Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One year of felting condenced into 15 minutes

Be warned, this is a really long video but a great way for me to preview my year . It took me most of today to put my felting into one file and I used Picasso to create a "movie/slideshow" of the images . Some how, it doubled the pictures and I then had to delete half of them . There are several scarves  that have more then one image because I wanted to show the back or side angles , so it looks like I made more then I actually did but still.....I been "mad felting" this year and loved it .

With no further adooo...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Needle felt jewelry, wet felt scarves....felting for the Holidays

 The above is my personal favorite for the week . I made it as thin as I could...(cobweb style?) and used lots of silk caps and a bit of milk protein<------(OK, what happened to the spelling rule ..."i" before "e" except after C or as sounding like Hay as in Neighbor and Weigh ? ).......to add texture and strength . Problem is that I didn't thin out my milk protein enough to let the wool fibers felt into it and had to go back and needle felt it in place . It still shows poke holes where I needle felted but I quick wet felt will heal those over .
 Above and below are the experiment using resists to create flaps . After re-examining, I do think this is OK for a scarf as the non flap areas are thin enough to create drape . I will definitely use thinner prefelt in the future though as the flaps are thicker then necessary which doesn't allow them to get that cool ruffled effect .

 Above and below are another attempt at making cobweb using thin layers of merino and lots of silk fibers . It's super soft and I like the colors but, again, I worry about how well something like this holds up over time . Does anyone have any experience wearing cobweb scarfs? I originally made this for my mother but it turned out a bit wild for her tastes . Perhaps my mother in law or one of sister in laws would like it ?

 Ok. the above and below "scarves" are what I would consider as scarf  "fails" ,though not wasted as I can use them for other things . On the lattice scarf, I had hoped to use it as a bit of texture sewn over a silk velvet base....I still plan on doing that with a merino lattice scarf but the wool I used here is just to rough , even over a velvet base , if it touched my neck it would make me scream .
 The scarves above and below were my attempts to make "manly" neck wear . I didn't want them to be as delicate as the cobweb but these turned out to thick to make a comfortable scarf . (My bf cringed when he tried one on . )so...these are bound for the table runner or purse pile fabric to sew. The bottom scarf was an attempt to add some baby alpaca curls but I could not get those curly little buggers to felt with out burying them in another layer of wool . Bummer, they sure looked cute and soft laying on top of the wool . I think I will have to stick to needle felting them to the edges of felt .

 I wanted to make a few more easy and inexpensive items to my shop and using a cookie cutter does speed up the sculpting but don't be fooled by how easy it looks . Even after you have a "basic" sheep shape, you have to take it out of the mold and do a lot more poking to get it firm, pluss adding the wooly top coat,ear, hoof and tail details . Each sheep took me about 2 hours but was nicely mindless work while watching TV . You do need to be careful not to break your needle by poking into the metal mold .
 Below are a few more needle felt jewelry projects from the week . The top two circles were my first wet felt ropes....I actually hate making wet felt ropes (makes my palms itch), but they are part of felting so I'm trying to get over it (and wearing cleaning gloves helps alot). The also do make great headbands . I attached the two ends with some fiber and silk and felted a bit more silk fibers into several sections . (I put them around my neck like a necklace (which you could wear them as), and then pull them up over the front of my head . They have some natural stretch so make them a bit shorter then the circumference of your head so they will stay in place . Obviously, you can decorate them with any kind of flowers, beads, ect . On the bottom of the picture is a bracelet using the same principle except I just doubled it up and felted into crossed area and end sections . The middle piece here is part of a necklace . I plan on adding some ribbon or leather (haven't decided), to both sides that can just be tied in back . It started as a tightly braided handspun yarn, then was needle felted together and more roving needle felted into it to create the pattern . It's a bit "busy" for most folks but the kind of thing I like myself .
 Below is one of my projects for the new year....(leave it to me to start making winter items in January .) I plan on making some hats and scarves as well as using it for some part sewn/part needle felted animals . It really feels yummy but I imagine it's going to be a pain to hand sew .
 .......and lastly, one of the many projects/goals for the new year, reorganizing my craft room and getting tags on my felt items for sale . I now have enough felted items to open my own brick and mortar, (but have zero desire to do that so I better start figuring out how to sell them .)
Happy felting and happy holidays !

