I wanted to make a piece of felt for one of my friends as a thank you for helping us out recently, he’s into the environment and nature, so I thought a piece using all natural wools and undyed fibres would be something he’d like. I really enjoyed not having to put too much thought into it apart from trying to use as many different fibres as possible. I can’t remember all the wools and fibres, but I definitely used: English 56s; Gotland tops, scoured fleece and raw locks (from Zara-thank you, again!); Brown Finnish, Grey, Brown and White Merino; scoured Shetland; Bluefaced Leicester locks; hemp; flax; soy tops; cotton nepps; silk noil; silk coccon strippings; Tencel; viscose fibre; bamboo fibre and ramie. Here’s the finished piece:
Close up of the top:
Close up of the bottom:
It’s not as textured as some pieces I make, but you can see how it is looking at it from an angle:
This is a close up of some of the flax:
A really nice, shiny Gotland lock with a gingery tip:
Another Gotland lock with some Soy top above and BFL locks at the bottom.
This is the BFL, I bought a bag of washed locks ages ago and forgot all about them until I went looking for something else!
The Tencel looked really shiny against the darker wools:
This is one of my favourite parts, because it has lots of texture, there are Gotland and Bluefaced Leicester locks, flax and hemp, Tencel, and cotton nepps:
Do you have a favourite combination of wools and fibres? I didn’t get a photo from this piece, but I really like the silk noils and cocoon stripings on the dark brown wools, you often get little holes which look like a tiny bug made them, and the brown shows through the thin parts giving a ‘rusty’ look to it!
I finally got photos of the piece I showed being laid out a couple of weeks ago. It was dark purple in the middle with black at each end, and I used lots of different natural fibres on it:
I like these photos on an angle:
I think this was tussah silk:
And this is soy fibre:
My friend had some hair ‘decoration’ things that she was throwing away after using, so I thought I would see how they felted 🙂 She had plaited (braided) them into her hair, I forgot to ask if they came wavy or not. I used some wool tops I got in a bag of Botany Lap waste. It’s a natural grey colour, but has the odd bit of Angelina fibre blended in. I couldn’t see any, though:
You can see better from this angle how they attached:
Where it was thinner/spread out it really blended in:
I liked how it looked where it was thicker:
I don’t know what the wool is, it’s really soft, and the colours look like a blend of grey and oatmeal Bluefaced Leicester. This is the back:
But the edges are like a breed with curlier locks:
Have you tried any new or unusual fibres or embellishments lately?
I think I’ve posted a couple of photos from the Well-Being centre once or twice before, but definitely not for a while, so I thought I’d take some to share today. There were only two of us in the class, so it’s easy to see the room better. This is from the window end looking towards the door, a massive sink is on the right:
I took these photos on my phone so they’re not the best quality, but the colours are a lot better. This is from the window end again, we usually have the equipment on the side table and if we get a lot of supplies out, we put them on the grey benches under the window.
Since there was just the two of us, we put it all on the side table:
The room is used by lots of different craft groups, there are supplies and examples of work all around:
Cath was making a coaster with lots of natural wools:
She’s trying to sneak some Gotland locks while I’m taking the photo!
I was working on a black and purple piece with lots of undyed fibres:
As usual we ended up chatting loads and I didn’t get any more photos, but I’ll try to remember to show the finished pieces next time 🙂
We made thick mats/placemats/coasters at the well being group last week. I took in some natural wools, partly to keep costs down, but also because I really like the combination of colours and textures they create when used together. I made my base out of some Portuguese Merino batts I’d put through the drumcarder. The fibre was really short and had tiny nepps in. This is how the back looked:
The edges were a lot thinner, I didn’t add the top ‘decorative’ layer of wools as thickly there, so I got what I can’t help thinking of as a ‘pie crust’ effect:
Some of the wools I used were raw so kept their character:
The ‘pie crust’ edges reminded me of when I made another natural piece years ago. I used lots of different wools, with different shrinkage rates, which created a similar effect on the edge. I used my steam iron to firm up and shrink the edges before cutting it into pices for small placemats and coasters. It was alsmost 8 years ago, and the mat has sat on my computer desk ever since. I do use it as a placemat, so don’t look too closely because I noticed it needs a wipe! This is how it looks today:
I found an original photos of it, it was a bit dark so I brightened it, and the colours look a bit different on the white background, but here it is 8 years ago:
Those of you who read my last post will know I was asking about print-on-demand sites for t-shirts. I don’t have an update on that yet, but while I was asking around at local printing shops, one of them mentioned transfers, which reminded me that years ago (probably about 11 or 12) I bought a pack of transfer papers to make t-shirts at home. I found the pack, but had lost the instructions (typical!). I also found some prints I made and never used because of a tiny ink splash. I thought I’d combine experimenting with how long I need to iron the prints with trying them on different surfaces for the First Quarter Challenge. The first thing I tried a print on was a felt sample. I can’t remember what wool I used, but judging by the tiny crimp/texture, I’d guess it’s either 18.5 mic Merino, or one of the fine Swedish wools Zara sent me. This is how it turned out:
It felt crispy! I did get a nice imprint from the hem of the tea towel I used to protect the wool, though:
The next thing I tried was a transfer print onto Muslin. I used a print I’d just made which had turned out wrong. It looked ok in parts:
But in other parts I didn’t iron it long enough and part of the transfer paper came off, but some didn’t … still won’t even after soaking:
The last attempt on muslin was a bit better. I probably should have ironed the muslin first, so I could line the print up with the weave:
If I hold it up to let the light through you can see the weave still:
And here’s a close up of the edge, it doesn’t feel quite as ‘crispy’ as the wool, but is definitely stiff with texture:
Now, I just have to try the samples and see how they felt 🙂
I made another bird pod last week, this time using various natural grey wools. The pictures aren’t the best because when I went to take photos yesterday afternoon, it suddenly went really dark, then we had the most epic hour long storm with non-stop thunder, lightning, wind and torrential rain (basically the whole city shut down for hours because of it). So, I had to redo the photos this morning, and they’re a bit flat.
