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Archive for the ‘felting’ Category

sitting in a tree…

alyssa and justin (sitting in a tree)

One of my latest projects: a felted tote, requested by my mother-in-law as a gift for my new sister-in-law (whose initials were A. R. and has recently wed a certain J. B.).  Justin and Alyssa were married two weeks ago today and the wedding was, hands-down, the most beautiful I’ve ever, ever seen.  So happy for you two!  So glad to have another sister in the family.  Also, so thrilled you guys are moving to Virginia.

As I have a certain obsession with creating trees on wool bags from bits of fiber and as Alyssa has a certain obsession with climbing any and all trees, the whimsy design for this bag was easy to dream up and create.  Their initials in a heart on a spring-time folk artsy tree.  Some pink and purple flowers growing tall.  Fanciful words to add laughter and interest.

these two are in love.

close-up of flowers, see? also, some stitching along a seam.

i know these leaves don't exist in real life. just in my head.

And maybe my favorite little detail… the branches and leaves follow to the reverse side of the bag (see picture below).  The bag was wet-felted in one piece with wool from an Oxford sheep raised somewhere nearby, Virginia.  With a bit of embroidery around the seams, I finished the edges then needle felted the above picture(s) to the face of the tote with bits of dyed wool fibers.  I love needle felting; the possibilities abound.  It’s sort of like painting, but less messy and more controlled.  For more on these processes, please see this post.

detail of leaves: front, side and back of bag

putting this wool tote to good use.

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awakening bag

awakening bag for a literary girl

A few days ago I finished the last details on another wet-felted bag similar to my I dare not leave you at home because I love you too much Bronte bag.  Like the Bronte bag, the Awakening bag was wet-felted in one piece, no sewing or seaming.  The process of wet-felting takes a good portion of a day.  Luckily the day I choose was partly cloudy with very little sweltering sun.  Our house has a potting area on the back deck perfect for sloshing around hot and cold water, soap and fuzz for hours and hours.  And so I did.

awakening bag itself, on an old trunk

edging detal

I embellished the edges with a pale two-ply cotton tread for a slightly more finished look.  The bag is a bit smaller than Bronte, just large enough for a good-sized book, car keys, a phone and other necessities.  The individual I made it for was interested in something Kate Chopin and opted for an oceanic motif.  Hence, the author’s name along with shells washed in by waves on a shore, all in dark and subtle tones (like the book itself; have you read it?).

kate chopin among conch shells and starfish

The design is needle felted on one side of the bag.  Needle felting is rapidly poking dyed wool bits onto the body of the bag (or whatever wool medium is being used) over and over again with a notched needle (slightly hazardous to my left hand fingers) until the fibers are securely affixed.  Creating such bags is a joy and I will detail others that are in the works, along with felted slippers and sweet trinkets, once complete.

quite useful, if I may say so myself.

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bronte bag

brontë bag on crackled table w/ measuring cups

My life changed after I made this bag.  Really, it did.  The Brontë bag is the product of my first formal post-college higher education.  I took a seven-hour workshop on wet and needle felting at the Shenandoah Fall Fiber Festival in September given by a wonderful instructor named Nan.  From this day, I walked away more skilled and with a stellar tote; what could be better?  This type of further education, my own style of graduate school, is what I want to pursue.  This is what I need more of.

dreaming in wuthering heights tones

The Brontë Bag is made from creamy-color llama wool in roving form (roving is soft, loose wool after it’s cleaned and carded and before it’s spun into yarn).  With the help of water, Ivory soap, cardboard, some patience and some love, the cream portion of the bag was created.  It is all once piece; there is no sewing.  I model it in the picture above and below, pretending to be out in some unique used bookstore when really I’m just in our rain room, showing you all how the bag is worn.  Over the chest and one shoulder, of course.  As if you had any doubts.

wuthering heights? jane eyre? villette (if I knew french)?

The brown tree and blue owl are also creations of my brain with the help of my hands, a bit of green foam and a felting needle (a long, sharp needle with tiny notches that catch the fibers on top, send them down through the fibers below and secure them there).  Felting is basically treating fibers so they can interact and intertwine with one another to produce a solid, strong and sturdy object (be it a bag, a sheet of “fabric,” a ball, or anything else one can dream up).  Many people loosely knit wool yarn with big needles and send the product to the washing machine for shrinking and felting.  Wet and needle felting is a similar concept, except instead of yarn, roving is used.  And instead of using the agitation from a machine, electricity and fossil fuels, the hands are used.

So brown tree and blue owl.  Please, think of the wild moors Cathy and Heithcliff roamed in Wuthering Heights.  Or think of the lightening-struck tree on the grounds of Rochester’s Thornfield Manor (Jane Eyre).  I’m pretty sure there were no blue owls in these books, but a bit of randomness can’t hurt, right?  Anyway, I have a belief and I’ve had it for a while: there is much too little literary fan ware out there.  Charlotte and Emily Brontë, I love to read your books. When wearing this bag, so many people (um, always women) strike up conversations about these authors.  I think this bag draws out kindred spirits.

blue blue owl

And how did this bag change my life?  Through this process, I realized things.  First, I saw that there are so many untapped opportunities to learn other fiber arts and so much more for me to learn (!).  I couldn’t spend more time not doing this.  Second, this workshop expanded my skill set such that it gave me just enough confidence to leave an office job and strike out on my own.  Thicket and Thimble maybe started this day in September, too.  Lastly, the bag itself: a purse can change your life, any girl knows that.  This one is soft, interesting, has no zippers or buttons or unnecessary pockets.  It just is.  I love to wear it.  I really do.  And I know it will wear well for years (it’s llama wool; wool is magic, maybe also are llamas).

This concludes the post series seven projects from the recent past.  Brontë bag, thank you for being you.

post script:  Ryan just realized that the letters of his name rearranged can spell Yarn.  Creepy destiny!

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a felted, sewn and buttoned clutch

Object three in the memorable projects of the past series (whose name keeps changing) is a thicket and thimble original, the broadripple felted clutch.  This clutch was created for a friend who requested handmade wedding gifts for her and her husband-to-be.  Hence, a practical and monogrammed accessory (her newly acquired initials can be seen in the smallish picture below).

The majority of this clutch was made with a dreamy piece of light, light periwinkle felt that was purchased at our downtown Harrisonburg farmer’s market.  It is an angora/wool blend, hand-dyed and hand-felted.   The details (leaves, letters, flowers) were cut from wool thrift store sweaters I shrunk in the wash for this purpose.  Buttons are vintage, some even mother of pearl, and the zipper was salvaged from the sewing section of our local thrift store.  This store often even carries embroidery thread, which I used to stitch the embellishments (construction of the clutch was done on the once-my-mothers-but-now-mine sewing machine).

The broadripple felted clutch measures roughly 5 x 12 inches.  It can hold monies, keys, cell phones, make-up things, pencils, sewing equipment, you name it.  Kristen, I hope you find many uses for this clutch as often as your heart desires.

clutch me!, oh and look closely

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singers glen scarf

singers glen scarf against a green wall

A dear former co-worker’s husband commissioned me to make the scarf  for his wife from their own sheep’s wool, as a Christmas gift.

The wool delivered to me was raw, caked with dirt and lanolin, peppered with thorns and twigs, acting as a cozy home to ticks and larvae of some variety (I really do not know my larvae varieties).   I found Fuzzy Galore to be a very helpful site in explaining the delicate washing process and washed the wool using our bathtub and three mesh lingerie bags.

Useful bit of information to be remembered next time: before washing raw wool, trim off the ends of the locks that are way, way too dirty to ever be used in the final product.  This will cut down on soaking time and will leave the tub less crummy.

Not having a mesh sweater dryer or wishing to invest in one, I rigged up an alternative system for drying the wool after it was thoroughly clean: window screens placed over open boxes.  This allowed air to get to all sides of the wool and helped the drying process move along.  Once it was completely dry, I spent many nights carding (and carding, and carding) and was finally ready to wet-felt the wool.

Wet-felting took place in our basement!  I learned the process during a workshop at the Fall Fiber Festival this past September and can definitely recommend this event and training to all.  Once the proper amounts of hot and cold water, soap, and agitation were applied over a number of hours, a scarf-shaped piece of felt began to emerge from the suds.  Like a phoenix from the ashes.  Well, sort of.  Anyway, when I was happy with the tightness of the newly interlocking fibers, the scarf was allowed to rest and air-dry for a day.

scarf detail (note the roving, french knots, buttons)

Finishing touches were then applied by needle felting mocha and black pencil roving, sewing on vintage buttons and randomly arranging chocolate and ivory embroidery thread (I love french knots!).  Lastly, I affixed the scarf to a soft and sturdy ivory backing.

Thus, the Singers Glen Scarf.  And I hear Susan wears this in the office.

full view for you to see

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