New Obsession ?...peg board weaving is so coool !

I just had to share this because I don't want to lose it....I am sooo going to try this next week . I think it has a lot of applications for possible wet felting experiments . I've been looking at some new way to make straps for my bags and these look perfect to me (once wet felted) . I have tons of strong fibers for the "warp" and I think some of my less expensive ie coarser, but stronger roving, would work better for felting after doing this weaving.....I will try and do a tutorial of this next week if it works . Wish me luck .

Friday, December 17, 2010

Layering wool and resists

Both of these scarves use a resist to separate bits of fiber from other bits of fiber to create layers . The one with the chiffon ruffles was an experiment to see if I could get a layered effect without sewing . I think it worked pretty good though I did have to keep readjusting my resists to keep them in place . The second attempt was after seeing several other bloggers doing "something" to create a layered look but I lost the blog that I first saw this effect.....(if your reading this send me a link so I can add it here if your OK with that ? ) . One thing I forgot to mention in the previous post is that I find it easier to do if you wet down the first layer of fiber(the light blue), before adding the resists and second layer of prefelt . I also lifted the resists between rolling and lightly rewet the fiber below them because the resists are water  proof . I think this will be my general rule when doing really thick felting where I add several layers of wool and embellishments, (especially silk ), so that the bottom layers get enough water.

Anyway, I think the first link below was a class that taught how to sew several layers alternating prefelt and resist then tearing away the resist after piece is felted . That sounded awfully fidgety for me so I just put the resist in between the laid out fibers of the base piece and the prefelt I had made previously and kept checking that it stayed in place after I opened it between rollings . The resist moved very little, so no problems if your prefelt is spread out as I did but probably wouldn't work if you wanted them direct on top of each other . (I'm still waiting for some sunshine here to get pictures of my completed fabric ).  I thought I was making a "gilled" scarf but ended with something far to thick to make a comfortable scarf so it will probably be cut up and made into a bag .

I think the layered and sewn prefelt/resist is how the scarves were made on the following link but I don't speak Spanish....(I barely speak English) .

Here is another one of my favorite felters take on this.....I'm not sure how she did hers .

Click on this link....you will be inspired !!!

Anyone else wanting to add a link of an example let me know .

I also wanted to say that I think the felting community is one of the most open to sharing techniques of just about any group of crafters out in blog land . Almost everything I learned about needle and wet felting, I learned from other felters who were willing to share their own experiments on line . How uncapitalist of us . Aren't we supposed to guard our trade secrets and sell them ? Well, some do keep their cards close to the vest and I have no problem with that either but I still think the amount of sharing is amazing and am happy to be a part of this community where the joy of learning and experimenting are valued above mere commerce .

I do hope to have some of my own recent experiments up tomorrow....if I could just get a bit of sun for photos .

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Preview of Lattice and resist scarfs

Just a few rather blurry night pictures of some new projects . The above is the lay out of some merino in(blue-green) and some prefelt I made with blue on one side and purple on the other .
The "material" that I am using as a resist is some of that anti-static packing material that came with one of my Bfs's guitars . His packing materials don't go to waste around here....(yea ! free bubble wrap .) I don't know what this stuff is called but it did work really well , is easy to cut and stays put pretty well when felting....though you may have to readjust it a bit between rollings .
After laying the prefelt onto the resist, I added a very thin layer of fiber ontop of the area I wanted to felt . I do plan on making some with thinner strips of prefelt and resist but started with these larger flaps to make sure it works .

Below is my first attempt at making a lattice? scarf . I've never been a fan of these for myself but I have plans for this including some really lush green silk velvet that I've been saving for something special .

I've also made my first purse with a resist....(aren't I brave) as well as some other fun projects which I hope to photograph tomorrow , sun be willing .
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A riveting online chat with Pulitzer Prize winning (Aspie) author, editor, music critic, producer and professor Tim Page

A riveting online chat with Pulitzer Prize winning (Aspie) author, editor, music critic, producer and professor Tim Page

 Other then annoying my BF by saying....."I think that person is an aspie." I seldom even think about being Asperger . The exception is when my anxiety level gets to such a level that I no longer feel like I am functioning at my optimal level ........or to the level that I begin to think I would be better off dead then feel another moment . I'm some where in between right now and as is my nature, on a quest to try and find relief through information . Thus the current research in aspie related web sites versus my usual obsessive search for felting related information and inspiration . So please consider this post and the last as Public service announcement breaks in your normally scheduled programing .....annoying but required .

I find the title of this following video as a misnomer.....I didn't find it funny but enlightening as to what Aspergers can look like and even more telling ,(as it always is....) are the comments that follow . Many of them make me sad and questioning the future of humanity . If you have ever doubted the de-evolution of humanity ,  just read comments on youtube . No wonder the ruling class believes they can recreate the good ol' days of serfdom .

Monday, December 6, 2010

If I could felt my brain...... my stuffing wouldn't fall out .

This isn't about felting but more about feeling .  I guess it would fall under "cathartic purging" . Like many people , I am not speaking here to be "heard" as much as I just feel an over whelming need to try and organize my current thoughts . I don't think most people understand what I'm saying anyway . I'm "speaking" to clear the clutter from my brain . SO, unless you are the type of person who doesn't mind the sound and fury of a good purge....you should probably move onto the next blog .

I'm not sure if what is happening to me is directly related to my Aspergers or some other brain wiring anomaly . It's quit possible that it is a mixture of factors but the relevant bit is that I appear to be over whelmed by things that most people find easy or at least "doable" with some effort . I think that is one of the most difficult things for people to understand about other humans with neurology different then their own . Although Aspies are "credited" with lacking theory of mind, it seems to me that neuro-typicals are no more able to figure out how my mind works then I am theirs . The reality is that I can be very intelligent in some areas and still be close to retarded in other areas . Anyone who hasn't experienced this phenomenon first hand would seemingly rather believe that I am being lazy then that one brain can function on two such drastically different levels . Well, welcome to my world . As another aspie once put it...."I am the dumbest smart person you may ever meet ".

So, this past year I have gotten to face my own bits of retarded eye to eye by "trying to learn to market myself ". Although learning felting has been an experience of the best parts of Aspergers...the focus and pure joy of learning, marketing has been a little piece of hell full of self-doubt. indecision , and facing a kind of deception <----------(not the kind where I have to actually lie , which I find physically painful, but the kind that means I have to edit what I say and do .) I'm sure that anyone who sells items knows what I am talking about , at least in the abstract . You are told not to talk about politics or religion or risk alienating possible customers . The exception to this is if you have a large enough demographic to sell to that shares your politics and religion . I find that highly unlikely because anyone who is as "weird" as me, probably doesn't have any more money then I do and I buy everything I need from the thrift-store .The result is that I now worry about alienating potential buyers AND even worse have to try and understand what other people might like to buy . I know that market research is as basic to running a business as boiling eggs is to cooking a meal . This isn't rocket science but it's just as hard for me because I don't think my personal esthetic is even close to the norm .

I spent many years thinking that I would grow up and those tasks others seemed capable of doing would suddenly seem doable for me . For years, I collected a thrift-store wardrobe of grown-up clothes for the day when I would wake up an adult and know how to get a job that I would be able to use my strengths . (The clothes are still there but now I am trying to figure out how to use them in my crafting projects) . I work at a job that makes no use of my BA in psych but allows me to do my crafting passion on over nights .....it's not a choice as much as a compromise . At 47, 4 years after having received my DX of Aspergers, I am no closer to growing up then I was at 20 . I would love to claim, as I think my parents do, that I am just one of those free spirits who chooses to live unconventionally ......(or just lazy). That would be a lie. I live to the best of my abilities and do so by hanging from the ledge by my finger nails ........(precariously) . Having already experienced long bouts of poverty and short bouts of homelessness and institutionalization....my fear of failure is not paranoia but based on a very possible reality .

