Cashmere, Silk Felted Floral Scarf

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An abundance of natural-toned cashmere and lots of pure silk fiber make this scarf exquisitely soft and light-weight: 60 inches by about 6 inches, it weighs just two and a half ounces. In addition to cashmere and silk, the body of the scarf contains merino and Organic Polwarth; and I used silk fabrics, and hand-spun merino, silk, CVM and tunis fibers, and silk fabrics and a variety of curly wool locks to create the floral motif. Here’s a pic of the fibers arranged before I started layout:

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And another pic of the scarf, as well as a detail of one of the flowers that shows the fuzzy texture:

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I thoroughly enjoyed the slow, sculptural process of crafting this scarf: from making two different drum-carded batts — one of natural-toned luxury fibers for the base of the scarf, and a small purple batt from which I spun just-enough yarn to form the flowers; to cutting out silk fabrics to form the leaves and petals, and teasing apart different types and colors of curly wool locks for the flower “stamens;” then layering and working all of the elements. I was aiming to maintain a lot of texture at the center of each flower, for a realistic look, which required some time in between each rolling period to gently lift some of the curls to keep them from felting down. The detail of the last pic shows this sweet, lively texture. I love how curly wool locks evoke the energy of the beautiful creatures from which they’re shorn…!

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Published in: on March 27, 2014 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fast and Furious Fiber Arts

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If you work with yarn or fabric, you’ve probably seen online tutorials offering instructions on “How to Arm-Knit a Scarf in an Hour” or “How to Make a Quilt in an Hour.”

There are many reasons why “fast fiber arts” in general, and arm-knitting in particular, have become popular. It’s exhilarating, and perhaps liberating, to so quickly transform a skein of yarn or pieces of fabric into useful form. For gift-giving, or to craft a fun, wearable, marketable item that’s significantly less labor-intensive than traditional knitting or quilting, these stream-lined processes yield items that offer genuinely handmade quality. In a class learning arm-knitting, the focus need not be on counting stitches or doing precise work, but on socializing and relaxing — while still learning a new skill.

There is no speed limit beyond which creativity cannot happen.

At best, the need for speed in fiber arts introduces a playful, accessible vibe that encourages and affirms creative possibilities for folks at diverse levels of ability and with limited time — and we all have limited time; and it boosts productivity for artists working in otherwise slow media.

At worst, speed-crafting might deprive the spirit of some of the transcendent potential of art making, and turn the crafter into a kind of factory.

Ideally, sometimes you will feel free to work slowly, delighting in the materials and deepening your engagement with process, as if you might live forever; and other times you might work with a kind of abandonment, like a windstorm of creativity with a propensity to leave art in its wake.

Most of us, most of the time, are somewhere in the middle, between the best and the worst possible creative experiences. We are somewhere between throwing together a handmade item and Joseph Conrad’s description of the artistic experience:

“The artist appeals… to that in us which is a gift and not an acquisition — and, therefore, more permanently enduring. He speaks to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives; to our sense of pity, and beauty, and pain; to the latent feeling of fellowship with all creation — to the subtle but invincible conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts, to the solidarity… which binds together all humanity — the dead to the living and the living to the unborn.”

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Sometimes a felted rose is a felted rose is a felted rose. And sometimes it’s a meditation on nature and transience.

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Published in: on March 25, 2014 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fibers for a Felted Scarf with a Floral Theme

Many steps in crafting what I hope will be a very unique, luxurious scarf…

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Blending merino wool, silk, tunis and CVM, I carded a lavender and violet batt from which I spun a fluffy, thick and thin yarn single for the surface design. Then I carded a pearly-creamy batt from organic Polwarth, Cashmere, Silk and Merino fibers, to use for the base of the scarf. For the rest of the surface design, I cut silk fabrics for flowers and leaves; and prepared different colors and kinds of wool locks by separating them into tiny little curls. When I arranged the elements on a tray to get the studio ready to begin layout, the arrangement looked interesting. I hope the finished scarf will be as fine as these beautiful fibers are before being combined!

Published in: on March 24, 2014 at 12:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Felted Cards

Felted cards: crafting them is a therapeutic process. Most will be delivered to The Gallery Shop, Contempo Artisan Boutique and The Green Drake Gallery, and I’ll keep some to give as gifts:

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Details:

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Published in: on March 24, 2014 at 12:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Newly-Carded Batts for Spinning and Felting:

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Published in: on March 19, 2014 at 10:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Work: Scarves that feature Yak, Alpaca, Curly Wool Locks, Silk; and Hand-Spun Art Yarns

Some items that will be at The Gallery Shop in Lemont, PA, soon… I craft what I would wish to wear: lovingly hand-made, one-of-a-kind pieces, from luxurious fibers that are versatile, interesting and evocative, and next-to-skin soft. There’s no substitute for time or high-quality materials. I’ve been enjoying using yak fiber, that is soft as silk and ripples when felted to create beautiful surface texture; and some very fine-quality locally-raised alpaca fleece that I card before using to open the soft, gently-crimped fibers:

“Wearable Skein” of hand-spun art yarn, buttery soft merino and silk fiber, and curly wool locks; cinched with embellished felted cuffs. A bright accent:

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Art yarn cowl, of merino and lots of silk, crocheted in a very open style, to highlight my hand-spun yarns:

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“Spring Garden” felted scarf, one of a “watercolor” series of scarves fabricated from my drum-carded blends of luxury fibers. This one includes merino, lots of silk, lots and lots of different kinds of soft, curly wool locks. Soft and light-weight: it’s 8″ x 72 inches, and weighs just a bit over two and a half ounces, and glows with spring colors on a sunny yellow background with a bottom layer of soft pink merino fiber:

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“Azurite/Malachite” felted scarf, another from the “watercolor” series; the surface is veined like gemstones and is deeply textured from the combination of merino/yak/silk/cashmere/camel/tunis/CVM/carbonized bamboo fibers and a few curly wool locks. Incredibly soft and drape-y, 8″ x 72″, it weighs three and a half ounces.

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Here is a detail of the “Azurite/Malachite” scarf showing the textured detail, shiny silk, and veining:

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A good scarf for spring, wonderfully soft, “Yak and Pink” is made of yak/organic Polwarth/silk/fine alpaca/CVM with a few soft kid mohair curls in the surface design. It’s a bit over 5″ x 72 inches and weighs just two ounces. The combination of yak, merino and a lot of silk yields a softly rippled texture and next-to-skin softness:

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“Yak and Pink” detail:

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More yak… felted scarf “Yak: Pink, Silky, Curly” is made from yak, organic Polwarth, silk fibers and hand-dyed silk fabrics, soft alpaca, CVM and some Blue-faced Leicester curly locks. The mid-layer is pure tussah silk, yielding a buttery-soft hand. Just over five inches x 70 inches, the scarf weighs a bit over two ounces:

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Detail of “Yak: Pink, Silky, Curly” showing those locks and the subtle tones of hand-dyed silk in the fringes:

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Published in: on March 19, 2014 at 2:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Drum-Carded Fiber Batt: Mixing Pink and Orange

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Published in: on March 3, 2014 at 2:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Felt and Yarn

Over the past four years I’ve been learning about spinning yarn. I have wanted to create very decorative yarns that are sturdy enough to be functional and which can be synthesized with felt.

Trying to figure out this synthesis, first I crafted fluffy, bulky yarns and crocheted them, creating warm, soft scarves… and collars…and wearable skeins… And I crafted felt and yarn from the same fibers, pierced holes into the felt and crocheted the yarn right through the felt to create “either/and” scarves… and “either/and” collars…

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All along, I’ve wanted the yarn itself, as well as the interplay of fibers between the yarn and the felt, to be highlighted in a very simple way, and I think I have (finally) arrived at a nice fusion. I’m pleased with this synthesis of art yarn and felt, embellished with wool embroidery and some beading:

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You can see and touch the yarn, and appreciate all of the colors and textures. Depending on the design, it can be dramatic or subdued. It can be thick and bulky and provide some warmth on a chilly day, or very silky and appropriate to wear for warmer weather. The beading can be elaborate gemstone and pearls, or very minimal.

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Now I’m wondering: how can ideas be expressed in this fusion? How can I work thematically? I carded a batt using many different fibers (yak, merino, camel, cashmere, tunis, silk) and selected curly wool locks and prepared some hand-dyed silk fabric strips, focused on pink and green, colors of spring and also of the heart chakra:

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Blending the fibers on a wintry day felt like a meditation on spring. The resulting batt is luminous and just waiting to be worked into yarn. Perhaps I’ll craft felt yardage from some of this fiber, or from some similar fiber, to combine with the yarn. Working in this thematic way, meditatively and with the intention of focusing on the heart chakra, on love and compassion, was a new experience in fiber; but it felt familiar. It reminded me of making soup: selecting, preparing, blending wonderful ingredients; adding a bit more of this and that to arrive at something delicious to share with others. It reminded me of arranging a bouquet from my garden, working and feeling delight with what is available right in my own back yard. In this creative journey, I feel like I’ve traveled for a long time and arrived, happily, back home…

Published in: on March 3, 2014 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment