Friday, 20 January 2017


After a few attempts, I managed to get a photograph of an orange piece I'd planned to blog about last week:

I made the piece to sew into a purse/wallet for my friend, but I was concerned some of the fabric wasn't attached as well as I'd like for something which would get lots of handling, so I made another piece:

I even managed to get a closer pic of this one too:

And this is some of the synthetic embellishments I used:

Inbetween the two large pieces, I made a medium sized piece with the same colour theme, I used less fabric on this piece and more embellishent fibres, especially silk throwster's waste and silk hankies:

Of course, today is the first bright, sunny day for ages, and I could probably get much better photos now!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Dyeing Silk

Since the house was tidy for Christmas I used the opportunity to do some dyeing. I mostly did fibres, but I also wanted to dye some silk. I have lots of patterned silk scarves, but wanted some more 'plain'. This first pieces is some silk my friend Karen sent me from Australia years ago. It's labelled 'tissue silk', is similar to silk chiffon, but different more like crepe. I dipped it in darker blue first, then lighter blues at the other end.

These pieces are silk habotai. The photo doesn't do them justice, they have such a gorgeous shine. I'm kicking myself I didn't buy lots of silk from wollknoll when the exchange rate was in our favour!

These are some pieces of silk chiffon, there's less colour variation in these than in the tissue silk and habotai pieces. They came out really nice though:

These strips are from a piece of silk I got in a charity shop, it was a green to white blended piece, so I tore it where the green was palest, and dyed strips from those parts with blues and greens, and the whitest part burgundy with some purple shades.

I also overdyed some printed silk I had. I can't find any photos of it here, but I used it on a couple of notebook covers. It was nice in an unusual kind of way, but not so nice I didn't mind completely changing it! This first piece was overdyed with blues and greens, it doesn't look massively different, but it toned down the yellows:

And this isn't the best photo, but the over-dyeing turned out better than I expected using oranges and reds over greens/blues:

And here's a rolled up batt I made from multi scraps a while ago:

If you're looking to treat yourself after Christmas, I have a few e-books and tutorials you might be interested in. Beyond Nuno is a guide to using fabrics in wet felting, it's not a project book, but more of a 'how and why' book so you can get the outcome you want when nuno felting. If you adore embellishmnet fibres but shy away from buying them because you're not sure how to use them, whether they're versatile or worth the money, which ones might suit you better etc, then The Right Fibre can help you out there. I can't guarantee you won't just buy all the fibres still  :)  but at least you'll have back up visual evidence as to why you need all the fibres! And if there's any space left which isn't covered in wool, fabric or fibres for felting, you might be able to squeeze in a new hobby and make yourself a few polymer clay buttons to go on your felt creations or maybe even a diz for making roving, in which case you might like Polymer Clay, Simply Made, a guide to making really nice, even polymer clay pieces with loads of tips for using everyday items instead of expensive equipment (I can't be held responsible for any missing eyeshadow!). Happy New Year!

Friday, 25 November 2016


On my last post I showed a nuno felt piece I'd made using various wool tops I got in a recent bag of Botany Lap Waste from World of Wool. It became obvious that not all were Merino or even 100% wool, so I thought I'd try some samples. The first one is the kind of Royal Blue from the back of the nuno piece. I'd had a feeling at the time it might not be Merino, but it's surprising how different various tops can feel and even look when you use lots of different ones together, even when they're all 23 mic Merino. I know sometimes it's because they're old and a bit dry, but I think it has something to do with the dyes too:

The staple length was really long, and it wasn't exactly coarse, but wasn't as soft as Merino, so I'm guessing it's Corriedale. This is on an angle:

Some other tops I got were obviously not Merino or Corriedale. I'm going to guess at Shetland, because WoW don't do many different breeds of dyed tops, and because it looks similar to some green Shetland I got:

It looks different on a different background:

You can see on the close up it's coarser and hairier than the previous one:

I don't think I used this next one on my nuno piece either, but it was very similar to the turquoise I used on the back. It was obvious straight away that this was never going to felt:

It's just two very loosely holding together layers, holding together more by tangling of a few fibres rather than felting, I think, slight angle:

It's not even pretending to hold together at one end, where it started to 'drip' when I held it up wet:

And this is what it looks like at the window:

This was the turquiose sample. It was the lighter blue stripes on the back of the large piece, and I used it in patches in a couple of places. Not surprisingly, it felted, or didn't felt, in exactly the same way as the purple sample I tried:

It even separated at one end like the purple piece did:

This is how it looked at the window:

I don't know what these tops could be, the only similar experience I've had to this is trying to felt Suri Alpaca locks, but they did at least stay together, if loosely. Superwash has been suggested, but I don't think they do dyed Superwash or put it in the Botany Waste. Before I tried felting any of the Botany Lap waste tops, I'd tried spinning some. It was only the 2nd time I'd used my wheel, so thought the trouble I was having was beginner's issues and also because I was trying tops. My first attempt had been from blended batts I'd drum carded and was much easier. I'd always planned on using the spun yarn for weaving anyway, so used some on one piece:

I've separated them all now for spinning and to try using them as I would embellishment fibres. If you're interested in embellishment fibres, have a look at The Felting and Fiber Studio today for a giveaway of my e-book The Right Fibre.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Unexpected Results

I thought I'd make a big piece of nuno felt, with plans to make it into a book cover. I recently got a big bag of Botany Lap waste from World of Wool with some nice blues and purples slightly different to the ones I already had so I thought a patchwork of colours with a collage of silk pieces would work great. I noticed quite early on it didn't seem to be felting the 'usual' way, but put it down to starting on the back, which I don't usually do, but had wanted to make sure there were no thin edges, so I'd flipped it over. And I wondered if I'd overwet it a bit too. Then some bits of silk came right off, which did seem very odd, as I've been using bits of these same silk scarves for years. I thought that one of the 'waste' wool tops I'd used mustn't have been Merino, it did feel a bit 'rougher', but sometimes they can do if they're a bit old or some colours seem a bit drier too. It wasn't vastly different so I guessed it might be Corriedale. When it came to fulling, it all got really weird. I know different wool breeds and wool amounts, and using fabrics etc affects shrinkage, so when I make patchy and/or nuno pieces, I don't expect it to be as neat and 'square' as simpler pieces, but this was all over the place. This is the finished piece now it's dry:

When I'd flipped it over during the fulling, when the distortion became more pronounced, I suddenly went 'Aaah!' as I realised. This is the back:

It seemed obvious then that not only was one of the 'waste' wool tops possibly not Merino (the mid blue), but the turquoisey one was probably not 100% Merino, either. It felt soft, but then some colours do seem softer, and it wasn't obvious looking at it that it was blended with anything. I did a burn test and it burnt the same as some Merino, but some of the close up photos I took made it look quite synthetic. It reminded me of the fake Angora fibre I have.

When I looked at the places where the silk hadn't attached fully and where it had come off altogther, it was where I'd used the soft lap waste tops both on top and underneath. This is one piece which really tried to hang on :

Where I'd used the two different types together, I did get an interesting texture on the Silk. This is the vertical purple/lilac strip on the right hand side:

And you can see in the photo of the whole piece how that silk strip changes about a quarter of the way down, with different wools. I think I'll keep all these together so I know to expect unusual results, maybe use them for experiments. The only real problem they caused was where the softer tops, possibly blends, were in two layers, and the silk had come off, the felt was cobwebby in those places. (not a great photo, but you get the idea!)

One piece which did turn out how I expected was a new coaster I made using some woven pencil roving waste which had been gathering dust for months (I flipped it over, just in case). I did almost use some Botany Lap Waste tops, but changed my mind at the last minute:

I think the colours and rippling give the illusion it's bumpier than it is. You can feel texture on the surface, but it's subtler than it looks:

Have you had any unexpected results or surprises using unknown wools or fibres?

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Another Bag and Some Weaving

If you're anything like me, when you get the sewing machine and felt and/or fabric scraps out, you end up with stuff absolutely everywhere and a huge mess to tidy away afterwards which takes so long you start to consider whether you really need to use that room again or if you can get away with shutting the door on the mess forever. I usually try to make the most of it and do as many sewing projects as I can all in one go and live with the mess in the mean time. After making the satchel type bag, I had some good sized off cuts left over so thought I'd make myself another bag. This one is 'passport bag' size. This is what it looks like from the front with the flap closed:

And this is what it looks like with the flap open - I used magnetic closures again:

 The felt piece I used for the flap is at least 4 years old, one of those pieces you make for fun and put 'in the box' until you find the perfect use for it. Weirdly after using it on the bag, I was watching Neighbours (an Aussie soap, for those who don't know) and a character was wearing a jacket, just like my bag flap!

I did a bit of spindle spinning and then weaving recently. 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 orang, 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 Herdwick (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:

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Felt Collage Bag

Over on The Felting a Fiber Studio we like to have Quarterly Challenges. In April, Ann issued her challenge for the 2nd Quarter, all about re-using or recycling offcuts or reshaping/re-imagining discarded pieces etc. It took me a while, but I finally got around to doing the challenge. One thing I like more than colourful felt, is lots of colourful felt! So, when I have a nice collection of offcuts, I like to put them together in a collage and make something out of it. I'd been wanting an 'alternative' bag to my little drawstring bag for a while now, and I've got a canvas satchel which I really like, but I wanted something a little bit smaller, so I thought I'd go with a smaller version of that. I worked out the dimensions for the length and width I'd need it, marked out where the front, back and flap would be, then pieced all my strips together:

The middle section with all the nuno pieces would be the back, I positioned them there because I know from experience that felt, especially Merino felt, can bobble/pill easily when it rubs a lot, like bags do around the hip area. When I trimmed the edges and folded it into shape, I realised the front flap was a bit too long to add satchel straps, so I went with a magnetic closure. This is what it looked like from the front when it was finished:

This is how it looks when it's open:

This is the back (with the front flap open):

For the side panels, I tried quite a few felt pieces, One which looked really good was a piece I'd made from woven pencil roving, but I knew it'd be too thick once the hook straps were added, so, and I don't know why this is still hard to do after all these years, but many will understand, I cut up a piece of nuno felt I made a while ago. I'm not sure I ever showed it because it's blue and I have a hard time taking photos of blue, but here's one end of it:

I cut strips for the sides, and thinner strips to make the straps to hold the bag hooks in place:

I got the findings from another bag I bought from a charity shop just for them. I recently bought 10 metres of rainbow webbing with a bag in mind and it went perfectly with this bag, I even got the findings attached the right way around the first time!:

For a guide to using fabrics in felting, check out my e-book, Beyond Nuno :)