Dyeing felt with turmeric, a Clasheen style diy project!

Amongst everything else I got up to yesterday I had the strongest urge to felt one of Chrissie’s new designs from our upcoming book and then decided to dye it using turmeric from my larder!

Lovely yellow as I dip the felt into the liquid

At the time I should have been preparing 35 starter felting kits (yes, my 26 students multiplied magically) for our first CRAFTed session but I justified the felting by telling myself I could edit the relevant section of the book better if I actually had made the piece myself!!! For this piece I worked with a combination of white ponge silk and white needle punched felt from my stash and used a few torn strips of black silk chiffon for embellishment. Before I started the dyeing process I quickly checked a couple of good blog posts that I pinned recently to my ‘textile techniques to remember’ board, the posts I pinned were from red2white, Art Threads and PAGES FROM MY moleskine. I’m not going to spoil Chrissie’s surprise by revealing the garment design but here are the steps that I used to achieve a gorgeous warm yellow colour!

NB, I just dyed my nuno felt when it had finished felting but prior to drying but if you wanted to dye an already dry piece you would need to make sure it was totally wet through first. Now for my step by step process….

  • Mix approx 30g turmeric into a couple litres of hot water and stir, I use turmeric in Indian dishes so had it in my larder already!
  • Add a good glug of vinegar, I only had malt vinegar (the brown kind) but I added it anyway
  • Plunge your wet felt into the pot and submerge properly, use a wooden spoon to push it down
  • Leave for 15 minutes
  • Place the pot on top of the stove and allow the liquid to get hotter but not boiling, 15 minutes is what I did
  • Remove from the heat and leave to sit for about 30 minutes
  • Rinse in water that is the same temperature that you are removing the felt from, rinse until the water runs clear
  • Spin (not rinse and spin) your felt in a washing machine to remove excess water or roll it in a towel
  • Dry and enjoy!

Pushing the whole piece under the liquid

I love the final bright yellow colour!

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U.S. workshop updates plus pictures of nuno felt from yesterday

I’m SO EXCITED that my spring trip to KY and MI is really starting to take shape!!! It’s taken quite a while to get a materials list together for the sessions organised in Plainwell MI by Dawn Edwards (25th and 26th May) and in Lexington KY by Jan Durham (11th and 12th May) because with the title ‘Fantastic Felt Inspired by the Natural and Built Environment’ participants are free to decide during the course of the workshop what direction they would like to explore, vessels, bags, sculpture, nuno felt, wall hangings, the list goes on. In a way I’ll be acting like a conduit for ideas, help and inspiration, the one constant is that the starting point and the theme will be the same for everyone. As a result it’s been a lot more difficult for me to write out a definitive list of what participants should bring with them, however I hope that the guideline below will be of some help for people with specific projects in mind and if anyone has a particular question that they would like me to answer personally please just email me and fire away!!! My workshops at the Kentucky Sheep and Fibre Festival have also gone live on the festival’s website so head on over there if you would like to join us on either the 18th, 19th or 20th of May! Now for the details for Plainwell and Lexington……

  • Small vessels, sculptures and bags will need 80 – 150g of fibre.
  • Larger and more complex vessels, sculptures and bags will need 200 – 350g fibre, for bags I like this to be divided into 2/3 merino and 1/3 a strong coarser fibre such as C1 or Icelandic wool.
  • A simple textured nuno scarf will need either a pre rolled silk chiffon or ponge silk scarf as a base, a long length of silk cut from a roll or alternatively a cotton cheesecloth or muslin length, the longer the better in all cases!  This project won’t need anything like a big amount of fibre but at a rough guide anything between 40 – 60g will be fine for a highly textured end result!
  • A large textured nuno wrap/bolero (two day project!) will need 2 – 3 m (yards is fine) silk chiffon, ponge silk, cheesecloth or muslin for the base and at least 40 – 100g good quality merino depending on size.
  • A large collaged nuno wrap, wall hanging or yardage for clothing (this may be made using the tumbler method and if so requires no rolling!) will need a piece of base fabric approx 35 to 40% bigger than the desired finished size. I like to use muslin, cheese cloth or my favourite cotton gauze for this but you can use silk chiffon or ponge silk too! In addition to this base fabric you need at least the same volume of fabric in a selection of colours and mixture of weights and texture, i.e. if your base fabric measures 180cm X 40cm you need about 2m X 50cm fabric comprising a mixture of silks, cottons and/or some metallic mesh plus at least 200g good quality merino (for wearables) or alpaca/other fibre for a wall hanging.
  • A large table runner will need less fabric than the large collaged nuno wrap above but a higher percentage of wool to fabric, this it to make sure that the runner will actually protect the table from heat or water and is not just decorative, decorative’s OK too if that’s what participants want!

As you can imagine different projects require different techniques and heaviness of hand when laying out the fibre. For wearables I usually but not exclusively use merino with some surface silk/banana/tencel/firestar fibre so I would just encourage particiapnts to sort through their stash and we’ll work together with whatever they bring. The figures above are a minimum guideline, I don’t want anyone to feel pressurised to buy more fabric or fibre than they may realistically need but to be honest where felting is concerned, can one ever have enough fibre or raw materials??? Each participant will also need to bring their usual felting equipment to the workshop. This may include bubble wrap, towels (please bring a few!), hard olive oil/goats milk/glycerine soap, sprinkler, bamboo blind, pool noodle, net, whatever they like to work with themselves, people wishing to try the tumble dryer method need to bring an additional lightweight roll of builders plastic to use instead of bubble wrap.  Anyone felting a bag, vessel or any sort of three dimensional project will need some flexible plastic to use as a template/resist, I prefer 2 or 3mm laminate floor underlay but in an emergency we can use bubble wrap or whatever flexible plastic you have to hand.  NB I love working with batts but roving and tops are perfect too, bring whatever you have and like to work with yourself.  I will also be bringing loads of embellishing goodies with me for everyone to share!

Now for some pictures and chat about the pieces I was nuno felting yesterday.

Texture from Heather's hand spun yarn

Those of you following me on Facebook (click both links on the sidebar to the right if you’ve not already done so!) may have seen the image I uploaded yesterday morning showing some chocolate merino, gauze and beautiful hand spun yarn from my great buddy Heather which I gathered together and was in the process of felting into a simple nuno scarf. This is one of the projects I’ve been completing for the new book with Chrissie, basically it’s an easy first piece for anyone to try using the tumble dryer method. The image here shows how this particular hand spun felted beautifully to the surface of the gauze, I love the texture and colour of it on the surface of this scarf, it’s well felted together but you still have amazing texture from the slubby yarn! Pictures of the completed scarf will be revealed when the book is finished, hopefully not too long because I’m working on it every day now and hope it will be finished before Dawn arrives for her holiday and workshops here at Clasheen in April!!!

The other scarf that I felted yesterday (I also started some felt landscapes) is an even simpler piece, one fine open layer of short fibre merino on top of a long piece of ponge silk. I also added a lot of hand dyed silk fibre on top of the merino, I like the way this scarf can be reversible and only wish that it had been less windy when I was trying to take pictures of it this morning!

Plenty of silk fibre on the reverse

Two nuno felt wraps using the same fabrics but different coloured merino

Yesterday I was very busy felting! I’m going to be away unexpectedly next week (thanks George for stepping up to the mark at zero notice to house and Rex sit, Annette I’ll be in touch about July!) so I need have to have a batch of wearables ready for the golf club tomorrow morning. While I’m away there’s going to be a fashion night there so thanks must also go to Lady Captain Eileen Kelly who’s going to organise someone to display and look after my pieces! My beautiful new cotton gauze arrived on Tuesday afternoon from Charlotte Buch so I decided to felt some nuno wraps combining this with short fibre merino, ponge silk and sari silk from my stash. Killing two birds with one stone I also took pictures of the process, these pieces took a long time to lay out but were fulled in the dryer and that’s how I could felt more than one in a day. This processes is one I will be exploring in the new book with Chrissie and is wonderful for anyone who finds nuno felting either tiring or time consuming!!! Talking of time I must dash now, here’s a close up shot of the finished wraps, note how using the same fabrics but a different colour fibre results in complimentary but very different end results.

Turquoise and apple green merino combined with the same silk and cotton surface fabrics offer two different end results

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More nuno felt vest/stole pics and some answers to questions posed

I don’t have much time to write today so here are two more pice of my latest nuno felt vest/stole and the answers to a couple of questions I’ve been asked.

  • Yes, this vest is fulled in the dryer so NO rubbing or rolling!!! I will be including full instructions about how I do this in my section of the new book. Please note though, I don’t always use the dryer, just sometimes depending on what I’m felting, what my mood is at the time and what end result I’m aiming to achieve!
  • The muslin that I used was bought from Kiernan’s, my local habadashery. I think that it is a little finer weave than what you call muslin in U.S. or Turkey, definitely not as loose a weave as cheesecloth or gauze but rather more like a hybrid of the cheesecloth and your muslin. Hope this helps Carole, the nearest weight that I’ve seen over in U.S. reminds me of the beautiful new 50%silk/50% cotton fabric Sharon and Emma had at The Tin Thimble last spring, do you remember that???

Side view

Anyway, I’m sorry that the quality of the images isn’t great especially the back view. I snapped them while the wind was howling a gale and I couldn’t get the back shot to stay still at all but at least you’ll get an idea of the shape!!!

Back view

Blogs, nuno felt and our new book, ‘shapeshape’, a tip for pattern making and felting kits!

I intended to write a brief post today but instead I’ll just write quickly!

Because I follow a lot of interesting, creative and sustainable style blogs I never seemed to manage to regularly update the links to them here on Clasheen or add new ones as I find them and subscribe. As a result I always felt that I was never on top of sharing the links with my friends and blog readers so I’ve now set up a board on Pinterest titled ‘Blogs I love to follow‘. It’s going to take another week or so to upload every one of them (a few are currently inactive so I am reserving them for future inclusion), don’t panic if you don’t see your own blog included until I post they are all updated, at that stage please let me know if you have any recommendations that I may not have already noted. I’d also love if all of you who enjoy Pinterest set up boards for blogs too, there are so many wonderful sites out there that cater to every diverse interest, having a board for blogs you follow is a wonderful way to promote and share each others work!

I’ve started editing and laying out our new book and Chrissie and I have decided on a title too,  ‘Nuno Felting with Chrissie Day and Nicola Brown’. Hopefully that explains exactly what the book is about, we’ll also have an ISBN on this and any future books, this means that in addition to Blurb it can be sold online through Amazon and be stocked in any regular book store, hurrah.

Free-style curved stole, note the asymetrical hemline

You may remember recently I almost had a melt down on the sewing side of things, I love nuno felting, I love creating beautiful individual drapeable and textured fabrics but to date have always broken out in a cold sweat trying to design and felt larger garments. Thanks to several recommendations (thanks Ginny, Sharon et al!) I ordered ‘Shape Shape, Sewing Clothing Patterns to Wear Multiple Ways’ by Natsuno Hiraiwa from the Book Depository, it arrived yesterday. Realistically I want my clothing to actually fit. I don’t like to see nuno garments with big bulges under the armpits etc. and while I love a relaxed organic shape and style I do want things to actually have some style!!! Anyway, I love quite a few of the patterns particularly the sleeveless scarf blouse, reversible French sleeve blouse (I would love to wear it buttoned to the back, great for those of us with a small bust I think!), drawstring low-waist pants, free-style curved stole, reversible circle vest, the reversible wrap skirt and the envelope messenger bag, to be totally objective I do not like the  twist and drape blouse! Anyway, wanting to try a couple of pieces in nuno felt and because my sewing skills are totally non-existent I decided this morning to trace and cut out the free-style curved stole as a pattern first and then cut it out in some drapey jersey fabric I picked up for a song in San Fransisco last spring, any muslin I have in my stash I intend to felt with. For the first time in my life I actually traced and cut out a pattern as instructed!!! Now for those of you who are limited in the sewing department here’s my biggest ever pattern making tip….. cut the pattern from freezer paper then you can iron it to your fabric and cut it out easy, peasy!!!!! This stole is really another take on the style of nuno felt garment many of us are familiar with, a large flat piece of fabric with two holes cut out for your arms that depending on where you cut the holes may be worn in several different ways. The biggest revelation this time was that for Natsuno’s design the armholes are fitted at an angle. Hallelujah, the sample actually fits me although I do think that I would describe it as a sleeveless vest rather than a stole, maybe it is just the fabric I made it in gives this impression, anyway, I like it! This afternoon I’m going to felt some nuno yardage and then make this piece up for real, wish me luck.

Finally for today, Aileen Clarke from Aileen Clarke Crafts has written a great post for anyone interested in exploring some of the felting kits that are available at the moment, thanks for including mine Aileen!!! When I get to adding Aileen’s blog to my new Pinterest board it might just be the wonderful picture of Alistair that I pin, check him out here, isn’t his coat AMAZING??? Also check out Aileen’s beautiful felt pictures inspired by Highland cattle, very evocative.

5 hectic days at Clasheen!!!

I’m just catching up from 5 HECTIC days at Clasheen!!! I really can’t write everything down because I still have so much work to plough though this week and not enough time to do it so apologies if you are expecting an email response, it will be another few days before I get my backlog cleared. Suddenly everything seems to be coming together all at once so highlights which will all be blogged about individually as soon as I get a minute include…..

  • exciting news about an AMAZING week long residential felting workshop on a bio-dynamic estate in Portugal this June (tba later this week)
  • the launch of some beautiful new wool products for felters and knitters/crochet artists with Chrissie Day (this will be taking place during the late summer)
  • the development and launch of some pretty amazing felting tools with friend and designer Niki Collier
  • the completion of my neighbour’s house upgrade which I have been working on frantically, this means residential felt and fibrerelated holidays at Clasheen!!!
  • the continued work on our nuno felting book, Chrissie and I are just in the process of getting an ISBN number which means that we will be able to be stocked on Amazon etc.
  • a potential new venue for my fall US workshop trip

Whew, I’m buzzed just sharing the potential of these events with you!!! ‘Till next time…..

A tip to enhance texture in nuno felt and KY and MI workshop details are finally online!

I have managed to get through a lot of the clearing, re-organisation and tidying chores that I blogged about on Monday, not all of them obviously but I have made a dent in the never-ending pile! Thanks for all your encouragement both via comments and through FB, they are definitely much needed to keep me going, I HATE tidying!!!

As promised, the full workshop descriptions for the KY and MI workshops in May are now up on the workshop page and I am hoping that we will have a mix of both experienced and improving felters attend. Beginners are really welcome too so please don’t feel you don’t have enough felting under your belt to book a place, everyone is welcome and it makes for a really fun and creative time if we have groups of mixed experience!

I have also started to transfer some of my felt pouches across from Big Cartel and into my Etsy shop, only time will tell if this has been a wise descision.

Finally for today, Rhonda was wondering how I achieve so much texture in some of my nuno felt pieces. This is something that I will be writing about in the new book with Chrissie but a great tip is to wet out and soap your fibres before you lay out any of your embellishment. Taking this idea a little further for projects such as nuno bags or cushions (items where you have a couple of layers of wool in addition to your fabric), try rubbing the base layer of wool through your bubble wrap to create a ‘skin’ on the surface before laying out your fabric on the top, then wet and soap the fabric lightly and rub again through the bubble wrap. By working like this the wool fibres underneath don’t have as much opportunity to travel through the fabric and this helps to create more texture! You do need to be careful though to rub longer than roll however using this method, otherwise you could try fulling with the tumble dryer, this elliminates both the rubbing and the rollling process!!! I’m going to be discussing my experiences nuno felting using the dryer thoroughly for my section of the new book and I will also be talking about it at the workshops in Lexington and in Plainwell!

Textures in a nuno felt scarf