Tag Archives: wet felting

Can I take an incomplete? Project #13

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I spent a lot of my weekend moving furniture and cleaning the carpet in my living room, or recovering from doing so. And despairing over how the process of cleaning something could create such utter chaos in my house and hoping I could get things somewhat sorted by the time I have company next weekend. But I finally did settle in while waiting for the carpet to dry, and finished a project I’ve been working on for a while.

Well, not quite…

I’m close to finished, but I need another four buttons to finish my cuff bracelet, and some kind of closure that uses them, so I’ll have to hit a fabric store or the dreaded Walmart. (All right, I admit it — I bought the original eight buttons at Walmart. So yes. That is where I will have to go.)

Once more, my fondness for using bits and bobs and irregular leftovers bites me in the butt, but I don’t think I care. I had half a cowlneck sweater in alpaca wool left over from another project (the Occupy tent? Can’t quite remember), so I figured it would make a cool cuff, though it’s not exactly a fit.

When I was in Austin, I bought some silk hankies at a fiber store. They aren’t actual hankies but the silk pod from a cocoon that’s been stretched out over a square frame. The pack I bought was dyed a delicious mixture of purple and blue called Spilled Ink. I thought that would make a great thing to use as an overlay on the alpaca, so I attempted a wet felting, adding some wool into the mix to get fibers of both the silk and wool sticking to the alpaca. Not a great success (or even a medium success), as they just peeled off the alpaca. But I liked where it was going so I pulled out the felting tool and needled away.

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The matter of closing the thing is probably the trickiest of this whole project (yes, it’s free-handed). I liked the thought of a row of tiny buttons, very Victorian in that fiddly sort of way. My first thought was that I’d make a loop of elastic on the opposite side and slip them over the buttons, but I don’t think I like the way it looks.

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Made the decision to put another row of buttons on the opposite side instead, and I guess I’ll try some kind of lacing system to get the thing to close. I’ll have to report on that when it’s finished, but I think I have a way to get it to work. Maybe a couple of options.

After adding the last bits of roving into the design, I am pretty happy with what I have. I did sew on a couple of wee little beads, remarkable more for the source than anything else. A year or two ago I bought an armload’s worth of wee beaded bracelets on eBay that Eliza Dushku had donated to one of her favorite causes. (I don’t even want to say what I ended up spending because I could not allow defeat.) Some of the stretchy little bracelets are so stretched out they’re just loose strings, more or less, so I had planned to use them in various projects, but this is the first. I put in three, just for a mysterious bit of sparkle, and I might add more later.

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Alas, I got nothing done for the art show at Wiscon, which had been one of my major goals this weekend. I have the stash of silk scarves, of course, but I wanted to have a few different types of art up there too. Well, after I have finished moving all the furniture back into place and completely spiffed up the guest room. Ahem.

By the way, the color of the alpaca is truer in the second picture, not the yellowed first or third. My camera’s batteries died and so I had to use my phone.

 

And hey, as of today I’m one-quarter of my way to my goal. WOOOOO!

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!