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Quarterly review

Quarterly review

It’s hard to believe that 4 months have already gone by this year, I’m not sure that I’ve done a quarter of the things I planned to do. I did try out a lot of the fibres that Karen sent me and even made a nice piece of felt from some silk threads that came off the sari silk ribbon.

I haven’t used any of the gorgeous threads that Ruth sent me, hopefully when I’ve learned a good variety of stitches from the TAST challenge I can do them justice. I’ve enjoyed learning new stitches, one I really enjoyed exploring was running stitch. My first thought was ‘running stitch?! what can you do with that?’ A lot as it happens 🙂

I haven’t had chance to explore dyeing further yet this year, but there’s still plenty of time for that. I’ve enjoyed the Studio Challenges so far, not only producing pieces for the challenges, but also exploring the themes in depth, taking photos, altering photos, always looking for things to fit the themes.

Last week after Ruth’s Challenge post, I chose some of my old abstract acrylic paintings to get some inspiration from. I started with a small acrylic in blues, greens and yellows.

And made a small felt piece inspired by it.

I’ve done quite a lot of work on my project for using ‘other’ fibres and fabrics in felting. I still haven’t worked out what format or formats it will be in, but I think that will become clearer as I go along and have a better idea of how all the info would best be presented. I’m working around a loose outline, but as usual there’s always something new to learn with each piece of felt, or a new idea forming wanting to be explored. I’m trying to stick to the outline and write down the other ideas for exploring later, but I don’t want to forget them while they’re fresh, either 🙂

I’ve already been inspired by the great felting and fibre community we’re part of. It’s great to read all the comments we get on the studio site each day and I love logging onto the forum and seeing everyone’s new projects. I really like the way we get inspired to try out new things from each other’s posts, compare our results and share techniques. I think I’m adding to my list of things to do rather than ticking them off, but that’s alright 🙂  How are your lists of things for the year? Are you getting much ticked off or are they growing, like mine?

Natural Wools and Natural Fibres

Natural Wools and Natural Fibres

One of the projects I’ve been working on in the last few months is using natural coloured wools with natural ‘other’ felting fibres. It’s not always easy working out which fibre will match with which colour wool because they often look very different when felted, and some fibres which seem to felt well on most wools, suddenly don’t with another. A couple of natural fibres I really like are soybean fibre and flax (linen).

Flax looks like dried grass, it doesn’t look like it’d felt very well, but it does.  I used it here with natural brown Merino tops.

Flax Fibre

Merino and Flax before felting

After felting it is a lot softer and shinier than before. 

Merino and Flax after felting

Soybean top is gorgeous. It is soft, golden yellow and much shinier than silk. I used it with some natural black Jacob tops. After felting, I’d left it to dry on a table, and walking past, I saw the soybean top shining like gold in the dim light. I took a few photos hoping it’d show up and was really surprised when it did. It looked gorgeous. It wasn’t as easy to capture the true colour and shine once it had dried, but it really is a gorgeous fibre.

Soybean top
Jacob and Soybean top drying
Jacob and Soybean top

Do you have any favourite natural fibres and wool breeds?

Experiment in Dryer Felting

Experiment in Dryer 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.

Our First Giveaway

Our First Giveaway

Our First Give Away

We’ve decided to have a giveaway in celebration of our new Felting and Fibre Studio and also just for fun! To enter and win this fibre pack you need to leave a comment on this post for one entry. Competition will be for 1 week and the winner will be announced by random number draw.

The pack contains just over 100grms of Fibre

Some hand dyed and carded small batts

Romney Fibre

Merino Roving

Natural Merino Roving

Merino Silk Blend

Natural Silk Noil

Silk ribbon

                        This is a fun pack to use in your fibre arts.

Competion will end on  Sunday the 16th at 9.00pm Australian Time

Looking Forward to 2012

Looking Forward to 2012

I never really have a plan for what I’d like to do in the coming year. There are a few things I’d like to do, though.

Karen sent me a package of gorgeous fibres that I can’t wait to try, and Ruth sent me a package of lovely hand dyed threads to use and some lace-weight yarn to dye myself. I don’t know many stitches but Mariana was telling us on the forum about Take a Stitch Tuesday, so hopefully I’ll learn some new ones from that.

I really enjoyed experimenting with direct dyeing on felt, I’d like to explore that some more, try some different techniques and use more colours to get interesting patterns and designs, and maybe even try some stitching on it. Wrapping leaves in felt and steaming to get the pattern interests me too, it looks gorgeous when it works well.

Early last year, I made a couple of Huacaya alpaca fibre felted samples, with the intention of making a scarf. I wanted to see whether 1 layer or 2 worked best (I decided that 2 made a more even felt without losing the curly cobwebby effect). I then bought some Suri alpaca fibre with the intention of making similar samples. I’d like to make the samples and hopefully make the scarf too.

I mentioned in my 2011 review that I’d bought a lot of new ‘other’ felting fibres and made samples. It always fascinates me how adding different fibres to wool can alter the way it felts or looks so much. I’d like to do something with what I’ve learned from using lots of different fibres over the years, maybe write some tutorials or an e-book for the Studio site. I’d also really like to be able to make felting fibres more accessible and affordable to people through the site. There seems to be a misunderstanding that these fibres are hard to find or expensive, they’re not. I hate to see people being ripped off and misled.

I’ve had a few ideas for projects in my notebook for a couple of years, hopefully I’ll get chance to try them out this year. The ‘trouble’ with felt is, it always seems to teach you something new with each piece you make, so it’s very easy for plans to get derailed as other ideas are explored. Sometimes it’s nice to go back and rework old ideas.

I can’t wait until Ruth’s book is published. It was a real privilege being asked to help out with it. I know just how much work she put into it, and what a wealth of information is in there. I also know just how clear the instructions are because I have no idea what any of it looks like, none of us have seen any of the photos, so I really can’t wait to see how all the projects look.

One thing I’m really looking forward to in 2012 is continuing to learn and be inspired by the great felting and fibre community we’re part of. I really like the way people have joined in with the spirit of the site and helped each other out through comments, passed on links and information. I don’t think I’d have tried direct dyeing on to felt if it hadn’t been suggested in a comment. I’m also looking forward to the Studio Challenges and seeing what Karen, Ruth and Ann work on this year.

Looking Back on 2011

Looking Back on 2011

Looking back on what I’ve done in 2011, I was surprised to find it was a lot more than I originally thought. I have a hard time felting when it’s warm, I can’t bear to get too hot and the wool always seems extra staticy, so I only really felt for half the year. At the beginning of the year I finished making a series of lampshade covers from felt and fabric. I really enjoy making felt for book-covers and coasters and made quite a few of these. A lot of the felting I did this year was just samples. I treated myself to a whole load of ‘other’ felting fibres from World of Wool, things like plastic fibre, Milk protein fibre, Ingeo, Flax, and different nylon fibres. I also gave myself a refresher course in nuno felting and discovered that pink isn’t that bad, really. I ended up making quite a few things from felt that I had in my ‘spare felt’ box, like book-covers, purses, coasters, glasses cases and bookmarks, which was fun.

I wrote a few more tutorials this year: How to make a zipper purse from felt; Using the textured felt method to make a bag; How to degum silk; Direct Dyeing and How to make a website banner using Photoshop. While I was looking for a button for one of my textured felt bags, I came across some old Fimo buttons I’d made a few years ago and realised that having a good stash of original buttons would be great. It seems a waste to put the oven on for just a few buttons, so I ended up making a lot more than I’d planned to 🙂

Starting the Felting and Fiber Studio with Karen, Ruth and Ann was probably the last thing I expected to do this year. What started as a comment from Ruth about us all keeping in touch, quickly evolved into a website with lots of photos and information. We all worked really hard in a very short space of time adding the content to the site, which wasn’t easy as we soon realised there were limitations to how we can present photos, and a major feature of the site was changed on us as we’d almost finished, and we’d used that feature a lot. It’s been great to be part of a community though, especially since we got the forum up too and have been joined by so many great friendly and generous fibre enthusiasts 🙂

I think the thing I was most proud of this year was the felt scarf I made for my girlfriend. It was made from 18.5 micron merino with Milk protein fibre. It was the first full length, non nuno scarf I’d made and though it’s always a pleasure to make something for her because she genuinely loves what I make; I really wanted to make something special because she’s so supportive and makes it all worthwhile.

Merino and Milk felted scarf
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

 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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