Is it an Obsession & A little Ironing goes a Long Way!

Is it crazy that my new bedside-table reading is a source book for fleece and fiber?  I’ve been wanting this book for a while now and finally ordered it online – thank goodness I qualified for free shipping as it weighs about 400 lbs!  It documents over 200 varieties of animal fibre – history, characteristics, photographs, etc.  Now, I will never get near most of these fibres in my felting work, but it really is quite interesting to read about all the different varieties of sheep and other animals and about how they came to be.  Am I becoming the crazy wool lady?

I’ve been busy experimenting over the past couple of days.  I want to get better at creating lightweight felt and nuno-felt.  I have a table booked at Art In the Park on June 10th.  I don’t imagine that there will be much interest in winter felt items and I would like to offer some body textiles.  I have lots and lots of ideas, just need to perfect the felt first.

I started with a very basic nuno scarf – I used a piece of silk chiffon I custom dyed using a spot dying technique I usually reserve for hooking wool.  The result was quite pleasing – a mottled ochre-green-brown…  I tried to roughly match some pre-dyed merino I had on hand and just thinly laid the wisps out on the edges and in two lines down the centre.  It was crazy sunny in my kitchen that day so I had trouble getting good photos.

I took my time and used cool water and it began to pucker and felt just the way I wanted.

And voila, I have a scarf.

The following day, I decided to try my hand at creating a fine-wool shawl – almost cobweb, but not quite.  I had some BlueFaced Leicester that I had brought back from the UK and after reading about the breed in my Sourcebook, I decided to give it a go.  BFL is prized for it’s very soft, short fleece.  My BFL was undyed, so I decided to work with undyed silk hankies as well and dye the whole lot after the fact.  I laid out my rovings in a leaf shape and then filled in the center.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have quite enough fibre and had to make at a bit shorter than I would have ideally liked.

I then tiled undyed silk hankies over the top and felted away.

After the piece was fully felted, I rinsed it well and scrunched it up in my dye dish.  I spot dyed using red violet and reddish brown.

I put the dish in the oven until the dye had set.  After checking it out, I decided it was a bit too patchy for my liking so I overdyed one more time in a light red violet bath and….

…ended up with a delicious raspberry delight!  I can definitely see myself using this after-dying technique quite a lot.  In fact I have a few pounds of undyed Merino on it’s way to me and I am already getting excited about the dying possibilities – dip dying, shibori, tie dye… hold me back!

As for the weight and texture of the piece, I was quite pleased.  I ended up with a very soft, fine textile that drapes nicely.  Only problem is that it’s a shade to short to be a full-fledged shawl.  I still grapple a bit with the shrinkage factor and how large I have to lay out the fibres.  However, the textile is far too beautiful to ignore so I’m thinking of using it as the front of a messenger bag.  It’s too thin to weight bear on it’s own, but lined it will be perfect.  Stay tuned!

I also had a reminder yesterday of how important ironing is as a final stage of felting.  Due to my reluctance to pick up an iron – anywhere, any place, anytime – I often neglect this final phase.  But for some reason, the spirit seized me and I decided to spend a little time with heat and steam on my recent pieces.  The results are stunning.  A little ironing really does take your work from great to WOW!  Here’s to me using that appliance on a more regular basis!







My New Early Morning Obsession

The only thing I dislike about the new house is the “uber-open-conceptness” of it.  It means that the cats are free to vocalize their wish to be fed at 5:45 am and I am the one to answer their call.  This leaves me wide awake with no hope of falling back to sleep and a need to do something quietly so I don’t disturb the other sleepers in the household.  Well, Pinterest has come to my rescue!  Have you discovered it yet?  It’s the new “it” thing in social media because, after all, we are all getting sick of mindless, ego-ridden status updates on Facebook – those of others and our own.  And FB seems to be finding new-and-improved ways to aggravate us by re-arranging our walls and hitting our collective privacy nerve.  Pinterest has stepped in to show us the light.  Basically, it’s a collection of scrapbook-like virtual bulletin boards that you can pin photos and videos onto.  You can spend hours perusing other people’s boards and re-pinning things of interest onto your own.  This concept appeals to us women who, by our very natures, are gatherers, leading to some claims that Pinterest users are up to 90% female.   While me family peacefully sleeps upstairs, my mornings have been spent pinning away and I’ve found some great photographs (like the one above) and great ideas for projects.  Now one could object that this is all a glorious waste of time – Will I ever get to those DIY projects?  However, I’ve found many fellow felt artists who spend many hours pinning (just like me) and collectively we seem to be collating a massive database of felting inspiration!   So get pinning!  It’s great fun!

On another note, my Etsy store is finally up and running with a whopping one item listed.  I have more items to stock and will spend the afternoon getting them on as well.  Once I’ve fleshed out the stock, I’ll be doing a little shameless self-promotion and sending out a mass email which will alert everyone and request that they shamefully pass the link on to lots more people 🙂

Charity Shop Gem

So today I had a little time to kill while Hannah was at the gym -sometimes I feel that my life revolves around her gym schedule, so she better darn well make it into the Olympics! 🙂  No pressure at all!  Anyway, there is a small charity shop close by so I popped in to take a looksie.  I often find old wool skirts, etc. that I can cut-up and overdye for rug hooking projects (I really should post some pictures of my rug hooking on here sometime!)  I occasionally come across a gauzy silk scarf that can be used in nuno felting.  But today I hit the jackpot – a beautiful mohair, wool blend that is in perfect condition and huge.  Only down side, it was a very 1987 shade of neon pink.  No problem.  I paid my $2.99 (yes, that’s what I paid!) and dashed home to get out my acid dyes.  Well, I did pick Hannah up first.  So to make the long story short, I used a dip dye technique to transform the offensive pink to a deep raspberry and burgundy brown variegation.   How much do I love this transformation?  Let me count the ways.

I’ve read varying opinions about how well mohair felts so the next big decision will be where to go next.  Really I could just keep it as is and wrap myself in it on cold winter nights.  And yet, I feel the need to do more.  Hmmm… I’ll think on it a bit.

February Felting

I can’t believe that February is almost over. I’ve been filling my days with a flurry of felting. After teaching my workshop at the beginning of the month, I’ve been full of creative energy and desire to create, create, create. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy teaching so much – it’s always gets my creative juices flowing. My most recent design is a felted necklace with semi-precious stones felted in. I call this one Mossy Floor and it will be on show beginning March 5th at the Neilson Park Creative Centre as part of their Paradigms exhibit.

I’ve also been working on my collar scarf (or scarflette) design. These two will be for sale in my Etsy shop (not quite up and running yet, but don’t worry, I’ll post when it is). I think the season for scarves is almost over, but I have plans to offer some other items, including a IPad case that is still in the prototype stage, and a IPhone case. I’m going to make some more necklaces as well.

I’ve been working on my felted flowers as well. I can’t decide if this one should be a brooch or used in some other way.