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 :) 

Friday, 19 August 2016

Pods and cords

We've been exploring resists at the Well Being centre recently, and one of the group said she'd really like to make a round vessel, so I thought we'd follow rosiepink's vessel tutorial. It turned out there was only 2 of us there early enough to have a go, so we did it again this week, but this is mine:

Here's the other side:

I've been looking for 'smoothing tools' for vessels for years, like Lyn's suggestions of a baby's rattle or laundry liquid dispenser, I keep checking the baby section, and dog toy section, even the kitchen section for a ladel, but still haven't found one! I did buy some foam for resists though and  I thought I'd try it out and make a new birdpod. I remembered those coconut ones, and tried to do a similar shape. It didn't get it quite right, but using lots of coarse wools did give it a hairy coconut look, though:

I need to make a cord for it to hang it up. Usually, I make cords from offcuts or make some handspun yarn and felt that, but I had an idea for some garden ornaments and thought I'd give it a go using a bamboo mat. I can't remember which wool I used, I think it was something from Wollknoll labelled just 'Scottish grey'. I had a hard time getting photos of all my things, it went too dark yesterday, so this morning I took them into the garden and tried them in a few places, when I put the first cord down on the paving stones it camouflaged itself, even the pattern seems to match!

That was just the test piece for the idea I wanted to try. The only trouble was, I needed a larger mat than a placemat. I looked at my living room blinds, just hanging there with a huge roll of unused bamboo sat at the bottom. I unrolled it and there must have been two feet of spare blind, so a few snips and a few tied ends later, I had a shorter window blind and a new rolling mat! This cord hasn't completely dried yet, but I know I need to make the next one a bit thinner, and I think that will help it be firmer too, but it turned out a lot better than I expected:

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Coin Purses

I used some of my last nuno felt pieces to make coin purses. This first one was from a kind of 'nuno-collage' made from pieces of silk scarf pieced together:

 This is the back:

I usually add an extra piece of felt inside the purses, so there are two sections. Sometimes, if the piece of felt I'm using is big enough, I add two pieces to make 3 sections like I did with this one:

 This was a kind of paisley print, but the rippling reminds me of splashes in water, this is how it looks closed:

I made the felt I used for this next piece a long time ago. If I make nuno sample pieces, I try to make them large enough to be turned into something, and pieces for coin purses are a good size. I couldn't find the right button for this one, so it didn't get finished for a long time. I love the fabric, it is from a viscose scarf:

 The fabric I used on this piece was the plaid border of a scarf, it looks a bit 'hairy' because I used a blend containing silk for the felt, and the silk really migrated through:

Sticking with the plaid theme, I made another plaid inspired piece of felt and used it to make a felt book cover:

 This is the other side:

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

More Nuno Pieces

I know, I've been slacking again, sorry. I'm sure there's a much easier way to do blog posts than to 'manually' copy and paste text from Word/Wordpad, then upload the photos, but any time I deviate from the 'usual' way of doing things, either here or on Wordpress, I end up with a mess of huge spaces between text and photo or otherwise, no spaces. Pretty much all the felt pieces I made lately have been nuno felt pieces. This first piece was made with a piece of a polyester scarf I bought not so long ago:

This next piece was made with some fabric from a dress I found in a charity shop:

I like this part the best:

This nuno piece was made with a strip of linen scarf, it was a lot like some viscose scarves I've used, but shinier:

I've used pieces from this next scarf on some nuno samples, so thought it would make a great piece. It is unusual because it's 2 thin layers with loose fibres trapped between which look like soy top:

Here's a closer look at the fabric:

This last nuno piece has lots of strips from various silk scarves I found in a salvage shop years ago. The scarves are really gaudy, but work well cut up and mixed with others:

This is the back of the silk piece, I thought I'd stick with the bright theme :)