Batty

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Published in: on January 29, 2014 at 6:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wool Weather: for Fiber Folks

It’s a delightful challenge, to blend all sorts of fibers with a particular goal in mind. Working in my studio is like making soup in a kitchen brimming with fresh veggies, herbs and spices, except that the “staples” — like onions, potatoes, carrots, celery — are bright balls of merino wool; and the herbs and spices are silks, yak, camel, cashmere, Finn wool, CVM, kid mohair, Wensleydale… Just the names of the different fibers evokes abundance!
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Sometimes a theme will guide my selection of fiber: a winter sunset, thoughts of spring, the soft tones of a child’s little face… Other times my inspiration is a longing to explore pure color; or to work with a specific fiber, such as a downy, buff-toned alpaca fleece or fuzzy Finn wool or whimsical curly locks.
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I’m still learning how to craft batts, roving and rolags. Quality control is ongoing: I dissect my work in the
process of spinning and felting with it, analyzing the way it looks and works. My goal is a versatile, functional “art batt.” As I work, I see if there are layers of interesting color, sheen and texture; and how the amount and placement of merino in the batt functions in both wet felting, and in spinning — and then lightly felting — yarn.
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For many years, I worked as an illustrator, translating clients’ ideas into visible forms, developing logos, ads, posters, invitations, book illustrations…. Now, as a fiber artist, in addition to creating batts to use myself, I think I would also enjoy the challenge of crafting custom, thematic art batts for others to use for spinning and felting. What sorts of themes, goals, colors, joys, memories might be expressed via fiber — interpretations of others’ imaginations? How creative and challenging, to blend fiber to transform someone’s glimpse of an idea, and to conjure another person’s creative longing. I think it might feel like musical improvisation, or music that is commissioned. It would be a collaboration, although not shared in the moment as music may be. Knowing that the fibers I’ve chosen and blended would be used by another artist would be sweet…

Published in: on January 29, 2014 at 2:11 am  Comments (3)  

Testing the “Feltability” of Art Batts

Today I started doing some experiments to see how well my newly-carded art batts will felt.

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Using a bit more than one-half ounce of fiber pulled in a shaggy length from the edge of one batt, I quickly placed fibers to lay out a cobweb scarf. I added a few silk fabric strips, sprinkled on a bit more silk fiber and some sparkling angelina, added some extra fiber to each end to create more interest.

I hesitate to include an image of this layout — should it fail, I’d feel awful about misleading anyone!

I kept track of length and width of layout, and amount of fiber used. I’ll also keep track of how long it takes me to felt and full this piece — which will be a short scarf or collar size when completed (after all, it’s an experiment…).IMG_4353

So I’m hoping for an interesting cobweb felted wearable when done, and will post whatever the process yields… if it’s presentable! If it’s not presentable, I hope that my further explorations will help fellow felters interested in using art batts for feltmaking.

Published in: on January 16, 2014 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

While the baby sleeps… a post: “What Do Felters Want?”

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The answers to this question, “What do felters want?” are — of course — as varied as the many felters out there in the fiber-obsessed dimension of reality.

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We want a time warp, to do this very slow and often tedious art form; gorgeous and varied fibers to use; a stream of new information and updated techniques; inspiration…

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Those of us who do some kind of art — which is MOST of us, if we include creative home-making, and creative-teaching/music-making/parenting/dancing/gardening — tend a kind of fire. It seems to me that what we call “depression” is really a state of having one’s fire go out. So how do we tend our creative fire?

We gather kindling:

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We create some heat:

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We get a fire going:

Rhapsody Rose Felted Corsage Pins

"Rhapsody Rose" Lilac Scarf

And tend the fire:

A lot of dots in progressQuick sketch of Cooper's Hawk for felted collar

Those of us who start our day STOKED are among the fortunate ones. It’s our own responsibility to tend our own fire, no one else’s. If you want to bring more of this creative fire into your life, then spend effort, resources and time supporting the arts. Spend time WITH artists and the arts, with creative and motivated folks who help you feel alive and motivated. Become one of those people!

Published in: on January 15, 2014 at 5:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Opalescent Batt:

Layers of merino, silk, camel, recycled sari silk, cashmere and yak combine for a lofty, shimmering batt. I’ve worked with camel fibers, in wet felting. These short-stapled fibers felt into rippled, glowing texture, like sand dunes sculpted by wind. Cashmere is so flyaway, it’s difficult to corral in laying out fibers for wet felting, as if some wild energy from the goats that yield this exquisite fiber is bringing static into the mix. Yak is also a short fiber, easier to felt with when it’s combined with longer staple fibers such as merino and silk. I’m hoping that by creating these blended batts that contain abundant merino with an extravagant mix of luxury fibers, the resulting roving will be a cinch to felt. We shall see…

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Published in: on January 15, 2014 at 3:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Experimenting with Carding Art Batts on My Louet Classic Drum Carder

Three images from a mostly merino and silk batt, with the addition of some hand-dyed wool fibers that included some very soft mohair, which I purchased at last year’s event “For the Love of Fiber” — a mini-fiber fest with fiber sales and demos, sponsored by the Centre County (PA) Knitters Guild, and which will be held this year on Saturday, February 15, 10:30 – 5:00, at General Potter’s Farm in Spring Mills, in the beautifully-elegant, big old barn. Serendipitously, February is “fiber focus month” at The Gallery Shop in Lemont, PA — the atrium area will be warmed with lots of fiber art for sale!

The theme guiding my selection of fibers for this batt was the iridescent shimmer of feathers on a starling. I embedded different tones and fibers throughout, to create a deeply-textured batt with striations of silk and merino throughout. So far, my art yarn batts have all been good for spinning: the fiber is delightful to spin, and every inch of the resulting yarn is interesting, full of nuanced color and texture. Next, I’ll do some felting with these same batts, to see how the fibers work for wet felting. How will all of these striations look when used to make cobweb felt? How will they mesh in a three-layer traditionally wet-felted scarf? How will they work in nuno felting? Once I’m certain that these batts are not just pretty to look at, but are great fibers for both spinning AND felting, I’ll hope to offer some for sale…

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Published in: on January 15, 2014 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Batt-y

I’m thrilled to have purchased a very gently-used Louet Classic Drum Carder:

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It’s heaven to card fluffy batts — to spin or felt — with this workhorse… Here’s a batt I made yesterday, in different colors of springtime, from merino wool, silk, Blue-Faced Leicester, camel, oatmeal-colored cashmere, recycled sari silk, Wensleydale locks, and some strips of silk fabrics that I’ll spin or felt in later:

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And two more batts from the past few days:

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I’m looking forward to using these fluffy, carded, luxuriously-soft fibers!

Published in: on January 14, 2014 at 8:31 pm  Leave a Comment