Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Kapok Fibre

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I'd bought a new fibre to try out, Kapok fibre. Like cotton, it grows around the seed of the plant, but is much lighter and softer. As much as I like fibre tops, I do like the shorter staple fibres, especially with coarser wools for the way they interact with the wool and produce more 'natural' looking effects. They often seem to mimic things you find in nature such as cobwebs, fungus or mould, which look solid but are really soft or fluffy when you look closer. This first panel is natural white 23 Micron Merino. I took a 'piece' of the kapok fibres and teased it apart, sames as you would silk noil, and laid it across the wool. It's hard to see the Kapok at all.

I know a lot of people don't like curly or coarser wools for felting, especially if they mainly make felt paintings or want a brightly coloured, smooth, firm felt. But I'm the type of person who loves textures and shades and tones as much as colour, and love rocks and tree barks just as much as flowers or minerals.  So, if you're like me, you might like these next couple of pieces which I made using Shetland and Finnish wools. For this first one, I used grey Shetland tops and added fluffed up, teased apart Kapok fibre:

I like the effect the thinner parts of fibre produces:

One of the areas where the fibre was denser:

I made the Finnish piece double sided. I first put some teased apart Kapok fibre on my template, then added the brown Finnish tops. I added a layer of black Finnish tops, then blended some Kapok fibre with black Finnish noil and added that. I added some Kapok fibre on its own in a few spaces and blended a small amount of Kapok With black Finnish top and added that too. This is the brown side:

Close up 1:

One of the denser areas:

This is the black Finnish side:

A close up of a dense fibre part:

This is a close up of the Fibre blended with the wool:

Do you have a favourite coarse of curly wool? What do you use it for? Do you have a favourite embellishment fibre? You're welcome to link me to any pics or come and post about it on the Felting and Fiber forum.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A Bit Of Colour

I thought I'd do some colourful pieces this week. The last time I ordered from World of Wool, I got some dyed Shetland wool tops, and some dyed 18.5 mic Merino. I used the dyed Shetland tops for this first piece, and a variety of cellulose fibres that I dyed a while ago, using rosiepink's tutorial. I think I used Bamboo, Banana, Ramie, Flax, Hemp and Viscose, and there are a few wisps of soybean top too.

I didn't add the fibres in any particular way, just lay the tops out and added more until the spaces were filled in. Overlapping in some places.

I like this close up, I like the way the fibres appear to be just sitting on top of the wool, which my girlfriend thinks looks like grass.

I wanted to try out some of the 18.5 mic merino, and some crimped nylon before I made a large scarf. I won't be using these colours together, but thought it would help to see them better.

The way the thinner areas of fibre contour the ripples of the felt reminds me of felting with those stringy produce bags that oranges and onions often come in.

I thought this was an unusual contrast, the denser matte nylon around the shiny Merino givess the Merino a synthetic look.

A close up of some of the crimped fibre:

I really liked the way this turned out, I even like the two colours together :)

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Bluefaced Leicester and Crimped Viscose Fibre

A couple of weeks ago, I made some felt panels using Yake fibre with Bamboo Staple Fibre, and Bluefaced Leicester with crimped Viscose fibre. This is the Yak piece with Bamboo:

I posted about it on the Felting and Fiber Studio site a few days ago if you want to read more, and I've been uploading my photos to Ipernity if you want to see better photos in more detail. Although Viscose top is very similar to Bamboo top, crimped Viscose fibre isn't quite so similar to Bamboo fibre. There are some similarities, for example the way the strands of fibre curl. Viscose is whiter in appearance than the creaminess of Bamboo, and bamboo appears shiner, catching the light on its crimp. I teased the viscose apart and laid it on top of the Bluefaced Leicester:

This is a close up of the area in the top left corner. I teased the fibres apart and 'fluffed' them up:

This is the area just to the right, I separated the fibres but tried not to lose the curly charecteristics of the strands too much:

This is the area just below, it is a bit denser, but you can still see the characteristics of the fibre:

Just below that is an area where the fibre is sparser, I separated the fibre, fluffed it up and laid it on quite thinly.

