New felt hat, an experiment with Icelandic wool

Yesterday afternoon I was just able to grab an hour and a half to try out a felt hat as an experiment with the Icelandic wool.  Some of you have been asking how coarse the wool is and is it suitable for wearables, in her book ‘Uniquely Felt’ American fibre artist Christine White classifies Icelandic wool in the medium and long wool section with a Bradford Count of 46-52s and a micron count of 32-28.  To my mind this makes it perfect for creating sculptural felt hats ideally suited to a colder climate.  For my experiment yesterday (still to be rinsed and shaped again this morning) I decided not to use any merino on the inside, this would probably make the lining softer but to be honest when I tried the hat on yesterday evening it felt great, not a bit scratchy!

Raspberry ripple felt hat!

Raspberry ripple felt hat!

I slightly altered a bag resist that I already had to use as a template and then spent some time studying books by Chad Alice Hagen, Christine White and Lizzie Houghton to determine exactly how much wool to use.  Because I really am a beginner when it comes to hats (unlike my friend Dawn Edwards!) it did amaze me how little wool I needed to use to create a beautifully strong but flexible hat, just 80g in total for this model.  The raspberry coloured Icelandic is a very rich colour and I was lucky to find a matching piece of scrim in my stash that I had made in a week long batik course with Alex Meldrum at the Grennan Mill Craft School in Thomastown.  I didn’t want to embellish the wool too much but did want to see how a little bit of fabric would add or detract from the final look of the hat.  The whole project was really quick and simple to get to this stage although I am going to alter the template slightly this morning and have another go with some different colours. 

Raspberry ripple

Raspberry ripple

I love the way the wool is still soft and flexible but appears to hold the structure well.  This is the first time that I have used my hat block (it has been sitting gathering dust in my studio) and it did make the shaping into these rings pretty easy, I am not sure however how well I would be able to create other shapes, time will tell! 

Close up of felt hat showing hand dyed scrim

Close up of felt hat showing hand dyed scrim

I also like the surface texture of the hat as shown in the detailed picture, the scrim felted in to the wool very well and there is a very nice tactile feel to the whole thing.  I may shave inside the band where the wool will come in contact with my head although the jury is still out on this but otherwise I think I will leave the outside surface ‘au natural’!  If any of you are interested in trying out some Icelandic wool it is now available from my new Etsy shop.  I hope to prepare some felting kits before the weekend and will let you know as soon as these come on stream.  Off now to rinse and finish the hat, more tomorrow!


Procrastinator’s Challenge!

One of the blogs that I regularly follow is Jo-Anne Carter’s ‘The Carter Clan’.  Jo-Anne is running a great surprise give away and has cleverly linked it in to a challenge running on the  ‘A Hole in the Basket Primatives’ blog.  Well, I know that I am really up to my eyes organising Mehmet’s trip next week but this was just the jolt that I needed to get me to finish some projects. 
Procrastinator's Challenge!

Procrastinator's Challenge!

As a result I have entered Jo-Anne’s give away and Ann’s challenge so here goes with the projects that I want to finish during January ……..

  1. Handle and closure on large green/lime/white bag.
  2. Handle on small green bag and possibly some beading.
  3. Handle on small blue/purple/navy/white bag.
  4. Handle on natural bag with goat hair.
  5. Handle and closures on the small mixed blue saddle bag.
  6. Wet and re-felt the brown and cream vessel so that I can use it as a bag instead of a desktop tidy.  Add a handle, poss leather.
  7. Make a closure for the red and pink mosaic neck wrap.
  8. String felt beads to make tactile outdoor and indoor mobiles.
  9. String beads to make jewellery.
  10. Decide how to finish and hang my batiked circle fabric, been waiting a long time for this one!!
  11. Possibly make something with the blue/purple nuno felt you can just see peeking out from behind the bags.
  12. Possibly add a handle and closure to the nuno felted bag just visable to the right of the nuno neck wrap.

I also placed a large order with Wollknoll this afternoon for the wool that I need for the 2 rug making workshops with Mehmet Girgic.  He is making the rug bases in Turkey as we speak and sending the special enormous plastic woven mats that we will be using to roll the rugs in tomorrow.  These courses will be such great fun, I am tossing around so many ideas in my head for the two rugs that I intend making (I will be doing both workshops) but have still not settled on any one style yet!  We are SO lucky to have a feltmaker with such a worldwide profile travelling here to Ireland that I am amazed more people haven’t confirmed their booking yet, only one week to go!!

Off now to get stuck into those projects!

Scrim ready to nuno felt

I am really looking forward to experimenting with the scrim that I batiked (is that a word?!) last week during the course that I participated in at the Grennan Craft Mill, Thomastown.  The fabric took the dyes brilliantly and I intend to make a couple of vessels or bags tomorrow when Polly and Carmen call over for an afternoon of felting.  The batik was really great fun and has given me a whole lot of new ideas for experimentation, will keep you updated as to how I progress.  I will also post some images here showing a couple of the finished pieces I completed, also a bag or two when I get them felted with the scrim.  Some of my clothes are still at the Mill as I took the opportunity on the last day of the course to wax and dye a couple of items!  I will be picking them up next week when Alex is there and hope that they boil out well.

This coming weekend I have been luck enough to be picked by lottery to attend a sculptural weekend course in Dublin with Australian feltmaker Anita Larkin.  This weekend is organised by the Feltmakers Federation and should be a really fun time, as well as a great opportunity to pick up some new skills.

Nuno felt incorporating batik, exploring options

Work in progress

This week I am on an excellent batik course at the Grennan Craft Mill in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny.  Facilitated by Alexandra Meldrew, our diverse group are basically having a crash course in different techniques and applications of this facinating craft.  My idea was that after the week, skill peremitting, I would be able to incorporate some of my pieces into some nuno felt work.  Here is a selection of my work in progress.

The fabric that we are working with is quite tightly woven so I have waxed and dipped on a piece of scrim today to see what that will turn out like, just realised that I left it in the bucket of dye when I finished this evening!!  I find that scrim is great to nuno felt with so hopefully this experiment will work out and I can have fun next week incorporating it into some bags or vessels.

Tomorrow I am going to bring along a couple of white silk scarves which I got from Wollknoll, I am intending on waxing them with simple designs and dipping in just one colour of dye.  I probably will keep one as is and then use the others in pieces of felt as well, will just wait and see how I feel next week.

African image inserted into felt

African InspirationHere is a photo as promised of the wallhanging I made last Saturday after Jean’s workshop by inserting the piece of printed muslin I created into a larger piece of felt.  I was very happy with the result although after Bernie’s beautiful photography not a bit happy with the image I took!  This week I am up to my eyes with the batik course I am taking at Grennan Craft Mill and Open Week at Borris Golf Club.  Images to follow tomorrow of work in progress with the batik.