Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Perfecting Wool Projects

One of my goals for next year is working on perfecting a type of felted wool art project. I have been making several of my "dreads" scarves and trying different lengths, widths and manners of laying out wool. Here is my latest creation. I am very satisfied with the way it turned out. In laying out the wool I have pulled apart the long lengths so that they are very thin and airy.

The cross pieces have been woven in and out of the longer lengths. The important factor is to vary the weave so that the grid in not uniform. My next scarf is going to be layed out on the diagonal which I think will have an interesting effect on the dreds and the ability to make the scarf grid more varied.
I have also been working on the perfect length of scarf. For this dread scarf there are two measurements that are important -- the body of the scarf (the solid part) and then the length and width that the dreads add to the scarf. On a tall person (5'6" and up) the measurement that works best is at least 80 inches in the scarf body and then about 40 inches additional in dreds. The scarf pictured here (a Christmas present) is 120 inches in total lenght (10 feet). When wrapped around as a scarf the dreads are not too long and when used as a wrap the body of the scarf is sufficiently long to stay over the shoulder if desired.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wow! Felting Lots of Scarves, Purses, Etc.

This has been a very busy time for me in the hand felted wool scarf world. I have been experimenting with different kinds of wool. Been reading my new favorite book: The Knitter's Book of Wool-The Ultimate Guide to Understanding, Using, and Loving this Most Fabulous Fiber by Clara Parkes. I received this as a gift and it has some really great info on wool fiber, sheep and the properties of wool. I have been using Merino wool which is characterized as a "next-to-the-skin" wool and is probably one the best known wools. Lots of sweaters are made of Merino wool and I think next to cashmere (not a sheep wool it comes from goats) is pretty well known. Another soft wool is Cormo and I've been using that in my hand felted wool scarves. It felts great! and is soft and a bit fluffier than Merino wool. Here is a great scarf that I made of the Cormo wool and cotton gauze fiber.
The wool is torn and laid out in squares and the cotton gauze is cut to fit in the middle of the square. The result is a very lightweight scarf with lots of beautiful texture.

I also used the Cormo wool and combined it with wool yarn for a fun texture in this red scarf. Again the Cormo seems to felt into a fluffier consistency than the Merino. I'm still researching why this might be and it works to create an illusion that the wool is even softer than Merino wool. Very good for those who thinks wool is difficult to wear on the skin.

I've been creating hand felted wool scarves with dredlocks and perfecting the different ways to lay out the wool, how much to use and how long the dreds need to be. Here are two of my latest scarves with dreds.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Making of a Scarf/Shawl/Wrap

I've been working on this scarf for a couple of days. Just to give you an idea of its size, the table is 72" round. Laying out the dry wool took me about 3 hours and 4 pounds of wool in black and gray. Merino of course. The dry size was 24" by 93" -- the largest one I've ever done. I've made two other shawls but not in this format.

Here I am hand rubbing the wool. The whole felting process took about 8 hours over two days (not including the time to lay out the dry wool). The dreds dry range from 45" to 30" and each dred needed to be rolled on a piece of non-skid cloth.
I was so concerned that the dreds would either come off or be felted together that I was only able to roll the body of the scarf for a short period. Which meant much more rubbing to felt all the grid together.

Here are pics of the finished scarf. Four pounds of wool is very heavy and the volume is really too much to handle easily. After I got the scarf to the soft felted stage I began to throw it on the table to harden the felt. I couldn't see trying to rinse the scarf in my sink as I do with my others, so I filled the washer with water and vinegar and rinsed it in there with as little agitation as possible. This really saved my arms (which are quite sore today). I also spun the water out in the spin cycle and then put it in the dryer with my trusty tennis balls. The finished size of the scarf is 19" by 63" and the dreds average about 30 to 35 inches with a couple of them quite long. The dreds turned out quite thick. I was worried that they would be too thin and would be out of context to the rest of the scarf.

The mannequin stands about 4" 10" and I don't have any sun today which is why the pictures look quite dark. The flash just makes it worse. The black side of the scarf is much more of an open weave than the gray side.
It is really an amazing scarf. Very dramatic and will look really great and be quite warm.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More Playing Around

This week I've been playing ... again. Its become a daily thing! No more work, just play. Love it! I made a prototype for a large custom scarf (pictured here). This turned out even better than I imagined. The scarf is of soft merino wool and the dreds are just a playful addition. Wonderful. I might have to keep it for myself.

Earlier in the week I played with my new felting machine. I love the fact that I can create big sheets of felt and not have to kill my arms and wrists doing it. So, I made some journal covers using different wools and textiles, silks, yarns, etc. Really --AnyThing felts! Just not fingers. :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Creating this Week ...

I am playing around with my pumpkins this week -- making tons for the stores and for the CASA show on Nov 7. I'm experimenting with putting faces and hats on some just to mix it up. That's my project for today and I'll post some pics later. Today is gloomy weather but I will create my own sunshine with orange wool fibers !! I'm still looking for boutiques around the country - especially at ski resorts -- in which to place my scarves. And I'm waiting to hear from my friend in Oregon whether she wants some for her boutique. More later ...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Felted Pumpkins Featured on Etsy Front Page

It was a wonderful day Friday (10/23). My needle-felted pumpkins were featured on the home page and almost 500 people clicked on the store to view the pumpkins. Those views resulted in 25 item hearts and 19 new shop hearts. Wonderful! Also I traveled to Wisconsin to Windmill Antiques & Co.. This is my new location for scarves, etc. I took 5 new scarves and new flower pins along with some other home accessories.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Felting is hard work!!

