Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wool Works In Progress

Winter temperatures rekindle my dormant desire to play with yarns.  Handling wool fibers warm my hands and work stiff hand joints. My project below is presently in limbo so I thought I'd share some history in the meantime.
Machine felted wool crocheted rectangles made from needlepoint kit yarns.

My friend Ramona is a prolific, extremely accomplished hand quilter and knitter.  Years ago, her beautifully felted purses sparked my interest in wool felting. She graciously shared her felting process using a washing machine, which joyfully eliminates laborious hand felting and leads to near instant results.  Ramona gifted me with a bag full of wool yarns she scrounged from garage sale needlepoint kits, knowing I'd eventually do something with them.  This project has been evolving since then in stages.

I'm not a knitter.  Although I've attempted knitting a few times since childhood, I found crochet less frustrating, quicker and readily adaptable for the large flat items I usually make.  Imagine my delight discovering I could achieve relatively similar results with felted crochet instead of knitted wool.

Results vary according to wool fiber choices and the amount of machine washing done.  Since I'm not an expert in this field by any stretch of the imagination, all my attempts have been strictly experimental and surprisingly satisfying.  The main 'recipe' for machine felting is using 80 to 100% wool fibers (not the type that won't shrink), hot soapy water just enough to cover the wool in the machine, and high machine agitation.  Repeat as necessary to get the shrinkage required.  Hand block and air dry on a flat surface.  It truly is as simple as it sounds.
Tentative layout for a possible rug, wall hanging or perhaps a couple of throw pillows.
The rectangles were crocheted by tying short yarns end to end, then each crocheted block was edged with the same orange wool yarn prior to felting.  The orange introduced a unifying element amidst the chaos of color.  After machine felting, I hand blocked each square, scissor trimmed the knots and loose ends that didn't fully recede in the felting process, and laid all the blocks on my plastic folding table to dry.  Final results will be posted hopefully before the trees start budding!

"Time and Tide Wait For No Man"
Most of my early felted pieces were made into small purses and hand sized pouches. The foundation of the mixed media art wall hanging shown above  resulted from a failed purse attempt. It pays to never give up. Honest!  (That's a SOLD sticker on the art tag).

A small zippered pouch with button and bead embellishments.  The shoulder bag is densely constructed of double strand crochet. I used recycled silk and wool together.  I love the texture.
 Noro yarn from Japan is so luxurious. The subtle blend of color transitions occur naturally when the yarn is stitched.  If my recollection is correct, I used two different skeins which gives the purse a reversible appearance.  This purse is lined and velcro closes at the top.  The handle is a kumihimo braid with a beaded strand added in for glitz and drama.
According to my research, these Striped Flint agates are only found in Poland and are supposedly pretty rare.  I wonder? There's 7 right here on this purse. Well, I'd never seen them before I bought this strand in a local bead shop.  They were too pretty to separate.

A rosette was squeaked out of the remaining purse lining fabric. Drape a few miscellaneous fibers left from the handle and voila! A versatile look, pretty enough to dress up or down with.
Here's more felted skeins of Noro yarn in the process of becoming something wonderful, someday.  The two clutches need embellishments.

Creases are visible from folding before drying them as purse shapes.  I pinned them open for viewers to read how one skein of Noro blends so beautifully.
That's it for the winter woolies.  Hope everyone in cold country is staying warm and cozy.  If not, it's time to play with wool!

1 comment:

  1. What fun to see these, Judy! You are so versatile. I've been collecting small pieces of wool to work into a quilt someday. So many "somedays"!