Tag Archives for " felting "

Fridays with Franklin: More Fun with Felt

fwf-logo-columnsizeFor an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

With preparations for our February 2019 Victorian Knit-Along running at full steam, this is going to be a brief (but breathless) edition of “Fridays with Franklin.”

I found some time to continue work on the artfelt upholstery project that began here.

If you’re not familiar with artfelt, there’s a whole lot of information (and a link to Karin Skacel’s how-to video) in that column.

This time, I was determined to avoid ending up with too little fabric to cover the cushion. I cut out a piece of artfelt paper the full size of my felting mat–nearly two-and-half feet square.

Out came the artfelt roving, and I started laying it out with no particular pattern in mind. Last time, I tried a floral and was extremely taken with the results. This time, I started with sort-of stripes.

stripe-roving

The roving naturally pulled apart into what you might call wedges, sections with a fat end and a tapered end. So as I worked across the paper I started to let the shape of the wedge determine the shape of the next splash of color.

wedges-roving
The visual energy in the piece grew.

wedge-progress

Once I’d finished covering the paper, I stepped back and was absolutely gobsmacked by the result.

paper-covered
It’s not that it was a flash of genius. Not but any means.

It just didn’t look like what I think of as my style.

I have many shortcomings as a designer, and near the top of the list is a certain timidity. This was so bold, I would have sworn someone else had done it. Surprising. Exciting.

paper-covered-closeup
I often say, and I’ll say it again, that when a medium is new to you, it’s a good idea to let the medium tell you what it likes to do before you try to tell it what to do.

About 45 minutes of tumbling in a low-heat dryer gave me a beautiful fabric which was–again!–smaller than estimated, but large enough to be useful.

artfelt-felted

I try not to use the word “magic” in here. But that’s how the transformation feels. I love the way all those separate fibers on a sheet of paper become a length of fabric. I love the way the process reactivates the natural crimp (waviness) of the wool.

I could have gone ahead with the upholstery after the felt was dry…but no. A friend sent me some snapshots of a cushion her great-grandmother had embroidered with silks in the early 20th century. The cushion was ragged, badly in need of conservation, but still undeniably gorgeous.

And I was conceived of an irresistible desire to embroider the felt with silk.

Happily, Makers’ Mercantile has a line of hand-dyed embroidery silks that you can buy in small, reasonably priced bundles. So I went nuts and ordered a dozen different colorways.

silk-embroidery-floss
The pure mulberry silk itself is so divine that I’ve started working it into the swirls and wedges in small running stitch, about the simplest embroidery stitch there is.

embroidery-01
Where is this going? What’s it going to look like when it’s complete? I…um…I don’t know.

emb-progress
Right now, I’m about the furthest out I’ve ever been, doing something wholly unlike me. It’s not just fun, it’s exhilarating. I don’t want to stop. So I’m not going to.

For better or worse, I’ll show the results next time we meet.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t yet bought your skein of Infinito to join in our merry knit-along, there’s still time. We set out on February 1, 2019. It’s going to be grand. Full details are here.

feb-kal-2019-websize

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

artfelt paper
artfelt wool roving
Makers’  Mercantile Pure Mulberry Silk for Embroidery
Zitron Infinito (100% extra fine merino, 550 yards [500m] per 100g hank), sample is shown in Colorway 2

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue KnittingYarn Market News, Interweave KnitsInterweave CrochetPieceWorkTwist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Follow Franklin online via Twitter (@franklinhabit), Instagram (@franklin.habit), his Web site (franklinhabit.com) or his Facebook page.

1 Fridays with Franklin: Hotter, Wetter, Bigger

fwf-logo-columnsizeFor an introduction to what goes on in this column, click here.

For the first part of this series, click here.

Those two weird little scraps of artfelt were encouraging, if less than beautiful.

 

fwf-79-piece01-finished

One of the two test scraps. It’s a start.

You ought never to allow wobbly first attempts at anything discourage you from doing more. The first question to ask is, “Did I enjoy myself? Or, at least, do I think with practice I might enjoy myself?”

If the answer is yes, the next question is, “What shall I do now?”

I already had a goal, of course, which was to felt some yardage to reupholster this little footstool.

fwf-79-footstool

Taking it apart wasn’t difficult. The outer fabric was tacked down, and not very elegantly.

stool-01

Beneath that was what may have been the original fabric–a funereal floral brocade in ratty shape, smelling distinctly of nicotine. It’s probably haunted.

stool-02

Beneath that, happily, was the padding–in fine condition, and not smelling of anything nasty. I let it air outdoors for a few hours, which my grandmother always recommended for any textile that had been covered or boxed up for a long time.

stool-03

While that was going on, I considered the new fabric. What should it look like? This stool will be next to my knitting chair in the living room. Here are some vignettes of the décor as it is.

montage
As you can see, my tastes run to the slick, the radical, the avant garde.

