Mohair and merino transformed into a light and airy cobweb felt scarf

The natural mohair locks that I brought home from the States are a gorgeous mixture of silvery colours and I thought that they would combine beautifully with some more 16 micron merino from Filzrausch, this time a black and white roving perfectly named ‘Zebra’! 

'Zebra' merino and mohair locks

Cobweb felting is not a technique that I have great confidence in never having had a chance to participate in a workshop on the subject.  Instead I’ve learnt from books and practical experience and to be quite honest this latest attempt is by far the best scarf that I have felted to date using this interesting method.  If any of you do have some tips and advice about the topic please leave a comment, all info gratefully recieved and put into practice for future projects!  Anyway, I laid out the roving along the full length of my table and then teased the fibres out as wide as I could possibly get them without breaking the strands or leaving any areas too open and exposed.  Once I was happy with the layout of the merino I teased the mohair locks with my fingers and laid the curls loosly in position.  I decided not to place any merino at right angles across the scarf because the mohair acted well to strengthen the felt and I wanted the black and white of design to run lengthwise and really give a sense of movement to the finished piece. 

Cobweb scarf blowing in the wind

I rubbed, rolled, stretched and re-rolled the scarf for much longer than usual in order to create a super strong and well fulled cobweb felt.  In some early cobweb experiments I don’t think that I rolled for long enough because after the scarves were worn for quite a number of times they almost seemed to continue felting further widthwise with use.  Maybe that is a feature of this type of felt, as I say I really know very little about the subject although I think that this scarf has totally stopped felting and fulling and I hope that it will stand up successfully to many happy seasons of wear!

Picture of the mosaic mat and more with prefelts and reusing old felt!

As promised here is a picture of the completed mosaic mat. 

The completed mosaic mat

Obviously you can tell from the image that snow has arrived at Clasheen but the unfortunate news is that my water has once more stopped running.  Luckily my heat is OK because the outside temperature has never risen above -2 degrees today, unheard of weather conditions for Ireland although everything looks like a beautiful winter wonderland at the moment!!  It struck me when taking this picture that the mosaic method would work very well if you cut out your shapes as if you were going to sew a traditional patchwork quilt.  This may be some research that I will take up at some stage but for the moment it was a really simple way to use some of my left over prefelt.  Following on from this project I decided to experiment with more prefelt, pieces of my first long loved (but finally wrecked!) cobweb scarf and various bits and bobs of embellishing fibres that I have had in my stash.  Due to my lack of water I also wanted to work some more with Icelandic wool (as it needs loads of soap but not too much water) and melted some snow on the range to keep me going for the moment. 

Silk and mohair/romney highlights

Here is an image to whet your appetite and you can check out my Flickr photos for some more teasers of this landscape.  For anyone wanting to experiment with Icelandic wool I am offering the batts that I work with for sale through my Etsy store, please just mail me if you don’t see the colour that you are looking for!

More ramblings from an American road trip and my fibre related finds along the way

Moving on up the coast from Arcata (but not before I bought some gorgeous ceramic beads from Talisman in Eureka) we stayed at a basic but comfortable motel at the edge of Crescent City before heading East through Smith River National Recreation Area and on up into Oregon. 

Stunning Fern Canyon

Stunning Fern Canyon

While in Crescent City we explored some of Redwood National Park including the stunningly beautiful Fern Canyon, part of the Praire Redwoods section of the greater park area.   Passing through Grants Pass we then headed South a little before turning East again and travelling to fascinating and remote Lava Beds National Monument.  On the way we spent one night at Shakespere mad Ashland (I kid you not!) in a gorgeous old hotel on the main street where I had the opportunity to pick up some great buttons and beautiful undyed mohair locks at  a handspinners, weavers and knitters delight called The Web.sters.  I have never felted with pure mohair before so am really looking forward to seeing how it felts when I get home, it feels beautiful and silky to the touch and is in gorgeous natural shades of grey, silver and off white.  We also spent some time chatting (or visiting as you folks say over here) with Alfred Hanan at his brilliant shop ‘Hemporium’, a fantastic place to pick up some stylish, comfortable and natural clothing or accessories and then met Dale Muir in her studio at the Ashland Art Centre.  Dale works with recycled materials creating wonderful funky assemblages which just had to make me smile.  The Art Centre is very interesting, one of many different co-operative type businesses we have encountered along the way and giving me lots to think about for future possibilities back home in Ireland.  We stopped in Ashland for one night before moving on the Tulelake, our base for visiting both Lava Beds and the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges.  Thanks to our Californian Lonely Planet we checked in to Fe’s B&B on 660 Main St., a great choice as Fe and her husband Bob were great hosts and Fe’s delicious hot breakfasts with fresh fruit were healthy, tasty and large setting us up nicely for a day exploring the fascinating scenery and wildlife in the area.    Another nice aspect about the B&B was the fact that guests from the 4 bedrooms joined up together at breakfast and shared tables.  We got to spend some time with an interesting young couple Lizzie and Lawrence from England and had a meal together the second night at Captain Jack’s Stronghold, a surprisingly good restaurant at the side of Hwy 139 a few miles south of Tulelake.  One thing that it is hard to convey to friends at home is how BIG this country is and when you are in more remote regions it could be hundreds of miles between gas stations or anywhere to eat, decent or not! 

Alan among the lava beds

Alan among the lava beds

Both Lava Beds National Monument and Klamath Wildlife Refuges were brilliant stops on our trip.  The volcanic activity over the years has created a fascinating landscape, we did some great walks through the lava beds and and into the caves and were lucky enough to see a young mountain lion on our way back to the B&B on our second night.  The refuges provide habitats for a mind boggling array of birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway and on the second morning we saw a bald eagle from a distance of about 8 feet while driving around one of the auto routes, the best way of viewing the birds as they seem to be less afraid of cars than of us humans!  We intended staying one or two nights at Fe’s but ended up there for three, if ever you are in the area call in and say hi, you won’t be disappointed with the welcome and the brilliant tasty breakfasts!!

Romney and mohair, a totally new experience!

Brilliant swap package!

Brilliant swap package!

Wow, I recieved my swap parcel from Dawn Edwards and it was fantastic!  It is amazing to post a friend part of your stash and in return receive part of theirs, you never know what will come out of the exchange!!  Check out these gorgeous goodies (much better picture in Dawn’s Flickr images), don’t they look divine???  Obviously I could loose no time in trying out the beautiful fibre, a 70% romney and 30% mohair combination.  I was extremely excited to be trying out a fibre that was totally new to me and in some of my favourite colours, olive, golden lime and deep purple.  Carmen called over this afternoon to do a bit of felting together and we drooled over the wool/mohair mix before I decided to make a vessel as a trial run.  BIG mistake!  Before starting I searched in all my books to check out the type of project I should submit the wool to, didn’t find much info so decided to make a vessel.  I laid out 4 layers using the resist method and the colours were very beautiful but the vessel was not!!  It was patchy and definitely not strong enough for what I had intended but nothing ventured, nothing gained.  I reworked the felt into a totally different shape and put it in the oven to dry.  It now is a sculptural and organic piece which I intend to stitch into (WOW, I can’t believe that I said that) and I promise to put up a few pictures sometime over the next few days.  I am going to ask Dawn what she usually makes with this type of fibre and tomorrow have planned to combine it with some richly coloured silk to make a colourful and lightweight scarf.  Thanks a million Dawn for such a challenging and great package!