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.
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!