Now that I am felting almost everyday so that I can create enough to fill the website and 2 store locations I am realizing the difficulty of creating by hand vs. creating with machinery. Really, I can only make about 2 scarves a day, plus a couple of smaller items like my flowers or booties. The smaller items take almost as much time as the scarves to make. But, the physicality of felting is really hard on my arms, elbows and shoulders so I try to work only in the morning until about 1 pm and no more than 4 days a week. This past weekend I traveled to New Glarus, WI to a wool supplier and on a whim decided to stop in Evansville. Jean Wyse runs a really beautiful antique shop there called Windmill Antiques & Co. It is so nicely organized with beautiful and artistic displays! I bought two vintage sweater chains (remember those?). I was wearing my felted wool vest (see older posts) and Jean asked me about it. We got to talking and she asked if I would like to sell some of my scarves in her shop! Wow! I said yes, and now I'm working on getting at least 8 scarves and other things to put there. Well, off to felt some more. Oh, I forgot to tell you about this basket -- its made of wool and will keep your bread warm for your table.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall Pumpkins

Recently I purchased a wool batt such as a quilter would use and turned it into about 100 needle felted pumpkins. This was before the Cider & Cinnamon Art and Craft Fair. I sold many of these at the Fair and have only about 10 left. Each pumpkin in covered in a variety of orange wool then the sculpting begins by adding lines for shaping and curly locks for dimension and texture. I make the leaves out of a variety of green wool. I have discovered that dry felting works well with the leaves as they are thinner and see-through, just like leaves that are dying. My only regret -- not buying another wool batt so I could make more. Well, there is always next year.
In my next post I'll tell you about my recent travels to Wisconsin and my new shop location!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Flowers, flowers ... I created all these flower pins for my new space at the Edgebrook Shopping Center store. I really like the beading in the last two but it takes time and thus adds more on the cost of the pin. We will see how it sells. The flowers themselves are quite lovely. I would like to try some other styles of brooches -- perhaps something a little more avant guard?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Things I've finished this week.

I was so busy this week finishing a few things. I finished the blue knitted ruffle with the sequins. It turned out really well and I think its almost a piece of jewelry as well as a scarf. I created a flat piece of felt out of the red wool top and then used marbles to make the bubbles in the wool. It is heat set and looks very elegant. I can see this on a suit coat. I made another of my favorite combo of colors -- green and blue. I used some wooden beads on the fringe for some added interest.

Friday, August 7, 2009

More felting!

I finished the purse and its flower pin in the left photo and the flower pin in the right photo. Flowers are fun to do and never are the same. The purse is very plain with a silk hankie felted into the wool. This creates a leathery feel to the surface and beautiful colors. The handle is felted into the purse so that there are no seams and no sewing making it very easy to finish. The flower pin was created out of curly locks.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Knitting and Felting

Recently, I visited the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Festival and purchased a lot of beautiful yarn and I've been knitting some really great scarves. In the process of knitting scarves I have been expanding my skill set. This scarf on the left is knit in "short rows" so that it forms a "fan" which makes it swirl. This is a mohair type yarn and I attached sequins before I began to knit. I think this is one of those one doesn't do every day because knitting in the sequins is time consuming. But it will drape around the neck and be really pretty when it is done.
The picture on the right is a set of table mats I made. These are really pretty on a table. But, each one takes about 1.75 to 2 hours to make. I have them for sale on etsy and at the shop for $80 for the set.
I am looking forward to September's wool shows -- Stitches Midwest in Schaumburg and the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I've been felting!!

Wow! I am so happy to get back to felting
and to be finished with all my home projects. These scarves turned out so beautiful -- or at least I think so. The orange and pink scarf is wool on silk with the most unusual fringe.
The blue scarf is linen with a silk gauze fringe encased in wool and tussah silk.
Both can be found on my etsy website.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

While I've been away from wool ...

For the past several months I have been working on home improvement projects instead of wool projects ... I am ready to be done with this. But I have been very productive. This bedroom turned out very nice. I pulled the old stained carpet up and refinished the wood floor. Then I painted the walls, installed new base trim and painted that and installed new wood blinds. I decorated it with furniture from other rooms in the house to make this cute sitting room. It is cozy and just perfect for some quiet time either reading or writing.

The Grad

Erica is a graduate! Loved getting together with her in NYC and moving her from her dorm room to her apartment -- all 300 square feet of it -- 2 bedrooms, kitchen and bath. What's missing? Living room - nope not in NYC, dining room - nope. Whatever, she's young and in a fun, hip area of the City and loving it. Jobs will be a priority now. But I miss her!!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

NYC Trip

I just returned from a fabulous trip to NYC. Two items of note on that trip -- daughter, Erica, graduated from NYU and I visited the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in the Carnegie Mansion (beautiful place) and viewed the felting exhibit there. What a wonderful exhibit -- I got inspired to create! They had garments, furniture, rugs, hanging tapestries, etc. The Palace Yurt was like walking through a beautiful dream! Surrounded by beautiful nuno felted fabric panels that took over the conservatory of the house I thought about my own studio here in Illinois and wished I could incorporate some of these ideas there. Amazing!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Journal Cover

Here is a journal cover I made in March to show to my class as an example. I have been using it and it works really great. I love the colors and the flower just makes me happy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Felting Class

On March 14 I taught my first felting class. I decided that my goals were verrrrry ambitous! I wanted to complete a journal cover in 4 hours and alloted 2 hours with explaining the felting process, making a pattern and laying out the wool and 2 hours in the felting process. Well, the whole class ran 2 and 1/2 hours longer than I planned. Not the end of the world!! Everyone did finish their project which was my ultimate goal and it all ended up well. I think my students (4 total) were pleased and the projects did turn out very nice. The covers were very colorful and so varied in their appearances. Here are some photos: