Thursday, 27 August 2015

Knitting and Roving

Last time I did a World of Wool order, I got some 'Pencil Roving waste', it's a the bottom of this page here. I very recently learnt to knit and it is really nice to knit with. I was going through my commercial yarns recently, they're pretty much all tassley, eyelash, loopy things for embellishing felt, but right when I first discovered felting, I bought some thick and thin acrylic 'fake' pencil roving :


I've needlefelted and wet felted with it, and made a tiny knitted square when I first learnt and thought it would be perfect to use with the pencil roving to make something thick and soft and texturey. I used a multicoloured ball, and added in the pencil roving lengths as the previous one ran out. I think it's about 10 inches square:


I did neaten the ends a bit, and poke them through to one side, so this is the back:


I think the texture is really nice:


It got me thinking about making my own pencil roving, I kind of made some a while back when I was having my kitchen done, I spun some Merino on a drop spindle then knitted it straight from there a day or two later, but the drafting is such a pain from wool tops. Then I remembered Ann did a video right when we first started the Felting and Fiber Studio site about drafting roving using a diz. So, I blended a drum full of browns and turquoise/spearminty colours, found a button with a big hole and made myself some roving. I was impressed with myself, it only went thin a few times:


A few shorter lengths:


I thought this could be useful for making wet felting kits because I noticed people who've never seen wool tops before find them hard to pull off, and hand carded/drafted roving is much looser. I made a short video of the next lot I drafted. I made a new diz from a film tub lid, because I wanted it a bit wider and also made a little 'tool' from bent wire to help pull the wool through the hole.


Thursday, 20 August 2015

Felt Picture

I had an idea over the week to do a piece of felt for my sister to say thanks for helping me at MakeFest. (Sorry I never got around to posting about it here, I was just so exhausted all week, but you can read about it here). I saw a photo she took on The Way of The Roses cycle route, and thought that would make a great piece.


I made a simplified version on Photoshop as a guide:


I don't have a computer downstairs (or working printer) so I didn't have a photo to work from, but I did draw a guide :)


I marked out the bands on a template and did the first layer, I'm afraid some of the photos aren't the best, it was dark and I had to use flash at times:


I then started on the second layer:


I thought it was looking alright until I got the the bright yellow patch near the bottom, it's a field of bright yellow rapeseed flowers, and I really wanted to capture the almost bubbly look it had. I blended Nylon and silk throwsters and bamboo, and it looked great, but made the rest look really flat:


So, then I had to go over all the areas with more texture. I blended shades, mixed in fibres, fluffed it all up and filled in the rows:


My favourite part is the bottom, the hedge has lots of colour to it, mostly greens, but the new growth has shades of red. I used lots of different shades of nylon staple fibre for this.


I added the details on next, hedges, trees, telegraph poles:


For the trees I used black viscose top, I pulled lengths off, fanned out the top, then gave it a twist to make the trunk and branches. Then I added fluffy wisps of blended wool.


Wet down:


Felted and still wet:


A few bits of yarn I used for tracks didn't work, so I removed them. Here it is dry, it's completely the wrong shades, the original photo is more 'acidic', but I liked how it turned out :


The back looks good too:


Friday, 7 August 2015

MakeFest 2

In addition to the samples that I made to take to MakeFest, which I blogged about yesterday, I also made a few things to show what can be made with felt, with a little bit more time. This small samples shows using rippled nuno with a resist:


Here's a closer look:


And since I like supermacro, an even closer look :)


 People often have the misconception that soft Merino is no good for sturdy items. I think it is perfect, being relatively 'smooth' compared to coarse wools gives it the ability to felt really closely together, and make smooth, compact felt. This is a felt piece, felted and fulled to the point I'd stop for something like a coin purse or book cover:


I used the bead fulling board to full it as much as I physically could, to make a thick firm coaster/trivet:


Obviously, I can't take the before as well as the after, but compared to some of the other samples it shows how firm felt can be. Not quite as firm, but still sturdy is this hat I made. I thought kids would enjoy this:


This is the other side:


I made this as an example of what could be made with a bit more time, but thinking about it, it didn't take any longer to lay out or felt, so could easily be made in the workshops. It's a 'landscape' or 'terrain' piece using plastic fibre from recycled bottles with textured batts and cotton gauze. This is the layout before felting:


This is the piece after felting:


This is along the surface. I love texture!


If you've always wanted to try felting, or know someone who has, come down to the Science and Industry museum on Saturday or Sunday (8th and 9th), you can get the free bus Number 2 that goes from Victoria station, and stops outside, and Castlefield is across the road, so there's lots to do. It is absolutely free to get in, my workshops are absolutely free too.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

MakeFest

I might have mentioned a while ago that I'd be doing wet felting workshops at an event called MakeFest at the Museum of Science and Industry in August (8th and 9th, if anyone's interested!). I must admit I didn't realise it was a 2 day thing when I applied, or I probably wouldn't have. I started getting ready for it back in May after getting accepted so I didn't get overwhelmed with stuff to do. I bought the wool and fibres, made some batts, dyed some wool locks and fibres etc. The last few weeks I've been making small samples to take, just to give people a few ideas, so they can make something nice for themselves.

They have a textiles gallery at MOSI which I've always loved, they have working machines processing cotton from raw fluff into cotton sliver and then into fabric, and and also displays of different fibres showing the raw material they came from, like coal, oil, flax or cotton and the fabric they are usually processed into. And since I kind of like the odd fibre or 20, I thought it'd be a perfect chance to show wet felting and get people to try those fibres out with it. I made a small sample piece showing how lots of different undyed fibres look after felting. They're mostly in alphabetical order, from the top: Bamboo top; Bamboo staple and Soy staple; Banana; Cotton; Flax; Hemp; Ingeo; Milk; Nylon staple and Plastic staple; Ramie; Soy top; and on the bottom Viscose staple and Kapok:



I love natural wools and fibres, so I made a small piece showing some of these, this is the piece before felting:


And this is after felting:


 I did a simple piece to show what could be achieved just with a few different shades of Merino:


I've dyed some of the fibres I'm taking as well as having samples of them all undyed. One which dyes really nicely is Nylon. I usually go for more muted or 'natural' looking shades, but Nylon seems to suit more vivid colours. This is a sample made with dyed Crimped Nylon before felting:


 And after felting:


And this little sample was made with some of the wisps I pulled off the ends of some hand dyed trilobal nylon:


One other thing I really love is wool locks. I've had a few hundred grams of Gotland I've been really careful with over the years, but recently my friend Zara was really generous when we did a swap and sent me loads (well over a kilo!) of the most gorgeous Gotland in many shades and varieties, so I dyed a lot of my 'old' ones to take to MakeFest. I used some of them on a couple of small samples, this is one before felting:


 And after felting:


The locks sometimes get a bit 'tatty' or 'scruffy' after dyeing so I usually pull off the wispy bits to neaten them up. I had a tubful so I thought I'd use these on a little sample too:


This last sample uses a variety of hand dyed fibres and a few silk threads all in shades of blue. I twisted some cotton scrim in the centre, this is before felting:


 And this is the sample after felting:

I tried to do a video to show how quickly and easily you could make a piece of felt, but at just under 14 minutes it was too big to upload, so I edited it down to the highlights:



There will be many different displays, demos and workshops there, it's a huge place, so I'm sure there'll be something for everyone, so if you have some spare time over this weekend (8th and 9th August) try and get to MOSI. And if you see a weary felter in the Textile Gallery, come and lend a hand :)









Monday, 20 July 2015

Nuno Weaving

I got the idea to do this woven nuno felt piece after my pencil roving mats. I've done similar things before, you've probably seen them if you have Beyond Nuno, but I think I used a lot more strips on this one. I didn't get as big a variety of 'feltedness' as I thought, most of the strips just felted quite firmly, but I did use two 'regular' thickness layers of Merino, which I actually laid out after I wove the strips.


You can see more texture on this angled photo:


Close up 1:


 Close up 2:


Close up 3:


If you're interested in making your own unique buttons for your feltwork, you might be interested in an e-book I wrote a while ago 'Polymer Clay Simply Made'. It was previously only available from my etsy shop, but since I had to pay for a hosting upgrade, I thought I'd add that too, so you can now buy it from the info page on the blog :)


Saturday, 11 July 2015

Dyeing

I've been dyeing some cellulose fibres recently for taking to the MakeFest at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester. I'm getting the hang of it now, but I don't think my first lot of fibres turned out as nice as I'd like. I did some Viscose fibre recently, and this turned out really nice. These are some of the reds, oranges and yellows:


And some yellows, greens, blues and purples:


I don't like the way dyeing cellulose fibres wastes so much water with the rinsing, but it is easier for me to do large amounts than it is with acid dyes, not that I had much choice, even mixing up just 500ml each of red, yellow, blue and black was more than enough to dye about 200g of fibre and I had to look for other things to dye so as not to waste it :) I tried dyeing Kapok fibre too, that stuff is practically impossible to wet, it seems to form a 'skin' around itself, so dyeing gave some interesting results as it behaved the same way, and when the fibre was separated, the centre wasn't dyed. This is some rose and lilac coloured kapok:


I've mostly stuck to dyeing staple fibres. I also had bamboo staple fibre. These are the greens, blues, purples, silver and black shades I dyed:


And here are the yellows, browns and reds bamboo staple:


I tried out some tops of rose fibre, the photos didn't come out, but the tops dyed well so I dyed some bamboo top:


They came out really nice, so I used up the last of the blue and purple dyes on some viscose top:


And since I'd already made a mess in the kitchen and hadn't got around to putting the table/equipment away, I started dyeing with acid dyes. Only these silk carrier rods were dry enough to photograph:


I'm not going to dye all the fibres I'm taking, I wanted the fibres to be easily recognisable as the same as the samples they have in the Textiles Gallery, showing where fibres come from and the fabric they're made into, but I wanted to show/offer dyed samples too.