Tag Archives: needle felted embellishments

A quick cuff upside the head (Project 16)

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A quick cuff upside the head (Project 16)

Since I forgot to transfer the pictures I made of this week’s project to my computer, I couldn’t post my project on the usual day.

This is a pretty simple and quick craft, since I was away last weekend visiting my friend on the other side of the state, and then this whole week has been taken up with Wiscon art show prep.

My friend and I had a quick bite at Alterra coffee before she had to go to her pre-performance call, and I stuck around and had another tea and did some quick needle felting. I made three cuffs, all cut from the ends of sweater sleeves. I left them in a circle rather than fussing with figuring out a closure system. My only problem was the fact that the size of the felting mat (which is actually a brush that holds up the material you’re felting to while letting the needles penetrate), while still small, is big enough to stretch out the cuffs a little bit. I used two balls of felt for the bigger decoration — one looks like yarn but is just roving that’s about a finger width around instead of a largish skein; the other is actually yarn with fatter spots and thinner spots. I just freehanded it, winding the bigger pieces of roving into various designs including a handlebar mustache, and putting little designs around the others.

Two by two…

…hands of blue.

Another thing I used was a little disk of lint that came from the lint trap at my mom’s house when I was felting sweaters there. She has a lint trap that fits over the agitator, and it formed several adorable button-sized disks, so I saved them and dried them. The two-toned circle on this one came from one of those lint bits.

Smaller bits from the lint trap also make nice starters for wee paisley. Just shape it a bit more, pop another color in the center, and there you are.

And here’s the third one I made while perched at the cafe waiting to head to the concert. I call it the Karwacki, after the cop with the astounding handlebar ‘stache who presided over my first car accident.

I went a little wild with it, size-wise, so you can’t see both ends of the ‘stache in the same view, but you get the idea.

I have a writing project I’ll be doing for an upcoming project, but it probably won’t be done in the next week. I’m thinking something fairly low-key is still a likely outcome. It’s been an exhausting month, and other aspects of life are fairly tiring just now, too.

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Mr. Pointy

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Mr. Pointy

I think I may have made up for yesterday’s complete worthlessness.

Today I finished my project, ironed and then washed a dozen silk scarves. No, that’s not out of order. I wanted to use the iron to set the color before washing, which is what the instructions are for the oil paints for fabric that I sometime use. I figured it was good general advice. Ironed a few of them, and have more still drying last time I checked.

I washer-felted 4 sweaters: 3 that I bought at Goodwill in Austin, and one that I’ve had for a very long time. My bathroom now smells like a wet sheep. Did a bit of wet-felting with some wool roving that I had, overlaid with “silk handkerchief,” a very filamenty silk that comes from a cocoon. It doesn’t look like it’ll be sticking to the felt cuff I wanted to make, so I’ll have to pull out the sharp and pointy things again. And last, I got out the seam ripper and removed the sleeves from an Indian ladies’ Kameez that I bought in Austin at the thrift store. gorgeous silk overlayer, which has started to shred a bit. I am not sure what I’ll make of them. Not long enough to sew together to make a scarf. Might make a good back panel overlay for the denim vest I bought, also from a thrift shop.

Oh wait! One other thing: I ironed some designs I’d painted on this pullover hoodie I’m doing an upcycle on, then tossed it in the washer. That one feels like a disappointment in the making, so I haven’t exactly been powering through working on it. I did some stitching at the edges and decided I hate it. I used oil paint crayons to do the designs and wasn’t too careful, so it got all over my hands, so there are smears of color in places where I didn’t intend. I want to try to fix it so I want to wear it, but so far no luck. So it was quite the frenzy of activity once I got moving. Now I am done with the moving, because my legs and feet are in a lot of pain that rest and naproxen aren’t helping at all.

Okay, but enough about all that. Project time!

Back in March I took a 3-hour class that involved some nuno felting techniques, though it wasn’t the standard all-over covering of felt that the term nuno conveys. Our first step was dyeing our white silk scarf blanks. I learned a few goodies about tie-dyeing, using glass pebbles (the kind you use in floral arrangements) inside a twist of rubber band fastened silk, and adding color directly to the bundle with cattle syringes bought at Farm & Fleet (no pointy needles, however). I really liked the effect I got, but I kinda feel like it got lost or hidden during the next phase, the wet felting.

I chose lavender and lilac to go with the glasses frames I had ordered (even before I had my eye exam, I loved them that much). Chose dyed roving in purple, periwinkle and an inky shade of blue. Then we wrapped them up around pool noodles (Obscure fact: I am in an imaginary band called the Pool Noodles with a dancer for NY City Ballet, whom I know only through Twitter.), poured on some sudsy water and rolled. And rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled, in my case. I had accidentally grabbed some mohair. Mohair will not stick to silk as wool will, unless it has some wool to fasten itself to. Well, it’s hard to see what’s working and what’s not when your work is wrapped around a pool noodle, so there was unwrapping, sighing, rewrapping, and rolling, lathering, rinsing, repeating. It was a bit frustrating, but the instructor helped and it improved things, and she also told me I could needle-felt the mohair into the piece.

So the needle felting is the part I did today. I would have preferred the wet felting to work. Needle felting punches the fibers through the silk, so you wind up with a funky whiskery thing happening on the other side of the fabric. The fabric puckers too — not that it’s terrible — the felting of fibers on top of the wool actually makes little creases and folds as it catches during the rolling around process. Another reason it’s not ideal is, the design gets smaller and the funky curly mohairs get punched into submission so you lose that cool look. But punch ’em down I did, and I still like the result a lot, even though there were things I liked that got lost along the way. I finished off the project by ironing the scarf, since I was already ironing a bunch of scarves.

I have a friend who has long said, “If you learn one good thing in a class, you’ve gotten your money’s worth.” I got two. The little glass marble bundle technique of tie dyeing, and something I feel like a complete idiot for never knowing: once you’ve done all your dyeing and abusing of your scarf, a rinse in water with some fabric softener will bring back that deliciously silky feeling to your silk. Seems so obvious, yet it has never occurred to me.

Anyway! Show and tell time!

Hair of mo. You can see how curly it is, as this bit did bond to the silk and wool.

And here's a loose piece I needle felted into the scarf.

Good shot of the whiskery bits that come through the reverse when you needle felt.

Aaand the finished project, after ironing.

Soft and pretty, yes?

I would show how it looks on, with the glasses, but I keep nodding off over the keyboard, so I think that’s a message. I’ll try to remember to snap a quick shot of me wearing the scarf.

Goodnight, y’all!

Ocupado!

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Ocupado!

I’m thinking stabbed fingers and hand/arm/finger cramps count as danger

As I sit here waiting for a sumptuous lunch of fake-Kraft Mac n Cheese (I love its name in Canada even more–Kraft Dinner, aka KD), i am 99% done with my project of this week. (Which is fitting, and you will see why very shortly.)

I decided this was the perfect year to enter the annual birdhouse contest at a store called Phoebe’s Nest. But my initial thoughts were “I can’t think of anything to do!” and “My woodcraft skills are questionable!” Then I thought of something. Not a woodcraft project at all, but a tent, made of (this will surprise no one who has been following along so far) felt.

And like the wildass that I am, I freehanded the whole damn thing (which is occasionally obvious).

And I really really like this project.

Almost every bit of this is made of recycled materials, and the rest from leftovers from past or undone projects, which is one of the things that pleases me about it. The floor and side walls of the tent are made of a sweater I got at a thrift store and felted in the washing machine. I reinforced the floor by sewing a piece of cardboard from a mail order purchase between two pieces of the thick felt.

Two layers of felt with a piece of cardboard sewn between.

I made a frame of a heavier gauge wire from my “I’m going to make jewelry!” phase, slipping it into slits in the floor and sewing it to the tent walls.

Getting the frame in place--o hai thar, foreman!

And attaching frame and walls to floor.

The end flaps are made of a square of a burlappy sort of material that came in a bag of fabric scraps from the costume shop at American Players Theatre.

Pretty purple fabric, trimmed off a costume-in-progress at American Players Theatre.

Then I made the signs from pieces of another thrift shop sweater, needle felting the words on them. As you can see, my freehanding tendencies — and Eyeball once, cut multiple times philosophy — sometimes get the better of me. #Occupy has some serious kerning issues. I did better with the long banner, which may have been helped by felting in We and then 99% and then filling in the middle 2 lines.

The stark black stitching is intentional — those are meant to be tie-strap thingies.

Birds do twitter too.

So woo hoo! Finished! Except not. I really wanted there to be some things inside the tent. So I made a sleeping bag and a matching one that’s rolled up, and a red backpack. And I decided on one more thing, both to make the shape of the backpack less flat, and also because I didn’t like the empty backpack any more than I liked an empty tent. So I made a wee book to go inside. I used stick-on Velcro to put the pieces in place — hooks only, as the felt provides the fuzzy.

Personal effects.

One more bit of verisimilitude to go, and it will be done. So now, full of KD, I go downstairs to photocopy or scan (whichever looks best) the cover of the CD version of an album I owned in vinyl back in the late 70s. It came with a stencil so you could spray paint the cover everywhere, which was my inspiration for making a sign of it.

As it turned out, I photocopied it, but the copy came out black and white. So I added the incandescent yellow of the album graphics with a yellow sharpie. Mod Podged the whole thing onto cereal box cardboard and used staples and a bit of Velcro to place the sign at the mouth of the tent. And this is the version I submitted to the contest:

Occupy Birdhouse

And Tom Robinson, those songs are still pretty relevant today (sad to say). Rock on.

While in past years the birdhouses were all sold and donated to a fund to restore the local theater, this year they will be returned to the artists. So I plan to be showing this at Wiscon this year, where it will probably also be for sale.

FELTBOMBS AWAY!!! for AMOK Project #4

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FELTBOMBS AWAY!!! for AMOK Project #4

So March 4th is the day Misha Collins decreed for “a melee of kindness” worldwide (“march forth” — I see what you did there, Misha.) And since we all do his biddings like dittoheads defend Rush, I plotted my outing. I decided why the hell not blend it with the crafts project, but I wasn’t sure what form that would take. And then I saw a link somewhere (wish I could remember where) to Operation Beautiful, which involves posting little messages, usually on bathroom mirrors in public places, but elsewhere as well, to give a lift to those who see them.

So it all came together in an idea to make feltbombs of kindness. I love the whole yarnbombing phenomenon, where knitters fix “graffiti” made of yarn in public areas. I don’t knit (yet) but I have plenty of sweaters, a number of which resist felting, so what do you do with those? I wanted something that would be a pop of color on a gray winter day in the downtown area, so I dug up a pink sweater that had refused to felt, so I cut off the sleeves and needle felted messages on them.

Disarming messages

Most of the messages were felted onto the uncut tube of a sleeve section, with the cuts at the right and left sides, so I could drape them over a small tree branch. One I felted so that the cuts were at the top and bottom to put over a fencepost at the arts center that has meant so much to me. One last one I cut open and made a sort of baby-bib hanger so I could get the whole message on one side.

State Street feltbomb.

I was already going to Madison today to go to a reading by my friend Renee D’Aoust from Idaho, and so I met up for lunch with another friend from Idaho who now lives in Madison. As I told her about AMOK and Dangerous Crafts for Girls, I showed her m little felties, and suddenly I had a confederate! Woo hoo!

We hung one outside of A Room of One’s Own, the bookstore where the reading was, and it was a perfect spot — there are no trees out in front of it, but ugly new parking meters provided a perfect “neck” for the baby bib. And the message was a nice fit, too.

A random act of awesome.

And here are ones we hung on trees:

This one I hung across the street from a fire station.

On State Street, in view of the Capitol.

Renee’s reading from her book of essays, Body of a Dancer, was terrific — she performs as much as reads, and there were a lot of knowing laughs from people who came who were or are in the dance world, especially in response to her voices of people she studied with. And there was a raffle! And I won it! I got a $20 gift certificate to the bookstore, so while Renee met up with people she’d arranged to spend a few hours with, J and I wandered the bookstore and I found three books, which meant I spent a chunk of money beyond the certificate — which I consider a random act of kindness for an indie bookseller on top of the RAOK of the gift cert.

My last feltbombing was for the arts center. It was the last bit of twilight as I drove up the street and skulked onto the grounds to deliver my little prezzie.

I added a feltie to the already arty painted fence.

All in all an excellent day of kindness and reconnecting with friends and craftiness.

So do you think I should send the remainder of this sweater to Rick Santorum?

No way sweater vests are coming back.

Caution: Contents May Be Hot

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Watch out! Project #1

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I got into a big felt frenzy shortly before Thanksgiving and went out and bought a ridiculous amount of sweaters to felt in the washing machine. That’s an activity which is very satisfying all on its own. You throw a big honkin’ woolly mess of a sweater into the machine and out comes a thick, felty sweater perfect for a toddler whose knuckles drag the ground. Everyone needs dozens of those, right?

So my first few projects will include some small feltiness, and sometime during the year I will I will work up to some large feltiness.

The project I’m going to start with is a birthday present for a friend. It’s one I did before I started documenting makies on a massive scale, so what I have is just a couple of pictures. I didn’t follow any specific pattern on this. I was inspired by a French press cozy I saw in Felt Frenzy (Heather Brack and Shannon Okey, Interweave Press), the first book I got on felting, and a picture I saw of a knitted cup cozy in an ad. I didn’t even know cup cozies were a Thing then, but I instantly thought they should be. I was about 90% finished and close to the date of the party when it occurred to me that a top-to-bottom design worked for a French press because, y’know, people weren’t going to be putting their lips on it. I cut it down a little, but it also dropped a bit when the cup (which was part of the gift) was picked up. Sort of a plus, I guess, but sort of not. When I gave it I felt the urge to preface it with a big disclaimer.

Here it is: Cup cozy with matching coaster. Alpaca beige felt and merino wool aqua. Needle felted flowers

A day or two after the party I got a lovely email from one of the women who’d been at the party but wasn’t the recipient of the present, saying how beautiful the colors were and how she loved the hand of the fabrics and how each hand stitch had such love in it. What a wonderful thing to have someone see in your work, and to be reminded of. We see our uneven stitches or other little faults because we want to produce good work and we want our gifts to be perfect. It’s a gift to have someone see and remind us of the beauty that doesn’t show on the surface. And looking at the picture right now, it is a sweet little thing.

 

And the person I gave it to wrote me a note and said she has been using it and enjoying it.