So, my desire to eventually be able to make a living from what I create is not just an ego booster or to have some extra money to take a vacation . It is a life line that may prove the difference between making it to the shore and my lungs filling with water . Why ???? Hard as it may be to believe....in real life, there are many people who just don't like me . I've never been able to decipher exactly what I do that offends folks but it always catches me off guard when I find out co-workers hate me . I put so much energy into trying to be a good worker and nice to people . I work over nights to try and limit my contact with people because I assume it will give them less reason to hate me but....even that appears to be to much .

So currently, there is someone at my job who has told one worker that "I am weird and she is afraid of me"....told several others, including my manager, that " I am not doing the required cleaning" and recreated a huge drama based on her acquisition that I had not done the laundry for several days . Since I know that I had done all the laundry the night before except for one client....there is no way there could be laundry baskets full unless she had intentionally put clean clothes in the basket to make me look bad . That kind of intentional sabotage really scares me . How do you deal with a psychopath who also happens to be friends with your boss ? So, like the terrorists, she doesn't need to actually blow anything up now.....she has already made me feel like I have to constantly be on guard against attack . I don't function as well under this kind of pressure . It would be simple to say, if your not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to worry about but my life experience has proved that past believe to be unrealistically naive . ....just ask the witches or Jesus if your so inclined .

OK, so besides this current fear of losing my job and the reality that I am even more stuipid then I gave my self credit for.... I also had oral surgery a few days ago where part of my gum had to be cut away from a cavity and the pain as well as the Tylenol is making me even more stuipid . It's also nearing Christmas where I have to deal with some unpleasant realities , such as not feeling like I have a "family" that actually knows I'm alive during a season that focuses on family closeness . Normally, I can ignore this fact but each Christmas I have to battle myself over what to buy a family that I hardly know . Should I just send gift cards or should I send some of my hand made items that they may hate and throw out ? I'm slavishly sentimental towards the items I make and the idea of them being thrown out is very painful to me but so is the idea of giving something as generic as a gift card .

So here's the math....

physical pain
psychic/emotional pain of rejection of others
fear of poverty
fear of failure
fear of the unknown/future

?????aspie dysfunction or just the normal human condition . I'm not sure it really matters I'm just hoping that I can keep pushing forward and that there isn't a cliff at the end of this path or, that if there is, I will find that aspie super powers include an ability to fly .

Angst be gone....back to felting tomorrow .

Thursday, December 2, 2010

So many wet felting experiments, so little time...now what ?

 I hope all these pictures don't over whelm anyone's' computer . Do to the Holiday, I had extra time for crafting and decided to take advantage by trying some new experiments . I often see some really inspiring things on other felters blogs but have no idea of the techniques they use so I am trying to find my own way of achieving texture .
 Both the above pieces are made by layering silk bell caps, (dyed turquoise) with layers of very thin merino in salmon/orange and many shades of purple . The first picture is only one layer of merino with silk bells . I want to see how little fiber you can use and still get a durable piece of felt . The end result was about the thickness of store bought craft felt but with the extra strength and structure of the silk bells .

The second picture is a thicker layer of purples, silk bells and bits of orange merino laid over the bells . One thing I learned while doing this is that by grasping the edge of the bottom of the bell and pealing up a bit....then placing my hand inside the "bell" and pulling the top of the cap....I got a nicer result then just trying to peal from the bottom . It does take a bit of patience and lots of hand lotion to keep the silk from clinging to every microscopic skin callus .
 This is a side view to see the difference in how thick I laid down the fiber .
 Another experiment was to answer the question....can you stack wet felting and do twice as much at once ? Uhmmm, yes, but I'm not sure it is worth the trouble . This is how I did it ......

After laying down the first fibers on flat side of bubble wrap, (with bubbles against the towels ), I wet fiber with the lightly soapy water, laid down a second piece of bubble wrap , bubbles down and rubbed very lightly . I then laid on my second layer of fibers . My intention with the top layer of bubble wrap and fiber was to make a two layer "pre-felt"  . I laid down a layer of grey going one direction with tealish green in the other direction and on the second piece, I did purple on one side and blue on top of that . Using two different colors allows me to pick which color I want when I need some pre-felt . I still don't know if I felted this long enough to be called pre-felt but it held together .

I then wet downthe top layer and carefully rolled up the double thick bubble wrap fiber . This is where a very interesting ------(read frustrating), law of physics made it-self know . I understand this law but can't explain it.....(not rocket scientist) .  The part you need to know is that the inner/top layer will have extra bubble wrap sticking out and have to be readjusted as you roll to keep it from crinkling up . I just kept tugging the bubble wrap bottom to keep it flat . Sooooo......if you want to try this, just make sure that you don't lay the fiber to the very end of the bubble wrap but leave a good 9 inches bare that will then wrap around the whole thing when you start rolling it .

I rolled several time, opened the roll and readjusted and rolled some more . If you think the bottom layer needs a bit more water or realigning , just roll the top bubble wrap up by itself and set aside, wet bottom fiber and readjust as needed and then lay on the top bubble wrap again . Anyway, anyone actually read this...lol? it sort of works and did relieve my curiosity , which is the important thing for me .

 Here is the thicker three layer piece with merino+ silk bells +merino .It's thick enough to be made into a bag but still flexible enough to cut and sew into a hat or use as a scarf .
 The top and bottom pictures here are a completely different neck collar  or"mini-scarf with silk bells and red on one side and scraps of salmon chiffon well felted into merino on the other side . I don't think the red and salmon really worked together but I guess I like to make things that you can have two different colors on each side to pick which matches whatever your wearing .
 Below is the one layer of orange/salmon merino with silk bells on top....It turned out both flexible and durable which I was a bit surprised at....I thought you HAD to use two layers going opposite direction ? 
 Flexable and drapey ----(spell check says those aren't really words ? )
 The wonderful texture and shine of the silk as the wool felts and pulls it together.....I love how organic this looks ie my current obsession using silk bells .When putting the silk fibers on, just make sure that it is not to thick for the fiber to migrate though and felt down . Although the blue silk now looks solid, it started as very fine wisps of silk .

 This is both sides of the purple bottom with the silk bells on top side and salmon/orange wisps over silk .(Silk wool sandwich)
This is the back side with mostly puple and just bits of blue silk showing through .
 I think these are called "scarffetts " but have no idea how to spell that . I guess some people like that you can just stick them in your coat pocket and don't have to worry about your scarf tails dragging in the slush . This still needs a closure . It is light weight but warm with no holes for the wind to blow through like some knitted scarfs . I think this might be a bit to small though and am thinking of beading it and doubling it to make a cuff ,
 A much thicker and larger "scarffette"
 This was another "first" for me . Actually several firsts .

For one, I wanted to see what would happen using larger bubble, bubble wrap . What I wanted to do was lay down the fiber and sort of wiggle it around to expose the bubbles and create holes in the finished fabric . I've seen several felters with holes in their felt . I assumed that they were cutting the holes in when the fiber reached pre-felt stage and then continuing to felt and full piece to "heal" the cut edges . I just wanted to see if I could get a similar effect using a different method....(spoiler alert....Mine didn't look anything like theirs) . I did make some holes though, so some success . Some of them I filled with the orange alpaca "seconds" and some I left open . I really like the end effect though but rolling large bubble wrap really is frustrating and awkward . I think it was worth the trouble but be prepared to keep opening your roll and adjusting your fabric so it doesn't clump up unless that is an effect your going for .
The other firsts with this project was using some really lumpy fiber which I bought as "batts" but turned out to be little slugs....(the bits of fiber that you get from coming fiber and is usually used for stuffing .  Well, it does felt but it's impossible to really get an even layer for a nice scarf but works in this more abstract table topper .
Above are some of the "pre-felt" that I made for the felt fabric below . I cut out simple geometric shapes and placed them on top of 2 thin layers of merino . At first wetting and rolling I was afraid that they were not felting but adding lots of water and lots of rolling, they began merging and I really like the effect . I think this is my favorite felt for the week as it reminds me little organisms swimming in the sea . Perhaps the beginning of life on earth .

