Kool-Aid dyed ponge silk and merino roving = nuno felted scarf!

Yesterday I spent almost all day dying merino roving and ponge silk in the microwave using a variety of Kool-Aid colours/flavours, check out my Facebook page to see some pictures of the work in progress.  Although I am not going to go through a step by step discussion of what I did here tonight (still a couple of leaves to felt before I head off to bed, more another day!) I will leave you with a close up shot of the nuno scarf I felted yesterday evening.  I just couldn’t go to bed last night without getting my hands stuck into all that yummy coloured fibre now, could I???  I also felted an optional flower brooch to compliment this scarf and as soon as out weather picks up a little I’m going to take some photos of them as I want to upload it to the internet for sale, my shop has been totally quiet for far too long now!

Surprisingly subtle colours in the finished nuno felt scarf

American workshops – a guide to the raw materials required by participants!

My flights are booked, new linen trousers purchased and I am SO excited now about my upcoming workshops in America, meeting old friends, making new ones and simply having the best of fun with like minded fibre nuts!!!  From 13th to 16th May I will be participating and teaching at The Tin Thimble’s wonderful Mother’s Day Fiber Retreat, on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st May I will be with my amazing friend Dawn for two days of workshops in Plainwell, MI and then on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th May I will be meeting and staying with online fibre friend Jan Durham and facilitating two days of workshops in Lexington KY, how fantastic is that for an adgenda???  

On the Friday participants in both MI and in KY have the option of taking a workshop titled ‘Simple vessels, purses and other three dimensional objects incorporating found objects’ and on the Saturday a workshop titled ‘Nuno mosaic and other interesting possibilities for wearable felt accessories’.  Participants attending both workshops have the option of designing and felting larger and more complex vessels, bags, sculptural items, bigger nuno projects or indeed an art piece for the wall.  As a result I have been toying with the correct materials list to publish for each workshop, eventually I have decided to provide a ‘minimum fabric and fibre requirement’ list for some of the projects participants may want to make and hopefully this will cover most potential eventualities!  In this way each individual participant will decide for themselves what exactly they want to make and what materials then need to bring with them at a minimum,. I know from personal experience that I can never bring too much fibre and embellishment items with me when I attend any workshop so limiting myself can be a challenge, it may also bring unexpected rewards at times!!!  Each participant will need to bring their usual felting equipment, 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.  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 laminate floor underlay but in an emergency we can use bubble wrap or whatever flexible plastic you have to hand.  For participants felting nuno mosaic or large nuno wraps it is really best to have two long lengths of bubble wrap bigger than the starting size of the silk used, plastic trash can liners are OK too in an emergency so if you have a roll of them please just bring them along!  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 embellishments, inclusions, leather off cuts and artificial glittery fabrics with me for everyone to share as well as some of the mohair waste which I am currently experimenting with in some of my three dimensional work!  Enough of the waffle, hopefully the following will be a guideline and I am always happy to answer any questions directly so please feel free to email me if you have a major concern …….

Clutch bag, vessel, iPad cover and smaller three dimensional items will need 80 – 150g of fibre.

Larger and more complex bags will need 200 – 350g fibre, I like this to be divided into 2/3 merino and 1/3 a strong coarser fibre such as C1 or Icelandic wool.

A 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 nuno wrap (two day project!) will need 2 – 3 m (yards is fine) silk chiffon, ponge silk, cheesecloth or muslin for the base and 40 – 100g good quality merino depending on size.

A mosaic nuno scarf will need a total minimum of 1m silk chiffon but this needs to be in at least 3 colours ie. 1/3m from a roll of three different colours, adding a small amount of a clashing colour can work wonders!  Incorporating vintage scarves into nuno mosaic is wonderfully effective and a beautiful way of bringing old fabrics back to new life, to see what I mean check out Marni’s wonderful scarf from last year’s Tin Thimble workshop, isn’t it beautiful?  These scarves will also need over 100g good quality merino preferrably in two colours.

A large nuno mosaic wrap will need 2 – 3m silk fabric in mixed colours and a total of up to or over 200g good quality merino, again two colours of fibre is ideal.

As you can imagine different projects require different techniques and heaviness of hand when laying out the fibre.  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???

Ready to prepare the felting kits at last!

I was supposed to be going to a finance workshop (associated with the tourism course) tomorrow but as my fever is definitely back with a vengeance I have decided to stay at home.  Initially I was thinking of laying out and starting a larger garment flu permitting, but since the postman has just arrived with my large order of Icelandic wool guess what I’ll be doing in the morning???  Realistically I need to have a total overhaul of the studio as since I have returned from our holiday it is actually impossible to move around inside it at all, I kid you not.  While Alan and I were swanning around all those gorgeous National Parks and Monuments in Northern California my house guests were tidying the house and putting stuff away in ….. you’ve guessed it, the studio!  It was brilliant to come home to such a tidy and friendly house everywhere else but now that the time has come I am dreading ploughing through all the junk (aka washing, recycling, boxes, fabric, fibre, you know the sort of stuff) that has been accumulating in my workspace for ages.  The light at the end of the tunnel is that hopefully by the end of the weekend my studio will be tidy, my felting kits will be prepared, everything will be uploaded to the internet and all will be calm and organised chez Nicola.  I have also realised that of course I need to upload rug bases and plastic felting mats on Etsy as well as the new wool, why on earth I have been hoarding them here is beyond me especially as I imported them from Mehmet with the express intention of using some and selling the surplus!

The light was not so good today but here is a close up shot of the scarf that I made yesterday.  You can see how nicely the ponge silk has ruched during the felting process and the mulberry silk gives a gorgeous sheen to the surface of the felt.Surface texture and sheen

Mystery of the lost post, incorporating pongee silk and the Clasheen Winter Swap

Well, I have just spent an extremely frustrating and puzzling time trying to locate my blog post and images of the printing on felt from yesterday.  I knew that it had gone live thanks to your welcome comments so imagine my surprise this morning when I was giving a bit of a demo on blogging to a couple of colleagues from the tourism course and discovered that it had gone!  I double checked that I had published it as a public post, kept opening and closing the website until finally I decided to check out my date setting (Alan’s spring clean is not as good as earlier envisaged!!) and voila, the problem is now solved.  This got me to thinking how many of my other posts will now reappear? Time will tell.

Yesterday afternoon I made a stunning merino and ponge silk scarf in black, dark turquoise and light turquoise.  I tore the ponge into squares and strips and laid them in a design on top of the soft merino and then covered the rest of the surface in light turquoise mulberry silk.  The ponge felted into the merino beautifully and the mulberry silk adds a sophisticated sheen to the whole scarf, definitely a design to be repeated.  This will be uploaded to my Etsy store tomorrow morning and hopefully will find a home as quickly as the nuno wrap which Carole bought yesterday, thanks Carole!

Before I sign off for the afternoon (fever has returned and I am just going to call it a day) why not check out the Clasheen Crafty Swap pool on Flickr to see the fantastic goodies that participants have been exchanging in our current Autumn swap?  The Winter Swap is now open for sign ups so if you didn’t know about it before or you have been a little bit apprehensive about joining don’t!  In order to participate you just need to join our group on Flickr (only takes a minute or two to sign up) and then Flickr mail me with your details, everyone welcome so please tell your friends as well.

Experimenting with nuno felting

Felting time is very precious at the moment as almost every waking hour is spent helping Alan in his local election campaign.  This morning he had an appointment to officially register with the returning officer so I was thrilled to get started on a nuno felt sleveless tunic that I have been planning ever since I got Lizzie Houghton’s new book, is it really only 3 days ago that it arrived??  Anyway, yesterday I did a very small sample piece using cotton and the short fibred merino from Filzrausch before felting a nuno scarf using ponge silk.  I was amazed how easily the Filzrausch wool migrated through the fabric, if I had been asked to guess I think that I would have thought that it would felt too quickly and therefore not be a good fibre to use for nuno.  This morning I laid out a very simple design on natural coloured cotton and after a bit of stopping and starting (to go out and drive the canvassers) I managed to finish the prep work and start the felting process.  Because of the large size, at least 50% bigger than I want the finished top to be, I laid out everything on one of the plastic mats that I bought from Mehmet Girgic.  At the moment my felt is lamost fully shrunk and I am just letting it dry out on top of the Rayburn.  In the morning, time permitting, I will sew up the sides and then finish the felting process.  Watch this space for some photos of the finished item, I hope that it will be reversable!