Ha ha ha. No. My house looks like it was decorated by someone’s prissy-yet-mildly-adventurous Great-Great-Great-Aunt Tillie, who had the largest collection of doilies in the tri-county area.

Why not try to felt a design reminiscent of those arabesques and curlicues and fantastic flowers in the carpet?

So I sketched (roughly) something of the sort on the artfelt paper. Nobody told me a I couldn’t, so I did. If you had a light box, or even just window, you could trace designs on the paper.

drawing
The dimensions of the artfelt paper, by the way, were based on the dimensions of the original upholstery fabric–about 17 inches by 14 inches.

measure-paper
Based on the shrinkage I’d measured in my test swatches,  I added an additional two inches either way so the finished fabric would be large enough for the stool.

I wasn’t sure exactly how to build the design, so I decided to start by outlining the motif with the background color. This is the way I was taught to hook rugs. Rug hooking and felting are not the same thing at all, but it seemed like a logical place to start.

felt-outline

I jabbed my fingertip once with that felting needle. I shall try very hard never to do it again.

That went fine, so I got down to filling in the flowers (?) and leaves (?) and buds (?). I used the sketch as a rough guide, while also allowing the wool to go where it wanted to.

felting-01

felting-02
Please don’t go nuts trying to figure out the botanical name of this plant, because it’s an utter fantasy.

felting-03

felting-04

In case you’re wondering, this didn’t take long at all. I allowed myself breaks, and left the house to do errands and walk Rosamund, and still it was finished in an easy afternoon.

felting-05

At this point, I wobbled. I was pleased with bits of it. The curves came out better than I’d expected. I liked the colors. It even resembled, somewhat, a flower.

But it was so furry. Unpleasantly so. Like someone had done terrible things to a beloved pet with hair dye.

I soaked it, wrapped it, and popped it into the dryer for thirty minutes (see the previous installment for more detail on the artfelt process).

Then I forgot about it.

It would have been sensible to put it into one of the dryer’s timed settings, so that the dryer would buzz after, say, the first fifteen minutes. Then I could unroll it and check the progress.

No. No, I didn’t do that. For reasons I cannot begin to explain (that will be the title of both my autobiography and the miniseries based upon it) I put the dryer on a setting that just keeps on chugging until you tell it to stop.

That’s not a great idea when you have, as I do, the persistence of memory of a goldfish.

So, one hour and twenty minutes later…

finished-01

I cannot say I was displeased. In fact, I was so pleased I did a dance. I am beginning to understand why so many people love felting.

finished-02

I try like the dickens not to use the word “magic,” as we fibery types fling it around way too much. But this change in the material did feel–alchemical. The bizarre patch of wet fuzz had become rather a pretty piece of fabric, looking somewhat like watercolor. And all I had done was spin it in the tumble dryer.

finished-03
It was also two inches two short in both directions to cover the frigging footstool.

finished-04
On the one hand, this is immensely frustrating.

On the other hand, I get to do some more artfelt.  I’ll show it to you next time we meet. See you in two weeks!

Tools and Materials Appearing in This Issue

Makers’ Mercantile Felter’s Wool Roving (50g hanks)
Bryson Felting Needle #38 gauge, 3 1/2 inch
artfelt Paper
artfelt Tackboard

About Franklin

Designer, teacher, author and illustrator Franklin Habit is the author of It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons (Interweave Press, 2008). His newest book, I Dream of Yarn: A Knit and Crochet Coloring Book was brought out by Soho Publishing in May 2016 and is in its second printing.

He travels constantly to teach knitters at shops and guilds across the country and internationally; and has been a popular member of the faculties of such festivals as Vogue Knitting Live!, STITCHES Events, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, Squam Arts Workshops, the Taos Wool Festival, Sock Summit, and the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

Franklin’s varied experience in the fiber world includes contributions of writing and design to Vogue KnittingYarn Market News, Interweave KnitsInterweave CrochetPieceWorkTwist Collective; and a regular columns and cartoons for Mason-Dixon Knitting, PLY Magazine, Lion Brand Yarns, and Skacel Collection/Makers’ Mercantile. Many of his independently published designs are available via Ravelry.com.

He is the longtime proprietor of The Panopticon, one of the most popular knitting blogs on the Internet (presently on hiatus).

Franklin lives in Chicago, Illinois, cohabiting shamelessly with 15,000 books, a Schacht spinning wheel, four looms, and a colony of yarn that multiplies whenever his back is turned.

Follow Franklin online via Twitter (@franklinhabit), Instagram (@franklin.habit), his Web site (franklinhabit.com) or his Facebook page.

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