Below is the back side....darker and with no pre-felt but lots of organic shapes from the tye-dyed wool fiber.
I still don't know what i will end up doing with this but it's certainly large enough to sew up several computer bags or just be huge table topper ?
Below is just another bit of merino+silk bells scarf or I may cut it up to make dolls cloths .
This is about 3 thicker layers that I wanted to use to make a sewn hat with some fake fur...sewing?

I'm not sure what to make of this piece . It was dark wool before I dyed it and something close to Shetland, so not soft enough for a scarf...in my opinion . I hated it at first but it's growing on me and I think I might find something interesting to do with it .
Below is my first time working with kid mohair which feels almost as soft as alpaca but has a much tighter crimp . I think it makes the perfect embellishment for this needle felt wrist cuff....(then again, I'm kind of weird ).

Below are my needle felting for the week....nothing but buttons . I had several people ask me for buttons a the Shepherds Harvest festival last spring so I thought I should make some . If I ever open my Etsy store....(I mean, when), I will offer these as a craft supply . They are mostly free form, flat on one side and domed on top . I plan on sewing on a small metal ring to attach to bag or garments . A few are started by using a tiny cookie cutter form and then free needle felting a bit more shape to the petals . Anyway, they take 20min and are a fun and mindless project while watching TV .
I played around using different fiber...mohair, silk, merino...different style (my favorite is the free form one of course ) .
Below is the new addition to my craft pile....some much needed cotton thread for helping me turn my stash of wet felt fabric into bags, hats, cuffs, etc . Look for some sewing felt projects in the next few weeks and have fun with your own experimenting !

Monday, November 22, 2010

Needle felt bear and trick for cleaning wool

Well, this is the latest addition to my felted furry family posing in front of some washed wool that will likely go into making more fuzzy friends . I will try and get a more scenic picture of him if the sun ever returns to MN .
.....and.....TaaDaa....this is my genius invention for washing wool when you don't have a washing machine to scour it . Submerged in the tub is about 3 pds of some Icelandic wool I bought in Hopkins a few weeks ago . It had very little VM but was very odoriferous . Icelandic has less lanolin then many other wools so I thought I would give washing it a try .

I began by cleaning the bathtub and then filled it with the hottest water we have...to hot for hands I but didn't bother with a thermometer so not sure of actual temp .

I added some Dharma Synthropol and a little Original Dawn and mixed this about .

I them upended my wool bag onto some plastic screening that I bought at a garage sale....it's the kind that you would use for a screen door . Pores are large enough to let water through but small enough to keep the wool bits out of our drain . The size was about two feet larger then the top of the tub when it was submerged and I was lucky that it happened to be pre-cut to that size .

I then gathered the wool filled screen  like a ruck sack and slowly submerged it in the water . Having it compacted into the ruck sack shape helps keep it from agitating to much .

I held the sides of the plastic screening onto the top of the tub ledges with some shampoo bottles but magnets would also work well .

I let the whole thing simmer in tub for 30 min and then gatherd into ruck sack shape again and pressed the water out and while compacted (to avoid felting fibers before I'm ready to), rinsed it with my hand help shower head . I then refilled the tub with fresh water and soap . I did this 3X but basically you just want your last water to be clear and not brown .

After I thought it was clean enough, I again ruck sacked it= gathering in all edges, and rinsed with the hand held shower head and when finished squeezed out as much water as I could . I placed the bundle on a piece of fire place screen that I used as a display at a craft show but I really need to go to the garage and get out the other 2 sections so I can spread the wool out a bit more for drying . It's about 30 degrees out side right now, so that's not an option but I am considering putting a bit in the oven to see what happens and using a blow drier to experiment with drying it faster....mouldy wool does not sound pleasant .  Wish me luck .

Anyway, I wouldn't want to be doing this for a living but it is "doable" and modern technology....(running water, shower heads, plastic screening) make it bearable when you can't afford the fancy prewashed wool . I have to say it is much easier then trying to wash a cat.....(no claws) .

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