Yummy yak!

Tha yak was absolutely yummy to felt with!  If I remember Blas correctly it was an 80% yak 20% merino mixture but I am going to check this out again.  Although the fibre is quite a bit more expensive than merino it is worth every penny and I definitely will be ordering some more for myself in the not too distant future!Detail of yak and silk scarf  It was gorgeous and soft to lay out but due to the short fibre length totally different than working with merino.  Initially I thought that I would have to be very frugal with the fibre as I only had 61g but in actual fact I made an extremely long but fine scarf and had quite a bit left over!  I had kind of decided to try it for cobweb felt but as soon as I discovered how short the fibres were changed this for 2.5 thin layers (2 layers and a bit of topping up in thin areas!) with a lot of silk fibres on the surface.  The yak was super quick to felt, within about 50 minutes from start to finish (including laying out and no use of the sander!!) my new winter scarf was ready!

Electric blue hand carded merino and silk

Continuing with my destash, I came across some stunning hand carded rolls that I created one day when I spent some hours hidden away with Carmen’s drum carder.  Hiding their light under my table is what these lustreous fibres have been doing in the meantime so off to Etsy they’ve gone to find a slightly more appreciative new home!

Off to tangle with some super soft yak (and short film to watch)

It’s wet and windy outside today and I can quite see why those yaks need to grow a soft undercoat during the winter months to keep themselves all warm and snug!  Luckily I was able to buy some beautiful soft yak fibre from Blas and Jamie at Urban Fauna Studio recently and now is the afternoon to put it to the test and make a soft and chic winter scarf or cowl for myself.  I had brought two colours home with me, Carmen choose an unusual blue which means that I am left with (ha, ha) a beautiful blend of olive green, just 61g which is not a lot to spare but I hopefully by the time I post tomorrow I will have some pictures taken to show you the results. 

This morning was spent tidying up more of the studio but a body needs a break sometimes and since the wind is blowing up a storm disallowing any outdoor phtography today the felting table calls, wouldn’t you agree??  Still no sign of my own camera under all the mess and at this stage I am beginning to wonder if it will ever turn up again.  It is especially frustrating as not only did I love the camera (it was a present from Alan) but my pictures from my trip to Felt in Focus were still on the card as were some from another friend who had problems with her own camera in Denmark as well.  I wanted to finish posting about making the large felt sculpture and was hoping the pictures would say it louder than words!

For those of you interested in climate change and how it impacts on our environment you may be interested in viewing my friend Cathy FitzGerald’s new short film  ‘once i counted birds’.  This short has been entered in the UK Guardian Newspaper’s worldwide 1 minute to save the world film competition and selected films will be screened at the Copenhagen Climate Change summit in December.  If you enjoy the film please please vote for Cathy by rolling your cursor over the stars  (you can vote until the 7 November) and please feel free to forward the link to any friends you think might like it!

First destash items up for sale!

With the studio to tidy, wool to unpack, kits to prepare and other sundry orginisational chores to get through today it was a toss up this morning to know exactly which task to get stuck into first.  As soon as I started unpacking the wool it became immediately obvious that I couldn’t progress any further without tackling the dreaded studio, but where to put everything as I was doing the tidy out?  Eventually after a lot of rejigging in the utility room I cleared a little pathway through the mess in the studio and at last started to impose order on one side of the room, tomorrow is another day!

My biggest success was starting to prepare destash bags for sale as I was tidying up.  I  weighed the wool immediately I rediscovered it and put it straight into bags in preparation for uploading to the internet.   The weather has been wet and windy  here all day but as soon at the wind abated for a short while I started to take some photos and now have several new items up for sale on my Etsy shop including this sliver below and the silk and merino scarf from yesterday!  Some of my wool sliver to destash

 

Tomorrow I will continue with the tidy up and hopefully the weather will co-operate for photography and I can start to upload some of the Icelanic wool as well as more destash packs for sale.

Ready to prepare the felting kits at last!

I was supposed to be going to a finance workshop (associated with the tourism course) tomorrow but as my fever is definitely back with a vengeance I have decided to stay at home.  Initially I was thinking of laying out and starting a larger garment flu permitting, but since the postman has just arrived with my large order of Icelandic wool guess what I’ll be doing in the morning???  Realistically I need to have a total overhaul of the studio as since I have returned from our holiday it is actually impossible to move around inside it at all, I kid you not.  While Alan and I were swanning around all those gorgeous National Parks and Monuments in Northern California my house guests were tidying the house and putting stuff away in ….. you’ve guessed it, the studio!  It was brilliant to come home to such a tidy and friendly house everywhere else but now that the time has come I am dreading ploughing through all the junk (aka washing, recycling, boxes, fabric, fibre, you know the sort of stuff) that has been accumulating in my workspace for ages.  The light at the end of the tunnel is that hopefully by the end of the weekend my studio will be tidy, my felting kits will be prepared, everything will be uploaded to the internet and all will be calm and organised chez Nicola.  I have also realised that of course I need to upload rug bases and plastic felting mats on Etsy as well as the new wool, why on earth I have been hoarding them here is beyond me especially as I imported them from Mehmet with the express intention of using some and selling the surplus!

The light was not so good today but here is a close up shot of the scarf that I made yesterday.  You can see how nicely the ponge silk has ruched during the felting process and the mulberry silk gives a gorgeous sheen to the surface of the felt.Surface texture and sheen

Mystery of the lost post, incorporating pongee silk and the Clasheen Winter Swap

Well, I have just spent an extremely frustrating and puzzling time trying to locate my blog post and images of the printing on felt from yesterday.  I knew that it had gone live thanks to your welcome comments so imagine my surprise this morning when I was giving a bit of a demo on blogging to a couple of colleagues from the tourism course and discovered that it had gone!  I double checked that I had published it as a public post, kept opening and closing the website until finally I decided to check out my date setting (Alan’s spring clean is not as good as earlier envisaged!!) and voila, the problem is now solved.  This got me to thinking how many of my other posts will now reappear? Time will tell.

Yesterday afternoon I made a stunning merino and ponge silk scarf in black, dark turquoise and light turquoise.  I tore the ponge into squares and strips and laid them in a design on top of the soft merino and then covered the rest of the surface in light turquoise mulberry silk.  The ponge felted into the merino beautifully and the mulberry silk adds a sophisticated sheen to the whole scarf, definitely a design to be repeated.  This will be uploaded to my Etsy store tomorrow morning and hopefully will find a home as quickly as the nuno wrap which Carole bought yesterday, thanks Carole!

Before I sign off for the afternoon (fever has returned and I am just going to call it a day) why not check out the Clasheen Crafty Swap pool on Flickr to see the fantastic goodies that participants have been exchanging in our current Autumn swap?  The Winter Swap is now open for sign ups so if you didn’t know about it before or you have been a little bit apprehensive about joining don’t!  In order to participate you just need to join our group on Flickr (only takes a minute or two to sign up) and then Flickr mail me with your details, everyone welcome so please tell your friends as well.

Pictures of the collagraph on felt and thanks Alan!

A big thanks to Alan who has decided this morning to give my old laptop a spring clean and has given me a bit of time to take some long overdue pictures (with his camera, mine is still awol!) to upload here and to Flickr. 

My first collagraph

My first collagraph

 

 

Firstly here is a picture of my collagraph on paper.  As you can see I went with a simple design, circles within and without other circles and ovals.  Although the picture is not the clearest (not helped by the fact that I had a bit of difficulty carying the print in the wind to the truck and think that I smudged it slightly) you can see the graduation from deep green at the bottom of the image through to a yellower based green at the top.  It is possible to see the texture of the lace on the bottom left of the picture and also various textured wallpapers used for the larger ovals and circles.  Some of the wallpaper I positioned unside down so when printed in some areas you get bumps and in others dimples.  Depending on how I wiped off the ink prior to printing you can also see various depths of colour on the plain background sections of the print.  From this experimental first effort I now know that for my next attempt I want to continue with the circular theme but use just wallpaper and scoring into the plate, not any lace unless I find some with a more defined outline.

My first print on felt!

My first print on felt!

 

As mentioned yesterday I inked the plate with a dark turquoise before printing on my hand rolled felt, I LOVE the result.  Unlike the paper it is obvious that the felt produced an altogether clearer image, I think that this must be due to the different absorbsion rate of the merino fibre.  The turquoise ink perfectly complimented the apple green felt and produced an interesting deep green print, now I am dreaming of all the possibilities this one day workshop has opened up, watch this space!

 

Check out my Flickr  for more pictures of the printed felt.

Printing is fun ….. collagraphs on felt! Pictures of the nuno, silk and linen wrap

What an exciting day I had yesterday.  Because I really didn’t know exactly what we would be doing at the South East Textile Group monthly workshop I was totally floored to discover that we would be learning how to print collagraphs on to paper and felt using intaglio plates, I had been thinking along the lines of lino or potato prints.  The brilliant Maeve Coulter, feltmaker and printmaker extrodinare had been inspired by an exhibition of printed felt at the Knit and Stitch show in England and was dying to try experimenting at home, we were the guinea pigs! 

Maeve clearly explained the process we would be using during the workshop, creating out printing plate from Dahler board (for a stronger plate suitable for multiple prints perspex or metal is the best), cutting designs into it with craft knives and adding depth and texture with cutouts created from embossed wallpaper, lace, fabric, threads and in fact anything very thin that we could lay our hands on that could be used.  Once we were happy with our design and had glued the various components using PVA or wood glue the plate was painted with shellac and we took a well needed break for lunch and a drink. 

As soon as we returned to the workshop after lunch we learnt how to apply the oil based intaglio printing inks over the surface of our boards making sure to work the colour really carefully into all the textured areas.  As with any type of painting it was very simple to mix the inks and achieve subtle colour variations in tone and it was also possible to blend the ink on the plates as we went along.  Once the plates were totally saturated with colour we then removed all the excess ink, not so easy in the textured areas as it was difficult to determine if enough was removed as none of us had never done much (or in my case none) printing with a press before.  While we were preparing the plates Maeve had left suitable paper soaking in the sink and one by one as we had finished our rubbing we brought our plates and paper to the printing press to try out our first print.  Often the first couple of prints are not the best, once you see how things are going you can decide if you need to rub off more ink or change the colours etc. so Maeve had prepared us for the worst!  In reality it was fantastic!!  Obviously we did need to adjust and rethink some areas but overall it was just so exciting to see all the work coming off the press, beautiful designs and colours, each persons work totally different. 

After the first print run we then switched to a much more expensive and better quality paper before having the opportunity to print onto fabric if we wanted.  My prints on paper were in various shades of green (no surprises there!) so I decided not to clean the plate after my second print but add a deep turquoise colour and see how that would print onto my apple green felt.  The fabric accepted the ink brilliantly, obviously this is a method really suited to felt and I was very happy with the resultant green colour as achieved with the blue on top of the green background.  Now that I understand the process my mind is spinning with all the possibilities opening up, graduated shades of felt, adding silk, linen or corn fibres to the felt, incorporating a design in the felt that mirrors the print ……. can’t wait to join Maeve for another session and see how far we can expand this technique.  (Will edit to include images as soon as I have them taken!)

Now for a couple of pictures of the nuno felt wrap with silk, merino and linen. 

Merino and linen fibre laid out ready to felt

Merino and linen fibre laid out ready to felt

This first image is a close up of the fibre laid out and ready to felt.  If you look carefully you can see the small design printed on the silk and linen background and the green and pink fibres overlaid on top of the merino are some of the new linen fibres that I am experimenting with at the moment.  It did take a lot longer to work the fibres through the silk/linen mix but hopefully you will think that the result was worth the effort!

'Hot Shot' nuno felt wrap

'Hot Shot' nuno felt wrap

This scarf will be the first to go up on my Etsy shop this evening (computer willing) and over the next few weeks I hope to add new work, wool, felting kits (still waiting for the Icelandic wool to arrive) and goodie bags filled with odds and ends of both fibre and embellishments.