I mentioned in my last post I was getting a spinning wheel, and it came last week (yay!) but I’ve not been upto having a go yet, so I did a bit of spindle spinning and then weaving. I thought it’d be nice for fairs or the well being classes to show how hand woven yarn can be used. This first one was made with fairly neat (by my standards, anyway) yarn, just single ply, and I didn’t wet and set the twist or anything, just wound it onto an old broom handle from the spindle. I wove it on a little kids loom I bought:
A closer look:
I was doing some of the weaving at night watching Parks and Recreation and thought I was using all naturals, but it was obvious in daylight I’d used some yarn I made ages ago from hand dyed Merino (green over orange, I think), but I think it matches alright.
Since not everyone has a loom handy, I thought I’d make a few pieces with cardboard looms, so I cut some rectangles and then marked out sections and cut notches in the bottom. I also used some yarn I’d made from my carding scraps – the really wiry, scruffy, short and matted bits – and some coarser wools like Herdick (the bits I used looked like unpicked Brillo pads) and a couple I got from Wollknoll which look like shredded wheat, to show that yarn, and weaving, can still look good even if you don’t make smooth, even yarn. This is a tall one I made:
That’s a dried pepper keeping it flat, I’ll probably have to wet and block some of these becasue they want to curl! Close up:
This is a really small one I made:
A close up:
This is the larger of the cardboard looms I made:
And this is a photo of the loom above with a smaller cardboard loom (it already has the warp thread wound on it) and how they compare to the kids’ loom I have. That is probably smaller than A4/printer paper:
Do you remember the inside of my bag from last time? Well, I was watching Neighbours last week (an Aussie soap, for those who don’t know) and a character was wearing a jacket, just like my bag flap!
It was interesting to see Marilyn’s 3rd Quarter Challenge last week about creating/adding dimension to our felt projects, we’d just started exploring dimension and texture at the well being centre’s wet felting and fibre group. The piece I made last week doesn’t really qualify as it’s something I’ve done before, but I thought I’d show it in case it gives a bit of inspiration for someone else.
We started with a couple of ‘regular’ thickness layers of medium coarse wools, like English 56 or Texel. I used a blend I’d made from some Botany lap waste and donated wools. We then added some ‘filling’ to help bulk our pieces out, mostly some scoured Norwegian lambswool and some unravelled aran knitting yarn (80% wool, I think). Then we added a couple of thinner layers of Merino, roughly the equivalent thickness of one coarse layer, we did two finer ones to keep even shrinkage. We topped them off with different silk embellishments like hankies, silk noil, cocoon strippings and ‘schappe silk‘ which I got from wollknoll. We started felting as usual, and once it was felted, we sewed running stitch across in different places, then pushed the felt together to ‘ruche’ it and form ridges. Then we finished felting a bit more and fulled it until it was as firm as we liked. Then we removed the sewing thread. This is how the back of mine looked:
This is the front:
This is it the other way around:
I had to take some photos along the surface of course, this is from one end:
And this is from the other end, it’s funny how it looks different rotated:
Yesterday we had a bit of a play-day using the different natural wools and fibres. It’s not the best place for photos, in the basement with unusual lights, and these are all still wet. This is Louise’s piece:
This is Ruth’s, she was pointing out the cotton nepps while we were talking about them:
Lyn has made a design on her piece so was still working on it, but it’s rude to leave her out!:
And mine, I used some Ryeland which I think Leonor sent, so it’ll be interesting to see how that dries:
One of the other art/craft groups at the centre is doing something about nature with a local school, and we might join in with that, so our dimension and texture exploration might have a bit of a nature theme over the next few weeks.
Every year I think I never had much time to do everything I wanted, but at least I did get to do some things which I enjoyed. I always enjoy the challenges we do on the Studio site and seeing everyone’s entries. I think this was my favourite piece from all the challenges, from Ann’s Stewart Stephenson challenge:
I tried a few new things this year, one of them was making a hat for the first time:
And some new animal fibres. This is yak, it was the softest fibre I’d ever felt (or felted!):
Until I got some camel fibre, even softer!:
I know a lot of people prefer to make felt with a ‘purpose’, but I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of experimenting and trying combinations of different wool breeds or animal fibres with various embellishment fibres, just for the fun of it. A few of my favourite pieces: Dark Brown Corriedale with Ingeo:
Angora goat with black and white viscose:
Another things I love is texture, surface design and sculptural felt, I did a bit of that this year too:
I do like colour too, so had fun dyeing a lot of wools and embellishment fibres recently. The milk protein was especially gorgeous:
Thanks a lot for all the support this past year and all the nice comments an helpful advice, I hope you’ve enjoyed your past year too 🙂
I’ve used banana fibre tops with Suffolk wool tops before, so I know they look really interesting together. I fluffed up some of the banana fibre, and added it to the top of the Suffolk. Though I used lessl of the banana fibre than I have previously, I wasn’t disappointed by the results.
This angled picture shows the texture more:
This is a close up of the centre part
And this is a supermacro of the wool and fibre texture
In the middle along the right edge is an area where the fibres are a little thicker. In the top photos it looks quite dense, but a supermacro close up shows the tangle of wool and banana fibres.
And from this angle you can see the pattern even better
Another combination of wool and fibres I found really interesting is Grey Masham and Bamboo top. I’m not sure if Masham is classed as a coarse breed, I think its Micron count is between 29 and 34. It’s certainly more ‘wiry’ than fine wools, but is still quite soft to the touch. The contrast of the wool and sheen of the bamboo was quite striking, yet at the same time, the wool seemed to ‘absorb’ the fibre. This is the whole piece from an angle.
This is slightly closer and from above, there’s an area in the centre with barely any fibre on it:
This is a close up of the dense patch just to the right, it’s interesting to see how the fibres are still affected by the characteristics of the wool even when they are thicker.
This is a close up of the area just left of centre at the top of the piece, showing dense and sparse patches.
I hope you’re not getting bored of these because I have about 30 other breeds of wool and about 15 natural fibres, I’m not going to do the maths, but that’s quite a variety of combinations I can come up with!
I was thinking recently that I might have to change my plans a little bit, and make some different sized templates for my felt panels. Quite a few of the wools I’ve got have a very long staple length, much bigger than my current template. And the varying shrinkage rates makes a lot of the panels similar but not quite the same; so I think a variety of squares and rectangles might work out better to piece together in the end. I haven’t really thought too much about how I would actually ‘construct’ the hanging, one idea was the sew the edges of the panels together, kind of like seams on clothes, but visible so they formed little ridges, but I don’t want to lose the cool wavy edges some of the wool breeds like Lincoln create.
This is Brown Finnish wool with a covering of flax:
This is a close up:
This is another Finn piece, with a diagonal band of hemp, which is quite similar to flax.
This is a felt panel made with ‘Humbug’ (stripes of black and white) Jacob, I used black and white viscose tops for this:
This is more of a straight on shot:
This last panel is Black Jacob wool tops and Soy bean staple fibre.
I love the effects you can get with the staple fibres.
Do you like to try different breeds of wool for felting? Do you have a favourite or ones you think are better suited to particular projects? How about embellishment fibres, do you have any favourites?
The winner of the Complete Wet Felting Kit from Heidi Feathers is … Kirsty Lowde. Congratulations, Kirsty , please can you leave a comment on this post so I can pass your contact info on to Zoe so she can arrange to post it to you (you don’t need to post your email address, I can get that from the Admin panel!)
NATURAL WOOLS AND FIBRES
You might have seen my post on the forum last week about a wall hanging I made using natural coloured wool tops from many different wool breeds and some different embellishment fibres. Someone usually asks, so this time I’ve measured 🙂 It’s 30 inches long and 10 inches wide.
This is the bottom end, some of the wools and fibres are: Bluefaced Leicester tops and noil, Humbug Jacob, Black Jacob tops and noil, Lincoln, Gotland, flax, hemp, soy top, milk top and viscose:
This is a close up of the soy top and Lincoln tops.
And this is viscose tops on Zwartble with some Ingeo to the side.
As much as I love colours of dyed Merino or the textures of a nuno felted silk or shiny organza, I really love the variation of colours and textures you get with different combinations of natural wools and embellishment fibres. For as long as I’ve had natural wool tops and embellishment fibres I’ve been making various experimental pieces of felt with them, some just flat wet-felted, some combined with other techniques for a variety of surface designs or sculptural effects. When I got my recent World of Wool order and a few more breeds to try, I thought I’d also start to make a variety of small panels with the intention of maybe combining them into one large wall hanging some day. This is a panel I made using Manx Loaghtan wool tops and Bamboo staple fibre:
This is an angled photo of the panel I made with Grey Herdick wool tops and Hemp fibre:
And this last piece is something I made alongside the top stripey piece: