Thursday, 10 September 2015

Nuno Felting with Felt the Fluff

It has been much to long since I have written a blog post BUT here I am and here is the wonderful felting workshop that we put on with Eli from Felt the Fluff! (you can check out more of Eli's fabulous creations on her Etsy site) 

We started out the day by getting to pick out our materials! We were learning the technique of Nuno Felting, which Wikipedia defines as:  a technique that bonds loose fibre, usually wool, into a sheer fabric such silk gauze, creating a lightweight felt. Eli had a fantastic bin that was brimming with colours and textures that we got to choose from. We had several gauze options: a silk gauze, a cotton gauze, or no gauze at all. Technically the non-gauze option is just regular wet felting, but as it creates a different fabric in the end some of us did choose that option. I, of course went for the silk! I love silk, I love it in yarn, I love it fibre, and I love it just by itself! If I could afford to have my entire wardrobe done in silk I would. 

Once we had all picked our base materials (which believe me took quite some time!) we got down to business. 

silk and wool togther forever!

Not only did we work with silk gauze but we also got to work with silk hankies (also known as silk mawata) and silk sliver (which is basically just silk put into a roving format). The silk itself doesn't felt so you have to encase it in wool. The wool grabs onto itself on either side of the silk and secures it into the fabric. Not only does it add colour but it adds a neat crinkly texture to the piece. 

Creating the perfect design.
Looking great!
Once you have your first layers of fibre laid out the real fun begins, it is time to add the water, the soap, and the agitation! Though there are just as many ways to felt as there are to cast on we put a layer of bubble wrap (bubbles up!), then our fibre, then another layer of bubble wrap (bubbles down!), and then we took a felting tool (designed by Eli herself) and gently rubbed all along the length of the scarf. We also spritzed the whole thing with water and a bit of soap which is key to making the whole process a success. 

giving her scarf some extra agitation on a boot mat!
Sometimes you need more then one person to get a
handle on the darn thing!

Felting can be hard work but the pay off is so worth it! I think the biggest thing I learned in the class is that no matter how carefully you lay out your initial design it isn't going to stay that way! You definitely have to get comfortable letting go of your control and let the wool do what it is going to do. You can never really predict how the fibres are going to felt and latch on to each other.

The finished product is absolutely beautiful don't you think?

We will be hosting a second felting workshop with Eli on October 18, 2015. This time Eli will be teaching us how to do felted hats, bags, or slippers! For more information check out our website here.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Knitting in Public

Last Saturday was World Wide Knit In Public Day (WWKIP) and over here at Intwined Fibre Arts we decided that we should hold an event (in concert with our local Art Gallery) and a Photo Contest!
The day was a great success! We had over 20 come down and enjoy the day knitting and spinning on the lawn of the Art Gallery. It was a great reminder of how nice our fibre loving community is in Salmon Arm.
Our Photo Contest was also a success and really showcased how much we knitters and crocheters get to take our work on the go! 
Saralea was the winner of our contest! She likes to take her knitting camping:) 

Gabbi is a long time Shuswap Spinners and Weavers member who now lives in Campbell River! Her she is taking her knitting out on the sail boat to sail the high seas!

here is Devony Turner taking her knitting on the school bus!
Like Mother, like daughter here is Ky Turner knitting while waiting for Gymnastics to be over... 

We are pretty lucky here in the Shuswap and we can even take our knitting to the beach like Christina Harisch does. 

and if you are really really lucky you can even sneak some knitting in when you are away at a work conference like Adrienne does ;) 

Happy knitting and crafting all over the place!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

How to Make a Giant PomPom!

Start with a ball of yarn. This shape works the best, I am using Hayfield's Chunky with Wool, which is a wool/acrylic blend.

Tie a piece of string right around the middle of the ball (I like to use a piece of the yarn that I am making the pompom from). If you are planning on hanging your pompom make sure that the string is long enough. 

Make sure to tie extra tight! This is what will hold your pompom together, it is important!
Here comes the scary part, start cutting! 

Cut both ends of the ball, trying to catch all of the strands. Make sure not to cut the string that is tied around the middle. 

It will now look like a giant mess, so you need to start trimming the pompom to give it some shape. 

Trim, trim, trim!

Give that centre string another good pull to make sure it is secure.

Take one last look at the pompom to catch any stray strings that are too long. I also like to give the pompom a good shake at this point to knock out any loose strings. 