This is the area in the bottom right corner, I added some interesting, longer strands of the viscose fibre:

I took a couple of photos of the two pieces side by side for comparison. The Yak and Bamboo is on the left and the BFL and Viscose is on the right. You can see the differences from this one, the bamboo is 'fluffier',  and shinier, and the viscose is whiter and less 'compact'.

From this photo close up, you can see some of the similarities in the fibres' characteristics:

My new favourite fibre, Kapok:

It is so soft, you can barely feel it. I thought yak felt like a kitten's belly, this is twice as soft as that :)

Monday, 25 August 2014

Norwegian, Devon, Cotton and Bamboo

This first piece I made is grey Norwegian wool tops with Egyptian Cotton. For the top two thirds, I used Egyptian cotton tops. The staple length is very short, so I started pulling off short wispy bits from the end as you would wool tops, and laid those on the right hand side. I also pulled off a longer length, then carefully teased it out and laid parts of it down the left. The bottom is Egyptian cotton fibre, it comes as thicker, shorter lengths. I teased some out, fluffed some up a little, then laid them on the wool.

This is a close up of some of the wispy parts:

This is an area of denser wispy cotton:

This is a close up of the longer lengths of cotton:

And this is a close up of the cotton fibre:

 I've probably mentioned more than once or twice how much I love curly wools :)  For this next piece I used Devon Wool tops and Black Bamboo tops. The top part has the bamboo laid on the surface, the bottom is a blend of Devon and Bamboo.

 The black bamboo is more of a matte charcoal grey than black, and seems to be 'fluffier' than white bamboo tops.

Close up:

It looks a lot paler when blended with the wool tops:

It doesn't completely disappear when blended in, though.

And just because I love curly wools, the back:

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Needle Felting and Milk Fibre

My last needle felted piece that I recently made is based on a photo I took at Sefton Park in Aigburth, Liverpool. It's such a great park and has a really famous Palm House, and a gorgeous lake. I simplified the photo:

I wet felted a simple piece for the background:

I used a mixture of texturey and curly wools like Icelandic, Devon, Bluefaced Leicester, mixed with softer wool and animal fibres like Merino, Alpaca and Angora rabbit, to get the different textures.

On the Felting and Fiber Forum recently, Judy was asking about Milk Protein Fibre. I'd recently made a felted piece with Milk protein fibre and also Ingeo, so I thought I'd share a few photos of the milk part. The wool I used is a dark grey Icelandic, I laid a strip of milk top across the wool.

I like using milk, it responds well to the characteristics of the wool it's used with and looks good whether it is used with a soft wool or a more coarser one:

This is a close up of one of the thicker areas:

We've been updating the 2014 Challenge Gallery on The Felting and Fiber Studio site, if you'd like a look at all the contributions. If you made a piece for any of the challenges and you'd like yours added to the gallery, let one of us know. You can use the Contact Us form if you like.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Needle Felting

My latest needle felted piece is based on a photo I took a few years ago near Hightown, Merseyside. It's where the River Alt estuary meets the sea along the Sefton coast. I played around with the photo a little:

I started out making a wet felted background to work on:

Then needle felted it with Merino mixed with texturey wools like Icelandic. I used a bit of silk and bamboo on the river and cotton fibre for the clouds.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Teeswater and Needle Felting

I know the last post I did about natural wools and fibres featured Viscose as well, but after Ruth's post about Wensleydale on the Felting and Fiber Studio, I thought I'd show a piece that I'd made using 'curly' wool too, though this is Teeswater. I do have some raw Teeswater locks that I bought from Sara's Texture Crafts, but for this I just used commercial Teeswater tops. Tops can be quite deceiving as it isn't always obvious what the characteristics of the wool are, and they often all look quite similar. Until they're felted that is. You don't get quite the same results as using washed and combed or carded wool, but a lot of the features do 'come back' once the wool has been wet. By hand,  I blended some black viscose in with the Teeswater tops for the top layer.

Where the wool and fibre are blended well it has a greyish look to it.

And some parts are a bit more defined.

This is the back of the piece, I just love the look of felt like this :)

Doing a needle felted piece for Marilyn's Monet Challenge got me in the mood for doing some more. So far I've wet felted the backgrounds for 3 pieces, and finished one of them. I played around with a photo I took a few years ago at the beach in Crosby, not far from Liverpool:

Then I needlefelted a piece based on it: