Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Handmade (nuno) Felt

Making felt the wet method (not by knitting or needle felting) is such a fascinating process.  After all the felted garments, bags, and scarves I made, I'm still so excited by this process. It is almost magical!

I start with a piece of silk chiffon that is about 30% larger than the finished size I want.  Then I layer predyed wool roving, which is unspun wool fiber, over it in 2 layers, each layer perpendicular to the other.  Then I layer on whatever embellishment I want- but it has to be something that will felt into the base layer of roving.  Yarn that is composed of mostly wool will work, as long as it is not superwash, which doesn't shrink when washed.  Other animal fibers such as silk and alpaca work also.

Below is my 24" square before I wet it down.  I used shades of brown, tan, grey, and cream.  The shinier bits are actually unspun silk fiber.

I then cover it with a nylon curtain, which doesn't absorb water, and wet the whole piece thoroughly with soapy water.  Then the felting process begins- lots of agitation, which makes the fibers migrate into the weave of the silk, and interlock with each other.  It's like putting a wool sweater in the washing machine- except it's done by hand so that the placement of the fibers isn't disturbed.

Below is the piece after felting, when it's still wet. It shrunk down to 18"!  I'm going to make it into a pillow.
 You'll have to take the class to find out how the magic happens!
Class schedule is at http://www.nonpareilstudioa2.com/.

Here are a few more examples of nuno felt

The wool is on the inside! I left the edges unfelted so they ruffle.

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