Creating a mosaic with prefelts

My sister requested a table runner for her Christmas present and this morning I decided to use up some of the left over prefelts to create a mosaic style mat.  The prefelts were felted from chocolate, turquoise and natural coloured Icelandic wool and my first job was to cut them into 5cm squares using my cutting mat and a rotary cutter.  I then cut about a quarter of them on the diagonal before deciding on the layout I wanted for the simple mosaic design.  The prefelts were quite thick and this definitely helped when butting the edges together.  Once they were laid out I wet the design lightly with very soapy cool water, none of the squares or triangles shifted so I moved on to the next stage.  To felt the whole design together I decided on a light layer of the natural coloured wool as a backing.  The Icelandic batts are so easy to use, no stress getting fibres aligned, just pull out a wad and lay it down!  Once this was done I added some more soapy water, it is amazing how much soap this wool needs compared to merino but once the felting process starts the fibres lock down very tightly and very quickly.  I actually was amazed at how everything held together almost immediately, this was the first time that I had used dry Icelandic prefelts (last time I made them and used them wet immediately) and the whole process took only about 30 minutes after laying out the design to rinsing out the completed felt mat!  The natural coloured wool for the backing created a nice edge to the design and this style of mosaic flat felting is definitely an idea to play around with some more, photos to follow tomorrow.

The first snow of 2009 and a brilliant felt vessel!

My view this morning!

It’s really unusual to have snow this early in the year on the ridge opposite the front of my farmhouse.  Sometimes, the larger peak Mount Leinster does have a dusting in mid November but normally we only have it on the whole range in the thick of winter (if at all) so I was delighted to wake up to this pretty picture first thing this morning!

Hilary joined me just before half past ten to felt for the first time, our project was a simple felt vessel.  We had a chat about the basics of felting over a warming freshly ground coffee (part of a Going Green swap package from Chaimama via Ravelry) and then got stuck in selecting and weighing fibre.  The Icelandic wool batts (available from my Etsy store) are excellent for sculptural felt and it is important to have roughly the same amount of fibre on each side of your resist hence the weighing!  Hilary decided to make a round vessel with the main colours being my favourite apple green in combination with a gorgeous turquoise.  We sub-divided the wool into four equal piles giving us two layers to lay out for each side prior to any surface embellishment.  Once the two layers were laid and wet out lightly Hilary then added some turquoise mulberry silk and some swirls of wool in another complimentary turquoise/greeny shade.  As I have mentioned before using more soap than usually advised coupled with a lot less water seems to work really well with the Icelandic wool. 

Hilary sealing the edges

Once Hilary’s vessel passed the pinch test I cut out a very small hole to release the resist.  As you seal and work the cut edges the opening will always widen so a good tip is never to make the initial cut too big!  When sealing the edges use a lot of soap on your hands, this helps you to make a nice clean edge.   Now the vessel was worked by hand both on the bamboo blind (we had started with bubble wrap and progressed to the blind as the fibres started felting together) and in very hot  soapy water in the sink.  Hilary also threw the felt onto the table to help shock and full it, then kept stretching it to form the final shape and help the wool form the memory.  Finally all the soap was rinsed totally out of the felt, the vessel was reshaped, the texture and form admired and all that was needed were a few images to mark a great mornings felting!

Hilary with her stunning first piece of felt!

 

 

For some reason the image uploader is playing up this evening so check out my Flickr images for a larger shot of the finished vessel, the texture is beautiful!

Tactile felt hearth rug!

I forgot to mention yesterday that I did weigh the Icelandic wool and divided it into two piles.  There was just over 400g per layer and interestingly enough not much shrinkage overall by the time the rug was complete, possibly even less than 20%. 

Starting to lay out the Jacobs fleece

Cotton fabric between the layers of wool

I should also have said that I used green silk hankies both within the fleece and at several points near the edge of the rug but that the white silk tops around the outside might not be silk at all but is more likely to be tencel.   It felt quite different in the hand but as I don’t know where I got it from so this is just an uneducated guess!

Initially I worked the rug hard (several hours) by hand and sander on the reverse and eventually was brave enough to turn it over and work directly on the top.  It took ages for the fibres to start coming together, possibly if I had laid two layers of wool on top of the fleece and then the fabric as the last layer it would actually have been a lot quicker.  Whatever, another couple of hours later and things were beginning to hang together nicely.  When I was absolutely sure that the fleece was not going to come apart I chanced wrapping the rug inside a piece of cotton and putting it through a wool wash in my washing machine!  With the exception of rinsing Osman technique rugs or making beads from waste felt I never use my machine for felting, I prefer to do everything by hand.  This time however since I was in an experimental mood and the Jacobs is extremely slow to felt I decided nothing ventured, nothing gained.  After it came successfully out of the machine I worked it by hand again without any soap.  Another while later I put it through a 40 degree wash and again worked directly on the surface by hand for approx another 45 minutes. 

My finished hearth rug!

The finished rug is extremely tactile and will make a great fireside rug or else something to keep my toes warm during those cold Irish mornings!  More detailed images of the final result are available in my Flickr photos.