. All total 128 grams. Next, into the soak, then on to mixing the citric acid and salt solutions.
After a thorough search, I couldn’t find the citric acid I thought I had. Whoops. Well, it should still work with vinegar, right?
1 gram of fiber= 1 milliliter of dye. Then depending on the Depth of Shade desired the amount can be multiplied by 1 through 5 (light to dark.) When I filled the syringe with 120 ml of dye, it looked like a lot so I decided just one DOS would be enough to start. Normally, I would use a tablespoon of dye. If I wanted a darker shade, I could add more dye later or overdye it. I used my own dye stock that I had on hand. After getting the fiber and dye bath up to temperature (185 degrees), I let it simmer for 30 minutes and checked it. The water was still very dark. I added more vinegar and let it simmer for another 15 minutes. No change. Another 15 minutes, then I added more vinegar and turned the heat off and left it until morning expecting it to be exhausted.
Surprise! Beautiful colors, but plenty of dye left. I removed the fibers, rinsed and rinsed then let them dry.
Back to the dye pot. I decided I probably didn’t need more teal fiber, so I added a couple of teaspoons of yellow. Then put in some Domestic 56s, alpaca/silk, kid mohair yarn, Cheviot and silk gauze after soaking in vinegar. I repeated the dye procedure.
Staring at the dye pot the next morning, there was still plenty of color left. So, on to day 3 with Domestic 56s and Cheviot.
Okay, enough, right? Dont laugh. I had to see this through. Day 4 included thick and thin yarn, wool yarn, a piece of felted Wensleydale, silk habatoi, Romney and Merino. I expected some pastel colors the next morning. No.
Finally, the dye bath was exhausted and I had the biggest surprise of all. The Romney was darker than the fibers on the first day. It’s a good thing I like teal.
I finally realized my mistake — my prepared dye mix is 1 teaspoon dye powder to 8 ounces of water which is double the concentration than what the instructions were for making the dye solution. (1 part dye powder to 100 parts water — i.e. 5 gm dye powder to 500 ml of water.) I didn’t pay attention to the dye solution instructions because I had already had some made. My bad.
I haven’t given up. I have citric acid now but will try a much smaller amount of fiber and the right amount of dye solution. But now on to make some batts and start a new project.
Have you thought about what your goal is for your business? To help you incorporate the marketing concepts we’ve previously discussed into a marketing strategy to understand your goal, I am going to use the Felt and Fiber Studio Forum as an example of a business.
Here is a quick recap of our previous marketing concepts blogs:
The six P’s of marketing — Product, Price, Promotion, Placement, Positioning, PR/Publicity and People
Creative/Design (Look and feel) — fiber graphic, easy to navigate (Positioning)
Tone of Voice — casual (Positioning)
Keyword Phrases — Fiber, Nuno Felting, Weaving, Knitting, Dyeing, Needle Felting, Wet Felting, Spinning, Crocheting, Surface Design, Business, Fiber Festivals, Studio Challenges, Wool and Other Fibers, Hand Stitching, Machine Stitching, Fiber Marketplace, General Discussion, Shows and Classes, Take a Stitch Tuesday, Beads/Beading (PR/Publicity and Promotion) — This is how members find us with search words in addition to word of mouth.
Marketing Tactics and Content Strategy –Blog, Facebook, free tutorials, quarterly challenges, quarterly newsletter, welcome email, occasional giveaways, holiday exchange, resources for information, supplies, tools, links to other blogs, resources (Network of People and Promotion)
When — Things to do today, next week (Actions to take)
Blog posts every other day by Moderators or guests (Promotion)
Monitor posts daily, encourage members to post new projects, questions, resources, events
Generally, the goal of the Felt and Fiber Studio Forum is to build a community of fiber enthusiasts who can share their work, ideas, techniques, resources and get information and questions answered in a friendly, caring environment.
The Driving Action for the goals of the Forum are primarily:
Registering to be a member
Like on Facebook
Subscribe to the Studio blog
Participate in conversations and/or challenges on the Forum
This is a road map of the thought process of planning our marketing strategy and understanding our business goals. You can use this as a general guideline to ask yourselves the same questions about your business.
Ready, set….plan! What does your road map look like?
A while back Ruth got some free samples of some cheese cloth or cotton gauze from Cheese Cloth Fabric.com. She dyed some and sent me some samples. I also had a more open weave cheese cloth that I will use so you can see the difference. I thought if I am going to use my time I should make something that will be salable in the end so decided to make bracelets or cuffs so I could easily compare the cottons.
The pink on the left is the sample sent to Ruth and the purple on the right is the gauze I got at a place called Lens Mill http://www.lensmill.com/ in Guelph Ontario. You can see the purple is a much more open weave.
Ruth sent to colour samples. Here is before and after adding the wool.
I did one sample of the purple flat and one scrunched up. You can see my template marks behind the right one.
I like the way both these tuned out. they are very different than the tighter weave cotton.
I did a scrunched up pink one for comparison. I think I like the scrunched up ones the best. I may add some beads in to folds. They will be for sale later in the summer once I get some buttons and button holes done.
Last time I showed you my necklace with the balls inside. http://wp.me/p1WEqk-1WL Next was cutting some of the ball out.
At this point I still like the idea of a necklace but have no idea how to sting it. To me it needs a chunky chain or something to go with it. I suppose I could make some felt snakes for it but I like necklaces to sit fairly high so It would need a clasp and I don’t know how to do that. I decided to make it into a bracelet. I added a nice button that matches the inside of the bubbles. I did a blanket stitch around the buttonhole to stabilise it.
While I was in the mood I finished up 2 samples for a class I am teaching in May. This is a 2 hour class so it had to be small and fast. This is a class I don’t get paid to do so I am sort of testing out an idea too. I am thinking of proposing it as a class at an upcoming fiber event. I am writing instructions for it and thinking maybe I would make up some kits to sell.
The one a the top is an older one and the other 2 are the new ones. I don’t much like the pink and blue flower on but everyone I show it to likes it so I guess it’s just me. I think it’s because I don’t much like the fabric and it doesn’t have much texture and that’s what I like about nuno felt.
We would like you to meet one of our sponsors and a friend of mine Maureen Harding of Dreamspin fibres. We met a few years ago at a fiber conference and became friends. We live far enough apart that we only get together a few times a year but we always have a great time felting and trying new things. She doesn’t mention it here but she has a sale on select fibers at the moment.
Q-4 Three types of fibre you can’t live without?
Merino, silks, silk fabric but other fibres depending on the project
Q-3 Have you always been a felter?
I’ve been felting for 15 years, before that I was spinning and knitting.
Q-2 Two tools you use all the time?
Pool noodle and plastic window screening. (and ball brause)
Q-1 One fibre art technique you love the most?
I have to say felting. But also enjoy spinning and knitting
What is your business?
We sell wools, prefelts, fabrics for nuno felting, a few felting tools, mostly for felters.
Why and when did you start selling fiber?
It was an outgrowth of my interest in sheep and wools. Initially I raised sheep, learned to spin, learned to felt, and started buying other fibres wholesale for my own purposes. After a while I started selling fibres at fibreart venues and would make up articles to show what can be done with the fibres. People started asking me if I would teach them how, and this led to doing workshops in felting.
What kind of items do you sell?
As well as fibres for felters, I also sell felted articles such as nuno scarves, felted hats, and felted bags at various shows throughout the year.
What do you think makes your business different from similar ones?
We pride ourselves on our fast service, orders are made out the same or the next day. We offer free shipping on orders over $100 in North America. And we are always happy to offer assistance and advice over the phone, or email.
In November I decided I needed to order some more wool. No big surprise there! The bigger the order the more you save on shipping. I decided I would offer to order some wool for other members of my weavers and spinners guild. I was thinking maybe 20-25 pounds and I would make up the rest to get us to the 44 pound shipping rate. Well did I ever underestimate the response. I ended up with 168 pounds of wool to order.
The boxes came before Christmas no problem. then 2 came after Christmas. Customs decided to have a look in these. This is what one of the boxes looked like:
All the wool inside was fine. then it was on to sorting all the wool. the min order was 1 pound so first I sorted all the one pound bags. I borrowed my hubbies bread cooling racks to organise everything.
Then I had to separate orders. It’s a good thing we have a good scale.
It took the better part of a day to get it all sorted, Ross helped with sorting and then went off and made dinner while I finished. The next day my son and I checked and boxed all the orders so I could take them to the guild and deliver them. The nice thing about doing this was I got to see so many different wools. I got to feel yak and angora, fake and real cashmere and see many of the wonderful colours and the multicoloured wools the World of Wool has to offer. World of Wool was very nice and shipping was fast especially when I made the order so close to Christmas.
I must say that I couldn’t have done this so easily if it hadn’t been for the assistance of Jean. I can set up an excel file and make it sort things alphabetically but that’s it. She was a wiz with the spread sheet. She made it add things up at this way and that and separate out things and make my life a whole lot easier. I already have people asking If I will do it a gain later in the year. I think Jean and I should ask for a commission next time. :O)