And there you have it, a giant pompom! 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Learning to Spin

Learning to Spin

I have to start this post with an admission, I have been around spinning wheels my entire life and I have definitely done it many times before so the title of this post is a little bit misleading. However I have never really spent any time learning the actual techniques of spinning! My mother is a very seasoned spinner and fibre artist so even after all this time I was taking for granted how much work and time goes into the art of spinning!   I mean I thought I was learning and understanding what to do, but I have never really had much success at it (funny that ;) ) So a couple of weeks ago after attending a Mother's Day Fibre Fair at a local historical ranch ( O'Keefe) I decided that I had better get a hang of spinning for real this time and what fun it has been! There really isn’t anything like fibre flowing through your fingers to create a beautiful new yarn!

Here I am re-learning how to spin. I am spinning on a double treadle Lendrum and that is a Spinoution Hopper wheel next to me. 
First off I decided to use my Lendrum wheel, it is the wheel that I learned on and although I like spinning on Mom’s Spinolution Hopper I wanted to stick to something comfortable.  There are many, many different kinds of wheels, and like any tool certain wheels different wheel are used to make different kinds of yarn. In the shop I carry Spinolution and Schacht because between the two companies they offer a wide range of spinning styles.

The Spinoution Hopper definitely has a modern look
The Lendrum - A beautiful Canadian made wheel

I wanted to focus on making a nice smooth and consistent yarn. I wanted to ply it with itself because I love that look, but in order to achieve that it needs to be thin. My first attempt was a little rocky. I used plain white roving and clearly I was having tension issues. The yarn turned out hard and over-spun.  I was so displeased and frustrated with my results that I didn't even take a picture of it! At this point I was feeling that I should be able to do this better. I have probably spent hundreds of hours watching people spin so I was thinking why can't I do it better! Well practice makes perfect I guess and so I continued. 

I decided that in order to keep myself interested I needed to get some nicer roving, so I switched to this scrumptious hand-dyed 100% merino top (what can I say, I own a yarn shop! I am a yarn snob and I can most definitely tell the difference in quality). This stuff was a dream to use, so soft and silky. This yarn also turned out thick and thin and a bit over spun but it was an improvement from the first go around. Mom reminded me that I needed to pull (or draft) with only one hand not both at once. If you pull just from one direction then you get a more consistent grouping of fibers that makes for a smoother yarn.

Thick and thin and a bit over spun. It is still a lovely yarn to make a hat with!

For my next attempt I used some pretty purple Ashland Bay 100% Merino Top that I carry in the shop. It was very similar spinning to the pink hand-dyed, this time though I spent a bit more time concentrating on my drafting and I realized that I was pedaling to quickly and that was resulting in my over spinning! I am much happier with the result of the purple and I was even able to spin it fine enough to ply it!

What a ball of un-spun fibre looks like.
The nice loose fibres just waiting to be spun into yarn!
After the first spin. This is called a Single-Ply.

The finished product! I was so pleased

My most recent attempt is my favourite thus far! I used an Art Batt that my mom created just for me. J It is a combination of hand-dyed merinos with a bit of sparkly Angelina thrown in. 

What it looks like making an Art Batt on a carder.

Batts are a bit different from roving or tops to spin, but after some pre-drafting I actually found it a bit easier to deal with then the fine merino top. I found that because it wasn’t as highly processed as that the fibres didn’t slip through my fingers quite so quickly and I was able to control the whole process with more ease.  Once plied the majority of the yarn looks just the way I intended it. There are few spots that are a bit thick and underspun but I happen to think that the extra texture adds to its beauty and shows that it is handspun, rather then spun on a machine.

My favourite so far. 
Overall I really did enjoy this process and I am going to continue to work on my skills. There are so many fibres and add-ins to try that i don't think I will tire of it anytime soon! Happy Spinning everyone :) 

Monday, 25 May 2015

The First Real FAT Paint Project!

The First Real FAT Paint Project 

The shop started carrying FAT Paint back in September and although I have done several small furniture pieces since then I feel like this was the first time I took on real project all by myself!
The idea was to create a nice bright piece for my next baby themed window display (you can check out the finished window at 81 Hudson Ave). We found our old doll highchair kicking around my parent’s place, which is really a full sized high chair with the legs cut off and thought it was the perfect thing for a FAT Paint project.

The original piece, a little rough but still usable!

Though the piece was in decent shape it had been painted so many times that the pressed design on the back was almost gone so that is where I started. After an initial all over sanding I used a small chisel to etch out the design. This worked moderately well, the edges were not a smooth as I had imagined but I ended up liking the look anyways. The paint chipped and created a much more rustic look. ( I usually deplore the chronic over use of the word rustic but in this case I think it is the good descriptor).

pressed back design after it has been etched from the layers of paint!

Second step was to apply the first layer of colour. This is the part that I find the most exciting and probably the most exciting! I went with Tuscan Yellow (check out the full FAT Paint colour palette here) which, if I do say so myself, was the perfect choice! It is a nice bright yellow that pops in the window, but has some depth in its reddish undertones.  If you have used FAT Paint before you will know that it is so easy to apply.  I just used my basic ProPainter brush set and kept a damp cloth handy!  The only spot on the chair that  gave me any trouble at all was the back spindles but that is entirely to do with my novice painting skills and not the paints fault! I wanted to achieve a full coverage matte look and after the first coat was dry it was clear that I needed  to apply a second coat.

Clearly it needs a second coat 

Once the second coat was applied and lightly sanded with 220 sandpaper, I realized that the pressed back design was not popping out enough for my liking. I already had decided that I was going to use the new Clear Coat so I decided that I should use the newest product in the FAT paint line Glaze! (The FAT paint glazes will be available in 4 colours – white, raw sienna, brown, and grey/black – unfortunately they aren’t available to the public yet BUT you can achieve a similar look by tinting your clear coat!)

Amazing new clear coat! 

the new glaze colours
 that isn't actually the brown glaze on the far right

Applying the clear coat was a dream, it goes on so smoothly and it goes so far! I was using a sample sized jar and only used about a third of it.  After letting the clear coat completely dry (about 20 minutes in the sun) I popped open my jar of white glaze and gave it a quick stir.  The only experience I have had with applying a glaze up until this point was at the FAT Paint Retailers Training workshop I attended last month and the one thing that Brad (FAT paint extraordinaire himself) impressed upon us it that you have to move FAST when working with a glaze. Unlike FAT Paint, FAT glaze dries quickly and once it is dry you aren’t moving it! So armed with my damp cloth for wiping off excess and my limited knowledge I dove in! I only used the glaze on the pressed design and on the dreaded back spindles. I wanted the glaze to emphasize the pressed design and add a little interest to the piece. 

Finished piece! Ready to go in the window 

Guess what? As you can see it turned out brilliantly and that is the best part about FAT Paint anyone can do it!  

Monday, 9 June 2014

Summertime Knitting

            Having taken the last little while away from knitting (gasp) and focusing on my responsibilities at our local theatre I am excited to get back to my lovely world of fibre. To my surprise it has become summer in the last couple of weeks, which begs the question what do you knit in the summer time? Some people just give up knitting, cold turkey, claiming that it is too hot to even consider holding wool! I however have a stronger addiction then that and can feel my fingers beginning to itch for the needles.  The first thing that I do in the summer is switch patterns. I go for shawls mainly, with a few knit animals and other non-wearable knits thrown in for good measure. I don’t want to have a half finished sweater draped over my lap in 30C weather anymore then the next person!

My current lace weight pattern available on Raverly.
knitted animals are a fun, small, summer project.

            The next step I take is going with a lighter weight yarn. If you have been trying to work up the courage to use that gorgeous skein of lace weight purchased last December now is the time! Challenge yourself and you will end up with something lovely and light to wear on those long August days because lets be honest it is going to take you until August to finish anything in lace weight!

Trust me, get away from those big bulky wools!

  Next, change fibers! My alpaca and wooly wools go back on the shelf and out come the cottons, silks, bamboos and the linens. It is summer and my articles of clothing need to be able to breathe. Be aware that these fibers have different qualities then wool and will behave differently when knit. These are all heavier fibers that have a lot more drape then most wools. They also tend to stretch out after a long day of wear. This is because the individual fibre strands don’t have the same amount of crimp that wool does. It is the crimp that lets wool keep it shape. You run into this problem using fibres like alpaca as well, don't worry there is an easy fix! Make sure to look at the suggested yarn your pattern is calling for and look specifically for patterns that are designed to be made with cottons etc.

                Merino wool with lots of crimp
                           Tussah silk with zero crimp

The last thing I do is take my knitting outside! I almost always take my knitting everywhere with me and that doesn’t stop in the summer. I throw it in my hiking backpack, my beach bag and the car for road trips. It may be summer and it may be hot outside, but I’m certainly not putting down my needles any time soon.

Mountain top knitting!