Beautiful bags, hat and jacket in progress this afternoon …..

After a really busy morning manhandling the cupboards in my old utility room I spent a very enjoyable afternoon in Borris with the felting ladies from the Active Retirement Group.  This is now my fourth session working with the group and we had a 3 hour session today in order to get some bigger projects underway.  Dorothy is felting a body warmer, Betty a hat and Myna, Una, Jo, Ann and Mary are all felting bags, some with integrated handles and all with optional inside pockets!  Jo’s bag is almost finished, Dorothy’s first large piece of yardage is done and everyone else is at the rubbing and rolling stage with their bags.  I’m EXHAUSTED now so I’m just going to leave you with a picture of Mary’s bag when it was laid out and a close up view, the handles are going to be wonderful with it!  ‘Till tomorrow …..

Mary with her bag laid out and ready to felt

Close up of Mary's beautiful bag

More dying and Horst style felting!

I got a bit sidetracked yesterday, having mentioned that I was going to felt 100s of attachments for a new wrap I decided instead to adapt and finish a Horst style jacket and matching bag!  This jacket was another ‘blank’ which Horst was good enough to leave with me to do as I wished with, the second of 2 demo pieces from our workshop.  I decided to keep things simple and wanted something that I would wear for everyday use in colder weather, this meant adding a couple of pockets, adjusting the collar to frame my face and decorating the pockets and framing the edges with black merino thereby adding some depth of colour.  In addition I wanted to practice using Horst’s method of felting bags again, it’s not a method that I’m going to use for all my work but I do find the pebbly texture interesting, the layout very quick and I wanted to experiment with dying again and end up with a piece to compliment the jacket.

Bag prior to dying and jacket prior to dying and fulling

At this stage I think I have a confession to make, my name is Nicola and I am addicted to acid dying!!!  OK, only half joking, but I can’t believe how Horst’s recent workshop has totally demystified the process and allowed me to just throw things into the pot and watch the magic occurring.  I’m not scientific about it at all, not measuring the level of the water versus dye powder etc. (Jacquard acid dyes I bought with Heather at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival last year) but for me this adds to the experience, instinctively I appear to be getting the result I am looking for so onwards and upwards!  My only reservation about the dye pot yesterday is that although I used ‘olive’ as my deeper colour I didn’t think that the powder looked olive at all in the packet and it certainly wans’t olive when I added it to the dye bath, rather a nice deep rust colour, complimentary but not my original intention.  Talking to experienced dyers I know that the powder doesn’t necessarily look like the resultant liquid but I do wonder if this was mispackaged???  I’m not a bit concerned however, I love the results, more pics over on Flickr!

Graduating colours on the bag

 

 

Revelation leads to a new nuno felt top!!!

OK, WordPress is behaving extremely funnily at the moment so forgive me if this the pictures in this post are not where I wanted them and they don’t have any captions. This morning I had a revelation, you all know by now how much I avoid sewing if at all possible, sometimes I like to add a few judicious hand stitches (I know stitching enhances felt wonderfully) but in general I avoid sewing like the plague!!!

Anyway, I ADORE the simplicity of Japanese design and one of the most read textile books in my library is ‘SAORI Self-discovery through Free Weaving’ by Misao jo and Kenzo Jo. My good friend Cristina lent me a few books last weekend and one of them is an absolutely wonderful book by Rutsuko Sakata, written in Japanese so unfortunately I can’t even give you the title here but believe me, I need to get a copy NOW! The pictures of Rutsuko’s work are beautiful and the line drawings inspirational. I was browsing through the book one more time at breakfast when suddenly I had a revelation! Last year I felted a beautiful piece of hand dyed silk with the intention of cutting and reassembling it into a kind of fitted sleeveless top (based on a well worn one from my wardrobe) prior to throwing it to hide the stitches and shrink it to fit. The silk was dyed by friend and master textile artist Lyda Rump and once I had incorporated a really fine layer of merino overlaid with silk fibres and felted them together the resultant nuno felt rectangle was so beautiful I baulked at cutting into it at all! Armed with a diagram from Rutsuko’s book I pulled out the nuno felt from my studio, folded it at the edges (a bit like origami but simpler!), pinned it and then tried it on, incredible, I now had the bones of a jacket/shrug that I know I will wear, fantastic!!! Anyway, I then found some perfectly matched thread (a Christmas present from Carmen!), added a couple of stitches to each side and voila, the top is completed. It’s raining horribly this morning so no pictures of the finished piece on the manequin, as soon as it stops I’ll take a few, for now off to felt and document another bag design for the book!

Flu and felt!

Cristina and I had a lovely time felting together although we did miss our friend Sheila who had some sick bodies to look after and couldn’t make it down from Dublin, hope everyone is feeling a lot better by now Sheila.  Unfortunately I seem to have succumbed to some kind of flu myself (how annoying is that) so I am going to keep this post brief and share a couple of pictures of two sleeveless jackets, one which I made a while ago (and now has a new home with Cristina!) and the other which Cristina made during her stay here at Clasheen! 

Detail from the front of Cristina's jacket

Cristina’s white jacket is worked from needle punched felt and has some lovely raised detail inspired by some interesting techniques of Danish felter Charlotte Buch.   The merino in mine picks up the colours of the large hand dyed silk lap which formed the basis of the design, I love the texture this silk adds to the surface and the little holes which I emphasised in the wool. 

Close up showing how the silk laps add texture to the felt surface

More pictures of my sleeveless felt jacket and nuno scarf dying experiment

The weather has been APPALLING here for most of the day.  Horrendous rain and heavy winds until late afternoon meant that I didn’t feel one little bit guilty (virtuous in fact!!) felting all day and I was even able to buy some food dye and have a go at my first dying experiment!  First things first, here are a couple more pictures of the sleeveless jacket I felted at the weekend but you do need to bear with me as the pictures aren’t great.  To be strictly fair it is not totally finished but you know me by now, I really need to push myself to add a couple of buttons and a fish skin and leather belt, maybe tomorrow???  

Surface detail

 

The 'almost' completed sleeveless jacket

 

Yesterday when the jacket was drying in front of the range I decided to use some of the gorgeous hand dyed silk I bought from Lyda Rump to make some more nuno scarves, my target is a minimum of 10 scarves a week from now on!  The piece of chiffon that I choose to work with was in fabulous aquamarine colours and I suddenly had the absolute brain wave of felting one of the pieces with some extraordinary merino/silk/tencel/glitz artisan batts that I bought from Blas in Urban Fauna Studio last October.  This has turned into one of my absolute favourite nuno scarves ever, check out this cool texture and colour!   

Hand dyed silk chiffon with merino/silk/tencel/glitz

I used a combination of turquoise and apple green for the second piece of silk chiffon and turquoise, royal blue and apple green for the third.  It is incredible how different colours combine together and I hope to take more pictures tomorrow, all the scarves are nice but for me this one is absolutely special!Working with Lyda’s gorgeous fabrics got me on to thinking yet again about dying my own raw materials.  I know that I could achieve beautiful effects if I dyed wool, silk, fibres, fabrics, yarns, etc. here at Clasheen but to be honest I just don’t think that I would have the patience on an ongoing basis and for me the mess and tidying up process would drive me mental.  I also feel that when I can buy such fantastic hand dyed materials from Lyda why bother myself?  Well, inspired by the chiffon I did decide to have a go at dying with food colouring today as for me this seemed a simple way to use easily available dye stuff without horrible mordants and a lot of technical ‘stuff’.  First off I nuno felted a white scarf combining it with 16 micron merino, raw mohair locks and corn fibre tops, when it was felted I left it soaking in a vinegar and water solution.  I had done some searching on the internet first and thought that the corn fibre would not absorb the dye but this was fine with me as my intention was to create an ocean inspired colour scheme.  In my excitement buying the food colouring I didn’t even think what I was purchasing and it was only when I was mixing the colours that I discovered I had green to combine with yellow and not blue as I had thought!  Never mind, green must be my favourite colour so nothing ventured, nothing gained, various shades of dark to yellow-green it would  be  Once I had the food colouring diluted with some hot water and vinegar I placed the already soaked scarf in a microwavable bowl and ‘painted’ on the colours.  Realistically this meant that I used a bottle with a nozzle for the darker green and poured the yellow/green mixture directly onto the scarf from a glass bottle, very technical here!  I swirled the scarf around with a chopstick before covering the bowl with cling film.  5 minutes on high, a rest followed by 5 minutes more and the microwave process was over.  To be continued tomorrow …..

ithout much to loose except an untidy kitchen!